Innovation in the face of Coronavirus

By now it’s clear that the impact of the coronavirus is very significant from both a health and economic standpoint. Millions of people are navigating a new normal that includes makeshift childcare, working from home - or not working at all - and isolating from unnecessary social events.

The implications of a global pandemic of this scale are hitting startup ecosystems, too. Investors are taking their foot off the gas as they “wait-and-see” how long and how deep the economic ripples will be felt, and most founders are (rightly) trying to decide how to conserve cash as they face a slower than expected 2020. 

At NVP we are long-term investors and believe in the power of start-ups to drive economic development and for the underlying technology to drive systemic changes.  As we’ve consulted with our portfolio, we’ve found that several of startups are in fact leaning in to the crisis and providing help and solutions for managing the unforeseen circumstances now facing our healthcare systems, our schools and our government institutions. 

One such example is PadInMotion.  Under normal circumstances, PadInMotion works with over 30 health systems to provide a turnkey tablet platform - complete with hardware, HIPAA compliant software, a customized user experience, and analytics - that enables them to educate patients about their wellness plan and improve the patient experience.  The PaidInMotion solution is now being deployed to manage coronavirus isolation rooms, as well as the increased number of ER walk-ins at major hospitals in the New York metro area and across the country.  It is enabling multidisciplinary clinical teams to maintain a connection with patients in isolation.  Because the most seriously at risk are the elderly and those that are immunosuppressed, many cases will have added complexities such as a cardiac history, or require expertise from  a specific nursing team, psychiatry, or social services. It is not practical for all these clinicians to enter the isolation room. PadInMotion also allows for language translation, connection to concerned loved ones who might otherwise be cut off from communication, empowers the patients to give feedback and make requests, and can help with mental wellness - an obvious concern for those placed in isolation. For those self-isolating, but in need of monitoring, PadInMotion can send a tablet to a patient’s home.   The team has officially customized the product such that it can be used for the coronavirus use case immediately, upon wifi connection, at any location.

Another example is Classtag.  The parent-teacher communication platform has received a lot of social media love over the past few days as teachers and parents credit the program for helping to manage and simplify communication as schools close their doors.  On Monday they announced a schoolwide solution to support remote learning - for free - which allows school leaders and teachers to:  Reach every family with important messages, via SMS, email, apps or the web, and automatically translated into 55+ languages, get visibility into contact information accuracy and reach for every communication, communicate internally among teachers, school leaders and staff, post videos, assignments and resources for parents to engage children at home, hold virtual lessons using ClassTag events with a preferred video conferencing tool, and provide options for parents to support each other in a community forum.

1Huddle has built a 1Huddle COVID-19 “Game Pack” which will train employees on facts and best practices from the CDC & WHO.  They’ve already had numerous calls with existing customers and potential new clients who are leveraging it as an immediate solution to help educate, communicate, and connect with their people directly.  They’ve also rolled out games on helping companies transition to a remote workforce, which are currently being used within best-in-class global brands across pharma, hospitals, sports and entertainment and financial services, from executives to hourly employees.

And there are others: Ride Health, which provides a software platform to hospitals for patient transportation is bracing for what could be a concurrent spike in demand paired with supply constraint.  MindRight is offering their mental health coaching services for free to students who are now without classrooms, and may be experiencing increased anxiety, or those who were reliant on their schools for a range of different social or emotional supports. Ejenta, which uses medical devices that collect health metrics for patients with chronic conditions, and those that are older and may be immune compromised, has potential to help people stay healthy at home and reduce community transmissions and hospital visits.  Its tech was originally developed at NASA to help monitor astronauts’ health while they are up in space - so why not use it to monitor coronavirus patients here on earth.

There is no question that in the age of globalism and a world where new viruses (like COVID19) and antibiotic resistance is a growing concern, this pandemic should force us to reimagine how we handle public health crises.  It’s easy to see now that it’s not just our healthcare system that needs to adapt when lives are at stake.  The thing that makes us hopeful is that innovators - like our founders here at NVP - are problem solvers at heart. As we move forward, we are confident that there are ideas out there  to help meet the evolving need, not only during emergencies, but for every day health and wellness.  

A note from NVP Leadership: As the news on coronavirus continues to evolve, we encourage our founders and all the members of the extended NVP community to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe.  Please also check out our coronavirus guidance for founders blog - and remember to wash your hands, keep your distance, and stay tuned into the facts.  

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