Aetna adds MapMyFitness, GoodRx to CarePass

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 7, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsThis week Aetna added two more mobile health app developers as partners. One is now a part of its CarePass Sync Platform, which is where it has nestled iTriage — the startup it acquired last year — as it continues to build up its ACO strategy. MapMyFitness, a fitness app developer that has a number of apps and more than 9 million users, now integrates with CarePass. Meanwhile, GoodRx — a cost transparency tool for medications — is now working with Aetna to provide data to developers looking to build apps with APIs managed by Aetna.

While I had heard some rumors that Aetna had snapped up a fitness apps company, apparently, if that happened it’s not this one. To be clear: Aetna did not acquire either of these two companies, an Aetna spokesperson told me this week: “This is not an iTriage-like acquisition,” she said. As if to make that abundantly clear, MaypMyFitness also raised $9 million in new funding this week.

Aetna has been on the prowl for other winning mobile health apps since it scooped up iTriage last year. At last month’s Health 2.0 event here in Boston Aetna said it was looking for a number of such companies to partner with and held discussions with some during the event’s Matchpoint speed dating service for companies large and small.

CarePass Sync helps move health-related data between apps enabled with the technology. Once a person has downloaded a CarePass Sync enabled app, they can choose to enable sync, and agree to give the app permission to accessed certain components of their CarePass Synch “personal health cloud”, as Aetna calls it.

“Everything else happens behind the scenes,” Aetna explains in a recent statement. “For example, go for a run and the distance is automatically added to the user’s personal health cloud; open a participating nutrition app and the calories from the run are automatically figured into the daily caloric intake.”

Aetna explains that the platform helps users more easily share information across apps to “create a personalized, coherent experience to manage their whole health”, which includes “getting care to staying well”. Aetna is looking for more mobile health tools to add to the platform. Consumers can begin using the CarePass Sync technology later this month on June 18.

The addition of MapMyFitness by Aetna is a big move for the company. In its earliest stages CarePass is already beginning to cobble together a patchwork of mobile fitness and health apps — whether through acquisition or partnership — that is unlike most other health plans’ strategies. CarePass will include a user’s fitness data, nutrition data, claims data, insurance data, information about the user’s doctors through iTriage, and other data like medications and more.

At the Health Datapalooza this week in Washington DC, Aetna’s VP of CarePass, Martha Wofford, said that next steps are to integrate data about a user’s diet, include a personal health record (PHR), and their data from the pharmacy.

“We have come to terms with the fact that to get to some of that awesomeness,” Wofford said during her remarks on the mainstage of the Datapalooza, “We actually need to bring people from outside our four walls who can think about things differently than our insurance company.”

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Care transitions app developer CareinSync raises $1.6M

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 7, 2012        

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CareinSync Carebook appCareinSync, which offers Carebook, a real-time collaborative software platform for physicians, patients, and caregivers, has raised $1.6 million in funding from HealthTech Capital, a group of angel investors, venture capital, and nonprofit foundations. HealthTech members that invested in CareinSync included the California HealthCare Foundation through its Health Innovation Fund and First Databank through Hearst Business Media’s Healthcare IT Venture Fund.

CareinSync will use the funds to bankroll its launch of Carebook, its real-time mobile care collaboration software for the emerging care transition market. Carebook aims to help inpatient and aftercare providers work together to ensure safe transitions for patients from admission to discharge and during whichever care setting is next: “It keeps the entire care team along with the patients and their caregivers in sync as the patients transition from one care setting to another,” according to the company.

Carebook features include: virtual discharge rounds with real-time notifications, a care transitions dashboard, built-in readmissions risk stratification and mitigation strategies, patient-specific discharge checklists, patient-specific multimedia education, aftercare provider communications, and post-discharge follow-up and reminders for compliance.

Carebook is available on mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, and it is available as a web-based application that works on any smartphone or browser. The company says Carebook is HIPAA compliant and supports HL7, Webservices and other standards.

CareinSync was founded by its CEO Siva Subramanian, PhD, who previously was at Avaya Healthcare Solutions as director of product management. CareinSync also has Dr. Nazima Allaudeen onboard as VP of Quality Improvement. Dr. Allaudeen has published several articles on the topic of reducing admissions, and she is a hospitalist and faculty member at the Palo Alto VA-Stanford Healthcare System. The other key member of the team is Sathi Tadi, who is VP of Engineering. Tadi has 14 years of enterprise-grade communications software engineering leadership experience.

