Aetna to launch international provider locator apps

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 29, 2011        

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aetna shangahiAetna plans to launch a handful of new apps within the next few weeks that allow members traveling internationally find nearby doctors, hospitals and other health care providers based on their GPS location, according to a company press release.

However, one app has already been released: Aetna Shanghai Provider Directory launched in October for iOS and Android. The free app uses the phone’s GPS to locate providers in Aetna’s Shanghai network. Similar apps for Hong Kong, the Middle East and Europe will launch over the next few weeks, according to the company. Each app will feature a listing of nearby health care providers, including address and contact information, a map view, appointment information, links to the relevant information and forms, and calendar integration.

Aetna also updated its international website for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry to recognize a user’s location and serve localized content in that region’s primary language.

“This new web functionality is a critical step in Aetna’s continued efforts to make it easier for people to access content that is relevant to them and accessible in a manner they prefer,” stated Sandip Patel, head of Aetna International, in a press release.

This past summer, Aetna launched a service that allows doctors in Aetna’s Florida network to prescribe medication electronically via smartphone or tablet and receive care recommendations for their patients. The service is supported by NaviNet Mobile Connect and is free to Aetna subscribers.

Aetna launched an SMS-powered diabetes management service this past May. At AHIP last year Aetna announced pilot results following a study of the Intel Health Guide’s efficacy as a platform for CHF patients.

Read the press release below.

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Mobile risk management provider nabs $23M

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 29, 2011        

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fixmoMobile risk management (MRM) software provider Fixmo raised a total of $23 million in its third round of funding. Previous investor Paladin Capital Group led the round, which included participation from new investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Horizons Ventures.

MRM is emerging within healthcare, including the government, as physicians express their desire to use personally-bought tablets and smartphones in their practice. In October, The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to acquire as many as 100,000 tablets, primarily for use by their medical clinicians staff, marking one of the largest such deployments by a civilian agency. The VA sought MRM vendors to help them secure the devices, as Apple iOS and Android do not currently support the federal FIPS 140-2 security encryption.

As part of the investment, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minihan and Frank Meehan will join Fixmo’s Board of Directors. Minihan is the former director of both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently a managing director at Paladin Capital Group. Meehan is the founder of INQ Mobile and a former board member of the now Apple-owned, Siri (see “Siri: iPhone’s new personal health assistant?“). Fixmo’s MRM services use an NSA-developed technology transfer agreement and collaborative research and development agreement (CRADA).

According to the company, the funding will be used to expand its line of MRM products in 2012, including Fixmo Sentinel and Fixmo SafeZone, to carriers, consumers, government agencies, and enterprises. Mobile risk management allows multiple types of wireless devices to be used securely by users in organizations while still allowing the full range of mobile features.

“We are seeing rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets by the enterprise, and a large portion of this is driven by employee liable devices. Only 30.1 percent of US companies expressly ban the use of mobile devices not issued by IT,” stated Chris Hazelton, Research Director, Mobile & Wireless for 451 Research, in a press release. “Many of today’s device management tools focus on the physical risk devices that are lost or stolen. IT must also address the increasing risk of digital threats that are targeting both employee and corporate liable devices in the enterprise.” (One such device theft of an iPad occurred at the VA this summer before its deployment).

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Canadian health plan offers mobile claims app

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 28, 2011        

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ezclaim mobileEquitable Life of Canada announced the launch of its EZClaim app for BlackBerry devices. The mobile app enables users to submit health and dental claims and receipts electronically from their mobile device. An Apple iOS version of the free app is expected to launch soon, according to the company.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) is based in Canada, too, which may account for the unusual BlackBerry-first launch. Most apps start with an iPhone launch followed by Android.

Equitable Life health plan customers who have BlackBerry devices can use the EZClaim app today. The app officially hit the BlackBerry App World online store two weeks ago. Here’s how it works: Users enter their personal information (including that of their spouse or dependents) once and fill out the details of the specific claim. The user then can then take a picture of their claim-related receipts and upload them to the company’s servers — right from their smartphone. The company claims that 98 percent of the claims that users’ file electronically are processed within one day.

“We want to provide our plan members choice in how they submit their health and dental claims to us,” stated Karen Mason, Senior Vice President, Group – Equitable Life of Canada, in a press release. “More and more of our plan members are using smartphones and the introduction of EZClaim was in direct response to this trend.” The company cited a March 2011 survey conducted by Quorus Consulting, which found that one out of three Canadian mobile phone users own a smartphone.

In recent weeks, the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) of Australia’s released a similar SmartClaim app that allows physicians to file insurance claims from their iPhones. Users enter their HIF member details, then use the iPhone’s camera to take photos of invoices that are submitted with the digital claim.

MobiHealthNews covered the potential rise of automated paper-based processes in healthcare this summer, specifically of the rise of the phone’s camera to help automate claims processing. One mobile imaging CEO, Mitek’s James DeBello, said that “healthcare is a huge priority.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

By 2016: $400M market for health, fitness apps

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 28, 2011        

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garmin

Garmin's app, Garmin Fit

The market for sports and fitness apps will cross $400 million in 2016, according to a new report from ABI Research. The rise of apps for connected wearable fitness devices will be a primary factor in the industry’s growth (ABI predicted 80 million such sensors by 2016). ABI predicts that there will be more than 1 billion annual health-related app downloads by the year 2016.

Apps market growth will be strong over the next five years, increasingly rapidly from the $120 million market reported in 2010. Growth will be spurred primarily by sports and fitness applications replacing proprietary devices for viewing data from fitness sensors, with the data collected via the new low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 standard, which has been branded “Bluetooth Smart”. Other prominent app categories include home monitoring, personal emergency response services (PERS), and remote monitoring applications.

