Tech trends in Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare industries in Q2 2019/ Part I

Now there is a time for streamlined tech disruption everywhere. Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare industries aren’t exceptions from this global trend, but strong state authorities’ regulation in these areas makes plenty of difficulties for tech startups aiming to improve the efficiency of patient-to-service transaction processes. Nevertheless, beginning from early 2012, there are tens of ambitious and innovative tech startups aiming to improve patient experience, diagnostics and treatment efficiency, explore new insights in data analytics and reduce transactional costs for Pharmaceutical and Healthcare industries.

The most promising areas of tech disruption in Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare industries are Patient-faced services and new tech for Clinical trials and Healthcare providers.



Medication Adherence

emocha Mobile Health’s video directly observed therapy technology will be used by the U.S. Mecklenburg County Public Health, which is the public health department for the one-million-person county that includes Charlotte and suburbs.

Blockchain platform Healthereum Life Portfolio aiming to curb doctor’s appointments no-shows with redeemable incentives incentivizes appointment adherence with tokens launched in beta mode.

The system will give patients tokens for showing up to appointment, answering surveys and completing other health-related activities. The healthcare provider can specifically create a value for the tokens. Then the tokens can be cashed in for money off medical services. The platform also lets patients see a scheduler where they can view, change, cancel or confirm an appointment. Additionally, doctors are able to send messages to their patients based on a diagnosis.


Medisafe is joining forces with Amerisource Bergen’s Lash Group in order to integrate the former’s management app into the latter’s hub services. The partnership seeks to help patients manage their medications and identify patients who need extra support. As part of the deal Lash patients will be able to enroll in the Medisafe platform when medication is prescribed. The platform employs machine learning and predictive analytics to personalize the reminders and care. It will also pinpoint at-risk patients and alert Lash clinicians.


Swedish smart pillbox startup Pilloxa announces a collaboration with Novartis division Sandoz Nordics. Founded in 2015, Pilloxa has developed a platform that consists of an intelligent pillbox, an app,  and a cloud solution, along with data-driven services, that aims to help patients take their medication on time.

The pillbox has built-in sensors to detect when patients take their dose, with 14 compartments and a LED lighting up to notify them when it’s time to do so, and is connected to their mobile phones. Patients receive a notification in case they forget to take their medication, and the app also includes a medicines list, a dashboard giving information about their medication history, and a so-called “motivational tool”.


Digital refill, delivery platform Phil lands $25M in Series B funding. The platform pitches itself as a way to automate physician, payer pharmacy workflows while helping patients schedule refills.

On the consumer-facing side, the user can ask their doctor to send their prescription to “PhilRx.” The user will then be asked for their insurance information and how they would like the medication delivered. According to the company’s webpage, it takes two business days to get the medications.  The new round was led by GreatPoint Ventures with participation from Tarsadia Investments, Crosslink Capital and Uncork Capital.


Diplomat Pharmacy has released some data about its partnership with smart pill bottle maker AdhereTech as the companies also announced plans to expand that deal. The data, representative of more than 1,000 patients, shows that on average, patients who used the technology-filled their medication one additional time over the course of the year. Patient retention was 12% higher, and the average patient experienced 19 fewer “gap days” (days of skipped medication because of a delayed refill).


Pillo Health, a maker of conversational devices and platforms for medication adherence, has closed an $11 million Series A round led by Stanley Black & Decker’s Stanley Ventures with “significant participation” from Samsung Ventures. Pillo Health’s lead product is the eponymous Pillo, a countertop artificial intelligence device that uses voice to engage users and remind them to take medications. Designed for older patients with chronic diseases or complex care plans, the tool can store, dispense and reorder up to 28 doses of medication on a pre-set schedule.

In addition, Pillo can deliver audio- or video-based health content and facilitate video calls between patients and their caregivers, while allowing the latter to monitor adherence data generated from the device.


Pfizer has teamed up with Finnish health adheretech startup Popit to provide support to people taking rheumatoid arthritis medication. Pfizer patients will be offered Popit’s adherence solution, which monitors pill-taking with a smart device and alerts users via an app if they forget to take their medication.


