On October 1st, Village Capital, in partnership with The Hitachi Foundation, is launching its Health U.S. 2015 program, concentrating on supporting early-stage ventures that are bridging the health-wealth gap. The final twelve companies in this program’s cohort are a result of a six month nationwide effort to identify the best companies tackling the largest issues plaguing low-wealth patients. Through this work we have identified and evaluated 600 early-stage health ventures, providing a window into the emerging trends in healthcare.

These three broad trends in health startups, outlined below, will no doubt have an impact on low-wealth patients’ health outcomes but will also change healthcare for all patients, regardless of income bracket. It isn’t just low-wealth patients that struggle with these issues, and startups are turning to innovation to capture both the market share and financial opportunity.

Trend 1: Intersection of Behavioral Psych and Tech

Chronic disease and non-adherence disproportionately affects low-wealth patients in the U.S. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), payment structures are now turning towards a pay-for-value model, rather than a fee-for-service, and many care organizations and insurers are looking at novel ways to reduce the costs associated with chronic diseases. Many chronic diseases, like diabetes, can be mitigated through proper lifestyle changes, but forcing patients to make these modifications is difficult. Several startups, though, are tackling the tough issue of improving patient behavior through the convergence of technology and the psychological principles of behavior modification. The execution and technique varies from startup to startup, some use classical conditioning and learning theory, while others use abbreviated personality assessments to gain insights into the best way to incentivize patients. Despite their differences, all of these companies unanimously recognize that simply telling a patient to eat better or exercise more is not enough.

Trend 2: Financial Transparency in Healthcare

While the ACA created access to insurance, and consequently health services, for millions of people that had been previously excluded, little was done to enhance price transparency. One of the biggest concerns for any patient, especially low-wealth, is predicting and planning for health costs. Unlike other industries, patients often don’t know the price of a health procedure or service until the bill arrives. This lack of price transparency has not gone unnoticed by entrepreneurs, and there are a variety of methods currently being deployed to break down the barriers to pricing structures, in hopes that as patients become armed with financial information, they can make better decisions about their healthcare. One in five Americans struggle to pay their medical bills, and while transparency won’t alleviate the totality of the burden, it will no doubt help reduce the number of those struggling.

Trend 3: Connecting the Dots in Fragmented Care

Pricing is only one component of an informed patient. To fully empower patients, they must also understand the care options available to them. Given the fragmentation of health services, it isn’t always easy to gauge which facilities are best for a patient’s illness. Couple this with the need for a quick decision, such as the current hospital discharge practice dictates, and it isn’t difficult to see why this area is ripe for innovation. Startups are stepping in to bridge the large gap between hospital care and appropriate follow-up care, whether that be through helping families find appropriate at-home care or a skilled nursing facility. This isn’t just a win for patients and their families, but also results in savings for the health insurers and care organizations that have a distinct, vested financial interest in making sure patients get the most pertinent care for their condition.

After three months of sourcing and examining hundreds of early-stage ventures, Village Capital is proud to announce the twelve companies selected to participate in Village Capital Health: U.S. 2015, in partnership with The Hitachi Foundation. Some of these twelve companies represent the very best of the trends outlined above, while others are astoundingly unique. The common thread that unites them is their potential to dramatically change the way all patients engage with the health system, both domestically and abroad, and drastically improve health outcomes for currently underserved and/or under or uninsured patients.

ARMR Systems designs wearable first response hemorrhage control solutions to stop the bleeding anytime, anywhere.
CareSpotter helps families find local, professional caregivers in their community.
Constant Therapy revolutionizes the treatment of neurological disorders using science-based digital brain therapy delivered on an iPad.
Fosmo Med is creating an IV bag that is shipped sans water and can be filled with dirty water at the site of care to create sterile solution without power.
InRFood simplifies and personalizes nutrition through digital tools.
Janus Choice helps patients make educated and informed decisions on where to continue their care after a hospital stay.
Legworks develops and supplies innovative and affordable prosthetic technologies globally to help amputees walk with confidence.
OkCopay is an online service that allows you to see the prices of doctors and dentists near you.
Onko Solutions designs and markets a portable medical device for cervical cancer screening.
Reliefwatch is a platform for organizations in the developing world to track essential supplies through basic mobile phones.
TrackTrain easily documents & tracks data on firefighters’ toxic exposures & injuries.
Utilize Health is a healthcare IT company focused on creating a better healthcare experience for patients, increased revenue for providers, and cost savings for Payers.