Mayo: Tablets beat laptops for EEG interpretation

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 8, 2013        

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Dr. Matthew Hoerth of the Mayo Clinic

Dr. Matthew Hoerth of the Mayo Clinic

Neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona have shown that iPads can be an effective way to interpret electro-encephalograph (EEG) readings in telemedicine clinics, comparable to laptop and desktop computers. The authors concluded that in many ways the tablet even outperformed the traditional computers.

The team, led by Dr. Matthew Hoerth, presented a case study at the American Academy of Neurology annual conference in San Diego last month. The Mayo Clinic routinely uses telemedicine to offer EEG interpretation to four remote sites in Arizona including the Mayo Clinic Hospital and clinics in Kingman and Flagstaff.

The EEG, a diagnostic test for epilepsy and other neurological conditions, is administered on site at the remote clinics. Neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Pheonix then interpret the results, typically on a laptop or desktop computer. In the case study, they evaluated the use of iPads instead.

“Basically, we use the tablet device to log into a computer at these remote sites,” Hoerth said in a video explanation of the study. “We’re able to interpret these basically on the go. This allows a lot more freedom for the physicians to access the data much more quickly and easily for patients with neurologic conditions.”

The case study compared iPads to desktops and HP EliteBook laptops for the interpretation, accessing test results remotely via a thin client such as VMWare or Citrix. Researchers found that the iPad cost less, weighed less and had comparable screen resolution to both computers.

In terms of speed and performance, key efficiency considerations for doctors, the researchers found advantages to the tablet: It was significantly faster to boot up, and performance speed was comparable, even when the laptop was connected via WiFi and the iPad was connected via 4G LTE. The only disadvantage, researchers said, was the smaller screen size.

“With high volumes of EEGs, and multiple systems and facilities to read from, the efficiency of technology is essential to many physician practices,” the researchers wrote in the study abstract. “Despite the marginally smaller screen size; the ease of use, accessibility, and reliability make the use of the iPad a viable option for its integration into the tele-EEG practice.”


EveryMove nabs $3.5M, launches for Android

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 5, 2013        

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EveryMoveSeattle-based EveryMove, a startup that uses rewards to incentivize health and fitness behaviors, announced an additional $3.5 million in funding and an Android version of its mobile app, which launched for iOS in October.

The funding comes from existing investors BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Sandbox Industries, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. With their previous $2.6 million in first round funding, this brings their total funding to $6.1 million. According to CEO Russell Benaroya in a statement, the company will use the funding to expand its national marketing presence and marketing activities.

The Android app, available in the Google Play Store for free download, was frequently requested by EveryMove’s user base, according to the company’s blog. Like the existing iPhone app, it allows users to enter and track physical activities, review and comment on friends’ activities, and monitor progress toward rewards.

It also connects with other fitness apps, via various partnerships EveryMove has announced. Over the last month, the company has announced integration with fitness apps MyFitnessPal and Endomondo, as well as gym equipment maker Precor. At launch last October, the platform already integrated with RunKeeper, foursquare, and BodyMedia. Recently added rewards partners include Blue Nile, Cabela’s, Hotel Monaco and ESPN.

Benaroya told MobiHealthNews in an email that the company, a TechStars graduate, has generated $500,000 in revenue since launching and is signing on 15,000 new users per month on average.

When we wrote about EveryMove prior to launch, we described them as an employee wellness program that would be sold to companies and health plans. Despite an investor roster filled with health plans, though, EveryMove offers its apps and platform directly to consumers.

“Companies are beginning to hold employees accountable for their personal health in order to manage corporate healthcare costs,” Benaroya said in a statement. “Programs like EveryMove actually engage people to achieve better health by rewarding them for their healthy activities but letting them do it on their terms, not something dictated by an employer, a health plan or the government.”

But EveryMove still has its eye on employers and health plans as a channel to drive engagement. According to the FAQ on EveryMove’s website, the company asks for employer and insurance information when users sign up, and partners with companies and insurers to offer their employees or members exclusive rewards through the platform. In effect, EveryMove appears to be an employee wellness program with a back-door strategy: Courting consumers first and bringing in their employers and health plans in, once there’s a substantial user base.

New incubator DreamIt Health launches first class

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 4, 2013        

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medlioDreamIt Health, a new Philadelphia-based, health-focused chapter of incubator DreamIt Ventures, has announced its first class of ten startups. Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and Penn Medicine are sponsoring the class and Venturef0rth is providing the working space for the companies. The new accelerator was launched in December 2012.

