AirStrip raises $25 million from West Health, Dignity Health and more

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 26, 2014        

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Airstrip ONE SamsungSan Antonio-based AirStrip has raised $25 million in strategic funding led by new investor the Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund, Sequoia Capital and Wellcome Trust with participation from other existing investors HCA and Qualcomm. Other new investors include two customers — Dignity Health and St. Joseph Health (SJH) — and investment bank Leerink Partners.

The company plans to use the funds to support continued growth for its AirStrip ONE mobile technology offerings, to expand into home health, and to expand internationally. It will also use it to integrate more analytics engines. AirStrip ONE promises to aggregate and integrate clinical data from disparate systems and make it accessible on mobile devices like iPhones and iPads.

“Right now one in six babies born in the US is monitored with AirStrip, and at-risk patients were monitored 1.2 million times in 2013 alone using AirStrip,” AirStrip CEO Alan Portela said in a statement.

AirStrip’s first product, AirStripOB was one of the very first smartphone apps to receive FDA clearance as a 510(k) class II medical device.

In recent years AirStrip has made at least two acquisitions. In early 2014 it bought the assets of Sense4Baby from West Health and in mid-2012 it bought technology from Palomar Health for accessing EHRs from mobiles.

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Report: Apple talking to United, Humana about HealthKit

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 26, 2014        

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Epic hospitals Healthkit

As Apple’s official launch of iOS 8 — and with it Apple’s Health app and HealthKit developer toolkit, HealthKit is looking more and more like a broad partner play. It was already known that Apple is working with EHR vendors and hospitals — Epic and the Mayo Clinic were announced with HealthKit at WWDC, and rumors have since surfaced that the company is working with Allscripts, as well as Johns Hopkins, Mt. Sinai, and the Cleveland Clinic.

Now a report from Bloomberg discloses that the consumer electronics company is also in discussion with payers, namely UnitedHealth and Humana, citing executives at each of the insurance companies as sources. The Bloomberg report puts the deal in the context of employee wellness — the article is about employers giving insurance discounts to workers who track their daily steps with an activity tracker and can show they lost weight.  Keep reading>>

Wearable Intelligence raises $8 million as Google Glass in healthcare grows

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 25, 2014        

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glass screenshotGoogle Glass startup Wearable Intelligence, which, among other things, outfits Google Glass devices for use in hospitals, has raised just under $8 million, according to a report in Fortune. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, whose parnter Barry Eggers also joined the board.

This is the first funding the company has announced, but Fortune reports the company previously raised seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Initialized Capital and Subtraction Capital.

According to its website, Wearable Intelligence is actually developing custom Google Glass software for both the energy and healthcare industries, with additional use cases planned. In healthcare, however, Wearable Intelligence is best known as the company working with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s emergency department, which currently has four glass devices shared among 10 emergency physicians. Primarily, Wearable Intelligence helps the hospital use Glass in a safe and secure wayKeep reading>>

Why might Amazon be meeting with the FDA?

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 25, 2014        

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Amazon Fire PhoneJoining the ranks of Google and Apple, online retail giant Amazon has met with the FDA, according to the agency’s public calendar, according to a report in Modern Healthcare. Just why Amazon met with the FDA is still a matter for speculation.

Of the three companies, Google has been the most transparent about its meeting with the FDA. It announced on its blog in January that it had met with the agency about the smart contact lens being developed at Google-X, which is designed to noninvasively monitor blood glucose for people with diabetes using their tears. The prospect has been met with some skepticism, but Google’s recently signed licensing deal with Novartis greatly decreases the chance that the technology is just vaporware.

Apple, meanwhile, met with the FDA at least twice — once in 2010 to discuss “medical devices” and once in 2013 to discuss “mobile medical apps.” It’s most likely that the topic of discussion was Apple’s Health app and HealthKit set of developer tools, and that the object was to avoid FDA regulation. Sure enough, this summer, the FDA added a description to its list of non-regulated apps which made it clear HealthKit would be exempt. It’s important to remember that, like Apple, Amazon’s meeting could just as easily be about avoiding the need for FDA clearance as about securing it.

