Fitness app developer nabs $800,000 in funding

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 15, 2011        

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EndomondoEndomondo, the startup that developed the Endomondo Sports Tracker app, raised $800,000 in its first round of funding from SEED Capital, the largest venture fund in Denmark. The app provides GPS tracking of and distance-based sport, according to the company, and already has more than 2.3 million downloads. The app receives about 10,000 new downloads per day and counts users in more than 200 countries. The app first launched in 2007.

What sets Endomondo apart from most of its competitors is it multiplatform approach: The app is available on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, sure, but also on Symbian, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Java phones. According to the company the app is available on more than 250 handsets and supports almost all GPS phones.

“Similar apps such as RunKeeper cover just a couple platforms,” Endomondo noted in its press release.

“From the beginning, our vision has been to make sports more fun and help people become physically active,” Mette Lykke, Co-Founder Endomondo stated in a company release. “We strongly believe that technology – used in the right way – can be very motivating. This infusion of funding will help us to continue to grow the Endomondo Sports Tracker and expand its most distinctive element – the social aspect of sharing and peptalking.”

Endomondo’s angel investors include Victor Feddersen, a Danish Olympic champion and world record rower, and Jacob Aqraou, a general manager at eBay Classified Group.

Endomondo’s app works in conjunction with Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitors from Polar and Zephyr if the user has certain phones.

For more on the investment, read the full press release after the jump. Keep reading>>


Smoking cessation apps don’t follow guidelines

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 14, 2011        

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Smoking CessationOf the 47 smoking cessation applications available to iPhone users back in June 2009, few if any adhered to the US Public Health Service’s 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine this month concluded.

“Apps identified for smoking cessation were found to have low levels of adherence to key guidelines in the index,” the researchers included. “Few, if any, apps recommended or linked the user to proven treatments such as pharmacotherapy, counseling, and/or a quitline.”

“It is recommended that current apps be revised and future apps be developed around evidence-based practices for smoking cessation,” they wrote.

The results from MobiHealthNews’ own study of the content of smoking cessation apps in our report Fastest Growing and Most Successful Health & Medical Apps, September 2010 also showed that these apps were using new methods.

As of last fall there were already 44 smoking cessation apps for the iPhone that simply enabled users to track how many times they smoked. The next most popular strategy seemed to be calculators, which typically helped users figure out how much money they had saved since they had stopped or curtailed their smoking. There were also a handful of apps that provided a tracking mechanism along with a calendar, a dozen apps that made use of hypnotherapy, another dozen that used positive affirmations and a handful that only offered information therapy and reference materials.

While the study’s abstract certainly points to a number of interesting questions: Should we assume smoking cessation apps will fail if they do not adhere to the efficacy guidelines established in 2008? Or is the smartphone a new platform that might be more effective with new or different tactics?

While understandable in the world of peer-reviewed publishing, it still amazes me that a study of the app offerings available in June 2009 is only now being published. Our study from late August 2010 (more than a year after their study) included more than twice as many smoking cessation apps as theirs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number had almost doubled again by now. These offerings move too fast for that type of publishing cycle.

The Coming Medical Tablet War

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 10, 2011        

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Tablet_2_Thumb_260Last year, in MobiHealthNews’ first report on tablets in the healthcare space, iPad vs. the Tablets in Healthcare, we took a close look at Apple’s iPad, which had only just hit store shelves, but had already made a name for itself in healthcare. Seemingly from the get-go physicians began to realize the device’s potential to redefine their workflow. As we wrote in last year’s report, “Apple’s device holds the potential to be a game changer in the healthcare space in the same manner that it has transformed the market for consumer devices.”

Today, we are happy to announce our second report on tablets in healthcare, The Coming Medical Tablet War: iPad, Android, BlackBerry, HP and others vie to dominate in healthcare.

Yes, the iPad remained largely peerless through the end of 2010, but its dominance in healthcare is anything but guaranteed. Especially as 2011 is already gearing up for the launch of tablet devices from most every major consumer and enterprise technology company. Google, Research In Motion and HP have especially promising chances of rocking the iPad from its podium.

That’s not to say that Apple isn’t also forging ahead. The launch of iPad 2 this month brings a lighter, slimmer, more powerful tablet to market this week. The new features include missing hardware specs found in competing devices (dual cameras), but the device will maintain its relatively low price point and rather impressive battery life. Perhaps most importantly: There are already more than 1,000 healthcare specific apps specifically designed for the iPad. While Android is slowly gaining, the iPad still boasts many more offerings.

As the iPad matures and solidifies its role as an indispensible tool in the doctor’s arsenal, a new generation of tablets will seek to usurp its place. In MobiHealthNews latest report, The Coming Medical Tablet War, we’ll take a close look at the iPad’s success in healthcare, profile medical applications, usage scenarios and case studies. We’ll also provide in-depth looks at the prospects of the iPad’s competitors, including the Motorola Xoom and BlackBerry PlayBook. Finally, we’ll discuss some of the factors you’ll need to take into account when planning your own tablet deployment, from security and compliance to hardware. (Download your copy of The Coming Medical Tablet War today!)

Needless to say, 2011 will be an interesting year for tablets in the healthcare sector. While there’s little doubt that 2010 was the year of the iPad in healthcare, if Apple’s competitors have their way, 2011 will be the year of the tablet.

Visit MobiHealthNews’ Research section for more information on our latest report.

Harvard students to launch mHealth, Health 2.0 incubator Rock Health

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 10, 2011        

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Halle Tecco Rock HealthFour Harvard Business School students are launching a San Francisco-based mobile health and Health 2.0 incubator, Rock Health, that aims to provide healthcare expertise, development resources and eventually funding to winning ideas. The core team at Rock Health includes Medical Director Nate Gross (who is also involved with the soon-to-launch Doximity), Interim CFO Dan Monahan, Creative Director Leslie Ziegler and Managing Director Halle Tecco.

