A look at two telehealth innovations and funding announcements across Flyover Country
“We live here. And we believe in making the community around us better instead of trying to find where this would sell the best.” — Nathan Walsh, CXO of Continuum
MAY 14, 2020
Continuud's CEO Richard Walsh and CXO Nathan Walsh
Even in the best of times, people living with HIV/AIDS face a host of health and socioeconomic challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened those problems due to the closures of both the clinics run by AIDS service organizations (ASOs) and the public libraries low-income patients rely on for internet access.
Indianapolis-based startup Continuud is stepping into the gap with a tablet-based telehealth solution ASOs can use to keep patients and care coordinators connected. Flyover Future spoke with CEO Richard Walsh and CXO Nathan Walsh (who are partners in both business and marriage) about Continuum.
What can AIDS patients do through telehealth?
Richard Walsh: You can’t do a lot of the medical side through telehealth. However, every other piece of that you can. You can still get your mental-health services through telehealth; you can still get your care coordination through telehealth. And with a smart implementation of it you can even do your Ryan White certification in a HIPAA-secure way (this certification unlocks federal funding to pay for care and support services).
Why do you provide tablets with unlimited 4G LTE data?
Nathan Walsh: There are populations that don’t have access to technology. A lot of the patients for these organizations will use their local library’s Wi-Fi, which isn’t going to be that fast and isn’t really going to be able to support video calling. But that’s all they have. And obviously, they can’t even get to that right now.
Why did you get into this niche market?
Richard Walsh: I’m actually HIV positive, and Nathan is negative. So we’ve seen this from both the prevention and engagement perspectives. When I was diagnosed, we were living way out in Greencastle, which is a small town about 45 minutes west of Indianapolis, and getting to Indianapolis for care on a regular basis at the time was cost prohibitive. We know the barriers because we’ve been there. And we also know what technology can do to tear those down.
We go into this knowing that we don’t necessarily have the solution, but we have the ability to create solutions. And so we listen. We are regularly invested and take part in community discussions. We serve on committees and action panels, and we really just take the time to be involved and really understand the core issues.
We are not health leaders, but we are innovative founders with the passion, skills, and knowledge necessary to create technology to support existing workflows and enhance them.
Why start Continuum in Indianapolis?
Nathan Walsh: We live here. And we believe in making our community around us better instead of trying to find where this would sell the best.
Richard Walsh: We’ve looked at opportunities that would take us elsewhere; we’ve looked at incubators and accelerators that would require us to move to the Bay Area or Minnesota or other places like that. And although the opportunities can be great, we have decided that we’re not going to take advantage of that type of programming, because it will pull us away from our community. And I think that being here, especially with our core team being here and with the bulk of our clients being here, is a critical piece of how our organization grows.
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Telehealth reduces mental health suffering in rural America
Researchers at the University of Kentucky are also working on telehealth--in this case as a way to reach rural areas.
Mental health is a growing problem in rural areas, where almost half of US counties don’t have a psychiatrist. The problem is even greater in the 1,339 counties with fewer than 10,000 residents, where 80% lack a psychiatrist, 61% lack a psychologist, and 91% lack a psychiatric nurse practitioner. However, telehealth is slowly starting to bridge that gap, according to a report by TechRepublic.
Telehealth can be especially effective for rural sufferers because it not only connects them to the services they need but the long-distance arrangement lets them sidestep the stigma that often prevents rural residents from seeking help.
Michigan space tech businesses receive NASA grants
NASA has awarded grants to three Michigan tech companies as part of the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR). The recipients previously earned NASA SBIR Phase 1 awards, a requirement for receiving this SBIR Phase II research funding.
The companies are:
In all, NASA is awarding $104 million to 124 recipients nationwide. The Phase II contracts last two years and provide a maximum of $750,000 in funding per recipient.
Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, emphasized the role small businesses play in advancing key technologies. “Small businesses offer innovative solutions that benefit every area of NASA and often find applications outside of the agency.
This announcement is another step forward in NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach. The agency continues to invest in and support small businesses, as they continue to mature important technologies for future missions that can also benefit us on Earth.”
Proof of delivery app boosts efficiency and reduces contact
St. Louis-based ACERTUS, a “tech-enabled automotive logistics and services provider,” has just released a new mobile app: VINlocity Driver. The app addresses the needs of last-mile and fleet delivery drivers at a time when deliveries are becoming an essential service for stay-at-home customers.
VINlocity Driver offers electronic proof of delivery and real-time data and status updates, increasing efficiency and reducing paper and contact.
William Billiter, ACERTUS co-founder and CEO, said the company has a long history of providing transportation technology. “Amidst the novel COVID-19 pandemic and a more e-commerce driven world, there has been a fundamental shift in delivery logistics and a surge in last mile delivery.
While the world is pivoting to keep up, our company has been offering last mile delivery service for more than 20 years. We have the infrastructure in place and continue to make enhancements to our technology to optimize this in-demand service.”
FUELING THE FUTURE
First round of grants from 16 Tech will support community initiatives
Indy nonprofit 16 Tech Community Corp. has awarded $500,000 in grants to 15 organizations located near the 16 Tech Innovation District. The funding covers education and workforce development, community development, neighborhood associations, and the arts. Another $500K round of grants is planned for later this year.
Bob Coy, 16 Tech Community Corporation president and CEO, said the awards, enabled by a partnership between the 16 Tech Investment Fund Advisory Committee, neighborhood associations, and the City of Indianapolis, will “support new neighborhood-based projects and expand existing programs, helping residents start and grow small businesses, preserve and celebrate neighborhood culture and history, and deliver skills training for tomorrow’s workforce.”
Detroit fund lends a hand to small businesses
The Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund has closed after providing $575,000 in funding to 347 recipients. In a previous round, the group funded 350 small businesses.
Omnia Fishing lands $1.15M in seed funding
Minneapolis startup Omnia Fishing has closed on a $1.15 million investment thanks to several Twin City firms and angel investors.
Cincy medtech firm raises $9.2M
Medical device manufacturer Genetesis, based in Mason, OH, has raised $9.2 million in Series B funding, led by CincyTech and the Ohio Innovation Fund. Returning investor Mark Cuban (of Shark Tank fame) participated, along with TDK Ventures and an undisclosed global healthcare firm.
DTN announces acquisition deal with ClearAg
The Twin Cities' DTN, a weather data firm, has announced that it will buy ClearAg’s digital farming platform from Iteris, Inc. The $12 million deal is aimed at bolstering DTN's ties to agricultural customers.
Durham startup secures another $235K
Polaris Quantum Biotech, based in Durham, NC, has raised $235,000 in equity, bringing total investment to $485,000. The company recently launched a drug discovery platform that leverages quantum computing, AI, and precision medicine.
North Carolina pharma earns FDA approval of MS drug
A North Carolina pharmaceutical company has earned final regulatory FDA approval of a drug that treats multiple sclerosis. Banner Life Sciences, based in High Point, NC, developed the drug, which is called Bafiertam. It is a delayed-release capsule that targets relapsing-remitting forms of MS.
MS patients and their doctors are hopeful that Bafiertam, which contains a lower dose of fumarate, will be as effective as Tecfidera but easier on the gastrointestinal tract. Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that causes attacks on the central nervous system, has no cure. Eighty-five percent of people with MS have a relapsing-remitting form of the disease.
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