FDA releases app for clinicians to track drug shortages

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 5, 2015        

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FDA Drug ShortagesThe FDA has launched a new app, called DrugShortages, to help health care practitioners and pharmacists track current drug shortages, resolved shortages, and discontinuations of drug products.

“The FDA understands that health care professionals and pharmacists need real-time information about drug shortages to make treatment decisions,” Valerie Jensen, associate director of the Drug Shortage Staff in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement. “The new mobile app is an innovative tool that will offer easier and faster access to important drug shortage information.”

DrugShortages is available on iOS and Android devices. Users can search the database available in the app for a generic name or active ingredient. They can also search for drugs alphabetically or therapeutic category. The app also provides instructions for how an app user can report a drug shortage or supply issue. The FDA hopes the app will help health care practitioners make quick decisions about patient treatment based on the information the app provides.

In the past couple years, the FDA has released a few other digital resources for consumers and professionals.

In 2012, Epidemico relaunched their app, MedWatcher, in collaboration with the FDA. The app helps consumers report side effects or adverse events of medical devices directly to the FDA. Although the app had been around since 2010, according to App Annie, the app got a full redesign with the help of the FDA in 2012.

Last summer the FDA launched an API-driven initiative, called openFDA that is designed to help web developers, researchers, and consumers access the FDA’s large public health data sets. The goal for the initiative is to get developers to build their own apps on top of openFDA using the data.

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Study: Interactive, tailored web content may improve patient health, knowledge

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 5, 2015        

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Webbased tailored studyOffering interactive web-based content that is personalized for a patient may increase the patient’s knowledge of their condition and reduce their incidence of negative effects, according to a study conducted by researchers in the Department of Medical Psychology at Germany-based University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

The study, a randomized control trial of 561 people with either type 2 diabetes or chronic back pain, was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Researchers recruited 179 people with type 2 diabetes and 382 that had chronic back pain. They then split the participants into an intervention group and control group. The intervention group received a web-based interactive health communication application (IHCA), which offered decision support, social support, and behavioral change support. The IHCA participants received content as part of an interactive health dialogue.

Meanwhile, researchers provided the control group with a content tree without any personalization. Both groups were given the same content. The participants with diabetes received basic information on the condition, what conditions type 2 diabetes could lead to, health behavior and lifestyle changes, and treatment options. The chronic lower back pain content covered basic information about the condition, related psychological problems, diagnostic procedures, and treatment options. Keep reading>>

NutriSystem CEO: “You can’t eat an app for lunch.”

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 5, 2015        

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NuMiWeight loss company NutriSystem stressed that its weight loss app was a key part of its strategy moving forward, according to the company’s Q4 earnings call. The company’s core offering is an end-to-end weight loss system: The company sends users ingredients and food preparation instructions via snail mail.

But the NuMi app, soft launched in March 2014 and officially launched in December, can either serve as a complement to that system or as a free nutrition tracking app in its own right. As CEO Dawn Zier shared on the call, the app recently added integrations with Fitbit, Jawbone, and Apple HealthKit.

“We revamped our diabetic offerings with the focus on ongoing weight management to address an underserved market need for Type 2 diabetes,” she said. “We launched NuMi, a state-of-the-art digital weight loss app, becoming the first in our space to integrate with a wide array of wearable fitness devices including FitBit, Jawbone and Apple Motion, and we also recently completed the integration with Apple HealthKit. Additionally, NuMi offers users over 200 activity suggestions based on time availability and lifestyle preferences and also has meal recommendations for eating in or eating out. The NuMi app is an enabler for combining flexibility around structure with technology and fitness to attract potential new customer segments.” Keep reading>>

First Derm dermatology Q&A app tops 100,000 downloads

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 5, 2015        

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First DermFirst Derm, a dermatology question-and-answer app that is available in the Apple AppStore and Google Play Store, has reached 100,000 downloads.

The app launched a little more than a year ago: January 2014.

First Derm allows users to anonymously take pictures of external skin problems and send them to a licensed dermatologist, who will respond to inquiries within 24 hours of receiving the pictures with an assessment of the problem. App users are asked to send two pictures — one close up and another farther away — along with a description of the skin condition. The consultation costs $40 for each case submitted for assessment.

Users do not have to make an account or register to use the app. First Derm aims to keep all user information anonymous. Another addition to the app is its geo-location abilities that allow a user to locate the nearest pediatrician, dermatologist or pharmacy.  Keep reading>>

GE, Stanford launch digital health efficacy startup Evidation, absorb The Activity Exchange

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 5, 2015        

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The Activity Exchange Evidation HealthGE Ventures and Stanford Health Care have teamed up to create Evidation Health, a company focused on evaluating the efficacy of digital health technologies. Soon after Evidation was formed it merged with wellness engagement platform company The Activity Exchange.

In January Evidation raised a little more than $6 million in funding led by GE Ventures with participation from Asset Management Ventures and Rock Health. AMV and Rock Health were also both previous investors in The Activity Exchange. GE Ventures has incubated Evidation at its offices — a first for the company’s venture arm.

According to a statement, Evidation will be “focused on generating real-world clinical and economic evidence for digital health products and platforms” by combining “health outcomes data with new approaches to predictive analytics to identify and deploy the most effective and efficient patient management strategies and interventions.”

In other words Evidation hopes to help separate which digital health technologies actually work from those that don’t and are just coasting on hype.  Keep reading>>

Fitbit confirms it is acquiring coaching app Fitstar

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 5, 2015        

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FitStarSan Francisco-based Fitbit has confirmed that it will acquire fitness coaching app developer, FitStar, to add more training features, according to a report from TechCrunch. The tech publication had previously reported the deal would be between $25 million to $40 million and include a mix of cash and stock.

FitStar is backed by Google Ventures and Trinity Ventures.

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. The FitStar acquisition will help Fitbit build out its premium subscription features even more.

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. Keep reading>>