Aetna to launch CarePass for mobile in 2013

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 3, 2012        

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IMG_1727 (640x480)Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini kicked off the mHealth Summit this morning by announcing a launch date for the mobile implementation of their health data syncing platform CarePass, which will combine Aetna’s recent mobile acquisitions and partners into a single offering.

CarePass has been available as a web platform, but Bertolini said it would go mobile in March 2013. The platform connects iTriage, the patient app Aetna acquired in December 2011, with a variety of fitness apps like Fitbit and MapMyFitness and food management apps like BetterLife and SparkPeople. It will also connect to Medicity’s iNexx health information exchange platform, which Aetna acquired in December 2010.

Like iNexx, CarePass has an open API and is available to third-party developers. Bertolini said the company has been hosting hackathons and codeathons to bring more apps onto the CarePass platform.

“This is not an Aetna propriety platform,” said Bertolini. “This is for everyone. Noble cause. Why not? It’ll make our economy healthier.”

New developer partners for Aetna include Earndit, FoodEssentials, and Personal.com.

Bertolini gave an example of how the platform might be used by a consumer. A person can look up a symptom on iTriage and discover what kind of specialist they need to see. They can then get a list of doctors who take their insurance in that specialty, and which of those doctors are good matches. (“Think of it as eHarmony for doctors,” Bertolini said.) From the app, a user can make an appointment with that doctor.

If the doctor needs to run lab tests, they can inform the patient of the results via a native messaging system, and can even send a prescription to both the patient and their pharmacist online.

Bertolini stressed that connecting data-gathering fitness apps is an important aspect, because of the “obesity pandemic” in the country. That data should help physicians treating patients dealing with weight issues. He listed Fitbit, fitsync, Goodchime, GYMPACT, MapMyFitness, Active, Runkeeper, and Strava on the fitness side, and food management apps Thryve, FatSecret, BetterLife, and SparkPeople. Bertolini listed medication adherence apps mHealthCoach and Pilljogger partners, too.

He also previewed a new fitness app, Passage, that takes users on virtual trips around the world while they work out. It was developed by Aetna in conjunction with Microsoft and is available in the Windows Store.

Bertolini said that CarePass is a part of Aetna’s strategy to reduce healthcare costs. He said that since the 70s, health insurers have been trying different strategies to reducing costs: managed care, purchasing providers, and making reimbursement burdensome for patients. None has been effective.

“The only way to make it work is to facilitate the relationship between patients and doctors, to get out of the way and let the system really work,” he said.

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FDA clears AliveCor heart monitor, doctors can pre-order

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 3, 2012        

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AliveCor Heart Monitor

The FDA has granted a 510(K) Class II clearance to San Francisco-based AliveCor’s iPhone-enabled heart monitor, which has been commonly known as the “iPhoneECG” since it first made an appearance at CES two years ago. The company announced the clearance as the mHealth Summit kicks off this week in the Washington DC area. AliveCor will begin pre-selling the $199 clinical-quality, ECG monitor, which has the form factor of an iPhone case that fits iPhone 4 and 4S devices, directly from its website starting today, December 3rd.

AliveCor CEO Judy Wade told MobiHealthNews that within a few months the heart monitor will be made available in three different ways. Starting this week physicians can buy them from AliveCor’s website for $199, and the site will require them to provide the medical identification numbers to prove that they are indeed a physician. Wade said that pricepoint is less expensive than most electronic stethoscopes. Starting early next year the company plans to encourage physicians to make the device available to their heart patients via prescription. While the specific details, including pricepoint for prescribed devices, has not yet been fully worked out, Wade told MobiHealthNews the price of the device could hover somewhere around $99 for patients whose doctor prescribes one. Finally, assuming the company secures its next 510(k) clearance, Wade expects the over-the-counter version of the heart monitor to become available sometime during the second quarter of 2013.