In addition to the online retail business that launched it, Amazon is a newly-minted smartphone maker and longtime maker of the Kindle Fire tablet. Given the timing of the meeting and the Amazon Fire Phone’s recent launch, one possible reason for the meeting is that Amazon is considering a HealthKit-like functionality for future updates of the device. Between HealthKit and Google Fit, it’s starting to look like having a built-in aggregator for health and fitness data will be commoditized in the next generation of smartphones.  Keep reading>>

Sleep tracker startup Hello raises $10.5 million

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 25, 2014        

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SenseFresh off its $2.4 million crowdfunding campaigning for sleep tracking, bedside orb, Sense, San Francisco-based startup Hello has announced $10.5 million in backing from a group of angel investors. The Wall Street Journal reports the investors include former PayPal head David Marcus, Facebook executive Dan Rose, former Facebook designer Aaron Sittig, Spotify advisor Shakil Khan, and Hugo Barra, a Xiaomi executive.

Hello’s founder James Proud is a Thiel Fellow who dropped out of college in 2010 — some of his startup’s investors have obvious ties to Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook and many other tech companies.

The Sense device is a small orb-shaped device that sits on a bedside table and tracks the noise, light, humidity, and temperature in the user’s bedroom. The device turns green when it senses the room is at an appropriate temperature, light level and noise level. Sense pings a user’s app if it finds their room is not a proper atmosphere for sleeping yet. The system also includes a small clip, called Sleep Pill, that attaches to the user’s pillow. After a night of sleep, the Sense app shows user’s sleeping patterns detected by the Pill clip as well as environmental data tracked by the bedside device.

Hello’s team of 20 includes former Foxconn and Garmin employees. The company’s original plan — back in late 2012 — was to develop a new wearable device, but it scrapped those plans to focus initially on sleep tracking. Late 2012 also happens to be when longtime, high-profile sleep tracking company Zeo began to winding down its operations.

At this year’s CES event in January and in the weeks to follow, a number of wearable device companies offered up new sleep tracking devices or sleep-related features for their existing wares. Basis added sleep tracking features to its wristworn device. Withings revealed a new bedside sleep tracking device. And Apple reportedly added a sleep expert to its rumored iWatch team.

Readers react to Aetna shutting down CarePass

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 25, 2014        

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CarePass iPhone appLast week MobiHealthNews broke the news that Aetna had decided to shutdown its high-profile, health tracking and data aggregation platform CarePass by the end of the year. After we reported on two CarePass leaders recent departures from the company, Aetna confirmed its long-rumored plans. For many the shutdown of CarePass was no surprise at all, while others were shocked. Still other commenters pointed to the downfall of CarePass as the beginning of the end for mobile health apps.

On Twitter former ONC lead Dr. Farzad Mostashari suggested that the comments on our Aetna story were worth a read. We’ve rounded up a few of them below along with reactions we collected from Twitter:

Kevin: API’s and marketplaces have been around forever. Aetna should have brought in outside talent to drive this initiative and then moved obstacles out of the way for them to execute. They started with flawed assumptions and delivered very little value to consumers, solutions providers, members or their shareholders.

Jeff: This is a shame, However patient facing apps are not the real value if they are not connected to the EHR, Insurance company [and] others don’t get it yet.

D: Another breathlessly hyped “game-changing” platform bites the dust. Did anyone think contrarily that users did not want their fitness/vitals data accessible to an insurance company? It’s not like consumers think of payers overall as “good guys” particularly this year! Also you could access every one of these apps separately and only deal with the possibility that they’d sell your aggregated deidentified data. The only chance for these and for Cigna’s equivalent GoYou is to spin them off and de-identify them with the insurance parent.

Marcelo: This is fundamentally a consumer-engagement issue. CarePass likely failed because it used old-industry language and mechanics to try to get users using the app. It [delivered] very little value for way too much effort from a users’ perspective. Aetna seems to be leading a lot of initiatives to convert itself into a software-powered health insurance company driven by consumer needs. I hope they don’t abandon that strategy.

Naveen: It was evident that there wasn’t much traction with CarePass at HIMSS earlier this year. So this doesn’t come as a huge surprise even though it stings a little bit. Hopefully [it] will serve as a little reminder to all of the digital health hypemen who have been noisy all summer long that this stuff is easy to talk about, but hard to translate into business value. While many will jump on this “failure” – let’s not forget that Aetna was and continues to be way ahead of the curve on the payer front when it comes to digital health. Perhaps smart of them to pull the plug on an effort that wasn’t working — fail, learn, and move forward. I’m sure there will be more news out of Aetna before too long.

Read on for reactions to the news on Twitter:  Keep reading>>