More on the round of funding in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Broadcasting live from you: Better Health Care

By: admin | Jun 7, 2012        

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Dr. Mohit Kaushal

Dr. Mohit Kaushal

By Dr. Mohit Kaushal and Blair Levin

In the 1920’s, the government dedicated wireless spectrum to enable broadcasting for a new medium: radio. In the ‘40’s it did so with television, in the ‘60’s with satellites and in the ‘80’s, it enabled a one-to-one form of communication by dedicating spectrum to cellular phones. Now the government is dedicating spectrum for a revolutionary newcomer to the broadcasting arena—your body. The implications for health care are profound and positive.

A new FCC policy will allow more intensive use of a spectrum band for Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) devices. MBAN devices are miniature sensors that collect biometric readings—everything from heart rate to blood pressure to respiratory rate—and then transmit that data. MBAN is just taking off, but the case for using these devices is already compelling. Imagine a hospitalized patient currently tied down to her bed by a myriad of cables and monitors suddenly able to move around as wireless sensors replace the cables. Or imagine her at home wearing an unobtrusive sensor the size of a bandage that monitors her cardiac health 24/7 and issues a warning when her congestive heart failure acts up and she needs to head to the hospital. When she enters the hospital, the building automatically pings her sensor on the MBAN frequency and uploads her data directly to her records for her physician’s review.

Blair Levin

Blair Levin

Bodycasting not only improves patient comfort and care, it opens the door to huge cost-savings. Remote patient monitoring for congestive heart failure alone could save $10 billion in healthcare costs by preventing expensive trips to the emergency department and subsequent hospitalizations. Instead of an expensive and painful ambulance trip to the ER, a patient could speak with a nurse over the phone about changing her medication. With healthcare spending topping 18% of GDP, we urgently need to embrace new technologies that could cut costs.

The MBAN concept is critical to advancing what organizations like the West Wireless Health Institute call Infrastructure IndependentSM healthcare. The basic idea is that shifting from “infrastructure-heavy” care inside a hospital—which relies on large, fixed equipment–to “infrastructure-light” care at home or elsewhere enabled by sensors and remote monitoring improves the quality of care, patient comfort and lowers cost. Overtime, this trifecta of benefits lays a new foundation for a health care sector that can better serve our country’s needs.

This is not the first time that the FCC has addressed healthcare needs. It has funded broadband infrastructure for rural health facilities for over a decade, and the agency’s 2010 National Broadband Plan outlined a path for meeting a host of communications technology challenges in healthcare and identified policies for empowering the sector to unlock technology-enabled innovation, such as MBAN.

Now that the FCC has laid the groundwork for MBAN development, others must act to make it a reality. The medical device industry appears eager; representatives from GE and Philips were on hand when the FCC announced the spectrum allocation. These companies, with a host of others, will create, test and deploy the devices and technologies. Care providers must embrace these new technologies, and healthcare payors (including Medicare/Medicaid) must assure that reimbursement rules provide the right incentives to use MBAN-enabled technology.

Nor is the work in communications related health-care complete. A new generation of health related devices, such as genetic sequencing machines, utilize bandwidth capacity far beyond those available to most health care facilities; to take advantage of such technologies, government policies must enable the necessary investment.

As with any big challenge, fixing our healthcare system will take a massive, coordinated effort reaching across industries, sections of society and—perhaps most difficult—across government agencies. In being the first country to allocate spectrum specifically for MBAN devices, America once again, as it did with previous spectrum allocations, has a chance to create a new industry and lead the world in using communications networks to address the healthcare challenge.

Dr. Mohit Kaushal is the Chief Strategy Officer of the West Wireless Health Institute, an independent non-profit research institute focused on using technology to lower the cost of health care. Blair Levin is a Fellow at the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute. They previously worked together at the FCC on the National Broadband Plan, where Kaushal was Director of the Connected Health team. Blair was Chief of Staff to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt from 1993 to 1997.

MapMyFitness raises $9 million in second round

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 7, 2012        

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MapMyDogWalkMobile fitness technology company MapMyFitness announced that it has raised $9 million in its second round of funding, which was led by return backers Austin Ventures and Milestone Venture Partners. The round also included contributions from a handful of new MapMyFitness strategic partners, namely the Competitor Group and The Running Specialty Group.

While MapMyFitness did not disclose any specific revenue figures, it did state that it has doubled revenue for each of the past four years and expects to almost triple revenue by the end of 2012.

Like many companies working in mobile health and fitness, MapMyFitness says it aims to create offerings that are accessible to users of all fitness levels:

“This Series B funding allows us to continue innovating and improving our tools for people of all levels to improve their fitness, nutrition and overall health,” MapMyFitness CEO Richard Jalichandra said in a statement.

