Instant Heart Rate developers snag $2.5 million

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 27, 2011        

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Azumio Instant Heart RateAzumio, the startup formed by Bojan Bernard Bostjancic and Peter Kuhar, who developed the popular Instant Heart Rate app, has raised $2.5 million in venture funding from Founders Fund, Accel Partners and Felecis Ventures. The startup plans to expand its product line, which stands at three apps: Stress Check, Stress Doctor and Instant Heart Rate.

Instant Heart Rate uses the smartphone’s camera to track color changes in the light that passes through your finger, according to Azumio’s site. Azumio claims the app has been independently tested by physicians, nurses, coaches, and EMTs. Instant Heart Rate is available for both iPhone and Android.

The app has attracted about 8 million downloads during the nine months since it launched, according to a report over at GigaOm.

“Mobile technology is fundamentally changing everything, including our approach to health,” Bostjancic told the publication. “We realized this would happen with this technology built into smartphones and we decided we wanted to provide a simple solution for bigger health problems.”

Bostjancic doesn’t believe smartphone apps will replace dedicated devices, but these apps will raise awareness about remote monitoring services in general.

The investment in Azumio isn’t necessarily the start of a trend that sees VCs funding mobile health app developers. Azumio’s founders have substantial experience in both the wireless industry and medical device industry: Bostjancic has sold previous startups to Harris Stratex and Siemens. A true serial entrepreneur. Kuhar previously developed medical devices at Modula and also developed a near-field communications mobile payment service for Halcom.

The Next Web, which first teased this funding announcement earlier this month, has an informative interview with Azumio on its strategy and product features here.

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Survey: 40 percent of docs want mobile interactions with pharma

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 26, 2011        

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Pfizer Oncology RCCAccording to a new survey from Manhattan Research, 45 percent of “ePharma” physicians would like to access pharma product information on their smartphone or iPad, according to firm’s ePharma Physician v11.0 study. The study sampled the 87 percent of US physicians whom the firm calls ePharma Physicians, or those who use digital channels for communication with pharma reps and resources. That means about 40 percent of all physicians in the US would like to communicate with pharma reps via mobile devices.

Other statistics from the study include: Physicians use online sources 66 percent of the time to access pharma product information, and 52 percent of ePharma Physicians say that it is important for them to be able to access the same source of pharma product information across PCs, smartphones and tablets.

“Physicians want access to online details and presentations about products on their smartphones and iPads – including experiences which include live elements like live video or voice,” stated Monique Levy, VP of Research at Manhattan Research in a press release. “Getting service and learning on the go seems to come naturally for busy docs.”

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Toyota demos ECG sensing steering wheel

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 26, 2011        

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ToyotaIt appears that more than one carmaker believes the automobile to be the next “platform” for health services: Toyota is developing an ECG embedded within a car’s steering wheel, reports MedGadget.

The feature is part of many in-development safety technologies the company showed during a demonstration in Japan last week. Contact sensors within the steering wheel, featuring a single-lead ECG signal, will detect abnormal heart rhythm through the driver’s hands. Toyota showed off a Prius model that showed the driver’s heart rate and ECG on the in-car navigation system display.

In May Paul Mascarenas, the Chief Technology Officer at Ford Research and Innovation, predicted that health services would become increasingly important at Ford: “We see health and wellness as a core area for us moving forward,” he said.

Thanks to research projects with Medtronic, WellDoc, SDI and others, Ford has architected three ways for mobile health services to interact with its cars: Bluetooth connectivity between the car’s computer and personal medical devices, remote access to cloud services via the car’s computer, and synching up health apps users already have on their smartphones.

Ford is also developing a heart rate sensor system embedded in the car seat that doesn’t require skin contact.

The demo from Toyota makes clear that Ford is not the only car maker eyeing healthcare. While the Toyota system is intended to alert drivers to serious heart conditions, Toyota also envisions using it as a daily health check.

Read the MedGadget article here.

