Survey: 30 percent of medical professionals dissatisfied with communication tech

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 8, 2015        

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Harris PollSome 30 percent of health professionals are dissatisfied with the technology their organization uses for secure communication, according to a Harris Poll survey of 955 providers. The survey was commissioned by PerfectServe.

The professionals included in the survey were hospitalists, primary care physicians, specialist physicians, hospital administrators, office managers and practice administrators, nurses, and case managers.

Of those who were dissatisfied with the secure communication technology at their health organization, 68 percent said this dissatisfaction was a result of different teams in the company using different technologies and 55 percent said that was because not all members of these teams had access to the same technology.  Keep reading>>

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Sharecare gets $25M to expand its health and wellness tools

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 8, 2015        

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SharecareAtlanta-based Sharecare, the health and wellness engagement platform founded by WebMD founder Jeff Arnold and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, has raised $20 million from Wellington Management Company. Additionally, Sharecare picked up a $5 million investment from Trinity Health (formerly CHE Trinity), a healthcare system that has been investing in Sharecare since 2013. The two investments bring the company’s total funding to $160 million.

Last October, Trinity enlisted Sharecare to equip 30 million of its patients spread across 20 states with Sharecare’s portfolio of patient engagement tools. It now offers patients Sharecare’s health risk assessment the RealAge Test, individualized wellness programs, fitness device data aggregation, facility locators, appointment schedulers, secure messaging with physicians, symptom navigator app AskMD, and more.

In a statement, the company said the funding will be used to “support Sharecare’s expansion plans, including the development and delivery of innovative mobile products and services to help people optimize their health.” Keep reading>>

Novu raises $20M for app-enabled wellness programs

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 7, 2015        

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NovuMinneapolis-based Novu has raised $20 million from SSM Partners and Noro-Moseley Partners for its app-enabled wellness program, which it offers to payors, providers, and employers.

“The health care system, to date, has not been successful in moving past a transactional relationship with the consumer, resulting in low rates of engagement and lack of trust,” Novu CEO Tom Wicka said in a statement. “Novu creates a meaningful connection between individuals and the health system, delivering new ways of reaching consumers and efficiencies for technologies, protocols and care teams.”

The company said it “combines consumer marketing with health care insights and data to create tailored experiences for consumers”. Before founding Novu, Wicka was the Chief Marketing Officer for IWCO Direct, a direct marketing company that focuses on developing consumer loyalty and rewards programs for Fortune 500 companies in travel, hospitality, retail, and financial services.

Novu works with providers, payors, and employers to offer their programs to patient populations, members, and employees. Novu is available on the web and for iPhones and it offers consumers more than 200 health programs, a social network to communicate with other users, health challenges and games, rewards for healthy behaviors, like discount offers, biometric screenings, and integration with third party health apps and devices.

Some of the health programs Novu offers, include smoking cessation, diabetes prevention, stress, sleep health, strength training, nutrition, and yoga.

Novu’s customers include UnitedHealthcare, Medica, Fairview Health Services, and  Delta Dental of Minnesota. Medica extended its partnership with Novu at the end of last year. The payor explained at the time that based on the success of the program with Medica’s individual and family plan members in mid-2013, Medica is now extending the platform to include its Medicare members, too.

Tullman’s diabetes startup Livongo picks up $20M from Kleiner, DFJ

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 7, 2015        

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Livongo Health's device for monitoring blood glucose.

Livongo Health, the diabetes management company launched last fall by former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, has raised $20 million in second-round funding. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and DFJ Venture contributed to the round, as did previous investor General Catalyst Partners.

“With thousands of people now using Livongo for Diabetes, it’s clear that the best way for people to manage chronic diseases like diabetes is to empower them with real-time, personalized information about their condition,” Tullman said in a statement. “This information improves care, reduces costs, and enables people to focus on their lives and not their diseases.”

The company will use the funding to accelerate deployment of its Livongo for Diabetes program for self-insured employers. The platform consists of connected devices, a smart cloud, and a virtual care team. The device, called In Touch, serves as both a connected glucometer and a pedometer and will allow easy sharing of the data. It’s a standalone device with a color touchscreen that is cellular connected. The program also offers unlimited test strips at no extra charge. Keep reading>>

Quanttus: Why continuous blood pressure monitoring is a game-changer

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 7, 2015        

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Quanttus's original research device. The current prototype is worn on the wrist.

Quanttus’s original research device. The current prototype is worn on the wrist.

Quanttus, the stealthy Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup that raised $19 million last year for a wearable vitals monitor is deep into clinical tests for its wristworn device, which is tackling the intractable problem of continuous blood pressure monitoring.

“Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the US, and it hits more than all cancers and AIDS combined,” David He, cofounder and chief scientific officer of Quanttus, said at the HxRefactored event last week. “But if you look at the apparatus used in the last hundred years, versus what you see in the doctors’ office today, it hasn’t changed much. Actually if it weren’t for the ban on the use of mercury, you’d still see the same devices. There has been some innovation: Withings has done some work to make the experience better. But it’s still the same technology. It’s uncomfortable, episodic, and burdensome.”

Most blood pressure monitors still rely on a cuff that slows the flow of blood, which is both uncomfortable and makes continuous monitoring impossible. It also makes nocturnal monitoring difficult-to-impossible, which is one of the biggest value propositions for Quanttus. According to He, studies have shown that when patients’ blood pressure doesn’t drop at night, patients are more at risk for heart disease.

“Every 5 percent decrease in your drop in blood pressure at night reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 percent,” he said. “This is huge. It’s way more diagnostic than getting your blood pressure taken at a doctor’s office or at home.” Keep reading>>

Brigham and Women’s Hospital to pilot post-discharge app with heart patients

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 7, 2015        

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iGetBetterBrigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston will pilot iGetBetter’s apps to reduce hospital readmissions through remote patient monitoring and post-discharge patient engagement. The pilot will target patients that have heart disease, specifically those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

“There is a great need for innovative approaches to relieve symptoms for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,” Dr. Neal Lakdawala, a BWH physician and the clinical lead on the pilot, said in a statement. “Disease manifestations can vary significantly on a day to day, and even minute to minute basis, but contemporary practice has not adapted to this aspect of disease. We are excited about the potential for this pilot, in which we will accelerate the pace of relief for patients using technology that allows them to report symptoms, vital signs, and step counts daily. This information will allow us to titrate their medications weekly and individualize treatment.”

With iGetBetter’s system, patients can review their personalized care plans on a patient-facing HTML5 web app, designed to work on various devices, including Android and iOS ones. The app allows patients to view announcements and reminders, log their progress, manage their contact information, and communicate with care team members.

In this specific trial, patients will also be able to sync health information that they track with Withings’ Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuffs and activity monitors. Withings donated the devices to Brigham and Women’s for the pilot.  Keep reading>>