Scaling Precision Medicine

Much of current medical standard procedure is trial and error. You’re feeling ill, you relay your symptoms to the doctor, and your doctor then prescribes you a treatment—the same exact treatment that’s prescribed to anyone with your symptoms. And if it doesn’t work, you’re prescribed another one. And another. But what if you could get it right the first time?

Instead of a one-size-fits-all method, precision (or personalized) medicine is tailored to fit each individual. Using this approach, doctors take into account not only current symptoms but also patient history, environment, genetics, and lifestyle in order to treat and prevent the disease. The generalized care system is moving towards “more effective, targeted drugs; less uncertainty, more accuracy—and, ultimately, better care.

Although precision medicine is most often associated with genomics, mobile technology and health applications can also play an enormous role in individualized care. As consumer digital technologies become more sophisticated, a vast amount of data is becoming available that creates a more accurate picture of each patient. “We’re heading toward being able to do your own medical selfie,” Eric Topol, a leading cardiologist and professor of genomics, says in an interview with MIT Technology Review. And with the right tools, those “medical selfies” will be extremely useful for precision medicine solutions.

But precision medicine isn’t without its problems. First of all, it’s expensive and time-consuming. That has made it slow to deliver on its promise of transformative outcomes. Consider ivacaftor: according to one writer at the Scientific American, although the drug eased symptoms in 5% of cystic fibrosis patients, it also took decades to develop and costs $30,000 per year per patient. Worse still, it functions similarly to three other, cheaper medications already on the market (including high-dose ibuprofen).

Personalized treatments require enormous amounts of data, and that presents a challenge. Collecting the data can be burdensome for patients, and parsing the data is tedious and time-consuming for doctors, even with algorithms to help automate the process. However, we’re approaching major advancements in both mobile healthcare technology and artificial intelligence, and that will soon help deliver precision medicine treatments at unprecedented scale.

At Aspire, we’re working on advancements in multiple fields of healthcare using a very unique approach to artificial intelligence. The problem, we believe, with most AI approaches to personalized medicine is that they still use a one-size-fits-all algorithm. We think it’s a fool’s errand to employ the same static algorithm for every patient and expect personalized results when everyone’s biochemistry and behavioral patterns are dynamic and unique. Our adaptive artificial intelligence platform, A²I, assembles algorithm components on the fly to create a fully personalized model. This approach means that not only is the data analysis fully tailored to each individual patient, it also means that the algorithm is always self-optimizing and always adapting to new variables, new data sets, and new inputs.

One of our ventures, Tempo Health, has achieved some exciting results in their work with diabetes management using A²I that we believe could point a way forward for scaling other precision medicine solutions. Tempo Health recently partnered with a clinic in the Netherlands called Diabeter on a joint study, and the findings of that study have been very promising.

Diabeter is one of the largest diabetes specialist centers in Europe focused on providing individualized care and 24/7 support to help children and young adults with type 1 diabetes better manage their blood glucose. The doctors at Diabeter remotely monitor data from each patient streamed from CGMs, insulin pumps, and other devices on a regular basis, and in some cases doctors even make adjustments remotely to patients’ insulin pump dosages based on the data. This high-touch approach has achieved truly impressive results, with a hospitalization rate of only 3%, compared to the Netherlands’ average 23% hospitalization rate for diabetes patients. But offering around-the-clock support and individualized treatment plans takes a team of medical specialists and a lot of resources, and that makes their model incredibly difficult to scale.

That’s where Tempo Health comes in. In their study with Diabeter they used our unique adaptive artificial intelligence platform, A²I, to see if we could automate parts of their data-tracking and analysis model without sacrificing outcomes. Not only was A²I able to match the doctors’ results, A²I actually made improvements–with a 20% increase in patient time spent in the safe blood sugar range and 9% fewer hypoglycemic (dangerously low blood sugar) events.

Better yet, these results are scalable. With the introduction of A²I in a wearable glucose management solution, another project that Tempo is working on, we could dramatically reduce the hospitalization rate and save billions in diabetes-related healthcare costs every year.

The observational study is just the beginning. Next, Tempo Health will be developing a closed-loop artificial pancreas system called Rhythm that will take advantage of our sophisticated A²I platform. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With a dynamic, adaptive AI solution, we can use our same A²I platform to scale other precision medicine solutions in a vast array of other fields in healthcare–from medical imaging to personalized physical therapy assistance.

Precision medicine is the next step in the transformation of healthcare, and A²I, we believe, is the next step in transforming precision medicine.

