Mental health screening app benefits from CMS payment decision

By: Neil Versel | Mar 27, 2012        

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Mym3 appA recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to start covering preventive screening for depression and alcohol abuse is paving the way for wider use of a mobile app that helps primary care physicians find signs of mental illness that might otherwise be missed.

As part of healthcare reform efforts, CMS said in October that it would pay for annual screenings for both conditions. The news followed by just a few months the release of a $2.99 iPhone app called mym3, a screening tool that walks clinicians and consumers through a 27-item questionnaire in about three minutes to look for not only depression but also anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“This one’s unique because it screens for four different disorders at once,” suggests psychiatrist Dr. Steve Daviss, CMIO of the app’s developer, Bethesda, Md.-based M-3 Information.

The mym3 app actually incorporates three components: the consumer-focused depressioncheck screening tool; a Web-based version for physicians called M3 Clinician; and My Mood Monitor, which lets patients track their moods over time and share that information with their doctors.

The screening test assigns a score that, according to the company, “reflects the patient’s overall need for treatment, measures functional impairment, and explores alcohol and substance abuse.” It has proven to be surprisingly accurate. M-3 Information reports that a trial at the University of North Carolina showed that a score of 33 or higher corresponded to a 90 percent likelihood a patient had a diagnosable mental illness, while a score below 30 indicated a 10 percent likelihood.

The same UNC researchers, funded by M-3 Information, discussed the efficacy of the four-illness screening test in a paper that appeared in the Annals of Family Medicine in March 2010. The accuracy of the My Mood Monitor checklist “equals that of currently used single-disorder screening instruments and has the additional benefit of combining them into a 1-page tool,” the study concluded. Keep reading>>

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Clark’s seven deadly mobile myths

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 27, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAt MadPow’s Healthcare Experience Design 2012 conference this week in Boston, Josh Clark the founder of design consulting firm Global Moxie shared his “Seven Deadly Mobile Myths” in a presentation that would likely resonate with many working in mobile health today. Clark’s first major foray into healthcare apps was with the very popular Couch-to-5K website and app, which originally launched in 1996. More recently, Clark helped Asthmapolis design and launch its app for inhaler medication tracking and asthma trigger mapping.

Clark argued that there are a range of “mobile cultures” out there and too often designers and developers have a simple or even condescending view of mobile. It’s an “every user and platform is the same as the next” mindset, he said, and the result is often “dumbed down apps” and sites that “patronize” users, Clark said.

Here are Clark’s “Seven Deadly Mobile Myths”.

Myth #1. Mobile users are always distracted and in a rush.

While it’s true that mobile phones and smartphones are a great way to look something up on the go, mobile users are not always distracted or in a rush. Mobile isn’t just on the go, Clark said. It’s also on the couch and accessible during that three hour layover at the airport. Clark said a recent survey found that some 40 percent of people use their phones in the bathroom, too. When it comes to mobile, sometimes these device have our complete attention. It’s a mistake to assume that mobile users are “all jittery” and using the devices for short sessions. The result of that thinking is a lot of bad ideas, Clark said.

Myth #2. Mobile means less.

Clark argued that mobile should not mean “lite”. Mobile content and features should be at least the same as other platforms and in some cases they should offer more, Clark said. This is very obvious in mobile health where third party peripheral devices are just starting to spring up. Clark said designers should ask: How can we do more with these devices?

Myth #3. Complexity is a dirty word.

Complexity is “awesome”, according to Clark. Complexity is what gives our apps richness. For many health services all that complexity of data is what we need for them to be useful. We can’t just dumb it down, Clark said. He drew a sharp distinction between complexity and “complication”. The trick is to “make complexity uncomplicated,” Clark said. Create “complex yet comprehensible applications.” Clark pointed to his favorite weather app, which just lets him know whether he needs to take an umbrella with him to work in the morning. That’s all he cares about. The app itself manages to leverage a lot of complex data to arrive at its conclusion, but Clark only cares about one thing: umbrella or no umbrella? What kind of complexities do health app users need revealed to them?

