29th September 2014: Startup of the week: Medable

For this 'Startup of the week' post, I caught up with Dr Michelle Longmire, Founder and CEO of US startup, Medable.

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with Medable]


1. What is Medable?
Medable is a development platform for patient engagement. Medable makes it easy for developers to build HIPAA compliant applications that connect patients to healthcare providers and payers. 

To build a rich interactive application, the complexities of HIPAA compliance multiply – and this is what makes Medable invaluable to developers. Medable has solved the technical challenges of secure collaboration with APIs functionality that is compliant end-to-end. Using Medable, developers can create an application that connects patients and providers with rich, collaborative interactions. Sharable data types include text, images, audio, video files, and custom data types configurable to meet specific application needs. Medable reduces development time dramatically and offloads security risk at the most important and challenging layer – the application!  

2. Could you explain the essence of Medable, i.e it's core values?
mHealth gets a lot of press, but as a physician, I still do not frequently use my mobile device to care for my patients - despite the fact that 95 million Americans have personal health information on their mobile device. One reason for this lack of connectivity between mobile apps and healthcare providers is that the security in data sharing is technically challenging and resource intensive to build. Medable solves this problem by enabling developers to make applications that with collaboration built in that is "medical grade" -- HIPAA compliant with data formatting to compatible with electronic medical records. Medable's goal is to really, finally, enable mHealth.  

3. What's the business model you're operating under?
Our business model is based on usage, i.e. number of users, API calls, etc. Our model is similar to SalesForce in some ways and to Rackspace in others.

4. Is there anyone else doing the same as you?
HIPAA compliance is broad and there are different requirements for say compliant data storage versus deploying a truly HIPAA application. There are many companies in the "HIPAA space." However, to our knowledge there is no other company offering an API for patient-engagement. 

5. Was there one moment which compelled you to begin the journey of working on Medable?
I was compelled to build Medable after I built my first HIPAA compliant application for secure image sharing. It took a year and my entire start-up funding to build this! I quickly realized that what we had built could be leveraged by developers them enable them to start at a point much further down the road, reducing cost, risk, and time to market. 

6. What have reactions to Medable been? Do different people perceive it differently?
The challenge is differentiating what we do from other companies in the HIPAA compliant space. The understanding of HIPAA is limited, so many companies building apps do not know how we differ from say a HIPAA compliant storage company like ClearData. Once customers understand what we are offering, the reception has been universally positive. I think that we meet an important and underserved need in medical app development.

7.    What are the weaknesses of Medable and what are you doing to address them?
Again, product-perception differentiation is a challenge in this space. We are doing targeting marketing and customer education to answer key questions: what is HIPAA? What is required in a HIPAA compliant app that connects patients and providers? How is this different than a secure backend alone? We are really getting out there trying to inform the mHealth community about our product and how it meets the need to build apps for patient engagement.

8. Two years from now, in 2016, what would success for Medable look like? What are the barriers to success?
Success would like wide adoption by health enterprises and startups alike. The reality is, if a company is building an app that shares data, the company should use Medable. Two years from now, Medable will have fueled the delivery mHealth so that doctors are actually using healthapps to connect with and care for patients across a wide array of populations, communities, and conditions.

9. What could be done to encourage more people to experiment with new ideas in Digital Health?
Medable! Using Medable, you can build an mHealth app in 1-2 weeks and then get it out for testing. I think that this is really important. We need to have methods to identify which apps actually provide clinical value. Getting apps into testing environments is key. Medable enables a developer to build an app, have multiple versions for testing, and then go back with clinical insight to scale the version that had the greatest impact.

10.  If people feel inspired by your journey, and want to do something with technology to improve Global Health, what would your words of wisdom be?
Get your feet wet and work in an area you know well. If you have or are informed about a specific condition, use that knowledge to create a technology that is meaningful in that area of health. Everyone is a health expert in something - use this experience to build something transformative. .

Medable is on Twitter and click here for the Medable website.