Medivo Leverages Mobile Strategy to Get Ahead in Health Information

3/19/12Follow @jpruth

With the world awash in health IT startups, New York’s Medivo is battling to prove it is different from other startups in this sector. So on March 7, the company—which operates a Web and mobile platform that connects doctors to their patients—acquired NYC neighbor WellApps, which creates mobile apps for monitoring symptoms of serious intestinal illnesses. The acquisition is part of Medivo’s overall mission to create a comprehensive electronic dashboard for physicians that provides real-time updates to doctors on their patients’ conditions.

Medivo, founded in 2010, focuses on connecting patients with physicians in between visits. “It is very difficult for physicians to provide real care between visits,” says co-founder and CEO Sundeep Bhan, because patients typically do not contact doctors until something is wrong. Medivo’s platform is aimed at keeping both sides in touch more regularly. “This is like a customer-relationship management system that allows the doctor’s office to build and maintain a relationship that provides care to the patient in between visits,” he says.

Medivo’s platform generates electronic reports for physicians and sends automated reminders to patients about follow-up care and tests that need to be performed. Medivo started with a Web-based platform but is now moving into mobile with the acquisition of WellApps. About 30,000 patients with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis use mobile apps from WellApps to record their symptoms, he says. By meshing WellApps’s technology with its own, Medivo also plans to offer mobile access to information and symptom tracking for other illnesses the company covers, according to Bhan.

As the market for technology that connects patients and doctors gets increasingly crowded, Medivo will have to work hard to distinguish its services from those of its rivals. New York-based Hello Health, for example, recently pulled in $10 million to develop its own dashboard, which it is partly developing in collaboration with electronics giant Qualcomm.

For Medivo to keep up, it may need to consider future acquisitions. Last November, the company raised $7 million in a Series A funding round led by Safeguard Scientifics. Medivo previously raised a seed round of $700,000 with such backers as MentorTech Ventures, the ARC Angel Fund, and angel investors including Esther Dyson.

“We’re not a roll-up [operation] but if there are specific opportunities that can accelerate our overall plans then we’re interested in those,” Bhan says.

This is far from Bhan’s first go-round in the health care information sector. He was co-founder and CEO of Medsite, which he sold in 2006 to WebMD. Medsite focused on providing medical, clinical, and drug information to physicians.

While he is already tapping lessons learned from his work developing Medsite, Bhan also hopes to gain traction by networking with other startups. Medivo was recently named to the inaugural class of the Healthcare Transformers program run by the Startup Health Academy. The first session of this mentoring program will meet in New York on March 26 and Medivo Bhan is being looked to as a mentor to other startups, according to Startup Health Academy president Unity Stoakes. “We thought [Bhan] could be an inspiration to the whole community,” says Stoakes. “He’s building a business we think is innovative.”

Stoakes says the 36-month program includes monthly virtual class sessions and quarterly in-person meetings aimed at helping health care startups support each other to innovate and grow. Startup Health Academy does not take equity in these startups but does offer to connect them with potential investors and customers. “The best investor is customer revenue,” Stoakes says.

Bhan believes the concentration of established health care companies in the local market can help foster opportunities for more startups to grow in this industry. “It is a great time to start a company especially in New York,” he says. “There is a lot of interest from the investor community to help solve big issues we’ve been trying to tackle in health care.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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