Texas Medical Center, Village Capital launch program for digital health startups

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 15, 2014        

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AstmaMD_app_remindersHealth system Texas Medical Center has partnered with investment firm Village Capital to launch a program for early stage digital health companies, called VilCap USA: Health IT 2014.

The program will offer accepted startups four “intensive” four-day sessions over the span of three months to work on developing their startups. Two of the sessions will be held in Houston, TX and the other two will be held in Salt Lake City, UT. During this time, startups are provided with mentorship, business development, networking events, investors, and potential customers. Startups will be asked to assess one another and at the end of the program, the two highest-ranking companies will each receive $50,000 from Village Capital and Texas Medical Center. The startups themselves decide who earns the prize money.

Here are the twelve startups in this program:

1DocWay has developed a web-based telepsychiatry videoconferencing tool that can be used on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. The service is available in Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. The startup was previously part of an accelerator program, Dreamit Ventures.

AsthmaMD offers an app helps patients manage their asthma. It prompts them to share various metrics, such as the medications they are taking, the time they had an asthma attack and how severe it was. Users can choose to share this information with the service so that AsthmaMD can correlate the aggregated, de-identified data with environmental factors. In May, the company added a peak flow meter to be used in conjunction with the app.  Keep reading>>

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ATA rolls out accreditation program for virtual visits providers

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 15, 2014        

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ATA SealThe American Telemedicine Association today rolled out a new service for accrediting live, direct-to-consumer telemedicine services. Applications open today for ATA members and will be available for nonmembers in the coming months.

“We also very strongly support the accreditation programs operating in the hospitals and that’s an important role,” ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “But in this segment where you go direct-to-consumer, that’s an area that’s kind of wide open and really important for us to help separate the wheat from the chaff and establish some guidelines.”

The accreditation program will focus specifically on direct-to-consumer services that involve live doctor-patient interaction, Linkous said, whether that be phone or video-based. It won’t cover email consultations or pure store-and-forward plays like certain dermatology apps. The purpose will be to assure consumers and payers that the services are meeting some basic requirements for safe and responsible practice.  Keep reading>>

Hi.Q raises $5.5 million for health literacy assessment app

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 15, 2014        

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Hi.QMountain View, California-based Hi.Q raised a $5.5 million seed round led by Charles River Ventures with participation from Greylock Partners, Menlo Ventures, First Round Capital, Rock Health, and Western Technology Investments, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Hi.Q was founded by Munjal Shah, who previously founded shopping website Like.com, which was acquired by Google for a reported $100 million in 2010. This year, in May, Rock Health added Hi.Q, known at the time as Health Equity Labs, to its sixth class.

Hi.Q has developed an app that uses quizzes to assess a user’s health literacy — in a survey of 250,000 people, the company found that 21 percent of American consumers had “sufficient knowledge to take control of their health”.

“The last hundred years were spent increasing the linguistic literacy of the world — in the next century, our challenge now is to increase the world’s health literacy, and the Hi.Q assessment is the first step in reaching that goal,” Shah said in a statement. “I realized that the first step is not to just go and count your steps, but rather to gain the knowledge and skills needed to manage your own health.”  Keep reading>>

In-Depth: News, novel quotes, and notable trends from the mHealth Summit 2014

By: MobiHealthNews | Dec 12, 2014        

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The MobiHealthNews team spent the past week at HIMSS’ mHealth Summit, which was located just outside of Washington D.C. In case you missed the event or were too busy to follow along while you were there and could use a review, we’ve got you covered. The in-depth report that follows is a collection of some of the more provocative comments we heard both on-stage and off. We’ve also rounded up much of the news announced at the event and linked out to some of our previous coverage from the past week. Let us know what we missed in the comments section below.

Most everyone’s excited about CMS’s $42/patient/month: On the reimbursement front, one change coming in 2015 that was brought up a number of times during conversations at the mHealth Summit was that CMS would begin reimbursing physicians $42 per patient per month for providing virtual visits and other remote care. We heard that a number of digital health companies expect big things from that new revenue channel next year — and in the years to come.

