Does Goldman Sachs think ZocDoc will IPO?

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 30, 2012        

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ZocDocThis week’s talk of the planned Facebook initial public offering got me thinking about a story from late last year: Which mobile health company is likely to IPO first? Some investors have already placed their bets.

At the end of November last year, investment bank and securities firm Goldman Sachs held a quiet, stealthy event that included presentations from about two dozen startups that the financial firm reportedly believes are likely IPO candidates in the future. The event is intended to help Goldman cozy up with these promising startups early on.

According to the list pieced together by TechCrunch, among those early-stage companies that received an invitation to the event there was only one health-focused company: ZocDoc, a physician and dentist appointment scheduling site and app.

Jawbone, which offered up the Jawbone UP fitness device last year (and promptly offered full refunds to early buyers because of bugs), also presented at the conference, but its core business is Bluetooth earpieces and speakers — not health devices.

ZocDoc allows patients to find nearby doctors who accept their insurance, then book appointments, via Android and iOS apps, as well as a web-based interface. The service is free for patients, while doctors pay a $250 monthly fee to fill open appointments.

Last year ZocDoc pulled in about $75 million from investors. In August DST Global injected $50 million into the company. A short month later Goldman Sachs itself made a $25 million strategic investment in ZocDoc, which boosted the company’s overall investment total to close to $100 million.

Given its $25 million investment, it’s no surprise Goldman picked ZocDoc to present in November.

For more on the Goldman Sachs event, read this TechCrunch post.

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ONC: Health apps among big trends of 2012

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 30, 2012        

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ONC's Dr. Farzad MostashariLast week Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the US Department of Health and Human Services, penned a column on his top five health IT predictions for the year ahead. Not surprisingly, Mostashari expects consumers to use eHealth to get more involved in managing their own health.

“I believe this year we will see consumers and patients use information technology to become better informed about their health and more engaged with their own care than ever before,” Mostashari writes. “In large part, this will happen because it’s becoming easier for consumers to electronically access their own information. Personal health records are becoming easier to use as more data holders make it possible to download information through tools like Blue Button. Many health care providers are setting up patient portals which are directly connected to their EHRs. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs already require providers to give patients access to their electronic health information, and I anticipate future stages will build on that notion. And the work that is being done on standards and interoperability will help make consumer access to their health information more seamless and more useful.”

Mostashari also noted his office’s push to encourage developers to create more meaningful health apps through its series of app challenges that it puts on through Health 2.0, which received a $6 million grant to conduct the challenges.

“In addition, developers are coming out with more apps for mobile devices that make it easier for consumers and patients to get information about different diseases and track their own health over time. Along those lines, several Beacon Communities have launched txt4health, a consumer engagement campaign that uses cell phone text messaging to deliver information about diabetes care and management,” Mostashari writes. “ONC will diligently keep encouraging the marketplace to develop mobile apps and other consumer-friendly platforms that get patients engaged by sponsoring challenges like the Healthy Apps Challenge. Once consumers start to see their own information, they will be more empowered to be partners in their own care and come to expect that providers will use health IT as a tool to help deliver high-quality care.”

Late last year the ONC’s Office of the Chief Privacy Officer announced that it was looking to “explore the attitudes and preferences of a diverse sample of consumers with respect to the communication of health related information on mobile phones and devices, including text messaging.”

Read Mostashari’s predictions in-full over at the government’s Health IT Buzz blog.

Glooko raises $3.5M to connect meters to phones

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 30, 2012        

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glookoGlooko, which offers a simple glucose monitoring logbook app and a cable that connects meters to iPhones, recently raised $3.5 million in its first round of funding, which was led by The Social+Capital Partnership, and included return backers Bill Campbell, Vint Cerf, Judy Estrin and Andy Hertzfeld, Venky Harinarayan, Russell Hirsch and Xtreme Labs, according to various reports. The Social+Capital Partnership’s founder and managing partner, Chamath Palihapitiya, has joined Glooko’s board of directors, too.

The startup was co-founded by the head of a similar project at Johnson & Johnson’s Lifescan division, which demonstrated an iPhone hooked up to a glucose meter via a cable way back in 2009. The prototype demonstrated on-stage at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference that year never actually launched commercially.

Currently, Glooko offers just two simple products: A cable that connects seven of the more popular blood glucose meters to the iPhone and a free, simple companion iPhone logbook app that stores readings. Glooko has solved a simple connectivity problem but is moving slowly toward more regulated products: Developing apps that offered trend analysis or coaching would require FDA clearance and requisite quality assurance work. The company’s cable costs about $40 and is available on Amazon.

“Yes, our current paradigm is just a logbook,” Glooko Co-founder Anita Mathew told MobiHealthNews last year. “One differentiated piece is that we don’t have manual entry of blood glucose numbers. Those numbers are sucked out of the meter into [the app] via the cable,” she said. “Why do that and not just do what Glucose Buddy does? It’s a point of difference, for one, but also, if you talk to enough physicians out there, there is some skepticism among that group when a patient brings a hand written log book to them. They wonder, is it accurate enough? Did they forget to write down numbers? Or write 58 instead of 85? Or is it inaccurate because they could potentially make up numbers because they are afraid that their doctor is going to get upset with them?”

Glooko has 1,000 users now, according to statements made by Glooko executives to TechCrunch. Android versions of the app are in the works. The new funds will be used to develop apps and cords for other smartphone platforms. The money will also help the company market its wares to potential users.

Timed with the fundraising news, Glooko published a new version of its logbook app to the AppStore. The new version also includes support for Bayer’s glucose meter, the Breeze 2. The app also now includes a food database, a 30-day logbook, and availability in Canada.

