WebMD adds personal health device data to its flagship consumer app

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 17, 2014        

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Healthy TargetWebMD updated its consumer-facing health app this week: it now integrates a user’s biometric data from certain activity trackers, wireless scales, and glucose meters. While the app tracks steps, sleep, weight and blood glucose data from devices, if users have an iPhone 5s, they can also track steps passively from their phone.

The app’s new feature, called Healthy Target, uses data from these various health devices to provide consumers with physician-reviewed information and health tips. The company will target people who want to manage certain chronic conditions, including diabetes and obesity, as well as those who just want to live a healthier lifestyle. Users can choose from six different goals before they begin using the app: lose weight, eat healthier, be more active, control blood sugar, sleep better, and feel better. While the app does not include nutrition tracking or mood tracking, the company may add those and other trackers in the future.

Healthy Target will then use the imported metrics to offer behavior change suggestions that help users reach their goal. The app will provide users with three different ways to change a behavior — an easy, medium, and hard way. When a user tracks a certain habit for five out of seven days, they can level up and the behavior change will become more difficult. If users say they didn’t make a behavior change as planned, the app prompts them to explain why they didn’t. From this data, Healthy Target creates a reading list of articles that aim to help users successfully complete the habit next time.  Keep reading>>


Google Glass startup partners with Dignity Health, raises $4.1M more

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 17, 2014        

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Augmedix Dignity dataSan Francisco-based Augmedix, one of several startups developing Google Glass software and modifications for hospital use cases, has raised $7.3 million in a round led by DCM and Emergence Capital Partners. This includes the $3.2 million the company announced in March, and $4.1 million in additional new funding. The company also announced two other milestones: it has been named a certified Glass partner by Google, and it has announced a partnership with Dignity Health, the culmination of a pilot that’s been under way since January.

Augmedix graduated from Rock Health last year with funding and early data from early doctors beta users. The startup uses Google Glass to reduce the time physicians spend interfacing with EHRs on a computer screen, leading to more face time and eye contact with the patient, according to the company.

The software reduces both data entry and data look-up time. For data entry, Glass records the doctor’s initial consultation with the patient, and a combination of computers and human administrators enter that information into the medical record. When the doctor needs to look something up, they can do so with voice commands to Google Glass. The internet connection is disabled for patient privacy reasons, and all data is sent via an isolated, encrypted channel.   Keep reading>>

Will Medtronic-Covidien deal curb digital health acquisitions trend?

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 17, 2014        

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Zephyr Covidien BioPatchOn Sunday giant medical device company Medtronic entered into a definitive agreement to acquire another big medical device company, Covidien, for $42.9 billion in cash and stock. While the deal still needs to clear the required regulatory hurdles, the combined company would mark considerable consolidation in medtech. One financial analyst who follows the companies closely said it would likely lead to a slowdown in smaller medtech acquisitions.

“It makes sense that Stryker is contemplating a deal with Smith & Nephew, and we would not be surprised to see Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories at some point look to get bigger in medtech. In our opinion, this means small-cap medtech companies in cardio, spine, and extremities may no longer be targets over the near to intermediate term,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Glenn Novarro wrote in a research note, according to a report in Investor’s Business Daily.

Last month MobiHealthNews exclusively reported that Medtronic had acquired peel-and-stick wearable heart monitor company Corventis for about $150 million. A few weeks before that MobiHealthNews also broke the news that Covidien had snapped up wearable medical device maker Zephyr Technologies for an undisclosed sum. Last year Medtronic acquired home health monitoring company Cardiocom, tooKeep reading>>

FDA makes clear it won’t regulate apps like Apple’s HealthKit

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 16, 2014        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAs MobiHealthNews noted last week in the introduction to our In-Depth report on Apple’s Health app feature set, the FDA made a rare move on Wednesday by adding a new description for a type of mobile medical app that it would not regulate as a medical device. The FDA has actually added a total of four such new descriptions to its list in 2014.

