New JAMA editor sees mobile opportunity

By: Neil Versel | Aug 3, 2011        

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Neil VerselYou know how we keep hearing that there just isn’t enough clinical evidence yet to justify reimbursement for mobile and wireless technologies such as home monitoring systems? That may be about to change, possibly in an unlikely venue: the venerable, oftentimes stuffy, Journal of the American Medical Association.

The American Medical Association, which publishes JAMA, has a reputation as being a staid defender of the status quo, which is why you’ll rarely see any AMA news in a publication like MobiHealthNews that covers the cutting edge of health innovation. But the new editor of JAMA, Dr. Howard Bauchner, sounds like he’s ready to embrace mobility.

I base this on an extensive interview Bauchner gave with longtime Chicago Tribune healthcare reporter Bruce Japsen (who, unfortunately, is losing his job soon). Bauchner, who was vice chairman of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine before taking over at JAMA last month, told Japsen he is interested in “intelligent innovation” for the 127-year-old journal and the nine “Archives” titles that the AMA publishes for various medical specialties.

“Most practitioners are inundated with information,” Bauchner is quoted as saying. “How do you get information to them in a usable format?”

The answer? Small bites. Mobility. Alerts through social media.

“If you look at some of the other creative sites like TED or Big Think, they have been experimenting with video clips,” Bauchner said in the interview. “I could imagine having some of our authors do video clips where they speak about the meaning of their research for eight or 10 minutes, and then that’s easily linked into a smartphone.”

(Seriously, did you ever think you’d see the day when the editor of JAMA would cite TED or Big Think?) Keep reading>>

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GravityEight partners with MedHelp

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 3, 2011        

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GravityEightGravityEight, a web-based platform for personalized wellbeing, announced this week a partnership with MedHelp to lead its online health channel. MedHelp will provide tools and applications for GravityEight’s health channel, which has already used the open APIs of wireless sensors like Nike Plus, the Withings Body Scale, and the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach to integrate their user data.

GravityEight aims to have users to measure, manage, and enhance eight areas of their lives, including health, finance, relationships, career, community, spirituality, learning, and leisure, by partnering with leading companies in those spaces.

MedHelp has previously partnered with GE to create iOS apps, the most recent being last month’s FitFrenzy.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth and development in the consumer Internet health space, but what’s novel about GravityEight is the way it is building a comprehensive and highly usable ‘personal dashboard,’” stated Ben Rubin, co-founder and CTO of ZEO, in a press release. “It’s like Mint.com, but for your entire life. Interestingly, we’ve seen no one else attempt such a bold move. We are big fans of GravityEight and have been a partner since Day One.” Rubin spoke to MobiHealthNews recently about M&A in the consumer health space, and in-depth about Zeo’s history last year.

“One of our goals in providing a personal health platform is enabling application developers to plug into users’ health data and help them achieve their health goals,” stated Khaled Hassounah, CTO of MedHelp, in a press release. “We are excited about partnering with GravityEight because we believe it provides an effective approach to helping people make a real difference to their health based on all the data available to them.”

GravityEight’s wellness platform joins a crowded field, which recently saw the arrival of HumanVitality, another wellness platform from the health plan.

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

ZocDoc scoops up $50 million in funding

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 2, 2011        

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ZocDocZocDoc, makers of an appointment-scheduling mobile app, announced this week a $50 million Series C investment from DST Global, bringing total investment in ZocDoc to $70 million. The company plans to use the funding to expand into new markets and grow its patient and doctor user base.

ZocDoc allows patients to find nearby doctors who accept their insurance, then book appointments, via Android and iOS apps, as well as a web-based interface. The service is free for patients, while doctors pay a $250 monthly fee to fill open appointments.

“Given the well-documented need for change in the healthcare system, both in the U.S. and worldwide, ZocDoc brings much-needed transparency and efficiency to an immense industry that’s long been difficult to navigate,” stated Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global, in a press release. “We look forward to a future in which ZocDoc is the platform for empowered patients to manage all of their care online.”

ZocDoc claims that the service is currently used by nearly 700,000 patients each month, in nine major metropolitan areas.

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Health Canada OKs MyGlucoHealth BT meter

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 2, 2011        

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Entra Health System MyGlucoHealthEntra Health Systems, creator of MyGlucoHealth,  announced last week that it has received Health Canada’s Therapeutic Products Directorate (TPD) clearance for the sale of its Bluetooth-enabled glucose meter in the country. MyGlucoHealth meters and test strips will be available for purchase in Canada immediately. The device secured FDA clearance and a CE Mark in 2009. MyGlucoHealth also launched in Australia through a partnership with one of the largest mobile operators in that country at the end of 2009.