According to Rock Health’s website the incubator’s investor partners include Accel Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Aberdare Ventures, California HealthCare Foundation and others. Importantly, the team is also working closely with the Mayo Clinic:

“No experience in the health space? That’s great. We’ve built a program to give you resources and connections in the sector. And our friends at the Mayo Clinic (consistently ranked one of the top hospitals in the world) are excited to help you out,” the incubator’s FAQ reads.

In a recent interview with MobiHealthNews, Rock Health’s Halle Tecco explained that the incubator intends to bring new talent to healthcare: “We are trying to focus on the technology itself and are looking to find technologists,” she said. “We are trying to bring in really great developers and programmers and encourage experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking about healthcare.”

Keep reading>>

Harvard, Boston Children’s open $5,000 app challenge to free EHR data

By: Neil Versel | Mar 10, 2011        


Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School this week opened a previously announced competition to develop “iPhone-like” applications to help unlock data stored in electronic health records. While the focus is on Web apps, the federally funded contest is encouraging submissions for mobile tablets, with a promise of “further optimization for smaller screens” such as smartphones by summer.

Children’s and Harvard will award $5,000 for the best application in June and release the winning product in a health IT “app store,” the organizations say.

“The goal of this model is to enable a substantial shift towards technologies that are flexible and able to quickly adapt to meet the various needs of their users on a variety of devices,” Dr. Kenneth Mandl, director of the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program’s Intelligent Health Laboratory, says in a press release. Mandl and Children’s Hospital Informatics Program Director Dr. Isaac Kohane are co-leads of the SMART Substitute Medical Apps, reusable technologies (SMArt) project, which is sponsoring the challenge courtesy of a $15 million federal grant.

Essentially, Mandl, Kohane and the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology want programmers to find ways to break down barriers to interoperability that proprietary EHR systems have created.

“Currently, innovation in health informatics is limited by disparate vendor APIs and ambiguous data standards. Deploying an application against multiple vendor systems requires massive customization efforts that don’t scale. SMArt provides a common API to access patient records, fueling apps with rich, unambiguous data. This will open up the market of health IT to a new cadre of developers who can write a SMart app once and deploy it inside multiple EMRs and [personally controlled health records],” the federal challenge page says. Keep reading>>

Mobile health roundup: Medtronic, Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, GE, FDA and more

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2011        

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PreventiceSkin allergy app: Preventice teamed up with the Mayo Clinic to create a web-based app and a native iPhone app called CARD System, which provides physicians and patients with access to information about chemicals, preservatives and fragrances in skin care products that cause allergic skin reactions. The apps will help patients find safe products and track allergic reactions should they occur. According to Preventice’s press release: A National Ambulatory Medical Care survey conducted in 1995 estimated that 8.4 million people visit their doctor because of skin allergies. The company also found that allergic reactions to skin care and cosmetic products were the second most frequent dermatologic diagnosis. CARD stands for Contact Allergen Replacement Database and it contains more than 8,100 known ingredients found in more than 7,000 commercial skin care products. Mayo originally created CARD in 1999, but the product release with Preventice is the first instance of it going mobile. More details

Medtronic PacemakerMedtronic’s tiny pacemaker talks to smartphone? Medtronic is developing the world’s smallest pacemaker — a fraction of the size of a penny — it would use no leads and be inserted via a catheter. Medtronic has already created most of the hardware for the miniscule device, including its circuit board, oscillator, capacitor, memory, and wireless telemetry. It is still trying to figure out how to power it. Still, the company’s Vice President for Medicine and Technology, Stephen Oesterle showed off one prototype at TEDMED last October and also discussed the device with the MIT Technology Review recently. During the demos, Oesterle has shown the device communicating with and transmitting data to a BlackBerry device. In five years it could be on the market, Oesterle said. Technology Review

Great quotes from Global Health Hub: “Though paradoxical, many of those living on less than $2 per day do have mobile phones. ‘The quickest way to get rid of poverty right now, is to have one mobile telephone,’ said Nobel Laureate Muhammed Yunus of Grameen Bank. Health care to anyone, anytime, anywhere need not be a slogan. Studies indicate that the poor are willing to pay for entertainment value-added services on their handhelds. Proof of concept studies have confirmed that mHealth is feasible. With exponential growth in wireless broadband, medical technology, and drop in prices, cost effective innovations in mHealth could well be the answer,” stated Professor K. Ganapathy, President, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, India. GHhub

mHealth Alliance’s David Aylward: “From its earliest days, the US wireless industry offered emergency 9-1-1 calls for free. Years ago I bought cell service for my daughters so they would be safer. I don’t think they ever called 9-1-1, but the offer contributed substantially to the growth of the US wireless industry. That industry has a similar opportunity with mHealth, especially in emerging markets.” mHA

Launch app(s) first, then create the peripheral device(s): Montreal-based Carre Technologies is developing wearable, wireless health sensors, but while those are not yet ready to go to market the company has created a handful of basic smartphone health apps. Wonder how many other device makers are following or have followed a similar path: Apps first, then devices to connect to them? NextMontreal

Professor of Gerontology explains mHealth’s most common challenge: “[These] applications — unimaginable only a few years ago — are within our grasp. However the most commonly reported obstacle is still the belief that such technology would be too expensive.” It may be true, but I don’t offer hear expense being the most common obstacle for mHealth. Might be a good sign that pricepoints are now the biggest obstacle according to some. SignOnSanDiego Keep reading>>