Omada Health raises $23M to double team, launch new products

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 10, 2014        

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Omada healthSan Francisco-based Omada Health, an online and mobile diabetes prevention program, raised $23 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Kaiser Permanente Ventures and return backers U.S. Venture Partners and The Vertical Group. This brings Omada Health’s total funding to $28.5 million.

Omada Health’s program, Prevent, lasts 16 weeks and aims to help those that are at-risk for Type 2 diabetes make positive health behavior changes. The program was based on a 2002 NIH Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) intervention that produced significant results for prediabetics.

Users are paired with a health coach who monitors their progress throughout the program. Each week, users take an interactive health lesson that covers a range of topics including exercise and nutrition on a mobile device or computer. As part of the program, users receive a wireless-enabled scale and pedometer so that they can track their progress digitally.

Since their last investment round in March 2014, Prevent has signed on more than 10 enterprise customers including “major organizations, integrated delivery networks and health plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana, Kaiser Permanente, and Stanford Hospital & Clinics,” Sean Duffy, co-founder and CEO of Omada Health, told MobiHealthNews in an email.

Some of the funds from this round will be used to expand Omada Health’s product line to include more services that focus on preventive health. Duffy said they are actively exploring potential areas that they could create programs in and hope to begin prototyping new programs this year. Omada Health plans to have one to two new programs in the market at some point in 2015.

Omada Health also expects to double in size, from 30 to 60 people, by the end of the year. Another portion of the most recent round will go toward hiring engineers and designers.

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PatientsLikeMe signs five-year data access deal with Genentech

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 10, 2014        

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patientslikemeBoston-based PatientsLikeMe, a hub for crowd-sourced patient data and an open research platform, has announced its most wide-reaching pharma partnership yet, a five-year agreement to share data with Genentech, a division of Roche.

“They are a forward-looking company in the health IT space, and … I think they’re really looking at new forms of evidence and how that can improve their business and impact their products and services,” PatientsLikeMe President and Co-founder Ben Heywood told MobiHealthNews. “They are a patient-centered business and they’re really trying to improve their leadership in that arena.”

PatientsLikeMe has opened up its data to pharmaceutical companies several times in the past. They worked with Sanofi to recruit for clinical trials a year ago, a similar arrangement to one Merck made with the company in August of 2012. Last summer, PatientsLikeMe announced a partnership with clinical consulting firm inVentiv Health to use the platform for clinical trial recruitment for InVentiv’s pharmaceutical clients. They also launched an open-participation research platform with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last year.  Keep reading>>

European Commission asks for help from industry to regulate, encourage mobile health

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 10, 2014        

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European Commission Mobile HealthThis week the European Commission announced a consultation — similar to a public notice from the FDA here in the US — that asks digital health companies and others for help in identifying ways to encourage and regulate mobile health, which the Commission defines as ”ways to enhance the health and wellbeing of Europeans with the use of mobile devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, patient monitoring devices and other wireless devices.”

The EU is looking to move the needle on a number of issues related to mobile health in Europe, including: the safety of health apps, concerns over data misuse, lack of interoperability, and lack of understanding of legal requirements for wellness apps.

While the Commission’s “green paper” on mobile health poses about a dozen specific questions to those working in digital health, a few example questions include: What safety and performance requirements should apply to lifestyle and wellbeing apps? Which security safeguards could ensure health data is safe in an mHealth context? What is the best way to promote mHealth entrepreneurship in Europe? The EU is also looking for early evidence of mobile health’s impact on healthcare systems in Europe. The Commission has given a July 3, 2014 deadline for comments and it expects the consultation to inform policy decisions set to be announced sometime in 2015.

The European Commission has also funded a handful of mobile health initiatives with about €100 million already committed and about that much still available over the course of the next two years. Some of the mobile health projects that have benefitted from the EU’s funding to date, include:  Keep reading>>

Nielsen: More fitness devices purchased in-store than online

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 10, 2014        

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misfit shine t-shirtOnly 15 percent of consumers use a nutrition-tracking website or mobile app to stay healthy, according to a Nielsen survey of 471 respondents called the Health and Wellness survey conducted in February 2014.

The post from Nielsen combines insights from not only the Health and Wellness Survey, but also the Connected Life Report, which MobiHealthNews covered at the end of March. This report surveyed 3,956 respondents last November.

According to Nielsen, 13 percent of consumers use a fitness game on a mobile devices or game console to stay in shape. Social interaction is a big motivator for consumers who want to get healthy — 49 percent of respondents said their family and friends were the most helpful for staying motivated. This could explain why the social aspect of health programs such as Weight Watchers are more popular than other features.

When shopping for a fitness device, 48 percent of fitness band owners and 54 percent of health device owners did research on what device to buy online. The top source of information, after online research, was recommendations from friends and family — 36 percent of fitness band owners and 25 percent of mobile health device owners asked their peers for advice before purchasing a device. Thirty percent of both fitness band owners and mobile health device owners shopped in stores for their fitness devices. Nielsen explained that the “mobile health” devices include pedometers.

