New Withings scale takes a lesson from Harley-Davidson

By: Neil Versel | Sep 6, 2012        

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Neil_Versel_LargeNow I think I get it.

After watching this promo video for the new Withings WS-30 wireless scale, I understand why there are so many mobile and wireless health and fitness products aimed at the young and hip. It doesn’t take a degree in marketing to figure out that young, toned bodies move product better than old, sick ones, so it should come as no surprise that the Withings video features a healthy-looking, fit couple trying to shed a couple of extra pounds.

The video made me think of this gem from a Harley-Davidson executive that management guru Tom Peters likes to share during his speaking engagements: “What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.”

In other words, according to Peters, Harley doesn’t merely sell motorcycles, it sells a lifestyle. Withings is selling a lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle that shows such as “The Biggest Loser” have shown are attainable for many a former couch potato.

The WS-30, unveiled not in a health IT setting but at the just-concluded IFA Berlin consumer electronics trade show, features weight and BMI calculation, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to Apple iOS and Android mobile apps and, if you’re bold enough to share your weight on Facebook and Twitter, automatic links to social media. Those are the kinds of options that appeal to tech-savvy people of all ages and conditions. Keep reading>>

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MobileHelp acquires Halo Monitoring to build out PERS offering

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 6, 2012        

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MobileHelpBoca Raton, Florida-based MobileHelp has acquired competing mobile personal emergency services (mPERS) provider Halo Monitoring for an undisclosed sum this week. The acquisition brings two important features to MobileHelp’s mPERS offering: automatic fall detection technology and advanced activity monitoring. The deal comes shortly after Alere’s acquisition of home health monitoring company MedApps, and Verizon’s acquisition of Hughes Telematics, which counts mPERS company Lifecomm as a majority owned subsidiary. Years ago — in November 2009 — GreatCall acquired MobiWatch to bring its own mPERS offering to market, 5 Star.

“The acquisition of Halo Monitoring is an important step on our journey to expand our solution portfolio of Home Healthcare and Monitoring solutions that further improve the well-being of seniors who rely on our products,” Rob Flippo, CEO of MobileHelp said in a statement. “We are excited to add additional capabilities to our best-in-class mPERS offerings, in addition to bringing on board talent to further expand our technology capabilities.”

The myHalo device was worn under clothing, as a chest strap, and could send alerts to caregivers and family members via email and text messages. The health data collected by the device was also sent to Halo’s secure online portal and it could also be sent to Microsoft’s HealthVault thanks to a deal inked with Microsoft in September 2009. Halo Monitoring was one of the first companies to include automatic fall detection in its wearable PERS devices, which send an alert to caregivers and/or a call center when the person wearing the pendant falls — it does not require the wearer to push any buttons to trigger the alert. In late 2009 Halo Monitoring inked a deal with A&D Medical to integrate some of that company’s Bluetooth-enabled weight scales and blood pressure cuffs.

The often cited statistics around fall prevention come from the Center for Disease Control: Seniors who fall tend to exercise less due to fear of another fall and this reduced activity causes a decrease in balance leading to a greater risk of falls in the future. About 40 percent of seniors fall each year and in the US that translates to 12 million people. MobileHelp notes in its announcement that according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, falls account for about 70 percent of the accidental deaths in the elderly population.

Halo was also one of the first home health monitoring companies to develop an iPhone app for caregivers, myHalo, which it announced in February 2010. According to the company’s announcement for the app, “it allow[ed] caregivers to confirm an aging parent is OK, securely track health information, and receive important fall alerts.” As of this writing, the app is currently not available in the AppStore.

Home telehealth provider Authentidate forced to reverse-split stock

By: Neil Versel | Sep 5, 2012        

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expressmd-monitor-250x250Even as mobile health converges with other technologies and becomes a more integral part of healthcare delivery as a whole, not everybody in this sector is prospering. The latest evidence comes from Authentidate Holding Corp., parent company of home telehealth service provider ExpressMD Solutions, was forced to reverse-split of its stock last week to avoid delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market.

