Healthbox announces first Nashville class, opens applications for Chicago round two

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 19, 2013        

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Portrayal of Nashville Healthbox participant Gema Touch’s technology

Healthbox’s Nashville accelerator has announced its first class in partnership with BlueCross BlueShield in Nashville. Of the class’ seven companies, five come from the Nashville area.

Last month, the Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America, a healthcare service provider, joined as a sponsor. Because of the announcement, Healthbox extended the Nashville application deadline three more days, to August 7th. Founded in Nashville in 1968, HCA currently operates 161 hospitals and 114 freestanding surgery centers across 20 states and London.

“We were extremely impressed with the applicant pool for this program. Many of them were already well connected within Nashville’s healthcare ecosystem and founded by seasoned professionals and serial entrepreneurs,” Founder and CEO of Healthbox Nina Nashif said in a press release. “We can provide the chosen companies deeper access to industry knowledge and resources that will help them expand within Tennessee and beyond.”

Atlas Health offers HIPAA-compliant software to help health IT developers.

Axial Healthcare is also a cloud-based platform. Its products include Axial CarePath, a decision support platform, Axial PharmaView, a program that assesses the risks of opioid treatment, Axial CredPath, a software that credentials providers to perform the most effective procedure at the optimal time, and Axial CredTrack-360, an application that simulates the downstream effects linked to changes made in the current treatment pathways.

Daymark is a digital marketing and advertising platform for hospitals and health systems. The company’s other partner is resource management company The Martin Companies.

eClinic provides patients and medical professionals a platform to communicate from their existing computers and mobile devices. The other partners that the company lists include Clayton Associates, LaunchTennessee and Entrepreneur Center.

Gema Touch creates Near Field Communication (NFC) tags which can be embedded into “nearly any printable surface from displays, tickets, and even packaging,” according to the website. By embedding the NFC tags into a printed media form we can ‘program’ that print to communicate with a phone, triggered by a user’s touch.

PRSM Healthcare makes HIPAA-compliant patient engagement platforms that help patients schedule follow ups and also find new patients.

Remedify, another cloud-based software, offers a guide for sterile processing at hospitals and surgery centers.

Last week, Healthbox also opened applications for its second Chicago class. This new class brings back Ascension Health as a strategic partner and will have a new focus as well, zeroing in on provider solutions, regardless of whether they are early or late-stage companies.

“We’re being responsive to what we’re seeing in the market,” Healthbox Director of Operations Jenna Rose told MobiHealthNews. “We were seeing applications coming in from later stage partners, and then with our strategic partners we were seeing an interest in funding [provider-focused] companies regardless of what stage they were at.”

The deadline to apply for Chicago’s Healthbox program is September 29.


Precor opens gym equipment data to app developers, payors

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 18, 2013        

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Precor PrevaFitness equipment maker Precor launched a new developer portal for its open API, allowing interested parties — including fitness clubs, mobile app developers, and payers — to freely access and use data from Preva, Precor’s cloud-based engagement platform. Workout data from Precor machines is the bulk of the Preva data, but it also includes lifetime metrics, goal types, goal progress, and rewards earned through Preva’s mobile app and website.

“It’s a way for us to hear back from the rest of the world around what they would like to do with those APIs,” Dave Flynt, Precor’s Director of User Experience told MobiHealthNews. “You build tech with an intent in mind, but you find that if you do your job well it supports other uses that become powerful as well. Really, the portal is a way for us to give that complete open access to anyone who asks for it and get feedback from that community.”

Flynt said the company has made the API available previously, but on a case-by-case basis. For instance, the company partnered with EveryMove earlier this year using these same APIs.

“We’re already beginning to see people request [the data] with a wide variety of interests,” Flynt said. “There’s a university coalition that might be interested in tracking activities of its members to track a challenge across the member colleges. We’re already seeing people with really interesting ideas. Our goal is to make the friction to access that content as low as possible.”

According to Flynt, there are three interested parties who might use the portal. One is mobile app developers like EveryMove or MyFitnessPal, which typically look to integrate fitness data from as many different streams as possible. Another is the clubs and gyms that have purchased Precor machines. By pulling data from their machines, with permission from individual users, they can sponsor different kinds of drives and contests or display realtime leaderboards.

The third group that expressed interest is “service providers”. This group includes payors and self-insured employers, who can benefit from knowing whether employees are really using a gym membership, for instance. It also might include clinics or healthcare providers.