The startups will be provided with up to $50,000 in funding, office space, mentoring, and resources for developing and testing health-related products. The incubator will last four months, and companies will receive coaching from both entrepreneurs and health care executives. DreamIt Ventures has launched 80 companies over the past four years, including one health-related startup, 1DocWay. Supporting sponsors include global professional services company Towers Watson, and law firms Morgan Lewis, and Pepper Hamilton.

In the FAQ section on DreamIt’s website, the company discusses the need for another health-specific incubator, explaining the health-specific resources DreamIt will provide startups.

“For startups to be successful in healthcare, they need access to unusual resources typically out of reach – from … EMR systems to integrate with to big data sets of protected health information. In partnering with titans of industry such as Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross, we are opening up these resources to our companies,” the FAQ reads.

Here are the ten startups:

AirCare is developing an online and mobile app that will use video tele-nursing and patient analytics in an attempt to lower readmissions and improve patient outcomes.

Biomeme is focused on creating a point-of-care molecular diagnostic device that is low-cost and mobile, to help clinicians and epidemiologists track infectious diseases in near-real time with smartphones.

Fitly is an app that promotes healthier eating for kids with gamified mechanics. Families compete against one another to earn points by eating healthier foods, and Fitly provides meal plans, grocery lists, and even discounts. Winning families can win prizes up to and including cars and vacations, according to the company’s website.

Grand Roundtable facilitates crowdsourcing for complex patient treatment solutions within a group of professionals, and provides doctors with easier means to compare patients’ electronic records to a database of similar patients from around the world.

Medlio is an app that acts as a smart health insurance card, offering patients up-to-date information and providers more accurate front-end cost estimates.

OnShift is developing a physician messaging platform for clinicians caring for the same patient which also incorporates care analytics.

Osmosis is a web and mobile platform that uses a social learning framework to educate medical students, better preparing them to acquire and retain knowledge.

MemberRx leverages electronic health records to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals by choosing the best generic or branded drug for a specific patient n a specific case.

SpeSo Health is an analytics platform connecting patients with rare or complex diseases to online second opinions about their treatment or condition.

Stat is a service aiming to speed up patient transport and lower costs by matching providers and payers with idle transportation resources.

Asthmapolis raises $5 million from Social Capital

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 4, 2013        

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AsthmapolisMadison, Wisconsin-based Asthmapolis, which offers a FDA-cleared inhaler sensor and app for people with asthma, COPD, or cystic fibrosis, announced that it has raised $5 million in its first round of funding. The investment was led by The Social+Capital Partnership, a relatively new venture fund started by Chamath Palihapitiya, an early executive at Facebook who left to start the investment fund in 2011. Social Capital has also invested in digital health companies like Glooko and Simplee.

Asthmapolis told MobiHealthNews it plans to use the funds to build new sensors that work with the variety of inhaled medications being prescribed today. It will also use the funds to accelerate plans to secure regulatory clearances in countries outside of the US, like Canada and the UK. The new money also will help it with marketing and to ensure that people all along the socioeconomic spectrum who are dealing with a condition like asthma have access to Asthmapolis.

The company’s device is a sensor that sits atop (most) inhalers used by patients who have asthma or COPD. The sensor transmits data to a companion app on the user’s mobile phone every time the inhaler is used. The app can then track the time and location of each medication discharge, which can then be used to help patients and their care givers better understand their asthma triggers. Asthmapolis has a partnership with Qualcomm Life to ensure that people without smartphones can use their inhaler sensors, too, by synching them to the 2net hub when they’re at home.

“Until now we have been really focused on building the product and demonstrating efficacy, which we have done,” Asthmapolis CEO and co-founder David Van Sickle told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “We are in the market, as you know, and now it is time to scale up and meet these populations wherever they are. Asthma isn’t a disease of just a certain demographic or geography — it is a part of every population.”

Van Sickle said that people with asthma have various levels of technology and health literacy, and Asthmapolis does not exist “to build digital health solutions for the upper crust of the socioeconomic spectrum,” he said, “but for everybody, for the whole population.”

“My personal take is that I can care less about the technology,” Van Sickle said. “What we care about is improving outcomes to give people more asthma-free days. If that required us to send them a giant cheese basket from Wisconsin, we would go that route. You can’t go to [a payer managing a] Medicaid population and say: ‘We are only going to help your members who have iPhone 5s’.”

In the past year Asthmapolis has inked deals with a variety of healthcare organizations including Dignity Health in California, Amerigroup in Florida, and the City of Louisville.

