Top 10 health searches from mobile devices in 2011

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 16, 2011        

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Healthline mobile searchHealthline, a consumer health search engine, published a list of 2011’s most-searched health and medical terms via both desktop computers or laptops (web searches) and via mobile devices (mobile search). The published data reveals significant differences in what consumers search for from the privacy of their mobile devices vs. from PCs. Top mobile searches included keywords related to more private issues like sexually transmitted diseases and mental health topics.

Healthline’s search technology is integrated into a number of consumer and provider websites, including Yahoo! Health, Aetna, AARP, Sharecare, and United Health.

Mobile search data revealed that March was the busiest month of the year for mobile searches, possibly because of that month’s recall of Tylenol’s 8 Hour Extended Release Caplets and the Japanese earthquake’s consciousness-raising on the health effects of nuclear radiation. People are less likely to search for health and medical information on the weekend. Most searches take place mid-week and most searches on mobile devices are — like web searches — likely to occur at night between 9 PM and 11 PM.

Below is Healthline’s list of top health-related searches via mobile devices during 2011:

1. Chlamydia
2. Bipolar disorder
3. Depression
4. Smoking/quit smoking
5. Herpes
6. Gout
7. Scabies
8. Multiple Sclerosis
9. Pregnancy
10. Vitamin A

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Read on to see the top ten health-related web searches and to read the entire press release. Keep reading>>

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Why Aetna acquired iTriage app maker Healthagen

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 16, 2011        

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Aetna iTriage Aetna has acquired mobile health startup, Healthagen, developer of the popular health app iTriage, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition marks one of the first exits for a high profile mobile health startup.

Aetna is also leveraging the mobile application in its accountable care organization (ACO) offering, where it will be a key component for consumer engagement, Aetna executives said during an investor day presentation this week. (More on how iTriage fits into that offering in the graphic at the end of this article).

“iTriage is our patient engagement side of this [ACO offering],” Dr. Charles Saunders, Head of Strategic Diversification at Aetna, said during his presentation yesterday. Saunders said that the care providers he has spoken with recently all recognize that consumers need to be engaged in order to help them navigate the healthcare system, understand how the system works, “prevent leakage” outside of the ACO network, and have a better patient experience. Saunders said all of this was key “to engaging them in behaviors that help them to be a partner in reducing the cost of care.”

iTriage looks to be at the forefront of Aetna’s consumer engagement strategy: “There is an extensive vision for the consumer experience, but we do think that patient engagement will be key to the relationship here,” Saunders said. “iTriage has relationships with several hundred hospitals and tens of thousands of physicians. It is growing very rapidly.” In August, Healthagen added 180 new hospital customers thanks to a deal with Schumacher Group.

“iTriage is a mobile application that is the market leader, market leading healthcare application with over 3 million downloads across the Apple iTunes and Android platforms,” Saunders continued. “It is available worldwide and was created by a couple of ER docs [who] understood that consumers engaged with healthcare differently than people [had previously thought].”

iTriage offers a symptom navigator that helps users find nearby health facilities or physicians that could help them with their specific health issue. Thanks to a recent acquisition of its own (it bought AppointmentCity this past February), iTriage added appointment booking functionality into the application. Saunders described iTriage as a mobile application that “meets users where they are” and “provides an array of tools for understanding their symptom” along with “geolocation features” that help users “find a provider near them” who can solve that problem in a facility “that is appropriate to that condition.”

“People don’t generally engage healthcare when they already know that they have a meniscus tear and they need to have an MRI of their knee or that they already know that it is time to get a colonoscopy,” Saunders said. “As it happens, more commonly consumers engage the healthcare system far farther upstream when they have a vague notion that they need something but they don’t know what that something is.”

Aetna is already bolting on new features for iTriage users.

“We are layering on additional tools and capabilities so that [iTriage users] can get an accurate estimate of what the costs will be,” Saunders said. “So that they can make an intelligent choice based on who is in-network or which is the lowest cost, highest quality option. And then to be able to directly register or book an appointment with that provider and do that in a disruptive way.” Saunders said the information collected in that visit would then be pulled through and down to the personal healthcare record, which Aetna’s ActiveHealth product team manages.