It just so happened that the latest app description to make it on the list is a fairly close match to what Apple’s Health app is.

Here’s the app description the FDA added last week: “Mobile apps that allows a user to collect, log, track and trend data such as blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate, weight or other data from a device to eventually share with a heath care provider, or upload it to an online (cloud) database, personal or electronic health record. [Added June 11, 2014].”

In mid-March the FDA also quietly added three other descriptions for apps that it said it would not regulate for provider-facing immunization record keeping apps, drug-to-drug interaction apps for providers, and provider-facing charting apps.  Keep reading>>

Pregnancy app developer sees 80 percent monthly retention in Medicaid recipients

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 16, 2014        

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WYhealth Due Date PlusFour months after pregnancy tracking app developer Wildflower Health launched a program for Wyoming Medicaid beneficiaries, the startup reported that nearly 70 percent of enrollees are using the app’s main features. The app’s monthly retention rates are at 80 percent.

Wildflower Health has reached close to one third of estimated Medicaid pregnancies in Wyoming.

In Wyoming, the app used is offered through the Wyoming Department of Health’s program “WYhealth Get Plugged In”, which is sponsored by Xerox. The app, Due Date Plus, helps women keep track of their pregnancy with reminders, weekly ultrasound videos that show how the baby is supposed to look at each stage of the pregnancy, and daily advice. Women can get the app on iOS or Android devices.

If women have a more immediate question, the app is connected to a free 24-7 nurse line, so they can talk to WYhealth staff. Otherwise, they can look up a local Best Beginnings program, a community-based system of perinatal services. The  app also collects data that can be shared with care managers and nurses. Only women who are in the Wyoming Medicaid program can get these additional features. A lite version exists for any woman to use the app, but that version does not have the nurse hotline.

“Part of the reason we’ve seen early success is [that] the Xerox Case Managers in Wyoming who work with pregnant women on a daily basis are an incredibly skilled and committed group,” Wildflower Health CEO and Cofounder Leah Sparks told MobiHealthNews in an email. “They’ve been instrumental in program adoption, reaching out to Medicaid recipients directly. It is great to see this two-way system where we can refer women to case managers, and the case managers can refer women to Due Date Plus for ongoing support.”

Wildflower is planning to launch clients, including large health plans and self-insured employers. Eventually, Wildflower plans to launch programs that help guide a mother through her child’s first full year of life.

“This is the power of being integrated into the healthcare system, where we are building a data-driven picture of an entire pregnancy – from program usage throughout the 9-months and then outcomes and costs that show up as medical claims in the system,” Sparks said. “This includes the health and wellness of the babies born to women who use our program. For example, ‘did they require neonatal support or any further care as a result of pregnancy complications?’ That’s ultimately a big part of what we’re trying to impact.”

Wildflower Health was also part of a Rock Health class, which had its demo day in February 2013. The startup raised $1.7 million at the end of 2013 from KMG Capital Partners, Cambia Health and HealthTech Capital. It also received $100,000 in seed funding from Rock Health at the end of 2012.

iPhone-based artificial pancreas promising in outpatient tests

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 16, 2014        

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The Dexcom G4 was the continuous glucose monitor used in the study.

The Dexcom G4 was the continuous glucose monitor used in the study.

An artificial pancreas system — consisting of a continuous glucose monitor, and insulin pump, and an iPhone 4s — has been shown to improve glucose regulation in a simulated outpatient setting in both adults and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes, according to a new paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. The adult patients had their glucose in an acceptable range (between 70 and 180 mg per deciliter) 79 percent of the time when using the system, compared to 58 percent during the control period. For the adolescents the change was smaller but still improved — 76 percent versus 65 percent.

In both studies, conducted by researchers from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital, patients were equipped with a Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and a t:slim infusion pump from Tandem Diabetes Care. The two devices were modified to work with a control algorithm running on an iPhone 4s in the patient’s possession.  Keep reading>>