SenseLabs raises $4M for sensor-laden headwear

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 18, 2014        

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SenseLabsAtascadero, California-based brain training technology maker SenseLabs (formerly Neurotopia) raised $4 million, according to an SEC filing.

The company has developed a tool to help athletes train themselves to be mentally stronger.

To use the device, SenseLabs users wear its a brain sensing headset to  gather data the brain’s electro-chemical activity, according to an old report from P3 Lab, which was written before SenseLab’s rebranding. SenseLab’s system tracks, for example, where an athlete is on the spectrum of focused to distracted throughout their workout. That data is presented in graphs, scores, and other visual representations via a tablet.

Based on previous reports, the company also turned the data into video games that are influenced by how focused the player is.

Similar kinds of devices have also been developed by companies looking to help people reduce stress levels.

One such device, from Los Angeles-based Melon (formerly Axio), launched its device on Kickstarter in June 2013 and raised its $100,000 goal within 60 hours. At the time, co-founder Arye Barnehama told MobiHealthNews Melon users will wear the Melon headband to monitor focus levels for different activities. Melon’s app will also offer suggestions if the user begins to lose focus.

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Voxiva alum launches HIPAA helper service for digital health startups

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 18, 2014        

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ostendioLess than a year after COO and chief information security officer Grant Elliott left Voxiva to found his own company, Washington, DC-based Ostendio, it has launched its first product, MyVirtualComplianceManager (myVCM), in open beta. The product is a software-as-a-service offering currently aimed at helping health IT companies better achieve and prove HIPAA compliance. Elliott said it came directly out of his experience at Voxiva.

“[At Voxiva] I learned a huge amount about [HIPAA] itself, working with lawyers, specialists, and peers throughout the industry to develop that knowledge,” Elliott told MobiHealthNews. “What became clear to me during that process as I continued to evolve Voxiva’s information security system is we were not only developing a compliance managing program above and beyond most of the organizations in the space (and we got that feedback from many many customers of ours) but it seemed to be there weren’t very many tools in the marketplace that could help people like ourselves, and there were lots for larger enterprise companies.”

MyVCM is aimed at small to medium businesses that might not have as many resources to devote to HIPAA compliance as larger enterprises. It’s priced competitively to appeal to those smaller businesses — it starts at $20 a month.

The recent HIPAA omnibus rule made it clear that business associates of hospitals — including the IT vendors Ostendio markets to — will share liability for mismanaged data and be subject to HIPAA audits. Because of the possibility of audits, companies need to not only manage patient health information in a HIPAA-compliant way, but also need to have a “paper trail” that proves they’ve done so.

As such, MyVCM helps organizations manage training, update policy documents, and complete risk assessments. It also keeps records documenting that all those steps have been taken. Elliott says the software will help companies in the event of a HIPAA audit, but it also allows them to confidently and quickly assert their HIPAA compliance to a potential partner.

“Most offerings have been designed by IT professionals or people in the compliance management space,” Elliott said. “What makes our platform really different is I built [what] I would have wanted when I was a chief information security officer and chief operations officer… You can use our tool for policy management but you can also use it for document management. You can use it for compliance training, but you can also use it for general training. We wanted to make the product as flexible as we can.”

Ostendio is targeting health IT companies initially. Early customers include mprove Health, Luminate Health, and Infield Health. But the platform is regulation agnostic, Elliott says, and other potential customers have approached him about using it for NGO regulations and government contractor regulations. The company is self-funded, but Elliott thinks they may need to raise money soon if demand is high. Though the cloud-based software is currently accessible via mobile devices, a dedicated app is in Elliott’s plans for the future.

“The reason I was so passionate about doing what we’re doing is that, though regulation is necessary, regulation seemed to be getting in the way of small companies innovating,” Elliott said. “We’re taking one of the obstacles small businesses have, and we’re helping them solve one of those problems.”

Validic raises $1.25M from SJF Ventures to build out team

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 17, 2014        

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ValidicDurham, North Carolina-based Validic recently announced a $1.25 million convertible note from SJF Ventures and undisclosed angel investors. Validic CEO Ryan Beckland told MobiHealthNews that the new investment brings the company’s total up to $2.1 million to date, but really serves as a bridge to get it to its series A round, which it is in the process of raising now.

Validic describes itself as the mobile health data conduit for healthcare companies, including wellness companies, providers, pharmaceuticals and health plans, and its end user population now totals about 33 million, Beckland said. The company’s platform is registered as a Class 1 MDDS device with the FDA. Validic currently employs 17 full-time and plans to use the funding to build out its team, which Beckland said will likely double in size this year.

