By 2016: $400M market for health, fitness apps

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 28, 2011        

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Garmin's app, Garmin Fit

The market for sports and fitness apps will cross $400 million in 2016, according to a new report from ABI Research. The rise of apps for connected wearable fitness devices will be a primary factor in the industry’s growth (ABI predicted 80 million such sensors by 2016). ABI predicts that there will be more than 1 billion annual health-related app downloads by the year 2016.

Apps market growth will be strong over the next five years, increasingly rapidly from the $120 million market reported in 2010. Growth will be spurred primarily by sports and fitness applications replacing proprietary devices for viewing data from fitness sensors, with the data collected via the new low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 standard, which has been branded “Bluetooth Smart”. Other prominent app categories include home monitoring, personal emergency response services (PERS), and remote monitoring applications.

“Downloadable apps are moving the sports tracking device market from proprietary devices to mobile phones, but adoption has been limited by the data they can collect. However, with the connectivity that Bluetooth Smart will embed in mobile handsets, wearable devices will bring greater detail to mobile handsets,” stated Jonathan Collins, ABI principal analyst, in a press release.

The report makes note of fitness device industry stalwarts, including Garmin and Polar, who recently began offering mobile applications in response to the increasing number of startups entering the fitness tracking space.

While growth in the space will be strong, revenue from mobile apps will not match up with downloads: “As applications increasingly become part of a bundle that ships with wearable devices, revenues from mobile applications will lag behind the growth in app downloads. Mobile application downloads will actually grow at nearly twice the rate of revenues between 2010 and 2016.” stated Collins.

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Read the press release below.


Glooko picks up where Lifescan left off

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 23, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIn 2009 Johnson & Johnson company Lifescan showed off a blood glucose meter that connected to the third generation of the iPhone on-stage at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. It was — and remains — one of the most high profile demos of a mobile health device. Of course, the most notable thing about that demo was that unlike most everything else you see on-stage at iPhone launch events, that Lifescan meter that connected to the iPhone never made it to market.

Anita Mathew was the Lifescan executive demonstrating the meter at the Apple event. Now, more than two years later, Mathew has left Lifescan and founded a startup called Glooko that has developed and brought to market a similar technology. Glooko, which has no affiliation to Lifescan, recently began selling a cable direct-to-consumer on Amazon for $40 that connects six of the most popular glucose meters (including Lifescan’s) to iPhones. The cable enables users to log their glucose data in a no frills app that is considered a Class I device under FDA’s MDDS guidelines.

“To be a Class 1 device, you have to put quality systems and testing in place to show that the information at point A [the meter in this case] is equal to information at point B [the Glooko app],” Mathew explained to me in a recent interview. “Information in your meter is exactly the same as information in your app from the cable — if there are 500 readings on the meter then there are 500 readings on the phone.”

Glooko’s humble start allowed it to get to market quicker.

“We hope to do more over time,” Mathew said. “This is a starting point. Our goal is to provide more features to our app, so we are not going to stop app development with this first version. We are planning to offer our patients things like charts, graphs, and coaching, all things that would make this a Class II device.”

With its seed round of funding, however, Glooko was able to create a Class I device, compatible with Apple’s devices as well as six meters — and get it to market.

“Yes, our current paradigm is just a logbook,” Mathew said. “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?”

One question I always have for those creating diabetes management solutions for the iPhone platform is: How many potential users could their app or meter have? In other words, how many people with iPhones also have diabetes?

“Of course, Apple won’t give you that figure,” Mathew said. “My estimate is that if you believe one in three people will have a smartphone and Apple has a quarter of that — you are talking about 1 million to 3 million people within the iPhone market might have diabetes. The market gets bigger when you layer on the iPad and iPod touch devices, which are kind of trending among older populations who are replacing their PCs with iPads, for example. We don’t have a native iPad app yet but that could change if there seems to be demand for it.”

My last question for Mathew was whether she thought Lifescan might resurrect the cable project that she demo’d for them at the Apple event two years ago. She was understandably hesitant to say much about her former employer, but she did say:

“Absolutely. They could do it. Would Lifescan build a cord that works with other meters? Probably not. They may. It is possible. But all of the meter companies have taken the same stance and that is that their cables will only work with their own meters.”

I am often asked about the Lifescan project at industry events. The moderator of the panel I was on at the Partners’ Connected Health Symposium even opened our panel discussion by asking about that phantom product. After more than two years, it is a relief to finally see a version of that project come to market.

Mobile supports ‘patient activation’ of clinical decision support

By: Neil Versel | Nov 23, 2011        

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Doug ThompsonMobile and wireless technologies are helping give rise to a new form of clinical decision support that’s being called “patient activation.”

“We’re making a category that really hasn’t existed,” according to Doug Thompson, a senior research director at the Advisory Board Co., a Washington-based research firm that is making a big push into healthcare of late.

“The term ‘patient activation’ can be simply defined as a patient’s ability and willingness to manage their own health and health care,” Thompson explained in a recent paper he authored, called, “Hello, It’s Your Pill Bottle Calling: Decision Support Options for Patient Activation.”

“Just as doctors and other clinicians need computerized help deciding on a diagnosis or treatment, patients need help playing the important roles in their own care processes,” the paper says. “This is where patient activation CDS comes in.”

There are four things patients can do to activate themselves, Thompson told MobiHealthNews at an Advisory Board healthcare meeting in Chicago last week. Individuals can help determine what kind of treatment they get, they can monitor their own conditions, they make the choice to comply with physician instructions and they make decisions when to seek professional care.

