HealthCrowd raises $2.1M to go beyond text messages to patients

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 23, 2015        

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HealthcrowdHealthCrowd has raised $2.1 million to expand the scope of its patient outreach business in several different ways. Startup Capital Ventures, Herlitz Capital, Healthy Ventures, Band of Angels, Berkeley Angel Network, and 37 Angels all participated in the seed round.

“Most people in the industry, as well as the Medicaid space, know us as the text messaging platform,” CEO Bing Doh told MobiHealthNews. “Not exactly a bad thing, but it’s not what we originally set out to do. We found an opportunity and were able to fill a need and really demonstrate results. From the get-go we always wanted to be a communications platform.”

Though it’s what they’re best known for, text messaging is just one automated modality HealthCrowd uses to reach out to patients, along with automated phone calls, nanosites, chats, email, and mail — all automated to allow for scale in large populations. What’s novel about the platform, Doh said, isn’t just that it encompasses so many ways to reach patients but that it combines them in an intelligent way.  Keep reading>>


With slew of partnerships, Uber rolls up to healthcare space

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 20, 2015        

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UberHEALTH-ScreenshotWith every new innovator in digital health, it seems like there’s a temptation to crown an “Uber for Health” that will disrupt the industry in a radical consumer-facing way. But lately, it looks like Uber itself might be interested in that title. Over the last week, Uber has collaborated with three different digital health companies and named Boston Children’s Hospital’s John Brownstein its first health advisor.

“We know there is more that we can do and are thrilled to have John Brownstein, PhD joining as our first advisor in the field of health care,” the company said in a statement. “With his guidance and expertise, we will be able to identify other ways we can leverage the Uber platform so we can drive to a healthier future.”

Following up on last year’s UberHEALTH pilot, which successfully delivered flu shots to 2,000 people in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., and had to turn away some others, Uber partnered with Brownstein’s company Epidemico to deliver flu shots in 36 cities. It was a one-day opportunity in which users could pay $10 for a registered nurse from Passport Health, driven by an Uber driver, to arrive with a wellness kit, which included an UberHEALTH water bottle, tissues, hand sanitizer, a lollipop and recyclable UberHEALTH tote. The nurse could vaccinate up to 10 people at each site. Keep reading>>

Epocrates pulls Bugs + Drugs, other apps from the app store

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 20, 2015        

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bugs and drugs epocratesiMedicalApps broke the news today that Epocrates, an athenahealth subsidiary, has pulled its Bugs + Drugs app from the app store. The free mobile app, which launched in fall 2013 shortly after athenahealth acquired Epocrates, was designed to use big data to help doctors keep track of bacterial immunities and prescribe the right antibiotics.

The app was well-received initially — it promised to put data from athenahealth’s EHRs to work by sourcing bacterial sensitivity, something which changes over time, in near-real time.

“What’s exciting about this is it takes athena data and it pulls the big data into a moment of care that allows a physician to provide a personalized solution,” Abbe Don, Epocrates’ VP of User Experience told MobiHealthNews at the time of the launch.

But iMedicalApps itself, a mobile health app review site edited by physicians exclusively, raised some concerns (as did a number of physicians in the app’s comment section). While the app was well-designed and easy to use, they wrote. It was fraught with errors, sometimes recommending totally erroneous antibiotics for certain bacteria, and other times presenting sensitivity estimates at odds with hospitals’ antibiograms (the previous method for evaluating bacteria susceptibilities). Epocrates updated the app to address these some of these concerns at the time, but physicians’ faith in the tool was shaken. Keep reading>>

University of Washington gets grant to help doctors identify pregnancy drug risks

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 20, 2015        

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CHCF Smartphones in Health Care ReportThe University of Washington and RightAnswer, a chemical information management service, have received a $150,000 Small Business Innovation and Research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and launch an app that helps healthcare providers access data about the risks of taking drugs while pregnant.

According to the university, each year 40,000 infants are born with birth defects as a result of medication exposure. Some mothers, though, who have conditions like epilepsy and cancer, cannot stop their medication regimens even while pregnant.

In these situations, the woman and her physician must discuss the benefits and risks to taking specific medications during pregnancy. But the data that physicians need for these conversations is not sufficient. There are databases that can provide women and their physicians with expert reviews and evidence summaries of fetal health risks for specific medications. But even when these databases exist, according to the CDC, they are not widely available and therefore they are underused. Keep reading>>

Amid maturing wearables market, Jawbone lays off 60 employees

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 20, 2015        

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Heart rate-tracking wearable

Heart rate-tracking wearable

Jawbone has laid off 60 employees, 15 percent of its workforce, according to a report in TechCrunch. The layoffs extend across the company, but the restructuring includes the closing down of the company’s New York City office and downsizing operations in Sunnyvale and Pittsburgh. Jawbone told MobiHealthNews in an email that no further layoffs are planned and issued a short statement.

“Jawbone’s success over the past 15 years has been rooted in its ability to evolve and grow dynamically in a rapidly scaling marketplace,” a spokesperson said in an email. “As part of our strategy to create a more streamlined and successful company, we made the difficult decisions to reorganize the company which has had an impact on our global workforce. We are sad to see colleagues go, but we know that these changes, while difficult for those impacted, will set us up for even greater success.”

It’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes at Jawbone, but this isn’t the first piece of bad news for a wearable company that’s lately been making more headlines for it’s courtroom dramas than for its trackers, one of which recently launched five months late and without the promised waterproofing. Keep reading>>

MyHealthTeams raises $5 million from CVS Health, others

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 20, 2015        

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MyAutismTeamSan Francisco-based MyHealthTeams, which offers niche social network for people with various medical conditions, raised $5 million in a round led by strategic investor CVS Health with participation from existing investors Adams Street Partners, the Westly Group, HealthTechCapital, and Sand Hill Angels. This brings the company’s total funding to $10.1 million.

“In the past 18 months MyHealthTeams has tripled our user base, expanded to serve 13 different chronic-disease communities across eight countries, and proven you can build a great business while doing something that helps people,” MyHealthTeams CEO Eric Peacock said in a statement. “With this financing, we are well-positioned to rapidly expand beyond our initial 13 social networks and reach a much greater audience of people facing each of those conditions.”

When the company raised its previous round, in February 2014, it offered just three social networks: MyAustismTeam, MyBCTeam, designed for women diagnosed with breast cancer, and MyMSTeam, for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It now offers 13.

New networks that the company has added since last year include MyCrohnsandColitisTeam, MyLupusTeam, MyCOPDTeam, myRAteam, MyFibroTeam, MyEpilespyTeam, MyPsoriasisTeam, MyEndometriosisTeam, MyParkinsonsTeam, and DiabetesTeam. The Parkinsons and Diabetes networks were the most recent additions.

Keep reading>>