Entra’s MyGlucoHealth meter offers wireless transmission of test results via Bluetooth to a patient’s phone. The company also offers the MyGlucoHealth Patient Analytics Portal, which gives patients, clinicians and caregivers access to patient data both from the desktop and mobile phone. Entra Health partnered with Nokia last year to develop diabetes management apps for Nokia phones.

“Canada represents a strong market opportunity for MyGlucoHealth,” stated Entra Health CEO Richard Strobridge in a press release. “We have achieved significant success in the U.S. and the Asia Pacific to date. Our goal is to establish a strong regional infrastructure for support continued growth as we expand internationally.”

Read the full press release after the jump.

Keep reading>>

iPhone ECG developer AliveCor raises $3 million

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 2, 2011        

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December 2010: Dr David Albert and the iPhoneECG case

AliveCor, developer of the iPhone ECG, announced this week that it has raised $3 million in its first round of funding. The investment was funded by Burrill & Company, Qualcomm Ventures and the Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund.

The company plans to use the investment to expand its team, gain regulatory approval and market the device worldwide. AliveCor expects to commercially launch its iPhone ECG case (pictured) and wireless iCard later this year. The devices will cost less than $100, according to AliveCor founder Dr. David Albert. Both devices will still need to complete a clinical trial and secure FDA 510(k) clearance. The company is working with OU Health Sciences Centers.

The iPhone ECG first got notice in late December 2010 when Albert uploaded a video demo of the device to YouTube. The video went viral and made the device one of the most talked about at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The video has since received more than 250,000 views. MobiHealthNews first spoke to Albert about the iPhone ECG in January. AliveCor expects to offer a free iPhone app for patients, with a paid version for physicians. Sometime after the iPhone ECG case becomes commercially available, the company plans to launch the iCard, which works with other iOS and Android devices. (Albert spoke to MobiHealthNews about the iPad’s role in healthcare in March.)

“The iPhone ECG captured the imagination of the world at CES by demonstrating the power of personal health monitoring as enabled by the Apple iPhone and other smartphones,”  Albert stated in a press release. “AliveCor looks forward to taking our innovations to all parts of the world for physicians, emergency first responders and patients alike.”

Interestingly, while the iPhone ECG strongly associated with the iPhone, Dr. Albert’s AliveCor Australian co-founders Bruce Satchwell and Kim Barnett began working on the ECG device in 2005, which is well before the iPhone launched. The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce originally helped bring the business to Oklahoma City in 2008, the press release stated.

For more on the investors and AliveCor, read the press release after the jump.

Keep reading>>

FDA clears Telcare’s 3G blood glucose meter

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 1, 2011        

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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterAccording to an FDA filing, wireless-enabled blood glucose meter developer Telcare just received 510(k) clearance for its device, Telcare BGM. The company submitted its device for FDA review at the beginning of March.

Telcare has largely eschewed the glucometer-smartphone pairing model currently pursued by a number of other device makers in favor of a wireless meter “that requires no additional investment.”

Telcare’s device is cellular-connected and according to the company it is “merely a replacement of older technology for which insurers already pay.”

The Telcare BGM includes 3G cellular connectivity that send glucose tracking data to the company’s clinical server. Telcare is also developing a suite of smartphone apps, which might be used by caregivers, including “parents of children with diabetes and those caring for elderly people with diabetes,” to better manage their loved ones.

“Moreover, the Telcare blood glucose meter significantly increases the work productivity of disease management personnel who no longer need to spend time calling patients to ask for glucose data and can now relay simple coaching directly on the Telcare blood glucose meter platform instead of using less efficient means of outbound communication,” Telcare states on its website. The company says the device can send data directly to electronic health records (EHRs).

Telcare has previously stated that it plans to offer its blood glucose meter offering to customers at the same pricepoint of “disconnected” devices that are already on the market.

The company has raised about $4.5 million in funding to date from investors including Qualcomm Ventures. It also works with Sierra Wireless for its device’s connectivity. (Update: Sierra is not an investor in the company.)

Learn more about the Telcare executive team (led by Jonathan Javitt MD MPH) at Telcare’s site.