To gather drug data, a health start-up turns to consumers

To gather drug data, a health start-up turns to consumers

For years, Thomas Goetz had been a spirited armchair advocate of the use of digital technology and data to improve health care.

At Wired magazine, where he was executive editor, Mr. Goetz assigned and wrote articles on the subject. He organized conferences, lectured and wrote a book in 2010, “The Decision Tree,” which hailed a technology-led path toward personalized health care and better treatment decisions.

In early 2013, just as he was leaving Wired, Mr. Goetz met Matt Mohebbi, a Google engineer who shared his interest in technology and health. Their conversations continued for months, and prompted an epiphany.

“It struck me that I could help make it happen, not just write about using data to personalize and improve health care,” said Mr. Goetz, who has a master’s in public health from the University of California, Berkeley.

And so the two men founded a company, Iodine, in July 2013. Its offering, an online service for tailored drug-taking information and advice, is being introduced on Wednesday at the Health 2.0 conference here.

Iodine reflects sharply increasing interest and investment in digital health companies. Venture investment in digital health start-ups in the first half of 2014 surged to $2.3 billion, surpassing the total for all of last year, according to Rock Health, which conducts research and provides seed funding for start-ups.

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