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Plug and Play Cleveland Part 2: virtual reality medical treatments and more


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Video gamers, you might not realize it, but the comfort level you’re building with the technology might just be preparing you for new medical treatment down the line.

The use of patient-worn virtual reality headsets, monitored by health pros, was one idea pitched from health industry startups Thursday afternoon during Plug and Play Cleveland.

Companies from around the world were invited to the Global Center for Health Innovation to present their ideas. A chosen few will return for the next few months to hone their business plans and, hopefully, attract investors.

Ideas varied widely but they boiled down to this: better health in less time, and at a lower cost.

VRHealth from Tel Aviv, Israel, outlined its progress in developing virtual reality headsets to help patients with their exercises or other treatments, and to collect a wide range of data that can be relayed directly to doctors and other caregivers.

Patients would first use the headsets in a medical center, and then take them home, explained VRHealth’s Eran Orr.

He then made a direct sales pitch.

“We are looking for a big partner, a provider who wants to lead with us,” Orr said during his presentation. “I believe the Cleveland Clinic is the right partner for us.”

The Cleveland Clinic and local non-profit JumpStart Inc. will be the lead decision-makers in choosing which startups will get to come back to Cleveland to work at the Global Center for Health Innovation on their business plans over the next few months.

Thursday’s event marked the launch of a three-year agreement with Plug and Play, of Sunnyvale, California, a company that runs similar programs in California, New York and several countries overseas.

Here’s a rundown of other ideas presented during the second of three sessions on Thursday.

HealthTensor is working on software to help doctors reduce their computer time so they can spend more time with patients. The company’s software automatically feeds medical history, test results and other data needed for both treatment and billing.

“Every hour a doctor is spending with a patient, two hours is being spent on the computer,” representative Nate Wilson said. “It’s not how medicine should be. And it’s not the doctors’ fault.”

TalkSpace is taking mental health therapy online, already building a network of 2,000 licensed therapists. Representative Deborah Francis explained it this way: download the app, answer a few questions and connect with a therapist within 90 seconds. She said the company has raised more than $50 million.

VideoTherapy promoted a concept to allow more patients to do their physical therapy remotely, potentially saving up to $5,000 on lengthy treatments.

Instead of going into an office for each physical therapy session, the patient follows illustrations on a video screen. A physical therapist can monitor patient movements through motion detectors – not video. If the patient has questions, he or she can open an online chat.

Twiage can eliminate 99 percent of the time-consuming phone or radio conversations between medics in ambulances and waiting emergency room personnel, instead directly transmitting medical data and providing GPS-based arrival time estimates, co-founder John Hui said.

The system is already being used by 42 hospitals, he said.

Kenzen, a late add to the program, promoted a patch that it envisions could improve workplace safety. The Kenzen Patch on workers would track vital signs, motions and analyze sweat in real time.

CancerAid is a mobile application already in use by 20,000 patients, but the company wants to grow. The app provides information about cancer, links patients to family, friends or others, and relays important information to doctors.

The company, with offices Hollywood, California, and Australia, said evidence has shown a savings of close to $20,000 in care, and success in patients living longer.

LifeNome promoted its XHealth product for employee wellness programs – the goal being to improve both health and participation through customized programs with advanced use of each individual’s health history. Employees would wear monitoring devices paid for by employers, insurance companies or healthcare providers.

CloudMedx is working with five U.S. hospitals on electronically combining lab results, prescription data, patient information and doctors’ notes into a single system to help doctors make better decisions.

Owkin, which has developed a data-based system aimed at predicting outcomes for drug research, said it wasn’t seeking money, but rather the goal is to come back in June with new hospital partners to present findings.

Nate Wilson, co-founder of HealthTensor, discusses how his company’s software can reduce computer time for doctors, increasing the share of their time spent with patients. 



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