New Smart Health Innovation Lab to Accelerate Technology That Improves Patient Care, Lowers Costs

Lancaster –  Smart Health Innovation Lab, a new health care technology center, has announced plans to open this summer in downtown Lancaster. The innovation lab is set to be the only facility of its kind in Central Pennsylvania, where technology innovators, an insurance company, and a health system will offer companies an efficient path to test health care innovations, ultimately making them available to consumers faster.

Smart Health Innovation Lab is currently finalizing plans for its Lancaster facility, which will be located in Lancaster Square at 100 N. Queen Street. Four Central Pennsylvania-based organizations have founded the organization, each bringing their unique expertise to the lab: Aspire Ventures, Capital BlueCross and its wholly owned subsidiary Geneia, Clio Health and Lancaster General Health, a member of Penn Medicine. 

“Technology companies often struggle to become integrated into the complex health care system,” said Dan Mitchell, vice president of corporate development for Aspire Ventures. “Smart Health Innovation Lab will be a vehicle to help companies overcome common obstacles to bringing technology innovations to market. The four organizations that are collaborating in the lab understand that rapid and strategic injection of technology into our health care system is another powerful way to increase patient satisfaction while lowering costs.”

Smart Health Innovation Lab will seek to accelerate products that advance health care technology in four categories: improving population health; improving the patient experience; lowering costs; and improving the provider experience.

The lab will house simulated environments such as clinical office space, patient care space and home settings. After an initial review process, participating companies will be able to use these simulated environments to test their technology.

Examples of technology that the Smart Health Innovation Lab will help companies accelerate include wearable devices such as diabetic monitors and orthopedic products. One such company is Biogaming, which is developing a digital health platform to engage, assess, train and monitor physical therapy patients. By using the lab for product testing, Biogaming will be able to integrate its technology into real-world systems and payor reimbursement models.

“Our core mission at Clio Health is to deliver exceptional value to our patients, physicians, third-party payers and the community-at-large,” said Joe Frank, CEO of Clio Health. “The Smart Health Innovation Lab will be essential to identify and perfect clinical breakthroughs which will enable us to deliver on our core mission.”

“Advancing the health and well-being of our customers is core to our mission,” said Gary D. St. Hilaire, president and CEO of Capital BlueCross. “Smart Health Innovation Lab will help turn ideas into powerful new products faster, so that our customers and the broader community can benefit from better health care outcomes and lower costs.” 

“We look forward to sharing our expertise with innovators and entrepreneurs who are equally passionate about enhancing health care and our community’s well-being,” said Jan Bergen, president & CEO, LG Health. “Our physicians and clinicians know first-hand the vital role technology plays in developing ways to improve access, lower costs and successfully partner with consumers to improve their health.”

For more information, visit

About Aspire Ventures
Aspire Ventures, an Aspire Universal Company, is a private equity firm focused on transforming industries and impact investment. Aspire Ventures leverages its capital, intellectual property and domain expertise to help bring breakthrough technologies to market faster and more cost effectively for the benefit of people worldwide.

Aspire Ventures has developed A2I, an adaptive artificial intelligence platform, to help its portfolio companies offer innovative technologies in the areas of mobile, cloud, machine learning, and big data analytics for a variety of industry sectors, most notably healthcare. Aspire Ventures is leading several initiatives in healthcare designed to break down silos, foster innovation and integration, and effect revolutionary change, and the company’s vision for healthcare is a patient-centered model that is focused on creating a better patient experience through precision medicine.

About Capital BlueCross
Capital BlueCross, headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., is the leading health solutions and insurance company in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. A partner in the community’s health for nearly 80 years, Capital BlueCross offers health insurance products, services and technology solutions that provide peace of mind to consumers and promote health and wellness for our customers.

More than a health insurer, the company delivers innovative solutions through a family of diversified businesses that is creating a healthier future and lowering health care costs. Among these solutions are patient-focused care models, leading-edge data analytics, and digital health technologies. Additionally, Capital BlueCross is growing a network of Capital Blue stores that provide in-person service and inspiration to help people reach their health goals. Capital BlueCross is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit

About Clio Health
Clio Health Lancaster, an Aspire Ventures affiliate, is a smart healthcare facility focused on transforming the patient experience and improving health outcomes at lower cost through innovative processes, a cutting edge technology ecosystem, and strategic collaborations. The campus, due to open early 2018, will include a specialty surgical hospital, physician offices, and ancillary services. The Lancaster campus is the first phase of a broader initiative by Clio Health to impact healthcare with innovative facilities across the U.S.

