Monday, December 15, 2014

Medical industry problems hospitalized her, and then inspired the launch of her tech startup

Medical industry problems hospitalized her, and then inspired the launch of her tech startup

Kate Rosow Chrisman
File 42968

As Star Cunningham walked from the third floor to the sixth floor of a renowned medical building, critical medical information was left behind.  Instead of travelling with her, the data stayed locked away on the third floor of a building, unwilling to share its secrets and insights to Star’s treating physician – information that would prove critical.
A few days later, Cunningham ended up back in the medical center.  She was dangerously sick and her primary care physician spotted the problem.  The specialist prescribed something that was dangerous for people with her condition (short bowel syndrome).  “Its ridiculous that I could be prescribed something that harmful to me when the data exists not to do so,” said Cunningham. 
File 42967
Like so many other entrepreneurs, Cunningham (pictured left) started her company because of a personal frustration.  She knew if the medical system was failing her – a well-education, highly involved patient who did her homework – it was failing lots of other patients as well.  Her company, 4D Healthware, is tackling some of the problems the healthcare industry either can’t or won’t take on themselves. “We are a software company and we are firmly in this space of personalized medicine,” said Cunningham.
Patient Driven
4D Healthware is driven by a user’s own data.  The platform supports all kinds of different wearable devices (as wearables grow, they expand their list).  Information from a user’s wearable is directly imported into 4D Healthware’s system, where it analyzes the data and sends back user-specific information.  Eventually, Cunningham wants the system to work seamlessly as patients visit doctors, flagging any potential hazard (like a bad prescription) the moment it happens, not days later. 
With a background in data and technology, Cunningham knew her product had to use data in a way that was useful for individuals.  She likens the state of personalized medicine using big data at the very start of Dorthy’s yellow brick road. 
After crunching data from wearables, company uses an algorithm (vetted by doctors) to give users feedback and encouragement.  She thinks the product is poised for success as patients get more involved in their care, especially those already using a tracking device such as a Fitbit.  “Consumers recognize that they have to get involved in managing their own health, and then consumers will drive doctors to look at the results,” Cunningham said about the platform.
Cunningham offers up an example.  A patient is diagnosed with high cholesterol and her doctor gives basic information to eat better and exercise more.  But the patient is still left in the dark on how to affect daily change.  4D Healthware can give daily interactions, encouraging behavior modifications that could improve a patient’s health.  Unlike scheduling an appointment with a doctor, “We interact with you in real time,” said Cunningham.
Having personalized information and a wealth of data from wearables gives the platform insight into a user’s health journey.  “It’s different for everyone but people are engaging a lot more with our platform because the recommendations are so personalized,” said Cunningham.
Over the next six to twelve months, the team plans to add more users to the site and increase the number of algorithms they use to crunch data.  4D Healthware will add more wearables to work with their technology, but she wants input from real users. “We wanted to have a way for the community to drive our development so that we connect devices to the platform that the community wants to use,” said Cunningham.  The team will also roll out more partnerships, including with naturopath clinics and non-traditional wellness programs. 
Having bootstrapped their way to this stage of development, the company is now raising $1 million of funding. 
Cunningham leaves no room to wonder – she is passionate about improving the healthcare field.  “There was a time where I walked around literally with a binder of information and I would sit down and have a conversation with my doctor,” said Cunningham.  With her vision to bring information from patient to doctor, seamlessly and without delay, binders should be a vestige of the past. 

Total Pageviews


Blog Archive