Apple to add glucose tracking back into Health

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 19, 2014        

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Qardio healthkitApple’s newest software update, iOS 8.2, will bring back HealthKit’s blood glucose tracking feature, according to a report from 9to5mac.

The feature was removed from Health in October because the app only offered one unit of measurement for blood glucose, mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter), even though many countries use another measure, mmol/L (millimoles per liter).

“If you measure your blood glucose using a device that displays mmol/L, those values can’t be manually entered or displayed in the Health app with that unit of measurement,” Apple wrote in its support forum at the time. “To prevent confusion in countries where mmol/L is commonly used, we’ll soon release a software update that will temporarily remove the ability to manually enter and view blood glucose values in the Health app while we work on an update to support both units of measurement.”

In the newest update, Health has also added descriptions for health metrics tracked in the app. For example, under blood glucose, the app writes: “Glucose — also called blood sugar — is the main sugar found in the blood and the main source of energy for your body.”

This wasn’t Apple’s first mistake relating to blood glucose. In June, during Apple’s developer’s conference keynote, the company displayed a slide with the wrong measurement units for blood glucose monitoring. The slide listed them as mL/dL, while the correct units are mg/dL. The error was actually part of a screenshot of Epic’s MyChart app so it may have been Epic’s mistake, but it was part of an Apple executive’s presentation.

But, despite all the stumbles Apple has had with blood glucose tracking, many doctors still have confidence in the company’s ability to track health metrics. At the mHealth Summit this month, Duke’s Dr. Ricky Bloomfield said Apple’s quick response to the goof was actually heartening.

“There were problems,” he said. “But they’re committed to fix it and to make sure patients stay safe in the process. There will be problems, because human beings wrote this code and they’re not perfect. We have to be careful, which is why we’re rolling this out in phases as part of a pilot program. Because we want to make sure this stuff works before we’re saying all of our millions of patients are going to be using this.”

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AliveCor’s third generation is thinner, lighter, and less than half the price

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 18, 2014        

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AliveCorAliveCor launched its new third generation smartphone-connected EKG device, a model that is both slimmed down and considerably cheaper than its predecessors. The device will sell for $74.99, compared to the previous model’s $199 price tag, and is 50 percent thinner and 40 percent lighter.

“The new AliveCor third generation device is a lower-profile consumer design,” Cindy Donohoe, vice president of marketing and business development at AliveCor, told MobiHealthNews. “It has the same quality and the same functionality as our previous design, but based on customer feedback, we tried to make it a bit more discrete and easier to carry around everywhere you go.”

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Parks: 41 percent of caregivers use a digital health device

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 18, 2014        

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A wearable device with an emergency button, from Lifecomm.

A wearable device with an emergency button, from Lifecomm.

Parks Associates has released new research about caregivers and the role digital health devices play in their lives. According to Parks, 41 percent of US caregivers in households with broadband internet use a digital health device. Eight percent use some kind of online tool to coordinate their efforts.

The report, “360 View: Health Devices and Services for Connected Consumers 2014,” draws from multiple surveys including a survey of 10,000 US broadband households conducted in the second quarter of 2014. The report looks ahead to the technology due to launch at CES next month.

“Among US broadband households, 22 percent have a head of household who currently provides care for a family member or anticipates doing so in the near future,” Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research at Parks said in a statement. “At 2015 International CES, we’ll see many new digital health devices and software on display…These innovative solutions will find strong interest among current caregivers, but they will also have high standards to meet in improving the ways caregivers can monitor their family members.”

The feature caregivers are most interested in is an “electronic panic button” — something like a mobile personal emergency response system or mPERS. The survey indicated that 44 percent of those who identify as current or future caregivers are interested in such a device, with a further 30 percent interested in an wearable wristworn tracker with the same panic button functionality.

In terms of current adoption, 27 percent of US broadband households currently own and use at least one connected health device, according to Parks. Eight percent of caregivers use “an electronic watch” to track the family member under their care. Parks released more general data about digital health tracking tools in August.

