SEED Capital invests $2.3M in Endomondo

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 26, 2011        

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EndomondoEndomondo, developer of the Sports Tracker fitness app, announced this week $2.3 million in funding from SEED Capital. It is the second round of funding for Endomondo from SEED, which also contributed $800,000 this past March.

The app, which provides GPS tracking of distance-based sports, including biking, running and walking, now has 5 million downloads, according to the company.

Part of the app’s popularity stems from its wide availability on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Java phones. According to the company the app is available on more than 250 handsets and supports almost all GPS phones.

The capital will be used to increase staff (especially developers), add an office in the San Francisco Bay area, and “create scalable revenue channels to secure profitability by year end 2012.”

“People do not change their lifestyles just because their doctor tells them to exercise more or eat better,” stated Mette Lykke, co-founder, Endomondo, in a press release. “It’s not that people don’t know exercising is good for them, it’s just that they lack the motivation. We don’t believe that aggregating people’s health data is gonna do the trick alone. People will change behavior when they are motivated because something caught their interest or when faced with positive social peer pressure. When users compare themselves to their peers, especially close connections like friends and family, then the fun and social factor works for fitness and they get motivated.”

Read more in the press release below. Keep reading>>

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Zeo sleep manager goes right to the phone

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 26, 2011        

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Zeo_iphone_newZeo unveiled the Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile this week, the next iteration of its sleep monitoring offering, which connects Zeo’s sleep phase monitoring headband directly to iOS and Android devices without the need for a bedside monitor.

MobiHealthNews has anticipated Zeo’s plans to transmit directly to smartphones since May of last year.

The name of Zeo’s new device offers a clue about the company’s strategy moving forward: It’s no longer called a sleep “monitor” but a sleep “manager.” MobiHealthNews recently visited Zeo headquarters in Newton, MA to discuss the product launch with CTO and co-founder Ben Rubin.

Sleep tracking is big but sleep management is huge, Rubin said. It’s a $30 billion dollar market today and it could be five times that, in Rubin’s estimation. Expect Zeo to move more into mobile health management apps and services that have sleep as a hook: What about a mobile app and program that is focused on helping users beat jetlag while traveling internationally? Now that Zeo is more portable, such an app is likely in the works at the company.

While Zeo’s devices had been previously available at a number of electronics stores, including some Best Buys, both of Zeo’s offerings will be available at some 1,100 Best Buy stores nationwide starting at the end of October. The device will also have its own display unit at the stores. The new Sleep Manager Mobile will retail for $100, while the legacy offering will retail for $150.

Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile uses Bluetooth — not Bluetooth Low Energy — to send sleep data directly to users’ smartphones, which is viewable via a recently released free Sleep Manager app. Zeo launched its first iPhone app earlier this year, but the new app was completely redesigned, according to Rubin.

While the headband looks almost exactly the same, its guts couldn’t be more different. Zeo’s legacy model had all the processing power in the bedside display, while the new headband has the intelligence onboard. The processor coupled with Bluetooth makes for a more power-intensive device, but Rubin said that it can easily last the night and could hold its charge for at least an entire day and up to three. The device also includes an accelerometer for the first time, which enables it to track the wearer’s movement at night and determine sleep position. The accelerometer can also help refine Zeo’s algorithm. Since the processing power is local, the headband does not need to transmit continuously anymore — it sends data to the smartphone every five minutes, Rubin said.

Zeo has two main customer segments: the Frustrated Sleeper and the Health Optimizer. The frustrated sleepers are typically older, have had trouble sleeping for the past five to seven years, and are willing to pay a couple hundred dollars for a solution. The optimizer group is typically younger, knows that sleep is important to overall health, shops at Whole Foods, does yoga, etc. This group is more price sensitive, which helps explain the $99 price tag for Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile.

Rubin also showed off an option that will become available in the future for those Zeo users who have trouble sleeping with the headband around their heads: a peel-and-stick version of the sleep sensor. The one-time use, peel-and-stick backing would be thrown out each morning, but could make the device more attractive to restless sleepers who wake up in the morning to find their Zeo headband had fallen off some time during the night.

Read more from the press release below.

Keep reading>>

HealthTap takes Q&A with your physician mobile

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 26, 2011        

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HealthTapAbout 80 percent of US adults go online to look up health information, according to Pew, but very little, if any, of the information they read online comes from their own personal physicians. HealthTap plans to change that, the startup’s CEO Ron Gutman told MobiHealthNews in an interview last week.

HealthTap announced this week the launch of two new free mobile apps, called HealthTap Express — one for patients and one for physicians. The apps are now available for iPhone and Android users.

HealthTap’s initial offering is a question and answer platform that helps users find health information written by local physicians — both online and through the mobile apps. The company currently has more than 5,000 physicians signed up for “virtual practices.” Gutman said most of them found out about HealthTap from other physicians: “We launched our public beta about 20 weeks ago with 500 physicians, and we have grown it tenfold since then. The one thing we weren’t sure we could do was attract enough physicians to interact with patients online, which was never done before.”

Gutman argues that physicians will use the platform to give patients anytime, anywhere access to those frequently asked questions that come up during most patient visits. By making those answers available to current and prospective patients in the cloud, physicians can spend more time with patients on providing care rather than answering their standard FAQ in-person. Since physicians are so crunched for time — Gutman said the typical patient-physician visit is between 8 minutes and 11 minutes now — saving time by making the FAQ available elsewhere could mean a greater number of visits for physicians or more time to focus on less frequently asked questions.

“These same tips and questions are also visible by search engines and shareable through social media so all of a sudden patients especially local patients can find answers from these physicians rather than go to a website and find information from who knows who,” Gutman said. “Then they can make an appointment with that physician who answered their question because there is no longer this divide between finding information on the Internet and going to the doctor.”