While online shopping yielded the highest results for researching devices, 33 percent purchased the device online through the brand’s website and 27 percent purchased their device online through a third party. More consumers, 37 percent, purchased their device in stores and Nielsen noted that ”manufacturers of fitness bands in particular should take note of the sway that a hands-on experience can provide”.

Once they purchased their devices, 62 percent of fitness device owners were most interested in tracking miles traveled and calories burned. Nearly half of fitness device owners used their device to monitor their heart rate.

Nielsen found that 62 percent of fitness device owners used their device daily and 29 percent of this group used their device multiple times a day. Of course, another recent survey from Endeavor Partners noted that one-third of consumers who own a wearable device stopped using it within six months. Still, according to Nielsen, the number of smartphone owners who used a fitness device increased 18 percent from January 2013, when there were 39 million users, to January 2014, when there were 45.8 million consumers.

Only 28 percent of fitness band users say their device was worth the price. People were most concerned with the device’s level of privacy and the lack of unique features. For 30 percent of consumers, the privacy issue was important because they believed their devices would make it “too easy” for others to access personal information. Twenty eight percent of consumers wanted more unique features because they felt like they could have used a device they already own, likely their smartphone, to do what their fitness device does.

Apps with fitness tracking features, such as Moves by ProtoGeo, have been advertising for a while now that the software on a smartphone could be just as effective as a fitness device. Most recently, Jason Jacobs, CEO of RunKeeper, said that dedicated trackers are on the “road to nowhere.” He went on to compare these fitness trackers to cameras and music players, which were swallowed by the smartphone.

For those consumers that don’t already own devices, 17 percent said they would consider purchasing a device when it drops to “a reasonable price” and 9 percent would consider purchasing a device when the bugs have been worked out.

SparkPeople’s app is free again as the weight loss company steps up its mobile strategy

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 10, 2014        

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SparkPeopleOnline fitness and weight loss community SparkPeople has made its app Diet and Food Tracker (now known as SparkPeople Calorie Counter and Weight Loss) free once more. For about the past two years it has been $3.99, but it was free from 2009 to 2012. The move signals a shift in thinking from web-first to mobile-first for the company, according to Chief Operating Officer Dave Heilmann.

“From a development point of view, we’ve always been a mobile-second approach: We design a feature for the web, make sure it works well, and then port it to mobile,” Heilmann told MobiHealthNews. “Starting January 1st this year, we’ve become mobile first. We’re building a future with mobile in mind so it works well on web and mobile.”

It’s an interesting move for a company to take a revenue-generating mobile app and make it free — especially one that already made the same transition in the opposite direction five years ago. Heilmann said there were both financial and consumer-focused motivations for the move.

“It was a nice source of revenue for us. It complemented our sponsorship revenue. But we started to feel we were losing share in the diet space to companies with free apps or a free app and a free site,” Heilmann said. “Our site was still free, but you had to pay for the app and we think that cut down on some word of mouth and things like that.”

SparkPeople brings in about 75 percent of its income through sponsorship and advertising. The other 25 percent comes through a combination of paid apps, books, and device revenue — including Sparkpeople’s branded version of the Pebble activity tracker from Fitlinxx. Heilmann said the Spark Activity Tracker has been a large revenue source, but not “competitive in the broader market. He hopes having a free app will help encourage adoption of the tracker.

“We still may do some other more targeted paid apps in the future,” Heilmann said. “But we had a nice year on the sponsorship side. And we are looking at the future of sponsorships and realizing, we need to be strong on mobile. Companies like Facebook and Twitter now get 50 percent of their sponsorship revenue from mobile apps.”

Having a free app allows the company to focus more on its mobile-first and mobile-only user, so recent updates have involved putting more features from the website into an easily usable form on the app. Whereas before the app was mainly a tracking tool and calorie counter for users of the website, the iOS version now includes educational and community features of the site as well. Those updates will launch on Android in about a month.

The move to a free app has had a marked effect on downloads, Heilmann said, jumping the app from #125 to #10 in the free health apps category on iTunes on the first day of promoting the app to members. The goal is to catch up with and stay ahead of competitors like LoseIt! and MyFitnessPal, he said.

RxRevu raises $540,000 for medication transparency tool

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 9, 2014        

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RxRevuDenver, Colorado-based RxRevu, which offers a medication transparency tool, has raised $540,000, according to a recent SEC filing that also notes the company hopes to raise another $210,000. RxRevu founder Carm Huntress told MobiHealthNews that the seed round’s exact total is undisclosed but that it is “well over” $500,000.

Investors in the round include a Denver, Colorado-based incubator Galvanize and other unnamed angels. RxRevu also recently announced that they will be a part of Startup Health’s next class.

RxRevu provides data to various healthcare groups on how to save money when buying medications. The company has catalogued thousands of generic drugs. RxRevu has seen interest in using its product from different healthcare sectors that deal with medication pricing including payors, providers, and healthcare app developers that focus on digital health tools and medication adherence apps.

“We are currently licensing our data,” Huntress said. “We have five active pilots right now and we have a licensing deal with a large cost transparency company on the west coast that’s using [RxRevu] with at least two Fortune 500 companies that we know about. Our data is out there active in the market today and we plan on — probably within the next 30 days — launching a number of new customers, but we’re still not finished negotiating those contracts.”  Keep reading>>