Propeller gets FDA clearances to improve adherence to inhalers from Boehringer, GSK

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 22, 2015        

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PropellerMadison, Wisconsin-based Propeller Health has secured two new FDA clearances for new sensors that are designed to work with two particular inhalers on the market: the Diskus inhaler from GlaxoSmithKline and the Respimat inhaler from Boehringer Ingelheim. Unlike previous FDA clearances for Propeller, the new clearances actually allow Propeller to market its new devices as improving — not just tracking — medication adherence.

“From a business standpoint, these are really important medications because they’re widely used and they’re so important in the daily management of COPD,” Propeller CEO David Van Sickle told MobiHealthNews. “So bringing them on to our platform and the people who are using them to manage their condition has been an important goal with us for a while.”

Propeller’s previous sensor worked with a standard metered-dose inhaler (MDI) and it was able to deduce when the inhaler was being activated through mechanical means. For these more tightly designed inhalers, there’s “a lot more electronics involved” Van Sickle said.

“What we’ve done is put a lot of work into engineering a solution that doesn’t require the person to do anything, but then uses a lot of electronic means to understand when those medications are delivered,” he said. “A lot of different sensors are used to measure the actuation when there isn’t a simple linear path of force that we can monitor like we could with the MDI.” Keep reading>>

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Apple names Nebraska Medicine, King’s College Hospital as latest to use Apple Watch with patients

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 22, 2015        

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MD Anderson Cancer Apple WatchIn Apple’s second-quarter earnings call with investors, CEO Tim Cook highlighted three hospitals that were using the Apple Watch: Nebraska Medicine, Ochsner Health System, and London-based King’s College Hospital.

Nebraska Medicine, which Cook said is the latest hospital to adopt the Apple Watch, has launched apps that help doctors and patients communicate. The provider’s apps also offer doctors quick access to chart and dosage information.

Louisiana-based Ochsner Health System is using Apple Watch with hypertension patients to gather health data, like daily activity and blood pressure while King’s College Hospital is incorporating the Apple Watch into clinical trials for ongoing care and monitoring of patients with cancer.

Apple Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri added that through Apple’s partnership with IBM, which was first announced last year, during the quarter the companies launched 13 new apps, including apps for healthcare.

“There are now 35 apps in IBM’s MobileFirst for iOS catalog that connect users to big data and analytics right on their iPads or iPhones,”Maestri said. “And we expect a total of 100 apps to be available by the end of 2015.”

Maestri also said that since announcing Apple’s partnership with Japan Post in April, which provides Japanese senior citizens with iPads that they can use to manage, among other things, their health, Apple has seen similar interest from other countries looking for ways to support their aging populations.  Keep reading>>

China-based Sleepace raises $7M for sleep tracking device

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 22, 2015        

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SleepaceChina-based Sleepace, which has developed a sleep tracking device, raised $7 million in a round led by retail chain Luolai Home Textile with participation from ecommerce giant JD.com, according to a report in TechInAsia. This brings the company’s total funding to $10 million to date.

Sleepace’s device, called RestOn, is a thin strip that is attached to a mattress, similar to Finland-based Beddit‘s device. RestOn tracks sleep time, heart rate, respiratory rate, body movement, and sleep cycles. Based on the data it collects, the device sends performance analysis reports to the companion app to help the user understand their sleep. Users can also add multiple accounts to the app to manage different family members’ sleep habits.

The device costs $149 and it can be shipped to the US.

JD.com, one of Sleepace’s investors, previously invested in Misfit, maker of the activity tracking devices Shine, Flash, and Flash Link. Misfit co-founder and CEO Sonny Vu told MobiHealthNews at the time of the investment that JD.com, which Vu compared to Amazon, would help Misfit better understand the Chinese market and help it to develop and launch products more quickly.

A similar device to RestOn, called Beddit, partnered with Misfit last year. Through this partnership, customers can purchase a co-branded Beddit device from Misfit’s website, and the tracker will be integrated into the Misfit Shine app. Toward the end of last year, Beddit announced that its Beddit Sleep Monitor was available in 1,000 Bed, Bath and Beyond stores across the US.

