Digital health accelerator to launch in South Carolina

By: Jonah Comstock | May 16, 2013        

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The Iron YardNew digital health focused accelerators seem to be popping up every week, especially in the South. Healthbox launched a Florida accelerator in the middle of April, and a week later Health Wildcatters launched in Dallas, Texas. Now a tech accelerator called The Iron Yard in upstate South Carolina is launching its own digital health accelerator.

Startups will work with mentors from companies including pharmaceutical company J.M. Smith, Mayo Clinic, Abbott Labs, and Zebra Technologies. The demo day for the first digital health class will be at the Health 2.0 conference in Silicon Valley at the end of September. The class will also have a Southeast launch event back in South Carolina the following week.

“The Southeast in general is a different market,” Peter Barth, managing director at the Iron Yard told MobiHealthNews. “We’re not Silicon Valley, we’re not trying to be Silicon Valley.” He explained that the accelerator is looking for startups who are solving a particular problem in the healthcare space and who want to build a long-lasting company, not startups that are just looking to be acquired.

The Iron Yard digital health accelerator will be based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, not far from the accelerator’s main campus in Greenville. They’re accepting applications now for 10 digital health startups.

“[Your] company should be software or software/hardware combinations (like FitBit),” The Iron Yard states on its website. “We don’t do: medical devices, biotech or life sciences.”

The startups will receive $20,000 in seed funding and a number of perks in exchange for 6 percent equity in their company. Perks include legal and financial advice, office space, and living space on site for companies who relocate from out of town. Although the program only runs three months, companies get their office space for a full year, according to Kate McCarthy, the director of the new accelerator.

The Iron Yard has been around for about two years and has run two classes as a general tech accelerator, but no healthcare-related companies have come through yet. Barth said South Carolina has a lot of hospitals that are interested in innovating their workflow, and because the area is less saturated with health startups than somewhere like Boston or San Diego, there’s less competition to work with those providers.

Applications for the program will be accepted until June 7th, and the program will launch July 15th.


Survey: 43 percent of doctors use mobiles for clinical purposes

By: Jonah Comstock | May 15, 2013        

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Female Doctor with TabletA recent survey by Deloitte found that 43 percent of doctors use smartphones or tablets for clinical purposes, which the firm suggested included EHR access, e-prescribing, and physician-to-physician communication. The study polled 613 physicians in the US.

Of the 57 percent of physicians that do not use their mobile devices for clinical purposes, 44 percent said that their work doesn’t provide mobile devices and they’re unwilling to use their own, 29 percent were concerned about patient privacy, and 26 percent said the apps and programs available weren’t suited to their needs. However, 22 percent of the non-users indicated a plan to use mobile health technology in the future.

The survey appears to exclude clinical reference apps, like Epocrates drug reference app, for example, from the “clinical purposes” category. It has long been the case that a majority of physicians in the US use mobile devices for looking up medical reference. Way back in 2010 a Chilmark Research study estimated that 63 percent of physicians were using health apps at the time, however, the majority were “clinical reference apps with no tie-in to an enterprise’s healthcare information systems,” the report’s author noted.

Harry Greenspun, MD, the Senior Advisor for Health Care Transformation & Technology at the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions (DCHS), told MobiHealthNews that one intention of the survey was to better determine how widely adopted mobile health technology was in the physician population and to capture the percentage of early stage adopters of physicians “doing really novel things, doing things differently in healthcare”. Physicians had medical reference software on their PDAs years and years ago, he noted, and that change was just the difference between carrying around a physical paper-based book and an e-book version of the same text.

Deloitte Mobile Physician Survey

Deloitte’s survey dealt with health IT adoption in general, not just mobile device use. The firm found that hospitals who had achieved Meaningful Use stage 1 with their EHR (about two thirds of the doctors surveyed) were more likely than those that hadn’t to employ mobile and digital health technologies. For instance, 37 percent of physicians whose practice or place of employment had met MU Stage 1 requirements are communicating with patients by email or text compared to 27 percent of physicians at practices that have not met MU Stage 1 requirements. Twenty-six percent of Stage 1 practices offered online prescription refills vs. just 5 percent of non-Stage 1. For mobile consumer visit scheduling, test results and medical records access, or payment-making, the breakdown was 19 percent vs 2 percent.

