Archive for the ‘HealthCare’ Category

Health bug hits Microsoft; buys Medstory

February 26, 2007

After Google getting Adam Bosworth to add direction for major initiatives into health domain, it is the turn of Microsoft to play the catchup game before it gets too late. Today Microsoft announced that is has acquired Foster City, CA based Medstory, a health and medicine search engine. The startup has been in works for the past at least 2 years is backed by angel investors Esther Dyson, Zach Nelson(President and CEO of NetSuite), and Marty Tenenbaum(Chairman of CommerceNet).

With this deal Microsoft joins the group of software development companies looking to solve issues related to easier access, search, and management of medical information. Besides Microsoft and Google, Intuit recently came out with a new health expense manager software. Previously I had also written about MedBillManager  building a web-based  expense tracking and collaboration platform. Sermo and PatientsLikeMe are couple of other funded startups building social networks for health care providers and patients respectively. Also last month, former CEO of AOL had launched RevolutionHealth.com, a consumer facing health site.

Although the quality of search results provided by Medstory is debatable, it does offer users with another option to search for health information. Looking at Google, the search giant has also updated its search engine to smartly determine health related queries and present users with further filtering options like Treatment, Symptoms, Test/Diagnosis, and more. However personally I think we are still a long way from enabling common people to reach the right diagnosis and treatment options using simple search queries. The ability to connect a patient with the best and latest treatment option in the least amount of time matters the most. Looking at Medstory results you can easily tell that the search engine easily falls behind in terms of sources of content it is indexing, which further impacts serious research activity based on the site. While Google has a clear advantage on the indexing area, we need something more significant in the medical area than just links to Wikipedia and cancer organizations.

Links:
Medstory

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Sermo – Doctors S-Network closes quick funding Round 2

January 24, 2007

Okay, this news had been floating around unconfirmed for the past week. Within 3 months of the announcement of their last funding round, Sermo has closed $9.5 million round of Series B funding. This funding round was led by new investor Okay this news had been floating around unconfirmed for the past week. SoftBank Capital. Existing Sermo investor, Longworth Venture Partners, also participated in the funding. Earlier Sermo had raised $3 million in its Series A.

Sermo building up nicely to provide a knowledge sharing network for physicians where they can share opinions and observations from their daily work and in this process learn about emerging trends. Sermo network current has almost 6,000 doctors from all 50 states in over 30 different specialties and increasing by 400-600 physicians every week. Currently Sermo is open only for doctors to sign-up, and authenticates physician credential in real-time ensuring that only physicians can become members. Other people looking to sign-up can add their names to the waitlist, as Sermo builds the non-physician end of the platform.

Personally I have come across a few blogs by doctors who want to join a platform enabling better communication in their community or who want to make better use of IT in streamlining their everyday work. Sharing platforms like Sermo can aid this collaboration plan in a big way.

Links:
Sermo

Collaborate around your medical bills with MedBillManager

January 23, 2007

It is estimated that 57 million working-age Americans — 18-64 years old-live with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or depression. According to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, more than one in five, or 12.3 million people with chronic conditions, lived in families with problems paying medical bills. With such a high number of people not being able to afford medical insurance, it would be nice to have application that lets people track and compare what they are paying for their doctor visits so that they can collectively track down the most cost effective care providers. Nashville, TN based MedBillManager is building up nicely to provide such a collaboration platform. Actually MedBillManager does more than just bill comparison. It lets you compare your HSA, insurance rates, and manage/track all your medical expenses online.

Inside MedBillManager you regularly keep adding your care providers, bills you need to pay, amounts you have paid, and your insurance contributions. The fact I like about MedBillManager is that it is designed with families in mind and provides a completely anonymous way to enter your medical information. All you need to add a new person to your account it to enter a name and zip code, which makes future comparisons easier. Even when your bills are show to others for comparison, MedBillManager blanks out the last 2 digits of your zip code to make the guessing game more difficult. With all the hard word done by you, MedBillManager can generate reports for all your medical expenses, which can pretty useful during your tax season. The level of detail and classification in each of the forms shows that MedBillManager developers are from medical background and not just couple of web-developers cooking up another web app. All this combined with some great AJAX effects makes it a must use application.

As part of future plans MedBillManager will enable discussion and commenting around your medical bills to provide a true community advantage. Although it is a tough ask from a unfunded startup, but if MedBillManager can build a platform to in conjunction with pharmacies and larger medical aid providers to automatically import your billing information, it will give an big advantage over any upstarts looking to join the race.

Before you go out and start stress testing of the app, I would mention that MedBillManager is currently in beta and looking to officially launch within the next couple of months.

Update: Just as I finished publishing this post I received an email from Christopher Parks at MedBillManager informing me that they have just signed a deal with HSA for America to provide them with a co-branded “powered by MedBillManager” medical bill management tool for their HSA (health savings account) members. Great work and good luck with your first partnership Chris!

Links:
MedBillManager