Slideshow: 10 patients apps from US children’s hospitals

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 20, 2013        

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BURN JOURNEYOne trend that emerged while researching MobiHealthNews’ most recent report, 205 Hospital-branded apps for patients, was that children’s hospitals are far and away the most creative and ambitious of healthcare providers in the United States using mobile apps for patient engagement.

Of the more than 200 apps now available in appstores from hospitals for patients, about 17 percent come from a children’s hospital. That’s 34 apps.

Apps from children’s hospitals sometimes mirrored offerings from any other institution — trackers, locations, directories, and so on. More often than not, however, children’s hospital apps were more fun and creative. Clearly a larger percentage of this group’s patient population is likely to be engaged by games than those who are a part of an older patient population. Still, other healthcare facilities looking to apps as a patient engagement tool need to pay attention to what children’s hospitals are doing. They might learn quite a bit.

To help illustrate the type of apps that children’s hospitals are currently offering their patients, MobiHealthNews has put together the slideshow below, which includes a sampling of just 10 of those 34 children’s hospital apps we include in our recent research report. To read more about these and all of the other patient-facing apps developed by hospitals, be sure to buy your copy of our hospital apps report in the MobiHealthNews Research Store.

Check out our slideshow below:  Keep reading>>


DreamIt Health taps Johns Hopkins for second site

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 20, 2013        

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Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

DreamIt Health, the healthcare-focused branch of Philadelphia startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures, is launching a Baltimore, Maryland class in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. BioHealth Innovation, an organization geared toward bringing more innovation and entrepreneurship to Maryland, is co-sponsoring the class with Hopkins.

The company will seek applications, due November 11th, for 10 companies from around the country to move to Baltimore for four months starting in January. IN exchange for an 8 percent stake in the company, divided up between DreamIt and Johns Hopkins, selected teams will get a working space, up to $50,000 for living expenses, and access to a range of professional and legal services. That’s in addition to DreamIt’s signature offerings: one-on-one mentorship and introductions to local and national payors and providers.

“The most important thing is access, and I think the really distinctive thing about DreamIt, is a one-to-one match with a mentor who is an exited entrepreneur, who has had success as an entrepreneur and knows a lot about the stakes,” Elliot Menschik, the program director, told MobiHealthNews. “We ask them to give three to five hours a week to work with the team they’ve been assigned to. The mentorship is very intense and very personalized.”

Christy Wyskiel, advisor to the president at Johns Hopkins, said the school was enthusiastic, especially because DreamIt Health’s Philadelphia class worked with Penn Medicine, which is connected to the University of Pennsylvania. In Baltimore, Hopkins will provide resources not just from the medical school and medical center, but also from the business school, engineering school, and school of public health. Wyskiel said President Ronald Daniels has been pushing involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation as a priority for the school in general.

“The larger goal is to try to ignite those entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial faculty, to help them realize their goals for achieving success through commercialization,” she said. “Working with a startup, learning to start a technology company, using technology to solve a problem.”

In addition to Hopkins, Menschik said the program will draw mentors and partners from all over the local ecosystem, citing that in the last program, for example, companies worked with AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. The location, close to Washington, DC, also makes it easier for companies to learn to work with federal agencies like FDA, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“They need to be in discussions with all the stakeholders in healthcare, not just providers,” he said. “Payors, pharma, industry vendors, they all become an integral part even if their logo’s not slapped on our press release.”

Menschik said DreamIt Health isn’t limiting applications to one particular kind of company, but he believes B2B plays will tend to do better than consumer ones.

“The most important thing for us is the team and the people,” he said. “The idea is going to change and not survive contact with the marketplace. The sandbox they’re working in has to address a problem, and that generally means it will trend more toward enterprise than consumer.”

Moves comes to Android, not afraid of Apple’s M7

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 20, 2013        

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Moves on Nexus 4Moves from ProtoGeo, the Finland-based passive activity tracker startup, released its Android version, demonstrating that the company intends to press on despite possible competition from Apple’s new iPhone 5s and 5c.

“It’s very exciting times for us because there’s so many things going on in the activity tracking marketplace,” CEO Sampo Karjalainen told MobiHealthNews. “Apple and Google are moving to support the use case. We’re excited by all this news, but on the other hand they’re somewhat limited.”

