Top 3 Pain Points in the Health Industry

Startup Weekend Health + Fitness Edition: June 12 to 14, 2015. Tickets on sale here.

From left to right, Dr. Bobby Green of Flatiron Health, an attendee asking a question, Derek Flanzraich of Greatist, Michael Kopko of Oscar Health Insurance, Fon Powell of SALT LLC, and Calvin Hwang of CityMD. (Photos by Frank Fukuchi)

We had a full house at the latest Startup Weekend NYCs: Health and Fitness Edition panel, lead by Amanda Goboud and Kimberly Hall. This event attracted entrepreneurs looking to network, VCs looking to assess disruptive technology, and professionals in the healthcare industry looking to tap into the healthcare startup world.

The panel discussion could be summarized in one word:


While there are many problems and inefficiencies in the health and wellness industry, the biggest of them seems to stem from data, which brings us to our first healthcare pain point.

Portability and transmissibility of patient data

  • Information often gets lost or is in a useless form (e.g. filed on paper, illegible). In other words, important data is often unstructured and therefore unusable.
  • Data in health care can be complicated and proprietary. Companies are hiring engineers to extract data, normalize it, and add it to a single common database. Companies still struggle to pull data from many sources and require engineers to weed through and develop common data models.
  • There are massive privacy, regulatory, and security issues in medical data. There are currently no laws about data sharing in the healthcare industry. This means large healthcare institutes are not sharing data and there is still a competitive threat to share data.

The second pain point in the health industry that we heard about was about communication:

Clinicians are not able to communicate easily with one another

  • We have largely uncoordinated health systems databases, which make it hard to share information!
  • It is currently difficult to build integrated holistic patient care in a disintegrated health care industry where hospital system policy, government, and insurance companies all have diverging interests.
  • We don’t have a patient focused healthcare system because companies are more interested in both protecting themselves and growing within their own system.

The final healthcare pain point starts with, as with any industry, cost and time. The healthcare and fitness industries are booming with monitoring and predictive tools that will help consumers assess their own health. How can these tools integrate into the healthcare system and help individuals prevent long term health complications?

Slow adoption of preventive monitoring and predictive tools by the healthcare industry

  • There are many diagnostic tools and monitoring technologies that will allow us to make more informed patient care decisions earlier on. Insurance companies and health care systems are slowly adopting these technologies. How can we speed up this process?
  • While prevention has higher initial costs, it saves money long term. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t want to pay for unnecessary treatments, even though they may prevent future and higher costing treatments.
  • Datasets can now provide inferences into how future complications can be prevented. Datasets can help predict and prevent unintended hospitalizations.
  • There is a small subset of the patient population that incur significant costs for insurance companies. Most of their investment goes to these critical cases. High costs are caused in part by the tremendous lack of health care coordination for the most sick patient, who require the most attention.  How can we fix this?
  • FDA doesn’t have the manpower to regulate apps. Average FDA clearance time is 1 year!!

Take away: People need to realize that they own their own data. When they visit a health professional, they have the right to ask for it. We need to shift the focus from business to consumer. Treatment and prevention lies in the hands of the individual. Companies are now working harder than ever to empower individuals to take control of their own health through prevention techniques, monitoring tools, and the availability of health data.

Startup Weekend NYC health and Fitness edition is coming up this weekend. We now know that data needs to be consolidated (made both useful and useable), used to help individuals (prevention / prediction), and go into the right hands (clinicians work together in a more holistic way). Take these problems and bring them to Startup Weekend!

Startup Weekend Health + Fitness Edition: June 12 to 14, 2015. Tickets on sale here.

Need more ideas? Panelists also listed inspiring telehealth and early detection companies such as Noom, a weight loss tool, BluesStar, the first diabetes prevention tool approved by insurance companies, and ihealth, a wireless prevention tools that sync that with mobile platforms. Other great examples are FitbitTeledoc, and Daybreaker.

What I learned from Startup Weekend NYC business-to-business edition (B2B)

The classic Startup Weekend NYC ice breaker: Rock – Paper – Scissors!

Having volunteered at several previous SW events, I found Startup Weekend NYC B2B Edition to be really informative. The event was stacked with helpful mentors and speakers, including Roger Osario, Startup Weekend Facilitator, Eddie Cullen, Community Manager at Grand Central Tech, Tony Chang, Product Manager at Intuit, and Chi Nguyen, Product Strategist at Perka and Lead Organizer of Startup Weekend B2B.

Blaga Popova, Director of Engineering at Voyat and a former Startup Weekend NYC organizer, kicked off the weekend by highlighting some important differences between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer) companies:

B2B companies typically have lesser known brands
B2B companies usually deliver platforms that work behind the scenes and may be white-labelled, whereas B2C companies rely on popularity and brand recognition.

B2B companies have a few large clients, while B2C companies have many customers
B2C companies often build products that create enjoyment or convenience for a wide audience.  Their larger user bases can quickly swing from wild enthusiasm to complete disinterest in a matter of days, creating instability for the  business. Conversely, B2B companies enjoy greater retention rates. Clients take longer to acquire and onboard, but they see the purchase or subscription more as an investment, so they often stay and help improve and steer the product.

