Hello Doctor raises $700K from Google, Facebook angels

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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Hello DoctorTel Aviv, Israel and Palo Alto, California-based Hello Doctor has raised $700,000, according to a report from VentureBeat. The funding is from angel investors from Facebook, Google and some undisclosed pharmacy companies. BlueRun Ventures is a previous investor in the company.

Hello Doctor is a mobile personal health record platform that allows a patient to access records from multiple healthcare providers in a single patient-facing app. The app is free and available for iPhone and iPad. The patient can make notes on the records to ask the doctor about at a later time and can organize records in a number of ways, including through a “record tagger” feature where the patient can send records to Hello Doctor and have them tagged automatically.

The platform also recently integrated with Apple’s HealthKit, allowing it to bring data in from consumer health devices in the future. The app is password-protected and allows the user to capture records with the phone’s camera and share or email them to doctor’s who might not want to look on a patient’s iPhone or iPad screen.

The company was founded in February 2013 and launched its app last October. Founder Mayaan Cohen started the company after a series of frustrating experiences with her then-boyfriend’s cancer diagnosis (he is currently in remission).

“Beyond the uncertainty and fear, the worst part of these meetings [with doctors] was trying to explain his medical condition by pulling out the relevant medical records that the doctor wanted to see out of the ‘medical binder’,” the company writes on its website. “Cohen knew that if she could not find the right document at the right time it would affect his treatment and in this case — it can even cost us his life.”

The app is still in beta. In addition to the HealthKit integration, according to the company’s FAQ page, they are working on an Android version and on features that would allow loved ones and caregivers to access someone else’s medical records (with their permission).

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Home-based connected health to overtake hospital-based by 2019

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor.

Sotera Wireless’s ViSi Mobile monitor.

The telemedicine market, which according to BCC Research is comprised of “telehospital” and “telehome” technologies, is expected to reach $43.4 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 percent, according to a recent report from the firm.

According to BCC, the telehospital market refers to “services that are provided within or between hospitals, clinics or other healthcare providers”, while the telehome market consists of remote monitoring devices for out patients.

“In the near to midterm, telemedicine technologies offer one of the few ways of enabling healthcare personnel to meet the increased demand for healthcare services without unacceptable delays or service rationing,” BCC Research healthcare analyst Andrew McWilliams said in a statement. “The growing adoption of telemedicine services is expected to significantly impact larger markets such as healthcare, health insurance, home care, telecommunications (telecom), networking, disease management, e-health, and healthcare IT.”  Keep reading>>

Despite six-month delay, Scanadu has only lost 100 backers

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTThere seems to be a pattern emerging among health and fitness devices that do well on crowdfunding platforms: Break a record with your campaign, then ship your device several months late. Pebble broke Kickstarter’s funding record, then took more than a year to ship all its backer devices. Misfit Shine raised $100,000 in less than 10 hours on Indiegogo, then delayed its ship date from spring to summer.

Now Scanadu, makers of the Scanadu Scout home health scanner device that broke Indiegogo’s record for most funded project last June, has still not shipped its devices to backers, despite an initial promised date (for early backers) of March 31, 2014. The company is now saying they hope the device will ship this winter, but they are not ready to commit to a date.

“We now certainly have the benefit of hindsight,” Scanadu CEO Walter DeBrouwer told MobiHealthNews in an email. “With that hindsight, it is clear we underestimated the level of difficulty in developing a whole new category of medical product. This combination of hardware and software has never been done before, and accuracy is extremely important. We did not budget enough time at the onset for the level of testing, validation and verification that would be needed for this type of medical device, using a combination of hardware and software. In retrospect, we would have made a larger investment of our time and resources earlier in the development process focused on testing. And although we had buffers built in, we should have been less optimistic.”

The company has been extremely forthcoming about the nature of the delays on its company blog. Initial test units had a persistent accuracy problem which the temperature sensor, which turned out to be interference from heat generated by another sensor. DeBrouwer says the team had hoped it could be fixed with software alone, but they ultimately had to make small changes to the hardware. In the end, the SpO2 and blood pressure sensors also suffered from light and heat interference problems. Keep reading>>

Cigna folds GoYou into digital health coaching program Cigna Health Matters

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Cigna Health MattersCigna has developed a digital health coaching program, called Cigna Health Matters, that offers mobile tools, social media engagement, gamification, and web-based incentives. The program is available for Cigna’s 14 million US members on employer health plans.

“Cigna Health Matters integrates the latest insights and practices of the sociology of engagement, motivation and rewarding behavior change with the latest in health tools and technology,” Cigna Vice President of Product Develompent Eric Herbek said in a statement. “By combining clinical insights, health coaches, digital tools, measurement and reward engines, we have our customers’ backs to help them get on the right path, and stay on it, for better health for themselves and their families.”  Keep reading>>

Philips teams with Dutch hospital for COPD prototype

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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Philips eCarecompanionPhilips has unveiled a prototype system, consisting of a wearable sensor and connected software suite, to monitor patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Philips worked with Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands to develop the system.

The sensor used to demo the prototype was the FDA-cleared HealthPatch sensor from Vital Connect, a peel and stick device that measures physical activity and inactivity, respiratory indicators, sleep apnea or sleep disturbance, sleep quality, heart rhythm and heart rate variability.

“The use case is more appropriate for patients who have left the hospital recently,” Manu Varma, Philips’ vice president of marketing and strategy, told MobiHealthNews. “So it may not be something people wear forever, but it’s especially important for the situation where someone who is going from an environment where they get a lot of good care and attention to a place where they are probably by themselves or have a family member helping them, but certainly no one who is a doctor or nurse on hand to watch over them.” Keep reading>>

Telehealth served 12 percent of VA-covered veterans in 2014

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 13, 2014        

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American WellThe US Department of Veterans Affairs announced that 690,000 US veterans received care in the 2014 fiscal year via telehealth, with 2 million telehealth visits scheduled. That means that 12 percent of all veterans enrolled in VA programs received telehealth care of some kind in 2014.

“We have to adapt to meet veterans wherever their needs are,” VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald said in a statement. “A brick-and-mortar facility is not the only option for health care. We are exploring how we can more efficiently and effectively deliver health care services to better serve our veterans and improve their lives. Telehealth is one of those areas we have identified for growth.”

The press release gave a few more statistics about the state and size of the VA’s various telemedicine programs. For instance, 55 percent of VA telehealth visits were for veterans who lived in rural areas, with no VA medical facility nearby.

The VA currently offers more than 44 specialties via telemedicine, and one program — in Miami — schedules 90 telemedicine visits per week. The release also highlighted the VA’s TeleAudiology program for veterans with hearing loss, which has grown from 1,016 veterans served in fiscal year 2011 to more than 10,589 in fiscal year 2014.

The VA has been working with telehealth, in the form of remote patient monitoring programs, since well before 2009. But virtual visits began in earnest in 2011 when the department partnered with American Well (now called AmWell) to launch online consultations at three locations. In 2012, they lobbied to eliminate co-pays for home telehealth visits, in the hopes of removing some remaining barriers to veterans using the service.

Of course, the VA has been a frontrunner in mobile technology for a long time. The Blue Button project, which connects patients directly with their own electronic medical records, originated as an in-house VA program. Just recently the department officially launched 10 health apps that were previously tested as part of a family caregiver pilot, to facilitate better home care of veterans by family and friends.

The VA also recently made some changes to its outside contracting procedures which now allow VA doctors to be reimbursed for certain clinical activity trackers in some cases.