The road ahead for health games

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 12, 2011        

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3-douglas-goldstein-president-iconecto-gaming4healthHealth games have the difficult task ahead of them to be fun, yet taken seriously by physicians, according to a panel held at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. last week. The panel, “The Evolution of Gaming and its Effect on Prevention and Wellness,” included Dr Ravi Komatireddy (West Wireless Health Institute), Iana Simeonov (University of California, San Francisco), Debra Lieberman (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Doug Goldstein (eFuturist.net).

“How many people have mentioned happiness in previous talks [on gaming]? I think it is the missing ingredient for any solution focused on [user] engagement,” Doug Goldstein said in his opening talk. Facebook is so highly valued due to its casual gaming platform, he added, and games are popular for the positive emotions they bring players. “If you aren’t gamifying your app, then don’t ask the question of why people aren’t using it. If it’s not interesting, fun and connecting people with other people while solving a fundamental problem, then the answer is clear. This is what people are doing.”

“Mobile games have tremendous advantages in that they’re always with you, they’re networked, they have so many sensors already built in and it’s possible to add more,” Debra Lieberman said during her speech on gaming research. “It’s a game to be you — you are the game. It’s a way for you to be out in the real world, with your game being supported by technology.” Lieberman mentioned one of the University of California’s grant recipients creating an app that uses a smartphone’s camera to track food intake and have it rated by others (a very similar concept to Massive Health’s app The Eatery), and a Japanese app that has users walking to real-world locations to win virtual rewards. “We all know what we need to do to be healthy, but a lot of us feel we it’s not possible,” she added. “But by rehearsing skills in a game, you can develop that self-efficacy and change your behavior more easily.” Keep reading>>

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Workout marketplace app raises $650K

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 12, 2011        

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GAIN fitnessGAIN Fitness raised $650k in seed funding this week, led by InterWest Partners, Keith Rabois, Ben Ling, Michael Tanne, Brent Hurley, Seraph Group and others. The company offers an in-app marketplace for personalized workouts designed by professional trainers.

GAIN’s free iOS and web application allows users to purchase personal fitness regimes from professional trainers. A major update to the app, expected to be released in January, will include the ability to purchase trainer-designed “packs” focusing on “specific fitness goals” (fat loss, muscle gain, etc.), usage scenarios (gym, on-the-road, or at home), fitness levels (off-the-couch to advanced athlete), and more.”

The company claims over 600k users have used the app since its initial release earlier this year. Additional trainer partners will be added to the app when its major update arrives next year.

The market for sports and fitness apps will cross $400 million in 2016, according to recent 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.

“Personal trainers are the most effective way to get in shape — more individualized based on goals and abilities than videos or programs — but too expensive for most,” stated Michael Tanne, serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor, in a press release. “GAIN’s solution leverages mobile devices and cloud services to make personal training more affordable and available, allowing millions more people to achieve healthier lifestyles.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Doctor uses iPad to re-program implanted cardiac devices

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 9, 2011        

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Remote-Reprogramming-SystemA Florida hospital has developed a system for wireless real-time monitoring and reprogramming of cardiac devices, including pacemakers and defibrillators, using an iPad. A doctor can suggest changes to a cardiac device’s settings, then relay the information for a nurse in the hospital to execute using a touchscreen laptop.

The apparent pitch: Save time and money by enabling specialty trained physicians to remotely program implanted cardiac devices. The system might lead to fewer facility visits by the medical device maker’s tech team and aims to save time for the patient and on-site medical staff, too, since the remote programming supposedly takes just minutes.

E. Martin Kloosterman, MD, Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory and Chief of the Cardiology Department at Boca Raton Regional Hospital developed the technology.

Using the system, a physician can use an iPad to remotely access the information display of a cardiac device programmer. A nurse can then follow the physician instructions for adjusting the cardiac device’s settings using a touchscreen laptop called a remote-K-viewer. Previously, a representative of the cardiac device programmer company had to operate the machine, while the new system requires very little experience to successfully operate.

