Nuance acquires mobile-focused image-sharing company Accelarad

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 17, 2014        

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Accelarad's mobile app.

Accelarad’s mobile app.

Nuance Communications has acquired cloud-based medical image sharing company Accelarad for an undisclosed amount and is launching Accelerad’s technology, combined with Nuance’s existing networks, under the new name PowerShare Network.

“There are 1,900 users connected to [Accelarad's] network today, actively sharing images,” Christy Murfitt, director of solutions product marketing for diagnostic solutions at Nuance, told MobiHealthNews. “One of the things that was so attractive about this model is that healthcare really should be moving into the modern age, and we want this type of interaction to be like Dropbox or LinkedIn — very light, very easy. And it makes sense for us, given our huge footprint in the industry, that we hear about the frustration and we want things to be seamless. We know that this addition to our solution portfolio will really tear down those walls and the silos of communication and improve patient care.”

According to Murfitt, medical imagery is currently shared between institutions via CDs that are either sent through the mail or delivered with the patient when he or she is transferred. In addition to being costly, about 20 percent of the time the receiving organization can’t access the images and must re-do the X-ray or scan, which creates a significant amount of waste.

PowerShare Network will allow doctors and radiologists at any hospital in the country to share images and reports, including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, EKGs, wound care images, and dermatology images, with one another over the cloud. The offering will be a freemium model — doctors will be able to receive images for free, but will need to become paying customers to send them. Murfitt anticipates fast growth, given 1,900 Accelarad users already on the system and even more existing Nuance customers who are likely to adopt; the company’s PowerScribe system for radiology note-taking counts half the nation’s radiologists among its users.

Doctors can access these images on personal computers or on iOS devices, with Android support as a possibility in the future. Murfitt said mobile was a key consideration in Nuance’s choice to acquire Accelarad.

“We are seeing an increase in the use of mobile devices inside the hospital within the hospital walls,” she said. “You can access these images via workstation or mobile device. Fifty percent of Accelarad’s customers actually access their images through mobile devices. The image quality, the viewing quality has been a focus for this solution. … And that really is something that is critical to this industry moving forward.”

Nuance quietly bought Accelerad about a month ago, according to Murfitt. The Atlanta, Georgia-based business has been around since 1999 with no reported funding. When Life Image CEO Hamid Tabatabaie wrote about rumors of the acquisition in a recent blog post, he said the company does about $6 million a year in sales.

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Parkinson’s sensor company will use $1.5M NIH grant for consumer product

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 16, 2014        

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hp-slateGreat Lakes NeuroTechnologies, a company using tablets and wearable sensors for Parkinson’s diagnosis and therapy, will use a recent $1.5 million NIH grant to start a move toward direct-to-consumer marketability. This is the latest in a long series of NIH grants for the company since 2005 and brings the company’s total grants to $14.2 million.

The system, called Kinesia HomeView, is currently sold in the clinical trial market and requires GLNT to provide users with an HP Slate tablet, a broadband connection, and the company’s Bluetooth-connected sensor, worn on the fingertip.

“Currently the majority of our market is made up of selling our technology into the clinical trial space: To pharmaceutical companies, companies that manufacture deep brain stimulation. We sell our devices into those clinical trials,” Joe Giuffrida, GLNT president and principal investigator, told MobiHealthNews. “That type of market can tolerate the price point of the technology with the tablet and with the broadband connectivity charges. However, to get into the consumer market or the patient care market, we have to get into mobile applications to reduce the cost for those markets.”

Kinesia HomeView users will still have to get the fingertip sensor from the company, however. Giuffrida said the smartphone’s built-in sensors were not sensitive enough to give useful and accurate information about Parkinson’s disease.  Keep reading>>

Amerigroup, Voxiva enroll 100,000 members in Txt4health

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 16, 2014        

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Txt4healthTxt4health, a text-based health program developed by Voxiva, announced that 100,000 members have enrolled in its program through Medicare and Medicaid insurance provider Amerigroup. The payor has offered the program to its members since December 2012.

The Txt4health program aims to provide patients with reminders for health exams, deliver health information, encourage users to improve their health, and help track weight as well as physical activity.

The program was created after Voxiva partnered with SafeLink Health Solutions to offer free mobile phones and messaging programs to members of Amerigroup. Through Amerigroup, Voxivia’s Txt4health program is offered to Medicaid plan members in 11 states.

“Our partnership with TracFone and the rapid growth to 100,000 users demonstrates these services are in demand and we already know through multiple independent evaluations that these types of service can improve compliance with preventive health guidelines – a major goal of the US government these proven programs can reach many more people at no cost to them and at no added cost to their health plans,” Paul Meyer, Voxiva’s Chairman and President said in a statement.

