HealthStartup Conference on Home Care Technologies, Antwerp

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“Great topic, very relevant to drive connected health innovation forward. I loved the set up of the event and the mix of people, with representatives from the whole health ecosystems: clinicians, startups, brands, investors, government, and the mix of expertise from marketing, to technology, to user experience. The small scale worked well and allowed for good conversations in between workshop sessions. The organizers were great enablers too and infused their passion and spirit into the group. I left inspired, and it gave me good ammunitions to continue the debate within my own organization.”

– Marie Perez, Philips

On the 28th of March 2012 we held the second edition of HealthStartup in Antwerp, dedicated to home care technologies and solutions. The event took place in Elzenveld, an old medieval hospital that currently functions as a hotel but is still situated right in the heart of a large medical campus in central Antwerp. An inspiring contrast it was: discussing the future of healthcare in a setting where catholic nuns tended to the sick 500 years ago. But to the matter at hand: what happened at HealthStartup II on at-home-care technologies?

“The event was useful, the location and the attendees were good. Should be continued!”

– Luk

Siemens presentation on the market opportunity for new ICT innovations

We kicked off the afternoon with a presentation by Dirk Steel of Siemens. Siemens and Kaiser recently collaborated on a worldwide study of current ICT needs among hospitals in India, Brazil, the USA, Germany and the UK. The results were pretty startling. Important is that hospitals worldwide are actively looking for innovative solutions to facilitate remote care and improve internal communication. Telemedicine, for example is either a medium or top priority for 90% of organizations in the five countries studied. Key pain points in the domain of telehealth include patient inability to communicate current status information without physician/nurse attention, lack of remote alerting capabilities, lack of patient monitoring and diagnosis capabilities and inability to manage patient medication intake in a remote setting. These results indicate that there is real demand for telehealth solutions, notwithstanding the serious barriers to adoption of these technologies.  And barriers there are, with budgetary concerns being the most frequently mentioned, next to security and regulatory issues.

What worked for Geert Adriaens of DSP Valley?

“The informal atmosphere, good representation of various stakeholders/organizations in the field (i.e. also good potential for networking/matchmaking), an interesting location and good catering, and meaningful discussion during separate session with startup”

Panel debate: can health startups help drive disruptive innovation in healthcare?

This was the first time we included a panel debate to the format, mainly to get people thinking about the issues before the startup presentations. Check out who was on the panel here – we had representation from investors, entrepreneurs, large tech companies, government and insurance.

What worked for Patrice Roulive of Telemis?

“The topic link between the Siemens presentation, the panel and the Startups; the quality of the Panel participants; the quality of the startups, all in an already advanced phase, even if none had a really top notch product; great location; and a great idea to organize roundtable with startups after presentations”

Here’s a taster of the discussion:

  1. Can we expect a disruptive form of innovation in healthcare (taking the cue from Clay Christensen’s innovation theory, here’s a situation where new players are emerging at the bottom end of the market relying on cheaper technologies and different business models, and hence in theory could eventually disrupt the higher end of the market dominated by large established players)? Is this happening already? A partial ‘yes’ was the answer. The emergence of health-related solutions that rely on ubiquitous internet and consumer technologies can be considered disruptive. It is placing powerful tools in the hands of consumers-patients and tech-savvy care givers; tools that will transform their respective roles and responsibilities. However, the healthcare sector is highly regulated and thus in a clinical or hospital setting, or with regard to the day’s topic—at-home-care, we are not seeing any disruptive innovation yet, mainly because current reimbursement models, legislation and misaligned stakeholder agendas serves as serious friction to such change.
  2. How do we address the regulatory and political barriers to the adoption of disruptive healthcare technologies such as in the areas of telemedicine and at-home-care? The panel largely agreed that the barriers are real and significant. The positive news is that they are being addressed via multi-stakeholder consultation at a European level. However, some panel members expressed doubt that these would help, especially since startups and patients aren’t properly represented in these discussions – they seem to be dominated by incumbents whose natural inclination will be to resist disruptive innovation. The point was also made that startups simply don’t have the time or resources to get involved in high-level lobbying. Ultimately, good affordable products will win over patients and clinicians themselves and drive change from the bottom up.
  3. How can we improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Europe to spawn more health technology companies? Most panel members were critical of government initiatives (such as subsidies, favourable loans and small investments) since they tend to distort the market and have difficulty letting ventures fail. If anything, government should be supporting innovation in their procurement – instead they seem to contradict their innovation policies by buying conservatively from established players. The key challenge is a shortage of risk capital – we need to attract a lot more angel and VC investors who are willing both to fund ambitious projects (global ambitions) and to let projects fail.

Startup presentations and breakouts

Each startup had 7 minutes to pitch their business to the entire audience. Afterwards the audience could select one startup which they could discuss further in a 2-hour breakout session (intense experience for all concerned!).
Here’s some of the feedback:

“The quality of attendees was very high, and very to the point. I got interesting feedback, and helpful suggestions. The whole experience made me rethink (parts) of the plan, to strengthen it further.”

– Jan Peter Larsen, Sense OS

“As a participant project, the coaching we received beforehand with respect to the presentation was invaluable. It was also very useful to hear the individual comments of the people providing feedback to us and to have it tied together by Marie Perez, who chaired the session, and by Leo when he popped by.
I also made some useful contacts, which I am busy following up on.”

– Michael Mulquin, Go-myLife

What worked well? “Help in preparing the presentation. Lots of great contacts. Lots of feedback. Relaxed atmosphere.”

– Miroslav Vrankic, Servus

“Sessions were pretty empowering for the entrepreneurs – amazing how extensively this event allows one to tap in a knowledge base and network of critical peers”

– Koen Kas

The startups:

 (the Netherlands) is a technology company providing context aware communication and transaction support between a variety of sensors (measuring temperature, light, GPS, or movement, or “virtual sensors, such as people’s calendars which also offer information about the current and future world) – and human beings.

 (Belgium) aims to reduce the number of hospital stays of chronically ill patients – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma – by giving them means to communicate specific  information about their health status, impact and side-effects of medication they are taking to their their physicians. MiMedication also provides specific recommendations on health and wellness tailored to COPD and asthma patients.

 (Croatia) enables users with severely reduced mobility to control their home through voice commands: open/close doors, turn lights on or off, turn TV, radio or stereo system on or off, change TV channels / radio stations, etc.  Made from off-the-shelf components, it plugs into existing in-home infrastructure.

 (UK) is a mobile social networking platform customised to the needs of older people.  It supports their interactions with family and friends and provides easy access to relevant geographically based information.  The platform is intended for older people, but it will also be valuable for stakeholders such as service providers and businesses who need to get messages out to this demographic. Go-myLife is a part of the Ambient Assisted Living program.

ForgetMeNot uses established sensor technology sited in each of the rooms of the home of a participating vulnerable person. These link wirelessly to a small hub transmitting data to the ForgetMeNot server. Raw data are transformed into intuitive visuals of home activity patterns over hours, days, weeks and months which are made available to family members or health/care professionals.  Carers can intervene upon receiving warning signals based on deviation of motion patterns from the norm and potentially prevent the disastrous consequences.  Due to technology used privacy of participating persons is fully protected. The product aims for mass market.

Should you like to find out more about these outstanding projects, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We closed with  a walking dinner and some of us ended up at legendary Captain Zeppos brainstorming HealthStartup III, IV and V!

A big thanks to all the participants! 

Bart, Leo & Frank