Why one investor argues insurance companies aren’t great customers right now: During a thoughtful panel session that included three venture capitalists on-stage, Dr. Stephen Block, General Partner, Canaan Partners said: “Payers are all looking at their business models now and saying, ‘what we historically did for insurance — we are very, very good at managing risk, providing insurance through employers, processing claims — but we all know that there probably is a new business model that we are going to have to evolve to.’ And they are all experimenting on the edges and trying to figure out what they are going to be doing in the future. It’s different in different regions and obviously there are some national payers who are very experienced and have a lot of resources. I’ve seen some, like Aetna, be very active the last couple of years, and take on some small company investments, start things in-house, and try to be entrepreneurial. But they didn’t actually have a lot of success, and they started retrenching pretty heavily in the last year, and pulling back. They are also trying to deal with other problems, with pricing, with the exchanges and what not. So I don’t think they’re necessarily great customers right now.”  Keep reading>>

Pager, University of Rochester offer two takes on a 2014 house call

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 11, 2014        

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Dr. Richard Boxer

Dr. Richard Boxer

There’s more than one way to do a house call. That was the takeaway from a discussion of two very different mobile health initiatives that shared the stage at a panel I moderated this week at the mHealth Summit.

Dr. Richard Boxer, the former chief medical officer of Teladoc, spoke about his new startup Pager, which literally sends doctors to the doors of patients who have called for a doctor via a mobile health app. Verizon’s Nancy Green and the University of Rochester’s Dr. Ray Dorsey presented on a fully virtual program to provide specialist care to Parkinson’s patients in their homes and nursing homes.

“In the 1930s, 40 percent of patient-physician encounters were house calls and in the 1950s 10 percent were,” Dorsey said. “There were two factors that led to the demise of the house call. The first was transportation. Transportation became increasingly available and affordable so patients could seek care on their own. The second was advances in diagnostics. We heard about X-Rays, EKGs, blood work, and urinalysis. All those things when they first were developed were tied to the hospital. Now, 70 or 80 years later we’re seeing both those things being disrupted. So transportation’s being disrupted by telecommunications, which increasingly allows us to connect to anyone anywhere, and then point of care diagnostics are letting companies like Pager do X-Rays, EKGs and blood work in people’s homes.” Keep reading>>

CellScope’s iPhone-enabled otoscope, remote consultation service launches for CA parents

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 11, 2014        

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Oto_Home_CellScopeParents in California who have children who get chronic ear infections will soon have a more convenient way to get their kids care.

San Francisco-based CellScope, a Khosla Ventures-backed Rock Health alum, has begun taking preorders for its FDA registered smartphone-enabled otoscope, called Oto Home. The director-to-consumer device is priced at $79 and will ship in four to six weeks. A feature-rich, $299 version of the system, called Oto Pro, is also available for preorder now to physicians located anywhere in the US.

The small smartphone peripheral device slides onto a specialty case that fits iPhone 5 and 5s phones and leverages the devices camera and recording capabilities. After placing one of the company’s custom soft tips on the scope (or, if a physician is using it, any otoscope tip they have in the office), the parent or physician uses the companion app to begin recording a session. After inserting the Oto into the child’s ear canal, the app’s software recognition feature called the Eardrum Finder begins directing them to move and tilt the scope to capture the visuals a physician will need to attempt a diagnosis.

After removing the scope from the child’s ear canal, the user ends the recording session and enters in any symptom data, time of last ear infection, and some basic data about the child. The session can then be sent to a remote physician who will review the video and data before placing a phone call to the parent within two hours. If necessary and the physician is comfortable making a diagnosis with the information provided, a prescription can then be sent to the parent’s pharmacy of choice.

The preordered devices include one free remote consultation with a physician, the Oto Connect service, but each session costs $49 thereafter. CellScope is starting with California as regulations vary state-to-state for telemedicine services, but it expects to rollout its services to consumers in other states in the future.  Keep reading>>