Healthrageous scoops up $6.5 million to personalize health coaching

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 15, 2012        

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HealthrageousBoston-based Healthrageous, which spun out of Partners Health Care in 2008, has announced a $6.5 million second round of funding from North Bridge Venture Partners, Egan-Managed Capital, Long River Ventures, and an undisclosed investor. The health coaching platform company has now raised more than $15 million in funding, including a $6 million first round of funding, which it announced in 2010 at the time it rebranded from HopSkipConnect. The same three investors participated in that first round.

Healthrageous plans to use the funds to enhance its user interfaces (both on the web and through its mobile app), analytics engines, and machine learning platform. The company expects this to make the program more personalized for users. Healthrageous’ offerings aims to help users prevent and self-manage chronic conditions by incorporating goal setting, health journey maps, gaming dynamics, biometric feedback, and interactive digital coaching that includes inspirational messages, challenges, trackers, reminders, and more.

When Healthrageous first came out of beta its sales strategy appeared to be appealing directly to employers, while this still appears to be a key customer group for the company it has also begun working through health plans like Highmark, which is sponsoring a six-month trial at Acosta Sales and Marketing, a self-insured company in Jacksonville, Florida, for diabetes self-management. That pilot leverages Healthrageous’ partnership with Telcare for its cellular-enabled glucose meters.

MobiHealthNews caught up with Healthrageous CEO Rick Lee just a few weeks ago to discuss the company’s strategy and Highmark pilot — revisit that interview here.


Pariscribe bets on Microsoft Surface for mobile EMR

By: Neil Versel | Oct 15, 2012        

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Microsoft SurfaceAt $499 per download, the most expensive piece of software in the new online Microsoft Windows Store for the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system is a mobile electronic medical record from Pariscribe, a Toronto-based health IT vendor. It also is the first EMR built for the Microsoft Surface line of tablets that will hit the market when Windows 8 is released Oct. 26.

Pariscribe introduced the product, called EMR Surface, last month, in anticipation of the latest version of Windows, which Microsoft is positioning as a more business-oriented operating system than the two platforms that hold almost a duopoly on the mobile market, Apple iOS and Android. “We feel Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 will dominate, at least in the office environment,” Pariscribe President and CEO Manny Abraham tells MobiHealthNews.

Pariscribe has been developing EMR Surface since January and testing it in physician offices since May, Abraham says.

Abraham believes Windows 8 will bridge the mobile and desktop environments better than the two major mobile operating systems, making Surface potentially more useful for enterprises than the iPad or any of a number of Android tablets. It also allows software developers to create common views on fixed and mobile computers; many organizations have struggled with translating a PC view to a tablet screen.

EMR Surface, like other Pariscribe products, is available in the U.S., but not yet certified for “meaningful use,” though Abraham says testing is underway and the EMR should have 2014 certification in the next couple of months. The new 2014 certification standards cover both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the federal health IT incentive program.

EMR Surface, which is intended for primary care, is the first mobile offering from Pariscribe, and there are more in the pipeline. Abraham promised specialty medical and dental versions around the beginning of 2013. The specialty EMR will, like its desktop equivalent, have full support for medical imaging through Pariscribe’s existing picture archiving and communications system (PACS) suite.

Pariscribe also is working a kiosk-style clinic patient check-in system for Surface tablets that will sell for $249.

ZocDoc adds remote check-in for doctors appointments

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 11, 2012        

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ZocDocLast week New York City-based online appointment booking site ZocDoc added its first new product since its launch: Remote check-in. On its company blog ZocDoc heralded the launch of ZocDoc Check-In as “the end of the clipboard”. The company said that making the tedious check-in process easier and remote has been the top request from its user base since launch.

Up until now ZocDoc has focused simply on helping patients find nearby doctors, gain access to their schedules, and book appointments online. Now ZocDoc users will take it one step further and get at least some of their basic medical history information into the doctor’s office system before they arrive on-site and are handed the check-in clipboard.

ZocDoc is offering Check-In as a free feature for its patients — just like the rest of its service — and as of this week the feature will be available to about 10 percent of the company’s users. When making an appointment online, ZocDoc will inform the patient that this particular doctor has enabled Check-In and invite them to enter in medical background information, insurance details, and more. The information is then saved so that the next time the user books an appointment, they don’t have to re-enter it if there have been no changes.

This feature, of course, means ZocDoc will know much, much more about its users.

Other companies have worked to make the check-in process easier or more engaging. Phreesia offers medical practices tablet devices that come pre-loaded with check-in software, payment mechanisms, and sometimes relevant advertisements for patients to review when they check-in once they arrive on-site at the doctor’s office. Another company, Digital Assent, raised $7.5 million last year for its tablet-based check-in offering, PatientPad.

Once Check-In is fully deployed, payment seems like a likely next step for ZocDoc.

Cerner adds Nuance voice recognition to mobile EHR suite

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 11, 2012        

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Cerner's MPages appKansas City-based health IT company Cerner announced this week plans to embed Nuance Communications’ cloud-based medical voice recognition into all of the mobile-enabled versions of its electronic health record offerings, including PowerChart Touch, which it launched at HIMSS in February. Cerner believes the voice recognition technology will help clinicians capture more complete notes when meeting patients, better navigate apps on their mobile devices, and more easily search for information while on the go.

