Former Epocrates CTO raises $2M from Khosla Ventures for new health startup, Gamgee

By: Aditi Pai | May 24, 2013        

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BobQuinnThis week, stealthy mobile health startup, Palo Alto, California-based Gamgee raised $2 million from Khosla Ventures, according to an SEC filing.

The company aims to make a healthcare app geared towards people who are chronically ill, CEO Bob Quinn writes in his LinkedIn profile. Very few details about the company are known, but Quinn, former Epocrates CTO, wrote that the startup’s long term plans include helping people get their healthcare questions answered. Quinn was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Khosla Ventures from June 2012 to January of this year.

Two months ago, Gamgee raised $500,000 from two investors. Like the most recent SEC filing, the only people named on the forms were Bob Quinn and Vinod Khosla, which might suggest Quinn hasn’t yet built a team.

Last month, Khosla Ventures led a round of funding for HealthTap, a doctor question and answer startup that helps patients find physician sourced answers to their questions online or through the associated mobile app. Khosla has also invested in medical peripheral device maker CellScope, behavior monitoring and analytics startup, wearable device makers Misfit Wearables and Jawbone, iPhone ECG developer AliveCor and appointment booking app ZocDoc. This past week, former Google executive Ben Ling joined Khosla Ventures as a venture partner, according to AllThingsD.

As CTO of Epocrates, Quinn was part of the team that led the company’s ill fated attempt at developing an EHR. MobiHealthNews interviewed Quinn back in 2010 to talk about the company’s EHR plans.

Quinn based his new startup’s name on a fictional character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee, who was reliable and helpful, as he believes the app will also be.


Health and fitness apps will be key selling points for smartwatches

By: Jonah Comstock | May 24, 2013        

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Research firm ON World is predicting a fitness tracking capability will be a top consumer requirement for forthcoming smartwatches.

“Some sports and fitness markets will be disrupted by the emergence of new general purpose mobile sensing products such as smartwatches,” Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director, said in a statement. “Also, dedicated mobile sensing sports and fitness device manufacturers face intense competition from smartphones/tablets makers and app developers targeting integrated mobile device sensors.”

ON World smartwatchON World did a survey of 1,000 US consumers, asking them what factors they would consider before purchasing a smartwatch. Thirty percent cited fitness as the most important application, more than any other category. Another 18 percent listed health applications as most important. In addition, 20 percent of those consumers interested in buying a smartwatch at all were willing to pay at least $299 for a unit with integrated health and activity sensors.

ON World’s report, “Mobile Sensing: Sports and Fitness 2013″ on mobile sensing reports that 500 million mobile fitness and health sensors will ship in 2017. Two-thirds of these will be for activity tracking.

When ON World came out with its March prediction that 18.2 million health sensors would ship in 2017, they specifically excluded sports trackers, telling MobiHealthNews the category was large enough to merit its own report.

A recent report from IMS put the number of “sports and fitness monitor” shipments in 2017 at a much smaller 56 million.

ON World’s report comes out at a time of big fitness tracker news: Jawbone’s recent acquisition of BodyMedia is the first major consolidation in the tracker space, companies like Withings and iHealth Lab continue to add activity trackers to their product lines, and Bluetooth Smart is creating new possibilities for low energy wearable devices.

The report says that 150 million “mobile sensing health and fitness apps” have been downloaded, and by 2017 this number will have increased to 1.4 billion. Global cumulative revenues for mobile sensing apps and subscriptions will reach $975 million by 2017, the firm said.

iHealth Lab commercially launches fitness device

By: Aditi Pai | May 24, 2013        

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wireless sleep and activity trackerMountain View, California-based iHealth Lab, a subsidiary of Chinese medical device company Andon Health, announced a new device this week, the Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker. As part of the announcement, iHealth also formed partnerships with two fitness tracking companies, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.

iHealth’s new fitness device comes as a wristband or belt clip, and unlike most other fitness tracking devices today, you don’t have to charge it. According to the company it has a three-year battery life. It syncs to an app that allows the user to set goals, measure activity in steps, calories or distance, and keep track of diet and sleep efficiency. It costs $60 and is commercially available in the US and Europe.

iHealth also announced another product that its billing as a health and fitness device, the Wireless Pulse Oximeter January. The device measures blood oxygen saturation and tracks pulse rate data. The device then transmits the information to a corresponding app that shows trends and stores information.

