ChartSpan raises $1.7M for mobile PHR, aims to launch paid analytics tool this year

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 27, 2015        

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ChartSpanGreenville, South Carolina-based ChartSpan has raised $1.7 million in a round led by existing investor, Byrne Medical’s Don Byrne. This brings the company’s total funding to just under $3 million.

The Iron Yard, a digital health accelerator that incubated ChartSpan, contributed to ChartSpan’s previous round.

The company offers patients a personal health record (PHR) tool, which, as well as importing records in various electronic formats, can convert paper records into structured data using machine learning and optical character recognition. ChartSpan launched an app for iPhones in October and added an iPad version six weeks later. Using the iOS app, patients can request records from providers and send records to others, according to the company. The app uses Blue Button Plus as one way to import data from EHRs.

Four months after launching the ChartSpan app for iPhones, it reached 100,000 downloads.  Keep reading>>


How can health wearables reach health app adoption levels?

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 27, 2015        

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The ePharma Summit in New York City this week was a veritable smorgasbord of new mobile health data. Monique Levy shared some new data (and insights) from Manhattan Research, Tom Jones from Makovsky Health shared data about consumer mobile health use, and, finally, ComScore’s John Mangano shared data from a survey of 2,929 individuals, broken down by generation.

ComScore data

“So what I did was I had my team look specifically at people who had a health condition in the last year,” he said. “We surveyed about 3,000 people and asked them what they thought of wearables: what they’d use, how they’d use it and where it would go. We found some interesting results.”  Keep reading>>

Report: Fitbit mulling an acquisition of FitStar, a fitness coaching app startup

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 27, 2015        

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FitStarFitbit is in discussions to acquire fitness coaching app developer, FitStar, for $25 to $40 million in a mix of cash and stock as early as next week, according to a report from TechCrunch. The report adds that it’s possible the deal may not go through.

FitStar has created two apps, FitStar Personal Trainer and FitStar Yoga. The latter launched a few months ago. Both applications are free to download and use but most of the features require an in-app paid subscription. The apps provide users with workout training videos. They also track the user’s progress and help them reach fitness milestones. FitStar’s apps already sync with Fitbit as well as other activity tracking apps and devices including Jawbone and MyFitnessPal.

Fitbit already offers a premium $49.99 a year service that includes personalized fitness plans and goals generated after an analysis of the user’s Fitbit data, more in-depth data reports, and comparison tools that compare the user to other Fitbit users. A FitStar acquisition would help Fitbit build out its premium subscription features even more.

In the past year, a number of big name companies have highlighted the FitStar app. In March 2014, Apple named FitStar as one of 15 “essential” health and fitness apps. Then, in September 2014, when Apple launched its HealthKit platform, FitStar was one of the first 16 apps to be featured in Apple’s HealthKit collection. FitStar Personal Trainer is currently listed in the Apple App Store as an “editor’s choice” app.  Keep reading>>

In-Depth: Anticipating FDA Regulation of Pharmaceutical Apps

By: MobiHealthNews | Feb 27, 2015        

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By Bradley Merrill Thompson

Bradley_Merrill_ThompsonOver the last couple years, FDA has clarified the scope of its regulation over mobile health. In the agency’s September 2013 guidance, FDA spelled out its oversight for some of the most common mobile medical apps. Then, last month, in two separate draft guidances FDA explained the limits on its oversight of apps used for general wellness like fitness trackers, as well as apps that may be accessories to a medical device. And already in February, FDA published a final guidance deregulating medical device data systems, a category that includes numerous mobile apps. The agency has been busy.

But one area FDA has yet to clarify is apps that guide the appropriate use of drugs. Many of those apps potentially fit the category of clinical decision support (CDS) software, an area that FDA has been planning guidance since 2011, but so far has not addressed.

To be fair, this is undoubtedly one of the most difficult guidances to write. Frankly, the number of use cases for CDS is mind-boggling. Compounding matters, creative people are coming up with new use cases on almost a daily basis. For policymakers this is both exciting and challenging.

To help pharmaceutical companies during this period while FDA drafts its proposed guidance, I’d like to summarize what we already know from previous FDA communications, and also offer some thoughts on what the upcoming guidance should address.  Keep reading>>

Facebook partners with mental health orgs to offer suicide prevention tools

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 26, 2015        

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Facebook suicideFacebook has partnered with several mental health organizations including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and to offer its users more tools to help those who may be considering committing suicide.

Facebook already offers users a way to report a friend’s post if a user thinks their friend has posted suicidal content. Now, Facebook has rolled out additional resources for the person who posted the suicidal content.

“For those who may need help we have significantly expanded the support and resources that are available to them the next time they log on to Facebook after we review a report of something they’ve posted,” Facebook Product Manager Rob Boyle and Facebook Community Operations Safety Specialist Nicole Staubli explained in a post. “Besides encouraging them to connect with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings. All of these resources were created in conjunction with our clinical and academic partners.”

The social networking giant also included resources so that the person reported another Facebook user’s content can also help their friend.

“We’re also providing new resources and support to the person who flagged the troubling post, including options for them to call or message their distressed friend letting them know they care, or reaching out to another friend or a trained professional at a suicide hotline for support,” the post continues.

These features will roll out to US-based Facebook users over the next couple of months.

Though it hasn’t made many dramatic moves in the healthcare space, Facebook has made some big investments in related areas.

In April 2014, Facebook acquired Finland-based fitness app maker Protogeo for an undisclosed sum. The company’s high-profile app, called Moves, passively tracks a user’s daily activity using the phone’s built-in accelerometer in order to provide all-day tracking without killing the phone’s battery.

And a month prior, Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for more than $2 billion. During a call with reporters and analysts following the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that while Oculus will continue to focus on gaming in the short term, the deal was more about placing a bet on the next big computing platform shift, which could include a telemedicine play.

Physician-developed gastrointestinal disorders app company looks to expand

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 26, 2015        

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My GI HealthSince 2010, doctors from UCLA and the University of Michigan have been working with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals on a project called My GI Health, which leverages computers and apps to improve doctor-patient communication around gastrointestinal disorders. At an ePharma Summit update session, Dr. Brennan Spiegel, a gastroenterologist formerly associated with UCLA and now working at Cedars-Sinai hospital, shared how the program has grown into its own company that’s getting ready to scale beyond GI health into a variety of other conditions.

“The point that I want to make from the beginning is that this app … was developed with input from social scientists, from electrical engineers, from health sciences researchers, from all walks of life, industry, academia, and even with input from the NIH,” Spiegel said. “This didn’t come from a garage in Orange County. This took four years to get where we are now.”

Spiegel pushed back against a lot of what he sees as the hype of mobile health, which isn’t reflected in actual practice.

“The clinical trenches bear almost no resemblance to what’s being talked about,” he said. “There are almost no examples of mobile health apps that are being used at scale, wearable sensors that are being used. I do not want all that information, and I’m a technophile.”

The antidote to that hype, Spiegel believes, is to zero in on the patient-doctor relationship and to address doctors’ specific pain points, like the amount of time wasted doing patient intake. One part of the My GI Health technology is built to address this: Patients fill out a questionnaire, and an app translates that into a history of patient illness — one so detailed and clear that in a blind test, independent reviewers and medicare billers universally found it superior to the patient history created by a doctor. Despite the headlines that followed from that study, Spiegel stressed that the app is just a tool to help doctors use their time better. Keep reading>>