“Downloadable apps are moving the sports tracking device market from proprietary devices to mobile phones, but adoption has been limited by the data they can collect. However, with the connectivity that Bluetooth Smart will embed in mobile handsets, wearable devices will bring greater detail to mobile handsets,” stated Jonathan Collins, ABI principal analyst, in a press release.

The report makes note of fitness device industry stalwarts, including Garmin and Polar, who recently began offering mobile applications in response to the increasing number of startups entering the fitness tracking space.

While growth in the space will be strong, revenue from mobile apps will not match up with downloads: “As applications increasingly become part of a bundle that ships with wearable devices, revenues from mobile applications will lag behind the growth in app downloads. Mobile application downloads will actually grow at nearly twice the rate of revenues between 2010 and 2016.” stated Collins.

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For more on consumer health apps, check out our recent report in our research library.

Read the press release below.

Glooko picks up where Lifescan left off

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 23, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIn 2009 Johnson & Johnson company Lifescan showed off a blood glucose meter that connected to the third generation of the iPhone on-stage at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. It was — and remains — one of the most high profile demos of a mobile health device. Of course, the most notable thing about that demo was that unlike most everything else you see on-stage at iPhone launch events, that Lifescan meter that connected to the iPhone never made it to market.

Anita Mathew was the Lifescan executive demonstrating the meter at the Apple event. Now, more than two years later, Mathew has left Lifescan and founded a startup called Glooko that has developed and brought to market a similar technology. Glooko, which has no affiliation to Lifescan, recently began selling a cable direct-to-consumer on Amazon for $40 that connects six of the most popular glucose meters (including Lifescan’s) to iPhones. The cable enables users to log their glucose data in a no frills app that is considered a Class I device under FDA’s MDDS guidelines.

“To be a Class 1 device, you have to put quality systems and testing in place to show that the information at point A [the meter in this case] is equal to information at point B [the Glooko app],” Mathew explained to me in a recent interview. “Information in your meter is exactly the same as information in your app from the cable — if there are 500 readings on the meter then there are 500 readings on the phone.”

Glooko’s humble start allowed it to get to market quicker.

“We hope to do more over time,” Mathew said. “This is a starting point. Our goal is to provide more features to our app, so we are not going to stop app development with this first version. We are planning to offer our patients things like charts, graphs, and coaching, all things that would make this a Class II device.”

With its seed round of funding, however, Glooko was able to create a Class I device, compatible with Apple’s devices as well as six meters — and get it to market.

“Yes, our current paradigm is just a logbook,” Mathew said. “One differentiated piece is that we don’t have manual entry of blood glucose numbers. Those numbers are sucked out of the meter into [the app] via the cable,” she said. “Why do that and not just do what Glucose Buddy does? It’s a point of difference, for one, but also, if you talk to enough physicians out there, there is some skepticism among that group when a patient brings a hand written log book to them. They wonder, is it accurate enough? Did they forget to write down numbers? Or write 58 instead of 85? Or is it inaccurate because they could potentially make up numbers because they are afraid that their doctor is going to get upset with them?”

One question I always have for those creating diabetes management solutions for the iPhone platform is: How many potential users could their app or meter have? In other words, how many people with iPhones also have diabetes?

“Of course, Apple won’t give you that figure,” Mathew said. “My estimate is that if you believe one in three people will have a smartphone and Apple has a quarter of that — you are talking about 1 million to 3 million people within the iPhone market might have diabetes. The market gets bigger when you layer on the iPad and iPod touch devices, which are kind of trending among older populations who are replacing their PCs with iPads, for example. We don’t have a native iPad app yet but that could change if there seems to be demand for it.”

My last question for Mathew was whether she thought Lifescan might resurrect the cable project that she demo’d for them at the Apple event two years ago. She was understandably hesitant to say much about her former employer, but she did say:

“Absolutely. They could do it. Would Lifescan build a cord that works with other meters? Probably not. They may. It is possible. But all of the meter companies have taken the same stance and that is that their cables will only work with their own meters.”

I am often asked about the Lifescan project at industry events. The moderator of the panel I was on at the Partners’ Connected Health Symposium even opened our panel discussion by asking about that phantom product. After more than two years, it is a relief to finally see a version of that project come to market.

Mobile supports ‘patient activation’ of clinical decision support

By: Neil Versel | Nov 23, 2011        

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Doug ThompsonMobile and wireless technologies are helping give rise to a new form of clinical decision support that’s being called “patient activation.”

“We’re making a category that really hasn’t existed,” according to Doug Thompson, a senior research director at the Advisory Board Co., a Washington-based research firm that is making a big push into healthcare of late.

“The term ‘patient activation’ can be simply defined as a patient’s ability and willingness to manage their own health and health care,” Thompson explained in a recent paper he authored, called, “Hello, It’s Your Pill Bottle Calling: Decision Support Options for Patient Activation.”

“Just as doctors and other clinicians need computerized help deciding on a diagnosis or treatment, patients need help playing the important roles in their own care processes,” the paper says. “This is where patient activation CDS comes in.”

There are four things patients can do to activate themselves, Thompson told MobiHealthNews at an Advisory Board healthcare meeting in Chicago last week. Individuals can help determine what kind of treatment they get, they can monitor their own conditions, they make the choice to comply with physician instructions and they make decisions when to seek professional care.

“We’re trying to get patients to play their role in their healthcare,” Thompson explained. Clinical decision support traditionally has referred to information delivered to physicians or other healthcare professionals. “We started thinking … hey, there actually is a category of patient activation CDS,” Thompson said. “This really is decision support to the patient, not filtered through the doctor.” Keep reading>>