State medical boards continue to wrestle with telemedicine guidelines

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 22, 2015        

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teladocacquisitonThe regulatory battles for telemedicine continue to play out slowly in state legislatures across the country. This week, Mississippi’s medical board shelved a rule that would have put strict limits on telemedicine usage while Colorado’s state medical board updated draft guidelines that will determine what doctors are and aren’t allowed to do via telemedicine. And the interstate compact proposed last May by the Federation of State Medical Boards continues to build momentum as more than a fifth of states have now adopted it.

As reported by Mississippi Watchdog, the proposed Mississippi rule would have done a few things to make life more difficult for out-of-state telemedicine providers like Teladoc: It would require companies providing telemedicine services in Mississippi to establish a formal relationship with an in-state care provider and it would require video conferencing in order for any drugs to be prescribed.

“A physician may not prescribe medications based on a phone call or a questionnaire for the purpose of telemedicine,” the proposed rule reads. “Videoconferencing is required as part of the teleconsult if a medication is to be prescribed. Telehealth services is not intended and therefore shall not be used for the management of chronic pain with controlled substance prescription drugs.” Keep reading>>

Round-up: Recent, notable digital health hires

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 21, 2015        

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Dr. Nick Terheyden

Dr. Nick Terheyden

Last week San Francisco public radio KQED’s publication Future of You posted a must-read report on the growing trend of California medical school graduates joining digital health startups instead of continuing their training and pursuing residency programs.

The report was anchored with data from physician network Doximity, which found that medical students from Stanford and UCSF have some of the lowest rates of pursuing residency programs after graduation when compared to schools in other parts of the country.

For example, in 2011, Stanford came in 117th out of 123 medical schools analyzed by Doximity, and it had only 65 percent of its students moving into residencies that year. Doximity points to the allure of digital health startups as one of the main contributing factors to this low number.

It’s worth remembering, though, how nascent digital health still was back in 2011 — Rock Health tracked less than $1 billion in funding that year. So, if the trend is real, it might be that there were many more dropouts in recent years given the influx of funding and ever-increasing number of digital health startups in need of clinical experience.

It’s not just physicians who are signing on to digital health jobs though. Companies, organizations, and governments have announced a handful of notable digital health hires, departures and appointments in recent weeks. Here’s a quick round-up:

Dell’s Healthcare & Life Sciences group announced that Dr. Nick van Terheyden, formerly of Nuance Communications, has been named Dell’s new Chief Medical Officer. Terheyden will report to Dell’s Healthcare & Life Sciences (HCLS) Services VP And global general manager, Sid Nair.  Keep reading>>

1DocWay raises $1.7M for telepsychiatry networks

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 21, 2015        

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1DocWayNew York City-based 1DocWay has raised $1.7 million in a round led by iSeedVC, with participation from Rock Health, which announced its share of the investment in April, Asset Management, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Waterline Ventures.

The company, which was founded in 2011, has developed a telepsychiatry network to connect hospitals with community health centers, skilled nursing facilities, military bases, critical access hospitals, and other underserved care settings to offer patients mental health services. Care is delivered through a browser-based videoconferencing tool that can be used on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. The service also offers physicians a scheduling feature and a medical record to store health data.

“We’re not a direct to consumer application,” 1DocWay CEO Samir Malik told MobiHealthNews. “Instead what we’re doing is helping hospitals who have access to a psychiatrist connect with nursing homes and smaller hospitals who don’t. In doing so, what we’re doing is really taking providers from places where they already exist and using technology to have them deliver services into settings where psychiatry is terribly needed but unavailable today.”

In the first half of 2015, 1DocWay’s offering has helped treat 20,000 patients across 11 states — Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Some of the company’s customers include Community Health Systems, Acadia Healthcare, Strategic Behavioral Health, and BJC HealthCare.

“We admire 1DocWay’s focus on a vulnerable (and enormous) population of the 80 million Americans living in rural communities with limited access to local psychiatric professionals,” Rock Health Founder and Managing Director Halle Tecco said in a statement. “The company’s founding team has an impressive background and expertise in the psychiatric field, well-positioning them to make a huge impact on behavioral health.”