Precor isn’t the only exercise company that’s looking to extend its data reach beyond the walls of the gym. NetPulse has a web and mobile platform called NetPulse One which is integrated with MyFitnessPal, Aetna Carepass, and Fitbit. Johnson Technology’s Matrix Fitness equipment also integrates with MyFitnessPal.

“We don’t believe the data we’re capturing is ours,” Flynt said. “It’s the exerciser’s. We have an obligation to make it available so they can make it serve them best. We believe that our platform will grow the more it’s used by third parties to deliver value outside of Preva-controlled product experiences.”

New Mexico launches texting service for sex ed

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 18, 2013        

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BrdsNBzThe New Mexico Department of Health launched a sexual health texting service for teens and parents last week called BrdsNBz. While the service offers teens an alternative to their parents when they want to discuss sexual health, the service also allows parents to ask questions on talking to their kids about sex. The service is available in Spanish and English.

The service is based off a similar offering from the North Carolina’s Health Department, which was launched in 2009.

“A lot of time people don’t want to ask questions because they think ‘I should know this’, or they think ‘If I don’t know this, it’s out of sight/out of mind’,” Educational Project Officer for the Family Planning Program Valerie Fisher said in a press release. “This program will hopefully cut through a lot of that anxiety.”

The teen birth rates in New Mexico have been declining over the past few years, according to Fisher, but New Mexico is still in the top three for teen birth rates nationally. To take part in the program teens text “NMTeen” and parents text “NMParent” to the hotline, 66746, and a trained health educator will respond within 24 hours.

Fisher said the program will also help the New Mexico Department of Health understand what’s going on in the state.

“It’s very easy for me to speculate what the issues are in communities, but until you really know why it’s going on, you can’t fix it,” Fisher said.

North Carolina’s texting program led to a study that analyzed what kinds of questions teens were asking. Published in 2012, the study titled ‘Can you get pregnant when u r in the pool?’ offers stats for what kinds of sexual health information teens didn’t have. The majority of texts, 89 percent, sought information about sexual health topics, while 7 percent asked for advice, 4 percent asked for reassurance that the sender was developing normally. Overall the questions were mainly about sexual acts, unplanned pregnancy, contraception, physical or sexual development, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Other health departments in recent years have launched their own mobile health initiatives. MobiHealthNews compiled a list of apps that came out of those public health departments.

Lively raises $4.8M after Kickstarter try fails, starts selling aging-in-place services

By: Neil Versel | Sep 18, 2013        

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Lively aging in placeAging-in-place startup Lively has put its home monitoring product in general release this week after landing $4.8 million in venture capital. Cambia Health Solutions led the Series A round, while Lively’s seed investor Maveron also contributed, San Francisco-based Lively announced Tuesday.

Lively, which combines stylish wireless sensors and a data-collection hub with biweekly printed mailers, is currently selling its system only through its website, but co-founder and CEO Iggy Fanlo said to expect the product to be available on and at major electronics retailers fairly soon. Longer-term marketing plans call for sales through TV shopping networks and perhaps high-end department stores, he added.

Lively attempted to raise $100,000 on crowdfunding site Kickstarter in the spring, but came up with just $15,177 in pledges, meaning it had to forfeit the money. While the company didn’t come close to its goal, Fanlo said the campaign was immensely helpful with feedback. “The problem we’re going to face is going to be our marketing message,” Fanlo said.

He said the Kickstarter effort did draw a lot of interest. “We heard from 8-10 large entities from around the world [that] expressed interest in being distributors or resellers.” Fanlo also reported hearing from AARP and other “industry experts.”  Keep reading>>

Henry Ford Health System launches app for cancer patients

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 18, 2013        

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HenryFordCancerAppThe Henry Ford Center for Cancer Surgery has developed an app to help cancer patients find the answers they need when dealing with and treating cancer.

Developed in part by Dr. Steven Kalkanis, the Center for Cancer Surgery’s app offers patients a portal to learn about treatment options for their particular cancer type, access a 24-hour hotline, schedule an appointment at the facility, search for clinical trials, and browse a comprehensive video library, which is also a YouTube channel. The app features Epic Systems’ MyChart, an integrated personal health record (PHR) for hospital systems that use Epic’s medical records system.

“We started the Center for Cancer Surgery about six to nine months ago,” Kalkanis told MobiHealthNews. “We wanted an online, at your fingertips tool to help [patients] through this process. There are multiple moving parts, the patient has to meet with surgeon, meet with radiation and chemotherapy specialists. I helped developed it along with a group called Kart Media Group. One of the cool things is each individual patient gets assigned to a nurse navigator, a full-time oncology nurse who helps the patient through the process.”

