PwC: Care delivery disruption will spur new health economy

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 14, 2014        

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Pwc graphicNew entrants in the healthcare space are poised to disrupt the system in the next few years, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which cites the number of upstart companies in other industries — 24 — on the latest Fortune 50 list.

“Technological advances, empowered consumers, disruptive new entrants, and rising demand by an aging population are ushering in a new era in healthcare,” PwC writes in the report. “While many of those trends have been emerging for some time, never before have they been accompanied by a rapid shift in dollars, triggering major changes in behavior and fundamentally altering the business.”

The report is partly based on a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by Health Research Institute. The study found that, on top of the $2.8 trillion spent annually on healthcare, consumers were willing to spend $13.6 billion a year “on medical products such as health-related video games and ratings services”.

HRI asked consumers how likely they were to use certain hypothetical mobile health tools. Fifty-five percent said they would use an app for teledermatology, and another 55 percent said they would check vital signs at home with a phone-connected device. Using a smartphone, 47 percent would check for an ear infection, 44 percent would do an EKG test, 42 percent would do urinalysis, and 39 percent would do a video visit with a clinician.  Keep reading>>

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Halamka: Google Glass could be the new iPad for doctors

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 14, 2014        

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glass screenshotBeth Israel Deaconess Hospital has begun working with a startup called Wearable Intelligence to deploy Google Glass in the emergency department. The hospital has four Glass devices shared among 10 emergency department physicians, including CIO John Halamka, who thinks Glass has the potential to, in some ways, be the new iPad.

“So I said a couple of years ago, if you had a tablet computer with a 12 hour battery life, that can be dropped several feet without damage and can be disinfected, you’d actually have the ideal clinician device,” he told MobiHealthNews. “The iPad is good, but a little large. The iPad mini fits in a lab coat pocket, so really close. For procedure oriented specialists though, having something you wear is even better than something in a lab coat pocket, because it’s awkward to say ‘I see you’re having a heart attack, let me just go look at my mobile device and I’ll get back to you.’ It just doesn’t work to reach into a pocket or turn away from the patient to go get that data.”

Practically, Halamka doesn’t think the tablet is going away, as, for now, Glass is not a great tool for data entry. But he does expect the desktop computer to be largely replaced by a combination of smartphones, tablets, and wearable computers in the next few years.  Keep reading>>

Sportsetter raises $276,000, aims to keep workouts interesting with app

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 14, 2014        

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SportSetterSportsetter, maker of an app that helps people stick to a workout routine, raised $276,540 (200,000 euros) and launched an iOS version of its app this week, according to a report from TechCrunch. The company has been around since at least 2012.

The app helps users find variety in their day-to-day workout routines so that on any given day they could play golf, work out on a machine at the gym, participate in a yoga class, or try out a new rock gym. Sportsetter is currently available in New York City and Helsinki, Finland, where the company has offices, but the company most likely will launch its app in Berlin, London, and Miami next.

To provide users with a variety of activities, the Sportsetter partnered with facilities in the regions that they offer the app. In New York, for example, users can participate in a class at Crossfit, Crunch, or UFC. There are also classes for yoga and mixed martial arts.

A monthly membership starts at $9.99 per month and once the user subscribes, they immediately get two to four passes that they can use at different classes. Every month, the user gets another set of passes that they can use. If users don’t want a membership, individual passes cost $12. Users can also talk to Sportsetter to create a tailor-made package that suits their needs and companies can sign up if they want to offer the program to their employees.

Another app that offers a similar service, called Fitmob, informs users of indoor and outdoor workouts in their area. The more workouts the user attends, the cheaper the workouts will be. Each workout session costs $15 if the user chooses to go once a week, $10 if the user chooses to go twice and $5 if the user goes three or more times per week.

Kolibree crowdfunds its smartphone-enabled electric toothbrush on Kickstarter

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 14, 2014        

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KolibreeFour months after Paris-based Kolibree announced its smartphone-connected electric toothbrush at CES 2014, the company has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

Kolibree’s connected toothbrush has sensors that detect not only how long users brushed their teeth, but also whether they hit all the hard to reach places between gums and teeth. Kolibree wants brushing to last two minutes and the app will alert the user when time is up. Since the app doesn’t run in the background, while brushing, users can scroll their Twitter feed, watch a video, or listen to a song through Kolibree’s app.

The company plans to develop different games that children can play while brushing their teeth so they brush for longer, according to their Kickstarter page. One such game prompts children to race a car down a track and grab objects while they drive.

Stats from the user’s brushing experience are sent via Bluetooth to the mobile app, where the user can choose either to keep them private or to share them with his or her family or dentist. The app also supports multiple users so a whole family can be included in the same profile.

The brushing data will be available via an API, so third party designers can build games or other applications that use the smart toothbrush.

