Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind with Sigurjón Lýðsson

Sigurjon Lydsson

Having a chronic-illness can be challenging, and running your own business can be hard. No matter where you fit on the spectrum, we could all use a little motivation.  Our #InsidethePatientEntrepreneursMind blog series gives you insight and life hacks on how to stay motivated from some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world.

Sigurjón Lýðsson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Medilync, a medical platform which builds cloud-based medical solutions where big data, IoT, and engagement are key to alleviating the burden of diabetes.

Sigurjón sat down with Lyfebulb to tell us how his father’s medical diagnosis with T1D, cancer and his short term memory lost motivated him to look for a solution that would help his family and medical provider manage the care of his father.

What motivated you to create a business addressing a disease you know so well?
My father has had Type I diabetes for apporx 40 years now. When growing up we usually didn’t notice that he had T1D, he never complained about it. Captain on a shipping vessel with 8-10 souls he was told he couldn’t do it. He never gave in. In later years he started to show symptoms of memory loss. We, his sons, would joke about that and so did he. But when he was diagnosed with cancer and it had spread to his brain, we got ever so more worried. At that time he had forgot if he’d measured his glucose or even if he injected or not. So when we were told his tumor would affect his memory I started looking for a solution for my dad. I could not find it! I still can’t as I am still trying to get it funded. I know I have the solution, but I fear it will be too late for my dad. If I can help anyone else live a better, safer life then I will be happy.

What are some of the hurdles you perceive exist for people with your disease?
Diabetes is one of the toughest disease out there. But information flow in general is what is the biggest hurdle today. Information from patients to clinicians is too cumbersome and usually only verbal from the patient to clinicians. We have a solution that has changed that.

Who are some of your role models in your space?
Not necessary in my field but Juan Mata Garcia is my latest role model. Kind person to those who need it, gives 1% of his Manchester United income to others. Bill Gates is another one I admire. Using his wealth to find a cure for polio for example, is just amazing.

What is your goal beyond creating a successful business?
Help people live better and safer lives.

What does Lyfebulb mean to you? How can we support you better? What are some of the biggest gaps today for a “young” entrepreneur?
Funding a company doing a hardware for diabetes is really difficult so anything in that area would definitely help.

How do you stay healthy and motivated to deliver?
As I am 75% likely, due to genes, to get Type II diabetes I do take care of my nutrition and I do cross-fit 5 times a week. That gives me the energy I need to get ahead of the curb.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorships are key to new companies to a difficult market.

How can we draw more attention to user-driven innovation?
Solely by involving the users more.

How do you maintain work/life balance?
I would always be lying if I’d say that I can control it, but I do my best.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?
I could create a legacy which saves lives 2) My family be safe from harm 3) Peace on earth ☺.

What is your favorite song that gets you motivated?
My own song Unity 😉

#InsidethePatientEntrepreneursMind is a weekly blog series that highlights members of Lyfebulb’s Patient-Entrepreneur Circle. The Entrepreneur Circle is an educational and inspirational platform for all people living with, or affected by chronic disease. Existing entrepreneurs will be available to educate new dreamers through the website and through live events. To read more or to apply to join the Enrepreneur Circle click here.

In a busy field, biotech incubators are evolving

Growing Money - Chart In Rise

Biotech incubators are the quinoa of the life sciences.

Five-or-so years ago, they were all the rage. And while we still value what they do (economically/nutritionally), the widespread enthusiasm has waned. They became a regular part of the biopharma menu, not a ‘special of the day.’

But in 2017, there is cause to look again. Biotech incubators are evolving and maturing. New models continue to crop up (accelerators, aggregators, commercialization spaces) and existing ones are being refined.

As it happens, two notable updates came on Thursday.

The first was from RM Global Partners, which announced the creation of a new dedicated VC fund for the FutuRx biotech incubator.

FutuRx was established five years ago through a collaboration between OrbiMed Israeli Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Takeda Ventures, and the Israel Innovation Authority. Its stated aim is to translate local discoveries into the proof-of-concept phase, supporting them with a physical space, mentoring, networking, and more.

