NIH awards $2M for development of stress eating app

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 3, 2015        

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Co-lead Sherry Pagoto

Sherry Pagoto, Associate Professor of Medicine, UMMS

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute have developed an app that helps people understand why they are overeating. The team was awarded $2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for this project.

The app, called Relax, is designed for patients who are in clinical programs to lose weight and manage stress. Relax uses text inputs, barcode scanning, and GPS technology to track the patient’s eating patterns, daily activities, exercise, mood, and stress inducing events. After a patient enters their food data into the app, they will receive an itemized list of foods they ate that the app will compare with the times of day they identified as high-stress moments. This way, patients can understand the relationship between food intake and their stress levels. The app can then give patients advice. For example, it can offer nutrition suggestions based on the patient’s dietary choices or it can suggest stress-reduction exercises.  Keep reading>>


Researchers building the SniffPhone for smartphone-enabled diagnostics

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 3, 2015        

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The Breathometer Mint, announced at CES.

The Breathometer Mint, announced at CES.

As mobile health continues to push more and more point of care diagnostics into the home, scientists are also finding new diagnostic modalities to spot diseases early. One of the hardest-to-believe is disease detection by smell, but it’s proven effective in numerous studies published in the last few years.

Early proofs of concept came out of studies with dogs, which have been able to sniff out prostate cancer, for instance, with 98 percent accuracy. But more practical than a cancer-sniffing dog would be an electronic nose, a sensor that isolates and identifies smell-producing molecules in a patient’s breath or urine. A number of researchers are working on projects along those lines.

One group working on this technology, a consortium headed by Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is now talking about integrating an electronic nose with a smartphone to potentially allow for early diagnosis of numerous diseases with a quick breath test. Called the SniffPhone project, it’s supported by a $6.8 million grant from the European Commission. Keep reading>>

Report: 40M smartphone owners actively use wellness apps

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 3, 2015        

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Parks Associates M2MMore than 40 million US smartphone owners are active users of at least one wellness or fitness app, according to research firm Parks Associates. The firm has also reported that one in four heads of household — at homes with broadband — use a mobile app to track their fitness or track their caloric intake.

Last year the research firm published research that estimated 41 percent of caregivers in broadband homes used some kind of digital health device.

Interestingly, Parks recommends that mobile operators in the US become more active in offering digital health services to businesses and consumers. The firm specifically suggests text messaging-based health, weight management, and prescription authentication programs as potential revenue streams for mobile operators.  Keep reading>>

Skipta raises $2.5M for medical specialty social networks

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 3, 2015        

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Skipta dentist appLancaster, Pennsylvania-based Skipta, which oversees social media communities for medical specialties, has raised $2.5 million in its first round of funding, which was led by Mansa Capital.

Originally founded by a pharmacist seeking a safe, online space to consult with other pharmacists, Skipta now builds custom social media networks for medical specialists including pharmacists, nurse practitioners, radiologists, dentists, psychiatrists and more. The company currently runs 28 such networks, each of which has a unique design and is overseen by a steering committee of members from that particular network.

Skipta networks are free to join; the company makes money from advertising and by building internal networks for schools, organizations, and societies. Similarly to general social networks like Facebook, Skipta’s networks are accessible online or via mobile devices.

“We are excited to collaborate with Mansa Capital,” Skipta founder and CEO Dr. Theodore Search said in a statement. “They are an ideal partner to fuel Skipta’s mission to empower HCPs to be more effective, efficient and successful through shared values of integrity and collaboration, cementing our commitment to advancing healthcare services and technology.”  Keep reading>>

Nutrition, men’s health startups among Startup Health’s newest six

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 3, 2015        

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GritnessNew York City-based accelerator Startup Health has added six more companies to its academy program. It now has 90 companies in its portfolio.

Startups who have participated in Startup Health have raised a total of $190 million as of January 2015. That’s up from $154 million in October 2014. Back then Startup Health said its portfolio was made up of 42 percent physician and practitioner founders, but the accelerator is now at 40 percent physician and practitioner founders. Additionally, Startup Health now has 31 percent women founders, up from 29 percent in October.

Some 35 percent of entrepreneurs in the program are serial entrepreneurs and 23 percent graduated from seed accelerator programs.

In the last couple of years, three StartUp Health companies were acquired. At the end of 2013, WebMD acquired patient portal startup Avado, to accelerate WebMD’s plans to enhance the connectivity between its recently relaunched WebMD patient app and its physician-facing MedScape app. And this year, Intel acquired Basis Science, the activity tracker company that makes the Basis B1 Band.

Here are the six startups that Startup Health added to its portfolio:  Keep reading>>

Eligible raises $2.3 million for health insurance eligibility API

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 2, 2015        

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eligible apiEligible, which offers an API that other health tech companies use to add a streamlined insurance eligibility check feature for doctors and patients, has raised $2.3 million, according to an SEC filing.

The company raised more than $1.5 million in seed funding last year, using a combination of AngelList and SecondMarket. Backers at that time included David Lee, Esther Dyson, Anvil Capital’s Michael Liou, Accenture Managing Director Anand Swaminathan, and Andreessen Horowitz, according to Pando Daily. It is unclear whether the recent SEC filing includes the $1.5 million or is in addition to it.  Keep reading>>