In-Depth: ACO’s digital health patient engagement opportunity

By: MobiHealthNews | Jul 25, 2014        

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Over the course of the past decade the concept of an accountable care organization (ACO) has come to define a variety of healthcare provider setups that have primary care as a core focus, payments tied to care quality improvements, and an incentive for lower costs. These models have long been held up as ideal contexts for the flourishing of digital health tools. While not all ACO systems are alike, their core principles generally are. As the Brookings Institution’s Mark McClellan and colleagues explained in a widely cited Health Affairs piece from 2010:

“Accountable care organizations can be implemented through different payment models. These could include opportunities to share in demonstrated savings within a fee-for-service environment, in which providers took on no new financial risk. They could also include limited or substantial capitation arrangements, in which payments were unrelated to the volume of services provided, to the intensity of service use, or to the frequency of face-to-face meetings, and in which providers took on some financial risk for poor-quality results or failure to control costs,” McClellan wrote.

“Thus, accountable care organizations should have considerable flexibility in many aspects of design,” he explained. “At the same time, all variations would be based on these core defining principles: (1) Provider-led organizations with a strong base of primary care that are collectively accountable for quality and total per capita costs across the full continuum of care for a population of patients. (2) Payments linked to quality improvements that also reduce overall costs. (3) Reliable and progressively more sophisticated performance measurement, to support improvement and provide confidence that savings are achieved through improvements in care.”

Some provider groups have been practicing a form of accountable care for decades, but the recent health reform legislation has served as a catalyst for hundreds of other providers to transition to accountable care models.  Keep reading>>


Nearly half of Kaiser Permanente’s members use My Health Manager

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 25, 2014        

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Kaiser PermanenteAround 4.4 million members in health system Kaiser Permanente’s 9.1 million member network are using Kaiser’s online health management platform, called My Health Manager, according to a Kaiser’s 2013 annual report.

Kaiser Permanente’s health manager website had over 131 million visits last year. The report adds that through Kaiser’s online and mobile health services 34.4 million lab test results were viewed online, 14.7 million secure emails were sent, 3.6 million online appointment requests were made, and 14.8 million online prescriptions were refilled.

Of the members who used My Health Manager’s Healthy Lifestyle feature, which provides members with health programs, 56 percent said they lost weight and 58 percent said that they quit smoking. Healthy Lifestyle users with insomnia increased their nightly sleep by 32 minutes on average.

Kaiser also released app download data from two of the company’s apps. The first app, called Kaiser Permanente, reached 455,512 downloads in 2013. Through the app members can email physicians, schedule or cancel appointments, get refills for a prescription, and access lab results. The app also helps users find nearby KP medical facilities. In June, Kaiser released new download numbers for its app, which has now reached over 1 million downloads – or more than 10 percent of Kaiser’s member network.

“We’re seeing that members are using the app most often to securely email their doctors and manage appointments,” Madhu Nutakki, vice president of digital presence technologies, Kaiser Permanente said at the time. “Giving members the ability to quickly and easily connect with their doctors and other care providers, no matter where they are, empowers them to become actively engaged in their health care.”

The Kaiser Permanente app first launched for Android devices in January 2012, and by May, the app had 100,000 downloads. That May, Kaiser Permanente also launched an iOS version of the app. At the time Kaiser Permanente Mobility Center of Excellence Executive Director Brian Gardner said the year before, through the online platform the healthcare facility had before the app, 29 million lab tests were viewed and 2.5 million appointments were scheduled. He added that the number was likely to go up now that the feature is better enabled for mobile devices.

One of Kaiser’s other apps, called  Every Body Walk!, which encourages users to walk 30 minutes a day, saw 165,000 downloads last year. The app offers resources and articles on walking and a personal section on which users can pledge to walk.

Sense sleep sensor, health device marketplace and 4 other crowdfunding campaigns

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 24, 2014        

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sense tumbnailThis week, a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for a sleep sensor, called Sense, reached and surpassed its $100,000 goal on the same day it launched. And while this company’s crowdfunding success was almost immediate, a few companies, which are still weeks from their goals, have been gaining funds steadily.

Some other campaigns that have launched recently include a connected health platform, a smart clothing system that purports to monitor epilepsy, a telemedicine service, and a couple of new wearable sensors.

Here are six digital health crowdfunding campaigns that have launched in the past month.



This is the first product out of Thiel Scholar James Proud’s company, called Hello. Sense, which is a small white orb, tracks the noise, light, humidity, and temperature in a room. The device will turn green when it senses the room is at an appropriate temperature, light level and noise level.