B2B companies focus on solving existing problems and maximizing near-term revenue
Investors can be especially tough on B2Bs. Venture capitalists demand more developed business plans that account for revenue, product/market fit, and scalability. The flip side, however, is that B2B companies also tend to stabilize more quickly, so they can rely less on investor funding in the long run.

B2B companies need to consider how to seamlessly integrate with legacy software that already exists
B2C companies have more flexibility to build on trending frameworks and technology. Shane Brauner, Vice President of IT and Operations at Schrödinger and a mentor at SW B2B Weekend, commented, “Lack of integration with existing, legacy  systems is a key blocker for startups who are trying to get businesses to invest in a new technology.”

Overall, I learned a great deal from just the Friday evening kickoff of the Startup Weekend B2B Edition, and I’m curious to know what YOU think. What are some of the biggest similarities or differences between B2B and B2C companies? Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments section below!

Edited by Chi Nguyen and Cynthia Knapic.


Sneak Peak: Food Edition Teams

Today was the second day of Startup Weekend Food Edition NYC. Not only did we have a phenomenal set of mentors to help guide each team in their iterations of design, business plan, and product idea, but we had our very own cooking show! Pentloft Studios brought Cajun in the city and cooked up homemade red beans and rice, southern style.

The teams that formed last night after an intense series of pitches from SW participants were in full throttle today. Here is a sneak peak into some of the teams that are hard at work building their product.

The Teams: What’s That?, Dynamic Food, Off The Menu, One Touch, Lunchees, Fork Meets Spoon, Brew Local, VegSpotter, One Menu, Mobile Oasis, Grandma’s Meatballs, Sage, Food Loop, Stamps, YourFood

Fork Meets Spoon

What’s That?


Brew Local

The teams have a wide range of product ideas: Visual dictionaries to expand peoples palates; service to provide affordable tailored meals for kids in schools; a food discovery app through pictures (swipe through photos to build food preferences); service that dynamically controls wholesale food prices based on expiration date and shelf time to improve revenue; personalization of food recommendations; ‘speed dial’ for menu items to make mobile app takeout easy.

Gary Reloj, co-founder of Swill, gave a few solid pieces of advice:
1. In the food space, beautiful content is important!
2. Choose a product that is either easily executable or that you can make money on early after launching.
3. Clearly identify the problem, describe the solution, and finally point out the opportunity you have to carry out this solution.

Up next? Teams are working hard to validate their products, build a business plan, create wireframes of their product, and in some cases begin product development itself. Tomorrow we will find out what the judges have to say. Best of luck to all!

Where are the Winners of SWEDU now?

If you’ve participated in SWEDU you probably wondered what happened to all the teams that formed. Do they go on to have their company grow, quit their jobs, and take on their newly created project? Well yes. Some of them do.

Teams like VidCode, Plexx, and CultureConnect, who got their start at Startup Weekend NYCEDU, have grown beyond their Startup Weekend experience into full-fledged startup companies.

Recently, we followed up with Melissa Halfon, VP of VidCode, to see where they are now, six months after they won Startup Weekend EDU NYC 2014.

1. Is everyone who was originally on the team still helping to build Vidcode? Vidcode is truly a Startup Weekend EDU Cinderella story. We were five strangers who teamed up to solve one problem: getting more girls into technology. Since the weekend, our team has neither lost nor gained a member. Allie, Melissa, Leandra, Terry, and Ken are all still dedicated to Vidcode.

2. Did you guys quit your jobs to work full time on Vidcode? Allie & Melissa seamlessly continued working on Vidcode full time after Startup Weekend EDU. Allie was completing her masters at NYU ITP at the time and centered her thesis on Vidcode, devoting all her energy to it as a result. Melissa found herself without a full-time position (for reasons unrelated) and used the serendipitous timing to continue her dedication to the project. Our other team members have continued to contribute to Vidcode outside of their full-time gigs.

3. What stage would you say Vidcode is at, as a startup? We spent six months after Startup Weekend EDU in full build stage, validating and testing the product. This summer, we were one of the teams in Launch, 4.0 Schools’ accelerator, during which we launched Vidcode’s public beta and identified our target market. Now we’re in the first growth stage, building our user base and selling to early adopters.

4. Have you gone for funding outside of kickstarter? We are currently raising seed capital.

5. Do you think you would have built Vidcode outside of Startup Weekend given the opportunity? The most valuable asset that emerged from Startup Weekend EDU was the opportunity to form an incredible team of like-minded people. The problem is so important to each team member that we would’ve found a way to address it individually. But without the complimentary and talented team we assembled that weekend, the results wouldn’t have been as powerful.

6. Anything else about Vidcode and any of the problems you’ve faced as you have worked to build this product. The response to Vidcode in general, especially from girls, has been so overwhelmingly positive. Their reactions to what we’ve built make all the risks, unknown, and sleepless nights very much worth it. We know there’s a place in girls’ lives where Vidcode belongs and we’re determined to get it there.

7. Also, what is it that the Startup Weekend community can do to help? Spread the word. Our success at Startup Weekend validated that we have a compelling product. We’ve built it out, and now we want to get it into the hands of as many teens and schools as possible. Startup Weekend has a huge following of education leaders and teachers and we want them to know about Vidcode to implement in their own classrooms. The best way to do that now is by supporting and sharing our Kickstarter!

What does all this mean? It means you should come to the next SWEDU event, because you never know what might happen!

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