GreatCall phone to be sold in 4,000 Rite Aids, pharmacy app preloaded

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 15, 2014        

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GreatCall Touch3San Diego, California-based GreatCall, the company that makes smartphones and flip phones for seniors, has partnered with Rite Aid to distribute Great Call products in more than 4,000 Rite Aid pharmacies. In addition, as an extra facet to the partnership, the Touch3, GreatCall’s current smartphone model, will now come with the Rite Aid pharmacy app pre-loaded.

“Today’s older adults are redefining the way we age, and GreatCall’s mission is to provide them with usable solutions to keep them thriving,” Bill Yates, CMO of GreatCall, said in a statement. “Through Rite Aid, a company that shares our mission, we are bringing this vision to life. This is a critical step in a broader active aging strategy.”

By mid-October, Rite Aid customers will be able to buy GreatCall’s three major products: Touch3, the company’s newest smartphone; Jitterbug5, their latest flip phone model, and Splash, the waterproof emergency response device the company launched in May. The devices will be set up in custom displays that include demo phones and brochures.

Rite Aid is not the first pharmacy to offer GreatCall products; Walmart and Publix pharmacies have already had them available, as do Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, RadioShack, Sears, and Shopko. Of course they can also be bought directly from GreatCall’s website.

GreatCall launched the Touch3 at the beginning of September. Like all GreatCall’s products, the $169 smartphone is pitched as an easier-to-use smartphone for seniors, with preloaded apps including health and safety apps Urgent Care, GreatCall Link, MedCoach and 5Star (the company’s emergency response app), which require additional, ongoing monthly fees in some cases. Touch3 is an Android smartphone built by Samsung.

“Our customers told us they don’t like to wade through numerous difficult-to-read screens to get to what they want,” CEO Dave Inns said in a statement at the time. “We focused on essentials, so accessing meaningful functions – help, phone, camera and text – is quicker and easier and technology becomes a key part of the solution.”

GreatCall’s Link app, which launched this past January, is for the caregivers of users of GreatCall’s 5Star service. The app shows family members information about the 5Star dedicated device, like whether the device is on or off, the battery level of the device, where the device is on a map, and if the button was pushed. It also provides family members with a record of all calls made from the 5Star device and the status of each interaction with one of GreatCall’s agents.


Almond Systems raises $9M to develop digital tools that help people eat healthier

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Almond Systems CEO Eswar Priyadarshan

Almond Systems CEO Eswar Priyadarshan

Palo Alto-based Almond Systems raised $9 million from Matrix Partners and Charles River Ventures to develop a product that helps people make healthy, personalized eating decisions.

The company’s founding team CEO Eswar Priyadarshan, VP of Creative Development Jon Altschuler,  and VP of Engineering Ravi Chittari were all previously Apple employees. Before founding Almond Systems, the group sold its previous company Quattro Wireless to Apple for $275 million in 2010.

“Our specific focus is to extract and propagate a clear, personalized signal from all the noise that surrounds us about food choices, diets, nutritional data and ever-changing medical advice/counter-advice,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We will tailor our recommendations to suit personal dietary needs: whether you’re paleo or vegan, Kosher or Halal, allergic to nuts or gluten, or simply want to ‘eat healthy’.”

To do this, the company plans to collect data about food from professionals in the food community, including nutritionists, chefs, behavioral scientists, and food bloggers and use this information provide users with insights presented in a “simple, personalized, engaging, and intuitive” way. The company explained on their blog that their product is far from having a launch date, but they do claim to have a working, early version of their product.

According to Almond Systems, its mission is to “let consumers take healthy, thoughtful and informed control of their food choices and consumption” by “enabling consumers to discover heathy food in a way that creates positive, lasting, health and lifestyle change”.


Hello Doctor raises $700K from Google, Facebook angels

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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Hello DoctorTel Aviv, Israel and Palo Alto, California-based Hello Doctor has raised $700,000, according to a report from VentureBeat. The funding is from angel investors from Facebook, Google and some undisclosed pharmacy companies. BlueRun Ventures is a previous investor in the company.

Hello Doctor is a mobile personal health record platform that allows a patient to access records from multiple healthcare providers in a single patient-facing app. The app is free and available for iPhone and iPad. The patient can make notes on the records to ask the doctor about at a later time and can organize records in a number of ways, including through a “record tagger” feature where the patient can send records to Hello Doctor and have them tagged automatically.

