Investors pinpoint areas of saturation, opportunity in digital health

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 14, 2015        

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Money TreeValue-based care, patient engagement, and data analytics are three of the biggest trends in healthcare, according to a panel of health investors that spoke at HIMSS 2015 in Chicago this week. Anuj Desai, Vice President of Market Development at the New York eHealth Collaborative, Adam Koopersmith, a Partner at the Pritzker Group, and Ned Schwartz, a Partner at Drive Capital, shared some of their insights on trends in health investment and tips for companies seeking funding.

Two big trends that are shaping the sorts of companies investors bet on are value-based care and consumer-centric healthcare. Koopersmith noted that customers are both taking on more financial risk for their healthcare through changing how they interact with payers, and increasingly taking charge of their personal wellness through data-gathering connected wearables.

“As the consumer is becoming more influential in the healthcare space, a lot of the traditional B2B players, whether that’s providers or insurers, need to have a much more consumer-facing orientation, and a technology that can help them make that transition is great,” he said. Keep reading>>

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Apple’s ResearchKit now available to medical researchers

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 14, 2015        

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Parkinson mPowerApple announced that ResearchKit, its open source platform that helps researchers build medical apps and recruit patients for smartphone-based clinical studies, is now open researchers and developers.

After going live in early March, the first five ResearchKit-enabled apps have recruited over 60,000 participants collectively, Apple said.

One of the first five apps offered, called Share the Journey, was developed by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Penn Medicine, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit research organization. The app aims to analyze why some breast cancer survivors recover faster than others, why patients’ symptoms vary over time, and what can be done to improve their symptoms.

Another app already available, called Parkinson mPower study app, was also developed by Sage Bionetworks, but this one was created in partnership with University of Rochester, Beijing Institute of Geriatrics, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The mPower app aims to help users track their symptoms using activities including a memory game, finger tapping, speaking, and walking. The app will also collect data from wearable devices.

“We are delighted and encouraged by the response to ResearchKit from the medical and research community and the participants contributing to medical research,” Apple SVP of Operations Jeff Williams said in a statement. “Studies that historically attracted a few hundred participants are now attracting participants in the tens of thousands. Medical researchers all over the world are actively exploring how ResearchKit can help them study even more diseases, and we believe the impact on global understanding of health and wellness will be profound.”  Keep reading>>

18 more Apple Watch health and medical apps set to launch

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 14, 2015        

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WebMD Apple Watch app

WebMD’s Apple Watch app

The Apple Watch is set to launch in just a few days. And in the past few weeks, a number of health and wellness-focused companies have announced their soon-to-launch Apple Watch apps.

At the end of March, MobiHealthNews counted at least 19 new health and fitness apps that were announced for the Apple Watch. Since then, there’s been at least another 18.

Here are 18 more apps that that will offer Apple Watch app versions at launch (or soon after):

Walgreens — Walgreens’ Apple Watch app, which was announced at the HIMSS conference in Chicago, will focus on medication adherence. At the conference, Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens and EVP Walgreens Boots Alliance, said: “We are launching our new Apple Watch app in May. Our first iterations are designed to help patients manage their medication regimen. Patients will be alerted on the watch when it’s time to take their medication. The watch is a great way to improve med adherence, we believe, because tasks can be accomplished with a quick glance and the touch of a button.”  Keep reading>>

IBM Watson launches health unit, acquires two companies, and teams up with Apple, Medtronic, J&J

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 14, 2015        

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LifeLearn IBM WatsonIBM Watson has taken a giant step deeper into the healthcare industry with the formation of a new business unit called Watson Health and a new cloud offering called the Watson Health Cloud. The move also includes some big name partners — Apple, Johnson and Johnson, and Medtronic — and two acquisitions: Cleveland-based Explorys and Dallas-based Phytel.

Watson has been involved in healthcare since just after the technology was first introduced to the world on Jeopardy! One of its first use cases was in oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and IBM’s first Watson ecosystem partners, WellTok and MDBuyline, were also health-related. So it’s not a huge surprise that the company is now creating a full business unit dedicated to health. Watson Health will be based in Boston and will have at least 2,000 people on staff including consultants, medical practitioners, clinicians, developers, and researchers.

“Watson Health builds on years of collaborative relationships with leaders across the healthcare ecosystem,” Michael Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson said in a statement. “The groundbreaking applications of Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities by medical clients and partners clearly demonstrated the potential to fundamentally change the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery worldwide. We’re excited to broaden access to world-class technology and to work with our partners to transform health and wellness for millions of people.” Keep reading>>

Prediction: 60M US households to own a connected fitness tracker by 2019

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 14, 2015        

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Fitbit Surge smartwatch

Fitbit Surge

Sixty million US households will own at least one connected fitness tracker by the end of 2019, according to a report from research firm Parks Associates.

“Standards-based connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth/Bluetooth Smart have been key enablers for wearable mobile device platforms such as fitness trackers and smart watches,” Parks Associates Research Analyst Tejas Mehta said in a statement. “These new device platforms are leveraging Bluetooth connectivity to open up a range of applications and use cases ranging from fitness and health tracking to proximity marketing and home automation.”

In February, Parks also reported that 5 percent of US broadband households use a smart watch that offers health and fitness tracking features and 8 percent of US broadband households use a digital pedometer or activity tracker.

Mehta pointed out at the time that unless smartwatch makers can convince consumers that these devices offer features separate from their smartphone, they won’t see adoption.  Keep reading>>

HIMSS: 31 percent of providers have a non-generic patient-facing app

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 14, 2015        

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2015-Mobile-Technology-Survey-Infographic-ThumbNearly a third of healthcare providers offer organization-specific apps for their patients, according to a small survey of healthcare providers conducted by HIMSS. The 2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology survey included 238 respondents.

In addition to the 31 percent of respondents who offer a patient app, another 30 percent are in the process of developing one. And 10 percent of respondents have created an app store to distribute apps either internally or externally.

More generally, 90 percent of respondents said they use mobile devices in their organization for patient engagement. Seventy-three percent used app-enabled patient portals, but only 36 percent found that to be a “highly effective means of engaging patients”.

Two thirds of respondents (67 percent) told HIMSS that at least some amount of information from a mobile device is uploaded into their EHR, but only eight percent said all the data from mobile devices went into the EHR.

Respondents said that the most impact from mobile technology was on telehealth interventions, including remote ICUs, teleradiology services, and care coordination, including remote patient monitoring tools. Keep reading>>