Novartis, Tictrac partner for multiple sclerosis health tracking

By: Aditi Pai | May 28, 2014        

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7 day challenge novartisHealth tracking and analytics platform Tictrac has partnered with Novartis to launch an awareness campaign, called The 7-Day Challenge to Live Like You, for multiple sclerosis (MS).

“MS is a complicated disease, and one which affects many aspects of your life,” Tictrac Senior Account Manager Nooreen Kara told MobiHealthNews in an email. “Whether it’s stress, mood, fitness or sexual activity, Tictrac can help a person living with MS manage what can often be an unpredictable life. While Tictrac’s technology can be applied to many conditions, [since] MS impacts so many aspects of a person’s lifestyle, it’s a natural fit for us.”

The campaign prompts participants to track different aspects of their lifestyle including weight, activity, mood, and workload. This data is used to create visualizations of their day-to-day life. Participants can sync various platforms and devices with Tictrac’s platform including Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Withings, Gmail, Facebook, and Runkeeper.

Tictrac also encourages users to visit a Novartis online resource, called Living Like You. This website publishes stories and content from those who live with MS. The website provides resources for people with MS to learn more about their condition.

After the seven days, the challenge will send users an email with customized insights about their lives. Some of these insights could be that users burn more calories when they get a good night’s sleep or that their weight decreases when they are stressed. The program will not provide medical insights.

In March, Tictrac offered a while-labeled version of its product to upwave, a Turner Broadcasting System health and wellness brand. TBS shut down upwave two weeks ago and the website now directs users to Tictrac.

Tictrac also plans to announce more white-label partnerships this year.

“Our roadmap is to, one, continue developing our technology to further empower people to better manage their health and wellbeing and, two, focus on working with the right partners [to] make a material improvement in healthcare,” Kara said. “For Tictrac, the future of healthcare is through empowering individuals to have more control over their wellbeing.”

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GreatCall offers seniors a waterproof emergency response device, Splash

By: Brian Dolan | May 28, 2014        

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GreatCall SplashSan Diego, California-based GreatCall, which offers the Jitterbug mobile phones and service for seniors, launched two new devices this week: the GreatCall Splash and the Jitterbug5. The Splash device is a dedicated, one-button mobile personal emergency response system powered by GreatCall’s 5Star mPERS offering. The small device clips onto a keychain or a purse and the company says it is waterproof: it can withstand up to 30 minutes in three of water. The Jitterbug5 is a mobile phone with a dedicated 5Star button and access to various other mobile health services from GreatCall.

“GreatCall Splash and Jitterbug5 with its dedicated 5Star connection enable our customers to do what they want, wherever they want, without worrying,” GreatCall CEO David Inns said in a statement. “[Our customers] asked for the ability to wear the GreatCall Splash in the shower and for the Jitterbug cell phone to instantly connect to our network of health and safety experts. We also responded to the requests for feature and ease-of-use upgrades and created a drop-in charging cradle and extended the battery life.

The Splash device connects users to an NAED certified response agent located in the US who will then speak to the user through the device. The Splash’s GPS technology helps the responder send emergency services to the user’s location and the device also is tied to the user’s profile, which can include important medical information and emergency contact information for them. GreatCall launched its first generation dedicated 5Star device in 2011.

Similarly the Jitterbug5 connects to that same US-based team of responders. The phone also gives users access to a number of mobile health services powered by GreatCall, including Urgent Care (a nurse phone line), MedCoach (medication reminder service), and Link. GreatCall Link has a corresponding smartphone app for caregivers that provides them with updates about their family members’ whereabouts.

Cigna, Samsung launch smartphone health coaching app

By: Jonah Comstock | May 28, 2014        

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GalaxyS5Samsung and Cigna, which signed a partnership agreement last fall, have launched their first joint product, a feature on Samsung’s S Health app called Coach by Cigna, which will launch exclusively on the Galaxy S5. The platform is being launched in 36 countries and 26 languages.

The software, which Cigna describes as a “digital health guidance system,” will incorporate health information collected either manually through the smartphone or via sensors in the Galaxy Gear or Gear Fit. It will use that information to generate a personal health coaching regimen for users.  Keep reading>>

Jawbone: Acquisition rumors, executive churn, body fat patent filing

By: Brian Dolan | May 27, 2014        

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Jawbone Up 24This year has proven to be an eventful one for fitness wearables-maker Jawbone, which for the past few weeks has been the subject of acquisition rumors, according to a number of sources. Of course, all that noise could just be from the company’s investors who may still be in the final stages of closing a hoped-for $250 million round of funding at a $3.3 billion valuation.

Last year Jawbone, which offers the UP line of fitness trackers, raised about $100 million in debt and equity. This past February technology publication re/code reported that Twitter investor Rizvi Traverse was leading that round and that it would hit the $250 million mark. Fortune’s Dan Primack reported a few months later — almost exactly a month ago now — that while Rizvi Traverse was committed, it was still working to bring in other investors to fill out the round. This is one of Rizvi’s key responsibilities as the round leader — it may not invest the most, but it is responsible for bringing in new money.  Keep reading>>

Bellabeat raises $4.5M to launch smartphone-enabled, fetal monitor device

By: Aditi Pai | May 27, 2014        

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BellabeatMountain View, California-based pregnancy tracking company Bellabeat raised $4.5 million from SVAngel, CrunchFund, Universal Music Group and angel investors.

With the Bellabeat device, pregnant women can listen to and record their babies’ heartbeat and track other aspects of their pregnancy from the companion app, including movement, kicks, and prenatal care. The device is available for $129 from the Bellabeat website and comes with a gel to use when listening to the heartbeat. The companion app is free and compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

So far Bellabeat has sold 12,000 devices and has seen over 100,000 downloads of the app.

In the next few months, Bellabeat plans to add new features to the app, launch a new device, and add integration for care providers.

“The wants and the needs of modern moms have changed drastically,” Bellabeat CEO Urska Srsen told MobiHealthNews. “Since a lot of them are in the quantified self movement, they are already tracking a lot of their health or fitness progress, but they don’t know much about self tracking during pregnancy. What we’ve learned is they are a generation of patients used to sharing experiences and emotions online with their loved ones. That is becoming a widely important part of prenatal care, which is an emotional and exciting process.”  Keep reading>>

Samsung adds stress-tracking via heart rate to S Health

By: Jonah Comstock | May 27, 2014        

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GalaxyS5With a recent software update, Samsung has given customers a new way to use the Galaxy S5′s built-in optical heart rate sensor: to detect stress. In a new update — first reported by Samsung-focused news site SammyHub – users can not only check their stress level, but map it out on an hourly, daily, or monthly graph.

The Galaxy S5′s heart rate sensor requires the user to put their fingertip on the back of the phone in order to take a reading, a process that’s a little cumbersome if you’re tracking your heart rate as part of a fitness regimen — the use case that Samsung has promoted for the sensor so far, since it became known in February. Stress tracking could represent a use case that’s more suited to the phone’s form factor. Of course, Samsung’s smartwatches — the Galaxy Gear and Gear Fit — both contain heart rate sensors of their own. It’s unclear whether the latest S Health update will allow the user to track stress based on those sensors.

It also falls squarely in the realm of wellness and fitness tracking, which makes sense considering that earlier this year, after a lengthy deliberation, South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (similar to the US FDA) opted to create a new regulatory framework for fitness devices. Previously, the Ministry regulated anything with a heart rate sensor as a medical device. Keep reading>>