Trackers for sleep, rowing, yoga, and 8 other crowdfunding campaigns

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 6, 2014        

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TechnicalDigital health devices — including consumer-facing activity trackers and wearables — have a constant presence on Indiegogo and Kickstarter these days. But lately a few health-related devices have made a big splash, raising well over their funding goal. The Darma smart seat cushion, the SmartMat smart yoga mat, and Pavlok, a wrist bracelet that uses small shocks to discourage bad habits, have all received a fair amount of attention in the last few weeks.

And of course, as usual, a number of other health and fitness products have achieved more modest success on the platforms. As with every crowdfunding roundup, it’s important to remember to have a healthy skepticism about groundbreaking medical or technological claims. Crowdfunding platforms have had a few examples in the past of devices that have, at the very least, so far failed to live up to their creators’ original promises.

Read on for 11 of the latest health technology pitches to hit the crowdfunding scene. Keep reading>>

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NantHealth raises $320M, including $250M more from Kuwait Investment Authority

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 6, 2014        

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Dr Patrick Soon-ShiongNantHealth raised $320 million in a round led by Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) with participation from Verizon, Celgene, BlackBerry, and Blackstone. KIA contributed $250 million to the round, according to Nant. This brings the company’s total funding to north of $400 million.

KIA also invested $100 million in NantHealth earlier this year — in May. BlackBerry’s investment in the company was announced in April.

NantHealth offers a cloud-based, clinical decision support platform used by at least 250 hospitals, according to the company. Nant offers a range of services, including a population health platform and a suite of products built to provide a learning system for the treatment of cancer.  Keep reading>>

Next week: MobiHealthNews webinar on texting for health

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 6, 2014        

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Text MessagingThe opportunity for healthcare organizations to leverage text messaging as a channel for health education, behavior change, and patient engagement has been widely discussed over the past decade. But unlike other health technology solutions, the body of data supporting text messaging-based mobile health programs is substantial and growing.

Next Thursday during a complimentary MobiHealthNews webinar — October 16th at 2PM ET — we’ll go over data and highlights from efficacy studies published over the past few years, along with a series of individual case studies that point to not only the potential, but also the success, of texting for healthcare today.

Don’t miss out: Register today and tune in live Thursday, October 16th at 2PM ET / 11AM PT.

Cigna, Intel-GE expand RPM trial for Medicare heart patients

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 6, 2014        

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Cigna-Healthspring Intel-GE Care InnovationsCigna-Healthspring, a subsidiary of Newtown, Massachusetts-based payor Cigna that specializes in Medicare plans, is expanding its congestive heart failure remote patient monitoring program in partnership with Intel-GE Care Innovations.

The two organizations first piloted the program with 50 patients in Tennessee. These members, who had been recently admitted to the hospital for CHF complications, received a tablet on which they could track their health for at least 90 days. During this time, they also interacted via digital devices with a Cigna-Healthspring nurse practitioner, tracked their health metrics, and completed a program that educated them on how to manage their congestive heart failure at home.  Keep reading>>

Telemonitoring reduces readmissions 44 percent in 4-year, 500-patient study

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 3, 2014        

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A connected weight scale from AMC Health.

A connected weight scale from AMC Health.

A new study from Pennsylvania hospital system Geisinger Health Plan shows that remote monitoring of congestive heart failure patients can reduce readmissions by 38 to 44 percent and produce a return on investment of $3.30 on the dollar.

The long-term study of 541 patients began in 2008 and just concluded in 2012. Patients used a Bluetooth-connected weight scale from AMC Health that also included interactive voice surveys about shortness of breath, swelling, appetite and prescription medication management, designed to detect acute events before they happen. Weight data and survey answers were transmitted in near-realtime to the patients’ care team, allowing them to respond to warning signs in a timely manner. This is the second study Geisinger has published on this technology.

“Evidence that points to the significant value of remote patient monitoring in enhancing population health management efforts continues to mount,” Nesim Bildirici, president and CEO of AMC Health, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that a second Geisinger study quantifies this benefit for patients diagnosed with heart failure. As the nation’s healthcare system continues its transition to value-based care and shared-risk arrangements gain traction, reducing hospital admissions and lowering the overall cost of care continue to escalate in importance.”

Geisinger enrolled 1,708 elderly Medicare Advantage members over the course of the study, but restricted the research to the 541 members who remained on the plan for the full 70-month study (which included a year of data prior to the start of the intervention). The study had no control groups; instead each member’s claims data for months they were enrolled in the intervention was compared to claims data when they were not.

Comparing that claims data showed that the remote monitoring program reduced 30-day readmissions by 44 percent and 90-day readmissions by 38 percent. Overall costs were reduced by 11 percent. Notably, that was the difference between complex care with and without telemonitoring — not between complex care with telemonitoring and regular care.

The study demonstrates that within a managed care program for over-65-year-olds, most of whom had multiple co-morbidities, remote monitoring and subsequent response from care teams could have a significant impact on readmissions. The study will appear in December in the journal Population Health Management.

“According to research from the American Heart Association, roughly 5.1 million Americans have heart failure, and approximately half of the patients who experience the disease die within five years of diagnosis,” Doreen Salek, director of Population Health Business Intelligence at Geisinger Health Plan, said in a statement. “It is our hope that supplementing a strong case management program with telehealth solutions, as demonstrated in this study, can improve on those odds and ensure better outcomes for our aging population.”

Philips receives FDA clearance for two telehealth apps

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 3, 2014        

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Philips eCarecompanionPhilips received FDA 510(k) clearance for two of its telehealth applications, eCareCoordinator and eCareCompanion. Both apps are part of a Philips program called Philips Transition to Ambulatory Care (eTrAC), which aims to reduce hospital readmissions by providing patients with the tools to make their transition to the home.

“The FDA clearance of the Philips eCareCoordinator and eCareCompanion applications marks the first major step in realizing our vision for a digital health platform that seamlessly integrates data to transform the way we deliver patient care,” Philips Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services CEO Jeroen Tas said in a statement. “These applications address both clinician and patient needs, providing clinicians with better access and analysis around patient data while empowering patients to manage their own health with direct access to care teams. The deeper insights into patient conditions will help enable more efficient and cost-effective care for improved outcomes.”

With eCareCoordinator, clinicians can access daily summaries for each patient so that they can prioritize which patients to reach out to and what care plans they need to adjust. The app collects data from connected devices that measure health metrics including blood pressure, vital signs, and weight, but the app also gathers more subjective data from questionnaires and communication with the patient’s care team. This tool runs on a browser.

eCareCompanion is a patient portal, available on tablets, that helps patients manage their own condition. Patients can use it to fill out health questionnaires, communicate with their care teams, and sync data from connected medical devices. So far, this app runs only on Android devices, but it will be extended to iOS in the future.

Philips developed the apps this summer as part of a partnership with Salesforce to build an open, cloud-based platform that helps caregivers manage patients. Saleseforce expects that this platform will eventually offer patients tools that range from self-care and prevention, to diagnosis and treatment through recovery and wellness.

In August, Philips Lifeline, Philips’ longstanding personal emergency response brand for seniors, launched its first-ever app that acts like an mPERS. The Philips Lifeline response app will allow seniors to one-touch call the same response center that handles other Lifeline products via their smartphone from anywhere. The app itself is free on Android and Apple phones, but to have access to Philips’ 24/7 call center, there is a monthly fee of $13.95. There are no installation, setup, or download fees and no long-term contracts.