It seems private funding may also be on the cards, building on the early research funding supplied by the Israeli government. RM Global’s new $30 million RMGP Biopharma Fund will preferentially invest in promising startups emerging from the FutuRx portfolio.

FutuRx CEO Einat Zisman believes it will give the incubator an edge.

“RMG’s establishment of this fund is an important strategic milestone for…

Healthbox launches subscription research service for providers with deep dive on health IT companies

vector abstract background globe and medical health care innovation concept

Although many digital health startups and growth stage companies have responded to the call for technology to improve a litany of healthcare challenges, it’s tough for healthcare facilities to sift through all of these businesses to identify the best options for their own institutions. So Healthbox has launched a subscription service that will produce quarterly reports on different aspects of digital health and shortlist the best startups in that category — Horizon Scan.

Neil Patel, Healthbox president, highlighted some of the data for those companies that would be included in the 20-25 page reports in a phone interview with MedCity News. For each company included in the report there will be a product roadmap, financials, implementation considerations, and how they differentiate themselves in the market. Horizon Scan will evaluate companies based on their ability to prove cost savings and improved outcomes, management team experience, and traction. The reports will include a total of 180 companies each year. The reports will also highlight various subsectors of health IT these companies fit into.

“We’re bridging the education gap,” Patel said. He described the reports as an extension of the Healthbox Catalyst program.

He noted that one question it gets asked about a lot is startup failure rates. Although he emphasized that there’s always a risk when working with young companies that they’ll fail. “There’s remains a

“There’s remains a need for longer-term solutions. We’re trying to derisk as much as we can.”

Transparency will inform Healthbox’s approach, Patel said. Although Healthbox portfolio companies will…

Murj raises $4.5M Series A for managing implanted cardiac device data

Murj dashboard for cardiac implant data
Murj dashboard for cardiac implant data

, a digital health startup to manage data generated from implanted cardiac medical devices, has closed a $4.5 million Series A round, according to a company press release. The company seeks to provide a technology platform that can sufficiently manage the steady flow of data implantable cardiac devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators generate. The company wants to convert a manual, burdensome process into a more manageable and efficient way to track, assess and manage this data.

True Ventures led the Series A and Social Capital took part with other investors from the company’s prior seed round, the release noted.

Murj streamlines multiple data streams onto one platform, explained Todd Butka, Murj CEO and founder, in an email. The data is presented and organized so that it can assess the device and patient and capture and track these assessments.

Butka said in the release that his experience as an Apple product manager Medtronic sales rep drew his attention to the inefficiency of current practices.

“As a field representative working with electrophysiologists for over a decade, I was dismayed by the inefficiency of monitoring cardiac devices,” said Todd Butka, CEO of Murj. “From my experience at Apple, I saw the tremendous potential for well-designed technology to impact the care of patients with cardiac devices.

Butka contrasted current practice and how his company seeks to change this in an email.

“Each device produces reams of data, and clinicians have to manage that data in multiple, siloed locations,” said Butka. “For patients whose devices are…

Seeking pearls of wisdom in patient engagement

pearl, oyster, oyster shell, pearls
Add patient engagement to the list of open-ended healthcare terms.

2013 Health Policy Brief from Health Affairs even described it as “a broader concept that combines patient activation with interventions designed to increase activation and promote positive patient behavior, such as obtaining preventive care or exercising regularly.” Pretty ambiguous.

As the term is inherently vague, it takes on different meanings for everyone. For some organizations, it means something very simple, like sending patients a text message to remind them of their appointment. For others, it involves a more complex strategy, such as building an entirely new patient waiting room.

The field of patient engagement is growing rapidly, with hospitals, startups, physicians and payers implementing a variety of new measures. And it’s a topic that we aim to explore fully at MedCity ENGAGE, our conference in San Diego October 23-24, for which we want your help to create compelling and meaningful discussions. These are the some of the categories we are interested in.

A 2011 report from management consulting firm A.T. Kearney outlined the need for health insurers…

Strategies that can get startups from pilot to scale

Chihuahua on Great Dane's back

Getting a pilot is hard. Going from that pilot to a full-scale implementation is even harder. With the abundance of new and promising technologies and solutions coming to bear in the digital health space, healthcare systems and organizations are becoming more refined in terms of what types of innovation they want to embrace. From the outlook of the entrepreneur, this means that not only does it remain difficult to get a first pilot, but also increasingly challenging to take that successful pilot to scale throughout a system.