“The project came to mind several years ago,” stated Dr Kloosterman in a press release. “First, the evolution of the electronic medical records disseminated computer terminals with internet connections in the medical work space allowing clinicians ready access to patient information. Then recently, the iPad emerged providing the ability to be online in seconds anytime, anywhere, allowing remote access to computer information. The combination of these two new innovations led me to the creation of the new technology: the remote-K-viewer. I designed and constructed a dedicated cart that hosts the programmer connected to a touch screen laptop with a wireless internet connection and a printer. The remote-K-viewer cart is mobile and designed to be used by nurses or non-specialized physicians with minimal training.”

Kloosterman said that the system has been successfully used to review data internationally, as well as during an airplane flight.

“The remote-K-viewer concept is a new software/hardware communication system and the first step into an inevitable direction, real time remote device management,” stated Kloosterman. We are excited [about] the possibilities that this application has to offer in regards to the development of a new generation of programmers and service models in the near future.”

Read the press release below.

Keep reading>>

7 tips for health startups raising venture capital

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 9, 2011        

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Money TreeRaising venture capital for a startup mHealth company is a difficult but not-impossible task, according to a panel of investors and industry watchers who discussed the subject at this week’s mHealth Summit.

The “Raising Capital” panel focused on tips from investors intended for young companies that are seeking funding. The panel, which included Howard Burde (Howard Burde Health Law), Beth Cohen (Blank Rome LLP), Chris Hoffman (Triple Tree), Lenard Marcus (Edison Ventures), and John Shire (Nelson Mullins) stressed the difficulty of finding funding, but that the mHealth space was definitely getting a lot of attention from investors.

Here’s a summary of the key considerations offered up by the panel:

1. Consider other sources of funding first. “There are [many options]: strategic investors, friends/family, funding from customers, Cohen said. “Always have your Plan B.”

2. A common mistake is for companies requiring capital to expect it within two or three months. A small company should plan to devote nine months to a year to the process. “When I ask how soon a company needs funding and they say ‘Oh, we have a lot of time, two or three months’, I laugh at them,” Shire said.

3. Listen carefully to your investor’s business plan. “The first words out of investors are usually, ‘What are you going to do with this money?’” Shire said. “If you’re not going to follow the plan put forth by your investors, you better have the revenue numbers to prove you’re right,” Howard said.

4. Make sure you have good advisors that will help you you understand the process.” “Know your limitations, don’t be arrogant,” Cohen said. A company going public is more difficult than ever: “The bar to being a public company today is around $200 to $250 million in revenue.” Keep reading>>

Jawbone temporarily halts making UP, offers refunds

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 9, 2011        

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JawboneUPIn response to criticism, Bluetooth headset maker Jawbone announced this week that it has temporarily ceased production of its Jawbone UP continuously-worn wristband sensor and created a full refund program for current owners. Purchasers of the $99.99 UP device can receive a $109.43 cash refund or $150 in Jawbone store credit through a dedicated website, while still being able to keep their current UP device.

The news was announced via a press release by Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman: “We recognize that this product has not yet lived up to everyone’s expectations – including our own – so we’re taking action,” he stated.

Jawbone UP launched on November 6 and was sold at national retailers including Target, Apple Stores, and Best Buy. The UP band’s sensors track steps walked, pace, calories burned, and active versus inactive time. Its sleep sensor tracks phases of sleep, hours slept, and overall sleep quality. The device plugs into a user’s iPhone to upload data into its companion app.

Upon its release, some users found issues with the wristband not holding a charge and syncing failure with the device’s buggy mobile app.

One blogger, Garrett Murray, summed up dissatisfied user’s reviews of the device, writing that “Don’t buy this piece of ****. It doesn’t work, it will fail, and the software is terrible.”

Rahman stated that charging issues came down to issues with specific capacitors in the wristband failing and that the “glitches” did not present a safety risk. He also noted that the company was listening to user feedback on the UP’s iOS app, which received criticism for its user interface and numerous bugs, and will release software updates for the app.

“We regret any disappointment we’ve created for our community of users and appreciate the trust you’ve put in us,” Rahman stated. “Our customers have always been part of our team and we’re incredibly grateful for that.”

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Read the full text of Rahmnan’s letter after the jump.