FDA-cleared Telcare, a cellular-enabled meter, recently went on sale and Sanofi’s iPhone-enabled glucose meter, the iBGStar, which AgaMatrix developed, also recently received FDA clearance.

VA taps DSHI to develop triage app for tablets

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 30, 2012        

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Veterans Affairs Innovation InitiativeThe Veterans Health Administration (VA) has tapped DSHI Systems to create a tablet-based mobile triage system for the emergency room that determines how urgently a patients needs to be seen by a physician. The application, called ER Mobile, will help emergency room nurses better identify the sickest patients so that they can be cared for first. The app also aims to improve workflow efficiency for care providers since it automates some documentations and speeds up the process of determining which patients need cardiac monitors, CT scans, x-rays, blood tests, or other diagnostic tests.

The idea for ER Mobile came out of the VA Employee Innovation Competition, which generated 6,500 ideas, but only about two dozen were chose for further investigation.

DSHI plans to complete its first prototype of the ER Mobile app by August of this year.

DSHI is working with Document Storage Systems (DSS) to create the offering. DSS is the primary contractor for the process and it will provide an interface between ER Mobile and the VA’s VistA EMR system. DSS will also pass vital signs information and other biometric data through the ER Mobile app. Because of this integration, the app will also create a record of the interactions it facilitates between providers and patients right in the VA’s EMR.

Last year the VA announced plans to deploy as many as 100,000 tablet devices — many of which would find their way into the hands of VA care providers.

More on the ER Mobile prototype in the press release below: Keep reading>>

iPad EHR startup DrChrono raises $2.8 million

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 27, 2012        

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drChronoDrChrono, which offers one of the first electronic health records (EHR) apps built specifically for the iPad, raised $2.8 million this week led by return-backer Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global, with participation from one of Google’s search quality leaders, Matt Cutts. The investment builds on the $650,000 Milner contributed to last summer. A month before that, DrChrono announced its first funding, $675,000, which came from a variety of venture firms as well as Google’s Cutts.

In its most recent announcement DrChrono stated that it has signed up 50,000 physicians to date and records for 400,000 patients now.

The DrChrono app offers an ONC-certified (meets stage 1 meaningful use criteria) EHR that enables users to track visits, monitor prescriptions, schedule visits, review and markup medical images. iPad 2 users can take images or videos that can be added to patient records for comparisons during later visits. DrChrono also offers a patient check-in app, called OnPatient, that aims to replace traditional paper-based check-in processes in the doctor’s office waiting room.

While most of the EHR app’s features are free, DrChrono makes money on its premium features, like ePrescribing, speech-to-text, and medical billing services. DrChrono has a partnership with M*Modal for the speech-to-text functionality. In late 2010 DrChrono said that it had tapped Remedy Systems to bundle in its ePrescribing application.

Total funding for DrChrono now tops $4 million. Its complete list of investors includes Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global, venture capital firms General Catalyst, Charles River Ventures, 500 Startups, Gmail creator and FriendFeed cofounder Paul Buchheit, Google’s Principal Engineer Matt Cutts, and the Start Fund.

DrChrono was founded by CTO Daniel Kivatinos and CEO Michael Nusimow. Kivatinos graduated with a Masters in Computer Science in 2003 and held various developer positions before founding DrChrono in 2008. Before DrChrono Kivatinos was a senior applications developer at online events company CommPartners, where he worked for three years. Before founding DrChrono Nusimow was a software engineer at Bloomberg LP for seven years. Both Kivatinos and Nusimow studied at The State University of New York at Stony Brook.

DrChono announced it had joined Yuri Milner’s Y Combinator incubator program in late February 2011.

Leveraging the frugal innovations of mobile health

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 26, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIn our recent video report, Mobile Health Challenges in 2012, Dr. Eric Topol, the Vice Chairman of the West Wireless Health Institute, had this insight:

“Right now healthcare is incredibly expensive, but a lot of these new innovative technologies are frugal innovations. For the first time they not only fulfill unmet needs, but at lower costs,” Topol said. “We’ve never seen that before.”

In addition to fulfilling unmet needs and improving health outcomes, lowering the costs associated with healthcare has long been a goal for many working in mobile health. Given Topol’s quote above, it’s not surprising that lowering the costs of healthcare is part of the core mission of the West Wireless Health Institute.

This week Gary and Mary West, the billionaire philanthropists who founded the WWHI, created a new institute called the West Health Policy Center, based in Washington D.C. The new center will conduct research on better reimbursement models, improved price transparency, and smarter technologies like those championed by its sister institute, the West Wireless Health Institute.

“You can’t move people out of the expensive places of care if you don’t set up a system that allows data and biometrics to be gathered conveniently and pushed through algorithms to a health provider so that he or she knows when someone is moving to a danger zone,” Don Casey, the CEO of the WWHI and chairman of the new West Health Policy Center told the Washington Post this week in an interview.

Casey said that the center will focus on “churning out” research that convinces policymakers to include mobile health technologies into bundled payments for insurers: Better outcomes at a lower cost, he said.

Across the pond, Medtronic’s CEO Omar Ishrak reportedly plans to use this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos to brainstorm how to bring cost-effective implantable devices to patients in emerging markets, like Asia, Latin America, and Africa. One headline for an article describing Ishrak’s plans read: “After $35 tablet computer, pacemakers may be next.”

And here in Boston Children’s Hospital announced an agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to become the first pediatric-only hospital to sign the Alternative Quality Contract (AQC), which includes a zero percent rate increase for 2012. The payment model is designed “to slow the growth in health care spending and improve patient care by helping physicians and hospitals redesign their care to emphasize quality and value over volume,” according to the announcement.

The frugal innovations in development at mobile health startups across the globe could help the hospital, and others making similar moves, to meet their goal.