Digital Innovation Hub

A Harvard hospital explains why its best startup yet is one that sends you texts about your poop

Preparing for a colonoscopy isn’t pleasant.

In a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a scope to take a look at the inside of the colon, often to check for growths that could indicate cancer. So that the doctor can get a good look, you have to start eating a low fiber diet several days before the procedure, and then transition to a clear liquid diet the day before and take lots of laxatives —a regimen known as bowel prep.

Sometimes, though, patients don’t follow the instructions, and the doctor can’t get a good look, leading to wasted time and money. Or they don’t show up to their appointments at all.

The Harvard-affiliated hospitals called Brigham Health and Massachusetts General Hospital have been experimenting with a startup that says it can help solve both problems. And the initial results exceeded expectations.

“Both saw decreases in no show rates of over 30%. That’s a very significant ROI right then and there,” said Adam Landman, the chief information officer of Brigham Health.

The startup is called Medumo, and the experiment is part of a strategic collaboration between PULSE@MassChallenge and the Brigham Innovation Hub, which the health system started in 2013 with the mission of testing new ideas in clinical settings. Brigham Health has tested out some early stage pilots and studies to see what parts of new technology does and doesn’t work.

The innovation hub also serves as a connection point between clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.

“What we’re trying to do is create a learning environment. We want to work with startups that have great ideas and great people. Because we don’t have all the answers either,” Landman said at the Financial Times Digital Health Summit in New York.