Myth #4. Extra taps and clicks are evil.

Clark made an interesting point about this widespread belief that too many taps, clicks, and menus leads to less usable apps: “This comes from network latency,” he said. With today’s cellular networks and WiFi networks, information is pretty quickly and readily available, he said. As long as each tap delivers extra information or even a smile, then extra taps are okay. Even good. It’s a more about “tap quality” than “tap quantity”, according to Clark.

Myth #5. Gotta have a mobile website.

Clark said we should focus on designing things that look great on any platform, including desktop, mobile phones, tablets, and maybe even voice, television or devices we haven’t even imagined yet. There is not a separate web for any of these: “If you want to reach as many people as possible – create sites and apps that will adapt for their container,” Clark said. He also noted that if your site bumps users on mobile phones to a “mobile.mysite.com”, then you are probably doing it wrong. The “u” in URL stands for universal: You only need one.

Myth #6. Mobile is about apps.

The focus on creating apps for different platforms and devices is what has us running in a panic right now, Clark said. An app is not a strategy though. Your product is not an app though — it’s the content. Make that content work for all platforms.

Myth #7. CMS and APIs are for data nerds.

CMS (content management systems) and APIs not for the data nerds anymore, Clark said. “Metadata is the new art direction,” he noted, quoting Ethan Resnick. Designers and developers need to let go of some of the control about data and “face the multiscreen future” by designing structured content.

Clark concluded that if we can get rid of these “stubborn myths” then designers can better recognize that they have some of the most interesting work right now: “We should embrace this uncertainty we face and think big,” Clark said. “And please, go make something amazing.”

Wellness incubator WellTech launches with 2 startups

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 26, 2012        

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WellTech Funding incubatorThis week a new wellness-focused incubator for startups launched in New York City: WellTech Funding. The six-month long incubation program seeks startups focused on consumer wellness solutions, including new online platforms, services, web or mobile apps or other consumer tools and products. The program is looking for both consumer-facing products and services as well as B2B offerings for wellness businesses.

“The most competitive candidates will be tackling an untapped market opportunity — or unsolved problem — within the expansive wellness market, and will be led by hard-working, passionate founders and teams,” WellTech states on its website. “WellTech Funding seeks companies and solutions that are bold, but actually buildable, i.e., those with capital-efficient business models that can make major progress during the six-month WellTech-acceleration process.”

WellTech is just the latest health-related incubator to join the ranks of San Francisco-based Rock Health, New York-based Blueprint Health, and Chicago-based Healthbox. StartUp Health also recently announced its first class of entrepreneurs for its three-year “academy” program. Welltech claims to be different from existing incubators and programs because of its focus on wellness. Other incubators may include some startups with a wellness focus, but WellTech aims to exclusively focus on prevention and wellbeing.

WellTech participants will receive a minimum of $50,000 in capital, according to the incubator, which will then receive an unspecified stake in the company as well as rights to participation in future rounds of funding.

The organization has already announced its first two startups: FITist and Wizpert:

FITist: “Members book all their classes and manage their schedule on FITiST’s universal fitness calendar, the first centralized calendar for the boutique fitness industry. FITiST also has created a black book of the top personal fitness, wellness and beauty services that can be added to any plan. Currently in beta in New York City and Los Angeles, FITiST plans to expand to other cities nationwide in the near future.”

Wizpert: “Platform that instantly connects advice seekers with qualified experts for a real-time conversation on a wide range of topics, from nutrition and exercise to cooking and parenting. The platform allows highly rated experts to monetize their advice by joining Wizpert and placing a customized button on their blogs. There are also hundreds of “wizperts” available for free. Wizpert is backed by New York City-based Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. The iPhone app will be released in April 2012.”

WellTech was founded by the executives behind SpaFinder, a spa and wellness resource.