“We’re trying to get patients to play their role in their healthcare,” Thompson explained. Clinical decision support traditionally has referred to information delivered to physicians or other healthcare professionals. “We started thinking … hey, there actually is a category of patient activation CDS,” Thompson said. “This really is decision support to the patient, not filtered through the doctor.” Keep reading>>

HIMSS launching mobile health subgroup, mHIMSS

By: Neil Versel | Nov 22, 2011        

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Edna_BooneWith mobile healthcare growing as rapidly as it has, it was only a matter of time before the largest health IT trade group refined its efforts in this segment. That time is now.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is in the process of launching mHIMSS, its mobile initiative. mHIMSS began taking individual registrations among current HIMSS members on Nov. 2 and will start signing up corporate members Dec. 5, according to mHIMSS Senior Director Edna Boone. The subgroup’s website,, will go live in just over a week.

“Our goal is to equip our members to harness the power of mobile,” Boone tells MobiHealthNews.

mHIMSS mostly will be limited to HIMSS members, though some white papers, news and other resources will be made available to the general public, Boone says. A mobile app is in development, too.

The initiative has about 15-20 projects in the works, according to Boone, including a privacy-security toolkit specific to mobile and wireless technologies. The 2012 HIMSS annual conference, set for Feb. 20-24 in Las Vegas will, for the first time, feature a formal educational track on mobile health. Expect to see a “mobile knowledge center” on the show floor, where attendees can meet experts in mobile and wireless privacy, security, IT infrastructure and workflow.

Once again, the HIT X.0: Beyond the Edge subconference will showcase some emerging mobile technologies, too.

Next month, mHIMSS will name an advisory council to help engage various healthcare stakeholders. Boone, one of two HIMSS employees working full-time on mHIMSS, is making a point to assure that payers are involved, since the insurance industry has tended to be the missing piece in discussions about the financial viability of mobile healthcare technologies. The goal is to develop strategies for influencing healthcare policy as it relates to mobile and wireless. Keep reading>>

AT&T taps Calgary Scientific for mobile imaging

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 22, 2011        

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Calgary Scientific ResolutionMDAT&T has inked a deal with Calgary Scientific to make the imaging vendor’s FDA-cleared ResolutionMD app available to customers of AT&T’s medical imaging offering. The ResolutionMD mobile component should be available to AT&T medical imaging users sometime during the first half of next year. The FDA cleared the app in late September 2011.

ResolutionMD bills itself as a secure, cloud-based, mobile diagnostic viewer that extends desktop-based medical image diagnosis t0 tablets and smartphones.

This AT&T deal is not the first mobile operator to announce a deal with Calgary Scientific. Last year Sprint announced plans to support ResolutionMD on Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G devices.

More than a year ago and before its app had FDA clearance, Calgary Scientific announced plans to offer Resolution MD through Sprint to provide the app to physicians who own the HTC EVO 4G.. The HTC EVO 4G, which launched in June 2010, was the first phone Sprint has offered for its new “4G” network. Calgary Scientific had also partnered with Siemens, Viatronix and Sentinelle Medical to distribute Resolution MD as of last September.

“One of the largest concerns is that data stored on laptops or hand-held devices could be easily copied, putting security and patient confidentiality at risk. PureWeb, the underlying technology, uses advanced architecture that doesn’t require image data or confidential patient information to be transferred to the hand-held device. Patient or DICOM data is never removed from the on-site premises; it remains “in the cloud.” If an HTC EVO 4G or hand-held device is lost or stolen, the patient records and data remain safe,” Sprint and Calgary Scientific explained in a press release last September.

“Demand for access to current and prior patient images along with radiology reports is growing at a very high rate,” Randy Rountree, executive vice president of Global Sales & Marketing for Calgary Scientific, stated in the AT&T press release. “This requirement for image information is seen across the healthcare enterprise, in remote locations and must be available to clinicians 24 hours a day.”

More on the AT&T – Calgary Scientific deal in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Philips app measures vitals using iPad camera

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 21, 2011        

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philips vital cameraPhilips recently launched an iPad app, Vital Signs Camera, that measures the user’s heart rate and breathing via the tablet’s front-facing camera. The $0.99 app, available only for the iPad 2, is intended for entertainment purposes only.

The app measures the users heart rate by determining blood flow to the face based on the color of the users skin, and breathing rate by analyzing the motion of their chest. Users place the iPad on a table and position their face inside the marked area designated within the app.

Philips, on its website, writes that the technology has been in development for three years, and that it is licensing the tech out to third parties.

A similar project out of the MIT Media Lab was widely discussed in the press last October. (Check out the demo video posted over at Engadget here.) A speaker at this past year’s HIMSS event also mentioned similar technology.

The app is likely to have a limited user base since it works only with the iPad 2 (the first-generation iPad has no camera) currently.

To distinguish itself as app not looking for FDA clearance, a disclaimer appears in the app’s description, stating that “the Vital Signs Camera App for iPad 2 is not intended for diagnosis or for clinical measurements, monitoring or decision making. Measurements and statistics are provided for entertainment purposes only.” Many health and medical apps have similar disclaimers.

The app is also reminiscent of Azumio’s popular Instant Heart Rate app, which estimates a user’s heart rate based on the blood flowing through the user’s finger as read by the phone’s camera. That app has had more than 10 million downloads since it launched.