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Start-ups that Lower the Cost of Health Care

Most of the remaining problems in the world are information problems in disguise. For example, our politicians in the United States are trying to figure out how to provide health insurance to low-income people without breaking the budget. 

It looks impossible, at least with our political system as it stands. 

So I thought I would help. 

In my opinion, the only hope for affordable health care in the long run comes from startups that will dramatically lower the cost of medical services. There are many such healthcare startups in the pipeline, and some could make a big difference to society. As a public service, I’ll collect a list of them in this blog post so investors can see their options for helping the country lower the cost of medical care. 

I started the list with one start-up (Sandstone) that I happen to know because I invested in it. Any healthcare startup that lowers the cost of medical treatment is welcome to add their information to the list. To add your company, do this…

1. Go to and create a schedule with one entry for your company, using as your event date the year you went live with a commercial product, or the year you plan to do so. 

2. You can include any kind of documents, links, photos, or video to your one event. But please include at least a paragraph saying how your startup lowers healthcare costs.  

3. Share your schedule, with its one event, to this address: I’ll check it for completeness and add it to the list.

By the way, WhenHub – a start-up I co-founded – wasn’t designed for this sort of task, but I couldn’t think of an easier way to do it. I’ll use our new streaming feature to create one schedule (really just a list of start-ups) from the shared events. You’ll see the Whencast below grow as I add entries.

The nature of Whencasts is that you can share them on social media and embed them on blog pages. So if this list is useful, feel free to share it. Whencasts stay live and updated no matter where they travel.



I’m also imagining some sort of “digital doctor” healthcare insurance that is super-cheap and relies largely on startups that are not yet part of mainstream medicine. This low-cost insurance plan might be better (but slightly riskier) than traditional medical treatment. For example, if the low-cost insurance people get first access to IBM’s Watson for diagnosing problems, they are probably getting better treatment recommendations than the patients going to human doctors.

I can also imagine this low-cost health insurance plan asking patients to voluntarily give up more health-related privacy than normal, and perhaps agree to some sort of health tracking technology. The data from this group would help improve healthcare technology and treatment for all. 

We probably can’t tax-and-spend our way to universal healthcare. The numbers just don’t work. But startups could get us more options for serving low-income folks if we decide to make that a priority.

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Pre-Existing Conditions and High-Risk Pools

Obamacare’s most popular provision is its prohibition against health insurers charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. It is so popular that Republican politicians have promised to keep it! (Or, at least bring it back once they repeal and replace Obamacare.) Scholars at the Kaiser Family Foundation have estimated that 27 percent of American adults…
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Senator Sanders, There Is No Right to Health Care in Canada

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More Start-Ups That Could Lower Healthcare Costs

I’ve been working with the UC Berkeley start-up ecosystem – the largest in the world – to help improve their odds of success. The stakes are high. Consider the healthcare field alone, and how much can be saved in terms of both lives and money. I included at the bottom of this post a snapshot of some start-ups coming out of that ecosystem. 

Now imagine how many more healthcare start-ups are popping up all over the country. That is a lot of stranded potential unless these innovations can make it to market. The hardest challenges are getting funding and, obviously, the FDA approval. That’s a tough road. I’m doing my part today to make that easier by giving them some attention here.

The path to market for these innovations might be a lot easier if Trump appoints someone like Jim O’Neill to head the FDA. O’Neill would like to speed up the approval process by using a more rational risk-management model. The opportunity for improvement is gigantic.

Here are just a few healthcare start-ups to give you an idea of the potential.

Healthcare Start-Ups out of UC Berkeley’s Ecosystem

Dot Labs Non-invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis. 

Stroll Health enables ambulatory clinicians to make personalized, value-based referrals. Stroll processes each patient through our intelligence algorithm using millions of healthcare data to show out-of-pocket costs for each location and service in real time. Physicians and patients select and electronically order through Stroll, and we follow through to make sure medically necessary care happens.  

Angilytics provides wearable sensors and data analytics for ultimate hypertension management. 

Safety Solutions for managed dementia care 

Solutions to assess risks of occupational injuries. 

iTreatMD provides a point of care app that guides clinicians with a checklist to treat diseases, and
generates encounter notes for clinicians and personalized treatment plan for patients. 

ReThink Medical produces a remote patient physiologic monitor for predicting heart failure related
hospitalizations, enabling preventative interventions.  

First Derm is a mobile app that provides users with personalized dermatology information. 

Ava is on a mission to empower 360 million people with hearing loss to follow group conversations
again, using state-of-the-art mobile and speech technologies. We connect together devices in a room to
show the user who says what and when, in less than a second. 

KNOX Medical Diagnostics:
Mismanagement of asthma leads to hospitalizations and ED visits. Traditional at-home pulmonary
function tests are inaccurate. On-site tests are only available in specialized locations and not readily
accessible. KNOX has developed Spiritus, a reliable and convenient asthma management tool for
families, which includes a portable device that asthmatic kids breathe into to capture consistent
information regarding lung function. Parents can view and immediately act upon the results. Information
sent to the iOS app is saved to SaaS servers for physicians to track patients’ asthma severity in-between
office visits. 

BioInspira is a sensor platform startup. At BioInspira, we are advancing airborne chemicals and
pathogens detection for growing industrial and healthcare needs. Our first product is a bio-based natural
gas sensor that is 1000x more sensitive, 100x smaller and 100x lower in cost than current sensors. 

You can learn more about UC Berkeley-related start-ups at (Site is new, so some start-ups will not be listed yet.)

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Telehealth Opportunity versus Telehealth “Parity”

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