Why the AT&T WellDoc deal matters

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 13, 2010        

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WellDoc ATTThis is big: AT&T announced plans to offer WellDoc’s FDA-approved mobile phone-based diabetes management solution to a select group of AT&T employees sometime in 2011. (AT&T’s benefits program covers some 1.2 million employees, retirees and dependents so the company has a vested interest in improving employees’ health while keeping costs low). AT&T potentially plans to offer additional mobile health services developed by WellDoc in the areas of heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and oncology, assuming those programs also receive FDA approval. WellDoc CEO Ryan Sysko told MobiHealthNews that each of these programs are in various stages of commercialization, from prototyping to clinical testing.

WellDoc’s mobile phone application for diabetes management, DiabetesManager, aims to help doctors and patients with type 2 diabetes work together by providing for the capture, storage and real-time transmission of blood glucose data and other diabetes self-management information in a secure environment. WellDoc also analyzes the captured data to generate trends and provide relevant educational and behavioral coaching for patients.

AT&T to offer WellDoc to employees, but also act as its key sales channel

The deal between AT&T and WellDoc goes well beyond AT&T’s own employees, however. The companies have formed a “strategic alliance” that enables WellDoc to scale its operations, sales and distribution channels. AT&T and WellDoc will jointly market DiabetesManager to the entire healthcare system including self-insured employers, payers and disease management organizations. AT&T will also support WellDoc with second tier customer service, customer care, provisioning and billing. Sysko made it clear that the “strategic alliance” with AT&T made the telecom company it’s exclusive distribution partner in the United States: “Business terms won’t be disclosed but both parties have made a significant commitment to commercialize the system in the US. From an enterprise sales and market standpoint, AT&T will be our strategic ally.”

AT&T’s perspective “refreshing”

“It was really refreshing to hear that AT&T was committed to making sure our applications would also be accessible to any device on any [mobile carrier's] network,” WellDoc CEO Ryan Sysko told MobiHealthNews in an interview ahead of the announcement. “AT&T recognized that it would not be feasible to make someone use only a certain device on a certain network, so whether our users are on Verizon Wirelss or AT&T or whoever, they will be able to use our applications. AT&T recognized that it wouldn’t be right for patients, employers or health plans to do it otherwise.” Keep reading>>


AT&T provides eCardio with wireless connectivity for arrhythmia monitoring

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 12, 2010        

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eCardioAT&T has inked a deal with eCardio Diagnostics to provide wireless connectivity to the arrhythmia monitoring company’s near real-time cardiac monitoring devices. eCardio’s monitoring devices enable heart patients to recover at home rather than spend additional time in the hospital and aim to help reduce re-admissions among heart patients.

According to the companies’ release, “eCardio has implemented the monitoring solution on almost 10,000 cardiac devices with plans to deploy it across thousands more over the next year,” however, earlier this year eCardio reported that its services had been used by more than 20,000 users to date. In February, the Houston Chronicle reported that eCardio had crossed the 20,000 user mark. Back then eCardio said that both Medicare and private insurers reimburse for its services and that the company was profitable.

Houston-based startup eCardio, founded in 2004, offers a device that lets doctors monitor patients’ hearts remotely. eCardio’s patients wear a device that the company describes as the “size of a BlackBerry.” The device sits on their hip or hangs around their neck and connects to two electrodes that monitor the heart’s electrical activity. Inside the device is a microprocessor that analyzes the data and then wirelessly transfers the data to the company’s monitoring center, which verifies it and sends it to the physician. Also of note: Sequoia Capital invested an undisclosed amount into the company to help it acquire other startups last year, however, eCardio never disclosed whether it acquired any.

Wireless remote monitoring for patients with heart conditions is fast becoming a crowded space: CardioNet, the only pureplay wireless health company to have gone public. LifeWatch, a Switzerland-based company has a competing product supported by Verizon Wireless. San Diego-based startup Corventis also received FDA approval for its MCOT system earlier this year, but has remained quiet since.

Almost exactly a year ago today, AT&T announced a similar deal to provide connectivity to Vitality’s medication adherence device: GlowCap.