The recent funding also enables Validic to officially hire three executives: SVP of Business Development John Turnburke, SVP of Marketing Chris Edwards, and VP of Operations Ben Clark.

“We are in the process of raising our series A right now, but we decided to do this little note in advance of it, so that I could fill out the executive team and keep moving the ball forward,” Beckland said. “That was the primary intention.”

This year Validic is looking to fill positions on its development team, tech support team, implementation team, post-sale account managers, and sales positions, too.

The company also recently launched an offering called Validic Labs that aims to make it easier for early stage health app and device companies to work with the providers, health plans, and others that leverage Validic’s mobile health data platform. The standard Validic deployment includes data integrations with a number of apps and devices from well-established companies like Omron, Fitbit, iHealth, Beckland said.

“The question we tried to answer [with Validic Labs was] if we are going to try to go get a thousand integrations this year — which is hopefully what we can do — how do our healthcare organization customers vet those?” Beckland said. “…Labs will bridge the gap to bring earlier stage companies to the healthcare customer. But Validic Labs is not a standard part of the deployment, so it is up to the customer which Validic Labs [partners] to deploy with and which patient populations to restrict those to, if applicable.”

“You’ve also got to be cognizant of the customer’s needs,” Beckland continued. “and if you are a healthcare organization today, you might not be so keen on hanging your hat on an early stage, fresh-out-of-the-incubator company that has ‘the hottest new mobile health analytics platform’ or whatever. Validic Labs allows startups like that to come to us, connect, and [potentially] get access to our customer base. We will start highlighting them to our customers and help them get distribution, pilots, and partnerships. Some of these companies are going to take off, but we are going to do whatever we can to help facilitate new innovations coming into the healthcare ecosystem. That is exactly what the intention of Labs is.”

Castlight Health’s chief medical officer chalks up success to team, singular product focus

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 17, 2014        

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Dena_Bravata_MD_MS_CastlightHealthOn Friday Castlight Health debuted on the New York Stock Exchange with an IPO that raised about $180 million for the company, much more than it had previously estimated in SEC filings. The company’s stock then ramped up more than 160 percent during the day and closed at a price that valued the company — which only had $13 million in revenues last year, at more than $3 billion.

Following the company’s NYSE debut Friday, MobiHealthNews had the chance to catch up with Castlight’s Chief Medical Officer and Head of Products Dr. Dena Bravata who discussed the timing of the company’s IPO and advice for other private digital health companies looking to follow Castlight’s lead.

Bravata said that the urgency of the problem Castlight is trying to solve is what ultimately drove it to IPO.

“[The timing of our IPO] has everything to do with the nature of the problem we are trying to solve,” she said. “US enterprises are spending more than $620 billion a year and about a third of that is wasted. We talk to a lot of enterprises and their CFOs often say that healthcare costs is really their top concern. Even revenue growth is often placed second to healthcare costs. What we have seen — because Castlight is uniquely positioned to help drive down some of that waste — there has been this enormous enthusiasm on the part of these enterprises around the country to adopt our technology platform.”

While Castlight did only bank $13 million in revenues last year, it has around $100 million in contracts with customers.  Keep reading>>

Apple patents pedometer, health monitoring headphones, ski tracker

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 17, 2014        

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Skiing Apple PatentApple has made headlines several times in the last few months after rumors about the iWatch were leaked along with several hires. Amidst the hustle to interpret Apple’s next moves for its expected iWatch and potential companion health app, several news sources have begun reporting on different Apple patents that might be incorporated into Apple’s next device.

Here are several patents that Apple has or filed for in the past couple years. Of course, big companies like Apple file for many patents that never end up making it into a product.

Health sensors in headphones, granted February 18, 2014: This device will be embedded in headphones, earbuds, or other headset devices. Sensors in the device will monitor activity of the user, including biometric data, temperature, precipitation, and heart rate. The headphones might also have the capability, through head gestures, to control a connected device, such as a smartphone. (Sounds a lot like ValencellMore

Smartphone-embedded heart rate monitor, granted December 24, 2013: Apple’s embedded heart rate sensor patent says there would be multiple different spots on a smartphone that could detect heart rate. Apple also adds that the sensors will be inside the device so it will be aesthetically appealing. One application of the embedded sensor would be to detect the user’s mood. Samsung recently launched a smartphone with a similar heart rate sensor. More

