Independence Blue Cross gears up to launch apps

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 4, 2012        

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konyPhiladelphia-based insurer Independence Blue Cross (IBC) will release multiple mobile applications using Kony’s middleware development platform, called KonyOne. The platform enables developers to create scalable apps that work across a number of devices and operating systems.

Kony’s Write Once, Run Everywhere technology churns out apps that natively run on various operating systems, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Java ME, Symbian, webOS. It works via mobile sites, too, of course. Kony says the platform enables apps to run on more than 9,000 different types of smartphones, tablets, kiosks and computer devices.

IBC plans to develop both simple web-based information resources and “more complex native applications”. IBC already offers a mobile site called IBX that helps members find doctors, verify referrals, compare the prices of medications, track spending, view health history, and apply for a temporary ID card. The insurer offers HMO, PPO, Medicare, and Medicaid plans that cover 3.2 million members and processes some 22 million claims each year.

“The Kony Platform lets us create mobile web applications as well as native apps and provides us with a standardized platform across all of our business units,” stated Michael Yetter, director of eBusiness at IBC, in a press release.

This isn’t Independence Blue Cross’ first move into mobile health. The insurer recently partnered with Healthrageous in November. Healthrageous, which spun out of Partners Healthcare’s Center for Connected Health in 2010, offers a wellness platform that uses wireless-enabled fitness devices and apps to power team challenges among employee populations. At the time of that announcement, Yetter said that IBC was looking into developing health apps that encourage health eating and exercise.

“Healthcare enterprises have many mobile app technologies to choose from,” stated Yetter. “We chose the Kony Platform because it clearly demonstrated that we could get to market quicker, reach the broadest range of smart devices, and lower our overall development and maintenance costs. Kony also allows us to reach a wider audience and meet the consumer on their mobile platform of choice — we will no longer have to worry about operating system upgrades or new devices on the market.”

Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

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AirStrip secures CE Mark, heads to Europe

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 3, 2012        

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AirstripRPMAirStrip Technologies announced that it has received CE Mark certification to bring its mobile patient monitoring apps to Europe and other markets that recognize the CE Mark. AirStrip enables medical professionals to use their smartphones to gain access to vital signs, critical waveform data and other clinical information, which is sent directly from the hospital and can be viewed from virtually anywhere a cell phone or other wireless connection is available.

“This is a significant milestone that indicates our FDA-cleared solutions also meet the quality and safety standards required by the international healthcare marketplace,” AirStrip Technologies CEO Alan Portela stated in a company press release. “We have seen an incredible level of interest in bringing our applications to Europe and other territories, and we can now aggressively move forward with our expansion plans.”

The CE Mark certification is for AirStrip’s three core offerings: AirStripOB, AirStrip Patient Monitoring, and AirStrip Cardiology.

AirStrip’s initial product, AirStripOB focuses on remote monitoring of maternal and fetal vital signs. AirStrip Patient Monitoring and AirStrip Cardiology are apps that extend the companies virtual real time monitoring technology for mobile devices to a number of acute patient clinical environments, including the intensive care unit, the emergency department, the operating room, the neonatal ICU and other similar settings, according to the company.

AirStripOB was the first iPhone app to receive FDA clearance, while the company’s other offerings received clearance in July 2010. AirStrip also announced an undisclosed amount of funding from Sequoia Capital in 2010.

More recently, AirStrip inked a $4.3 million deal with Catholic West, partnered back up with GE, and added hundreds of new customers in the past year.

More on the AirStrip Technologies’ CE Mark certification in the press release below: Keep reading>>

iTriage makes HealthVault data viewable via iPhone app

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 3, 2012        

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itriagehealthvaultiTriage announced this week that it has integrated with Microsoft’s HealthVault to provide users of the location-aware symptom checker app a read-only view of their personal health records. The integration makes HealthVault data viewable via an iPhone app. iTriage expects to make a similar update to its Android app in the next few weeks.

Aetna acquired iTriage for an undisclosed sum in December; the acquisition marks one of the first exits for a high profile mobile health startup. Aetna already has plans to integrate the app into its own PHR offering, ActiveHealth, as part of its suite of offerings for ACOs.

iTriage offers a symptom navigator that helps users find nearby health facilities or physicians that could help them with their specific health issue, as well appointment booking functionality taken from the company’s acquisition of AppointmentCity this past Feburary. The iTriage app now counts more than 3 million users.

iTriage’s HealthVault support comes via the HealthVault software development kit (SDK), first announced when the service went mobile last June. (Microsoft also launched a mobile optimized layout for the HealthVault website at the time). The SDK, for Windows Phone 7 OS, iOS, and Android platforms, allows third-party developers to integrate HealthVault into their health apps’s back end.

