Four digital health startups are getting a leg up through a new city-sponsored program that allows them to test their concepts by connecting them with patients and providers.
The Digital Health Breakthrough Network is a partnership of the city's Economic Development Corp. and HITLab, a public-health research organization.
The program recently selected its inaugural class of early-stage startups—all with promising concepts to improve health care through digital innovation.
“We are helping those early-stage seed or pre-seed companies generate the initial data that will help them raise funding, apply to accelerators and build a better product,” said Shahriar Khan, senior project manager at the EDC.
Most small digital health startups lack the resources to do sophisticated clinical research on their own, Khan said. None of the companies currently enrolled in the program has raised any outside revenue.
EarlyHive, one of the initial participants, uses technology to help care coordinators quickly locate and dispatch certified home health pros such as speech pathologists and physical therapists. Co-founder Lindsey Winder, a pediatric speech therapist who treats special-needs children in their homes, got the idea for the business when he saw firsthand that families often waited months for services. “It was largely because they had trouble finding providers like me,” he said.
The other startups in the inaugural class are Addicaid, an online platform that creates customized addiction-recovery programs; BioTrak Health, maker of the Halo headband, which monitors muscle tension to help prevent migraines, tension headaches and jaw pain; and Citus Health, which developed Call Bell, a mobile app that assists home-infusion-therapy providers.
The city program connected EarlyHive with the New Jewish Home in upper Manhattan, a nonprofit that provides in-home eldercare services. “It lets us test it out on a much larger platform than normally a company like ours would be able to,” Winder said.