Fitness tracking devices still outsell smartwatches, but that could change soon

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 23, 2015        

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Apple Watch Sport sensorssA survey of more than 1,000 consumers from ON World showed that fitness is the most important application for wearable users. More than half of likely wearable device owners would use their devices, either activity tracking devices or smartwatches, for fitness.

The mobile sensing sports and fitness part of the connected mobile sensor market will have $10.5 billion in annual revenues this year — three times what it made in 2014. By the end of 2019, ON World predicts, over 1 billion mobile sensing devices that support sports and fitness will have been shipped worldwide.

“Over $1 billion in venture funding, more than 600 products and expanding offerings from the mobile/IT industry promises to make 2015 the year of mobile sensing,” Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director, said in statement. “With standards-based mobile sensing solutions becoming widespread due to the popularity of activity trackers and smartwatches, the market for mobile sensing devices supporting fitness apps will more than triple this year.” Keep reading>>


EyeNetra launches in-person, optometry house visits in NYC

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 23, 2015        

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Blink EyeNetraSomerville, Massachusetts-based eye diagnostic tool maker EyeNetra has launched a new service called Blink, which brings eye tests to the patient, in New York City. Blink emphasizes that the appointments are only for users who need to be tested for glasses, not eye health.

Blink is using EyeNetra technology, which includes a smartphone peripheral they developed, called Netra-G, that measures nearsightedness, farsightedness, age related blurriness, pupillary distance, and astigmatism.

Users can schedule an optometry appointment 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Then, a “visioneer” will visit the patient at their home or work to oversee the test. The tools include software running on a smartphone, which Blink explains is the “eyes and brains” of the test and the Netra, which measures the optical power of the user’s eyes. Blink said it takes 20 minutes to complete the test, which will measure the user’s visual acuity, refractive error, and pupillary distance (PD).  Keep reading>>

Remote monitoring pilots may drop hospitalizations, but what happens when the program ends?

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 23, 2015        

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Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health's 2010 Progress Report, Forward CurrentsA retrospective matched-pair cohort study of 348 patients in Partners HealthCare’s Boston-area hospitals shows that remote monitoring in congestive heart failure patients can reduce 120-day hospitalizations and mortality. Interestingly, while the reduction in mortality held beyond the 120 days of the study, the hospitalizations for the monitoring cohort actually went up after the monitoring stopped.

In the study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Partners used EHR data to match 174 control patients with 174 patients enrolled in the Connected Cardiac Care Program, or CCCP, based on age and gender. Participants in the four-month CCCP used connected devices to monitor relevant physiologic parameters like blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and blood oxygen saturation, and answered questions about heart failure-related symptoms on a touch-screen computer each day. Information was then sent to nurses, who monitored the data and reached out to patients in the case of unusual readings. Patients also received biweekly educational sessions by phone on topics like diet, exercise, and proper monitoring. Keep reading>>

Blue Cross of Idaho launches smartphone app for members

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 23, 2015        

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of IdahoA few weeks ago Blue Cross of Idaho launched an app, available on iOS and Android devices, for its members so they have access to information about their healthcare plan. The health insurer tapped Kony and UST Global to develop the app.

Members are able to log in to the app to see their plan benefits, find in-network or out-of-network doctors, and access their member ID cards. Users can also search for providers and urgent care centers by location, name, or specialty, view benefits details, check their annual deductible, view dental plan information, email or fax member ID cards to their doctor or healthcare provider, and get directions as well as contact information for their healthcare providers.

Some features are also available to those who do not log in, meaning anyone who downloads the app could use it to search for healthcare providers and find the closest urgent care facility, for example.

Recently, a number of Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated payors have launched digital health offerings for their members.

In March, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, inked a deal with WebMD’s Health Services to offer members a digital health and wellness program. Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members also have access to a portion of this new program. WebMD’s Health Services program helps employers and health plans provide employees and members with information about their benefits, biometric screenings powered by BioIQ, health assessments, a digital assistant, and health-related content.

And earlier that month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts partnered with American Well to pilot the company’s video visits offering, called WellConnection, with two physician groups, Emerson Physician Hospital Organization (Emerson PHO) and Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization (LGPHO). BCBSMA nurse care managers will also pilot the offering with members.

At the beginning of the year, Blue Cross Center for Health Care Innovation invested a strategic $2.4 million in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based chronic care app developer CareCam Health Systems. Independence Blue Cross said they would work with CareCam to develop programs that aim to improve the care of people with chronic health conditions. CareCam’s initial rollout with Independence is focused on supporting members with diabetes and asthma.

Glow adds fertility tracking for men to app

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 23, 2015        

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Glow for menGlow has announced that its fertility tracking app will now help men track and troubleshoot their fertility as well. Previously, women could add a partner account to their app for a man, but this account just helped the man support the woman who was tracking her fertility.

In the new update, a man can log his daily activities and enter lifestyle information into the app. Glow will then use this data to offer men personalized insights to help them improve their fertility and understand their reproductive health.

“Unfortunately fertility struggles aren’t always considered a couple’s issue, even though male infertility accounts for about 40 percent of cases,” Glow CEO Mike Huang said in a statement. “We’re excited to offer important insights and education to both men and women to help them conceive.”  Keep reading>>

Under Armour added 10 million new users for its fitness apps since February

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 22, 2015        

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UnderArmourUnder Armour continues to grow its membership base for what it’s calling its Connected Fitness business — the three apps the company acquired in the past two years as well as its existing UA Record app — even as the company explores its new acquisitions and plots a course forward, according to the company’s first quarter earnings call. Under Armour bought MapMyFitness for $150 million in November 2013 and spent an additional $560 million to buy MyFitnessPal and Endomondo in February.

The company’s balance sheet shows that the company’s Connected Fitness revenue, at $8.4 million, is a tiny portion of its total revenue, but is growing faster than any other segment. It’s more than double the 2014 Q1 revenue from Connected Fitness. On the call, CEO Kevin Plank was more interested in reporting user data than financials. Since the initial investment call about the acquisitions in February, the various apps have added 10 million unique users for a total of 130 million, Plank said, and an average of 130,000 people per day downloaded an Under Armour app in the first quarter of 2014.

“There was a bit of concern and trepidation on our part, speaking about how we define victory, that are people gonna say ‘Now they’ve have been bought by a company, I’m not going to use it anymore’,” Plank said. “We haven’t seen any signs of that. We just see them now having a higher expectation of the product that we’re going to deliver. And I can tell you that everyone, we’re closing on 500 people working in our Connected Fitness and digital space, [is] focused on working towards that.” Keep reading>>