Wellframe Wins $8.5M to Improve Healthcare Apps for Patients, Doctors

Healthcare is getting more personal—as well it should. Anyone who has dealt with a serious illness knows you have to take the initiative when it comes to your own health, and that of your family. Especially these days.

Technology is playing a big role in that. So it’s no surprise that a new generation of startups is developing mobile and Web-based software to improve healthcare delivery and patient engagement.

Exhibit A is Wellframe, a Boston health IT company that has just raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by DFJ, with some of the money coming from Formation 8, Waterline Ventures, and Queensbridge Venture Partners. No Boston venture firms in there, but the company’s local angel investors include Jonathan Bush, Carl Byers, Steve Papa, and John McEleney.

Wellframe raised a $1.5 million seed round earlier this year. The startup was part of the Rock Health accelerator program in San Francisco in 2013. Its software aims to improve both sides of the patient-doctor experience. For patients, the company’s smartphone app provides things like health instructions and a daily task list to keep people on track; for doctors, the software helps make sense of patient behaviors, assess risks, and tries to boost communication with patients between visits.

The big goal is to improve healthcare services by reducing things like complications, readmissions, and cancellations—all without costing a lot more money.

Wellframe started out by targeting patients in cardiac rehab, but has since expanded into mental health, diabetes, transplant medicine, and other areas. The company’s software has been used in clinical pilot studies, including one with published results at South Shore Hospital.

This kind of technology is certainly advanced and interesting, but the question is whether it can find the right market. Plenty of companies are trying to sell software to clinics and healthcare organizations; others are primarily selling to patients as consumers; some are doing both. None has quite figured out the trick to improving patient outcomes and using software to enhance the patient-doctor relationship—but that relationship has undoubtedly changed in the digital age.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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