Fitbug CEO to step down after eight month stint

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 10, 2014        

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Fitbug OrbFitbug Holdings CEO Malcolm Fried will step down at the end of this year, according to a statement from the company. Fried, who came to Fitbug from Bloomberg, has only been with the company since April, when he succeeded LA Fitness founder David Turner.

“Malcolm Fried, the CEO of Fitbug Holdings Plc, has decided to step down from the company at the end of the year,” Fitbug wrote in a statement. “Malcolm joined to assist with the formation of strategy and the identification of commercial markets. The company now has a firm focus and direction and Malcolm has chosen to resign from the Board.”

Fried will remain available in a consulting role, while Fergus Kee, currently the chairman of Fitbug Holdings will revert to his original position of executive chairman and take over management of the company. Meanwhile, Fitbug founder Paul Landau will continue to serve as CEO of Fitbug Ltd, the operating company that actually produces and sells Fitbug Orb devices.

Fitbug Holdings is a digital health and fitness business consisting mainly of a coaching service called Kiqplan, which launched earlier this year, and the Fitbug Orb, a low-cost activity tracker.  Keep reading>>

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Kaiser: Members who use app are more adherent, satisfied, and loyal

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 10, 2014        

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Kaiser PermanenteKaiser Permanente now has 70 percent of its 9 million members as active users of its online and mobile offerings, according to Christine Paige, senior vice president of marketing and digital services at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Paige spoke about some of the lessons Kaiser has learned about the role it has to play in a customer’s life as a healthcare provider and payer.

“One thing we’ve learned is that we’re not going to be in the health and wellness app business,” Paige said. “There’s a lot of people who do great work there, some who don’t do great work, but many who do, doing fitness apps and monitoring etc. And that’s really important and for some people it’s very, very powerful, it helps them get motivated to get done what they need to get done with their health. But for us, our sweet spot is in making access to the clinical part, the medical part much much easier. And that’s a complement to what people do in their own life.”

Rather than try to have a presence in every area of consumer health and wellness, something other providers and payers have dabbled in, Kaiser has found success zeroing in on the patient-doctor relationship. In fact, Paige says, Kaiser’s “killer app” is secure email.

“Probably about 1 in 4 times people do that they don’t have to have an office visit,” she said. “And in a world where there’s more and more cost sharing that’s a really great thing. I don’t have to drive, I don’t have to park, and I don’t have to pay whatever that office visit might have cost me.”  Keep reading>>

TouchCare raises $4M from Mosaic for video visits app

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 10, 2014        

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TouchCareDurham, North Carolina-based TouchCare raised $4 million in a round led by strategic investor Mosaic Health Solutions, a subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, for its video visits app. Mosaic has previously invested in cellular-enabled glucose meter and diabetes management company Telcare and next-gen PHR company LifeNexus.

“We believe the personal connection between physicians and their own patients is a key factor for continuity of care, something often missing in today’s fragmented health care system,” TouchCare CEO and Founder Damian Gilbert said in a statement. “TouchCare facilitates this, by giving providers, whether an entire health care system or a small practice, an easy and convenient way to offer secure video appointments with their own patients. The investment from Mosaic Health Solutions allows us to continue this mission and further positions TouchCare at the forefront of mobile health care.”

Physicians who want to use TouchCare download the app and then offer an invitation code to their patients. According to the company, physicians in primary care and emergency medicine, providers at large ACOs, and small to medium size speciality practices are using the app. One customer that TouchCare disclosed is Mount Sinai in New York.

The company says its video visits service is protected by a “triple-encrypted secure line”.  The quality of the streaming video is only as good as the network available to both parties.

The company also offers another app, called New Mum. This app helps women connect with a live midwife or nurse to answer pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn-related questions. From the app, women can choose a topic they have questions about, choose a nurse from the list in the app based on their bios, and schedule an appointment.

Both apps are currently only available on iOS devices.

Gamgee raises $4M for 22otters, HerStory patient engagement apps

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 10, 2014        

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22OttersSan Mateo, California-based Gamgee raised $4 million in a mix of equity and debt for its suite of patient engagement apps, according to an SEC filing. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $6 million.

Existing investor Vinod Khosla was listed on the SEC document alongside Gamgee CEO and former Epocrates CTO Bob Quinn. The document also says there were a total of three investors that contributed to the round. Quinn was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Khosla Ventures from June 2012 to January 2013.

Gamgee offerings that are currently in the market include GW MFA Voice, 22otters, and HerStory. GW MFA Voice helps users prep for their appointment at George Washington Medical Faculty Associate and 22Otters helps users prep for a colonoscopy. In both apps, patients can preview a checklist of steps they need to complete and, for 22otters, the app also displays voice coaching, graphics, and animations that make colonoscopy prep steps easy to follow. Providers can customize the instructions and checklists in the app for their patients.  Keep reading>>

SocialWellth acquires health app certification company Happtique

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 10, 2014        

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HapptiqueRegistryNew York City-based Happtique, which had developed a health app certification and “prescription” platform, has been acquired by SocialWellth for an undisclosed sum. Happtique was a wholly owned subsidiary of GNYHA Ventures, the for-profit arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association.

It shut down its app certification program in December 2013 after a health IT firm exposed security issues with apps that had gotten certification from the company as being secure and fit for physicians to recommend to patients. Happtique has been mostly quiet since then.

In May 2013 most of Happtique’s executive team left the company over disagreements with the parent company over Happtique’s strategic direction.

SocialWellth has similarly reviewed and certified health apps for curated app stores offered by insurance companies to their members. Cigna’s health coaching offering, Cigna Health Matters, includes SocialWellth’s recommended apps. The two initially worked together on Cigna’s GoYou offering, which has since been folded into Health MattersKeep reading>>

In texting interventions for problem drinking, content tone is key

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 9, 2014        

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texting drinking graph

A slide from Fred Muench’s presentation shows the effect of different message styles on binge drinking.

Evidence continues to emerge that when it comes to text message-based health interventions, not all text messages are created equal. That’s the message of two preliminary research presentations — both text-message-based behavioral interventions focused on problem drinking — given at the mHealth Summit in National Harbor, Maryland this week.

In one study, presented by Dr. Beth Brock of Brown University, a drinking intervention for community college students proved feasible when the text messages were written by the students’ peers. In another study, presented by Fred Muench, a researcher at North Shore Health System, five different text message styles were compared on their ability to influence problem drinking behavior in adults.

Brock looked at a cohort of 62 community college students aged 18 to 22. Half of them were given general motivational text messages, while half received text messages designed by a focus group of students which included safety tips about drinking, driving, and social situations.

“We wanted them to help write the text messages, because we didn’t want them to sound like they were coming from a bunch of middle-aged academics, which is what they would have sounded like if we had written them ourselves,” Brock said. “Something that came through from all of the focus groups very strongly was the overarching message: Don’t tell us not to drink, tell us you care how we drink and tell us you care about our safety while we’re drinking.” Keep reading>>