Wade said there are a couple of initial use cases for the device: Patients who feel like they have a heart arrhythmia problem, but are asymptomatic and it doesn’t show up when they visit their doctor’s office. This device can be at the ready if the patient has it with them, and it can be used to record the heart rhthym strip the next time the patient feels something. Another use case is for someone who has already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and has been treat with ablation and/or medications. Wade said a physician could prescribe the device for at-home use so that they could monitor the patient remotely and determine whether the therapy was effective or is working. The device is also a preventive medicine tool since it detects arrhythmias, which can be a problem in and of themselves sometimes but can also be associated with something else — like an imminent heart attack.

Wade said that longterm the company sees a lot of power in recording and analyzing peoples’ EKGs. AliveCor refers to this as the “deep data” opportunity, as opposed to the more commonly used “big data”.

“Our vision is for everyone to have their health at their fingertips. Hopefully, before long, we will have millions of [ECG] recordings that we will be able to contextualize around simple things like your age and height. In the future the platform won’t only be interpretive it could be predictive as well. That’s why we have been very active in participating in clinical research and trials with the device because hopefully a lot of interesting research will come out of it.”

This week’s FDA clearance enables AliveCor’s Heart Monitor to be sold and marketed to “licensed medical professionals to record, display, store, transfer, and evaluate single-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythms,” according to the company. “The rhythm strips can be of any duration, and are stored on the iPhone and securely in the cloud for later analysis, sharing and printing through AliveCor’s secure website. The ECG data is sent wirelessly from the Heart Monitor via AliveCor’s low-power, proprietary communication protocol, and requires no pairing between the iPhone and the device.”

Here’s how the device works: “The device incorporates electrodes into a case that snaps onto the back of an iPhone 4 or 4S. The Heart Monitor is used by launching the corresponding AliveECG app on the iPhone, holding the device in a relaxed state, and pressing fingers from each hand to each of the two appropriate electrodes on the device. The device can also be used to obtain an ECG by placing it on the chest.”

AliveCor expects to launch its Heart Monitor in the form of a “universal module” (that is similar but different to the credit card-sized prototype the company has demo’d in the past) that will work with iOS and Android devices by Q3 next year. Following that the company plans to launch a “pad” version of the heart monitor that is big enough to place your entire hand on. This form factor could be placed in health kiosks or doctor’s offices. Each of the form factors would likely require additional clearances from the FDA.

The company also secured its CE Mark and a European launch for the initial form factor is expected early next year.

Scanadu unveils smartphone-enabled home diagnostics

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 29, 2012        

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scanadu SCOUTScanadu, the 2-year-old San Francisco startup aiming to develop a handheld medical scanner for home use, similar to the Star Trek tricorder, has unveiled its first three products, set for release by the end of 2013.

The Scanadu SCOUT is the central scanner component. The NASA Ames Research Center-based company says that customers simply hold the small, lightweight device to the patient’s temple and it will return five vital sign results with 99 percent accuracy in less than 10 seconds.

“Consumers’ attention deficit is increasing,” CEO Walter de Brouwer told MobiHealthNews in an interview last month. “And if they have a device that can do diagnostics, they are not willing to spend more than 10 seconds waiting. They’d like to have real time, they’ll settle for 10 seconds, but a minute would be too long.”

The data from the scan will be uploaded to a Scanadu app via Bluetooth and will track pulse transit time, heart rate, electrical heart activity, body temperature, heart rate variability, and blood oxygenation. The company plans to sell the device for less than $150, and the firmware will be remotely upgradable, allowing Scanadu to add new scanning metrics in the future.

“We found in user testing that the consumer doesn’t want to go through the ritual of the doctor checkup,” de Brouwer told MobiHealthNews. “The consumer wants one position on the body. And he wants to do the diagnostics all in that one position. And the consumer is price-specific. For the consumer, the price sensitivity will be very high.”

In addition to the SCOUT, the company announced two “low-cost and disposable early detection tools,” which will be integrated with the Scanadu app.

Project ScanaFlo will be used to conduct urinalysis. Customers can buy an over-the-counter disposable cartridge, and the software will test urine for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, kidney failure and urinary tract infections. Pregnant women will also be able to scan for pregnancy complications or to monitor their health throughout the pregnancy.

Project ScanaFlu, meanwhile, will analyze saliva in cases of cold-like symptoms. It will test for Strep A, Influenza A and B, adenovirus, and RSV.

