Two-thirds of Americans willing to share health data with researchers

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 25, 2014        

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Graphic from NPR

According to a new survey from Truven Health Analytics and NPR, 68 percent of American consumers are willing to share health information with researchers, but this group of people is more likely to be wealthy, well-educated, and young.

Truven surveyed 3,000 Americans via landlines, mobile phones, and the web, with the group filtered by generation, education level and income level. They asked questions about physician connectedness and data privacy.

The survey found that overall, only 74 percent of respondents said their physician had an electronic health record. However, that figure includes 19 percent of respondents who said they don’t have a physician at all — only 6 percent reported having a physician with no EHR. Millennials were most likely to report not having a physician (36 percent) whereas those in the “Silent Generation” were the least likely (just 2 percent). Although 74 percent had an electronic health record, only 44 percent reported having accessed the health records their physician kept on them.

Other questions in the survey centered on privacy and data sharing. Respondents were asked whether or not they had concerns about the privacy of data they had already shared with healthcare stakeholders. Of the four groups — physicians, hospitals, employers, and health insurers, employers were the most trusted, with only 10 percent of participants expressing concern. That went up to 11 percent for physicians, 14 percent for hospitals, and 16 percent for insurers.

Those in the $100,000 a year or more income bracket were more concerned about privacy than others — 27 percent of them had concerns about their health insurer and 17 percent had concerns about their physician. By contrast, the most trusting group was those 65 or older: only 2 percent worried about their employer and just 12 percent distrusted their insurer.

The level of concern seems to match up with actual cause for concern: when participants were asked whether their medical information had ever been compromised, only 5 percent of the total group said it had, but that included 16 percent of the $100K+ earners and only 1 percent of the Silent Generation members.

Nonetheless, most survey participants were willing to share information anonymously with researchers. Some — 22 percent — were even willing to share credit card purchase information and social media information with their doctors if it would improve their health. This number broke down most strongly on generational lines, going up to 30 percent for millennials and down to 15 percent for baby boomers.


Crowdfooding launches to help match food-focused startups to investors

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 25, 2014        

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CrowdfoodingRecently, Crowdfooding, an online service that aims to match food-focused entrepreneurs, including some health-focused startups, with experienced investors launched a beta version of their website.

The service has created a database of accredited investors who have funded different types of food companies, including specialty food, groceries, food delivery, and food and tech, which includes nutrition apps and connected devices for food tracking.

“Food has never experienced so much innovation from startups because the barrier was very high back in the day to actually penetrate this market,” CEO Alessio D’Antino told MobiHealthNews. “Now, with all this innovation from super foods to recipe apps to food delivery, many areas in the food space are getting disrupted by food startups and therefore, from an investment standpoint, they’re becoming more and more appealing as an investment.”

D’Antino said that eventually the service will match food entrepreneurs to investors who have a relevant investing history. D’Antino said so far they have collected a majority of the investor information from different sources, but since they announced the platform, investors have started asking to be added to the database. Some have even expressed an interest in investing in more food startups. Once matched, Crowdfooding will charge the investors a management fee of between 2 to 5 percent of the amount raised.

There are currently 14 investors that have invested in digital health companies focused on nutrition in the database. Crowdfooding lists investors that have invested in healthy recipe and coupon app Zipongo; healthy recipe app Yummly, which integrated its data with HealthKit just a week after the platform launched; breathalyzer kiosk company BreathAdvisor; and portable gluten sensor developer 6SensorLabs, which raised $4 million a couple months ago.

Though the list of investors is small right now, D’Antino said that he thinks eventually, when more investors have experience investing in nutrition tech startups, the list of investors will likely grow.

“It’s gaining a lot of attention from a media standpoint, it’s been super hyped,” D’Antino said. “However the number of investors who are knowledgeable in that space at this point is very few, and therefore the amount of activity is greater than the number of investors who could invest in this technology.”

He points out that nutrition-focused app companies also need to prove that they have a sustainable business model before investors are willing to invest.

Although D’Antino said that their platform is broad so they are open to a lot of different types of food companies, he added that Crowdfooding will also vet startups that are looking to be matched with investors. Crowdfooding aims to launch early next year.

Study: 19M fitness wearables in use today, to triple by 2018

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 25, 2014        

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juniper 11-2014About 19 million wearable fitness devices are in use worldwide this year, according to a new report from Juniper Research, and that number is expected to nearly triple by 2018. Juniper predicts that market will continue to be dominated by designated fitness devices, but that smartwatches with fitness capabilities will gradually begin to eat away at the market as time goes on.

Most of those devices will be in use in the far east and China, according to the report, with North America and Western Europe falling in second and third.