Early backers can purchase the toothbrush for $99 and the brushes are expected to ship October 2014, although crowdfunded projects often ship much later than their expected shipping date.

Shortly after CES, in February 2014, dental hygiene company Oral-B announced its Bluetooth-connected electric toothbrush line, SmartSeries, which will be available in Germany this spring and in the United States in June. The Oral-B companion app will be available on iOS devices in May, and on Android devices in August.

In March 2014, Oral-B partnered with Disney to launch a brushing app for children, called Disney Magic Timer App by Oral-B. While the app does not have a connected toothbrush attached, to use the app, the kids need to scan the barcode from the Oral-B or Crest Pro-Health Stages toothbrush, a product line that targets children who are going through different stages of brushing (from four months to 7 years old).

In-Depth: State of the Industry Digital Health Q1 2014

By: MobiHealthNews | Apr 11, 2014        

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The first three months of 2014 have proven to be eventful. Among arguably much more important events, Apple hired a whole lot of medical sensor experts for some unknown reason – most suspect for the rumored iWatch. More NBA players started wearing health tracking devices. The Google Flu Trends debacle got some scholarly attention. Disney helped launch a tooth brushing app for kids. Facebook bought a virtual reality company for $2 billion that it might use for remote doctor visits someday. And a company called HealBe said it had developed a device to passively track caloric intake.

Apple’s rumored digital health debut looms as others step up

Oculus RiftThe increasing number of digital health hires made by Apple fueled rumors about an iWatch and a rumored all-in-one health tracking app that Apple is reportedly working on, called Healthbook. Meanwhile, Samsung has started embedding heart rate sensors directly into their newest smartphones. And after a quiet meeting with the FDA became big news, Google announced that its moonshot lab is working on contact lenses that it hopes will be able to noninvasively monitor glucose. In the past three months Sony, LG, Virgin, and Epson also all announced activity tracking devices. At the same time passive activity tracking via smartphone apps has trended up thanks in part to the addition of the M7 chipset to Apple’s latest generation of mobile devices.

Mergers and acquisitions stay strong in digital health

During the first quarter of 2014 MobiHealthNews tracked eight acquisitions for digital health companies – almost none of which disclosed the financial details.

UnitedHealth division Optum acquires a majority stake in Audax Health Solutions. The deal “included cash, options, preferred stock, and significant working capital,” according to the companies. The near-acquisition will not affect Audax’s existing relationships with customers, including Cigna, whose CIO Mark Boxer sits on Audax’s board.

Basis Band Carbon SteelIntel confirmed rumors that it had bought Basis Science. Basis Science, the activity tracker company that makes the high-end Basis B1 Band, got snapped up by Intel for between $100 million and $150 million, according to press reports. Earlier this year Basis was reportedly soliciting Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft for a buyout at a price point below $100 million. Notably, Intel Capital became a Basis investor last October and joined the company’s board at that time. Other Basis investors included Norwest Venture Capital Partners, DCM, and Mayfield Fund. The startup raised just over $30 million in total.

AirStrip buys assets of Sense4Baby. San Antonio, Texas-based mobile healthcare company AirStrip acquired the assets of wireless monitoring startup Sense4Baby and licensed the associated technology that the startup was founded on from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction. Sense4Baby raised $4 million from the West Health Investment Fund in early 2013. The FDA-cleared Sense4Baby offering is a packaged kit that includes the wearable monitoring device and either a dedicated smartphone or tablet with pre-loaded Sense4Baby software. The company also offers providers a web-based portal that allows them to view or review all that data entered through the mobile app as well as the monitoring data. The offering is currently FDA-cleared for use by providers to conduct non-stress tests on high-risk pregnancy patients in clinical settings. AirStrip said it plans to roll out Sense4Baby to providers as planned, but it also aims to develop a version of the offering that patients can use at home.  Keep reading>>

Connected glucometer company LabStyle partners with nutrition app FatSecret

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 10, 2014        

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DarioIsrael-based LabStyle Innovations, maker of a smartphone-connected glucometer called Dario, partnered with nutrition app maker FatSecret.

Dario is a small glucose meter that syncs with a companion app. It works with Apple iPhone 5, iPads and iPods and Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Tab. The app includes a nutrition guide, logbook, insulin calculator and monitoring system. A data overview within the app displays a radial chart of blood glucose measurements. It also shows how many measurements were above, below or within the blood glucose target range and if they were before or after a meal.

“What we have seen in the market is existing players are taking a glucose meter and integrating it into a smartphone, which is using the smartphone mainly as a presentation of the blood glucose and also capturing information as a logbook,” LabStyle Innovation CEO Erez Raphael told MobiHealthNews. “We, as a company, took the solution two steps forward. We thought that by providing a smart software with pattern recognition and good user experience, we could create some stickiness of users to our app and also provide them with a level of personalization that will help them define exactly what to do next and how to take care of themselves better.”  Keep reading>>