Authentidate, based in Berkeley Heights, N.J., executed a 1-for-2 reverse split of its shares after the markets closed Aug. 30 because the stock had closed below $1 every day since Sept. 16, 2011. The company still faces Nasdaq delisting if split-adjusted shares do not remain above that threshold for the 10 consecutive trading days ending Sept. 17, 2012. Authentidate, which uses the ticker symbol ADAT, ended Wednesday at $1.40, up 4 cents from the morning’s open but exactly where it was at the time of the reverse split.

Authentidate’s board had considered a reverse split of as much as 1-to-5 but settled on the halving of the number of shares issued, according to a company statement.

Authentidate provides remote monitoring technology to several major provider organizations, including the Premier hospital alliance and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The company’s products include the Electronic House Call vitals monitoring device with FDA 510(k) clearance.

Authentidate was one of three companies Robert Bosch Healthcare Systems sued in January over alleged patent infringements related to Bosch’s Health Buddy telehealth platform. While Bosch settled with one defendant, Waldo Networks, the suit against Authentidate is still pending.

St. Louis sleep clinics to offer NovaSom wireless home sleep apnea test

By: Neil Versel | Sep 5, 2012        

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NovaSom Accusom DeliverNovaSom, maker of home tests for obstructive sleep apnea, has its first provider partnership for its AccuSom Deliver out-of-center sleep testing program, and it’s a big one. The Glen Burnie, Md.-based vendor announced Wednesday that it will offer the service through the SSM Center for Sleep Disorders, part of major Catholic integrated delivery network SSM Health Care – St. Louis.

The seven SSM Center for Sleep Disorders locations in the St. Louis area will offer AccuSom Deliver to its patients starting Oct. 1. This, according to NovaSom, will allow the center to expand its treatment capacity without sacrificing clinical control over patients. It also promises to make testing for sleep apnea more convenient and comfortable for patients, save money and, because of cellular transmission of data to the cloud, shorten the time to diagnosis.

AccuSom Deliver combines an FDA-cleared home testing kit linked to the Verizon Wireless network with a cloud-based portal for the company’s sleep specialists to access and interpret data. “That used to take weeks with a sleep lab,” Accusom marketing director Pete Celano told MobiHealthNews when AccuSom Deliver was unveiled in June.

Sleep specialists can order an out-of-center sleep test through the portal, prompting AccuSom to ship a testing kit to the patient’s home. The wireless component streamlines data collection. “The data flies through the air thanks to Verizon,” Celano said.

The portal also allows NovaSom clinicians to provide support to patients throughout the test, which requires overnight measurement of 12 physiological and neurological factors. Home testing, which AccuSom says is appropriate for 80 percent of people with undiagnosed OSA, replaces the need for an expensive and inconvenient inpatient stay in a hospital or sleep center.

The home test, according to Celano, is about $400. “The test can cost $2,000 in a sleep lab,” he said. Because AccuSom owns the testing devices, the sleep center does not need to buy its own.

“Previously we’ve considered offering out-of-center or home sleep testing to allow us to diagnosis more patients, faster. However, purchasing or renting home sleep testing devices in bulk would have required a significant operations and logistics burden in-house, from device delivery to validation of testing-in-progress to device retrieval,” Daniel Tirado, team leader for the SSM Center for Sleep Disorders, says in a press release.

Home testing got a boost in March when Aetna made the traditional in-clinic test subject to prior authorization, in part because of the cost, Celano noted. “That’s earth-shaking,” he said.

White House wants to clone iTriage

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 4, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAt the end of August the White House launched a new program, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which pairs the private sector, academia, and non-profits with people from the government to work on five innovation projects over the course of the next five months. One of those projects is one that is undoubtedly familiar to those working in healthcare today: The Open Data Initiative. Former HHS CTO Todd Park helped launched the ODI in healthcare during his tenure at HHS, and now that he has succeeded Aneesh Chopra as CTO of the federal government, he aims to bring Open Data Initiatives to other sectors as well.