Kaiser Permanente launches first iPhone app

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 26, 2011        

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KP LocatorKaiser Permanente announced this morning the launch of its first mobile application, a free iPhone app that helps people locate Kaiser Permanente care facilities nationwide. The app, KP Locator, is one part of Kaiser Permanente’s upcoming mobile strategy, which also involves a new mobile optimized version of their PHR software, My Health Manager.

KP Locator combines the Facility Directory service on Kaiser Permanente’s website with the iPhone’s GPS capabilities to search for nearby KP facilities using Google Maps, display their contact info, and list the health services offered at that location.

“Mobile solutions, like KP Locator and the upcoming mobile-optimized version of My Health Manager, mobile.kp.org, are a natural progression in delivering a high-quality care experience,” stated Phil Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer of Kaiser Permanente in a press release. “Mobile solutions also address the rising costs of health care by giving members access to routine information and services without staff intervention, making interactions more convenient, personal and effective.”

Kaiser has been rolling out mobile-based services for awhile now. They had one the earliest high profile launches of text message appointment reminders, which they piloted in 2008. The service launched in 2009.

“What I am working on is symphony of apps that brings to bear the behavioral models, incentive models and information therapies into one single construct,” Kaiser CMIO John Mattison told MobiHealthNews last year. “[Kaiser Permanente] has always been founded on wellness and disease prevention: Recently our EHR helped us to make strides in wellness, but I believe that mobile is going to be the biggest accelerator for wellness that has ever come along, because of the basic presence of cell phones. People are mobile and phones are mobile — it’s convenient.”

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Qualcomm employees compete via health devices

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 25, 2011        

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Qualcomm's Fitness Challenge Members

Source: Qualcomm

Telecom giant Qualcomm has been one of the drivers of the wireless health trend these past few years, but this month the company has demonstrated its commitment by organizing a fitness challenge for a couple dozen Qualcomm employees.

The Qualcomm Wireless Fitness Challenge (QWFC), which started earlier this month, features 32 Qualcomm employees divided into four teams. Interestingly, the teams are spread out over four countries and three continents. The groups will compete over eight weeks to increase activity and weight loss.

Each participant will use a Withings weight scale and/or a BodyMedia FIT armband to track their weight loss, calories burned, sleep and activity levels. The aggregated data will be sent to an online information platform that Qualcomm has built specifically for the challenge.

“First the wireless health team, then all 16,000 Qualcomm employees and then we’ll broaden it to corporations in several geographical regions and industry sectors. We’re on a mission to show how feedback loops and incentives can foster adoption of wireless health and fitness solutions,” wrote Rick Valencia, VP Wireless Health, Global Business Lead, Qualcomm, on LinkedIn.

Considering the many, many wellness platforms already available on the market, it is surprising that Qualcomm felt the need to build their own. Based on Valencia’s remark, however, it could be that Qualcomm plans to add yet another wellness platform to this crowded market — if the program at Qualcomm goes well, that is.

Check out this company blog post penned by Qualcomm VP of Business Development in Health & Life Sciences Don Jones.

DrChrono taps M*Modal for text-to-speech

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 25, 2011        

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dr chronoDrChrono announced this week that it had partnered with M*Modal to integrate medical speech-to-text functionality into its iPad EHR app.

Epocrates, which announced plans to develop its own EHR last year, said it was working with Nuance to integrate speech-to-text technology into its offering.

DrChrono, a free download from the App store, is one of the first EHR apps built specifically for the iPad. DrChrono also offers iPhone and Android apps (a version for Android tablets is in development), and announced they had secured $675k in funding earlier this month. (At HIMSS 2011 they also announced their acceptance into Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator incubator, which provides some funding for its startups.) With the M*Modal software integration, physicians can now dictate their notes into a Bluetooth headset, which the software will then translate into text — all from within the app.

DrChrono CEO and Co-Founder Michael Nusimow stated in a press release that the company’s “mission is to deliver an EHR that physicians will actually use. M*Modal’s ability to work on the iPad and its respect for doctors’ preferences and productivity needs made the company our choice for pioneering iPad-based speech-to-text.”

Read the full press release after the jump. Keep reading>>