In related news, a JMIR study of 115 medical residents at the University of Chicago published this month compared the “hype” of iPads (the expected use prior to the roll out) with their actual use. Before the roll out, 34 percent of residents strongly agreed that the iPad would benefit patient care and 41 percent strongly agreed that it would increase ward efficiency. Four months later, 15 percent strongly agreed it had benefitted patient care and 24 percent felt it had increased efficiency. Still, overall satisfaction with the iPads was high, with 84 percent of residents believing the iPad was a good investment for the residency program.

iPhone Placebo Effect app hopes to change patient behavior

By: Neil Versel | May 15, 2013        

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Placebo Effect AppIs the placebo effect real even without the deceptive element of making people believe they are receiving a pharmaceutical treatment? One entrepreneur thinks so, and is looking for like-minded people to back him in hopes of bringing a mobile app to market this summer.

A Seattle-based startup called Placebo has developed an app called Placebo Effect that is intended to help people feel better about themselves and to sustain behavior changes such as quitting smoking simply by mentally transporting them to someplace positive — akin to meditation or hypnosis.

“This is not a complex thing,” company director Daniel Jacobs tells MobiHealthNews. “It’s something that touches people’s hearts.”

Jacobs trying to raise $50,000 through Indiegogo to commercialize the app. In a video on the Indiegogo site, Jacobs calls Placebo Effect the “world’s first placebo mobile application.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, he had secured nearly $8,700 in crowdfunding pledges from 63 sources, including the Szollosi Healthcare Innovation Program, with 20 days until the June 3 deadline.

“This will be on the market fairly quickly, almost certainly in the next two months,” Jacobs promises. The first Placebo Effect release will be an Apple iOS app, but should the company exceed its funding goal, Android and Web versions should follow in short order, he says. Keep reading>>

LabStyle to take on iBGStar with smartphone-enabled glucose meter

By: Aditi Pai | May 15, 2013        

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plasma_04Israel-based LabStyle Innovations, which is developing a smartphone-based glucose meter, has raised $10 million by common stock that the company plans to accredited investors. The company plans to use the money to develop, market and manufacture Dario, its smartphone-enabled diabetes management system. Dario does not have a CE mark nor does it have FDA approval. LabStyle CEO Dr. Oren Fuerst aims to launch the product in Europe soon, according to a company press release.

Dario is a small glucose meter which syncs with a companion app and works with Apple iPhone 5, iPads and iPods and Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Tab. The app includes a nutrition guide, logbook, insulin calculator and monitoring system. A data overview within the app displays a radial chart of blood glucose measurements. It also shows how many measurements were above, below or within the blood glucose target range and if they were before or after a meal.

While LabStyle has remained fairly quiet, over the past year, the device caught the attention of several diabetes blogs including DiabetesMine and ASweetLife.

The company also plans to prepare a FDA 510(k) application sometime this year.

The iBGStar, which was AgaMatrix and Sanofi co-developed, was the first smartphone-enabled blood glucose meter to integrate directly with a smartphone and receive FDA clearance in 2011. Unlike Dario, which will work with both iOS and Android, iBGStar only connects to Apple devices.

DocbookMD taps Medweb for image sharing

By: Jonah Comstock | May 15, 2013        

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DocBookMD AppDocbookMD, which offers a secure physician messaging service, has partnered with Medweb, makers of a smartphone and web radiology PACS, to create Docbook Gateway, an HIE-like offering that gives physicians access to lab tests and X-rays on their smartphones without the need for an integrated EHR.

“This is the way HIEs were supposed to work,” DocbookMD CEO Dr. Tim Gueramy told MobiHealthNews. “One of the bigger problems with HIEs is they almost silo their own data. They still don’t have great interoperability. We just wanted [Docbook Gateway] to be this simple thing that would work with anybody. HIEs have no mobile footprint. You always have to go log in somewhere else, now it’s just integrated in. It is kind of an HIE, but it’s very very specific to things the doctor needs on their mobile phone to treat you.”

Gueramy’s co-founder and wife, DocbookMD CMO Dr. Tracey Haas, added another distinction.