The platform also recently integrated with Apple’s HealthKit, allowing it to bring data in from consumer health devices in the future. The app is password-protected and allows the user to capture records with the phone’s camera and share or email them to doctor’s who might not want to look on a patient’s iPhone or iPad screen.

The company was founded in February 2013 and launched its app last October. Founder Mayaan Cohen started the company after a series of frustrating experiences with her then-boyfriend’s cancer diagnosis (he is currently in remission).

“Beyond the uncertainty and fear, the worst part of these meetings [with doctors] was trying to explain his medical condition by pulling out the relevant medical records that the doctor wanted to see out of the ‘medical binder’,” the company writes on its website. “Cohen knew that if she could not find the right document at the right time it would affect his treatment and in this case — it can even cost us his life.”

The app is still in beta. In addition to the HealthKit integration, according to the company’s FAQ page, they are working on an Android version and on features that would allow loved ones and caregivers to access someone else’s medical records (with their permission).

Home-based connected health to overtake hospital-based by 2019

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor.

Sotera Wireless’s ViSi Mobile monitor.

The telemedicine market, which according to BCC Research is comprised of “telehospital” and “telehome” technologies, is expected to reach $43.4 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 percent, according to a recent report from the firm.

According to BCC, the telehospital market refers to “services that are provided within or between hospitals, clinics or other healthcare providers”, while the telehome market consists of remote monitoring devices for out patients.

“In the near to midterm, telemedicine technologies offer one of the few ways of enabling healthcare personnel to meet the increased demand for healthcare services without unacceptable delays or service rationing,” BCC Research healthcare analyst Andrew McWilliams said in a statement. “The growing adoption of telemedicine services is expected to significantly impact larger markets such as healthcare, health insurance, home care, telecommunications (telecom), networking, disease management, e-health, and healthcare IT.”  Keep reading>>

Despite six-month delay, Scanadu has only lost 100 backers

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTThere seems to be a pattern emerging among health and fitness devices that do well on crowdfunding platforms: Break a record with your campaign, then ship your device several months late. Pebble broke Kickstarter’s funding record, then took more than a year to ship all its backer devices. Misfit Shine raised $100,000 in less than 10 hours on Indiegogo, then delayed its ship date from spring to summer.

Now Scanadu, makers of the Scanadu Scout home health scanner device that broke Indiegogo’s record for most funded project last June, has still not shipped its devices to backers, despite an initial promised date (for early backers) of March 31, 2014. The company is now saying they hope the device will ship this winter, but they are not ready to commit to a date.

“We now certainly have the benefit of hindsight,” Scanadu CEO Walter DeBrouwer told MobiHealthNews in an email. “With that hindsight, it is clear we underestimated the level of difficulty in developing a whole new category of medical product. This combination of hardware and software has never been done before, and accuracy is extremely important. We did not budget enough time at the onset for the level of testing, validation and verification that would be needed for this type of medical device, using a combination of hardware and software. In retrospect, we would have made a larger investment of our time and resources earlier in the development process focused on testing. And although we had buffers built in, we should have been less optimistic.”

The company has been extremely forthcoming about the nature of the delays on its company blog. Initial test units had a persistent accuracy problem which the temperature sensor, which turned out to be interference from heat generated by another sensor. DeBrouwer says the team had hoped it could be fixed with software alone, but they ultimately had to make small changes to the hardware. In the end, the SpO2 and blood pressure sensors also suffered from light and heat interference problems. Keep reading>>

Cigna folds GoYou into digital health coaching program Cigna Health Matters

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Cigna Health MattersCigna has developed a digital health coaching program, called Cigna Health Matters, that offers mobile tools, social media engagement, gamification, and web-based incentives. The program is available for Cigna’s 14 million US members on employer health plans.

“Cigna Health Matters integrates the latest insights and practices of the sociology of engagement, motivation and rewarding behavior change with the latest in health tools and technology,” Cigna Vice President of Product Develompent Eric Herbek said in a statement. “By combining clinical insights, health coaches, digital tools, measurement and reward engines, we have our customers’ backs to help them get on the right path, and stay on it, for better health for themselves and their families.”  Keep reading>>