Saunders closed his discussion of iTriage by noting that the mobile app as well as other offerings from recent Aetna acquisitions, including Medicity, are tools that are provided by Aetna in a “payor neutral way.”

“iTriage is a market neutral application that is available to all payors, all consumers, all providers,” Saunders said. “Access to data and privacy are absolutely critical to the success of these applications and we believe in that strongly.”

Interestingly, just a few weeks ago Aetna announced an iTriage-like app for people living in various markets outside of the US.

For a better understanding of how Aetna is leveraging its recent acquisitions and existing assets, including Medicity, iTriage, ActiveHealth, iNexx and more to create its ACO offering, check out the graphic below: Keep reading>>

How many mHealth startups make $10M a year?

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNews“The entrepreneurs in the mHealth space tend to be young and often new to healthcare, though of course there are the exceptions-those few old-timers who remember the days before iPhones were issued upon one’s birth,” Lisa Suennen, a founding partner at investment firm Psilos Group, wrote last week in a widely syndicated (must-read) column about her experiences at the mHealth Summit. “The young upstarts are full of energy and absolutely certain that their product or service will be the one to change the healthcare system for the better. God knows some of them will be right.”

“Hanging around these people can be very energizing and they are surely of a different temperament than those who preside over the traditional healthcare IT companies,” Suennen writes. “These entrepreneurs are looking at healthcare unfettered by the unhelpful customs and disincentives of the past. They are not weighted to the earth by how things have always been done in healthcare… It can be refreshing as hell to hear their stories.”

I read Suennen’s argument here as a tamer, more constructive version of the one our own Neil Versel penned a few weeks back: Silicon Valley often misses the point of healthcare. And I agree that the “young” and “often new” characterization is true for many of the Silicon Valley-based startups that have recently sprung up, but it’s not true for the majority of attendees (or even companies exhibiting) at the mHealth Summit last week. My impression was that the younger, new-to-healthcare group was present at the startup pavilions, but not so much elsewhere. As Suennen said — I’m glad they were present and their “energizing” and “refreshing” perspectives are much needed in healthcare.

Still, it’s unlikely that they’ll change healthcare on their own. As Chilmark Research’s John Moore pointed out in his (also must-read) write-up following the event, many of the larger, incumbent HIS vendors did not exhibit at the mHealth Summit event. Moore wondered about the reasons he left the event with a “ho hum” feeling: “Maybe it was the lack of exhibitors – where is the rest of the legacy HIT market who are all claiming to be bringing mHealth solutions to market?” According to the event’s organizers, there were actually 300 exhibitors at the event, but most of the biggest booth buyers at HIMSS’ annual event did not have a presence on the showfloor, even though HIMSS was a co-organizer of the mHealth Summit this year. The focus of the event, however, was the “use of wireless technology to improve health outcomes,” which may have been a value proposition stretch for at least some of the mobile-enabled hospital information systems (HIS) vendors exhibiting at HIMSS’ events and elsewhere.

For Suennen the lack of big HIS vendors at the event was less notable than the similarities between rising hype around mHealth and the eHealth bubble 10 years ago. She writes: Keep reading>>

Perverse incentives still holding back home telehealth

By: Neil Versel | Dec 15, 2011        

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Neil_Versel_LargeMobile adoption just keeps marching forward, but someone had best solve the payment issue sooner rather than later.

The move toward accountable care organizations and Medicare’s denial of reimbursements for certain preventable readmissions certainly will put some of the onus on hospitals and integrated delivery networks to keep post-discharge patients and those with chronic diseases healthy. It is starting to make economic sense for health systems to invest in remote monitoring for managing complex cases in patients’ homes rather than in costly hospital settings.

Grants and government subsidies can help, too, up to a point. This week, Flagstaff Medical Center in Flagstaff, Ariz., announced that it was collaborating with Qualcomm, Verizon Wireless, Zephyr Technology and the National Institutes of Health to monitor patients with congestive heart failure via 3G broadband connections across much of Northern Arizona.

