Basis goes Android-first for delayed app launch

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 11, 2013        

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Basis Band syncingBasis Science, makers of the Basis Band, finally launched their first mobile app, and, notably, it’s an Android app. The app currently works on five phones, all from Samsung, but the company promises more to come.

The $199 Basis Band launched last November with Bluetooth connectivity built into all devices, but no mobile app at all. That was something of a surprising move for an activity tracker, but the device had already been in development for nearly two years. Basis’ Healthy Habits behavior change software platform has hitherto been available only as a web portal. The company announced the Android app at CES in January, slating it for the first quarter of 2013.

On their blog, the company offered a rationale for the delay. “For those who are curious about why we’re slightly delayed: Our engineers wanted to ensure that Bluetooth syncing worked well across all our supported handsets,” the company writes. “Since connectivity varies by handset and manufacturer, it took us a little bit more time to ensure that this top-requested feature worked great.”

There hasn’t been much of a consensus lately on whether it’s more important to build for Android or Apple in the activity tracking space. Misfit Wearables recently killed plans to include an Android app at launch for its Shine device, following in the footsteps of Nike, which briefly avowed that it would never develop an Android app before reportedly backing away from that assertion. Meanwhile, both Fitbit and Jawbone have launched Android apps recently to join the iPhone apps they released at launch. However, for Basis to start with Android, a platform generally considered harder and more time-consuming to develop for, especially when Bluetooth is involved, is unprecedented for such a high profile Quantified Self company.

Basis’ support of five Android devices trumps Fitbit — which supported two when it launched its Android app and now supports four — but falls to Jawbone, which announced support for 12 devices in February and now supports 14. Basis-wearing Apple fans won’t have to wait too long, though: The company says its iPhone app is in internal testing and should be out soon.

Basis’ Android app just brings the core functionality of Basis’ Healthy Habits platform mobile, but mobility does enhance the platform in several ways. The app will run in the background of the phone and sync wirelessly and automatically with the user’s Basis Band. Users can check their progress on goals throughout the day and receive notifications from the app when they meet a goal, or reminders when they’re not working hard enough toward one. This feeds very naturally into the idea of Healthy Habits.

“We call it ‘habits’ very intentionally,” Basis CEO Jef Holove said in a recent interview with MobiHealthNews. “It’s meant to reflect that these are small routines, very acheivable routines that you can build in, really specific concrete things that you can do in your life, even a busy life like we all lead, and make it habitual. And I think that’s what leads to the behavior change, which drives long-lasting improvement.”

When Basis raised $11.5 million in March in a round led by the Mayfield Fund, Holove said in a statement that the money would be used to scale and meet demand for the product. Holove recently told MobiHealthNews that Basis has finally caught up to all the initial orders for the device and is now “inviting people on the waitlist on a first-come, first-serve basis.”


Noom Walk, an all-day pedometer app for Android

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 11, 2013        

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Noom Walk Android appNew York City-based Noom launched a new Android app, a pedometer that tracks steps throughout the day while running in the background and only occupying about 3 percent of the phone’s battery life.

Noom Walk counts steps throughout the day. Because it does not leverage GPS, the app uses less battery life. After tracking steps for 24 hours, Noom Walk uses around the same battery life as a GPS-enabled app will in three minutes, the company says. The app also includes some social features to share results with others who use the app and motivate friends.

“Noom Walk is a true pedometer app — counting your steps 24/7,” co-founder Artem Petakov told MobiHealthNews in an email. “[We are] playing in a small field where [a competitor app] Moves for iOS is playing, but [Noom Walk] is about 10x more battery efficient still.”

Last December, Noom raised $2.6 million led by m8 Capital, a UK-based first that invests exclusively in mobile technologies. Other contributors included Qualcomm Ventures, Harbor Pacific Capital, and former Nexon executives. Since their conception, the company has had two high-profile seed investments of undisclosed amounts: one from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (through their iFund) and one from Qualcomm Ventures’ Qualcomm Life Fund. The company was founded in 2007 as WorkSmart Labs, but changed their name in 2011.

Noom’s portfolio includes six other healthy lifestyle apps, two of which have 18 million downloads, according to the company. The first, Noom Weight Loss Coach costs $9.99 per month and walks the user through a weight loss process, from steps walked to meals eaten while CardioTrainer is free and helps users track workouts.

