USC launches Biogram, an Instagram-like app that stamps user’s images with their heart rate

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 10, 2015        

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BioGramThe University of Southern California (USC) has launched a new app that takes some cues from Instagram, called Biogram, that allows users to take pictures, but that adds a stamp to the picture noting the user’s heart rate.

The pictures can be pushed to Facebook and other social media services. Biogram integrates heart rate data from AliveCor’s smartphone ECG. If the user does not have an AliveCor Heart Monitor, they can enter their heart rate manually or integrate another sensor. The app is also compatible with HealthKit.

USC’s Center for Body Computing (CBC) created the app with help from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and health app development company Medable, which specializes in keeping apps HIPAA-compliant.

“The convergence of health, technology and mobile digital devices is allowing us all to become smart patients,” CBC Executive Director Leslie Saxon, a co-inventor of the app, said in a statement. “Now millions of people can add biostatistical information to existing photo-sharing social media activities, and while it provides insightful data that is emotional, aesthetic and informative, it also makes health education more entertaining.”  Keep reading>>

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Messaging app WeChat adds WeChat Sports for fitness tracking

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 10, 2015        

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WeChatOver the past few months China-based WeChat, an instant messaging app that has around 500 million active users, has added fitness tracking integration into its app, according to a post from TechInAsia. WeChat is a subsidiary of Tencent.

The WeChat app is available in the US, Hong Kong, India, China, Thailand, and Indonesia, although the new feature is currently only available in Chinese.

WeChat first announced its intent to add health and fitness tracking in July 2014. At the time, the company released an API for connected hardware developers to integrate data into its app, according to a post in CNET.

Users can add the new feature, called WeChat Sports, by opting in to a WeChat Sports account inside the app. At that point, the app will be able to pull data from different trackers, like Fitbit, Nike+ FuelBand, iHealth Edge, or Xiaomi Mi Band. The app can also pull activity data directly from the phone if the user has a phone that auto-senses step counts, like the iPhone 6. WeChat Sports will present users with a daily leaderboard that compares users’ activity to their friends’ numbers.

WeChat aims to eventually expand beyond activity tracking. In November, at the 2014 Tencent Partner Conference, the company showcased integrations with various health devices, including iHealth’s blood pressure monitor.

DigiSight gets $7.8M to go beyond ophthalmology app

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 10, 2015        

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digisight sightbookDigiSight Technologies, a California-based company currently focused on mobile apps for ophthalmology, has raised $7.8 million in second round financing. The round was led by Biosys Capital, Waycross Ventures, GE Ventures, and Lagunita, with additional contributions from existing investors.

The company’s core technology is the DigiSight Network, a platform for connecting data from patients’ mobile apps to care team through a secure patient portal. Currently the company has one app: Sightbook, an iOS app that offers 10 vision tests patients can take at home and share the results with their doctors. But the company plans to use the funding to expand the team and develop technologies beyond ophthalmology.

“Ophthalmology is a specialty well­-suited to using mobile tests and diagnostics,” CEO Doug Foster said in a statement. “Blindness is a debilitating condition that is expensive for the healthcare system, and patients with acute conditions are highly motivated to be engaged with their care plans. Generating more patient data can profoundly impact the ability to deliver high quality, cost­-efficient care for these patients. DigiSight is leading the movement to realize this vision for healthcare through mobile technology. This financing enables us to move aggressively on our plan and we are excited to partner with our new investors.” Keep reading>>

Citrix: Android adoption relatively high among healthcare professionals

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 10, 2015        

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Citrix Mobile Healthcare Adoption

Source: Citrix Mobile Analytics Report, February 2015

While iOS devices still dominate, these days healthcare professionals may be more likely than other professionals to be Android, according to a recent report from Citrix. The report is based on a large swath of anonymous data gathered from the company’s sizable global customer base, but Citrix says it should not be considered “a comprehensive view of all mobile network data traffic or of all mobile network subscribers.”

“The healthcare industry is embracing mobile technology,” Citrix writes in the report. “The especially large share of Android devices (39 percent) in healthcare may result in part from a combination of the pressure these organizations face to cut costs, and the increasing equivalence of the apps available on lower-cost Android devices.”

In the Americas, average Android adoption across all enterprises — not just healthcare — is currently at about 26 percent.  Keep reading>>

Dr. Google steps up its medical search game again

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 10, 2015        

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google knowledge graphBy better leveraging its Knowledge Graph smart search algorithm, Google is giving its health-related search functions a shot in the arm. Starting in the next few days, health searches on Google and via the Google app will display a wide range of medical facts about the disease or condition in question.

“We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is—whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more,” product manager Prem Ramaswami wrote on the Google Blog this week. “For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.”

Knowledge Graph is a function of Google Search, introduced in 2012, that combines Google’s search algorithm with publicly available and internal databases to create a “smarter” search. With Knowledge Graph, a small display of relevant information shows up at the top of a user’s search results page. Google first started using Knowledge Graph with health-related search results in 2012.

The information Knowledge Graph will display is gathered from well-regarded medical websites has been vetted by a team of doctors, both internal at Google, led by Dr. Kapil Parakh, and at the Mayo Clinic.

“That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice,” Ramaswami added. “We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. What we present is intended for informational purposes only — and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.”

Ramaswami writes that 1 in 20 Google searches is health related, and Google has been aware of this fact for years. At various times since 2009, Google has updated its search features to be more friendly to health-related searches. In November 2010, Google wrote a blog post officially introducing special search results for people using Google in an emergency situation. Keep reading>>

Blueprint Health seventh class tackles diabetes, insurance, genomics

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 9, 2015        

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TapGenesBlueprint Health took to Twitter last week to announce its newest, seventh class of healthcare startups in New York City. Blueprint is a member of TechStars’ Global Accelerator Network, and startups in the Blueprint Health accelerator receive $20,000, office space in SoHo, and $50,000 in perks including server space and legal counsel. Blueprint takes a 6 percent equity stake in exchange.

Serial digital health entrepreneur Jean-Luc Neptune recently joined the team at Blueprint Health as Executive Director of the accelerator program. He shared some data about the program in a recent blog post.

“Blueprint has … grown significantly since that fateful launch day three years ago,” he wrote. “We’ve graduated six Accelerator classes to date, with a seventh class getting ready to go in the next few weeks. In total, we’ve helped accelerate the growth of 53 companies addressing a broad range of health problems including medication adherence, specialist referrals, hospital purchasing, and care transitions, among others. Of those 53 companies, 85 percent are still in operation and, of those, 90 percent are generating revenue, a sign that our efforts have create sustainable value.”

Update: Neptune emailed to say that 85 percent, not 90 percent of the companies are generating revenue, contrary to what he wrote in his blog post initially. We also omitted Moving Analytics from the original version of this article.

Read on for the seven new startups in Blueprint’s class. Keep reading>>