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In $1.25M Seed Round, Patient Engagement Startup Lands Northwell Health


How Playback Health plans to improve physician-patient communication.

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New York’s Northwell Health is brandishing its in-house tech chops today, with news that it has invested $500,000 in a startup called Playback Health. The software company, which aims to bolster patient engagement through mobile and video solutions, is headed by a neurosurgeon who works for Northwell.

The investment is part of Playback Health’s $1.25 million seed round, an effort made possible by David Langer, M.D., who chairs the neurosurgery department at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is the principal founder and chief medical officer of the startup.

Northwell Health plans to contribute more than capital. Its neurosurgery department at Lenox Hill Hospital is slated to reengineer the tech, which will then go live elsewhere in the building and, eventually, the health system. From there, Playback Health’s solutions will spread to outside early adopters before a mainstream launch next year.

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“Northwell Health recognizes the value of Playback Health in further enhancing the patient experience and reducing hospital readmissions by using technology that is proactive, interactive, personalized and, most importantly, outcome-driven,” Richard Mulry, an executive for Northwell Ventures, the company’s investment arm, said in a statement.

So how does Playback Health intend to accomplish these challenging feats?

Its tech uses screen-capture video and other “patient-specific multimedia,” including audio and digital documents, as means of patient engagement. Taking root in mobile platforms, the software is meant to help clinicians teach patients about their diagnoses, treatments and discharge.

The idea is that this software will open discussions between patients and physicians, preventing costly and potentially dangerous breakdowns in communication. As data on outcomes and patient satisfaction become more important to increase reimbursements and fight off readmission penalties, the fruits of Playback Health can serve as both a defensive and offensive tool for health systems.

Northwell has tested a similar technology, finding that it did indeed improve the target metrics. Playback and Northwell expect the new solution to perform even better.

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