While some apps within Noom’s portfolio such as Noom Weight also have the pedometer, the company pulled the pedometer feature out for users only looking to track steps. Petakov compares the difference between Noom Walk and Noom Weight to Facebook Messenger and Facebook.

Following FDA clearance Glooko relaunches mobile diabetes management offering

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 11, 2013        

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Glooko ChartsStarting next month Medicare patients with diabetes who receive their diabetes testing supplies via mail order may or may not notice any changes, but after negotiating prices down, CMS is set to start paying the mail order diabetes supply companies about 20 cents per strip beginning July 1. Glooko CEO Rick Altinger told MobiHealthNews in an interview this week that the change is actually welcome news for his company and others in diabetes management whose business models don’t depend predominantly on strip sales.

“This actually creates an opportunity for us because in the past a potential competitor would be a major meter company coming out with their own end-to-end diabetes management system,” Altinger said. And for others in the connected diabetes space, “it’s not enough to have your own Bluetooth-enabled meter” and proprietary test strips now that reimbursement dollars are falling, he said.

Altinger says that the rule has already led to layoffs and could mean billions of dollars in vanished revenues for meter companies — also known as cost savings for the overall healthcare system.

“Even those efforts that would have been formidable competitors to us are now being shutdown,” Altinger noted. “There’s a lot more reception [at the big pharma companies] toward working with third parties like us.”

Following its recent FDA 510(k) clearance, which MobiHealthNews first reported on last month, Glooko launched the next iteration of its diabetes management system, which includes a smart cable that links a variety of off-the-shelf blood glucose meters to an iPhone to extract readings to a companion smartphone app. Glooko 2.0 helps users learn more about their health condition by via analysis charts and accompanying web dashboard. If a user’s physician has opted-in to Glooko’s ProConnect program, they can send real-time, cloud-based sharing of their blood glucose data, too. Glooko now supports 19 popular glucose meters, which the company says are used by about 80 percent of people with diabetes, and it has plans to begin supporting insulin pumps soon, but would not share which companies it is working with yet.

Like many diabetes management apps, Glooko’s enables patients to log food intake, medication adherence, and activity. The app also leverages a food database that has data on 200,000 foods to make it easier for users to track their carb intake. The application also shows glucose data in graphs based on time of day, day of week, and reading below, within or above targets, too.

With the new app Glooko sees its customer base evolving. As always it aims to serve people with diabetes and their care providers, but in conjunction with those care providers or separately, Glooko sees an opportunity to work with disease management entities who can act like coaches to Glooko users. The company won’t comment on any particular deals yet, but it says one of its already announced provider customers, Scripps Health, is already using the Glooko platform to coach some of its patients.

Altinger said healthcare providers can remotely monitor their patients’ data as it updates and tell at a glance which of their patients had an event in the past two days, since those are the ones most likely to end up in the emergency rooms. Providers can then intervene at that moment or soon after instead of a month later during the next office visit. The provider might ring the patient up, find out they were unaware that the food they ate the night before was more carb heavy than they thought, and get a suggestion to leverage Glooko’s food database to get a better sense of carbs in particular food.

Another example Altinger floated was a physician might be able to review patients’ metrics for average glucose readings and look for those whose average BG has gone up by more than 10 percent in the past week. Maybe there was no single alarming event, but the average is trending up and providers might be able to check in sooner if they can monitor patients via Glooko, he said.

Altinger said Glooko is still working on a meter that connects to its supported meters on one end and has a Bluetooth-enabled dongle on the other, which connects wirelessly to the user’s smartphone. That step would enable Glooko users to review their readings without pulling out a medical device that is plugged into their phone.

“We also hope to have an Android [version of Glooko] out by the end of July or August,” Altinger said.

Invitation: MobiHealthNews midyear review webinar

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 11, 2013        


Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsLater this month, be sure to join MobiHealthNews and Kony Solutions as we discuss the mobile and digital health news and trends that made their mark during the first half of 2013. We’ll be discussing the year-to-date during our next webinar, which is set for Thursday June 27th at 2PM Eastern (11AM Pacific). (Register here — it’s free!)

It’s already clear that this year digital health has kicked into high gear with the rise of wearable devices, the increasing focus on patient engagement by healthcare providers, and the beginnings of consolidations and weaker company shutdowns.

