There are more healthcare accelerators than ever, but do they work?

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 13, 2014        

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CHCF accelerator graphicThere are 115 dedicated healthcare accelerators worldwide, with 87 in the United States, according to a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation. The report, authored by Lisa Suennen, a prominent digital health investor who blogs under the name “Venture Valkyrie“, includes university and corporate accelerators but doesn’t count multiple sites (like Healthbox London and Healthbox Boston) as separate entities.

For the report, Suennen spoke with a number of stakeholders in the accelerator process including entrepreneurs, sponsors, and investors. She discovered that though the market is growing and evolving in a number of different ways — most notably higher investment amounts from accelerators and more specialization — there’s also a widespread belief that there may be too many accelerators, churning out more companies than the market or the existing VCs can handle.  Keep reading>>

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MyHealthDirect raises $8 million for white-labeled, appointment-booking

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 13, 2014        

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MyHealthDirectNashville, Tennessee-based appointment booking service MyHealthDirect raised $8 million in a mix of venture capital and debt from Chrysalis Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, and Ares Capital Corp. The debt came from Ares Capital Corp in the form of a senior credit facility. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $12 million.

MyHealthDirect plans to use these funds to scale up its offerings for hospital and provider partners.

“This additional round of funding will enable us to continue expanding our business to meet growing market demand. MyHealthDirect solutions are delivering repeatable, scalable value by attracting new patients, retaining existing patients, and optimizing practices and health systems,” MyHealthDirect CEO Tom Cox said in a statement. “We are focused on helping providers transform the patient experience outside the moment of care.”  Keep reading>>

NIH’s $10.8M grant for sensor-enabled congestive heart failure, smoking cessation tools

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 13, 2014        

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AutoSenseThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded an $10.8 million grant to launch a new initiative, called Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K), which will see a team of researchers working to better understand and develop tools that leverage data from health sensors and wearables. The team of researchers will be led by University of Memphis computer scientist Dr. Santosh Kumar.

This investment was a portion of a larger grant the NIH award as part of its Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, which received a total of $32 million to find more uses for biomedical research data.

The MD2K team consists of computer science, engineering, statistical, and biomedical researchers from 11 universities. The researchers will use five wearable devices, mostly developed in-house, to study triggers and eventually develop tools to help reduce readmissions for congestive heart failure patients and to help prevent abstinent smokers from lighting up again. The study will take place over the next four years.  Keep reading>>

In-Depth: Is the road to healthcare price transparency becoming clearer?

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 10, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTThis week, a Massachusetts law went into effect requiring health insurers to make realtime cost information publicly available, an unprecedented move. As WBUR reported recently, the initiative has already started to shine light on some galling price discrepancies for procedures like MRIs, surgeries, and lab tests (for instance, an MRI in Boston ranges from $614 to $1,800 with no discernible difference in the test).

This is a big step for healthcare cost transparency, but not the first and definitely not the last. One of the biggest IPO success stories in digital health, Castlight Health, offers price transparency tools to employers and insurers. In fact, both Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim used Castlight to build their platforms to conform to the new law (Blue Cross Blue Shield used Vitals).

But even with more and more companies, legislators, and health plans dedicated to healthcare price transparency, it remains one of the biggest challenges to reforming the healthcare system, and one that often spurs disagreement about who’s responsibility it is to make change.  Keep reading>>

Study: Connected healthcare device sales to surpass $3B by 2019

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 9, 2014        

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Juniper ResearchConnected healthcare device sales will exceed $3 billion globally by 2019, according to a report from analysis firm Juniper Research.

Juniper explains that the connected healthcare devices it looked at include blood pressure cuffs, oximeters for diabetes, and sleep monitors for sleep apnea.

According to the research firm, this growth can be partially attributed to the result of Apple and Samsung’s newly launched health platforms, HealthKit and SAMI. Samsung unveiled its Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions, or SAMI, in May. It described the platform as a “data broker” that future third party health tracking devices could upload data to. This data could then be used by app developers to create new apps.  Keep reading>>

Is Fitbit’s opt-out drawing the battle lines against HealthKit?

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 9, 2014        

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Fitbit Flex__ColorsEver since Apple announced its HealthKit developer toolkit, which aggregates data from a number of different self-tracking apps and devices, it’s been a foregone conclusion that Fitbit would be connected. Apple showed a screencap of Fitbit at its developer conference announcing the product. In a recent interview, a Jawbone spokesperson used Fitbit as an example of a device that could potentially connect to Jawbone’s app via HealthKit. Beth Israel CIO John Halamka name-dropped Fitbit in talking about how his hospital might use HealthKit.

But apparently, no one bothered to tell Fitbit about its upcoming integration with HealthKit. At some point in the recent past, 9to5 Mac first reported, Fitbit posted on its customer feedback forum that it had no current plans to integrate with the platform. The company’s statement is below:

“We do not currently have plans to integrate with HealthKit.

It is an interesting new platform and we will watch as it matures, looking for opportunities to improve the Fitbit experience. At the moment, we’re working on other exciting projects that we think will be valuable to users. The question we want you to keep in mind when providing feedback is: What do you imagine a HealthKit integration would entail and what do you expect to get out of it?

Your voices are being heard. We’re actively reviewing your responses and providing feedback to our product development team.”

The statement was in response to numerous requests from users, but the requests are from as far back as June. It’s clear that Fitbit only recently chose to respond to them, but it also didn’t make a post on its public blog or issue a release to journalists.  Keep reading>>