Top 10 iPhone medical apps for 2011

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 13, 2011        

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skeletal proAs the end of 2011 approaches, online marketplaces are publishing the usual flurry of year-end lists compiled from the best 2011 had to offer. Apple is no exception. Its recently launched its annual “App Store Rewind 2011″ section in iTunes. The lists include Apple’s picks for the year’s best overall games and apps for iOS devices: the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Ten of the apps listed below are for the iPhone (also iPod touch) while others listed were developed specifically for the iPad.

Apple’s picks include both consumer and professional health apps: “Browse our favorite apps from this year in all 21 categories,” Apple wrote in its brief description leading up to the lists of top five apps for each of the App Store’s categories, including its Medical and its Health & Fitness categories.

MobiHealthNews can only speculate on the criteria that Apple used to determine its “favorites” — total downloads cannot be the only factor, since many apps we know to have millions of downloads didn’t make the cut, while other apps with far fewer downloads did.

Apple’s medical app picks include a few that received FDA clearances this year, apps from closely-watched startups that had high profile launches, apps that enjoyed top billing on Apple’s continually updated top app lists, and more. Surprisingly, two apps that made the list were developed by the same medical software company.

No surprise that FDA cleared apps made the list: Arguably, FDA regulation of mobile medical apps was the big issue of 2011. The agency’s clearance practices had been notoriously opaque for companies wishing to get their smartphone-enabled medical peripherals and apps cleared. In response, the FDA offered up a set of draft guidelines this past summer that propose how the agency might regulate certain mobile medical apps.

While the conversation around mobile medical apps grew louder and the discussion itself matured — at least a little bit — adoption appeared to be fairly flat.

In its most recent survey conducted in August, Pew Research found that health app adoption has stagnated: about 11 percent of all adult cell phone users having downloaded an app that helps them manage their health. While that is a slight increase over last year’s number, Pew characterized it as “a statistically insignificant difference.” App adoption, therefore, has been largely stagnant over the past 12 months. Still, MobiHealthNews found in its 2011 apps reports that based on growth trends, the number of apps available has grown and will likely continue to do so: Consumer health apps for the iOS platform will likely number more than 13,000 by the summer of 2012, while 6,000 professional medical apps will likely be available by then.

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Read on to see Apple’s choices in both the Health & Fitness and Medical categories (some app’s iPad and iPhone versions were both chosen as top picks), along with the app’s description, price, and more.

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FDA panel rejects CardioMEMS wireless, implantable heart monitor

By: Neil Versel | Dec 13, 2011        

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cardioMEMSCardioMEMS ran into a regulatory roadblock last week, when an FDA advisory panel recommended that the agency not approve the company’s Champion HF Monitoring System. The device is said to be the first permanently implantable, wireless device for remote monitoring of patients with heart failure.

Though the FDA’s Circulatory Systems Devices Panel voted 9-1 that the implantable monitor was safe, the committee ruled 7-3 that there was no reasonable assurance of the effectiveness of the device and 6-4 that risks outweighed potential benefits. The opinion is nonbinding, but the FDA generally follows the advice of its advisory panels.

“While we are disappointed with today’s outcome, we look forward to continuing discussions with the FDA to determine the best path forward. We believe this technology is a significant step forward in the management of heart failure patients,” CardioMEMS CEO and founder Dr. Jay Yadav, said in a statement from the company.

Atlanta-based CardioMEMS said that a clinical trial showed a 28 percent reduction in hospitalization rates for heart failure within six months of implantation and 37 percent lower hospitalization rates after 15 months, when compared to patients receiving standard treatment for the condition. The implanted Champion HF sensor measures pressure in the pulmonary artery, and sends readings wirelessly to an external receiver, which then transmits data to a secure CardioMEMS database that physicians can access. Keep reading>>

The road ahead for health games

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 12, 2011        

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3-douglas-goldstein-president-iconecto-gaming4healthHealth games have the difficult task ahead of them to be fun, yet taken seriously by physicians, according to a panel held at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. last week. The panel, “The Evolution of Gaming and its Effect on Prevention and Wellness,” included Dr Ravi Komatireddy (West Wireless Health Institute), Iana Simeonov (University of California, San Francisco), Debra Lieberman (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Doug Goldstein (eFuturist.net).

“How many people have mentioned happiness in previous talks [on gaming]? I think it is the missing ingredient for any solution focused on [user] engagement,” Doug Goldstein said in his opening talk. Facebook is so highly valued due to its casual gaming platform, he added, and games are popular for the positive emotions they bring players. “If you aren’t gamifying your app, then don’t ask the question of why people aren’t using it. If it’s not interesting, fun and connecting people with other people while solving a fundamental problem, then the answer is clear. This is what people are doing.”

