Walgreens app adds pill reminders, Rx transfer

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 12, 2012        

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Walgreens Prescription iPhone appRetail pharmacy chain Walgreens added two new features to its mobile health app: medication reminders and prescription transfers via barcode scans. Without citing specific numbers — other than that its mobile user base was in the millions — Walgreens said adoption of its mobile apps grew 500 percent last year.

One of the app’s new feature, called Pill Reminder, aims to help Walgreens iPhone mobile app users track their medication schedules and receive alerts. The alerts can be scheduled  nine different ways, including daily, hourly, weekly and more customizable ways. According to Walgreens: “Reminders can be set up simply by scanning a prescription barcode and selecting alert preferences. Users can also add multiple prescriptions, vitamins and other supplements to a single reminder notification.”

The other new feature for the mobile app is called Transfer by Scan. This one makes it easier for Walgreens mobile app users on iPhone and Android to transfer a prescription from another pharmacy to Walgreens in just two steps: “Patients can complete transfers simply by taking a picture of their prescription bottle and providing their name, date of birth and phone number, then sending to Walgreens with one quick click.”

In late 2010 Walgreens launched its refill by scan mobile app feature, which enabled users to refill their prescriptions via their smartphones by scanning their medication bottle’s barcode with their smartphone camera. By March 2011 Walgreens said the scanning feature had already become the dominate way that Walgreens mobile app users refilled their prescriptions. Last October Walgreens enabled text message-powered prescription refills. (Sort of backwards isn’t it — scanning barcodes first then almost a year later, SMS?)

Walgreens began offering its Prescription Ready Text Alerts service, which notifies customers when a prescription order is ready for pickup, in March 2010. It counted 1 million users a year later. By March 2011 it counted more than 2 million users.

“Mobile is an important channel for us and brings great opportunities for technology innovation and providing pharmacy features to millions of our mobile customers,” Sona Chawla, Walgreens president of E-commerce, stated in a press release. “We’ve extended the convenience of Walgreens pharmacy through a number of intuitive, easy-to-use tools that can be very effective in helping patients better manage and improve their overall health.”

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

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Ginger.io snaps up Rock Health startup Pipette

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2012        

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Pipette Mobile Health AppGinger.io, a behavioral analytics company that spun out of the MIT Media Lab, announced this week that mobile health startup, Pipette, will be folded into Ginger.io. The company adds both Pipette’s software and its two founders.

Notably, Pipette was a part of the San Francisco-based Rock Health incubator program, where it developed mobile health offerings that enable hospitals and care teams to monitor and educate patients during recovery with an aim to “reduce complications and lower the cost of care by enabling early intervention of high-risk patients,” according to the company. Pipette’s offerings were available to smartphone, tablet and desktop users as well as those using SMS-capable phones.

“The Pipette team understands the problem of patient-reported outcomes for re-admissions in healthcare,” Anmol Madan, co-founder & CEO of Ginger.io stated in a release. “By combining their expertise with our passive sensing model, we can improve our models of patient behavior based on passive data. This helps us provide researchers with better data, and providers and payers with population management solutions that lead to better care for chronic patients.”

Two former Microsoft colleagues, Ryan Panchadsaram and Jimmy Do, founded Pipette. Both Panchadsaram and Do will join Ginger.io. At Microsoft Panchadsaram was the program manager for Outlook for Mac 2011. He also previously worked at Salesforce.com and cofounded SeventyK, a nonprofit young adult cancer advocacy group. Do was a developer at Microsoft who worked on MSN’s web rendering framework and front end web services.

Ginger.io is developing software for mobile devices that aims to give pharma companies and providers detailed data on patient behavior to more effectively target new drugs and therapies. Ginger.io describes mobile phones as “powerful social sensors” that, when combined with “machine learning and data mining to passively collect and analyze subtle signals of behavior change” care providers, pharma companies, and researchers can better understand the social, physical, and mental health of users.

As of last October, Ginger.io was working with healthcare providers and two of the “top five” pharma companies. It had been previously reported that the startup’s technology has also been used to study inflammatory bowel disease by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The company received $1.7 million in funding last October. Investors include True Ventures, Kapor Capital, ENIAC Ventures, and Launch Capital.

The Ginger.io platform is expected to become available in limited release by the middle of this month.

For more details on the Pipette team joining Ginger.io, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

Year-end: 1M new US smartphone users a week

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 8, 2012        

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Screen shot 2012-03-07 at 11.09.06 PM

Source: Asymco

By the fourth quarter of 2012, there will be 1 million new smartphone users in the United States each week, according to analysts over at Asymco. The analyst group has been tracking monthly metrics offered up by comScore for the past two years, which yielded the surprising prediction. January saw a still very impressive 767,000 new smartphone users each week on average, down from the 1.5 million weekly adds in December but up from the unusually low numbers for November (less than 500,000 each week).

Asymco also noted that “a significant 35 million” US consumers switched to smartphone during the past 12 months. According to the firm, about 43 percent of people 13-years-old and older now have smartphones for personal use. That percentage does not include business purchases (oddly). The firm predicts that 50 percent of people in the US will have smartphones by the end of June 2012.

Google’s Android now counts about 50 million smartphone users in the US, while the iPhone has about 30 million users. There are now about half as many BlackBerry users (15 million) as iPhone users, according to the firm. Those using smartphones running some kind of Windows number less than 5 million.