Voice recognition technologies have long aimed to help smartphone and tablet devices overcome usability challenges around inputting data. When the iPad and other consumer tablets began making their way into the enterprise, the devices were often decried as devices best suited for consuming content, but less suitable for entering data.

Cerner’s deal with Nuance also includes a specific integrtation between Nuance’s radiology reporting suite, PowerScribe 360,and Cerner’s RadNet Radiology Information System (RIS). Radiologists using Cerner’s software will be able to dictate reports now that get integrated to their patient records in real-time, according to the two companies.

More about the deal in the announcement.

Weight Watchers taps Philips for activity tracking

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 11, 2012        

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11b5Rn7cqdL._SL500_AA300_For the past few months Weight Watchers has been quietly working with Philips to offer its members a way to track their own activity, which can earn them points that can be swapped for additional food points. Catherine Ulrich, SVP of, took the stage at the Health 2.0 conference here in San Francisco with Philips DirectLife General Manager Gopi Koteeswaran to demo ActiveLink. During her comments onstage Ulrich stressed that while ActiveLink is an activity monitor, Weight Watchers views it more as a behavior change tool.

ActiveLink includes a small, simple accelerometer-equipped device — that closely resembles the original Philips DirectLife in design — as well as an online portal where Weight Watchers members can review their initial activity assessment, set goals, and convert activity into PointsPlus, which can be redeemed for more or different kinds of food.

Like the original DirectLife, the ActiveLink device needs to be plugged into the Weight Watchers member’s computer to upload data and sync to the ActiveLink site. The portal offers 12-week challenges that aim to increase activity for ActiveLink users over time. The activity monitoring data also syncs up with other Weight Watchers offerings, including its very popular weight loss app, which it developed with partner Mobiquity.

According to the Weight Watchers website, the ActiveLink device costs $39.95 and can be purchased directly from the weight loss company’s website. The service also includes a $5 monthly fee.

The Weight Watchers deal with Philips DirectLife group marks a considerable win for the activity monitoring arm of the Dutch giant. Philips first introduced its DirectLife product in 2009 at the TEDMED conference, but the device and accompanying service has remained relatively quiet since. DirectLife is smaller than most other activity tracking devices on the market and has stood out as one of the few truly waterproof devices — users can dive with them, the company has said in the past. When it first launched in 2009 reviewers lauded its simple and seemingly indestructible design as well as its easy to follow coaching program. The device lost marks for not being “cool looking” or including much of a feedback loop on the device itself. It has no screen and only features a series of green dots that light up. ActiveLink appears to have a similar mechanism.

More on ActiveLink over at the WeightWatchers site here.

USC Center for Body Computing to create digital health incubator

By: Neil Versel | Oct 11, 2012        

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Dr. Leslie SaxonThe University of Southern California’s Center for Body Computing is the latest to set up an incubator/accelerator for wireless and digital health startup businesses.

CBC Founder and Executive Director Dr. Leslie Saxon dropped this news Friday morning as she opened the center’s sixth annual Body Computing Conference on the USC campus in Los Angeles.

Plans are still in the early stages, and the school is not going to rush. “We want to create something real, not just a name on a building,” Saxon elaborated in an email to MobiHealthNews. “So we have been in discussions with different USC schools, centers, and experts. We’ve been concentrating on creating an effective organizational innovation structure that fits our ideals.”

Saxon said the planned “acceleration center” will be looking for scalable innovations to solve various health problems, either from within USC or from people who have approached the Center for Body Computing for assistance.

“We are a very organic organization and we have a start-up mentality and innovators realize that we get things done,” Saxon said. “More and more innovators are coming to us because of our stellar reputation so we felt we needed to create an innovation structure for different digital health solutions, including drug product lines.”

She stressed the multidisciplinary, collaborative spirit that the CBC has tried to foster since its establishment in 2010 and that Saxon has been pushing since before she held the first Body Computing Conference in 2007. “Innovators come to us for a variety of reasons, including our ability to bring a multidisciplinary approach to a product idea and our deep medical expertise,” Saxon added.

Last week, Lisa Suennen a founding partner of healthcare investment firm Psilos Group Managers, wrote that the health IT industry is at risk of being flooded with incubators and accelerators supporting too many mediocre companies. “All you need is an iPhone, a Starbucks card and a golden retriever and you can declare yourself a cloud-based offering that has declared war on the way things have always been done,” Suennen offered.

Saxon conceded that there are a lot of incubators in health IT and the broader healthcare and technology markets, though she suggested that the USC one might be different from some of the incubators in that the university is developing a lot of the ideas in-house.

The proliferation of incubators is not necessarily a bad thing, either. “Yes, it sometimes feels like there is a naïveté among many incubators who don’t always appear to go very deep and promise a lot, but isn’t it good that people want to change the world for the better?” she asked. “We are the type of center that embraces anything that helps the greater good, from cell therapies to fun apps.”

Saxon said that she is still working to identify funding sources and organizational structure for the incubator. “We are very careful about staffing, however. Our organization has a start-up + core expertise + idealistic ethos that we must maintain,” Saxon said in the email.

There are plans to commercialize some products that USC researchers and partners are working on, though Saxon is not ready to discuss specifics.