Health app market to reach $6.7 billion by the end of 2014

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 2, 2014        

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Female Doctor with TabletThe mobile health market is expected to be valued at $6.7 billion by the end of 2014, according to a report from research firm Visiongain.

London-based Visiongain defines mobile health as “the practice of medicine and health services, through mobile devices” and analyzed smartphone and tablet apps for its report. Apps included in the report range from free apps all the way to premium apps that have diagnostic features.

“Austerity measures have forced many health departments around the globe to rein in their spending and find more cost-effective ways of operating,” Visiongain explains in its summary. “Enabling them to diagnose, monitor, and communicate with patients remotely, mHealth promises extensive cost-savings for healthcare professionals and institutions. This new industry will also pay dividends to network operators, software developers, and data platform management providers who may turn their core competencies onto the medical field.”

A few weeks ago, consulting firm Accenture reported that funding for digital health startups will reach $6.5 billion by the end of 2017, up from $3.5 billion in 2014. The firm then broke down the total funding for digital health startups to date, $10.2 billion, and found $2.9 billion, went into startups that were working on infrastructure issues, like interoperability and health analytics. Digital health startups that work on engagement offerings, which Accenture says includes wearable devices and incentive programs, received $2.6 billion. Telehealth services also raised $2.6 billion and remote patient monitoring raised $2.1 billion.

Similarly, this week, Rock Health reported that so far in 2014, digital health startups have raised $3 billion in investment.

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Glooko’s new device Bluetooth-enables popular glucose meters

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 2, 2014        

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glooko metersyncGlooko, which makes a cable that syncs popular glucose meters to a companion app on smartphones, has always said it plans eventually to replace that cable with a wireless Bluetooth connection. Today, the company announced that they’ve finally released that product, the Bluetooth MeterSync Blue. The small box will plug into a patient’s glucose meter and send the information wireless, via Bluetooth, to Android or Apple phones.

The company will distribute the products via the health systems and payer groups that it works with. Those groups will be able to receive near-realtime health data from people with diabetes, which can then be fed into Glooko’s Population Tracker, a software platform that helps doctors manage diabetic populations.

“Glooko’s ability to sync blood glucose data from several meters and analyze trends has added efficiency within my clinical practice,” Dr. Zachary Bloomgarden, an endocrinologist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, said in a statement. “I am looking forward to using Glooko MeterSync Blue, which should make the platform more valuable by ensuring that patients can more seamlessly share their data with me between visits, particularly those at higher risk, including women during pregnancy and poorly controlled patients initiating treatment with insulin. It should also help with patients who are not at high risk but for whom the ability to review home glucose monitoring results will improve adherence to the increasingly complex regimens of modern diabetes management.”  Keep reading>>

HCA acquires PatientKeeper, one of the oldest mobile health companies

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 2, 2014        

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PatientKeeper's charge capture application.

PatientKeeper’s charge capture application.

Last week, the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), a company that manages 164 hospitals and 114 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and England, announced it would be acquiring PatientKeeper, one of the oldest mobile health software companies still in operation, for an undisclosed sum.

HCA will continue to operate PatientKeeper as an independent subsidiary, and the company will retain its Waltham, Massachusetts headquarters and its employees, including CEO Paul Brient.

“With its agreement to acquire PatientKeeper, HCA has taken an important step toward the creation of an exceptional user experience for our clinicians to interact with patients’ electronic health records to provide and document care,” Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, HCA’s Chief Medical Officer and president of HCA’s Clinical Services Group, said in a statement. “Our combined companies are positioned to provide a unique approach to the electronic health record that will foster the safest and most effective care for our patients.”

PatientKeeper was founded in 1996 and originally made medical software that ran on Palm Pilots and other PDAs before transitioning into modern mobile software. The company’s offerings include computerized physician order entry (CPOE), medication reconciliation, and electronic physician documentation. The company also helps practices transition to the ICD-10 diagnosis coding system.

Crunchbase puts PatientKeeper’s total funding at $86.7 million, though that includes $3 million in debt financing raised in 2011 and 2012. There were other indications that the nearly 20-year-old company was flagging. The company currently boasts 58,000 physician users — just 8,000 more then it reported back in 2012when it raised its most recent round of equity.

The acquisition puts a cap on a seven-year working relationship between HCA and PatientKeeper and will foster the newly minted subsidiary with a test bed in which to develop new products, as well as helping HCA to streamline its technological workflow, according to the company.  Keep reading>>

Walgreens, WebMD integrate each other’s digital health services

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 2, 2014        

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Healthy Target

WebMD Healthy Target feature

WebMD and Walgreens announced that they will each integrate some of the other’s digital health services into their online and mobile offerings. Walgreens customers that have a WebMD account will now be able to refill prescriptions and make clinic appointments at Walgreens through the WebMD website or app. Walgreens digital offerings will also now include some of WebMD’s health content and also help promote WebMD’s app-supported healthy behavior change programs.