Microsoft finally released its own official app for HealthVault in December, but that offering is exclusively for Windows 7 smartphone users. The Windows 7 app allows users to input medical data to their PHR, while iTriage’s HealthVault functionality is limited to read-only viewing.

iTriage previously included support for Google’s PHR, Google Health, which announced its closing last summer and officially ceased operations on January 1 of 2012. Users of the service can download their PHR data for transfer to other platforms such as HealthVault between now and January 1, 2013.

“PHRs offer consumers a great way to monitor their health. Our iTriage vision includes being the mobile aggregator for multiple PHRs in the future,” stated iTriage co-founder Dr Peter Hudson in a press release. “We believe today’s HealthVault PHR integration into iTriage will give consumers a convenient and easy way to access their health information anywhere, anytime.”

Read the press release below.

Keep reading>>

Can mobile apps and devices curb obesity?

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 3, 2012        

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mObesity_Cover_260This week MobiHealthNews launched its latest paid research report, mObesity: How Mobile Tools Could Help Prevent Obesity Through Weight Management Apps and Connected Fitness Devices. The report focuses on the news, challenges, and missteps made by some of the highest profile companies offering connected fitness services today. In its 65 pages, mObesity includes a roundup of a couple dozen startups working in the sector; the announced investment activity surrounding connected fitness startups in the past three years; a discussion of mistakes made (and still being made) by the current crop of wellness startups; a review of some of the efficacy and effectiveness studies about connected fitness devices; and much more.

To purchase the full report head over to MobiHealthNews research here. Check out a sneak peek of the report’s intro below:

Your ever-smarter mobile phone can’t make you lose 10 pounds. No, mobile phones are not a cure for obesity, the most pressing public health issue facing the United States today. But mobile tools can help.

For many, they already have.

Big name brands, including Nike and Weight Watchers began offering mobile-enabled fitness and dieting tools years ago. Millions of people now use them. Keep reading>>

Digitas: Pharma is missing mobile opportunity

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 3, 2012        

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Tomorrow NetworksMarty DeAngelo, vice president and director of interaction design at Digitas Health, believes that pharmaceutical companies are failing to capitalize on the rise of the mobile channel as a way to reach consumers and healthcare professionals. In a column over at MediaPost, DeAngelo claims that of the top 25 drug brands in 2010, only three had mobile websites as of December 2011.

“Plavix has a brand site for consumers, Lipitor Savings provides information to consumers about their savings program, and only Nexium has a mobile site specifically aimed at HCPs,” DeAngelo wrote. “In fact, based on recent research I’ve conducted, there are only a handful of mobile websites in all of the pharma space – 15 at my last count.”

DeAngelo chalks up pharma’s inaction to three major reasons: a lack of understanding of mobile use cases, a misunderstanding of how to convey information in a mobile context, and regulatory discomfort.

According to DeAngelo, healthcare providers look to the mobile channel to confirm what they think they already know and consumers are often looking for information about a drug brand that their physician has already prescribed them. In other words, mobile is not an acquisition channel.

While DeAngelo may be right about the lack of mobile specific websites for drug brands, there are a number of other ways that pharma companies can leverage mobile beyond mobile specific websites.

Last year, Physicians Interactive Holdings and Remedy Systems launched a mobile advertising network that serves ads specifically targeted to healthcare providers. The network is also testing health-related ads targeting consumers. The network places ads in smartphone medical apps and it launched with some 54 different apps already onboard. Pharma companies are also creating smartphone apps — we highlighted 10 such apps in a roundup we put together last January.

For more on DeAngelo’s tips for pharma companies looking to leverage mobile, check out his post here.

Former Apple exec invests in Misfit Wearables

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 2, 2012        

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Sonny VuToward the end of last year the Boston Globe’s technology columnist Scott Kirsner reported that former Apple CEO John Sculley had invested in Misfit Wearables, a new startup from the co-founder of AgaMatrix, Sonny Vu. Kirsner reported that Misfit Wearables’ first product would ship by the end of 2012 and that it had raised some $750,000 in funding so far. Investors include Sridhar Iyengar, Vu’s co-founder at AgaMatrix; John Sculley, former head of Apple from 1983 to 1993; and Vu.

As we noted in September, Sculley is already involved as an advisor at a handful of other medtech startups. He’s 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.

MobiHealthNews discussed the prospect of Vu’s next venture during an interview with him last summer, just after he announced his departure from AgaMatrix. Here’s more about Vu’s plans and perspectives from our interview: Keep reading>>