Other iHealth devices include blood pressure monitors designed to help those at risk of heart disease and digital weight scales that track body fat percentage and BMI in addition to weight. In December, iHealth partnered with EHR-maker Practice fusion and productivity app, Evernote.

Although there are many health-related tracking devices on the market, Withings matches iHealth Lab almost device for device. Unlike iHealth, Withings doesn’t have a Pule Oximeter and unlike Withings, iHealth doesn’t have a baby monitor. In January Withings announced an activity tracker, but has not yet put it on the market.

Slideshow: 7 health, fitness crowdfunding projects

By: Jonah Comstock | May 24, 2013        

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Misfit Shine syncing on phone

The Misfit Shine raised $846,000 on Indiegogo in January.

Like the Misfit Shine before it, Scanadu proved this week that in digital health, the combination of a hip, hyped product and a crowdfunding platform can lead to impressive results. The company raised their goal of $100,000 in just two hours, and they’re now up to more than three times that.

Of course, not all digital and mobile health projects on Indiegogo or Kickstarter (which has quietly begun to go back on its former prohibition against health projects) achieve that level of success. Two months ago, we did a round-up of five mobile health projects on Indiegogo, and we’ve covered a number of crowdfunded companies in the meantime.

Four of the five companies in our March roundup surpassed their funding goals. The Amiigo fitness bracelet ended up raising $580,689, more than six times its $90,000 goal. The activity tracker surprised its backers by adding a previously unannounced sleep tracker shortly after the conclusion of the campaign. Breathometer, the smartphone breathalyzer, raised $138,377, more than five times its $25,000 goal. LifeBEAM’s SMART cycling helmet, an activity and heart rate tracker built into a bike helmet, raised $64,676 of its $50,000 goal. Silverline, the company refurbishing smartphones for seniors, just made their goal of $50,000, with a final total of $54,001.

The only company from our roundup that failed to meet its goal was MoodTune, a mobile game for treating depression, which raised only $1,955 out of a goal of $152,000. As did Lively, an eldercare monitoring system whose Kickstarter campaign we covered last month: they were only able to raise $15,177 of their $100,000 goal.

Other campaigns MobiHealthNews has written up recently are still ongoing, but promising. Goggle-based swim tracker Instabeat is already overfunded, with $43,823 raised out of a $35,000 goal and 25 days to go. The company’s stretch goal is $55,000. The Kinsa smart thermometer, which aims to create a realtime health map, is at $44,528 out of its $50,000 with 24 days left and the iPhone Placebo effect app is at $20,300 out of $50,000 with 31 days to go.

We’re always hearing about new mobile and digital health crowdfunding projects at MobiHealthNews. Read on for a slideshow of seven projects either currently seeking funds or recently concluded.

UPDATE: Make that eight! An astute commenter reminded us about HAPIFork, the app-connected fork that vibrates when the user eats too quickly. HAPIFork was met with some skepticism at CES in January and was mocked by Stephen Colbert shortly thereafter, but the crowd has definitely spoken: With a week to go, HAPILabs has raised $125,383 out of an original $100,000 goal.

In addition, a look at HAPILabs’ website suggests the fork is just the beginning: the company intends to introduce an activity tracker and a wristworn heart monitor.

Keep reading>>

Busy week for FDA and mobile health, but no final guidelines yet

By: Brian Dolan | May 23, 2013        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsSo far this past week was a busy one for those at the FDA’s device office focused on mobile medical app regulation. No, it didn’t release its final guidance document yet, even though Congress gave the agency a verbal lashing more than three months ago now. Still, the agency has had an unusually busy week.