More from the companies’ press release

There is no single business model for mobile health

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 12, 2010        

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Money TreeDuring an educational session at CTIA Enterprise & Apps in San Francisco last week, Alex Brisbourne, president and COO of Kore Telematics, a wireless M2M company said that in 2008 health-related products made up about 1 percent of new business for his company. In 2010 he estimates healthcare will account for about 23 percent of new business, according to a report from Wireless Week. Companies like Kore Telematics have been working with medical device makers to embed wireless connectivity into devices to create feedback loops, remote monitoring mechanisms and more. Obviously business is good and getting better.

Other panelists that joined Brisbourne onstage included Eleanor Chye, executive director of AT&T’s mHealth unit; Vivian Funkhouser, head of global healthcare solutions for Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions; Clint McClellan, senior director of business development for Qualcomm’s Health & Life Sciences unit, and Jim Pursley, general manager of sales and marketing for GE Healthcare’s Aging Services.

Wireless Week reported that each of the panelists believed that federal mandates for electronic medical records with favor mHealth, but that “several also said a business model needs to be developed” for mHealth. Hmm.

The idea that mobile health “needs a business model” has been bandied about at most of the mobile health-related conferences that have taken place over the past few months. While it’s been stated before, it’s clear that there is no one single (and will be no one single) business model for mobile health.

Funkhouser’s team at Motorola, for example, which is largely outfitting healthcare workers with mobile devices and services is facing a very different world of business models than her co-panelists. Take AT&T and Eleanor Chye, the company’s mHealth unit’s director. Chye told attendees at CTIA her company views mHealth as an important opportunity for the wellbeing of its employees, retirees and dependents. Likewise, companies like KORE Telematics are embedding wireless chipsets into personal health devices like weight scales or blood pressure cuffs.

There’s plenty of room for different business models that support each one of these companies mobile health strategies. There’s plenty of room for each to pursue multiple business models. Let’s drop the “mobile health lacks a business model” refrain. If you’d like to be very cynical, then at least be partially correct in stating that mobile health lacks “multiple business models.”

More from Wireless Week

Three ways Doximity might make money with a smartphone medical app for physicians

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 12, 2010        

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DoximityLast week we broke the news that the smartphone app startup founded by Epocrates co-founder Jeff Tangney had gone live and was now available for free download from Apple’s AppStore. Here are three strategies that Doximity is currently exploring for their business model (admittedly, very similar business model to Epocrates):

“The base product will remain free but we plan on providing a premium version to hospitals with enhanced communication and other features. This type of model worked well for us at Epocrates. Signing up a hospital will also quickly increase our physician user base,” Tangney told iMedicalApps in a recent interview. “Another potentially lucrative option is physician surveys. We would never sell our subscriber list. However, like we did at Epocrates, we could invite our member physicians to participate in ccasional surveys for honoraria. Since we have such detailed information on physicians’ practices, targeted information like this tends to be very valuable. Physicians can always opt out, if they are not interested. Lastly, we could mediate physician recruiting. Currently, most recruiters cannot target their offers very specifically. About 8% of physicians change jobs every year and, on our platform, they have a much higher chance of finding a job that matches their interest. Again, we would not share out contacts but post the messages ourselves. This type of disintermediation has been a major source of revenue for LinkedIn.”

Tangney also indicated that Doximity believes eprescribing is cumbersome through mobile apps like Epocrates because it requires the user to enter patient information each time — patients lists are not an easy thing to integrate, Tangney said. Tangney said they are also exploring some ways of integrating physician communications around EMR data and acting as the “glue” for the EMR data that is missing.

More over at iMedicalApps

West Wireless awards Videntity $10,000, announces competition to benefit US veterans

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 12, 2010        

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West Wireless Health Institute CEO Don CaseyAt the Health 2.0 event in San Francisco last week, the West Wireless Health Institute’s CEO Don Casey announced that Alan Viars’ startup Videntity had won the Institute’s developer challenge, Accelerating Wireless Health Adoption through a Standardized Social Network Platform. The contest called on developers to find a low-cost, secure way to share real-time health information from a personal health device (like a connected weight scale) to a social network (like Facebook). Viars did just that.

