Pulse@MassChallenge launches second class of 32 healthcare startups

By Jonah Comstock
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Pulse@MassChallenge, the pre-series B digital health startup accelerator that launched last year with the backing of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a number of industry supporters, has announced the 32 startups in its second class, which will launch tonight at an event in Boston.

Pulse works a little differently than many other accelerators. It takes no equity in the startups and doesn't accept startups unless a major healthcare stakeholder wants to work with them as a "champion" in a relationship that's half mentorship, half pilot program. All companies receive coworking office space and a chance to apply for $50,000 in need-based funding, but they compete for a share of the $200,000 available to the top three companies, chosen at the end of the six-month accelerator.

"This is our second year, and last year we rode a ton of momentum from the digital health initiative being launched in Massachusetts," Director Nick Dougherty told MobiHealthNews. "This year for us is a real test of the model. We were able to get really great results last year and generate a ton of great partnerships that led to a number of implementations, led to some investments from the champions in the startups. For us, if we can replicate and grow on those results, we feel that we’ve got a strong foundation that we can continue to build from, and we’re super excited to build rapidly on top of that."

Dougherty said the biggest difference between the inaugural year and this year is that not only are champions working with startups, but that also some of them are working with each other on projects, including a collaboration between Boston Children's Hospital and Cerner as well as another between Campbell's and AARP. 

Pulse accepts (and even pursues) a lot of startups for its program: Last year saw 31 and this year there are 32. Read on for short descriptions of each of the new participants:

Massachusetts-based aam is creating a hardware and software medication adherence offering specifically for birth control pills. It takes the form of a smart blister sleeve paired with an app.

Aluna, based in California and formerly known as Knox Medical Diagnostics, has created a connected spirometer called Aeris. Paired with a gamified app that teaches kids to use it, the system aims to detect early signs of an asthma attack.

Astarte Medical Partners, from Pennsylvania, is focused on gut heath for premature infants. It's creating a software product that pulls in and analyzes data from the EHR to help clinicians have the right information to properly feed pre-term infants and satisfy their unique nutritional needs.

Based on technology developed at Northwestern in Chicago, BOLD Medical Partners is working on a new device for continuous, non-invasive blood pressure monitoring.

Another Massachusetts startup, Day Zero Diagnostics is based at the Harvard Life Lab. The company is developing a new technology to identify pathogens and predict their drug resistance profiles in a matter or hours, rather than days.

Still largely in stealth-mode, Massachusetts-based DeepHealth's mission is to "leverage machine learning to bring the best doctor in the world to every patient."

New York City-based DocFlight is a telemedicine company with a very specific mission: connecting patients in China to highly-rated doctors in the US via video consultations.

DynamiCare Health is a Massachusetts-based chronic condition management company leveraging patient-generated behavioral data and evidence-based interventions.

Massachusetts-based Edification Project will use virtual reality to educate kids about public health issues, starting with the dangers of opioids.

Epharmix, based in Missouri, uses automated text messages and phone calls for care management and remote monitoring. It's also participating in another accelerator, with StartupBootcamp.

Epidemic Solutions is another Massachusetts-based company looking to apply technology to combat the opioid epidemic. The company's Opioid Recovery Bracelet tis designed to detect signs of overdose and automatically administer life-saving naloxone.

Epion Health, in New Jersey, has a digital check-in app and will be expanding to additional patient-facing apps for providers.

This is at least the third accelerator for Pennsylvania-based nutrition app company Fitly, which uses computer vision, deep learning, and proprietary image recognition techniques to help users track their food intake.

Folia Health, another Massachussets company, is building an app to help family caregivers track small changes by answering simple, personalized multiple-choice questions.

MobiHealthNews wrote a feature last year on Healthimation, a Massachusetts-based company that delivers chronic condition management programs like the Diabetes Prevention Program via an animated avatar.

New York-based HealthRhythms received an NIH grant earlier this year for its smartphone-based mental health platform. By passively collecting various areas of users’ daily patterns, such as physical activity, sleep, and frequency of social interactions, the company aims to combat users’ depression or anxiety with behavioral suggestions customized to the individual and their routines.

California-based personalized medicine startup InsightRX uses data, mathematical modeling, and machine learning to find the best treatment option for each patient.

Leuko's noninvasive home test for white blood cell counts can be used to help chemotherapy patients know when they are healthy enough for another dose, allowing them to get more frequent treatments and improve their survival rate. It could also be used to detect acute infection. Leuko is based in Massachusetts.

Washington-based macro-eyes is working on Sibyl, an AI-powered scheduling intelligence tool that can predict which patients will show up and help providers know when to schedule them for appointments.

Medumo's CareTours app gives patients instructions and checklists before, after, and during hospital visits for procedures, which in turn helps providers improve outcomes.

California-based Moving Analytics makes an app and web portal for post-discharge patient follow-up and rehabilitation. Moving Analytics' first app, called Movn, is for cardiac rehabilitation. Based on MultiFit, an evidence-based rehab program developed at Stanford University, Movn helps guide patients through supervised exercises, monitors their vitals, and provides educational materials.

Maryland's Multisensor Diagnostics is working on MouthLab, a breath sensor that measures respiratory rate and pattern, pulse rate, ECG, SpO2, temperature, BP, and spirometric lung functions, all in 30 seconds.

Nutrimedy uses technology to connect pregnant women with registered dieticians, helping them know what to eat and what not to eat during their pregnancy. It's based in Massachusetts.

Orbita, also based in Massachusetts, is one of the more prominent startups using voice assistant technology in the healthcare sphere. Orbita builds voice apps for remote patient monitoring, education, care coordination, and research.

New York-based OZONE.ai is a data security company with a platform which includes intelligence, governance, and reporting capabilities.

Pillo Health, another local startup, is creating a voice-activated home health robot with applications in medication adherence as well as more general health and wellness. 

California-based SafeInHome is using passive tracking sensors to help seniors living at home stay safe by informing family members of deviations from their normal routine.

TailoredCare, based in Wisconsin, is developing a tool to support family caregivers. The tool, TCARE, includes standardized assessments, decision algorithms, care planning tools, and community resource database links.

New York-based TelaDietitian is a telemedicine company that connects users to registered dieticians for $49. They can connect via phone or video visit.

ThinkGenetic is a patient education platform that helps people diagnosed with a genetic condition understand their diagnosis, and undiagnosed patients discover genetic conditions.

Using EHR interoperability standard FHIR, Massachusetts-based TORq Interface helps hospitals and medical device companies communicate and coordinate to fairly share surgical schedules.

The sole international entry this year, Unima is based in Mexico. It's creating a fast and low-cost diagnostic tool to help doctors in the field in remote or resource-limited areas diagnose diseases at point of care. The platform uses a pin prick blood test, a diagnostic paper, and a smartphone camera.