5 digital health companies to learn from

Which digital health companies are worth following and what could other companies learn from them? As an investor, entrepreneur, start-up coach and director of Digital Health at the Stanford Byers Center of Biodesign, Marta Gaia Zanchi has a privileged view of the digital health in Silicon Valley. She also collaborates with Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona), a postgraduate program to develop innovators and entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector. Marta Gaia reveals her personal list of companies worth following, and what other digital health entrepreneurs can learn from them:


Glooko was one of the first companies to leverage digital tech to improve care for a chronic disease: diabetes. It was founded by tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Yogen Dalal, who set out to address a need he personally experienced — a way to visualize and track his own blood sugar levels in order to better manage his prediabetes.

Marta Gaia and her colleagues at Stanford Biodesign wrote a case study on Glooko for our digital health students, and Yogen during an interview reinforces the important concept of stakeholders alignment for success in digital health (as in health technology more broadly): “Every need involves more than one stakeholder, so you need to figure out how to align their interests. For instance, if you improve the communication between the physician and the patient through digital health products, then everyone wins because the patient’s doing better and the healthcare system is more efficient in using its dollars more wisely,” Yogen said.

Medical Informatics and HealthReveal

From Medical Informatics and HealthReveal, both analytics companies, we can learn the importance of contextual data in healthcare, of information that is normalized to the individual and that can produce a real change in outcome for that one perso. “This is extremely difficult to do well, and a majority of health care analytics I have seen so far produces probabilities that hardly translate into opportunities for their care providers to optimize their patients’ health in a way that is timely and individual-centric”, Marta Gaia said.


The founder of Curai studied and lived in Barcelona before moving to Silicon Valley several years ago. Working on the cross-roads of data mining, machine learning, software engineering, healthcare and innovation, what founders can learn from it is to not shy away from wicked hard problems that have the potential for good at a very large scale, and to bring physicians in the team (both core and advisory) with relevant clinical expertise.


“A company in Silicon Valley that was founded by Anil Sethi, a good friend, amazing human being, and serial entrepreneur who previously founded Gliimpse, which Apple acquired in 2016 then released the product as Health Records”, Marta Gaia said. Ciitizen focuses on helping cancer patients and those with a serious illnesses access their medical information and turns unstructured records into computable data (e.g. for research, for clinical care, for ML/AI needs). Ciitizen believes that patient mediated data portability helps solve hospital interoperability. A patient or Ciitizen-centric approach allows users to share data with their healthcare providers and donate their information to medical research. What you can learn from Ciitizen, according to Marta Gaia, is “a relentless focus on the need, and on hiring the very best people to help solve it, including the former HHS HIPAA guidance officer and stellar data normalization and informatics team”.

Marta Gaia holds degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (BS, MS) and Stanford University (PhD), and a certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2016, the Silicon Valley Business Journal named her one of the ‘Silicon Valley 40 Under 40’. Marta Gaia is moving to Barcelona in 2019 for a new investment initiative, along with a growing team of seasoned digital health advisors, both investors and executives, from the United States and Europe.

Willing to become an entrepreneur in digital health? Join d·HEALTH Barcelona

Biocat has open the selection for students of its sixth Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona) edition, a postgraduate program to develop innovators and entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector, with starting date in January, 2019. The 90% of the previous editions participants have found a job in the healthcare sector and 48% of them started their own business project.

Following the Stanford biodesign methodology, participants expeirence a full cycle of innovation. The fellows divide into multidisciplinary teams with graduates in science, design, engineering and business, and do a two-month clinical immersion in top hospitals in Barcelona to detect real unmet clinical needs on site that can be the basis for creating new products or services.

Throughout the program, participants experience a full innovation cycle, from identifying the business idea to designing and prototyping a viable solution and searching for funding. At the same time, they take on valuable knowledge in medicine, business development, design thinking and creative leadership skills from over 70 international professors from Stanford, Kaos Pilot and companies in Silicon Valley, among others.

More information about Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona).