WebMD focuses on content, social media as users flock to mobile

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 3, 2015        

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WebMD Health ServicesThe next big step for WebMD will be to start to move WebMD and Medscape content beyond their home websites and out onto social media sites, CEO David Schlanger said in the company’s Q2 earnings call.

“In the digital ecosystem it’s become clear that people are using social platforms as means to do more than just connect with their friends and family, but really as destinations to find information and consume information,” he said. “So we want to make sure that WebMD content is discoverable and can be consumed on the social platforms. That’s an important strategy to make sure that we grow deeper engagment with our existing users and bring in more users to using WebMD and Medscape as content sources.”

Schlanger said that the content will sometimes send users back to WebMD or Medscape (where advertisers can reach them) but sometimes the objective will just be to strengthen ties with users and make potential new users more aware of the brand. Early partnerships connected to this strategy include WebMD’s content partnership with Walgreens and an upcoming joint project with Sports Illustrated, which WebMD has partnered with for a three-part editorial series called “The Comeback”. Keep reading>>


In US, UK, and Germany, top 10 pharma apps make up 66 percent of downloads

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 3, 2015        

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Infografik1Sixty-six percent of all pharma app downloads in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, were downloads of the top 10 apps according to an infographic recently released by German app company SmartPatient (not to be confused with Roni Zeiger-founded online patient community SmartPatients).

The Munich-based company analyzed 359 apps from 20 pharma companies: Abbott Laboratories, Amgen, Astrellas, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Takeda, and Teva.

Fifty percent of the apps in question were found to be patient-facing and 36 percent were made to be used by physicians. Fourteen percent had another user in mind.

SmartPatient also found that a good number of pharma apps — 38 percent — are specific to a particular drug. They also don’t tend to get too much attention post-release. Thirty percent of pharma apps have never been updated, and 29 percent have only been updated once. Twenty-one percent had 2-3 updates, and 20 percent had four or more. Keep reading>>

XLerate’s third class tackles clinical trials, medication adherence, oncology

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 31, 2015        

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iClinicalLouisville, Kentucky-based XLerate Health has announced its latest class of seven startups. This is only the third cohort to go through XLerate’s 13-week course, which kicks off August 3rd and runs through the end of October.

“We have a stellar set of teams, many of which have seasoned founders/entrepreneurs,” Bob Saunders, XLerateHealth’s chairman and co-founder, said in a statement. “We are extremely excited to begin helping these companies gain valuable insight through customer discovery and customer pilots which allow them to refine their business models based on intimate knowledge of customer pain points and market needs in order to ultimately accelerate their speed to market.”

XLerate startups receive an optional $20,000 stipend and office space in Louisville, as well as access to a mentor network that includes executives from health tech startups, insurers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Through the mentors, XLerate promises “introductions and meetings with pilot customers, potential funders and potential acquirers.” Keep reading>>

DoD taps FDA-cleared device for battlefield diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 31, 2015        

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Ahead-200The US Department of Defense may soon start using smartphone-based diagnosis tools to detect traumatic brain injuries in soldiers on the battlefield. According to a post on its “Armed with Science” blog, the DoD is working with Bethesda, Maryland-based BrainScope to put its FDA-cleared Ahead 200 device into action.

Currently, it takes a CT scan to definitively establish the presence of a traumatic brain injury, and CT scanners are large devices that can’t easily be transported outside of the hospital. So on the battlefield, medics have to resort to asking questions about immediately obvious symptoms like headaches, nausea and light sensitivity.

The Ahead 200 device doesn’t replace the CT Scan, but it does provide a middle ground between the CT and the questionnaire that’s much more portable and practical to determine whether a unit needs to expend the resources to pull a military service member from the front lines and send them to a hospital.

“Those [CT scan] X-rays have radiation, so we don’t want to do more of them than we need, especially in a theater of war,” Army Col. Dallas Hack, the director of combat casualty care for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland, told Armed with Science. “[The device] will be very useful in the field, to be able to know whether it’s worth everybody’s risk to actually evacuate this person somewhere and get that CT scan or not.” Keep reading>>

At Internet of Things hearing, industry groups petition Congress for light regulatory touch

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 30, 2015        

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The App Association Executive Director Morgan Reed

The App Association Executive Director Morgan Reed

Yesterday the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the Internet of Things, and though the conversation was broad and far-reaching, mobile health and healthcare connectivity did hold some floor time. Both Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT The App Organization and Gary Shapiro, CEO and President of the Consumer Electronics Association, spoke about health in their testimonies.

Shapiro listed a number of different facets of the the Internet of Things that CEA has seen over the past few years, and ended the litany with a reference to mobile health tools.

“I am especially excited about how the IoT will help us care for our older loved ones in years to come,” he said in his prepared remarks. “As our population advances in years, and the number of caregivers shrinks, smart home devices enable seniors to live independently and comfortably at home, retaining their quality of life into their golden years. Connected devices can remind seniors to take their medication, refill their prescriptions, and help prevent accidental over- or underdoses.”

Reed, meanwhile, focused his talk entirely on the mobile health segment, describing how, in the future, “rather than a yearly update on one’s vitals in a doctor’s office, sensors will empower people to share it with a care team, have it incorporated in a cloud-based health record, or shown on a dashboard app in just a few taps.” Services like Microsoft HealthVault, Apple Health, and Apple ResearchKit are already moving in that direction, he said. Yet as of now, few doctors are willing to prescribe these tools to patients, because of regulatory uncertainty. Keep reading>>

Healthbox adds 10 startups to new Chicago next class

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 30, 2015        

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WelltwigsDigital health accelerator Healthbox has added ten companies to its next accelerator, which will be located in Chicago. This is the fourth program Healthbox has run in Chicago and its 14th programs overall.

Healthbox partnered with insurance company Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare to launch the class. Since launching the accelerator in 2012, Healthbox has worked with 105 healthcare startups and invested in 85 to date.

Healthbox previously offered startups $50,000 in seed funding in exchange for seven percent equity in the participating startup, but it’s recently moved away from that model. New Healthbox Studios receive no upfront investment, but also don’t have to give up any equity. Instead, Healthbox connects them with investors at the conclusion of the program.

One portfolio company, SwipeSense, which has developed a smart hand hygiene sensor, raised $9.6 million in funding last month. Healthbox counts SwipeSense among the graduates of its very first class.

Here are the 10 companies in Healthbox’s next class:

Keep reading>>