Scanadu plans to submit the products to the FDA for review as soon as next week. De Brouwer said that as a medical device with a consumer-focused use case, it’s not clear whether the FDA will consider the device unique. The SCOUT goes into manufacturing next month, freeing up the company’s team to work on the software side, particularly the user interface.

Scanadu also stressed in the announcement that Scanadu can be used by healthy customers, too, to monitor personal average vitals, so that when a person does get sick doctors have more information about what’s normal for that individual.

Dr. Alan Greene, Chief Medical Officer at Scanadu, said in a statement, “Health decisions shouldn’t be based on averages, they should be based on a real, accurate and personalized healthfeed of data — which we now have the power to give to the consumer in the palm of their hand.”

Scanadu is one of the more visible companies competing in the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, a competition to develop a device much like this one. The announced vitals the SCOUT can read line up fairly closely with the draft guidelines for the prize, with the exception of respiratory rate. De Brouwer said the device can read respiratory rate, but not within Scanadu’s self-imposed 10-second window. He said a marketable consumer product is a higher priority than the prize, which is still a year out from its first judging round.

De Brouwer believes Scanadu will be just one step in a personal health revolution.

“This is the beginning of a nascent industry of personal healthcare and consumer health. The first time in my life I’ve seen this excitement was with the personal computer, the second time was with the Internet and now it’s about health,” de Brouwer said.

He said he wants this product to change the relationship consumers of health care have with providers, making consumers the keepers of their own health information.

“Now we treat doctors as accountants who have to keep records for us,” he said. “They were not trained to do this. What they were trained to be was an analyst of data, to give us their point of view, their therapy.”

Clinical transformation officer at HCA shares mHealth strategy

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 29, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsThis afternoon at 2PM ET MobiHealthNews will be hosting its fourth webinar of 2012: Mobile Health at the Point of Care. I’m really excited to have both Dr. Divya Shroff, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer and Vice President of the Clinical Services Group at HCA and Alan Portela, CEO, AirStrip Technologies onboard as our featured presenters.

I’ll open the session up with a short presentation about trends in 2012. In particular I think those working in digital health in 2012 have refocused much of the discussion on the role of the physician in mobile and digital health. Digital health is much more about patient engagement and health IT integration than it was two or three years ago when consumer health and direct to consumer initiatives were more often discussed. I’ll be covering the renewed interest in the physician and the healthcare provider in general as the channel of choice for digital health in 2012.

Portela will follow me with an overview of how healthcare organizations are leveraging mobile health for chronic disease management, care coordination, and improved clinician workflow.

Dr. Shroff will close out the hour with a discussion based on HCA’s experience deploying mobile health technologies. HCA is one of the largest private operators of healthcare facilities in the world. Don’t miss out — register for this free webinar if you haven’t already! Be sure to bring questions and see you at 2ET today!

Basis commercially launches wrist-worn, healthy habits device

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 29, 2012        

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Basis 2After at least two years of development, Basis Science has officially launched its wrist-worn fitness and health tracker, Basis, for $199, which includes a free, supporting web-based health behavior change platform. The device is available on the company’s site and will ship in early December. Basis aims to distinguish itself from the ever growing number of activity tracking devices by focusing on behavior change and healthy habits instead of just the technology.

“We have been working fast and furious at getting the product ready,” Basis CEO Jef Holove told MobiHealthNews. “We concluded that being the best little tracker in a community of trackers was not our goal,” he said. “We want to actually help people with their health.”

And at $199 Basis Band is entering the market at a higher pricepoint than most other wearable activity monitoring devices.

“We are coming into this as the BMW of the category,” Holove said. “That is intentional. Our device is more powerful, more sophisticated, and demonstrably so. We offer more science and more insights, plus the device itself is also customizable [since it comes in a variety of colors] and that helps make it good wearable technology, too. It’s good that there are others in this market. It is great that things are starting to take off and proves that there is a market here and that consumers are looking for digital health.”