Yet there are certain tried and true tactics and means to increase the likelihood of adoption.

First, have a great solution that solves an unmet need or greatly improves an inefficient and/or costly problem. Once that is in place, follow the steps below to set yourself up for success.

Start with the correct people from day 1
An error many entrepreneurs make is not finding the right person or persons who can help your technology go to scale in an organization. The person who can say “yes” to a pilot may not be the same person who can give the green light to full-scale implementation if the pilot goes well.

Nor may this just be one person.

Donovan Morrison, CEO of Luna Lights, a company that provides an automated lighting system that utilizes cloud-based data analytics to reduce the risk of falling for older adults, recommends focusing on C-level executives.

Persist, and with luck you can meet with the CEO, COO, CFO, or leader of the group in which your solution provides benefit. Entrepreneurs “need a buy-in from a group of individuals” at the top who can then connect you with the right people at the operational level, according to Morrison. Hhe adds, “A warm intro is always best but don’t be afraid to cold call. Know the person’s name and be confident!”

Leveraging your network may also yield to meetings with C-suite executives.

If your company went through or was part of an incubator/accelerator, “use those platforms to facilitate strong introductions on your behalf,” advises Aloysius Fobi, MD, VP, Business Development for NurseGrid, an application that helps nurses manage their work schedule with ease. Keep this broader network in mind as you choose seed investors or accelerators and “make sure you vet them because that is a huge advantage” Fobi believes.

Create internal champions
After getting the attention and support of senior leadership, a crucial compounding success factor for adoption is garnering internal champions at the operational level.

There, the ideal internal champion is a leader from the group that derives the most benefit from your solution. These are the individuals whose satisfaction, productivity, and effectiveness are improved by your offering. They will be passing feedback, directly or indirectly, to the decision makers who will decide on full-scale implementation. These champions need to be your number-one customers and startups need to make sure they “receive the white-glove treatment”, says Fobi.

Provide these users with the highest quality service and let them know that you want feedback during the pilot. Fobi tells seeks feedback from customers because that is beneficial to both.

While the operational champion is invaluable in terms of product feedback, the C-level champion is the one who needs to be able to move the initiative forward in leadership meetings. If possible, try to get more than one person on the prospect’s leadership on board. By doing this, your solution becomes more defensible if the pilot comes into question during leadership discussions. By having a corroborating voice in the boardroom, it becomes easier to get support from the larger C-level leadership group.

Lastly, always be looking for your next internal champion. “Win-over as many decision makers as you can across multiple departments,” states Morrison. “You want multiple people in the corporate meetings and across the company to be proponents.”

Green lights and red flags
Before moving into specific strategies to increase the likelihood of a customer transition from a pilot…

Insurance navigator Wellthie looks beyond healthcare with $5M Series A round

Pioneer Silhouette Woman Standing On Top Of Mountain Against Sky

Wellthie, a health insurance navigation startup launched by a former Anthem Blue Cross Bue Shield product development executive, has raised $5 million in a Series A round, according to a company blog post. The new funding will be used to bolster the New York-based company’s sales and marketing muscle as it prepares to expand into vision, dental and life insurance in the second quarter, Sally Poblete, Wellthie Founder and CEO, told MedCity News in a phone interview.

IA Capital Group led the investment round with participation from Aflac Corporate Ventures. Last month, Aflac announced plans to set up a $100 million fund to invest in early stage companies relevant to Aflac’s core business. Some of the angel investors from the insurance industry that have backed Wellthie include Mike Battaglia, former chief consumer officer at Humana, Dr. Bill Winkenwerder, a former co-CEO of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Sam Havens, a former CEO of Prudential…

Digital health companies merge to launch patient engagement business serving Medicaid patients

Teamwork concept

Voxiva and Sense Health have merged to form Wellpass, a patient engagement business designed to help providers and payers send timely messages and alerts to their patient population, according to a news release. The digital health startup is led by Voxiva Cofounder Paul Meyer. The new business is the latest in a series of mergers and acquisitions that reflect the steady drumbeat of consolidation in digital health.