In June 2013, the Pew Internet and American Life project tackled caregiving and found that adults who are unpaid caregivers for a parent or child use online and mobile health tools considerably more than the average American, but only 59 percent of connected caregivers find internet tools helpful in giving care. Fifty-two percent said that online tools helped them deal with the stress of being a caregiver.

Pew also revisited data on self-tracking — not just with digital tools — to see if those numbers were different for caretakers. They found that the overall percentage of self-trackers was slightly higher — 72 percent of caregivers vs 69 percent of Americans total. There was no difference between caregivers and the general population in whether or not they used digital tools to track health data — only about 21 percent did.

University of Kansas Medical Center partners with Sprint, Techstars for accelerator

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 18, 2014        

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Yosko iPad

Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator alum Yosko

Sprint has partnered with the University of Kansas Medical Center for the company’s second Mobile Health Accelerator, a three-month program in Kansas City powered by TechStars.

The 2015 Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator will run from March 9 through June 4.

“We are pleased to work with Techstars to provide early-stage input and guidance related to our expertise in health care education, research and patient care,” KU Medical Center Executive Vice Chancellor Douglas Girod said in a statement. “Through this collaboration, we can help mobile health startups with innovative solutions to industry-wide problems.”

Sprint first announced the accelerator in September 2013, and revealed the accelerator’s first class in March 2014. Startups that participated in the first class included Baltimore, Maryland-based illness mapping offering Sickweather and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based patient coordination app Yosko, which recently announced plans to launch pilots with as many as five hospitals this year.

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SoloHealth raises $4.3M for biometric screening health kiosks

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 18, 2014        

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SoloHealthAtlanta, Georgia-based health kiosk company SoloHealth raised $4.3 million in equity and securities, according to an SEC filing. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $25.8 million.

Existing investors include WellPoint, Novartis, Dell, and Coinstar. Walter Huff, founder and former chairman of a medical information systems firm acquired by McKesson, called HBO & Company, has also invested in SoloHealth.

SoloHealth’s FDA-cleared kiosks offers health screenings for blood pressure, vision, weight, and BMI. Users can also use the kiosk to take health risk assessments or use a symptom checker. After users are finished with their screenings, they receive a customized report with health scores and data. The data is stored on SoloHealth’s platform so when users visit in the future, they can track their progression. Health data gathered during visits can also be accessed through an online SoloHealth member account.

The kiosks are located in select Walmart, Sam’s Club, Safeway, and Schnuck Markets locations.

Last year, the company said they were in over 3,500 retail locations and that its kiosks had seen over 40 million consumer interactions. Nationwide, SoloHealth said its kiosks were seeing 130,000 users per day and the average time users spent at the kiosk was 4.5 minutes.

First Opinion gets $6 million from Polaris Ventures to let consumers text a doctor first

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 18, 2014        

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bg-howFirst Opinion, a San Francisco-based telemedicine app maker, has raised $6 million from Polaris Ventures. Existing investors also contributed, including True Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Scrum Ventures and Monashees Capital.

This brings the company’s total funding to $8.6 million, including a $1.2 million seed round in January and another $1.4 million round in May.

First Opinion offers consumers text message consultations with contracted doctors via a mobile app. Users can get answers to medical questions within 24 hours for free, or can pay $9 a month for a guaranteed 5-minute response rate and the ability to send photographs to these doctors as well.

“The purpose of the app, the purpose of the company, is to get people texting a doctor first,” CEO McKay Thomas told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “We’ve found that between 60 and 80 percent of office visits are unnecessary, and some people will say that nine out of ten are unnecessary. We think that people should just text a doctor first. First Opinion is basically a new class of care, situated above the current healthcare system that is meant to give everyone a personal doctor that they can message 24 hours a day to help them understand how serious [a condition] is and to help them understand what they should do next.”  Keep reading>>