“This is where there probably is a creative tension between my own opinion and the industry’s,” Van Sickle said, “but I don’t think patient engagement should be a goal. What the goal should be is more asthma-free days… That whole patient engagement thing I’m hoping it’s just a liminal period we go through. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be involved in their disease — but I am saying that people don’t sell washing machines with the promise that you are going to ‘engage’ in the washing cycle. You want to put your clothes in, set it to wash, and be done.”

StartUp, GE reveal 13 startups in new class

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 4, 2013        

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Caremerge_mobile_2Last January StartUp Health announced a special class of consumer health startups that would benefit from mentorship and support from GE Healthcare. Now the company has announced its first class of 13 companies (up from 10 originally announced) to participate in the 3-year program, funded through GE’s $6 billion healthyimagination initiative.

As we reported at the time, companies in the program won’t have to relocate, allowing a wider international range of companies to apply. In addition, participation in the program doesn’t guarantee a monetary investment from GE itself, just an investment of mentorship. GE will, however, hold a 2 to 10 percent equity stake in the companies, and could possibly take a closer interest in companies that catch its eye.

More than 400 companies from 22 countries applied, according to StartUp Health, and the class includes companies from the United States, Ireland, and Israel.

Although the program is nominally focused on consumer health, the companies in the new class define that category pretty broadly, and at least one company, hospital hygiene startup IntelligentM, isn’t really consumer focused at all. This is an interesting shift, considering how StartUp Co-Founder and President Unity Stoakes described the focus in a January interview with MobiHealthNews.

“This particular program is focused on consumer health,” Stoakes said at the time. “We do expect that in the future we’ll do other classes — we might do one on medtech, quantified self, companies focusing on aging solutions. This is just 10 companies of hundreds we plan on inviting in the next two years.”

In addition, many of the companies are further along than is typical for an incubator. At least a few are already members or recent graduates of other accelerators. Stoakes told MobiHealthNews in January that this is an intended feature of the program.

“We do have companies even at the idea stage, but some companies are onto their B-round,” he said, speaking about StartUp Health in general. “We’re stage agnostic, but most companies already have some traction. Oftentimes these are serial entrepreneurs, they may or may not have done something in healthcare before. We work together as a collaborative to speed up the cycle of innovation, connecting them to customers, capital and expertise.”

Here are the 13 companies: Keep reading>>

AliveCor names longtime medtech entrepreneur new CEO

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 4, 2013        

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Dan Sullivan AliveCor CEOThis week AliveCor, which offers the FDA-cleared iPhone-enabled Heart Monitor (formerly called the iPhoneECG), announced a new president and CEO: Dan Sullivan, a longtime medical device industry executive and entrepreneur. Sullivan sold his most recent venture, SuperDimension, to Covidien last year for more than $300 million. The company’s first president and CEO, Judy Wade, who served in the role from mid-2012 until the end of the year, is no longer with the company.

AliveCor announced FDA clearance of its device in early December 2012, shortly before Wade left the company. AliveCor began pre-selling the $199 clinical-quality, ECG monitor, which has the form factor of an iPhone case that fits iPhone 4 and 4S devices, directly from its website at the end of last year. It began encouraging physicians to prescribe the device to certain heart patients in early 2013.

“Last year I was reading a magazine on an airplane and saw an article about [AliveCor],” AliveCor’s new CEO Dan Sullivan told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “The article showed [the AliveCor Heart Monitor] device being used by Dr. [Eric] Topol, who’s an old friend of mine from the early days of angioplasty. So, I called Topol, asked him about it, was impressed, but then didn’t think too much more about it. I get recruiters calling all the time, but recently I got a call from one working for AliveCor, and — remembering [the article] — I took the call… and here I am.”

Sullivan said what intrigued him most about AliveCor was that its initial offering points to a massive opportunity for converged medical devices to help reduce the significant cost issues facing healthcare both here in the US and globally.

“AliveCor’s [Heart Monitor] arrived at a time when mobile technology is coming of age and when [healthcare] is facing this tremendous cost squeeze,” he said. “Having people become much more involved in their own care not only after an illness but also for wellness” has become much more important in the face of that, he said.

Sullivan’s only been with AliveCor for about a week and as such he’s not sharing much about the company’s product roadmap. He did promise that currently iOS-only AliveCor Heart Monitor will work with the various phone platforms in “the not too distant future”. AliveCor’s site promises that an iPhone 5 version of the device is expected to become available during Q2, pending an additional FDA clearance, of course.

“When I look way into the future, the opportunity is for every kid in grade school to start off their life with a personal wellness device that lets them track their blood pressure, EKG, diet, and exercise,” Sullivan said. “Obviously we’ve got a long way to go before we get there, but that is viable in the future.”