10 startups to bring digital health to seniors

By Stephanie Baum (original on MedCityNews.com)

LiftwareSeniors tend to be marginalized when it comes to digital health. Given the fact that AARP’s membership starts at 5o, its membership base spans a wide range of technical ability, so inevitably some will be left out or feel like they’ve been overlooked.  These 10 healthcare startups, which have made the finalist cut for AARP’s Innovation @ 50+ LivePitch, have taken different approaches to practical concerns such as how mobile health apps, services and tracking devices fit into the lives of their users. Among their solutions are apps for caretakers, sensors to track balance and urinary tract infections to catch costly problems early and telepsychology.

Apps for caretakers

1.  Careticker is almost like a feelgood app for caregivers that focuses on the daily ritual of the role.  It helps caregivers manage tasks, gives access to a social network of other caretakers for support and gives incentives for completing tasks. The message to incentivize insurers to cover it is that supporting and engaging caregivers means better outcomes for a payer’s high risk population.

2.  Healthspek is a perfect example of the wide range of technology abilities in the retirement aged population. Its app assumes a reasonably high level of computer literacy since it entails submitting requests for and receiving continuity of care documents for personal health records. So its target users in the AARP population are likely to be fearless adopters or caretakers. Its dashboard also lets users manage medications, receive dose reminders and identify the nearest urgent care facilities. It also includes information like vital signs and when they were recorded.

3.  BiiSafe is a smartphone device that I could easily envisage being developed by an overprotective parent with teens wanting to prepare for any worst case scenarios. It combines a way to share a location with friends and family members and help find lost keys by pushing a button. But the device could have a lot of impact on the flipside of the cycle of life with concerned adult children worries about their parents in their own worst case scenarios. By pressing a button users can transmit their location.

4.  Just is a mobile app and service that helps you save money by identifying and resolving billing errors. Your medical bills, insurance information, and related documents like the medical records are redacted to protect privacy and uploaded for analysis by a community of billing advocates to analyze them for errors using machine learning algorithms. The advocates negotiate on your behalf with providers / insurance companies.


5.  Accel Diagnostics helps patients and providers to perform medical diagnostic tests. The single-use blood test is used with a companion smartphone app to detect biomarkers and manage chronic diseases from home.


6.  Sway developed the first FDA cleared balance testing system using the built-in sensors of iOS device to assess fall risk. Users press the device against their chest and a motion analysis algorithm calculates stability on a scale where 0 is unstable and 100 is stable.

7.  Pixie Scientific has developed senor technology for briefs to quickly assess seniors for urinary tract infections or dehydration. A QR code on the front is scanned. The idea is to provide a way to track seniors’ health and spot any significant changes in their condition over time and reduce healthcare costs by spotting problems earlier. Because memory loss from dementia can make it tough to communicate symptoms such as dizziness, older adults suffering from UTIs frequently end up in the emergency room from falls.  The company is currently recruiting for a pilot with assisted living facilities.

8.  Zansors uses monitors to inform users about how well they slept the night before using  ZeeMee sensor patches. Its color coordinated ranking system tells users how much they moved and how much they breathed as they slept.

9.   developed a device to improve the quality of life for some of the 10 million people with Parkinson’s disease. The goal is to limit tremors as they eat. A group of scientists at the Rock Health accelerator graduate embedded sensors at the base of spoon. When sensors detect a tremor, horizontally and vertically, the micro controller embedded in the spoon uses that data to direct the motors to move opposite the tremor, minimizing the tremor. It sells the spoon through its website for $295.


10.  TalkSession is like a Match.com for behavioral therapy. The company tries to create compatible matches between patients and therapists based on personalities, experiences and values and leverages last-minute cancellations to maximize therapists available time.

About the Author

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She’s written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.