Wellpass includes mobile health and wellness programs Voxiva developed with a patient engagement platform developed by Sense Health. Some of those include Voxiva’s best-known programs Text4Baby for infant care and Text2Quit for smoking cessation.Those programs have resonated with the Medicaid patient population that provider and payer customers serve, with a 44 percent increase in dental visits and 40 percent boost in appointment attendance.

The company’s combined resources give it a client base of more than 30 healthcare providers, more than 70 state Medicaid health plans, and 10 state government agencies, the release said. Although Voxivia has been around since 2001, Sense Health launched in 2012 and took part in the New York…

Your Valentine, the AI avatar

Sensly image

In popular culture, artificial intelligence is often portrayed as confident, street-smart and more than a little malevolent – think Ultron, HAL and Skynet. But what if AI’s actual inclinations are kind, helpful and empathetic? What if we can be friends?

That may be one hopeful byproduct of Molly, a virtual medical assistant being developed by San Francisco startup, Sensely, which on Tuesday announced $8 million in series B financing. Founded in 2013, Sensly is leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to help patients get better care. For people with chronic conditions, better health starts with compliance.

“Around 5 percent of the population is responsible for about 50 percent of (healthcare) costs, said Sensely found and CEO Adam Odessky in a phone interview. “We focused on the people who are frequent flyers, who are in and out of the hospital and have a chronic disease, whether that’s heart failure, COPD or diabetes.”

Molly is the cell phone app that really cares. Customized with digitized discharge instructions, she queries patients about how they are feeling and encourages them to comply with their regimen. Let’s take your blood pressure. Let’s get your weight. In addition, Molly collects data from a wide range of Bluetooth-enabled diagnostic devices.

“Based on that five-minute conversation, we can calculate the risk of that patient being…

HealthReveal, from ex-Aetna CMO, raises $10.8M Series A

healthcare crowdfunding

HealthReveal, a predictive analytics startup run by a former Aetna chief medical officer, has raised its first full round of venture capital, a $10.8 million Series A. GE Ventures led the investment, joined by Greycroft Partners, Flare Capital Partners and Manatt Ventures.

While there seem to be dozens of purveyors of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence in healthcare, New York City-based HealthReveal is looking to separate itself from the herd by drawing distinctions between prospective/concurrent knowledge and retrospective data, Founder and CEO Dr. Lonny Reisman said.

HealthReveal also pulls in biometric data from home monitoring devices to help clinicians anticipate and respond to adverse medical events for those with chronic conditions. “Continuously monitoring the patient at home gives you insights others don’t,” said Reisman.

Reisman started HealthReveal in early 2015, half a year after leaving Aetna. He had joined Aetna in 2005 when he sold another startup, personal health records firm ActiveHealth Management, to the health insurer.

The newly funded HealthReveal takes insights beyond population health down to the individual level, helping clinicians find the right piece of medical evidence for each patient in front of them. “We understand the difficulty of keeping up with the…

PatientPoint’s founding CEO returns after mentoring startups at CincyTech

Mike Collette

PatientPoint, a company specializing in physician and patient engagement, has brought back its founding CEO. Now with three years of experience as a mentor to tech entrepreneurs, Mike Collette wants to bring some new technology into the patient-physician relationship.

Collette took back the top spot at Cincinnati-based PatientPoint this month, four months after previous CEO Tom McGuinness left to become chief strategy officer of GE Healthcare. McGuinness had been commuting to Cincinnati from the Chicago area.

Collette actually never cut ties with PatientPoint. He had served as chairman since stepping down as CEO in early 2012. A year later, he became executive in residence at local technology incubator CincyTech USA, where he mentored seven companies in nearly three years. Collette also made some private investments.