Workout creation tool, granted August 20, 2013: This system allows a user to potentially create workout templates, so if the user wants to go back and do a similar workout to the one he or she already completed, the template exists, which Apple explains would act as a “quick start” feature. This template could be a specific workout goal with associated media, like a cardio-specific playlist. More

Activity monitor for skiers, granted January 8, 2013: We know Apple stores already offers a connected basketball, from Infomotion 94Fifty, for athletes that want to refine their skill and learn more about how they play. Maybe this means Apple’s patent for an activity monitor specifically to use while skiing, snowboarding, and snow biking will eventually become a reality. The patent explains the device will detect multiple metrics, including the “air time”, speed of the vehicle, time stopped, activity time, average speed, and a history of these metrics. More

Wristworn pedometer, filed September 10, 2012: Because so many wristworn pedometers exist, its important to note how exactly Apple plans to use the device to track steps. The description explains that to detect steps, the device will measure the forces of gravity using the accelerometer. The device will also leverage another filed patent, Techniques for Improved Pedometer Readings, to identify missed steps while running and uneven steps that some pedometers miss. Based on the length of the user’s trip, if the amount of time they walked is greater than the amount of time it takes to walk that amount of steps, the pedometer will add the missing steps to the total number. More

Attack detection mode, filed September 5, 2012: Although this is outside of the health and fitness realm, but Apple has filed a patent to help people take precautionary measures for if they got attacked. When a smartphone is in “attack detection mode”, it will be on the alert for specific events that suggest there was an attack. Two examples the patent provides are if the user stops interacting with the device or if the device’s accelerometer detects a sudden shock. In both cases, in “attack detection mode”, the device could put in a call to 911. The device could also be able to emit a loud alarm at the device’s maximum volume to alert anyone who is nearby of the attack. More

Method to better integrate two devices, filed July 20, 2011: While this isn’t exclusively for health, the patent specifies the system could be used when a smartphone needs to communicate with a heart rate device. In these health related instances, this functionality could be more important. The system allows one device to communicate with a second to sync data between the two even if one device loses the amount of bandwidth it normally needs to send the information. In this system, if there is an issue with sending information, the devices have a backup communication method to send information, like moving from WiFi to Bluetooth, without bothering the user.  More

Stanford develops two low-cost, smartphone-enabled eye cameras

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 17, 2014        

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stanford fundusResearchers at Stanford University have developed two new low-cost iPhone adapters for optical photography. In two papers recently published in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine, first spotted by Medgadget, the researchers suggest that existing smartphone-connected ophthalmoscopes, like Welch Allyn’s iExaminer are still larger and more complicated than necessary, especially for particular settings like rural areas or primary care clinics.

“A picture is truly worth a thousand words,” David Myung, an ophthalmology resident at Stanford and one of the authors said in a statement. “Imagine a car accident victim arriving in the emergency department with an eye injury resulting in a hyphema — blood inside the front of her eye. Normally the physician would have to describe this finding in her electronic record with words alone. Smartphones today not only have the camera resolution to supplement those words with a high-resolution photo, but also the data-transfer capability to upload that photo securely to the medical record in a matter of seconds.”

Devices like iExaminer contain their own slit lamp and still require an ophthalmologist’s training to use. The new devices, for viewing the front and back of the eye respectively, just use a small lens and an LED light, combined with the smartphone’s built-in camera.

The two papers cover the front of eye, or anterior, adapter and the back of eye, or fundus, camera respectively. The main difference between the two is the anterior camera can simply be held up to the eye, whereas the fundus camera has to be mounted a set distance from the patient’s eye. The team developed a mount for the fundus camera that can be 3D printed, which brings the per unit cost down to $90 for the fundus camera, according to the researchers, and they’re hoping to drive it down even lower. For the anterior adapter, the cost is less than $15.

stanford anteriorThe two published papers were feasibility studies, in which researchers developed the tools and demonstrated their cost and general effectiveness. Images were transmitted via Epic’s EHR app Haiku, medical image sending app Medigram, or secure email. The next step will be to test the cameras’ performance against standard of care optical cameras.

“Our ultimate goal is for this system to be usable by healthcare staff with minimal specialized training to remotely capture and share high quality retinal images in order to enhance healthcare provider communication,” the researchers wrote in one study. “An example would be enabling a triage nurse to text a secure, reliable image to an ophthalmologist on-call. In future work, we plan to deploy subsequent generations of the adapter to non-ophthalmologists to determine the efficacy of smartphone-based photography for remotely triaging patients when access to an ophthalmologist is limited.”