How UCSF’s accelerator helps well being tech attain extra low-income sufferers

Research sharing related to Covid-19

World digital well being funding hit a report excessive of $57.2 billion in 2021, in response to CB Insights. Nonetheless, the healthcare business is a good distance away from seeing a major return on that funding within the type of sustained discount in expenditures or enchancment of outcomes.

An enormous purpose for that could possibly be as a result of truth low-income affected person populations who face disproportionately worse well being outcomes than their higher-income counterparts are additionally the most certainly to come across boundaries in well being expertise use. That’s what Courtney Lyles, co-founder of S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech, the College of California San Francisco’s well being fairness accelerator, believes — and she or he is decided to vary that.

There are a bevy of causes well being expertise could be inaccessible for low-income sufferers, in response to Lyles. For instance, a startup would possibly solely provide companies in English or battle with misconceptions in regards to the market alternative to serve Medicaid populations.  In different circumstances, firms could not know methods to attain low-income sufferers. To assist the latter class of startups, Lyles co-founded S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech in 2019 with Dr. Urmimala Sarkar, a UCSF clinician. 

“We’re close to Silicon Valley, so a whole lot of digital well being firms would come advert hoc to us to study extra about affected person populations,” Lyles mentioned. “In 2019, we systematized all of these preparations and tasks, deciding it might be rather more environment friendly for us to work with firms in parallel and attempt to be extra propulsive.”

Some accelerators take fairness stakes within the startups they work with, however Lyles mentioned that may be “actually difficult” provided that UCSF is a public entity. As a substitute, S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech pursues collaborative analysis tasks with firms that span 12-18 months and give attention to higher tailoring well being tech to the wants of low-income sufferers. The accelerator, funded via the college, is made up of analysis and scientific employees who span totally different experience. 

The three firms the accelerator have labored with to date are AppliedVR, InquisitHealth and Somnology MD. All three firms have printed at the least one analysis paper with S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech, and the accelerator expects to publish “one if not two extra papers” for every of those firms within the subsequent few months, in response to Lyles.

Every firm got here to the accelerator with totally different wants. For instance, AppliedVR — a digital actuality platform designed to scale back the quantity of opioids sufferers have to handle their ache — approached S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech after it had established a robust base of commercially-insured sufferers. The corporate sought the accelerator’s assist as a result of it realized continual ache was an enormous downside amongst Medicaid populations and it had not pivoted to check its product for that inhabitants.

When the accelerator put the headsets on UCSF sufferers lined by Medicaid, greater than 95% of them had by no means touched a VR platform of their life. Gaining their suggestions on the expertise helped AppliedVR tweak its platform, and the startup additionally talked to UCSF’s scientific leaders about what it might take for suppliers to consider VR as a suitable remedy service inside their arsenal for continual ache administration.

Analysis regarded totally different for InquisitHealth. The startup’s peer mentoring-as-a-service answer seeks to handle social determinants of well being by matching sufferers with an sickness coach primarily based on shared situations, age, language, remedy varieties, demographics and comorbidities. When the corporate got here to S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech, it had collected a wealth of scientific information on its sufferers however was not sure the way it may make the most of that information to proceed creating its platform. 

InquisitHealth collaborated with the accelerator’s researchers to raised perceive what was working and what could possibly be improved to raised attain Medicaid populations, permitting it to shortly make sense of its information and transfer on to the product redesign course of.

Within the coming years, Lyles expects the accelerator to pursue analysis with extra startups. She additionally thinks there’s room to deliver extra stakeholders into this system, comparable to payers and buyers, to allow them to all work collectively to enhance well being expertise’s means to achieve low-income sufferers.

S.O.L.V.E. Well being Tech stands for “Surmounting Obstacles for sufferers with Low revenue and Vulnerabilities Day-after-day via Well being Tech.” Individuals would possible agree that if the accelerator actually achieves its mission to assist digital well being firms higher serve low-income sufferers, it could be forgiven its clunky title.

Ksenia Zvezdina, Getty Pictures


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