UCLA pilots mobile vision testing app for patients with diabetes

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 23, 2014        

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digisight sightbookAccording to a new pilot study, patients with diabetes are adherent to — and even enthusiastic about — self-monitoring their vision with a mobile app, but the study was not able to quantitatively demonstrate a health effect from the intervention. Diabetic retinopathy, a degradation of vision that can lead to blindness, is one of the most common complications of diabetes.

“General findings are that diabetic patients, even though they have a lot on their plate — checking their sugar regularly, etc. — they enjoy using the mobile app because it simplifies this aspect of their healthcare,” Dr. Irena Tsui, the lead investigator on the study, told MobiHealthNews. “Without it we would tell patients, ‘If you notice a change in your vision please call us.’ So that’s kind of a big thing. This is something concrete that patients can do at home.”

Doctors at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA enrolled 60 patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes in the trial, instructing them to download and use the app to monitor their vision and report changes to a physician. Doctors, including both the patient’s primary care physician and their vision specialist — could log onto the back-end and see the results of the tests.  Keep reading>>

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Annual Cigna survey finds consumer-driven health plan members more engaged, less costly

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2014        

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CIGNA CDHP member surveyFor the eighth year in a row, health insurance company Cigna has released results from a comparative study of its consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) members to its other members enrolled in traditional PPOs and HMOs. The actual claims data from more than 3.6 million Cigna members were used in the study, and Cigna concluded — as it has in years past — that members enrolled in CDHPs were more engaged in their own health and lowered their total medical expenses. Cigna currently counts about 2.6 million CDHP members.

The general objective of CDHP plans is to get members to behave more like consumers by increasing their personal financial exposure to their health care costs. Once healthcare consumers start acting more like consumers, free market forces should drive down healthcare costs.

The insurer’s CHDP members were 50 percent more likely to complete a health risk assessment and 41 percent of those with a chronic condition were 41 percent more likely to take advantage of disease management programs if they were enrolled in a CDHP. That’s up from Cigna’s 2013 version of the survey, which found CDHP members with chronic conditions were 25 percent more likely to take advantage of those programs.  Keep reading>>

Sotera Wireless raises $20M for in-hospital patient monitoring

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 23, 2014        

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Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor.

Sotera Wireless’s ViSi Mobile monitor.

Medical device maker Sotera Wireless raised $20 million in equity, securities, and options, according to a filing in the SEC. This brings their total announced funding to almost $50 million. The filing also shows that Sotera hopes to raise another $33 million.

Existing Sotera investors include Safeguard Scientifics, Delphi Ventures, Sanderling Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, EDBI, Intel Capital, Cerner Capital, and the West Health Investment Fund.

Sotera’s main product, called ViSi Mobile, monitors blood pressure, heart rate or pulse rate, electrocardiogram (ECG) or heart rhythm, blood oxygenation level, respiration rate and skin temperature from a wearable sensor system with a wristworn screen. The system is meant to cut down on the number of wires connected to a patient in a hospital bed. The product is also intended to help clinicians keep track of patients in the hospital or while patients are in transit.

The technology received FDA 510(k) clearance for its full system in August 2012, but in October 2013, Sotera Wireless received an additional FDA 510(k) clearance for ViSi Mobile’s continuous noninvasive blood pressure (cNIBP) monitoring software, which enables continuous blood pressure monitoring without a cuff or catheter.

In December 2013, Scripps Health announced a pilot program using Sotera Wireless’s ViSi mobile with up to 30 patients at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California. Although the Scripps Translational Science Institute has used ViSi devices before, this pilot marks the first time Scripps has used the device in a real-world clinical setting. Other hospital systems that have already adopted the ViSi mobile system include Intermountain Healthcare in Utah and Palomar Pomerado.

Withings launches Pulse O2, activity tracker that measures blood oxygen levels

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 23, 2014        

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PulseO2Withings has launched the next version of its Pulse activity tracker, now called Pulse O2. The new device allows users to measure their blood oxygen levels, which help users understand the efficiency of their overall lung functions.