To illustrate the success of ODI, Park invited Dr. Peter Hudson, co-founder and CEO of iTriage, the mobile health company that Aetna acquired last year, which makes use of some freely available government data sets to offer its symptom navigator and care facility locator service.

Hudson said that the iTriage app now has almost 7 million downloads and it is used about 3 million times each month. Close to 20 percent of the acute hospital marketplace now has tie-ins to the application, which can integrate with hospital information systems to provide ER wait times and appointment booking services. Hudson said that the app also has about 60,000 reviews across the various appstores that it is available through, and an average rating of about 4.5 out of 5 stars.

iTriage leverages at least two data sets that were made available thanks to the Open Data Initiative: A database of Federally Qualified Health Centers and a database for mental health and substance abuse centers. Hudson said that to date some 125,000 people have found Federally Qualified Health Centers through the iTriage app since it first launched and about 25,000 people have located mental health and substance abuse centers since the app went began including that data set.

Once Hudson finished telling the iTriage story, Park explained the company’s significance for the ODI moving forward:

“So, what’s the play?” Park asked the audience. “What is the Open Data Initiative’s play exactly? Clone Pete Hudson. That is the play. Clone this story. And, very specifically, clone the actual use of the data — the application of the data by American entrepreneurs and innovators — to create real benefit in people’s lives. Help people to find the right doctor that could save their life. Help your daughter find the college that will provide the best value for her… Get transparency on the non-profit market place so you actually put your charitable contributions, your hard earned dollars, into the non-profits that will produce the best value socially for your money. Real tools, real services built by American entrepreneurs using free government data that can help make American lives easier, better, and create jobs and help grow the economy at the same time.”

More than 700 people applied to participate in the fellowship program, which accepted 18 to participate.

Interestingly, Ryan Panchadsaram, c0-founder of Pipette, is among those participating in the fellowship program on the Blue Button Initiative project. Pipette was a Rock Health startup that was developing mobile health offerings that enable hospitals and care teams to monitor and educate patients during recovery with an aim to “reduce complications and lower the cost of care by enabling early intervention of high-risk patients,” according to the company at the time. MIT Media Lab spin-out Ginger.io “acqui-hired” the Pipette team in March.

Panchadsaram will be working with two others to drive adoption of the Blue Button for America technology, which aims to help millions of Americans “easily and securely download their own health information electronically.”

Hello Health co-founder lands $1.85 million for new venture, Sherpaa

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 4, 2012        

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Money TreeDr. Jay Parkinson recently announced that his latest venture, Sherpaa, has raised $1.85 million from O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, First Round Capital, Collaborative Fund, and angels including, ex-president of Tumblr John Maloney, and OpenX and Jirafe founder Scott Switzer, TechCrunch reports. Parkinson is perhaps best known as a co-founder of Hello Health, a subsidiary of Myca Health, which offers a “patient management platform” to physicians that includes an EHR, personal health portals, and a suite of online communication tools.

With Sherpaa, Parkinson is mostly focused on helping startups and small companies navigate healthcare and health insurance for their employees. Parkinson tells Xconomy that Sherpaa will save employers between $1,000 and $4,000  year.

The service will provide employees with 24/7 access to doctors via email of phone. Parkinson says that about 70 percent of the time an email or phone call can solve the problem, but when people are in a panic and have no access, they might just go to the emergency room. Sherpaa aims to help “inexperienced employers make the right choices” when it comes to health plans.

“If you’re a company of 100 people, you don’t have the expertise to spend your money wisely,” Parkinson tells Xconomy. “So you go to an insurance broker, they fire back a list of 30 plans, and it’s eenie-meeny-miny-moe to pick the best one. Oftentimes employers over-insure their employees.”

The Sherpaa business model charges employers a monthly fee per employee.

While the startup only currently operates in New York City and has been working with Tumblr and nine other startups in the city, Parkinson has identified about 4,000 other potential customers in town. He aims to take Sherpaa to other cities, including possibly, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Chicago in about a year’s time, but not before it works well in New York.

More over at Xconomy