What did Weight Watchers do this year to shore up against free apps?

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 25, 2015        

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Jonah Comstock - MobiHealthNews Writer and Associate EditorFor MobiHealthNews readers in the United States, it’s almost Thanksgiving, a holiday that’s about being grateful but one that is also all about food. And for many of us, the days and weeks after Thanksgiving are the time to think about getting rid of all that turkey weight — whether that means joining a gym, downloading a free food tracking app like LoseIt! or MyFitnessPal, or signing up with Weight Watchers. The worry at Weight Watchers is that option two is getting more and more popular.

Last month, Oprah Winfrey made a deal with Weight Watchers to buy 10 percent of the company. A lot of the reporting around the deal, and why Weight Watchers might be so hungry for a big celebrity endorsement, re-affirmed what MobiHealthNews reported in a post about free mobile apps that might be eating Weight Watcher’s lunch. Outside of the Oprah news, Weight Watchers has responded to this pressure in a lot of different ways over the course of the past year.  Keep reading>>


Quietyme launches quirky, connected device to up patient satisfaction: CareCube

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 24, 2015        

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Quietyme CareCube ImageSometimes the ways technology can improve the patient experience are complex new sensors, patient engagement apps, or telepresence robots. Or sometimes they’re simple. Like CareCube, a new product from Madison, Wisconsin-based Quietyme that will allow hospitalized patients to call for a nurse, food service, hospitality, or more just by changing the orientation of a box about the size and shape of a Rubik’s Cube.

“So you flip it to a picture of a fork and a knife and after a few seconds, it sends a message directly to food service,” Huey Zoroufy, chief operating officer at Quietyme, told MobiHealthNews. “… It’s multilingual, it works for a variety of capabilities as far as dexterity, and it’s very simple to manipulate.”

The CareCube is just one offering of Quietyme, which also offers a sensor hub to monitor sound levels and an analytics platform that helps use that data to reduce noise complaints.

Quietyme launched in 2013 with an original focus on hospitality markets. They planned to use data analytics to understand and reduce noise complaints that wake up hotel guests and lead to bad reviews and lost revenue. But in 2014, after going through the Healthbox accelerator, they realized that HCAP scores were tied even more closely to hospital revenues than TripAdvisor reviews were to hotel revenues. And in a hospital, getting a good night’s sleep is important to a patient’s healing process. So they shifted their focus to the healthcare space. Keep reading>>

Evariant raises $42.3M for healthcare analytics, patients engagement platform

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 24, 2015        

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EvariantFarmington, Connecticut-based Evariant has raised $42.3 million for its physician marketing and engagement offering, according to an SEC filing. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $68.3 million. Existing investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dignity Health, Salesforce, Health Enterprise Partners.

“Healthcare providers are faced with tremendous challenges as they balance the transition from volume to value-based organizations,” Evariant CEO and co-founder William Moschella said last year when the company raised its last round. “Hospitals need access to big data, analytics and digital communication capabilities to turn clinical data into meaningful insights that drive proactive conversations. By providing these solutions on an integrated platform, we enable our customers to realize efficient patient, physician and employer engagement strategies.”

Evariant offers healthcare providers a platform to analyze the data they collect, execute marketing campaigns, and improve patient engagement. The offering, which is built on Salseforce’s CRM platform, collects data from billing records, clinical encounters, patient’s records, and other sources to identify patients who are most likely to respond to specific marketing campaigns.

Keep reading>>

Deborah Estrin’s ResearchKit for Android project taps Mole Mapper as first app

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 24, 2015        

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Deborah Estrin

ResearchKit is finally coming to Android. Or at least, ResearchStack, a comparable and compatible research framework for Android devices is coming to Android. The project is being developed by Open mHealth and Cornell Tech, led by Deborah Estrin and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Android development shop touchlab is doing the design and implementation along with Michael Carroll, CTO of healthcare startup RubiconMD.

“The day after I heard about [ResearchKit] I thought ‘who’s going to do the Android version?’,” Estrin told MobiHealthNews. “I talked to folks at MIT and Google and I couldn’t find anyone doing the Android version. And I waited and kept talking to people but, nothing was happening. … And because Open mHealth was already a nonprofit honest broker in the mobile health space, we jumped in and we did it.”

The RWJF money will fund the group through the development of the overall framework and the release of at least one app, Oregon Health and Sciences University’s Mole Mapper. They’re hoping to have that released in beta by January 2016. Other researchers have already begun to contact Open mHealth, and the group may work with some of them as well. Keep reading>>

Skulpt raises $4.1M for smartphone-connected body fat and muscle tracking device

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 24, 2015        

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Skulpt ChiselSkulpt, which has developed a smartphone-connected device that measures a user’s body fat percentage  and muscle quality, raised $4.1 million in a round led by Nautilus Venture Partners with participation from Caerus Venture Partners. This brings Skulpt’s total funding to at least $5.7 million.

The company plans to use the funds to expand into retail — currently consumers are only able to purchase the device from Skulpt’s website — and add customizeable fitness plans to its companion app.

Unlike most fitness devices on the market, Skulpt’s product, called Skuplt Aim, doesn’t track activity. Instead, it gives users a measurement of specific fat percentage and quality of 24 different muscles. The system includes a scanning device that users place on different parts of the body and a companion app that generates the information about the muscle located there.  Keep reading>>

Time is ripe for big consumer brands to move into regulated medical apps, devices

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 24, 2015        

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S HealthConsidering recent events, big name consumer brands are more likely than ever to move into regulated medical devices.

Two weeks ago Apple CEO Tim Cook told a newspaper that while his company wouldn’t put the Apple Watch through the motions of an FDA clearance process, Cook “wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it.” He said that before adding maybe that’d be an app or something else. At the time, I wondered if maybe it’d be a strap for the watch — one that sported its own sensor array.

That quote from Cook was surprising considering how the company has appeared to have steered clear from FDA regulation over the years as it encouraged other companies to build FDA-regulated apps and iOS-connected medical devices.  Keep reading>>