Aetna to launch tablet-based NeoCare program for parents with babies in the NICU

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 1, 2014        

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NeoCare Solutions iPad appAetna will soon launch a new mobile-based offering, called NeoCare, for members who are new parents with infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). NeoCare Solutions, which is a startup that is a part of Aetna’s Healthagen’s subsidiary, offers a tablet-based app that keeps parents connected to a NeoCoach — a registered nurse or social worker — who supports them throughout their child’s time in the NICU and during their transition home.

“The NeoCare program aids parents in becoming their own child’s empowered advocate, helps them navigate the complexity of the NICU, and provides much needed emotional support,” NeoCare’s President and Founder Dr. Jeffrey Jacques wrote in a blog post in May. “Our technology platform, leveraged by the parents through an iPad application, provides answers to questions such as: How do I interact with the NICU staff? How do I ask doctors difficult questions? How do I come to grips with difficult news? What does that diagnosis or that treatment mean? How can I best help my baby, and how do we get home?”

Jacques helped create the program after experiencing this first hand with his wife (who is also a physician) and their son in 2010.  Keep reading>>

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The most engaged fitness, health app users: sports-loving mothers

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 30, 2014        

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fitness_persona_hires_v1The most frequent user of health and fitness apps for iPhones are mostly mothers between the ages of 25 and 54 who are sports fans and who generally lead healthy lifestyles, according to a recent study that tracked 6,800 health and fitness apps and about 100,000 people who used them.

“In 2013 while the overall mobile app industry grew 115 percent in terms of average daily usage, the health and fitness category only grew 49 percent,” Simon Khalaf, the president and CEO of app analytics company Flurry wrote in a blog post. “This appears to be changing rapidly in 2014. We are not even halfway through the year… and the growth in health and fitness app usage has been stunning… we have seen a 62 percent increase in usage of health and fitness apps over the past six months. This compares to 33 percent increase in usage, measured in sessions, for the mobile app industry in general. Growth in health and fitness is 87 percent faster than the industry, which is itself growing at an astounding rate.”  Keep reading>>

French doctor appointment booking app KelDoc raises $1.4M

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 30, 2014        

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KelDocParis-based KelDoc, an doctor appointment booking app, raised $1.4 million (1 million euros) from existing investor Alven Capital and other angel investors, according to a report from TechCrunch. This brings the company’s total funding to about $2 million.

Keldoc plans to use these funds to expand across major cities in Europe. Currently, the service is only offered in France.

With KelDoc’s app, which is available on iOS devices, consumers can search for doctors and dentists based on their specialty and location. After that, patients can view a doctor’s schedule and book appointments. Patients can also see other information including the physician’s rates and available payment methods. Before the visit, KelDoc sends users a text reminding them of the appointment.

TechCrunch added that while the service is free for patients, doctors pay $270 (€200) per month to use KelDoc.

The company, which was founded in 2012, raised another round of funding, at least $950,000 (700,000 euros), in April 2013 from Alven Capital.

Another appointment booking company, ZocDoc, recently made news when it announced it was working on raising an additional $152 million, valued at $1.6 billion. ZocDoc not only offers appointment booking, but since October 2012, the company has also offered a check-in feature so that patients can send over a basic medical history before they arrive instead of filling out the medical history clipboard.

In March, ZocDoc announced plans to make its service available in all 48 contiguous states by the end of 2014.

Fitbit app update improves run tracking, food logging

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 30, 2014        

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The updated Fitbit app tracks frequency of exercise on a calendar.

Fitbit has announced a major update to its iOS app, which will be accessible to users of the Fitbit Flex, Fitbit One, and Fitbit Zip devices. The app update adds two new feature sets to Fitbit’s app: MobileRun, which will add a number of capabilities for runners, and enhanced food logging tools, including one that integrates food and activity tracking.

MobileRun adds to Fitbit’s app the sort of features that have been available in running-specific apps like RunKeeper and RunTastic for some time. Fitbit users will be able to use GPS integration to record and track the exact route of their run, as well as statistics like pace per mile, distance, and time. Those stats will automatically feed into the main Fitbit dashboard, giving the user credit for steps and calories tracked by the app, even if the Fitbit device didn’t pick them up. The app can also talk to users as they run, telling them route history, distance, or mile markers. Additionally, the app allows users to access their iTunes music, so they can play and switch songs while still in the Fitbit app.

The food logging updates include an expansion of Fitbit’s food database, which now consists of 350,000 foods. For comparison, MyFitnessPal boasts 3 million and MyNetDiary claims 611,000. Additionally, the app adds a barcode scanner to log some store-bought foods more efficiently. Another feature makes it easier for users to quickly estimate calories in a food by choosing a similar one in the database and adjusting based on ingredients and preparation. The app also autocompletes meals that the user logs regularly, and suggests foods that the user often eats together.

Perhaps the most interesting update in the app is an integration between the food-logging capability and the activity tracking provided by the user’s Fitbit device. A new feature called Calorie Coaching allows users to “set a food plan with weight loss goals and see how many calories in vs. out they should be targeting each day, with access to easy to read charts to help them stay on track,” according to a press release by Fitbit. The “coach” can then adjust calorie guidance based on how much the user has moved.  Keep reading>>

Digital health funding in 2014 has already surpassed 2013 total

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 30, 2014        

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Rock Health digital health 2014 first halfIn the first half of 2014, digital health funding reached $2.3 billion, according to a report from accelerator Rock Health. The report included data from 143 digital health companies that have raised over $2 million during the past six months.

Funding in the first two quarters of 2014 surpassed total funding for all of 2013, which was $1.97 billion. Deal growth was driven by early-stage companies and year-over-year growth has reached 64 percent so far. In April, Rock Health reported that digital health funding reached nearly $700 million in the first quarter of 2014, and first quarter funding grew 87 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013.  Keep reading>>

Chef Watson is here; now let’s get him and Dr. Watson together

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 30, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTIBM’s Watson has yet another new gig, and it could lead to a novel way for big data to interact with personalized healthcare. IBM has partnered with Bon Appetit magazine to create Chef Watson, a web app that can create unique recipes based on a list of preferences. The app is going into a very limited beta (capped at 200 participants) today.

Watson is a computer program that can do big things with big data, parsing and combining large data sets in a way that seems almost human. That capacity brought Watson to victory against human opponents on Jeopardy! three years ago, and since then it has started to see applications in the medical field. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, Watson used the same smarts to comb through the latest medical journals and help doctors sift through the large, ever-changing set of treatment options for cancer patients. And in its partnership with Welltok, IBM demonstrated that Watson could bring its data-based insights to the individual level, making personalized recommendations to a user based on their particular health needs.

Right now, Chef Watson isn’t designed to create recipes that cater to a user’s health needs, although it does have the capacity to exclude ingredients. Instead it’s designed to work alongside chefs, to give inspiration for unexpected ingredients. The user inputs a style, a dish, and an ingredient they want to use (for example a Caribbean-style paella with eggplant). Watson comes up with a recipe that combines expected ingredients with ingredients that are off-the-wall, but, because they contain complementary flavor compounds, should still taste good. The Fourth of July-themed test run carried out by Bon Appetit included corn salad with nectarines, short ribs with Chinese mustard, and a berry cobbler with marjoram, for instance. Keep reading>>