Strategic corporate investments at record high in digital health

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 5, 2014        

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digitalhealthcorporatev1While digital health funding in general has been growing enormously year-to-year, so too have strategic corporate investments, according to a new report by CB Insights. The research firm reports that 2014 has already had a record number of digital health deals by corporations (about 70 deals) despite two months left to go.

According to CB Insights, since 2010 corporate investors have made 210 deals totaling $2.34 billion into digital health startups. This year has already seen 89 percent more deals than 2012 and 183 percent more deals than 2011.

The roster of corporations that are setting this trend won’t be a big surprise to people who follow digital health investments. The list includes tech, pharma, provider, and payor companies.  Keep reading>>

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Bed, Bath and Beyond stores now sell Beddit’s sleep monitor

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 5, 2014        

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BedditHelsinki-based sleep tracker company Beddit announced that its Beddit Sleep Monitor is now available in 1,000 Bed, Bath and Beyond stores across the US.

“There is a lot of excitement around wearables and tracking sensors,” Beddit CEO Lasse Leppakorpi said in a statement. “But while other devices are still in the speculative stages, we’re already manufacturing and retailing our devices around the world.”

Although digital health devices have been on store shelves for years now, Bed, Bath and Beyond is one of the few non-technology focused specialty stores in the US to carry a digital health device. The sleep monitor is also available on Bed, Bath and Beyond’s website.

Beddit’s sensor uses ballistocardiography to detect individual heartbeats from cardiac contraction forces and breathing rhythm from chest wall movements. The strap measures time in bed, awakenings and bed exits, sleep time, sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), testing heart rate, sleep quality and breathing movements, including snoring.

From there the sensor uses Bluetooth to connect with the companion app, which offers personalized coaching, a wellness diary, historical sleep data and a social sharing option. Every morning, the app provides the user with a sleep analysis with tips on how to improve their sleep.

As part of a promotional tour for the device launch, Beddit will offer presentations to Bed, Bath and Beyond customers at the company’s flagship stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Keep reading>>

Jawbone adds heart rate sensor for UP3, takes on Misfit with Jawbone Move

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 5, 2014        

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Jawbone UP3It’s that time of year again when all the major activity tracking device makers are announcing their next generation devices. And with the specter of the Apple Watch on the horizon, the battle for activity tracking is more frenzied than ever. Basis announced its Basis Peak at the end of September and Fitbit announced the Fitbit Charge, Charge HR, and Surge at the end of October. Now Jawbone has announced the UP3 and the Jawbone Move, two new trackers due out before the year is up.

The two devices offer a high-end and low-end activity tracker; While the UP3 will sell for $179.99, the Jawbone Move will go for just $49.99. Both devices will include activity and sleep tracking features, but the UP3 will also include heart rate tracking, which is rapidly becoming a must-have for the category.

“UP Move is a fun, easy way to track activity and at just $49.99 it’s a great option for anyone at the beginning of a weight loss journey,” Vice President of Product Management and Strategy Travis Bogard said in a statement.  Keep reading>>

Startup founders discuss when to engage patients outside of clinical settings

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 5, 2014        

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AchievemintDigital health startup founders who spoke at the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit in Boston this week debated the nuances of engaging patients outside of the doctor’s office. The panel discussion included Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair and The Activity Exchange Cofounder Christine Lemke.

“For us, we say that healthcare is largely a service industry and it’s actually the provision of service and human care that has historically been quite effective,” Sattelmair said. “The problem is that the ways of engaging patients and communicating with patients has been limited and therefore that service is restricted to very brief episodes and very little support. When we think about digital medicine, it’s not about replacing human care, it’s about amplifying and extending human care and helping patients feel more connected and more cared for especially during periods of need.”

Sattelmair continues that providing care isn’t effective when it’s misaligned from the needs of the patients, so that some times there will be a highly concentrated period of care, but other times the patient is completely ignored. Lemke, co-founder of a wellness platform for payors, on the other hand, adds that while she does think the healthcare industry is doing an OK job leveraging patient information to deliver care, she finds that there is a lot more data that providers could use to deliver care to patients at the right times.