Apart from the typical — like Rock Health alum Nephosity securing FDA 510(k) clearance for its iPad-based imaging app — the FDA likely read the news Tuesday morning that tricorder-like medical device maker Scanadu launched a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGoGo that will put a pre-FDA clearance device into the hands of consumers as a means to crowdtest the device and gather some of the needed data to secure that FDA clearance.

Scanadu’s CEO Walter DeBrouwer understands that this might be an unprecedented move, but he also believes that crowdsourcing platforms are going to push industry to rethink old processes. Scanadu’s Scout device isn’t likely to ship until at least March 2014 so it will take some time before we see how this one plays out, but after less than two hours of the crowdfunding campaign going live, Scanadu hit its goal of $100,000 raised.

The FDA hasn’t reacted to the Scanadu news, but it did finally get around to a urine analysis app that made headlines after being demo’d in a TED talk earlier this year. The FDA rarely makes a public show of proactively enforcing its mobile medical app regulations, but this week the agency made what was perhaps an unprecedented move by sending the app developer a letter informing it that its app might require 510(k) clearance or at least should be registered as a Class 1 device.

Biosense’s urinanalysis app uChek was using other medical devices — urine test strips — that were only cleared to be interpreted by the human eye, not a smartphone app’s camera or algorithm. EpsteinBecker’s Bradley Merrill Thompson, who is also the co-founder of the mHealth Regulatory Coalition and a longtime MobiHealthNews columnist, has been pointing to the uChek app for the past few months as an example of an app that the FDA should be enforcing its medical device guidelines against. Thompson even made mention of the app during his testimony at a congressional hearing in February.

One official announcement made by the FDA this past week was a posting in the Federal Register that declared “ingestible event markers” (IEMs), commonly called digital pills, to be Class II medical devices with some special controls. The new categorization is a result of the 510(k) clearance of Proteus Digital Health’s IEM paving the way with its clearance last summer.

While the post in the Federal Register is high profile, it’s really just a formality. Digital pills have been designated as a Class II device category since July 2012 thanks to Proteus, so the Federal Register posting is just a reminder that digital pills really arrived as a new regulated device category almost a year ago now. So, all you other digital pill developers, you have your predicate device.

Speaking of decisions that should have been made years ago… where are those final guidelines?

Digital health investments: ConsultingMD, Flexible Medical Systems

By: Aditi Pai | May 23, 2013        

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Over the course of the past few weeks, various digital health companies have raised funds. The roundup below includes investment news from companies that offer a range of digital health products and services, including online physician visits, non-invasive medical sensors, snail mail-powered remote monitoring devices, and portable blood test devices.

HomeBucket2PatchConsultingMD $10 million: Palo Alto, California-based ConsultingMD raised $10 million from Venrock Capital. The matching service takes a patient’s medical records, test results and pictures to find the appropriate doctor, according to a great Forbes article. ConsultingMD matches patients to top specialists in various fields to help them get a second opinion on diagnoses. The company plans to use the money to expand its network of physicians.

Flexible Medical Systems $301,785: Rockville, Maryland-based Flexible Medical Systems raised $301,785 from undisclosed investors according to an SEC filing. The company’s product, FlexMed, is a wearable, glucose monitoring sensor for people with diabetes that doesn’t draw blood. Instead, FlexMed measures glucose levels with tiny electrical signals to the patient’s skin.

Daktari Solutions $7 million: Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Daktari Solutions raised $7 million according to SEC filings. Daktari’s CD4 is a portable cell counting device that enables care providers to conduct blood tests in the field. Last year, Daktari raised $10 million from Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Norwich Ventures and Partners Innovation Fund.

iRhythm $6 million: Last month, San Francisco-based iRhythm raised $16 million in funding led by Northwest Venture Partners according to a press release. The money will be used to fund development of new technology and commercial expansion. iRhythm’s Zio patch, which goes against the trend by having no connectivity embedded, monitors heart rate continuously for up to 14 days meant to catch arrhythmias in the patient.