Illinois medical group to use Apple Watch in disease management pilot

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 22, 2014        

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Apple WatchSpringfield, Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) has launched a pilot program to examine how nurses and physicians can integrate the Apple Watch into the medical group’s Advanced Medical Home program.

HSHS’ Advanced Medical Home program, which has a total of 1,100 patients, uses nurse navigators to offer specialized care to high-risk patients with chronic diseases. While the patients in this program are also participating in face-to-face visits, the program plans to expand their health monitoring efforts by using the Apple Watch and potentially other healthcare tools.

“When I think about connectivity and using applications and remote monitoring technology, I see two big baskets,” HSHS Medical Group Chief Quality Officer Andrew Bland told MobiHealthNews. “First is the consumer side, which is what the Apple Watch, iPhone, etc exists in. And the second is intensive medical monitoring. For us right now would mean FDA-compliant devices with security and HIPAA protection.”

On the consumer side, Bland said, it would be beneficial for patients to track their health and ask questions if they notice variations in their heart rate, blood pressure, or weight. He explained that while a doctor could look at the data and say ‘Yeah, I think this is absolutely normal, what this shows is your heart rate variability and your exercise intensity are entirely appropriate for what you’re doing. Keep doing this,’ he could also say ‘You know there is some cause for concern with what we’re looking at and we need to do further testing.’

The Apple Watch, which was unveiled in early September, will track movement through a built-in accelerometer and heart rate through optical sensors in the back of the device. It will extrapolate further data from the GPS and WiFi on the user’s iPhone. The Apple Watch is set to launch in early 2015, so the HSHS pilot is planning to begin shortly after its launch.  Keep reading>>

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Telcare raises $32.5 million for cellular-enabled glucose meter, to expand to related conditions

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 22, 2014        

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Telcare appsBethesda, Maryland-based cellular-enabled blood glucose meter company Telcare has raised $32.5 million led by Norwest Venture Partners with participation from Mosaic Health Solutions and existing backers The Qualcomm Life Fund and Sequoia Capital. The latest round of funding takes Telcare’s total disclosed funding to north of $60 million.

Telcare offers a diabetes management package that includes a cellular-enabled glucose meter with two-way messaging that transmits to an FDA-cleared care management server, in addition to iPhone and Android apps that help keep family members in the loop about the progress of loved ones with diabetes.

“Telcare is capitalizing on two trends: the need to provide better care at lower cost, and the innovation in mobile, connected devices to provide timely clinical care,” Casper de Clercq, Partner at Norwest Venture Partners said in a statement. “Diabetes is a chronic condition which is demanding for both patients and care givers. Telcare’s FDA-cleared cloud and connected sensors represent a step change in the management of this condition at a fraction of diabetes related medical costs. Our investment in the company speaks to its leadership in digital health through collaboration with providers, payors and the FDA.”

Notably, Clercq also said that the funding will help Telcare expand beyond diabetes.

“The capital will allow Telcare to broaden its impact in diabetes and expand the platform to related chronic conditions,” he said.

In JAMA study, Castlight shows price transparency brings modest savings

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 22, 2014        

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Castlight Mobile AppsIn the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from Castlight Health have published what they believe is the first study linking price transparency to cost savings. The study of more than 500,000 Castlight users demonstrated modest savings for lab tests, advanced imaging, and clinician office visits.

“Although it is widely perceived that greater transparency of pricing information should reduce health care costs, to our knowledge, no prior studies have shown this using private price transparency platforms,” study authors wrote. “We examined the association between the availability of health service prices to patients and the total claims payments (the total amount paid by patient and insurer) for these services. We hypothesized that providing personalized price information would allow patients to identify and choose less expensive providers resulting in lower payments for medical services.”

Researchers analyzed claims data from 18 employers working with Castlight and selected the 500,000 users who had made use of relevant services. They identified the users who had done a search on the same service they were receiving up to 14 days prior to the procedure. This “searcher” group had 116,000 members, while 386,000 non-searchers were identified.  Keep reading>>

Moov raises $3M to build more coaching apps for device that senses form, not just steps

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 22, 2014        

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MoovMountain View, California-based activity tracker maker Moov raised $3 million in a round led by Banyan Capital.