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Why the Qualcomm Life 2net launch matters

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 8, 2011        

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2netHubQualcomm has been developing its wireless health strategy for the past decade –grooming health startups along the way, supporting a number of major mobile health events, co-founding various wireless health industry associations, and lobbying policymakers on the pertinent issues. That makes its announcement this week all the more important. It also means the industry should take note of its timing. Why now? Because, after a decade of planning, Qualcomm apparently thinks that the time is right.

This week it launched a major initiative: Qualcomm Life, a new, wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, focused on wireless health. Its first product: 2net.

“2net is a cloud-based end-to-end connectivity platform that enables us to get the data to a place where it can be accessible to application developers, service providers, and other device manufacturers,” Qualcomm Life’s Vice President and General Manager Rick Valencia told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview.

“This is an enabling platform,” Qualcomm’s Vice President of wireless health, global strategy and market development Don Jones told MobiHealthNews. “It’s a b-to-b play from Qualcomm and the implication down the road here is not only making it easy to connect things to the Internet for a single device but also to make it easy for any one patient to have multiple devices simultaneously connected, simultaneously sending information, to a backend system that provides software interfaces that enable patients to self-manage and share information about their health conditions.” It’s also designed to meet HIPAA security requirements and is ISO 13485 certified.

Few companies have been as instrumental in guiding the development of the budding mobile health industry as Qualcomm, which is why its move to create a new wholly-owned subsidiary focused exclusively on wireless health this week was the biggest news to come out of the mHealth Summit.

Along with the 2net platform, Qualcomm Life is offering up four ways to connect health devices and medical information to the new platform. Qualcomm describes these as the four “gateways” to connecting to their platform: through a Class I FDA-listed, standalone gateway called the 2net Hub; an embedded cellular connectivity component; medical data sent from mobile phones; and an API that enables service integration between the 2net platform and a service provider’s own platform.

The 2net Hub is designed to be very easy to use. For one, it’s a nightlight, which is reminiscent of the gateway used by Vitality for its GlowCap medication adherence offering. When the 2net hub device is plugged in and it connects to the patient’s health device, a light turns on to indicate the connection. Qualcomm said it plans to work with device manufacturers to ship the hub with the device so that the two (or more) devices are pre-paired.

Qualcomm said that the 2net hub is the best gateway for health devices that require episodic downloading of information instead of continuous or near-real-time data transmissions. Embedding cellular makes sense for devices that require more frequent data transmissions and for data that needs to be acted upon quickly — typically critical care applications.

During the past year it seems that a new connected health device or platform has launched each week. Take your pick of wireless connectivity options — Bluetooth, WiFi, ANT+, 3G — and you can find at least one personal health device for managing each of the major chronic conditions that leverages it.

“The hub enables us to wirelessly enable existing devices that are in the market today without requiring manufacturers to go back through a development cycle or back through an FDA clearance process,” Valencia said. Some medical device companies with Bluetooth-enabled devices in the market have many patient users that have never leveraged their device’s connectivity because they don’t have WiFi or other means of connectivity at home. “This hub can connect those devices,” Valencia said.

Some of the 40 companies that have already signed on as partners for Qualcomm Life include: A&D Medical, Advanced Warning Systems, AirStrip Technologies, Asthmapolis, AT&T, BiancaMed, BodyMedia, Emergency Medical Services Corporation, Entra Health Systems, Ingram Micro, MidMark Corporation, Hello Health, Nonin Medical, Numera, ResMed, U.S. Preventive Medicine and Venture Corporation.

The Qualcomm Life 2net platform is currently available in the US, but the company plans to offer it in Europe sometime next year.

Qualcomm also launched a new $100 million fund carved out of Qualcomm Ventures and specifically set aside for wireless health investments. Five previous investments will be moved into the new fund, including Sotera Wireless, Telcare, AliveCor, Cambridge Temperature Concepts and WorkSmart Labs. That group already includes a wide variety of startups working in and around fitness, remote patient monitoring, chronic condition management, fertility issues, and more.

MobiHealthNews’ coverage of the mHealth Summit is sponsored by Preventice.