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TMC-accelerated Houston startup exits to health services giant

ScalaMed, which went through the TMC Accelerator in 2018, has been acquired. Photo via TMC

Healthcare services giant Cardinal Health has acquired Houston-based startup ScalaMed, whose platform transfers prescriptions directly to patients via a secure mobile app. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

ScalaMed now falls under the umbrella of a Cardinal-owned company called Outcomes. ScalaMed’s technology will be available throughout Cardinal’s nationwide pharmacy network.

“As healthcare continues to evolve toward patient preferences, the acquisition of ScalaMed allows us to center our connected ecosystem around the patient from the outset of their treatment journey — from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to home,” Brent Stutz, senior vice president and general manager of Dublin, Ohio-based Outcomes, says in a news release. “Using ScalaMed’s technology, we can better support patients at every step along their treatment journey through unified communication and more informed insights that will help remove access and adherence barriers.”

Dr. Tal Rapke, founder and CEO of ScalaMed, says the process of digitizing prescriptions removes the patient from the equation, helping them bypass challenges such as forgetting medication while on vacation or lacking a convenient pharmacy nearby.

ScalaMed, founded in 2016 in Australia, raised $1.1 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. It was a member of the TMC Accelerator’s medtech program in 2018.

“With the scale and innovation Cardinal Health offers, we can revolutionize how prescriptions are filled and help solve the massive, costly challenge of medication nonadherence,” says Rapke, who’s a physician.

According to an article published in 2016 by the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy, medication nonadherence happens when a new medication is prescribed for a patient, but the patient does not obtain the medication or an appropriate alternative within an “acceptable” period after it was prescribed.

An article published in 2018 by The Permanente Journal reported that medication nonadherence happens with as many as 40 percent to 50 percent of patients who are prescribed drugs for chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Each year, medication nonadherence costs the U.S. healthcare system $528 billion and contributes to about 275,000 avoidable patient deaths, according to a study published in 2018 in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

“Medication adherence … constitutes one of the ‘big hairy problems’ or ‘big hairy audacious goals’ of healthcare,” says an editorial published in 2020 by BMJ Journals.

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Here's what Houston research news dominated this year on InnovationMap. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. In many cases, innovative startups originate from meticulous research deep within institutions. This past year, InnovationMap featured stories on these research institutions — from their breakthrough innovations to funding fueling it all. Here are five Houston research-focused articles that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.


Texas nonprofit cancer research funder doles out millions to health professionals moving to Houston

These cancer research professionals just got fresh funding from a statewide organization. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Thanks in part to multimillion-dollar grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, two top-flight cancer researchers are taking key positions at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Pavan Reddy and Dr. Michael Taylor each recently received a grant of $6 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Reddy is leaving his position as chief of hematology-oncology and deputy director at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center to become director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. C. Kent Osborne stepped down as the center’s director in 2020; Dr. Helen Heslop has been the interim director. Continue reading.

Rice University deploys grant funding to 9 innovative Houston research projects

Nine research projects at Rice University have been granted $25,000 to advance their innovative solutions. Photo courtesy of Rice

Over a dozen Houston researchers wrapped up 2021 with the news of fresh funding thanks to an initiative and investment fund from Rice University.

The Technology Development Fund is a part of the university’s Creative Ventures initiative, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants since its inception in 2016. Rice's Office of Technology Transfer orchestrated the $25,000 grants across nine projects. Submissions were accepted through October and the winners were announced a few weeks ago. Continue reading.

Houston researchers create unprecedented solar energy technology that improves on efficiency

Two researchers out of the University of Houston have ideated a way to efficiently harvest carbon-free energy 24 hours a day. Photo via Getty Images

Two Houstonians have developed a new system of harvesting solar energy more efficiently.

Bo Zhao, the Kalsi Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, along with his doctoral student Sina Jafari Ghalekohneh, have created a technology that theoretically allows solar energy to be harvested to the thermodynamic limit, which is the absolute maximum rate sunlight can be converted into electricity, as reported in a September article for Physical Review Applied.

Traditional solar thermophotovoltaics (STPVs), or the engines used to extract electrical power from thermal radiation, run at an efficiency limit of 85.4 percent, according to a statement from UH. Zhao and Ghalekohneh's system was able to reach a rate of 93.3 percent, also known as the Landsberg Limit. Continue reading.

Texas A&M receives $10M to create cybersecurity research program

Texas A&M University has announced a new cybersecurity-focused initiative. Photo via tamu.edu

Texas A&M University has launched an institute for research and education regarding cybersecurity.

The Texas A&M Global Cyber Research Institute is a collaboration between the university and a Texas A&M University System engineering research agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The research agency and Texas A&M are also home to the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

The institute is funded by $10 million in gifts from former Texas A&M student Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist and cybersecurity expert, and other donors. Continue reading.

Houston research organization doles out $28M in grants to innovators across Texas

Houston-based Welch Foundation has awarded almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. Photo via Getty Images

Chemical researchers at seven institutions in the Houston area are receiving nearly $12.9 million grants from the Houston-based Welch Foundation.

In the Houston area, 43 grants are going to seven institutions:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Rice University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University Health Science Center
  • University of Houston
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

The Welch Foundation is awarding almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. The money will be allocated over a three-year period. Continue reading.

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