“Another important point to that is, here in Austin, Texas, half of our doctors still aren’t on an EMR and far fewer are on an EMR that’s connected to a radiology lab,” she said. “We’re independent of that. HIEs need to be connected to an EMR to work.”

Medweb’s existing technology stores radiology imagery on a single secure server. Technicians can then access it from workstations or on their medical device. The software that displays images on mobile devices uses a pinch and zoom interface. The interface also allows the user to make annotations directly on the images.

DocbookMD is a mobile-based, HIPAA-compliant physician-to-physician communications platform. The company secured contact lists of physicians from medical societies, so the app allows doctors to contact each other whether they’re in the same hospital or practice or not, as long as they know the name of the doctor they’re trying to contact.

“I’m a family doctor who no longer works in the hospital,” Haas said. “I felt it was very important for physicians like myself to communicate with the physicians in the hospital. That’s a communication point that’s really been neglected. We’ve got the entire community [using Docbook]. It’s already uploaded. You don’t have to invite your list of friends. They’re already there when you join in.”

In addition, a recently added feature called Care Teams allows doctors to add non-physicians into private Docbook networks, to communicate about a particular patient.

The new product, Docbook Gateway, integrates existing Medweb and DocbookMD infrastructures. Gueramy and Haas said the current way that radiologists and physicians communicate leaves a lot to be desired. Images are often sent by fax, and doctors and technicians don’t have contact information for one another beyond office phone numbers.

They echoed the often-heard sentiment that secure physician communication is rapidly becoming an unimpressive offering — providers like Docbook have to look further to provide a compelling value add.

“We looked at secure messaging as nothing more than putting some HIPAA regulations and technology on communication,” said Gueramy. “I don’t find that interesting. What I find interesting is working with communities that are already tightly connected, putting physicians first. And not giving them integration to a whole EMR, but just to get them the things they need — stat X-rays.”

Docbook isn’t the only mobile company offering what amounts to an HIE workaround. Another company, Doximity, also facilitates physician image sharing over a secure message system. The company’s founder Jeff Tangney recently told MobiHealthNews physicians were using Doximity and EMR screenshots as a “poor man’s HIE.”

Slideshow: 7 startups using Microsoft Kinect for online physical therapy

By: Jonah Comstock | May 15, 2013        

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Reflexion HealthPhysical therapy is approaching a crisis, according to Dr. Kourosh Parsapour, founder and CEO of 5plus, a startup working on building digital health physical therapy tools. The specialty is experiencing provider shortages at the same time as the need for physical therapy and rehabilitation services increases — as the baby boomer generation ages.

“By 2030, the number of states with substandard physical therapy will increase from 12 to 48 states, and 1 out of 5 americans will be 65 or older,” said Parsapour during a panel discussion at the American Telemedicine Association event in Austin, Texas last week. “Last year, CMS reduced reimbursment to therapists by 12 percent.”

Telerehabilitation, where physical therapists work with one or more patients over video chat, is one technological solution for addressing that gap. Healthbox Boston startup Theravid, for instance, is working on an online portal which includes video instructions on different exercises, online workout reminders, workout tracking, and a secure messaging system to contact their therapist. TeleRehab Systems, a stealth-mode stroke rehabilitation startup, is developing a tablet-based system.

The technology that’s jumpstarting most telerehabilition startups, however, is Microsoft Kinect for Windows, an off-the-shelf 3D motion-capture sensor with an open API. Therapy games can interact directly with patients and even track their movements to report to doctors remotely. These interactions can be either realtime or asynchronous. A number of startups, many of which are coming through high-profile digital health accelerators, are leveraging those possibilities with soon-to-be released offerings.

Here are nine companies tackling digital rehab solutions, many of which Parsapour mentioned in his ATA talk or in an interview MobiHealthNews after the event.

Reflexion Health

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Reflexion spun off from the West Health Institute last year and has recently begun running clinical trials to validate the technology. The company offers a rehabilitation measurement tool,which uses Microsoft Kinect software to both instruct the patient on exercises through animations and measure whether or not they’re doing their exercises correctly. Physical therapists can prescribe exercises that are preloaded into the platform or design their own.

Keep reading>>