Soon-Shiong’s big rollup gets a name: NantWorks

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 8, 2011        

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Dr Patrick Soon-ShiongDr. Patrick Soon-Shiong announced that NantWorks is the name of the company that he has been building through a series of acquisitions over the past few years. Following the sales of two companies Soon-Shiong founded — American Pharmaceutical Partners (sold 2008) and Abraxis BioScience (sold 2010) — he has invested more than $400 million dollars in acquisitions, according to a NantWorks press release.

In February Soon-Shiong acquired GlowCaps maker Vitality for an undisclosed sum thought to be in the low tens of millions. Unclear whether GlowCaps will be a part of NantWorks.

It’s very likely, however, that a number of other Soon-Shiong investments were in companies that are now a part of NantWorks.

According to the NantWorks press release, “the range of technologies in the NantWorks portfolio affects the entire continuum of advanced communications… state of the art semiconductor chips, switches and encryption technologies, augmented reality, novel object and voice recognition technologies, broadband telecommunications services and ultra-low power remote monitoring devices.”

Let’s take those one at a time.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is a director and owner of Tensorcom, a fabless semiconductor company that is a big proponent of WiGig. Orang Dialameh, an executive at Tensorcom, joined Soon-Shiong on-stage during his keynote presentation at the CTIA event this past March where Dialameh demo’d technology from a different company, Ipplex, where he is CEO and Co-Founder. Ipplex offers a novel object recognition technology and augmented reality offering called LookTel, which in its first iteration uses a phone’s camera to help visually impaired users identify currencies and other objects. Soon-Shiong is also the largest shareholder in KeyOn Communications, which has a subsidiary called CommX that offers broadband telecommunications services. The Ultra-low power remote monitoring devices might include those Soon-Shiong plans to create along with UK-based Toumaz. In July Soon-Shiong announced plans to bring Toumaz’s wireless health sensor to the US in a joint venture with the UK-based company that could see Soon-Shiong investing upwards of $25 million. He had previously invested $2 million in the company.

Tensorcom, Ipplex, KeyOn, Toumaz US and maybe Vitality GlowCaps. Some of the likely constituents of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s recently named rollup, NantWorks.

More details in the press release below: Keep reading>>

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Qualcomm launches ECG smartphone program in China

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 8, 2011        

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Qualcomm ChinaQualcomm has partnered with Life Care Networks and the Community Health Association of China to launch a mobile health project in underserved communities in China to provide prevention services and care services for cardiovascular diseases. The project, which is part of Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, will make use of China Telecom’s 3G network.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in China and it accounts for 3 million deaths annually. From Qualcomm’s release:

With a grant from Wireless Reach, the Wireless Heart Health project is deploying a 3G-enabled cardiovascular screening and monitoring system, developed by Life Care Networks, for resource-scarce community health clinics in Shandong, Anhui and Sichuan provinces, as well as the Chongqing municipality. Community Health Association of China is assisting in clinic selection, project implementation and impact analysis.

The project will make uses of smartphones that have built-in ECG sensors, EMRs, and cellular-enabled workstations at the health clinics. The smartphones will automatically send the patient data to a cardiac specialist at a call center where doctors provide feedback to patients and clinic staff over SMS or a voice call. Physicians can remotely provide service for simpler cases or suggest a specialist follow-up in-person. Finally, Qualcomm expects to make some of the ECG-enabled smartphones available for patients to rent and take home.

The Wireless Reach project includes mobile health programs in Japan, Kenya, Peru, Philipines, Portugal, South Africa, the US and many other countries.

For more on the project in China, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

Is RIM on the ropes in healthcare, too?

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 8, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsBy many accounts BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion is on the ropes.

Early last year RIM’s devices were far and away the most popular smartphones among US smartphone users. Analyst firm comScore found that the company had about 42 percent of the US smartphone market in February 2011. Apple, Google, Microsoft trailed.

Fast forward to July 2011: The Nielsen Company found that RIM’s marketshare in the US among smartphone users has dropped to 19 percent. Nielsen also reported that the number of consumers with smartphones has jumped to 40 percent of all mobile device users in the US. Smartphone adoption was at about 16 percent at the end of 2009.

In June, just before the most recent Nielsen smartphone report came out, RIM lowered its earnings expectations, which are due out in a few days time.

While RIM has lost its lead to Apple and Android device makers in the consumer arena, by many accounts it still has a stronghold in the enterprise. That was certainly true for their adoption rate among US physicians as of May 2010. Back then, Manhattan Research found that US physicians used BlackBerry devices more than any other smartphone.

That lead didn’t hold much longer.

Manhattan also noted last May that adoption of mobile devices was neck and neck with adoption of BlackBerry devices adoption among US docs. When it counted all Apple devices, meaning iPod touch devices and iPhones, the devices outnumbered BlackBerry device adoption among US physicians. In May of this year Manhattan reported that 75 percent of US physicians own some kind of Apple device (iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad). At the time 30 percent of US physicians already had iPads. RIM has not reported any adoption numbers among US physicians for its PlayBook tablet, but by some accounts adoption has been insubstantial.