Basis 3Basis does pack in an impressive group of sensors: The device includes an optical blood flow monitor, a 3-axis accelerometer, a perspiration sensor, plus skin and ambient temperature sensors. Holove said that “the magic here is not just each individual sensor but how they come together” and that even though the device may have more technology onboard than others, which should help it to drive more insights, he believes users should still ask: ‘So what?’

The real comparison should be less about the technology differences and more so about the user experience of Basis vs. the competition. Holove said Basis is the only group truly tackling user behavior with a focus on lasting change for health and “that’s what matters the most.”

Basis offers users more than 10 different “habit cards” that use “baby steps” or little victories to help people form long lasting habits. These steps are meant to be achievable but they get harder as a person progresses through them, Holove said. They are also intended to be things that easily fit into your life as opposed to a workout regimen a fitness magazine might recommend that necessitates going to a gym. Basis combined achievable baby steps with a notion of consistency to encourage users to develop habits to help people fit good habits “into the corners” of their daily lives.

Each habit starts out as a twice-a-week activity and slowly builds. The program automatically adjusts based on the data collected by the Basis device. Progess is also measured on a weekly basis so users get a new start each Monday: “The idea behind this is that we all fall off the wagon and we want to slow down the wagon enough so that it’s easy to get back on,” Holove said.

One of the habits encourages users to get up and move every hour during the work day. If users are consistently failing to achieve the baby steps that the habit cards are suggesting, the system will suggest the user try a different habit out instead.

Basis 1The first iteration of Basis comes with a USB cable that users have to plug into a computer to transfer the device’s data. That also tops off the device’s battery, which can last anywhere from four days to about a week depending on how the device is being used. Since the optical sensor is frequently taking readings, the wearer’s skin tone and hairiness can also effect battery life, Holove said.

While Basis will ship as a Bluetooth-ready device, its wireless connectivity will not be of use until the company finishes developing its mobile app. Holove told MobiHealthNews that the company did not want to hold up the device’s launch to wait for the app to be finished.

Earlier this year Basis was slapped with a patent infringement lawsuit from competitor BodyMedia. While the lawsuit has not yet been settled, Holove said a preliminary finding from the US Patent Office agreed with Basis that one of the BodyMedia patents in question was not valid because of prior art. The preliminary finding is not a final determination, of course.

In March 2011 Basis raised $9 million in a funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners and Doll Capital Management. The company’s advisory board also includes an executive at Facebook as well as the co-founders of RedOctane, co-creators of the Guitar Hero series.

Holove said the Basis device is something that people will want to show off because they are proud to wear it and because it says: “You are doing your part.”

“We think of it like putting out recycling bins in front of your house or driving a Prius,” he said. “We want this device to be a positive symbol.”

CardioNet offers up cardiac monitoring iPad app for physicians

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 29, 2012        

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CardioNet Access iPadThis week Conshohocken, PA-based wireless cardiac monitoring company CardioNet announced the launch of an iPad app, called CardioNet Access. The app is for physicians who prescribe the company’s mobile cardiac outpatient telemetry (MCOT) system, which helps doctors diagnose and monitor cardiac arrhythmias. The CardioNet Access app offers its physician users “easier accessibility to their patient data” and the ability to save, print, and send patient reports right from their iPad.

As of May 2012 already more than 62 percent of physicians had some form of tablet — though a vast majority used iPads — according to Manhattan Research’s Taking the Pulse survey.

“Starting today, we launched an iPad application which allows health care providers to instantly access cardiac monitoring reports on-line,” CardioNet CEO Joe Capper said in a statement. “We believe that making the most precise mobile cardiac-related information available to physicians at their fingertips, in a user-friendly format, is a powerful tool that will benefit patients, payors and physicians alike.”

The CardioNet Access app is a free download for CardioNet physician users.

Earlier this year CardioNet rolled out MCOTos, the newest iteration of its MCOT offering, and earlier this month the company announced a new product, a wireless-enabled event monitor, called wEvent.

“This new wireless device provides physicians a much improved replacement to their traditional event monitor,” Capper said in a statement at the time. “The wEvent, unlike existing event monitors, offers wireless transmission of symptom and activity reporting, providing a higher level of patient convenience and better quality of information.”

wEvent integrates with the same backend system as the company’s MCOT offering.