The company’s activity tracker contains sensors that can tell how a user moves, not just when they move, Moov CEO Meng Li told MobiHealthNews. For example, the device can be hooked around the user’s ankle so that it tracks running form, or to a golf club to track a swing, or even to a user’s wrist to track swimming stroke.

This information from the device is sent to a companion app that offers coaching tips to the user. Moov is developing various apps for specific activities. The company currently offers two apps, available on the iPhone: Moov Running and Walking Coach and Moov Boxing – Cardio Punch. In addition to using the funds to create new apps, Li also wants to develop Android versions of the apps.

“With the funding, we will use the same mechanics — a lot of coaching, a lot of insight, in addition to data — and apply that to other sports,” Li said. “We will be releasing swimming really soon, and then the next one is cycling, and then the next is body weight.”

Other apps that the company plans to develop include yoga, weight lifting, and golf. Moov hopes its not the only company developing apps for its device.

“We’ve got a lot of demand for the SDK as well,” Li said. “Some people want to make physical therapy apps [to help] their patients to recover and some researchers want to use Moov to [conduct] a field study on how exactly people are running. There are a lot of people who want to use Moov for different projects, so the key for us is to open up an SDK so that people can build their own apps.”

Moov will likely open its SDK to other developers next year.

Moov cowdfunded the device on its website in February and raised $1 million in two weeks through the campaign. Six months after launching the device, Moov shipped it to all of its early backers — close to 20,000 people — ahead of schedule. The device is still available for pre-order on the company’s website for $79.95. Users who purchase the device now, as part of the company’s third batch of preorders, will receive it in November. According to Li, it may take a while before the company moves away from the pre-order system.

“The key for us is to engage our backers and treat them as part of ‘team Moov’,” Li said. “So that’s why when we launched, we launched after we finished the first app. There won’t be a cutoff date, like ‘Today is launch day’. I think the product will just evolve to a better Moov experience. We want to make it right, we want to make it really transform users’ workouts. And we want to hear more stories of how people are using Moov and changing their life while we are building the app. So it’s hard to say when there’s going to be a full launch.”

PwC: 1 in 5 Americans owns a wearable, 1 in 10 wears them daily

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 21, 2014        

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PwC wearable dataTwo new reports from PricewaterhouseCoopers and its Health Research Institute on the present and future of wearables, including healthcare wearables, show that Americans are optimistic about the future of wearable technology, but less enthusiastic about the technology as it exists now. Health and fitness wearables still lead the category when it comes to consumer interest, and, the data suggests, employers and insurers could kickstart the trend by footing the bill for these devices.

“Consumers recognize enormous potential in the emerging category—but right now, they are skeptical that wearable technology can deliver on that potential,” PwC writes in ‘The Wearable Future.’ “Simply put, the existing marketplace isn’t executing the ‘wow’ factor that comes with all the hype.”

PwC surveyed 1,000 US consumers across demographic lines for the reports, asking questions about wearable use and adoption, their willingness to use different devices in different contexts, and their concerns about wearable technology.

Adoption of some kind of wearable technology is at about 21 percent, according to the survey — the same percent that owned a tablet in 2012. Of those who own a wearable device, 2 percent no longer wear it, 2 percent wear it a few times a month, 7 percent wear it a few times a week, and 10 percent wear it every day.  Keep reading>>

Apple makes another blood glucose tracking units goof

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 21, 2014        

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Apple Health AppFor the second time since it announced its HealthKit plans, Apple has made a mistake related to blood glucose measurement units. Last week the company pulled the glucose tracking feature out of its Health app for users in some countries where glucose is tracked in millimoles per liter (mmol/L) and not milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) like they are in the US.

“If you measure your blood glucose using a device that displays mmol/L, those values can’t be manually entered or displayed in the Health app with that unit of measurement,” Apple wrote in its support forum a few days ago. “To prevent confusion in countries where mmol/L is commonly used, we’ll soon release a software update that will temporarily remove the ability to manually enter and view blood glucose values in the Health app while we work on an update to support both units of measurement.”  Keep reading>>