The dominant platforms, Android and iPhone, are continuing to make gains while their rival’s user bases shrink, according to the firm.

Here’s how Asymco sums it up: “The two trends that continue are that overall penetration is nearing saturation and that two platforms seem to be increasing their share of that base. The ‘comeback story’ for any of the hopefuls will depend either on switching users away from their current platforms of trying to engage with late adopters. The first option is daunting due to latent network effects related to platforms and the second sounds to be symmetric to existing incumbent strategies.”

Many more interesting charts and figures in this Asymco post.

More on Happtique’s health app certification process

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 8, 2012        

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HapptiqueIn January Happtique, a healthcare-focused appstore, announced its plan to create a certification program for apps that would help the medical community determine which of the tens of thousands of health-related mobile apps were clinically appropriate and technically sound. The company has tapped a multi-disciplinary team to develop its certification program — a practicing physician, nurse, patient, technologist, and an expert in healthcare credentialing and certification are all onboard. The program, which is expected to be up and running within six months, will be open to all developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

This week Happtique’s certification process team published a letter to the mobile health industry that explained its initial thoughts on the project ahead. Here’s how the team has conceived its initial set of issues for the review process:

“For the app review process, we will be considering a range of issues, including how apps will be submitted for review; how apps will be assigned to reviewers, as well as reviewer credentials, recruitment, and compensation; length of certification and requirements (if any) for recertification; feedback on apps that don’t qualify for certification; and certification fees,” Happtiques panel wrote.

The panel will also review apps for performance — both whether the apps are clinically and technically sound. Here’s how the panel has describes that aspect:

“With respect to performance standards, we will be focusing on such issues as the source of the app’s content (e.g., clinical/evidence basis and/or sponsor); the extent to which the app does what it’s designed to do; how well the app functions from a technical perspective (e.g., reliability, usability, malware); if relevant, how well the app addresses security and privacy issues; and value from the end-user perspective (e.g., healthcare professionals, patients).”

More details on Happtique’s certification process in the open letter to the industry below: Keep reading>>

Norway grants $9.9M to mHealth Alliance for maternal health

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 7, 2012        

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Text4babyPhoneThe Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) has committed $9.9 million to the mHealth Alliance to help it create grant competitions for innovative mobile health services that aim to improve women and children’s health. Maternal health has been an area of focus for mHealth services: Text4Baby, a free, SMS-based health service for new and expectant mothers is perhaps one of the most well-known mobile health services to launch in the US.

The funds will help the mHealth Alliance run the program for three years during which the mHealth Alliance, which is hosted by the United Nations Foundation, will award grants to mobile health organizations that demonstrate a “capacity to scale up evidence-based mHealth interventions that improve health outcomes,” the organizations wrote in a press release.

“Some of the poorest countries are making significant reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality,” stated Tore Godal, co-chair of the Innovative Working Group and Special Advisor for Global Health to the Prime Minister of Norway. “But there is still much work to be done. The use of mobile technology demonstrates how innovation creates unprecedented potential for scale-up. With two out of three mobile users living in developing countries, these grants are critical to global health and development – important parts of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those related to women.”

“Mobile phones make participation possible for women to access the health care they need, including family planning, birth, child care, and survival,” Godal continued.

The mHealth Alliance competition is now “open to applications from public-private partnership-driven projects that have the potential to improve women’s and children’s health and reduce their risk of dying in developing countries,” according to the alliance. These projects must also “have evidence of positive outcomes from a pilot or early phase development” and “are ready for scale-up.”

Last year’s award winners are now launching their mobile health services in Ghana, India, and Uganda. More details in the press release below: Keep reading>>

AirStrip CEO looks to decentralize data with mobile platform

By: Neil Versel | Mar 7, 2012        

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AirStrip CardiologyIt might have been hard to stand out among the 1,123 exhibitors at the recent 2012 HIMSS conference two weeks ago, but AirStrip Technologies somehow did.

As MobiHealthNews Editor Brian Dolan reported, the San Antonio-based developer of remote monitoring apps recently landed separate investments from two heavyweights, namely the Qualcomm Life Fund and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Feb. 21, the first day of HIMSS started, AirStrip said that it would incorporate Diversinet authentication and encryption technology into its apps, likely allowing the company to sell its products to the Military Health System.

One day later, AirStrip expanded its existing partnership with GE Healthcare by announcing a collaboration on AirStrip Patient Monitoring, an app that sends data and waveform imaging from telemetry monitors to clinician iPads and iPhones in near real time. GE’s Carescape network, a connectivity platform that helps integrate biomedical devices into hospital information systems, serves as the hub.

The two companies are positioning AirStrip Patient Monitoring as a form of clinical decision support that helps critical care physicians keep closer tabs on more patients than they otherwise would be able to without the technology. It also will help nurses in critical care units of hospitals track down physicians much faster when a patient monitor sounds an alarm.

The new app builds on an earlier joint offering, AirStrip Cardiology, an app that delivers digitally enhanced electrocardiogram images and reports to smartphones and tablets. “We are capturing clinical data and putting it on a mobile device,” AirStrip CEO Alan Portela said in an interview at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas. “The concept is to decentralize data. Clinicians do not have to be tied to one location.” Keep reading>>