Welkin, a startup focused on patient relationship management through messaging services and workflow organization, announced a $17.5 million Series B funding round. The new funding was led by Altos Ventures. Welkin was founded in 2013 with a focus on diabetes management but it quickly identified patient engagement workflow tools as a problem area in the space. Now the company focuses on helping its clients tackle issues related to patient engagement workflow.

Digital Health Devices

Swedish startup NuvoAir, best known for making respiratory monitors, scored $3 million in new funding. The latest round was led by Inustrifonden, with participation from Investment AB Spiltan. The company made a name for itself with a smartphone spirometer able to conduct lung function assessments in a home environment.

In 2018 the company launched the Air Next system, a small and portable device that connects to users’ smartphones or tablets using Bluetooth LE. The tool was designed for people living with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis. Nuvo’s technology can help patients understand their lung health patterns and what impacts that has on their overall health. The technology is also able to loop in care teams and providers.


Onera Health, an at-home sleep diagnostics startup spun out of research center imec, has raised $9.3 million in Series A funding. The round led by Jazz Pharmaceuticals and imec.xpand.

Onera’s in-development diagnostic platform is centered on disposable monitor patches. The product is pitched as an alternative to bulky clinical sensors, as the patches are unobtrusive and can be applied and worn at home.


Swedish medical device developer Flow Neuroscience has launched its at-home, wearable treatment for adults with depression, available for purchase and use in the U.K.

Paired with a behavioral therapy app, Flow’s headset delivers low levels of constant direct brain stimulation aimed at the user’s left frontal lobe. According to the company, people diagnosed with depression often have lower neural activity in this region of the brain, which helps govern certain cognitive skills and emotional expression.

By rebalancing that activity, Flow hopes to offer similar outcomes compared to typical antidepressant drugs, and with fewer side effects. The initial treatment takes about a half-hour per session, three times a week for six weeks, with therapy continuing at one or two sessions per week.


Teva Pharmaceutical announced that the FDA greenlighted its AirDuo Digihaler, a sensor-enabled inhaler. The product, classified as a maintenance asthma inhaler, has a built-in sensor that sends usage data to a corresponding app on a user’s smartphone. This information can also be sent to the user’s provider.

The proprietary sensor technology is also able to monitor inspiratory flow rates. The AirDuo Digihaler is aimed at helping to prevent bronchospasms and is not meant to be used as a rescue inhaler, according to the company.


Diseases’ Management Apps

Meru Health, a maker of a mental health platform, landed $4.2 million in seed funding. The new money comes from Freestyle Capital, Bonit Capital, Y Combinator, Lifeline Ventures and IT-Farm.

Meru offers a digital tool that is supported by licensed therapists. The program lasts 12 weeks, and each week has a different theme that builds on the previous one. In addition to the program, users have access to therapists, whom they can reach out to during the 12-week program. Users also have access to anonymous peer support groups. The program targets people dealing with depression, burnout and anxiety.


GoCheck, a maker of a smartphone app that screens young children for amblyopia or “lazy eye,” has raised $6 million in a Series B investment round headed by FCA Venture Partners. The system allows pediatricians and other healthcare professionals to screen children aged 6 years and younger for amblyopia.

Designed as a low-cost alternative to dedicated screening hardware, which can cost a practice thousands of dollars to purchase, GoCheck Kids is available through a monthly subscription on pre-loaded devices.


Cara Care, a digital health startup focused on digestive diseases, raised $7 million to bring its mobile app to more patients, primarily in the U.S. Johnson & Johnson’s venture arm JJDC led the series A round.

Founded in 2016, Berlin-based Cara Care offers its app in German and English to patients with diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal reflux disease. The company developed the app to bridge a gap in care for patients with these diseases and help them manage their medications and tweak their diets to improve their health.

The company launched its app in 2016 and raised $2 million from angel investors the next year. It reckons about 400,000 people have used the app in Germany and the U.S. to manage their disease. Patients log their food, symptoms and medications in the Cara app, which sends them “dietary and mental health interventions” to help them control their symptoms between doctor’s visits.