Executives At Disrupt Say The Future Of Healthcare Depends On Testing, Sensing And Communication

From Theranos on Monday to a panel of esteemed startup chief executives on Wednesday, the discussion around healthcare at this year’s Disrupt has been about the ways in which new diagnostic and communication tools are transforming delivery and accessibility for patients.

“Healthcare is something that’s been done to us,” Livongo chief executive (and former Allscripts CEO) Glen Tullman told TechCrunch’s own Sarah Buhr onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014. At Livongo Health, which launched today. “What we’re seeing now is the consumerization of healthcare.”

Now, thanks to the products on offer from Tullman’s Livongo, Matthew Cooper’s Carmenta Bioscience, and Peter Hames’ Big Health, healthcare is becoming more about a conversation between a patient and their doctors, even if the patient isn’t aware of it.

The companies all tackle different ailments. With Cooper’s Carmenta Bioscience focused on diagnostic testing for pre-eclampsia; Livongo tackling diabetes; and Big Health looking initially to solve the problem of sleep disorders, but all share a belief that diagnostic monitoring and increased communication with physicians and a broader healthcare community can reshape treatment for those with chronic and acute conditions.

“The standard of care is that you see your doctor once every six months,” says Tullman. It’s a practice that all three startups call into question.

“Why is it the gold standard, this medieval model? It’s like going to see the blacksmith,” says Big Health chief executive Peter Hames. “What we tried to do with Sleepio [the company’s first product] is automate [treatment].”

Hames’ product takes evidence-based intervention treatment, filters it through a delivery mechanism. “We start to make behavioral medicine scalable, affordable, and evidence based,” says Hames.

Scalability is a key component of the modern healthcare solution, according to all three executives. The big idea is to leverage mobile technologies and the power of modern computing to create better testing and analysis that can be readily communicated to doctors.

This transformation of medical diagnostics and treatment is even more important given the new standards for reimbursement created by the Affordable Care Act. The ACA flips the emphasis from reimbursement for procedures to reimbursement for results. A requirement which means physicians need to monitor their patients’ health more closely to engage in preventative medicine rather than reactive medicine.

“We call it understanding your body’s vital narrative,” says Tullman.

For Matthew Cooper, detection is the key to good and affordable treatment. “The answer is driven by better diagnostic testing,” Cooper says.