Asha AI app, which helps seniors manage their care, among startups showcasing life sciences event

Asha AI CEO Rashmi Joshi, left, and lead designer Dayton Kelly at the Life Science Innovation Northwest 2022 meeting. (GeekWire Photo/Charlotte Schubert)

A new startup that aims to make healthcare tasks easier for seniors launched its app on the iOS store in April and showcased its technology at the recent Life Science Innovation Northwest 2022 meeting.

The meeting, organized by the industry trade group Washington Life Sciences end of April, presented a plethora of startups during its poster session. GeekWire caught up there with Rashmi JoshiCEO and Founder of Asha AIand lead designer Dayton Kelly to talk about the new company.

The Asha AI app. (AI image of Asha)

“The premise is to create something that’s really intuitive for older people to use, that inspires them to be more independent about how they manage their care, and helps them stay in touch with loved ones and community members. care team,” said Joshi, whose Redmond, Washington-based startup was part of the Washington Technology Industry Association Founder Cohort program in 2020.

The app helps with tasks such as managing medications, scheduling appointments, and connecting with caregivers, who can receive notifications and health information. The interface is fully voice-activated via Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. The type is large and the controls are simple, making it easy to use for people with vision or hearing or disabilities.

The idea for the business began when Joshi’s grandmother, Asha, was being treated for cancer. Asha, which means “hope” in Sanskrit, lives in Pune, India, with her husband. But the next closest family member is 1 p.m. away by train, and many more are in the Seattle area.

“We found ourselves taking turns flying from Seattle to Pune to take her to surgery, to help manage post-operative care,” Joshi said. “And we tried everything you can think of. We have tried sensor-based equipment, camera-based surveillance equipment. We went through three or four smartphones and tablets. But none of the technologies tried by the family were effective.

Asha is currently in remission. And Joshi’s company launched its product in April, with $225,000 in pre-seed funds. When designing the app, Kelly sought to understand the “nuances of how humans interact and translate them into technology.”

“You have to create something that fits into these nuanced structures of how we work with each other and how people want to interact,” said Joshi, who gathered feedback from payers, providers and patients to assess their needs after founding the startup in 2019.

Rashmi Joshi’s grandmother, Asha, was the inspiration for a new healthcare app. (Asha AI Photo)

Joshi likes to focus on issues involving IoT technology. In 2014, she founded Évalise, which made voice-activated inserts for bags, then disbanded. She was also previously director of marketing at Nurego, a Seattle and Israel-based IoT startup that was acquired by General Electric. “I’m a young girl through and through,” said the 29-year-old entrepreneur.

She has assembled a team that includes advisors Yan Chowformer medical director at Amgen, and Tony Quang, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Washington and president of the American College of Legal Medicine. All advisors and employees initially volunteered before officially joining the company, including Kelly and the VP of Engineering House Sean. That’s because they realized that “what we’re building at Asha meets a vital need,” Joshi said.

The technology designed specifically for older people covers different needs than Asha AI, Joshi said. Examples include Lively, which makes a cellphone with large buttons that connects to medical care, or CarePredict, which focuses on remote sensing technology.

The Asha AI app is currently free until May, but will be available later for $30 per month, with the option to add additional patients for less. The company also aims to sell to employers and healthcare and insurance providers at large-scale discounts. Future add-ons may include community portals for patient support, integration with transportation and other services, third-party devices such as remote monitoring products, and access to electronic health records.

“The long-term goal of where we’re headed is to actually be a preventative health solution,” Joshi said.

Asha AI Employees and Advisors. CEO Rashmi Joshi is third from the right. (Asha AI Photo)

Below, we highlight some of the other emerging startups that presented posters at Life Science Innovation Northwest 2022.

  • Crimson Medical Solutions is creating an organization system for IV lines to reduce medical errors. The Spokane, Wash.-based company received funding from Greater Spokane Inc., a business development organization.
  • Dotting is developing quantum dots, an alternative to conventional biological imaging agents, to cell imaging and western spots, a common laboratory technique. The University of Washington spin-out is powered by two National Institutes of Health small business grants.
  • Intracranial Pressure Solutions expands a device to relieve intracranial pressure, which usually occurs after traumatic brain injury. Laligam Sekharvice chairman of the UW Department of Neurosurgery and Harborview, is the founder.
  • Precision detection is developing a way to improve the quality of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans, which are used to analyze the function of organs like the heart and brain. The UW spin-out recently landed an NIH Small Business Grant, awarded to UW scientists Robert Miyaoka and larry pierce, who is CEO. The startup also won the People’s Choice award in the meeting’s speedy pitch competition.
  • Mesintel Therapeutic identifies therapeutic targets in fibroblasts, a key connective tissue cell. CEO T. Michael Underhill, a professor of cellular and physiological sciences at the University of British Columbia, co-founded the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company last year. The startup Won the reunion fast throw competition.
  • VoxCell BioInnovation develops bioprinting tools to design 3D cancerous tissue for drug development and research and raised $550,000 in pre-seed funds in March. Caroline Valente, CEO and founder of the Victoria, BC-based startup, recently earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria.

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