Government agency investigates reports of Fitbit Flex rashes

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 29, 2014        

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Fitbit Flex__ColorsIn February Fitbit announced a voluntary recall of its newest activity tracking device, the Fitbit Force, after a number of users complained of skin irritation from the wristworn device. According to a report in The New York Times, in a few weeks time a government agency, The Consumer Product Safety Commission is set to send its findings from an investigation into rashes stemming from another Fitbit device, Fitbit Flex.

“CPSC staff is taking these incident reports involving the Flex seriously,” a spokesman for the CPSC, Scott Wolfson, told the Times. Wolfson said the onset of an investigation did not mean a recall was likely, but the agency would send recommendations to Fitbit to help fix the issue, like warning users about nickel exposure or wearing the device too tightly.  Keep reading>>

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Google Glass medical app maker Pristine raises $5.5 million

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 29, 2014        

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google glassAustin, Texas-based Pristine, maker of a video streaming Google Glass product for healthcare, raised $5.5 million in a round led by S3 Ventures with participation from Capital Factory, HealthFundr, and strategic clients. This brings the company’s total funding to about $6 million.

Pristine’s flagship product, called EyeSight, streams near-real time audio and video from Glass to authorized iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs so that, among other uses, wound care nurses can transmit point-of-view video to a physician; emergency responders can send relevant video and information to hospital staff who are preparing to treat the patient; and surgeons can send a livestream of a surgery from their point of view to residents, fellows, and surgeons at other medical centers.

According to the company, this product was born from a common question in healthcare facilities, which is: “Hey, can you come over here and look at this?”  Keep reading>>

AliveCor launches new app with FDA-cleared AFib algorithm

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 29, 2014        

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alivecor_new_featuresSmartphone-enabled heart monitor device maker AliveCor has launched a new app for patients, which is both timed with the new iOS 8 launch and incorporates the atrial fibrillation algorithm the company received FDA clearance for in August.

In addition to the AF algorithm, the new app allows patients to track medications and symptoms and has enhanced search features and graphic capabilities, according to AliveCor.

“With AliveCor’s new app my patients can forgo pulse monitoring and paper-based logging which is often unreliable and incomplete,” Dr. Jonathan Steinberg, director of the Arrhythmia Institute Valley Health System at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, said in a statement. “When working with patients with suspected or diagnosed heart conditions, the AliveECG app assists me in determining which medications, habits and activities are truly impacting their heart health. I now have a more complete view about what is happening between appointments and can even give immediate advice about what to do next during an AF episode.”

AliveCor’s heart monitor, which is available for both Apple and Android phones, has had FDA clearance since last year and has been in use by patients since March. But up until now, consumers using the device would simply send their ECG readings to a board-certified cardiologist or cardiac technician, who would turn a response around in 24 hours — or faster for an additional small fee.

With the algorithm, patients can take the ECG reading and immediately find out if they have atrial fibrillation. Then they can contact a board-certified cardiologist to confirm the result, and take the print out to their own physician. AliveCor CEO Euan Thomson said that the algorithm has a 100 percent sensitivity (it never returns a false negative) and a 97 percent specificity (it returns false positives about 3 percent of the time). For obvious reasons, the algorithm was designed to err on the side of false positives.

“Our pretty strong belief is that if people did this, if they got the app and used it regularly, especially in the at risk population of people over 40, that they will catch atrial fibrillation that was previously undiagnosed, using a mobile technology,” Thomson said. “It’s got great value to patients. From a conceptual standpoint or from a mobile health perspective, I think we’re really delivering on the promise of mobile health in a very meaningful way.”

Google, Wired vets team up to launch D2C drug data startup

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 25, 2014        

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IodineFormer Wired executive editor Thomas Goetz and Matt Mohebbi, a former Google engineer, have teamed up to launch the drug-focused digital health startup Iodine, which Goetz unveiled this week at the Health 2.0 event in Santa Clara, California.

“There’s a massive amount of search traffic on medications,” Goetz told MobiHealthNews. “People use the internet for health decisions as much as they use it for email. The problem is what they end up with are static resources that don’t understand who they are. Google becomes the surrogate healthcare.”

Iodine is a direct-to-consumer price and quality comparison tool for pharmaceuticals that’s currently in an open beta. Eventually, the data will be sourced from the users, but to kick off the site Goetz and Mohebbi purchased 100,000 Google consumer surveys of drugs and used them to build the initial tool.

“It says beta on our website, but iodine.com is an open for business resource,” Goetz said. “We hope people will use it like they use Yelp when they look for restaurants, Netflix when they look for movies, or OKCupid when they’re looking for a mate. It’s not quite as sexy as those other ones but we’re trying.”

What Iodine has in common with those services is that it collects user data and then turns that into actionable big data. Users can enter a drug name on the website and see almost any information someone could want, some of it sources from user reviews and Google surveys, and some of it sourced from the clinical data created by the pharma companies that developed the drug.  Keep reading>>

Turkish mobile operator reports efficacy data for wireless-enabled glucose meter device

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 25, 2014        

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Turkcell_HealthmeterTurkish mobile operator Turkcell teamed up with Istanbul University researchers to study how its wireless-enabled diabetes device, Turkcell Healthmeter, would impact patient outcomes.

The Turkcell Healthmeter is a small, cellular-enabled device that wirelessly pairs with a number of Bluetooth-enabled blood glucose meters — no smartphone required. For the study, the Healthmeter sent data received from participating patients’ glucose meters wirelessly to their physicians. Some 200 people with diabetes participated in the study and all followed their regular drug regimen, while half of them used the Healthmeter, too. If the data reported back to providers show any irregularities, the physician is alerted via text message, helping them to intervene right away if it’s necessary to do so. Family and other caregivers could also be alerted should the patient request it.

Those with the connected device saw their average HbA1c levels (a three-month blood sugar average) decrease by 9 percent, according to Turkcell. The company said that patients using the devices experienced a 0.3 percent change in HbA1c values on average. In addition, the average preprandial blood glucose level decreased by about 16 percent, and the adherence of patients to drug treatment increased by 25 percent.  Keep reading>>

Investors agree: Attractive M&A environment in digital health right now

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 25, 2014        

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Money TreeThere’s no question that funding for digital health companies is high — a recent report from Accenture predicted funding for digital health startups will reach $6.5 billion by the end of 2017, up from $3.5 billion in 2014. But that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing for digital health investors or the companies seeking funding. At a Tuesday session at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara, California, a panel of digital health investors and startup veterans, moderated by “Venture Valkyrie” Lisa Suennen, discussed some of the unique circumstances of healthcare investing.

One point several of the panelists agreed on was that it’s not just about getting the most money possible from investors. The relationship with investors is important too, and sometimes companies can get in trouble by raising too much money and then not being able to deliver — a real concern when valuations are getting higher and higher.

“You have to be careful,” John de Souza, President and CEO of MedHelp said. “If you overreach on your first round it could be your last round. […] You can get to the point where it’s very hard to get into the second round of funding. Who the investors are matter a lot and some investors can take you to the second round, third round. So if you have people with deep pockets that’s great, but if this is already a large investment for the fund you’re in deep trouble for the second one. You have to be careful. The funding is not the exit and I think a lot of people forget that.” Keep reading>>