More details in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Asthmapolis to deploy 500 connected inhalers in Louisville

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 26, 2012        

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AsthmapolisAt the HIMSS 2012 meeting in February members of the Asthmapolis team told MobiHealthNews that its inhaler tracking technology would soon find a wide deployment in Louisville, Kentucky. A recent report in the Louisville Courier-Journal detailed the Asthmapolis deployment, which is set to go live some time this May with 500 people. Previous Asthmapolis programs only included a few dozen participants. The Louisville study is expected to last about one year.

Asthmapolis, Norton Healthcare, and IBM are all teaming up to help the city try to figure out what’s driving the city’s asthma problem, according to the newspaper report. Some 500 residents in Louisville will be equipped with Asthmapolis’ tracking device, which takes a time stamp every time the inhaler is used and also is able to track location if the user has a GPS and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone nearby.

According to the report, more than 100,000 people in the Louisville area are affected by asthma. A 2009 survey found that 15 percent of adults polled in the city said they had asthma, slightly higher than the state’s 14.9 percent and more than a percentage point higher than the national average of 13.5 percent.

IBM plans to send a team of experts to the city to help the program’s administrators figure out how to crunch the collected data, which will be mashed up with air quality, pollen outbreaks, and traffic congestion. Louisville often ranks high on national lists for pollen outbreaks, according to the report. The number of days that the city has exceeded federal smog standards reportedly tripled between 2005 and 2011, according to the newspaper report.

The study is being funded by Norton, Owsley Brown Charitable Foundation, and The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The University of Louisville’s physicians are helping the program administrators determine which patients to invite.

More in the Courier-Journal report here.

BodyMedia nets $2.7M in funding

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 26, 2012        

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BodyMedia Fit ArmbandBodyMedia has raised more than $2.7 million in a recent round of funding that it hopes will soon hit $10 million, according to an SEC filing that MedCity News spotted. The company stated that the first equity sales occurred on March 13, 2012. So far the round of funding has included participation from four investors, according to the regulatory document.

BodyMedia’s last round of funding, according to SEC documents, was a $4 million round that included debt and equity back in October 2010.

Earlier this year BodyMedia announced a partnership with Avery Dennison, which leverages Proteus Biomedical’s peel-and-stick patch technology, to develop a disposable, wireless sensor patch device for use in preliminary evaluations for weight management. The patch, which is meant to be worn for up to seven days, makes use of BodyMedia’s array of sensors to track calorie burn, steps taken, activity levels, sleep patterns and more. BodyMedia says it collects more than 5,000 data points each minute. BodyMedia’s other tracking devices are typically worn around the user’s upper arm. BodyMedia has been making such devices since 2001.

Last year BodyMedia also announced plans to bring its device’s data to Panasonic televisions; add cellular-connectivity to its armband device via Sprint’s network; and integrate its data with RunKeeper’s Health Graph.

For more on BodyMedia’s round of funding, read this report over at MedCity News.
Also: Read the SEC filing here.

Patient monitoring device market to hit $8B in 2017

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 26, 2012        

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iHealth Lab Glucose MeterAccording to a new report from GBI Research, the global patient monitoring devices market will hit $8 billion in 2017, up from $6.1 billion in 2010. The firm pegs the device market’s CAGR at about 4 percent for the next five years. GBI notes that advancements in wireless and sensor technologies are driving the patient monitoring devices market.

GBI also points to the typical trends that continue to drive the need for these devices: The rising healthcare burden in developed and developing markets where life expectancy is increasing. The firm claims that these devices can help reduce the length of stay at hospitals and provide continuous monitoring in the patient’s home, improving the quality of life for the patient while reducing healthcare costs. The patient monitoring devices are also convenient for both patients and providers, according to GBI.

The firm points to China and India as two potentially lucrative markets for patient monitoring device companies.

A few more details in the firm’s press release below. Keep reading>>