In-Depth: Pharma steps up digital health efforts

By: MobiHealthNews | Mar 27, 2015        

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For the more than six years that MobiHealthNews has been covering the world of mobile and digital health pharma has always been one group that seemed just ready to break in. While providers and even payors have publicly gotten their hands dirty experimenting with telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and patient engagement apps, pharma has largely been moving in the shadows through investments, or dipping their toe in the water with small, autonomous innovation groups.

Not anymore. Whether it’s the mounting pressure of the coming outcomes-based payment structures, or just the slow train of pharma development catching up with the times, most of the experts, consultants, and stakeholders MobiHealthNews spoke with in recent weeks believe that pharma has finally reached a turning point, and we’ll begin seeing serious investments in digital health this year. In fact, a few have already happened, including two major pharma companies — Roche and Novartis — teaming up with Qualcomm Life to make use of Qualcomm’s telehealth 2net Hub in research projects.

“When we launched the business, December of 2011, some of the first folks that came through the door were pharma, and we spent a lot of time with them very early on,” Qualcomm Life SVP and General Manager Rick Valencia told MobiHealthNews. “But it was typically innovation teams, and teams without a real specific charter. … So we’re not working so much anymore with the innovation teams. Now we’re working with commercial teams. We’re working with people who have a title that indicates they have an area of responsibility, they have budgets, and in several cases they have projects with very specific timelines that we’re helping them execute on.”

Eddie Chan, the head of search and evaluation at Sanofi, echoed Valencia’s take on the recent shift in pharma thinking on digital health.  Keep reading>>

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Webinar today: Digital health tools for providers

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 26, 2015        

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Brian Dolan - MobiHealthNews Editor-in-ChiefThis afternoon — in just minutes actually — we’ll be kicking off our next MobiHealthNews webinar: Digital health tools for physicians and nurses that fit their workflow.

In just a few short years smart mobile devices have become indispensable tools for clinicians. As device adoption peaks for providers, a growing number of digital health tools are now literally at clinicians’ fingertips: clinical decision support software, patient education apps, smartphone-connected medical devices, secure messaging software, and many more.

While some providers have brought apps of their own choosing into clinical settings, healthcare executives are increasingly setting the mobile health agenda at their facilities.

Today’s webinar will review the various types of digital health tools for providers available in the market today, and we will also discuss digital health and provider workflow.

Join us today — Thursday, March 26th at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT for this complimentary online event. Don’t miss out — sign up today!

Survey: Employers spend about $700 per head on wellness incentives, but few workers partake

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 26, 2015        

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Money TreeA new survey of 121 employers from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health shows that employer spending on incentive-based wellness programs is up an average of $100 per head over last year.

Respondents said they planned to spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness incentives in 2015, up from $594 in 2014. It was $430 five years ago.

While 79 percent of companies surveyed offered health improvement companies, large companies are leading the on spending. The average for companies with more than 20,000 employees was $878 per patient, up from $717 last year. Companies with 5,000 to 20,000 employees were closer to the overall average, at $661 per employee, up quite a bit from $430 in 2014.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see an ever-increasing number of companies embrace corporate wellness programs as a way to promote a healthy workforce,” Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, said in a statement. “As employers continue to look at ways to improve employee health and increase productivity, we expect to see employers continue to expand and evolve their wellness offerings, and find new and innovative ways to encourage employee participation levels and measure the success of their programs.”  Keep reading>>

Arkansas, Idaho pass bills that allow limited telemedicine use

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 26, 2015        

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Rep. Cecile Bledsoe

Shortly after the Arkansas House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have allowed telemedicine companies to offer services within the state, the House has passed a more limited bill, which had already cleared the Senate, increasing the allowable range of telemedicine services.

The new bill, SB133, is more restrictive than the one that was previously voted down. It allows telemedicine practitioners to be licensed as doctors in Arkansas, provided they have a pre-existing in-person relationship with their patient. Exceptions are made to this in cases of life-or-death emergency or in cases where the provider is “simply providing information of a generic nature.” The bill also excludes store-and-forward technology, and abortions via telemedicine.

In addition to permitting the practice of telemedicine, the bill also requires that it be reimbursed by Medicaid and private health plans, and that they be disallowed from charging any less for telemedicine than they would for an office visit. An emergency clause allows the bill to take effect immediately after it’s signed by governor, who has already indicated he will sign, according to Senator Cecile Bledsoe, who sponsored the bill. Keep reading>>

Review: Most text message health interventions were effective

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 26, 2015        

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text message IBM ebolaA majority of published text message interventions between 2009 and 2014 that addressed diabetes self-management, weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation, and medication adherence were effective, according to a systematic review of reviews published in The Annual Review of Public Health.

The review looked at 15 studies that reviewed 228 text message intervention studies addressing health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic disease self management. Study sizes ranged from 10 to 5,800 participants.

When the researchers assessed the reviews by effectiveness, they reported five of the 15 reviews — focused on a wide range of disease prevention and health promotion topics — found text messaging interventions had “statistically significant positive effects on health outcomes and/or behaviors”. These reviews looked at studies that focused on smoking cessation, physical activity, weight loss, and chronic disease self-management.

Three of the 15 reviews focused on physical activity, diet, and weight loss. One of these reviews reported that six out of 13 studies found a statistically significant clinical outcome. A meta-analysis of these studies found that participants in the study had seven times greater weight loss on average than non-SMS control participants.  Keep reading>>

Hello Heart raises $1.3M for consumer-facing lab data app

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 26, 2015        

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Hello HeartRedwood, California-based health app maker Hello Heart has raised $1.3 million in a round led by Resolute Ventures with participation from angel investors including Waze CEO Noam Bardin, BlueRun ventures Co-founder John Malloy, and Facebook Product Director Ran Makavy.

“We set out to do one thing — make it simple, painless, and even fun to track and understand your medical data,” Hello Heart CEO Maayan Cohen said in a statement. “Most people are worried about their health but struggle to collect and understand all the numbers and readings. In fact, 50 percent of Americans are unable to understand if a simple out-of-range result in their lab reports is good or bad. We change that.”

Hello Heart, available only on iOS devices for now, helps patients aggregate and make sense of their lab data after pulling it from the various medical records it’s stored in. The app helps users find their lab data by searching for all of their providers from a preloaded list, for example Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children’s, and Community Health Network.  Keep reading>>