If Sense finds the room is not a proper atmosphere for sleeping yet, it will alert the user through a companion app. Sense also comes with a small white clip that users can attach to their pillows, called Sleep Pill. In the morning, users can view their sleeping patterns, which the Sleep Pill senses, and also whether there were any outside disturbances, which Sense will track.

Users can also use the app to play back audio recordings of the outside disturbances so they can understand what broke their sleep throughout the night. Based on the outside disturbances and sleep patterns, the Sense app will provide users with a sleep score. The device will also play white noise or other sleep-friendly sounds if the user wants help sleeping. When users can choose to use Sense’s wake up alarm, the device will wake them up at the right point in their sleep cycle. If a user has a partner, they can just order an extra Sleep Pill and Sense will detect both users’ sleep.

The device costs $99 for early backers, but will preorder for $129. The campaign has raised more than $350,000 over the top of its $100,000 goal just two days into its campaign.

Keep reading>>

On earnings call, Apple talks Medtronic app, IBM deal

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 24, 2014        

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Medtronic Catalyst

Catalyst, an internal iPad app developed by Medtronic.

In a third-quarter earnings call with investors, Apple senior vice president and CFO Luca Maestri listed medical device giant Medtronic as a headline example of a company creating a lot of iOS apps to use internally.

“Today companies have equipped millions of employees with iPhones and they’re seeing huge benefits in productivity, employee satisfaction, and profitability,” he said. “For instance, medical device leader Medtronic has developed over 175 internal iOS apps for over 16,500 iPhones used by its employees to facilitate sales, improve productivity, and ensure that essential marketing materials are up to date.”

MobiHealthNews wrote about one internal Medtronic app last year — an iPad game that surgeons can use to practice new procedures or sales representatives can use to convince surgeons to adopt those procedures.

Keep reading>>

FTC Commissioner calls for more data security in health apps, devices

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 24, 2014        

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FTC Julie BrillAt a Tech in Policy event sponsored by Washington, D.C. newspaper The Hill, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill made it clear that the FTC is aware of recent concerns about health app data privacy and security and is looking into new ways to police the industry.

“The law is, on some level, always going to lag behind technology,” she said. “Technology is moving at lightning speed. Our job at the commission is to try to instill in communities like the app community [and] like the developer community — with respect to platforms [and] with respect to new technological systems — that there are fundamental consumer protection rules that need to apply and that they need to think about as they move forward at lightning speed.”

Brill identified some of the same concerns that have come to light lately in documents like the California Healthcare Foundation’s recently published report on health data privacy; namely, that patient health data is being collected in consumer spaces that fall outside of the domain of HIPAA, allowing third parties to access the data and sell it to data brokers.

“We did a study of about 12 devices and apps and it turned out about 76 entities were receiving information off these apps and devices,” Brill said. “And it wasn’t just things like UDID [the iPhone's unique identifier] and geolocation and whatnot. That was being collected, but it was also information about the consumer’s health. One was a pregnancy app and it was the time in which the woman was ovulating, and it was being collected by third parties.” Keep reading>>

PumpUp gets $2.4M for fitness social network app

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 24, 2014        

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PumpUpMobile wellness social network developer PumpUp raised $2.4 million in a round led by General Catalyst Partners with additional investments from Azure Capital Partners, Relay Ventures, Freycinet Investments, and angel investors. The company plans to use the funds to hire engineers from Canada and the United States.

The app offers users a photo-based social network on which they can share photos of themselves after tough workouts, healthy meals, or other health-related activities. Users can also enter in fitness goals and track their workouts and design custom workouts. Users interact with each other in the community by commenting on each others’ pictures.

“As the PumpUp community has quickly grown to over 1.7 million members, we’ve seen countless inspiring stories come to life,” PumpUp Cofounder Phil Jacobson said in a statement. “From members gaining the confidence to share the very first photo of their body publicly, to members seeking support, to members simply sharing and discovering healthy meal ideas. The community we’ve cultivated is a positive, comfortable space where members come together to share, support, and motivate each other.”

Since launching its beta in December 2013, 1.7 million consumers have downloaded the app. Around 90 percent of these users are women, according to the company.

A similar social network launched in January 2014. The service, called Weilos, offeres users a picture-taking app to document weight loss through selfies. The app prompts users to take photos regularly. Weilos’ specialized in-app camera ensures that the user stands in the same position every time so they can see even small changes in the way they look. Photos can be shared privately or publicly, although whichever option the user chooses, the user can still see other photos from users who choose to publicly share in the community.