HealthTap 2Gutman says that the virtual practice will help physicians provide better care for existing patients while attracting new patients to their practice. A recently added feature for HealthTap’s physician users is the “I Agree” button, which lets physicians find answers already submitted by other doctors using the platform and adopt that answer as their own, with kudos to the original MD.

“It’s great for physicians because they get content for free and the original writer gets a kudos and more exposure,” Gutman said. “When a patient comes in and can see which answer gets the most agrees by physicians, that makes that physician look good, too. This is the first time on the Internet that physicians are ranking other physicians by quality.”

Gutman says with the mobile apps making appointments through HealthTap just got a lot easier since the physician’s virtual practice page includes their phone number. Smartphones make phone numbers into click-to-call links, so appointment booking is only “one click away,” according to Gutman.

“We don’t charge for it — neither the patient nor physician is charged. We don’t have appointment booking software yet, but our mission is to help patients lead happier, healthier lives — not to improve the bureaucracy of the healthcare system,” Gutman said. “Are there some efficiencies that are more bureaucratic that we couple improve? Sure. That’s just not our focus right now.”

Last year Jeff Arnold, founder of WebMD launched his own question and answer platform called ShareCare, which seemed to have a number of similarities to Gutman’s HealthTap. One major difference, according to Gutman, is that while Sharecare has answers from individual physicians and well-known healthcare facilities it also works with partners including sponsors like Colgate-PalmOlive, Unilever, and Walgreen to answer questions. Keep reading>>

Ex-Apple CEO advises on mobile health

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 26, 2011        

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John SculleyIt should be clear to anyone who has followed the mobile health space these last few years, that Apple has created many of the go-to devices for health and medical applications. This week, news comes that ex-Apple CEO John Sculley seems to be paying even more attention to mobile health than his old colleagues in Cupertino.

“I’ve been in high-tech now almost 30 years and I watched the healthcare industry miss the personal computer revolution and miss the Internet revolution,” Sculley told Fast Company at this year’s Body Computing Conference held in Los Angeles last week. “It’s quite clear that the government and special interests aren’t going to solve our healthcare costs to the economy and that [the sector] is ripe for innovation and disruptive approaches to shift the accountability more towards the patient, and to shift over time from reimbursements to outcomes. It’s not going to happen by any one company, but I think there’s enough opportunity to change the world of healthcare that it’s attracting a lot of talent.”

Sculley is on the board of directors of Watermark Medical, developer of an in-home sleep apnea diagnostic device, and on the board of advisors at Audax Health Solutions, a consumer health startup which uses gamification and social networking for health management.

“It’s all about magic, and the magic can be Facebook, Twitter, the ability to find anything anywhere on Google,” Sculley said. “We’re at an era where technology is an invisible enabler to magic. So the real quest is if we can take the challenge of getting healthy people to focus on lifestyles that will keep them healthy and make it feel like a magical experience, and that’s why gamification is probably a piece of the solution.”

Sculley said that doctors are “notorious” for being the last to adopt “any kind of technology,” but he credits Apple with revolutionizing multiple industries with the iPad, healthcare among them, and that the platform eases “the intimidation of technology” that faced users.

Sculley also believes that entrepreneurs will drive the mHealth industry because large companies “as competent as they are… are not organized to have permission to fail… Apple does magical things, but it does magical things that are a combination of a product, a service, a system, and an experience with no compromised standards.”

Should be interesting to see what effect Sculley has at Watermark and Audax.

Read the Fast Company article here.

ZocDoc gets $25M from Goldman Sachs

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 22, 2011        

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ZocDocZocDoc announced this week that it has raked in $25 million in funding from Goldman Sachs, bringing total investment in the company to $95 million. The news comes hot on the heels of ZocDoc expanding its service to Boston last week. ZocDoc’s last round of funding came in the form of $50 million from DST Global, which made the move just last month.

ZocDoc is a free iPhone, Android, or web app that enables users to schedule dentist and doctor appointments database includes user reviews of providers, which insurance they accept, and other relevant background information to help potential patients determine the best provider for them. Users can also find out ahead of time whether they will be visiting with a physician or physician assistant. While the service is free for patients, doctors pay a $250 monthly fee to fill open appointments.

ZocDoc plans on expanding its service nationwide over the next 12 to 18 months. Is nearly $100 million in funding enough to do so?

Read the press release below for more. Keep reading>>

Report: 13K iPhone consumer health apps in 2012

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 22, 2011        

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Overall_Pie_594pxNext summer there will likely be slightly more than 13,000 health apps intended for use by consumers available for download in Apple’s AppStore, according to MobiHealthNews’ latest report: Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone. Based on an analysis of 18 months of data from Apple’s AppStore, it’s also clear the the average price of a paid health app is trending upward. Last February the average paid health app cost $2.77. As of July 2011 the average cost of a paid consumer health app was $3.21.

While MobiHealthNews predicts that there will be 13,000 consumer health apps available in the AppStore by next summer, today there are about 9,000 health apps available to consumers. While Apple’s Health & Fitness and Medical categories claim to offer thousands more apps, many of these are actually not health, medical, or fitness-related.

Given the title you’ve probably guessed that our new report, Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone, does not include a discussion or analysis of healthcare professional apps for the device platform. We are currently working on our healthcare professional apps report, which we plan to publish soon.

The number of health apps for consumers has grown at a steady, linear rate over the past 18 months. We expect it to continue on this track unless the regulatory environment changes drastically and scares off would-be developers from creating useful health apps for consumers:

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No surprise here: The largest group of consumer health apps in the AppStore are cardio fitness apps, particularly running apps, a number of which have claimed many millions of users during the past year.

For more up-to-date stats on today’s consumer health apps market, be sure to get your copy of Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone today.

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