MapMyFitness recently revamped its platform by adding a “Courses” features that allows users to check-in during workouts. It also included Google Maps data like traffic patterns and weather data so users get a sense of those before going outside to exercise. The apps are available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile and iPad users.

MapMyFitness’ 9 million users log more than 200,000 health and fitness activities each day, according to the company. Those include more than 40 different sports and fitness activities. The company offers a wide variety of apps centered on particular fitness activies, including MapMyRun, MapMyDogwalk, MapMyTri, MapMyRide, and more. Interestingly, some of these apps have standing, exclusive sponsors: MayMyDogWalk, a free app, is exclusively sponsored by the car company Subaru.

This has been a busy week for MapMyFitness – the company also announced a key partnership with Aetna, which has made MapMyFitness a part of its CarePass platform.

More on the latest round of funding in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Mobile health innovators fighting some stubborn foes

By: Neil Versel | Jun 7, 2012        

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Neil_Versel_LargeI’ve necessarily been thinking a lot about patient safety in recent weeks because my dad suffered needlessly during his last month of life in a hospital with badly broken processes that resulted in poor communication and dangerously uncoordinated care.

I’ve already said how I believe mobile technology is helping to improve care by putting pertinent information in the hands of patients and caregivers, even if too many healthcare executives and physicians scared of change continue to defend the status quo. The thing is, the status quo is deeply entrenched, and it is powerful.

Here we are 11 years on from the publication of the landmark Institute of Medicine treatise, “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” which called for care to be “safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable.” I would argue that we have achieved none of those six aims, at least not consistently.

Mobile healthcare technology certainly is addressing some of those goals, as we’ve been reminded of recently. It’s nice to see more money flowing into easy-to-implement wireless technologies like real-time location systems and cutting-edge tools that can help predict debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Still, a lot of money is being wasted fighting forces that do not want to change. MobiHealthNews broke the story this week of SK Telecom Americas shutting down an employee wellness platform that paired a wireless smart pedometer with a rewards system to encourage exercise and fight obesity. The price tag, $9.5 million over three years, is minuscule compared to the $8.1 trillion the U.S. has spent on healthcare in that time period, but how many similar, consumer-focused efforts have gone down the drain? It adds up.

I’ve long been a critic of venture capitalists who don’t understand healthcare backing direct-to-consumer efforts—particularly fitness and wellness apps—because the bulk of the $2.8 trillion annual healthcare expenditures in this country comes not from the young, healthy fitness nuts, but from hospitalizations and treatment of older people with multiple chronic diseases. It also comes from employers, who foot most of the bill for insurance premiums, and SK Telecom went to employer groups that want to reduce their costs.

There is no doubt that prevention will play a major role in reining in future spending. It also will reduce income for hospitals dependent on pricey emergency care and inpatient admissions. Hospitals, like the one that kept my dad for weeks because nobody knew what was really going on, don’t like that.

Similarly, imaging centers can’t like diagnostic breakthroughs such as mobile ECGs and traditional medical device-makers have to feel at least somewhat threatened by diagnostic smartphone and tablet apps. Expect the establishment to continue to dig in their heels to protect the lucrative but inefficient—and often dangerous—status quo.

Meantime, the IOM’s aim of a safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable health system remains elusive.

Harris wins $19M VA contract for wireless infrastructure

By: Neil Versel | Jun 6, 2012        

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veteransaffairsipadGovernment IT services contractor Harris Corp. has won a two-year, $19 million contract to install secure wireless infrastructure at 26 Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, the company announced Tuesday.

Melbourne, Fla.-based Harris will design, install, validate and provide employee training for Cisco Systems 802.11g routers and access points at the 26 facilities, Wayne Lucernoni, vice president and general manager of Harris’ healthcare IT business tells MobiHealthNews. “It’s very standard wireless infrastructure,” he says.

The infrastructure will support data, voice, video and real-time location services for the VA, which has been rapidly embracing mobile technology both inside and outside its hundreds of hospitals and clinics. Though the Harris contract only covers 26 of the VA’s 152 medical centers Harris calls this project “among the largest wireless deployments in the world.” In a statement, Harris Healthcare Solutions President Jim Traficant calls the technology “a crucial element in ensuring those who serve our nation’s veterans have access to mission-essential data where and when they need it.”

Lucernoni says that this is just the first of several planned awards that will update the wireless technology at 111 VA hospitals. The department, which also operates 807 outpatient clinics, has not formally solicited bidding on further contracts just yet.

While the contract does run for two years, Lucernoni says Harris will not need that much time to get the system up and running. “We are working with the VA to deliver this in an accelerated fashion,” he says.