Manhattan also noted in May of this year that Android devices are not faring much better than BlackBerry devices among US physicians. Interestingly, by our count the number of healthcare apps available for BlackBerry devices has tripled since last year. But the almost 1,000 health and fitness apps available to BlackBerry users today is still less than the number available to Android users this time last year. While it’s not all about numbers, it’s another sign that RIM has a ways to go to catch up.

At least one analyst believes RIM can still make a big comeback in the US.

“RIM is getting beaten up a lot, but I think people will give them another chance,” Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told PC World. “RIM has to get apps optimized for its environment and get the user interface right for touch. Do that well, and the people will come.”

Health gaming reaches critical mass

By: Neil Versel | Sep 8, 2011        

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Neil VerselVideo games are hot in healthcare right now.

A fringe topic not too long ago, the subject gained a sense of legitimacy in July, when publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc. introduced a new journal called Games for Health: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications. The first issue is due out this fall.

That’s right, there’s now a peer-reviewed, scientific journal specifically examining the role video games can play in advancing individual and population health, the healthcare industry and personal wellness. And this week, Liebert announced a companion newsletter called Games for Health Industry Insider, which starts publication on Sept. 29. I can see both titles being good resources for MobiHealthNews.

If you think this is an anomaly or a journal that’s ahead of its time, may I remind you that the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper earlier this year that said video games deserve “serious attention” in healthcare.

Adding further weight to the notion that gaming can be an important part of healthcare, the University of Missouri just released news about a study underway at the school that incorporates Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing technology to help prevent falls and spot other potential health problems in seniors. A related study uses motion sensors from widely available security systems.

Researchers from Mizzou’s Sinclair School of Nursing and School of Engineering installed Kinect for Xbox 360 in a Columbia, Mo., nursing home and gave wearable sensors to residents to help measure changes in gait, a key indicator of the likelihood of falls. Additional sensors on beds were used to detect changes in sleeping patterns. Alerts get sent to nursing staff when there is a change that might signify a health issue.

“The potential that we’ve learned for early illness detection could revolutionize what’s happening in the way that we diagnose problems of older adults. We know from the research that we can pick things up 10 days to two weeks before critical health-change events happen,” nursing professor Marilyn Rantz said in a video released by the university.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Microsoft itself joined in. On the Microsoft HealthBlog, Dr. Bill Crounse, the Redmond Empire’s senior director for worldwide health, promoted the latest episode of Microsoft Health Tech Today, the company’s online talk show about how the company’s technology is advancing healthcare.

The subject of the newest video? Kinect.

Gaming in health—particularly mobile gaming—also is the subject of a forthcoming MobiHealthNews report. If you recall, Dr. Leslie Saxon, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Body Computing, said last month that she’d like to take a mobile gaming app like Angry Birds and “diabetize it.”

Yes, we’re hearing a lot lately about gaming in health and healthcare. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Ever since Nintendo debuted the Wii Fit as a fitness tool in 2008, gaming for health has started to break out of a niche and become mainstream. It seems as if we’re now reaching critical mass.

Nokia anchors new mobile health fund

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 8, 2011        

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Vision Plus Venture FundNokia recently announced plans to become an anchor investor in the Vision+ fund, which will focus on converged gaming, entertainment and education, as well as preventive health care and wellness applications for various platforms. Nokia said its move to fund Vision+ is part of an ongoing strategy to funds apps and games for those mobile platforms that Nokia supports, but mostly for the Windows Phone platform.

Vision+ plans to help those application developers it funds by connecting them directly with customers in an effort to bring the developers’ projects to market more quickly. The fund also appears to plan to share in the products’ eventual revenue streams while the startups it funds will hang onto their own IP.

“This initiative is a great addition to our developer activities, including those with Microsoft. We look forward to more and more innovative applications from creative entrepreneurs in the mobile space,” Marco Argenti, Senior Vice President, Developer Experience, Nokia stated in a release.

Tero Ojanpera, formerly of Nokia, will helm Vision+ as the fund’s managing partner.

For more on Nokia’s fund, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

Alere to exclusively offer Voxiva’s Text2Quit

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 7, 2011        

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text2quitVoxiva, creator of Text4Baby and Text2Quit, announced this week an agreement with Alere Wellbeing’s smoking cessation program Quit For Life to exclusively merge their services into one offering.

Voxiva’s Text2Quit launched in June. The service makes use of text messages, emails and the web along with evidence-based best practices from the Surgeon General and peer-reviewed studies. The service is personalized around the end user’s planned quit date and supports multiple quit attempts based on the users own feedback. Text2Quit has a number of features that set it apart from the straightforward Text4Baby SMS service — Text2Quit even offers games to help users fight off cravings.

Alere’s Quit For Life Program, according to the company, “offers phone-based cognitive-behavioral coaching, web-based learning and social support, medication decision support, medication fulfillment, email coaching, and live chat.”

The deal with Alere shows that Voxiva is taking a markedly different approach to market its newest text-based offering. Text4Baby relies on a network of hundreds of public and private partners to drive adoption.

“Text-based programs have been shown to be highly effective drivers of intervention for tobacco cessation. A study recently published in The Lancet showed that text-based programs doubled quit rates when compared to control groups,” stated Voxiva CEO Justin Sims in a press release. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Alere Wellbeing, the national leader in tobacco cessation, to deliver our Text2Quit program to as many smokers as possible.”

Read the full press release below.

Keep reading>>