“Maybe this is a terrible example to use but think of your Facebook data or some of the triggers in your Facebook profile,” Lemke said. “Most women, and I grossly overgeneralize here, when they switch their relationship status to engaged what’s one of the first things they do? They start their Pinterest wedding planning board and they go on their wedding diet. So this is a moment of time that you’re never going to see in an EMR, that you’re never going to see in claims data, that you’re never going to see from the care provider that’s a trigger point to see when someone’s going to pay attention to some of these things in their life that contribute to wellbeing.”

Lemke also said that when asking for or seeking out this kind of data, they are very explicit with consumers about what data they will use. The Activity Exchange, she explains, has a consumer-facing called AchieveMint.com, which rewards people for providing data and taking part in experiments. In light of the recent Facebook controversy, Lemke adds that to conduct these experiments on users, the goal should always be to benefit the consumers.

“The problem with the Facebook experiment in my opinion, and I’m very opinionated about this, is that was an A/B experiment where they are actually trying to evoke a negative experience for consumers,” Lemke said. “Like, the B part of that test is ‘Let’s see if we can make them depressed in a way’. I’m oversimplifying, but— in healthcare we have to be super super careful that we’re not designing the B part of the experiment to be bad, a bad outcome. We’re actually throwing a series of triggers out there to see what produces a good outcome.”

Health insurance upstart Oscar competes on telehealth, user experience

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 5, 2014        

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screen568x568In May, Oscar, the New York-based individual-only insurance plan raised $80 million at close to a $1 billion valuation. That brought the company’s total funding to $150 million. It’s an impressive feat for a small startup attempting to compete in health insurance, which is so thoroughly dominated by huge legacy players.

At IBF’s Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit in Boston, Oscar co-founder Kevin Nazemi spoke with Bessemer Venture Partner’s Steve Kraus about how a focus on user experience — and a fortuitous market opportunity in the Affordable Care Act — helped catapult Oscar into the national spotlight. He also announced for the first time that the company will be expanding from just New York into New Jersey.

“We started the company because we, like everybody who’s insured, got our explanation of benefits and said ‘This is everything but an explanation’,” Nazemi said. “So we decided, why not do something about it? What if there was an insurance company that started with a blank slate and put the consumer first, building all the backend pieces, connected those in from the type of experience that we wanted?”

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Oscar found itself with a huge number of new individuals seeking health insurance. To coax those potential members in, the company focused on a user-centric design, easy to understand plans, and a telehealth component.

“That manifests itself in a simple experience, one where we try to help guide the consumer through the complexity of the delivery system,” Nazemi said. “That complexity certainly doesn’t go away with our arrival. And then we add some novel elements where we try to move away from someone who is just a claims processor or the pipes, but be more like a go-to and a doctor in the family. That manifests itself in the ability for all our members to push a button and have a doctor call them back in seven minutes. It’s powered by the folks at Teladoc among others.”  Keep reading>>

Steward’s ACO focuses patient engagement efforts on 4 percent of covered lives

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 4, 2014        

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Steward Hospitals Mark GirardSteward Health Care System’s President Dr. Mark Girard, who spoke at the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit in Boston this week, discussed how Steward’s facilities use digital health tools to manage their patient populations.

According to Girard, there are two fundamental processes in healthcare, information flows and people flows. The ideal, he said, is for both processes to be happening at the right time in the right place.

“We have to earn patient engagement,” he said. “We have to drive good outcomes, we have to drive quality. [Patients] don’t really care about the overall [total medical expenses]. They might care about some of their deductibles and copays, but what they want is convenience. They want access, they want quality, they want good outcomes, they want integration. They want to know that when they’ve seen one doc and then they get an appointment for another doc, that the information is arriving there at the same time.”

At Steward, Girard said that about 4 to 5 percent of the company’s covered lives generate about 50 percent of the total medical expenditure, while 20 percent of the patients account for about 80 percent of the spend and the remaining 80 percent of patients account for about 20 percent. Girard said that this means the entire economic viability of his program right now is managing 4 percent of the patients.  Keep reading>>