Fueling Innovation Kim Lachance Shandrow  | November 15, 2017

Why Microsoft Turned To This Durham Startup To Help It Rethink Healthcare

Welcome to #BizUnited, a new series highlighting innovative partnerships between large companies and smaller businesses across America. Check back periodically for new installments.

The big data revolution is well underway in the healthcare industry, where we have access to more information than ever before. But what do you do with all that data once you get it?

That’s the problem Drew Schiller, co-founder of Validic, is looking to solve.

From Fitbits to smart health monitors, patients are generating more health-related data all the time. But that doesn’t always mean doctors will be able to use it.

“Much of the critical patient data that doctors rely on to make clinical decisions oftentimes aren’t available or aren’t accurate,” the Durham, N.C.-based entrepreneur said. “In fact, approximately 90 percent of medical devices in the hands of patients with chronic conditions today are inaccessible through conventional technology.”

That’s a problem, especially given the fact that the sheer volume of healthcare data is growing at an astronomical rate: 153 exabytes were produced in 2013 (one exabyte = one billion gigabytes). And that is forecast to grow by 48 percent annually to more than 2,314 exabytes by 2020, according to Stanford University.

But in that challenge, Schiller saw opportunity. There is no shortage of healthcare devices in use in hospitals and homes around the country. “All of these devices almost universally have a screen that displays a [health metric] number or readout to the patient,” Schiller said. “I thought, I can deposit a check with my thumb by just scanning the check [with a smartphone] and just sending it off to my bank. Why can’t I do the same thing with my medical device?”

Doing so effectively makes the data usable, keeping already time-crunched doctors from having to page through reams of raw data to locate relevant trends and patterns.

Today, the 200-plus-employee healthech startup seamlessly connects patient-generated data from apps, wearables and in-home medical devices to the greater healthcare system using its pioneering data connectivity platform. And the company’s software connects with more than 400 devices, wearables and healthcare apps from more than 223 million people, helping to improve health, mitigate risk and streamline cost. That’s saving healthcare professionals time while giving them a better and simpler way to understand patient health and habits.

It was that technology – along with the potential to uncover hidden health insights — that that spurred a partnership with Microsoft. Validic it is helping the tech stalwart generate key new insights about patient health. Its technology is integrated with Microsoft’s HealthVault Insights, a research-based project that uses big data to generate deeper patient insights. The ability to connect to clinical and consumer devices that Validic already has access to will help Microsoft create visibility and contextualize health data — including trends and correlations from everyday activities and behaviors.

How Validic’s Tech Works
Using Validic’s unique VitalSnap medical data-capturing technology, patients hold their phones over their medical device, and snap a picture of the health metric they need to share with their doctor. In the case of a diabetes patient, they would capture an image of their blood glucose reading on a blood glucose meter and use VitalSnap to send it immediately to their healthcare provider. The goal: Faster, more accurate management of chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many others.

For Microsoft’s part, the Redmond, Wash.-based legacy tech leader gains a critical connection to a wealth of medical device-sourced patient data that, without Validic’s proprietary backend technology, might otherwise be particularly challenging, time-consuming and costly to cull.

Doctors, on the other hand, can leverage the innovative system to remotely view patient progress and overall health.

“Validic provides a core data channel for HealthVault Insights, enabling device data connectivity to hundreds of devices,” Heather Jordan Cartwright, Microsoft’s general manager of artificial intelligence and research said. “This collaboration helps us continue to build a seamless experience for the patient while providing unique insights to the care team.”

For the growing small company’s part, it has significantly amplified its reach and brand validity by partnering with one of America’s most iconic innovators, effectively getting Microsoft’s seal of approval.

“Validic provides the scalable infrastructure needed to acquire a broad range of data for millions of patients,” Schiller said. “With a vision for a healthcare system built around intelligent insights, we are excited for this opportunity with Microsoft to improve care management and delivery in a way that benefits providers and patients.”

The startup, which counts billionaire Mark Cuban as an early investor as well as venture funds such as Greycroft Ventures, SJF Ventures and Kaiser Permanente Ventures, is also working to provide digital patient data solutions for Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, Panasonic, Philips and more.

“We are fortunate to work with multinational corporations like this, as well as with local startups,” Schiller said. “We want to connect patients to providers regardless of the size and scope of a company.”