The nurse navigator is assigned to the cancer patient depending on the type of cancer the patient has. A patient can then communicate with his or her nurse via email, pager or phone. The nurse navigator will accompany the patient to appointments, translate any information that was lost in translation, and provide discharge and follow-up information.

While the app launched last week, it was under beta testing for a few months prior, and has been downloaded around 1,000 times thus far. Patients and their families have provided great feedback about the app’s ability to help navigate appointments and treatment plans, according to Kalkanis.

“We hope, more importantly than number of downloads, that the app made the process easier,” Kalkanis said. “At each step we will be evaluating how the app has helped [patients].”

The app further categorizes cancer treatments by oncology teams. Most surgeons who deal with cancer are sub specialized, according to Kalkanis. The app asks for the kind of tumor and stage of tumor and then matches a patient to the team that is best suited to treat it.

“When you download the app, the immediate downloadable version is generic,” Kalkanis said. “But when you log into your account, you get into more specific data about your own care and your care team, reachable through your app, and you can reach your nurse navigator that way.”

This app “builds on the success” of Henry Ford Health Systems’ urology app, Vattikuti, which was released in May, Kalkanis said. The cancer app takes the concept further with the nurse navigator and MyChart features. Developed at the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute, Vattikuti provides patients with information about the urology institute and its staff, research and surgical procedure outcomes.

Also launched this year, Henry Ford Health Systems’ Men Who Cook app was created as a companion tool for the annual Men Who Cook fundraising event, which showcases the culinary talents of male employees who work at Henry Ford Health Systems. Fundraiser proceeds are given to the Tom Groth Patient Medical Needs Fund.

As Wii U sales flag, Nintendo sets sights on Fitbit crowd

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 18, 2013        

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Wii Fit MeterVideo game maker Nintendo seems to be putting its energies into fitness in an effort to save its floundering Wii U console, including launching an activity meter that could compete with the likes of the Misfit Shine or the Fitbit One.

The company announced that Wii Fit U, the new version of the company’s successful fitness game Wii Fit, will finally launch November 1. It was originally slated to be released with the Wii U last year. It’s no surprise that the company is turning to Wii Fit U to revitalize the struggling system, given that the original Wii Fit was one of the best-selling console games ever.

The software will be bundled with a clip-on activity meter worn at the hip called the Fit Meter.

“With this Fit Meter, you can now check the estimated number of calories you burn while you are on the go,” Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said in a launch announcement. “The Fit Meter is not a pedometer, it’s actually an activity meter that uses a 3-axis accelerometer to calculate not only the number of steps you have taken, but also your intensity during exercise.”

Without mentioning other products by name, Iwata took time to highlight differences between the Fit Meter and other trackers on the market.

“It also includes a pressure sensor to measure changes in altitude,” he said. “This makes it possible to calculate the number of calories you’ve burned more accurately during certain activities like climbing up and down stars, which can be difficult for most activity meters to measure. Because the Fit Meter is attached at the hip, it helps to decrease the measurement error found in more common activity meters, which are worn on the wrist.”

Users can see steps, elevation, goal, time, temperature, and METs directly on the screen of the pedometer. When the device is combined with the Wii Fit U software, it can display detailed graphs broken down by type of movement: running, walking, resting, climbing up, climbing down. A line graph of altitude is overlaid above the bar graph of movement type.

Wii Fit U screenshot

This is not Nintendo’s first venture into activity tracking; the company previously released two pedometer accessories. In the fall of 2009, the company released a Nintendo DS game for adults called Personal Trainer Walking, which included a pedometer. Then, in March 2010, the company included a pedometer with the latest game in its popular Pokemon franchise. The device, called a Pokewalker, could virtually “store” a player’s Pokemon, allowing the fictional creature to gain levels the more the player walked.

Like the original Wii Fit game, Wii Fit U will also use the Balance Board accessory which allows the Wii to track a wide range of motions while the user is in front of the console. The new launch will include 19 new training activities, for a total of 77.

Nintendo is offering the game for free trial download to anyone with a Balance Board from the November 1 launch date until January 31. The Fit Meter will also go on sale November 1, for $19.99. Anyone who purchases a Fit Meter and syncs it up during the trial period will get to upgrade to the permanent version of the game for free.

A $20 price point is about as low as activity meters get, a price point currently dominated by products like the Fitlinxx Pebble or the Virgin HealthMiles GoZone, both tied to corporate wellness platforms.

For more on fitness and exergaming, check out MobiHealthNews’ new report on the Microsoft Kinect in healthcare.