Amerigroup’s Txt4health offering provides eligible plan members a free SafeLink phone with up to 250 minutes each month, free calls to Amerigroup’s member services, and unlimited Txt4health messages. All Txt4health messages were approved prior to the partnership’s launch by all of the State Medicaid Agencies in those states.

In October 2013, Voxiva announced results from a study they did with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Beacon Community program, which was established under the HITECH act and gives grants to local communities to explore health IT innovations. The study looked at three Beacon Community programs and in one of the communities surveyed 79 percent of obese users and 92 percent of overweight users set a weight goal with Txt4health. The survey also found 44 percent of enrollees opted to continue receiving messages after program completion and 85 percent said the messages are clear and easy to understand.

Another Voxiva program, called Text2Quit, which is a smoking cessation platform enrolled 75,000 users in October 2013. The platform now has users in every US state.

Finnish employee wellness platform HeiaHeia raises $2 million

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 16, 2014        

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HeiaHeiaFinland-based H2 Wellbeing, maker of employee wellness platform HeiaHeia, raised just over $2 million (1.5 million euros) in a round led by Finland’s Wallstreet Financial Services. Additional backers included unnamed angels and a Finnish funding agency called Tekes.

Until now, H2 has run on its own revenues, which the company started generating just two months into its launch, and government grants. CEO and co-founder Jussi Raisanen told MobiHealthNews the company was waiting until it had a scalable business model before seeking funding.

Up until 2010 the company initially offered a direct to consumer version of its platform, but following substantial interest from employers it switched to a btob model.

HeiaHeia, which is derived from a Scandinavian sporting chant, offers employers a wellness platform with an emphasis on social interaction and gaming. The platform also offers companion apps on iOS, Android, and Microsoft devices.

“Our approach is sort of gamified self, not quantified self,” Raisanen said. “So we want to bring this casual wellness approach. You can think of something like flight simulators that require serious attention for learning the ropes of the game and then you can look at something like Angry Birds, which you can pick up immediately. So it’s casual gaming versus serious gaming. We’re bringing that same thinking into health and wellness. You need to have a slightly less serious approach to health in order to get people engaged.”  Keep reading>>

Mayo Clinic-backed Better launches personal health assistant service

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 16, 2014        

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Better iPhone 3Mayo Clinic-backed, Palo Alto, California-based Better officially launched its service this week after a year of private beta tests following a high-profile debut at the All Things D event last year. Geoff Clapp, who was a co-founder of early digital health success story Health Hero Networks, co-founded and is CEO of Better. MobiHealthNews caught up with Clapp ahead of today’s launch to discuss Better, working with Mayo, and how the Better startup experience has differed from launching Health Hero back in the late ’90s. An edited transcript of the interview follows:

Mobi: What is Better and what problems is it trying to solve?

Clapp: This new company, Better, we formed with the Mayo Clinic to try to remove complexity from healthcare. What we have found is that many others working in digital health are trying to change behaviors and [is focused on] wearables. You know about my experience with Health Hero, and the VA, and care coordination — well, we really wanted to take that model and make it available to everybody. That model was very successful for the VA, the National Health Services, and others. After selling the company [to Bosch] and being there for a couple of years, retiring for four years and spending some time at Rock Health,  not only did I decide I wanted to get back into the game, but that I also wanted to make that care coordination offering available to everybody. With the ACA and all of these things, the timing is right for a consumer-driven care coordination model.

Better offers everything from really basic administrative tasks all the way up to really high-end clinical work. What it comes out to is — across the board — having a personal health assistant — what the VA would call a care coordinator — who just takes cares of everything for you. Whether it’s appointments, prescriptions, or finding new doctors all the way up through — something is horribly wrong and I want to see a specialist, or nurse, or doctor.  Keep reading>>

PI launches Omnio for smartphones, reworking Skyscape

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 16, 2014        

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omnio

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Skyscape was being shut down, it is in fact being reworked and re-launched.

Merck GHI-owned digital health marketing firm Physicians Interactive has launched free iPhone and Android versions of its medical content reader and physician toolkit iPad app Omnio, and will be sunsetting legacy app Skyscape Medical Resources once those apps are established.

The Skyscape app, which was bought by Physicians Interactive in 2009, has been around — running on BlackBerrys and Palm Pilots, among other things — since 1998. It will be relaunched as Skyscape Medical Library, a new app focused on medical education.

“We wanted to make sure that, when we did evolve Skyscape, we were giving [users] something that was in great need or demand and request from our user base,” Chief Medical Officer and senior VP of product management Gautam Gulati told MobiHealthNews. “So we used the iPad as a tool to address those concerns without putting at risk our existing Skyscape users. That was a strategic move from a business standpoint.”

The iOS version of Omnio is available today, and the Android version will be available in the Google Play store by April 25th. The iPhone and Android phone versions of Omnio don’t add any new features, but the features are organized differently based on the how physicians typically use different sized devices.  Keep reading>>