As we all know, healthcare is full of complexity and troubling issues that seem to have no answer. Sometimes, approaching a project from wildly new angles or with fresh insight from industry outsiders results in surprisingly simple solution. That’s exactly what these three Hive 2015 companies are doing. Each tackle very different problems – traumatic brain injury, health insurance, and hospital readmission – with exciting and unconventional approaches.
The complexities of health insurance are, at best, frustrating even to healthy people with vast resources–let alone those who face medical, emotional, practical and/or financial challenges. Gravie is a health insurance marketplace that helps people buy and manage their own health insurance, and offers a seemingly simple and straightforward solution for dealing with the minor – and sometimes major – annoyances in our healthcare system.
What’s groundbreaking about the concept is that customers can use Gravie as their one-stop-shop for all healthcare needs. First, the platform provides a marketplace to help individuals and families understand the options in simple terms and then buy what they need; Gravie offers both private market and public exchange options. Thereafter, users can manage their payments (including employer contributions, government subsidies and their own money) and deal with all things health-related in one single place.
Though Gravie’s very structure shatters many of the conventions regarding health insurance, the company’s founders “don’t think our idea is particularly inventive,” says Abir Sen, CEO. “In fact,” says Abir, “we find it incredible that someone else didn’t come up with it years ago. In 2015, we are still stuck in the archaic employer-sponsored health insurance system that evolved around the time the Korean War was ending.” No single “aha moment” was involved in creating Gravie, Abir says, noting that instead the group merely applied “very basic logic to how we can make the health insurance system better for consumers.”
Noora Health is making an impact on hospital readmission rates in India, where in comparison to the US the difficulties of healthcare delivery are magnified many times over. The company uses the principles of human-centered design to turn hospital hallways and waiting rooms into classrooms. Here, disenfranchised friends and family members can learn how to give their loved ones the care they need to continue healing, get healthy and stay healthy after discharge from the hospital.
“The health system is failing globally, as a select few are able to access and afford the modern status quo of healthcare,” Shahed Alam, a Co-Founder and the company’s Chief Strategy Officer explains, noting that Noora sees “untapped potential” for healthcare in patients and families themselves. “Currently, patients and their families are given home-care instructions in a rushed discharge synopsis, often not in their native language,” he says. Not only are the existing patient education programs ineffective but they are “seen as expensive, time consuming and do not address the perceived more ‘acute’ or pressing bedside issues,” Shahed explains. Noora prepares family caregivers to join the care provider team, integrating them into the formal healthcare system. Shahed continues, “We take complicated and disjointed medical information and repackage it in such a way that it is interesting, engaging and the lessons stick. Part of our innovation’s beauty lies in its simplicity – it begs the question, why isn’t this the status quo?”
A spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, MindMaze combines virtual reality with state-of-the-art brain imaging technologies to help people with traumatic brain injury transcend disability and live more complete and satisfying lives. “Coming from an engineering background, it made a strong impression when I came across the standard of care in neurorehabilitation, which has been stagnant for the last few decades with debilitating implications for patients,” says Tej Tadi. Founder of MindMaze and an electrical engineer by training, Tej realized that “something as simple as a mirror trick using virtual reality seemed to immediately improve patient outcomes.” That was the starting point for a company that now develops hardware and software to enhance a damaged brain’s ability to learn and adapt. Tej tells us that MindMaze technology is already being used to help heal those who’ve suffered from stroke and brain damage.
When asked to come up with a word that describes his company, he offered three: diverse, creative and multidisciplinary. As for the future of this field, Tej said that “the novel amalgam of virtual & augmented reality, brain imaging and neuroscience will enable a whole new generation of platforms to bring intuitive interfaces into every aspect of our daily lives.”