As MobiHealthNews reported back in April, Moves is an all-day tracker that runs passively in the background of a user’s phone. In order to provide all-day tracking without killing the phone’s battery, ProtoGeo developed an algorithm that activates the GPS only intermittently in the background. Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announced last week that Apple’s new devices will have a similar functionality built-in: they’ll run sensors like the GPS and the accelerometer on a secondary processor (called the M7), allowing for a similar savings in battery life.

Karjalainen agreed with many startups’ assessment that Apple is commoditizing passive tracking, but he still thinks Moves is ahead of the game.

“Tracking is first, but then the challenge is to really make sense of that data, and help [users] change their behavior, those are really important,” he said. “And that’s something we are working on with new features on top of that data. But the first step is to make activity tracking work really well. And we have the best technology at the moment.”

He pointed out that, unlike Apple’s devices, Moves can identify cycling as a separate movement. Also, Moves can run on existing iPhones, whereas to use Apple’s new co-processor, consumers have to buy a new phone. In addition, Moves is already working on future iterations of its software that will use the M7 coprocessor.

As of the recent news, Moves can also run on Android devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. At launch, the Android version will be very similar to the existing iOS software, but it won’t be able to connect with other diary and data visualization apps like the Apple version can. Moves opened its API to third party developers in June, and now sports a catalogue of 20 connected apps.

Karjalainen said an iOS7 version of Moves is coming in the next two weeks. A Windows Phone version of the software is unlikely, he said, because Windows 8 isn’t capable of running the accelerometer in the background. According to ProtoGeo, Moves has been downloaded 2.5 million times since its launch and tracks 2 billion steps every day around the world.

Seven recent hires, appointments in digital health

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 19, 2013        

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Voalte ScreenshotOver the span of two days last week, Voalte, Audax Health and Google made mobile health hires. Over the span of a month, there have been seven total hiring announcements. While Voalte’s new hire has a background in health, some, like Audax’s addition of Zynga Chief Operating Officer (COO) David Ko was brought on to grow the company in a new way. MobiHealthNews has compiled a list of all the recent hires.

Voalte hires former Johns Hopkins IT Executive Kenda West as its COO. West also held positions at MedStar Health, Peninsula Regional Medical Center and McKesson. Voalte provides nurses with voice, alert and text capabilities on a hospital-wide system. While the service is primarily used on iPod touch devises, it also works on iPhones and iPads. A few months before West’s appointment, Voalte promoted its founder Trey Lauderdale to president.

Audax Health added former Zynga COO, David Ko, to its executive board. Prior to his stint at Zynga, Ko was at Yahoo for 10 years. At Audax Health, Ko will be involved with “strategy, business development and mobile operations, particularly as the company increases the capabilities of its flagship platform, Zensey,” according to the press release. Social engagement platform maker Audax has three products, their flagship product Zensey, a health assessment tool and Battle by the Bay. A few weeks prior to the hire, Audax raised $20 million in a round led by Florida Blue.

Toumaz Limited has appointed Founder and former CEO of Synergy Health Dr Richard Steeves as non-executive Chairman. Richard has replaced former executive Chairman and Toumaz founder Chris Toumazou, who will remain on the Board as a non-executive director. Toumaz Limited develops low power wireless semiconductor technology that can be used in wireless technologies for hospitals or at home. Steeves will be specifically involved with SensiumVitals, Toumaz’s disposable wireless vital signs monitoring system which finished a pilot study in April.

Exco InTouch appointed Founder and Chairman of MyMeds&Me Steve Powell as a non-executive director. Before founding his company, Powell worked at Phase Forward. Tim Davis, chief executive of Exco InTouch, said in a press release he was, “impressed with the way [Powell] guided Phase Forward – and much of the rest of our industry – through the move to electronic data capture.”

Google hired Chairman and former CEO of Genentech Arthur Levinson, as CEO of its new health and well-being company, Calico. On the new company Google CEO Larry Page said: “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.” Google’s last health venture, Google Health, was canned in 2011 after two years out of beta. Levinson will remain Chairman of Genentech, director of Hoffmann-La Roche, and Chairman of Apple.

WellDoc announced a new board of directors: Dr. David Levy, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) global healthcare leader, Terry Lierman, the chief of staff to house minority whip Steny Hoyer, Donald Almeida, former vice chairman of PwC, and Michael Greenebaum, founder of Greenebaum Enterprises. The team was brought on to help the company further commercialize its recently launched BlueStar product.

PatientPoint hired former AT&T CMIO Dr. Geeta Nayyar as its CMIO. At PatientPoint, Nayyar aims to focus on patient engagement and “meeting the patient where they are.” PatientPoint, acquired last year by Healthy Advice Networks, offers a care coordination platform on which patients and healthcare providers can communicate.