Attendees will hear exclusive findings from MobiHealthNews premium research service, benefit from Kony Solutions’ perspective on digital health, and — as always — participate in an interactive question and answer period at the top of the hour.

Don’t miss out on the MobiHealthNews Midyear Review — sign up today!

CHCF Innovation Fund invests $1M in Asthmapolis

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 11, 2013        

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AsthmapolisThe California Health Care Foundation’s CHCF Innovation Fund announced this week that it has invested a total of slightly more than $1 million in Madison, Wisconsin-based Asthmapolis, which offers a FDA-cleared inhaler sensor and app for people with asthma, COPD, or cystic fibrosis. CHCF has made two investments in Asthmapolis over the years but the bulk of the $1 million makes up its most recent one. The asthma management company just announced a $5 million round of funding led by The Social+Capital Partnership in April.

In April Asthmapolis told MobiHealthNews that it planned 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.

In the past year Asthmapolis has inked deals with a variety of healthcare organizations including Dignity Health in CaliforniaAmerigroup in Florida, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York, and public health and retail pharmacy initiatives in the City of Louisville.

Jiff pivots to employee wellness curation

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 11, 2013        

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Jiff HOMMobile health startup Jiff, best known for its JiffPad patient education platform, has announced a partnership with Towers Watson and a pivot from provider-focused patient engagement to business-to-business employee wellness curation, with a service called Health Outcomes Marketplace.

Even when Jiff raised $7.5 million in March 2012, it noted in a press release that JiffPad was just one component of its overall strategy.

“Since the beginning, the founders’ goal was to bring what they had learned in social networking and gaming to healthcare, and they always thought they would do that through the development of a platform,” Jiff CEO Derek Newell told MobiHealthNews. “[JiffPad] was downloaded by thousands of people and used regularly by them. But JiffPad, while an interesting product, was never going to transfer to a big opportunity.”

CEO Derek Newell told MobiHealthNews that JiffPad and Health Outcomes Marketplace are both different outgrowths of a core concept, which officially launched today: a back-end platform for building digital health applications.

The Health Outcomes Marketplace is a customized app that Jiff can build for an employer, which allows their employees to choose from among a curated marketplace of wellness programs. The service is being developed on the Jiff platform in partnership with Towers Watson, a global professional services company. Newell said this will address an existing disconnect in the employee wellness field.

“Let’s just say I’m a large employer and I have 100,000 employees,” Newell said. “Fitbit comes to me, Nike comes to me, I’m just getting attacked by new entrants into the corporate wellness space that want to help me and I can’t partner with them all. It’s too complex. I need reports. I need to show my boss things are working. And these companies don’t have experience showing me outcomes. And if I want to partner with one of them, I have to give everyone a Fitbit, and maybe some people already have another device or don’t want a Fitbit. So what I do normally is I hire a third party vendor that doesn’t take advantage of any of that, and then everybody’s unhappy.”

Jiff’s marketplace curates digital health services for different health areas, such as weight loss, activity tracking, diabetes, hypertension, and stress and wellbeing. For weight loss, for instance, the app might allow employees at a single company to choose between spending their health benefit money on a Fitbit, a Jawbone UP, or a Nike+ Fuelband. The platform might recommend they download an app like Runkeeper or LoseIt!. The employee can then set a weight loss goal, which if they stay on track, can allow them to make the money back which they can spend on other health interventions. Meanwhile, the partner companies like Fitbit and Runkeeper will send their data back to the Jiff app — allowing employers to track whether employees are achieving their goals, and also providing Jiff with aggregate data they can use to curate the different services.

“We’re very willing to work with anybody,” Newell said. “What employees want and what we want is the applications and services that produce the best outcomes. We have some hints, but we don’t know what works. So part of it is getting a wide variety of partners on the platform and learning collectively as an ecosystem what’s working and what isn’t. … If [companies] aren’t producing outcomes, their ranking will go down and they’ll stop showing up on the list.”

The marketplace will also include some more traditional employee wellness functionality, including social networking and engaging in challenges with other employees on the same platform.

Newell said Jiff will be announcing its partners soon, but a couple potential partners showed up in the demo the company showed to the press. Fitbit, Withings, Runkeeper, and Walk with Friends were all visible. Newell also told MobiHealthNews the company has been in discussions with Red Bull to be one of the first employers to use the platform.