“It was a great opportunity to get immersed in some emerging technologies,” Collette said. The company has incorporated new things, such as touch screens, in the five years since Collette stepped down the first time. Now, patient engagement has finally caught up to his vision when he started the company…

​This Conference Outlined the Year Ahead for the Growing Medtech Industry

The issue of health care affordability continues to be a major hot-button political and economic issue for the US. But while drug prices and the Affordable Care Act have been firmly entrenched in the crosshairs of public debate, what isn’t receiving nearly enough attention is the growing trend of technological innovations being introduced into the medical space that hold the potential to create enormous positive impact in modernizing healthcare treatment, driving significant efficiencies and bringing costs down. In some ways, Medtech takes a drastically different approach to healthcare, focusing on concepts like preventative care and precision medicine, as well as better targeted diagnosis. Incorporating strategic use of big data, artificial intelligence and even virtual and augmented reality allows practitioners to create more customized care for patients, which serves to reduce process and cost inefficiencies as well as an overreliance on prescription drugs.

For these reasons and more, the Medtech industry has been gaining more traction from investors, particularly within the startup community. To highlight the emerging themes of the industry, entrepreneurs and industry leaders gathered at the Atrium Hotel in Irvine, CA earlier this week for the inaugural Med Tech Monday. Hosted by Med Tech Directory, the event served almost like a one-day crash course for startups, investors and professionals with fast-paced sessions that discussed everything from cybersecurity in medical devices, raising capital, marketing best practices, millennials, and the outlook for the year ahead. It also featured a number of startup pitches as well.

“From my experience, the industry has fragmented so much, and so the theme of the conference is ‘Innovation, Collaboration and the Year Ahead,’” said Dan Golka of MedTechDirectory.com, which produced the event. ”The innovation is about things you haven’t seen, time and again. The collaboration is to bring the different people together, to bring the lawyers, designers, the medical device companies, the CROs, the FDA people, the investors, and the startups all together. Here’s the thing, there are marketing people that have met lawyers today that got deals put together. There are startups that have met alternative financing people and gotten deals put together. This is not just one segment of the industry. This is everybody in our industry. If you ask everybody, you’re going to be surprised what a varied audience we have here.”

Image of Dan Golkan via @meghanMalonso

MedTech Startups on Display

Among the startup presentations were Echo Laboratories, which makes the Revolve hybrid microscope that combines upright and inverted imaging configurations and is viewed through a mounted tablet. Capillary Biomedical is developing a fully-implantable automated insulin delivery system for diabetes management. Fischer Imaging, which is actually a 100-year-old brand the current owners acquired, offers a diagnostic mammography system called MammoCAT 2D with targeted X-ray and significantly higher resolution imaging. Another startup called Ceeable has developed a visual field test that can detect, classify, and monitor degenerative eye disease using nothing more than a tablet computer. Avento presented its Milk Tracker app, which is designed to be a comprehensive feed tracking system for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit. Lastly, CertanHealth presented its maintenance management system that helps hospitals and clinicians better allocate their resources to improve workflow efficiencies and reduce compliance fraud.

Of course, what most startups need the more than anything is growth capital, whether it be a business loan from a bank or money from investors. The panel “Finding Money for Your Technology” covered the many options available to medtech startups and featured panelists Rachel Baranick, Deputy District Director of the Santa Ana District Office of the US Small Business Administration, Ken Huber, Co-Founder & Chairman of funding platform CapStackWest, and Brian Anderson, Co-Founder of Harper Partners, which provides “fast funding” to startups through invoice factoring, AR financing and other forms.

Image of Certan Health’s Andre Clark via @BrianWhalen5

“It’s all about preparation,” Huber said. “You prioritize your three major options and hunt through those channels – friends, bankers, whatever it is. Build your due diligence package that lines up with your pitch deck, that lines up with your executive summary…Then develop and practice your presentation. I cannot tell you how many times investors see a CEO come in and you can tell he’s really, really busy but he’s not focused on the one thing he needs most: the money so he can push. The money is a tool; practice using the tool. How do I get to that tool? Get it so when you’re talking about your company, it’s easy and it’s simple.”

The Art of the MedTech Startup Deal

To help startups fine-tune their pitch, marketing guru Joe Hage of Medical Marcom laid out effective strategies that early-stage companies and entrepreneurs should adopt, especially through the digital landscape.

Joe Hage

“Know your target and be able to present to them why your investment is better than other investments, and why they should believe,” Hage said. “Your unique value proposition is the very first…

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