Analysis: 205 hospital-branded apps for patients

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 19, 2013        

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Hospital_Apps_260It’s been about four years since healthcare providers began to seriously consider mobile applications as a new channel for communicating with their patients. In that time hospitals have experimented with many app-enabled patient engagement pilots, and some — mostly quietly — launched patient-facing apps. Over the course of the past few months MobiHealthNews has been scouring the Apple and Google app stores for these apps as part of the data gathering efforts of our newest report, which launches this morning: The 205 Hospital-branded Apps for Patients.

As might be expected, many of these apps offer the type of features that a hospital looking to meet future patient engagement-related requirements of Meaningful Use would be focused on. Those include features like facility locators, physician directories, educational content, and appointment booking. A few even offer health trackers of various stripes, medication reminders, Rx refills, and secure messaging.

MobiHealthNews found that of the 205 hospital-branded smartphone apps in the Apple AppStore and Google Play store, 34 were from children’s hospitals. That means about 17 percent of hospital branded apps available today come from children’s hospitals. Parents of sick children are typically thought to be very engaged patient advocates and eager to adopt tools like these. A few of the more creative apps from hospitals are games designed for kids that help them learn about their conditions and procedures or, like the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s app Keep Spriggy Safe, how to stay safe around the house.

Surprisingly, a handful of hospital apps include fitness trackers. Yes, despite the thousands of apps focused on fitness already some hospitals are looking to get a toehold on running apps, too. MobiHealthNews found seven hospital-branded apps for patients had some kind of fitness tracking component as a focus or as part of their offering.

Depending on how you look at it, 205 patient apps from hospitals is a fairly small number. Only about 3 percent of healthcare facilities in the US offer some kind of branded app. Of course, many more might be pointing their patients to their EHR provider’s patient-facing app, which generally is not re-skinned and white-labeled to appear to be an app from the hospital itself. Considering the many features that Epic System’s MyChart app for patients offers, it might be that the EHR vendors are the ones likely to lead mobile-enabled patient engagement initiatives for hospitals. Other apps like Aetna’s iTriage have long pointed to hospital-branded apps as their competition. Companies like iTriage ask: Why create your own branded app when you could be a part of an app that offers many of those same marketing opportunities and already has an install base of millions of patients in the US?

The latest report from MobiHealthNews, 205 Hospital-branded Apps for Patients, discusses these questions and more. It includes analysis of the many different types of hospital apps for patients available today, a brief history of app-enabled patient engagement initiatives, a full list of hospital-branded apps with links to their download pages, and much, much more. Get your copy over at the MobiHealthNews Research Store Today!

Mostashari: FDA should issue mobile health guidance sooner, not later, for clarity’s sake

By: Neil Versel | Sep 19, 2013        

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ONC's Dr. Farzad MostashariDeparting national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari would prefer that the Food and Drug Administration unilaterally issue a long-anticipated final guidance on mobile medical apps rather than waiting for inter-agency consensus with the Federal Communications Commission and Mostashari’s own Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

“I testified before Congress with the FDA, and what we heard repeatedly was folks saying, ‘We need clarity,'” Mostashari said in an interview with MobiHealthNews this week at ONC’s Consumer Health IT Summit at HHS headquarters in Washington, the first event of the annual National Health IT Week.

“I think the FDASIA work group that we convened with our [Health IT] Policy Committee and with our FDA and FCC colleagues gave us some very thoughtful input, but I personally believe that the sooner FDA moves forward on providing that clarity that people have been asking for, the better,” Mostashari said, before being spirited away by his handlers.

The 2012 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) requires the Department of Health and Human Services secretary to work with the FDA, ONC and FCC on “a strategy for coordinating the regulation of health information technology in order to avoid regulatory duplication” and “recommendations on an appropriate regulatory framework for health information technology, including a risk-based framework.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversees both the FDA and ONC but not the FCC, is to report to Congress within 18 months of the legislation’s passage, or by January 2014. Sebelius formed an FDASIA workgroup under the purview of the Health IT Policy Committee, an HHS advisory panel.

In public remarks during the Consumer Health IT Summit, Mostashari, who is due to depart Oct. 5 after two years as national coordinator and four years with ONC, tried to frame the role of the federal government in health IT adoption and patient engagement. “Government alone cannot make all the changes we need,” he said.  Keep reading>>