“Our benefactors Gary and Mary West are just absolutely wonderful people,” Casey told attendees at Health 2.0. “They are very concerned about lowering healthcare costs as a way of creating economic growth in the future for the next 50 to 100 years. They’ve challenged us to find great ways to get the consumer more involved. And what better way to take advantage of consumer involvement than to find a way to get a secure, open platform with a low-cost way of getting sensor data onto the social networks? I know that I, personally, have a very competitive brother — I can’t wait to announce the winner, because I will now have a way of showing my weight scale versus his. I’ve got him by 16 pounds! So, I’m feeling very good about it. Our winner is Alan Viars from Videntity.”

Viars winning submission included “a demo where you can step on a [Nintendo] Wii [balance board] and it uploads your weight to the Internet” via Facebook, According to the Baltimore Sun. Since the platform is open, however, it could work with various devices or sensors and a variety of social networks besides Facebook.

“I wanted to design a platform that would allow users to customize, personalize and easily manage their personal health data in a fun, interactive way,” Viars stated in the press release. “I also knew that I wanted to build an open source solution that enables innovators to easily build interesting health applications such as games and challenges. I envisioned a solution where consumers have the choice of how they want to engage, whether it is through a medical device, a mobile phone, or a social network. Being able to manage weight, activity level, and blood pressure from anywhere, and then share that data across social platforms, motivates people to modify their behavior through networks that they are already using.”

This morning the Institute announced a new developer challenge as it kicked off its Health Care Innovation Day event in Washington DC. According to a report in The Hill, the Veterans Affairs Department and the non-profit West Wireless Health Institute “plan to partner on a new contest aimed at spurring the invention of wireless solutions — with a prize headed to the inventor who best addresses veterans’ health needs.” The prize is once again $10,000. More on this competition as the news breaks.

Here’s the short piece from The Hill on the VA-WWHI competition
Read more about Videntity on the startup’s blog here

Mobile health apps: ICD10 apps; Windows Phone 7

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 11, 2010        

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Dr. Chrono inks deal with Vitals: Dr. Chrono, which offers an iPad and web-based electronic medical record application, announced a deal with Vitals, a site that enables patients to search, compare, and rate physicians to provide online appointment scheduling. Dr. Chrono also announced that it was bundling in Remedy Systems e-Prescribing application. Release

Pepsi awards $50K for mHealth project: Pepsi has granted Moped Medical a $50,000 sum to provide health monitoring to New Orleans senior citizens. Moped is a collaboration between AMGlobal Consulting and Sensaris. Mope’s offering includes highly mobile medical monitoring system that helps healthcare workers reach patients where they live. “Sensaris’ SensPack, which enables health workers to reach patients where they live and gather, using cell phone connectivity to bring data to a patient’s doctor or care network in real time… [also] contains sensors to measure glucose, blood pressure and pulse oxygen levels, [as well as] a solar or hand-crank charger, making the units a green technology and completely self-sufficient,” according to the press release. Release

ICD10 Apps: Apps that enable healthcare workers to look up ICD codes are steadily creeping into app stores and smartphones. Here’s one writer’s quick review of the trend: “Screenshots and demos of these applications are about as slick as ICD-10 codes can be, and they’ll likely make physicians and any staff that use them look pretty good, but it’s perhaps too early to tell how useful any of them will prove come deadline day, October 1, 2013,” ICD10 Watch’s Tom Sullivan writes. Sullivan also quoted IDC analyst Janice Young on ICD10 apps: “Most coding is done by computers or office staff which may not have access to smart phones as physicians do now. I would look at this to be useful for one-off assessments, but expect that the practice management applications or ICD-10 remediation tools will do most of the shift.” ICD10 Watch

Wallace Wireless (WIC Pager) inks deal with Philips Emergin: Wallace Wireless announced integration of its Wallace Information Communicator Pager (WIC Pager) server with the Philips Emergin Event Management Platform. The partnership will enable hospitals to better deliver alert message notifications to BlackBerry smartphones and other mobile devices. WIC Pager is a premium alerting and pager replacement offering. Kansas City Star

Windows Phone 7 launched today: Here’s a quick overview with some highlights from Microsoft, video: Keep reading>>