The program, dubbed Care Beyond Walls and Wires, will employ Zephyr home medical devices such as weight scales and blood-pressure monitors to capture patient data, then send readings to the hospital daily via Motorola Droid X2 smartphones on Verizon’s network. Flagstaff Medical Center will choose 50 participants who had been hospitalized with CHF or a related heart condition and are at high risk of readmission.

A hospital spokeswoman indicated that many of the potential patients are on far-flung parts of Indian reservations that never had landlines and heretofore have not have much in the way of cellular coverage, either. Nor have they had regular access to ongoing care for their chronic diseases.

This is all great, but let’s look across the pond for some longer-term perspective. Keep reading>>

Sotera Wireless nets $12.2M and Cerner deal

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 14, 2011        

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Sotera CEO Tom Watlington

Sotera CEO Tom Watlington

Sotera Wireless announced that it had raised $12.2 million in its fourth round of funding. Singapore-based global fund EDBI led the round, which included participation from new investor Cerner Capital and existing investors Sanderling Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Intel Capital and the West Health Investment Fund. The latest round of funding brings total investment in Sotera to nearly $50 million by our count.

Sotera also inked a commercial deal with Cerner.

“I met the Sotera Wireless leadership team about a year ago and I was amazed by the truly revolutionary capabilities that they have built into their product, ViSi Mobile,” said Paul Gorup, chief innovation officer and co-founder of Cerner. “We at Cerner believe in the power of innovation and decided to collaborate with Sotera Wireless to jointly make an impact on how vital signs for general care patients in hospitals are captured and documented.”

The ViSi Mobile offering is not FDA-cleared, but the company submitted it for 510(k) clearance in August. Sotera’s ViSi Mobile System aims to help care providers detect early signs of deterioration through constant monitoring of a patient’s vital signs. It’s a wireless vital signs monitor intended for use inside a healthcare facility, but the company could find use cases for the technology outside of traditional care settings, too.

The new money will help the company bring the product to a commercial launch if and when the FDA clears it.

EDBI plans to help Sotera bring its offering to the Asia-Pacific market. EDBI CEO Chu Swee-Yeok stated in the press release: “Health systems worldwide are facing the challenge of an increasingly high-risk and frail patient population. We believe Sotera offers a disruptive platform that will provide clinicians with the visibility they need for pre-emptive and preventative care.”

Earlier this year it came out that Sotera was working with San Diego-based Palomar Pomerado Health to integrate its vital signs monitoring devices with Palomar’s Medical Information Anytime Anywhere (MIAA) platform, which aims to provide clinicians with access to patient medical records and vital sign information in real time or near-real time.

Sotera scooped up more than $10 million in funding in April 2010, and another $7 million in July 2010. In November 2009 the company changed its name from Triage Wireless as part of an agreement with Inverness Medical, which marketed products under a similar brand name as Triage Wireless.

More on the latest Sotera round of funding and Cerner deal in the press release below: Keep reading>>

El Camino Hospital offers family medical officer app

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 14, 2011        

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FMOThe El Camino Hospital in California launched its first mobile application, called Family Medical Officer (FMO), this week. The FMO app, which is free for Android and iOS devices, is a consumer-facing app intended for a household’s family medical officer, or primary healthcare decision maker.

The FMO app’s features include wait times for El Camino Hospital’s emergency rooms at its Mountain View, CA and Los Gatos, CA locations, a “find a doctor” feature where users can look up an El Camino physician by name, specialty or location, a personal health record called “My Family & Me,” drug database and other hospital resources.

According to a press release, most FMOs care for and make healthcare decisions for two or more people in their family, and about half of them care for an older adult in addition to their own children. Approximately 80 percent of women are the healthcare decision makers for their families, according to the hospital. Women are also more likely to be the caregivers when a family member becomes ill.

“In keeping with El Camino Hospital’s mission of delivering exceptional care, we are excited to roll out the FMO mobile app, an important tool that will provide FMOs with accurate medical information anywhere, anytime, to help them best manage the care of their loved ones,” stated Tomi Ryba, president and CEO of El Camino Hospital in a press release.

Read the press release below.

Keep reading>>