This tool is especially useful for people who work out in high altitudes, for example mountain climbers, or people with respiratory issues, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis. Withings said the device can guard against hypoxia, a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen, but Withings has not had Pulse O2 cleared with the FDA.

Another company, Masimo, launched an iPhone connected pulse oximeter, called iSpO2, back in December 2012, and that device also did not have FDA clearance. iSpO2 was marketed for climbers and pilots.

Pulse O2 has a similar form factor to its predecessor — it can clip on to user’s clothing or just sit in the user’s pocket — but now also offers users the option to wear the device on their wrists.

Like Pulse, Pulse O2 also measures heart rate, tracks activity, records sleep and syncs to an app that also helps users log food.

Pulse’s companion app, Health Mate, was also redesigned to use the data from Withings devices to coach the user and provide him or her with actionable advice. The new coaching features are available through the app’s Smart Insights section, which shows the user’s progress, the Healthy Reminders section, which helps him or her adopt the right habits, and the Leaderboards section, which provides motivation through competition. These items are organized in Withings Health Mate’s new Timeline view.

Pulse O2 is on sale over at Withings’ website for $119.95.

Withings initially launched Pulse in June 2013, following an announcement about the device at CES. At this year’s CES show, Withings previewed two new devices, a Bluetooth-enabled update of the company’s upper arm blood pressure cuff and a two part sleep tracking system. The sleep system, called Withings Aura, is not a wearable device. Instead, the system consists of a sensor placed in the user’s bed and a bedside device that serves as both lamp and alarm clock. The system is controlled via a smartphone app.

Misfit Wearables offers Bloom Necklace to its Shine activity tracking device users

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2014        

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Misfit Shine Bloom NecklaceRedwood City, California-based Misfit Wearables, which offers the activity tracking device Shine, announced today the availability of a new stainless steel pendant necklace, called Bloom, that Shine owners can use to wear their devices in a new way. Recently Misfit announced that it was selling socks and t-shirts for Shine users that included a tiny pocket where the Shine device could snugly fit into.

“The Bloom Necklace, a stunning example of the convergence of technology and fashion, is a celebration of floral patterns found in nature,” Misfit explained in a statement. “The hand-finished stainless steel pendant features a spiraling geometric design on an 18” stainless chain. Magnetic, Bloom clips to your Shine effortlessly. Bloom captures a refined, understated elegance that seamlessly integrates into any wardrobe and is versatile for any occasion.”

The necklace is hand-polished steel and the pendant measures 1.25 inches by 2.15 inches and comes with an 18 inch stainless steel chain. The necklace will retail for $79.99 over at Misfit’s site and later this spring at Best Buy’s site.  Keep reading>>

The long road that led Nike to put the brakes on FuelBand

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 22, 2014        

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Nike’s FuelBand may be the first big failure of the wearable activity tracker market — or the company may be pivoting into an emerging paradigm of software-based tracking, possibly related to the upcoming iWatch launch. Either way it seems a chapter is over in the life of a company that has been one of the longest running and most high profile companies in the mobile fitness and wellness space. Nike was doing mobile fitness tracking before the iPhone even existed — and now it looks poised to continue doing so, even if the iPhone is supplanted. Read on for a timeline slideshow of the history of Nike and mobile fitness.

May 2006: Nike+iPod Sport Kit

A later version of the Sport Kit is still available.

A newer version of the Sport Kit, which is still available.

Nike teamed up with Apple for the first time a year before the first iPhone came out, with a smart shoe, a clip-on receiver, and software built into the iPod Nano. The Sport Kit could track data on time, distance, calories burned, and pace, and display them all on the iPod Nano’s screen, as well as delivering audio feedback through the headphones. It also introduced nikeplus.com, a website where users could analyze tracking data. The system cost $29.

Keep reading>>