“Mobile games have tremendous advantages in that they’re always with you, they’re networked, they have so many sensors already built in and it’s possible to add more,” Debra Lieberman said during her speech on gaming research. “It’s a game to be you — you are the game. It’s a way for you to be out in the real world, with your game being supported by technology.” Lieberman mentioned one of the University of California’s grant recipients creating an app that uses a smartphone’s camera to track food intake and have it rated by others (a very similar concept to Massive Health’s app The Eatery), and a Japanese app that has users walking to real-world locations to win virtual rewards. “We all know what we need to do to be healthy, but a lot of us feel we it’s not possible,” she added. “But by rehearsing skills in a game, you can develop that self-efficacy and change your behavior more easily.” Keep reading>>

Workout marketplace app raises $650K

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 12, 2011        

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GAIN fitnessGAIN Fitness raised $650k in seed funding this week, led by InterWest Partners, Keith Rabois, Ben Ling, Michael Tanne, Brent Hurley, Seraph Group and others. The company offers an in-app marketplace for personalized workouts designed by professional trainers.

GAIN’s free iOS and web application allows users to purchase personal fitness regimes from professional trainers. A major update to the app, expected to be released in January, will include the ability to purchase trainer-designed “packs” focusing on “specific fitness goals” (fat loss, muscle gain, etc.), usage scenarios (gym, on-the-road, or at home), fitness levels (off-the-couch to advanced athlete), and more.”

The company claims over 600k users have used the app since its initial release earlier this year. Additional trainer partners will be added to the app when its major update arrives next year.

The market for sports and fitness apps will cross $400 million in 2016, according to recent report from ABI Research. The rise of apps for connected wearable fitness devices will be a primary factor in the industry’s growth (ABI predicted 80 million such sensors by 2016). ABI predicts that there will be more than 1 billion annual health-related app downloads by the year 2016.

“Personal trainers are the most effective way to get in shape — more individualized based on goals and abilities than videos or programs — but too expensive for most,” stated Michael Tanne, serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor, in a press release. “GAIN’s solution leverages mobile devices and cloud services to make personal training more affordable and available, allowing millions more people to achieve healthier lifestyles.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Doctor uses iPad to re-program implanted cardiac devices

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 9, 2011        

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Remote-Reprogramming-SystemA Florida hospital has developed a system for wireless real-time monitoring and reprogramming of cardiac devices, including pacemakers and defibrillators, using an iPad. A doctor can suggest changes to a cardiac device’s settings, then relay the information for a nurse in the hospital to execute using a touchscreen laptop.

The apparent pitch: Save time and money by enabling specialty trained physicians to remotely program implanted cardiac devices. The system might lead to fewer facility visits by the medical device maker’s tech team and aims to save time for the patient and on-site medical staff, too, since the remote programming supposedly takes just minutes.

E. Martin Kloosterman, MD, Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory and Chief of the Cardiology Department at Boca Raton Regional Hospital developed the technology.

Using the system, a physician can use an iPad to remotely access the information display of a cardiac device programmer. A nurse can then follow the physician instructions for adjusting the cardiac device’s settings using a touchscreen laptop called a remote-K-viewer. Previously, a representative of the cardiac device programmer company had to operate the machine, while the new system requires very little experience to successfully operate.

“The project came to mind several years ago,” stated Dr Kloosterman in a press release. “First, the evolution of the electronic medical records disseminated computer terminals with internet connections in the medical work space allowing clinicians ready access to patient information. Then recently, the iPad emerged providing the ability to be online in seconds anytime, anywhere, allowing remote access to computer information. The combination of these two new innovations led me to the creation of the new technology: the remote-K-viewer. I designed and constructed a dedicated cart that hosts the programmer connected to a touch screen laptop with a wireless internet connection and a printer. The remote-K-viewer cart is mobile and designed to be used by nurses or non-specialized physicians with minimal training.”

Kloosterman said that the system has been successfully used to review data internationally, as well as during an airplane flight.

“The remote-K-viewer concept is a new software/hardware communication system and the first step into an inevitable direction, real time remote device management,” stated Kloosterman. We are excited [about] the possibilities that this application has to offer in regards to the development of a new generation of programmers and service models in the near future.”

Read the press release below.

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7 tips for health startups raising venture capital

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 9, 2011        

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Money TreeRaising venture capital for a startup mHealth company is a difficult but not-impossible task, according to a panel of investors and industry watchers who discussed the subject at this week’s mHealth Summit.

The “Raising Capital” panel focused on tips from investors intended for young companies that are seeking funding. The panel, which included Howard Burde (Howard Burde Health Law), Beth Cohen (Blank Rome LLP), Chris Hoffman (Triple Tree), Lenard Marcus (Edison Ventures), and John Shire (Nelson Mullins) stressed the difficulty of finding funding, but that the mHealth space was definitely getting a lot of attention from investors.

Here’s a summary of the key considerations offered up by the panel:

1. Consider other sources of funding first. “There are [many options]: strategic investors, friends/family, funding from customers, Cohen said. “Always have your Plan B.”

2. A common mistake is for companies requiring capital to expect it within two or three months. A small company should plan to devote nine months to a year to the process. “When I ask how soon a company needs funding and they say ‘Oh, we have a lot of time, two or three months’, I laugh at them,” Shire said.

3. Listen carefully to your investor’s business plan. “The first words out of investors are usually, ‘What are you going to do with this money?’” Shire said. “If you’re not going to follow the plan put forth by your investors, you better have the revenue numbers to prove you’re right,” Howard said.

4. Make sure you have good advisors that will help you you understand the process.” “Know your limitations, don’t be arrogant,” Cohen said. A company going public is more difficult than ever: “The bar to being a public company today is around $200 to $250 million in revenue.” Keep reading>>