“Fitness has been the first consumer segment to have a large range of devices available, thanks to increasingly cheap motion sensors, such as accelerometers,” the firm writes in a whitepaper. “Smart wearable fitness devices have been around in some form or another since 2006, and so fitness is the segment in the wearables space closest to market maturity. However, the market itself is unlikely to experience the continued levels of growth that it has seen over the previous few years. The emergence of many smart watches in 2014 with comparable or better sensors, means that fitness devices will face increased competition in the coming years from these more complex devices, many of which are not marketed exclusively as fitness devices.”

Juniper predicts that the fitness band and smartwatch markets will converge from both directions, with fitness bands taking on some smartwatch features, like call notifications, even as smartwatches like Apple Watch launch with activity tracking functionality and a marketing focus on fitness. At that point, fitness bands will have to compete on aesthetics, advanced functionality, or price point (Juniper points out the $13 Xiaomi fitness band as an example).

Another problem Juniper identifies is that fitness bands will have to deal with is the engagement pain point — that, according to Endeavor Partners, a third of consumers who own a wearable device stopped using it within six months, and half of wearable device owners no longer use their device. Endeavor confirmed those results in a larger follow-up study.

“Given current levels of abandonment of fitness devices (currently estimated to be around 30 percent after six months’ usage), the market needs to find ways to make these devices appealing and relevant to consumers to develop usage and maintain interest,” Juniper wrote.

The research firm also predicts that the next four years will see healthcare-focused wearables, such as those monitoring ECG to those tracking blood glucose, making a more significant market impact as regulatory challenges are overcome. Finally, in the report, Juniper weighs in on the emerging conflict between Fitbit and Apple.

“Fitbit will remain the leading player for fitness tracking, although their decision not to integrate with Apple Health may harm their market share in the short term,” the firm wrote in a press release.

LabCorp, Envision lead $15 million investment in remote patient monitoring company Vivify Health

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 25, 2014        

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VivifyHealthPlano, Texas-based remote patient monitoring company Vivify Health has raised the first tranche of funding in what the company expects to be a $15 million round. Strategic investors Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) and Envision Healthcare Holdings were the primary investors in the round, which follows on the company’s $7 million round of funding led by two other strategic investors: Heritage Group and Ascension Ventures. Those two investors are the venture arms of large hospital systems, many of which will soon be signing on as Vivify customers.

Vivify currently has contracts with more than 250 hospitals across the country, CEO and Founder Eric Rock told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview. The company’s remote patient management platform is often white-labeled by its customers, which include a number of EHR vendors and analytics vendors, Rock said.

While Vivify has longstanding integration and distribution partnerships with AT&T and Ericsson, the company does most of its sales directly. Some of the recent funding will be used to build out the company’s sales team.  Keep reading>>

AiCure clinical trial seeks to validate smartphone camera-enabled medication adherence

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 24, 2014        

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continuous_motionNew York City-based AiCure is launching a clinical trial to validate its smartphone camera-based approach to medication adherence. The company will work with the Cincinnati Addiction Research Center (CinARC) at the University of Cincinnati on a 12-month, 130-patient trial. (Correction: The original version of this article described the system as “video-based”, but the company says that is incorrect — even though it uses the smartphone’s camera, it does not use video.)

AiCure is a novel medication adherence company in terms of its approach: the company uses a tablet or smartphone’s camera to observe the patient taking medications. An artificial intelligence system analyzes the data from the camera to make sure the patient took the medication correctly and sends an alert if they didn’t.

“If this is deployed in a health system, you can actually monitor the performance and medication adherence rates of someone suffering from mental illness, and you can see whether they’re adherent or not,” CEO Adam Hanina told MobiHealthNews in an interview last year. “And in the event that they’re not adherent there will be an escalation protocol, a reminder on their device. And then after a day or two that can get escalated to actually get a phone call from the outreach team.”

The technology is particularly well-suited for work with patients taking opiates, Hanina told MobiHealthNews in an email, because it’s a use case that requires highly accurate monitoring.

“Unlike many other technologies that rely on approximate measures of adherence, such as pill counts, self-reported text messages, electronic patient diaries, electronic pill bottles, and so forth, AiCure uses facial recognition and motion-sensing technology to confirm a patient has correctly taken their medication — thereby the actual activity of taking the medication is the check mark,” he wrote. “For a patient population where adherence to treatment is critical, where the cost of nonadherence is particularly high (both in terms of health outcomes and actual cost), and where an exact measure of adherence is required, i.e. every dose is accounted for, AiCure is ideally suited as a treatment monitoring solution.”  Keep reading>>

InfoBionic raises $17M for remote heart monitoring system, MoMe

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 24, 2014        

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MoMe InfoBionicLowell, Massachusetts-based remote patient monitoring company InfoBionic raised $17 million in a round led by Safeguard Scientifics, which now owns 20 percent of the company. Other investors that participated in the round include Excel Venture Management, Zaffre Investments and existing investors Mass Medical Angels (MA2), Broadview Ventures, TiE, Beta Fund, Boardwalk, Launchpad Venture Group, Cherrystone TCA, HTC, Boynton, and Keiretsu.

Keep reading>>