“WebMD is pleased to be working with Walgreens to make trusted health information and services available to consumers anywhere, anytime so they can make more informed choices and live a healthier life,” WebMD CEO David Schlange said in a statement. “WebMD and Walgreens have a shared mission to improve health and wellness by empowering decision-making and motivating positive action. Working together, we will accelerate both companies’ efforts to realize this critical goal.”

Among the WebMD virtual coaching programs Walgreens will encourage its customers to enroll in, are programs for smoking cessation, weight management, nutrition, exercise, and stress management. Some health topics the collaboration will offer consumers co-branded content about, include allergy, healthy eating, skincare, fitness, emotional health, sleep, and oral health.

The companies also plan to integrate Walgreens’ recently updated Balance Rewards program, which incentivizes customers with points that can be redeemable for coupons for select items at Walgreens stores, and WebMD’s Healthy Target program, available on WebMD’s app.

Earlier this week, WebMD announced that its Health Target feature would sync data from Apple’s HealthKit platform so users who have an iPhone and use their Health app could integrate data from digital health devices and apps into the Healthy Target program.

Last month, Walgreens announced another corporate partnership, this one with activity tracker company Misfit. As part of Misfit’s Walgreens integration, owners of Misfit Shine can enroll in the Walgreens Balance Rewards program to earn points for rewards as they track activity. Walgreens’ rewards program has added integrated activity tracking from Fitbits, iHealth devices, and Jawbone UP trackers over the years.

Glow raises $17M to develop digital health tools for women

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 2, 2014        

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Glow NurtureSan Francisco-based Glow raised $17 million in a round led by Formation 8 with participation from existing investors Founder’s Fund and Andreessen Horowitz. This brings Glow’s total funding to $23 million.

“If you look at the evolution of our products — of what we’ve done — we have gone from fertile health and started evolving and moving towards general women’s health,” Glow CEO Mike Huang told MobiHealthNews. “A lot of the investment will definitely go into, not only product development, but also opportunities for research that can further help us expand in that direction. The ultimate vision is that we are able to provide the best and most engaging experience for users out there [and] hopefully through our experience they can stay engaged and improve their health.”

Glow also plans to use the funds to continue expanding its data science, product, and design teams. When the company raised its first round of funding last year, Glow had 10 employees. Now it has closer to 20.

Additionally, Glow wants to hire operations staff to continue to scale one of its newer products, Glow Enterprise.

“We are in discussion with a lot of companies in terms of rolling [Glow Enterprise] out,” Huang said. “The problem is it’s a really progressive benefits program, if you will. For those people who truly value women’s health in a company… [well,] we saw the diversity studies.”

Given that there are still comparatively few women in senior positions at companies as compared to men, Huang said this is an area Glow believes to be “truly underserved”.

“The awareness is not at the level we’d like to see,” he said. “We want to change that.”  Keep reading>>

Pebble adds sleep, fitness tracking and lowers price

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 1, 2014        

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Pebble Smartwatch activity trackingPalo Alto, California-based Pebble, maker of an activity-tracking smartwatch has added continuous fitness tracking and sleep tracking to its smartwatch.

The company also lowered the price of its devices by $50 so it’s original model now retails for $99, which is around the price of popular activity trackers including Jawbone and Fitbit. Pebble’s higher end device, called Steel, now costs $199.

Prior to the update, Pebble only tracked fitness when an app, like RunKeeper, was open on the smartwatch, but with the new update, Pebble will track fitness in the background. As part of this update, Pebble also announced that they had three launch partners who would take advantage of these new Pebble features: activity tracker maker Misfit, swimming platform Swim.com, and activity tracker maker Jawbone.

Swim.com is a new platform that launched this summer. The website helps swimmers track, share and compare the workouts they monitor with waterproof activity trackers. The platform received 5,000 beta requests within its first 10 days. At the time of its launch, the company had said it planned to add Pebble integration sometime during the summer.

And in June, Misfit, the maker of the jewelry-like Shine activity tracker, partnered with Pebble to integrate its algorithms into that company’s device. According to a Misfit spokesperson at the time, the deal marks the deepest integration to date for Misfit, which also plans to make an open API available to partners in the future.

Pebble also announced that they are expanding Pebble’s retail presence. Until now the smartwatch was available at Best Buy, Target, AT&T, and Amazon.com, but it will now also be available at Sam’s Club, Fry’s Electronics, and Sprint stores.

“When we launched Pebble two and a half years ago, our mission was simple: build the most enjoyable, customizable, and versatile smartwatch on the market at an accessible price,” the company’s blog post explains. “The market has exploded since then, but our mission remains the same.”

Pebble’s smartwatch updates were released less than a month after Apple finally announced its Apple Watch which is set to launch in early 2015 starting at $349.