About Lancaster General Health
Lancaster General Health (LG Health), a member of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine), is a 663-bed not-for-profit health system with a comprehensive network of care encompassing Lancaster General Hospital, Women & Babies Hospital and the Lancaster Rehabilitation Hospital (in partnership with Kindred Healthcare). Our membership in Penn Medicine brings together the strengths of a world-renowned, not-for-profit academic medical center and a nationally recognized, not-for-profit community healthcare system. Outpatient services are provided at the Downtown and Suburban pavilions, along with additional outpatient centers and Express and Urgent Care locations throughout the region. Lancaster General Health Physicians is a network of nearly 300 primary-care and specialty physicians, at more than 40 offices throughout the region.

Kimberly Ireland
Director, Smart Health Innovation Lab

The Rise of Startup Communities and the Redistribution of Tech

As far as startup communities are concerned, Silicon Valley has long been hailed as the biggest—some might argue the onlygame in town.  But as the technological landscape expands, the old-fashioned reliance on physical geography is slowly becoming moot.

The high concentration of tech entrepreneurs and ecosystem resources certainly give the Valley and edge. But it’s getting easier and easier for inventors to gain traction elsewhereso much so that it’s becoming a movement.

It’s no secret that the Bay Area is astronomically expensive.  Many entrepreneurs are attracted to the lower cost of living in other locations, and digital communications make it easier to work remotely. Additionally, economies across the country are shifting from manufacturing to knowledge-based services and products. Denver in particular is acutely aware of this, and has been making increasing attempts to attract tech-minded university students to the area.

As tech entrepreneurs look for more cost-effective locales, and smaller cities pull out all the stops to entice them, successful startups are beginning to pop up across the nation. In Cleveland, for example, Medtronic’s biomedical tech startup, CardioInsight, developed a safe and non-invasive way to 3D map the cardiovascular system in order to better prevent heart disease. And Louisville-based El Toro invented an algorithm that allows online advertisers to precisely target customers “one-to-one” based on their IP addresses.

These instances, among a slew of others, serve to remind us that the true purpose of digital technology is—in essence—democratic. It disseminates the ownership of information, lowers the barriers of entry, and in turn de-centers power structures. In other words, anyone (regardless of locality) can become key contributors to the digital economy. Technology is supposed to empower people. So why does the belief that that great tech can only come out of Silicon Valley persist? Now, communities across the country are proving that’s not the case.

Steve Case, AOL co-founder and an investor himself, calls this phenomenon “the rise of the rest,” and he believes that inventive tech communities can, and often do, succeed outside of Silicon Valley. 

“I think there is a little bit more investor attention in terms of companies outside of California, New York or Massachusetts,” Case said last fall in an interview with Entrepreneur. “I think within these [smaller] cities there is a little bit more optimism, a little more sense of possibility, a little bit more of a network effect. There is momentum… And within the cities people are really rallying together.”

In a similar vein, Ankur Gopal, CEO of Interapt, a mobile development and strategy firm based in Louisville, Kentucky, focuses specifically on building up companies outside of historically popular tech hubs.

In an interview with TechRepublic, Gopal says there is a “quiet exodus” from the big tech hubs, while small cities like his hometown Louisville are becoming attractive alternatives with lower taxes, lower cost of living, more government support, and solid corporate communities and infrastructure.

Here at Aspire Ventures we’re proud to be part of the movement, and we’ve found major benefits to developing world-changing technology in a small town.

When people think of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, ‘tech hub’ isn’t usually the first descriptor that comes to mind. People usually imagine horse-and-buggies and unspoiled farmland from the surrounding countryside. But in Lancaster City, there is actually a burgeoning tech scene and a quickly growing knowledge economy that we are helping to build. 

Downtown Lancaster has experienced a resurgence like few other small towns on the East Coast. Its proximity to major metropolises like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore; the large number of colleges and universities; and a strong healthcare industry has made it an attractive place to live for young professionals looking for good jobs and affordability.

And that makes Lancaster an exemplary location for tech startups–it’s the ideal mix of talent, affordability, community support, and access to major markets. At Aspire we’re working closely with that community to develop a new kind of technology ecosystem that could have a lasting impact on healthcare and other industries that reach far beyond our region.

We’d love to hear from you about other parts of the country that are becoming their own startup hotbeds—because, as you can see, the list continues to grow…