The U.S. healthcare sector is something of an enigma. It’s one of the most complex systems on the planet, and it has remained immune to modernization and efficiency efforts. That is until this past decade and, in particular, the last few years, as major advances in technology—along with a number of other factors—have begun to put a dent in rampant inflation that had afflicted healthcare spending.
What companies are helping address healthcare inefficiencies and technological lapses? While we might not be able to name all of them—that would take a very, very long time—we nonetheless wanted to highlight some of the leaders in the space. With that in mind, here are five businesses that are revolutionizing healthcare.
Product: A Stool Bank for Fecal Transplant Patients
If you’ve ever heard of Clostridium difficile—commonly known as C. difficile—then you’re well aware of how incredibly dangerous it is for anyone who contracts it. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, nearly 350,000 people are hospitalized each year in the U.S. because of such infections, resulting in up to 30,000 deaths and costing the healthcare system billions of dollars each year.
Though commonly used treatments are expensive and can have potentially serious side effects, a new kind of procedure has recently emerged that is exceptionally safe, inexpensive, and remarkably effective. That would be fecal matter transplants, a procedure in which stool from a healthy person is transplanted into someone suffering from C. difficile.
Founded by a group of friends, OpenBiome essentially formalizes the process by which donors are screened and patients undergo such transplants. As an added bonus, those who make it through the nonprofit’s grueling applicant screening process are paid for each stool sample they donate: Donors receive $40 per sample, with those who come in five times per week earning an additional $50, translating into $250 per week—and potentially $13,000 per year.
To learn more about the revolutionary treatment, and how it could save the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year, check out our full profile of OpenBiome here: “The Key to a Stunning Medical Breakthrough? Your Poop”
Product: Wearable Airbags
Pennsylvania-based ActiveProtective has designed and developed a kind of wearable airbag that deploys to protect a user from a hard impact. The company spent a decade developing the device, which was created to help the elderly. That cohort is disproportionately affected by falls, with one out of every three people aged 65 and older suffering from one each year.
Though it’s still in its early phases of development, ActiveProtective has the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. After all, hip fractures cost the U.S. healthcare system $30 billion in 2012—a figure that’s expected to climb to $70 billion by 2020.
You can check out our full story on ActiveProtective here: “Could an Airbag Revolutionize U.S. Healthcare?”
Product: Pain Relieving Device
Buzzy is the brainchild of Dr. Amy Baxter, a pediatric emergency room physician and pain specialist. After watching the discomfort her patients often displayed around needles, and what she perceived to be the healthcare system’s indifference, Baxter began developing Buzzy, the simple pain relief device she would spend the next few years developing.
Baxter has manufactured and sold the device—which resembles a cartoonish bumblebee—since 2009. It’s been a hit since then, thanks in no small part to how simple it is for clinicians to use: For an injection, it can be applied to any part of the body to desensitize for 30 seconds; it’s then slid toward the brain to keep disrupting sensations during the actual poke. There’s also a version for adults, the VibraCool unit, which attaches directly to an aching knee, elbow, or wrist for 10 minutes, helping eliminate pain.
To learn more about Buzzy, check out our profile of Baxter and the company here: “How a Pediatric Emergency Doctor Transformed Into an Entrepreneur”
Company: Modernizing Medicine
Product: An Innovative Electronic Medical Records System
Founded by serial entrepreneur Daniel Cane and Dr. Michael Sherling, a practicing dermatologist, Modernizing Medicine has taken an altogether different approach toward developing and running an electronic medical records (EMR) system.
Created with the input of physicians practicing across a range of disciplines, Modernizing Medicine’s cloud-based EMR system—dubbed Electronic Medical Assistant (EMA)—remembers an individual practitioner’s preferences and adapts accordingly. Available as a native iPad application, it’s easily accessible and generates both exam notes and billing codes automatically. It also helps clinicians make better medical decisions, as it incorporates “structured treatment and outcomes data from millions of patient encounters.”
To learn more about how Modernizing Medicine is taking the healthcare sector by storm, read our Q&A with co-founder Cane here: “Can a Startup Fix U.S. Healthcare?”