Australian clinical activity tracker gets FDA clearance

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 16, 2014        

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ViMoveAustralian company dorsaVi has received FDA clearance for its ViMove sensor system. The sensor tracks movement as well as muscle activation, and is intended to be used in a clinical setting or with athletes in training.

Despite the preponderance of consumer fitness trackers, FDA-cleared devices for tracking movement in the clinical sphere are just starting to emerge, partly because of the emphasis on quantitative data in the Affordable Care Act to enable value-based care models. For instance, the StepWatch from modus health, which has been in use for years as a research device, announced a move to the clinical sphere just last week.

Similarly, ViMove has been in use in Melbourne, Australia since the early 2000s when it was developed by dorsaVi cofounders Andrew and Dan Ronchi as a hobby project. They incorporated the company in 2008, and received funding from Australian VC Starfish Ventures. That investment led to an Australian IPO, which gave the company funds to put toward international expansion. FDA clearance now allows the company to sell its technology in the United States.  Keep reading>>


Jawbone leverages its Nutrivise acquisition in food-focused UP app revamp

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 16, 2014        

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Jawbone UP nutritionIn June 2013 Jawbone, makers of the UP fitness tracking bracelet, quietly acquired San Francisco-area startup Nutrivise for an undisclosed sum — MobiHealthNews broke the news last summer. Now, more than a year later, Nutrivise’s founder and Jawbone’s nutrition and food-focus product manager Laura Borel has helped bring some of the Nutrivise app’s features (and a few new ones) to the Jawbone UP user base.

Nutrivise was founded in 2011 and a year later it launched a nutrition-focused, food tracking app called Here&Now, which it described as “a nutritionist in your pocket” for Bay area residents. Here&Now offered several features beyond a standard calorie counter app. The user could input biometric data, health goals, and location, and the app would recommend local and chain restaurants. It could also tell the user how healthy a dish was, both in general and for the user, personally. Before it was acquired Nutrivise had at least one funding raise, a $750,000 seed round in May 2012 that included investment from EchoVC, and angels Pejman Nozad, Zak Holdsworth, and Michael Paulus.

This week’s announcement about the new nutrition features in the Jawbone UP app also marks the first official confirmation from Jawbone that it had acquired Nutrivise last year. Jawbone also emphasized that the new features will help UP users manage their weight. Here’s a quick rundown of the new food-related offerings of the Jawbone UP app, from the company:

Personalized Food Library: Quickly see and select from the foods you eat most frequently, right from the front and center of your food-logging screen. More than a quarter of meals logged in UP include regularly consumed items, making easy access to them a time-saving shortcut. UP also surfaces foods that are commonly paired with the items you’re eating via Jawbone’s intelligent food database. Enter eggs, and UP will show you other items that may be included in your meal, like bacon, toast, or potatoes.

Access to Restaurant Menus: With half of meals in the US eaten outside of the home**, UP now lists dining establishments nearby based on your location and lets you quickly log menu items from many restaurants you visit. Quick access to menus lets you instantly select what you’re eating and automatically import calorie information when available. At local restaurants where nutrition information may not be on hand, add nutrition details and UP will save it in your library for future visits. Jawbone’s data science team will aggregate data entered from multiple users, making it available to the entire UP community for a more complete restaurant menu database.

Food Score: Use UP’s food detail screen to quickly evaluate how healthy a dish is at a glance. UP shows you the breakdown of healthy nutrients to less healthy nutrients for any given item, along with a new Food Score to help you quickly asses the overall healthiness of individual items and full meals. You’ll also see a rolling average of the score throughout your entire day.

Weight Goal: Log your weight and set a personal goal in the app to see your progress toward your target weight. UP will recommend a daily calorie goal and balance calories burned versus calories consumed to show you your remaining allowance for the day. And as you log new meals, a convenient progress meter shows you the number of calories you’ve already consumed – and how many you’ll be adding with each new item.

Insights: A completely redesigned Insight Engine for UP makes its intelligent guidance and useful health tips even more accessible and intuitive. Complete with new food-specific insights and opt-in “Today I Will” commitments, you’ll be motivated to try original recipes, reinforce your diet with fiber and protein, and start building new food habits to keep you on track.”  Keep reading>>

Seven startups join Philly’s new digital health accelerator

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 16, 2014        

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BiomemePhiladelphia research park University City Science Center announced that seven startups will join its first digital health-focused program, simply called Digital Health Accelerator (DHA).

The program runs for 10 weeks and when it’s finished, startups receive up to $50,000. Science Center adds that startups in the program will also network with insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and research institutions. Startups also receive coworking office space during the program.

DHA shares their building with another accelerator, DreamIt Health. DHA has also accepted two startups that were a part of DreamIt’s 2013 accelerator, Biomeme and Fitly.

Here are the seven DHA startups:

Biomeme is focused on creating a molecular diagnostic device that is low-cost and mobile to help clinicians and epidemiologists track infectious diseases in near real time with smartphones.

Fitly promotes healthier eating for busy families. Users who want to cook healthier meals can pick recipes from a list on the company’s website and then schedule a delivery time to receive the ingredients they need to cook their meals. Prices for the service start at $5.99 per serving f0r 20 or more meals and go as high as $8.99 per serving for 8 meals

(Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Fitly had pivoted and is now a passive activity tracking app. There is another app called Fitly, but it is not affiliated with this startup.)

Life Patch is a near real time temperature monitoring system for children. The patch monitors the child’s core body temperature and transfers the data from a nearby unit that can then send that data to a user’s smartphone. The smartphone also sends alerts when a child’s temperature is beginning to rise.

Curbside Care allows users to request house calls from doctors on their smartphones. After users schedule an appointment from the app, they either pay $149 for a nurse practitioner or $249 for a doctor. Through Curbside, doctors can treat everything from general issues, muscle injuries, and head conditions to stomach problems and women’s health needs.

UE LifeSciences has developed a breast exam device that tests for breast cancer, called NoTouch BreastScan. The technology uses cold air and heat sensors to check a woman’s body for its vascular response, metabolic activity, and thermal symmetry between breasts. This is different from a mammography, which tests for physical indications, for example tumors, to determine whether a woman has breast cancer.

Keosys is a medical imaging company based in France. It offers four services: medical imaging for clinical trials, molecular imaging, radiology, and a social network so that users of the technology can share information about medical images.

Pulse InfoFrame offers a mobile platform to physicians for managing administrative and medical data for patients. The software also provides physicians and their care teams with a way to communicate through text, emails, and group chats.

Researchers develop smartphone-based air quality tool for public health

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 15, 2014        

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smartphone connected dust monitorResearchers at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a smartphone-connected tool that can sense dust levels, which can be an important metric for some public health issues. When tested, the technology showed a good initial performance, but a paper describing the research explains that future iterations of the tool will offer increased sensitivity so that the device can detect even lower concentrations of dust.

“Past studies have shown that exposure to fine dust can pose a serious health hazard,” the study authors write in the paper. “Beyond omnipresent sources of particulate matter (PM), e.g. traffic, risks can also occur at home or in a working environment. A good example are laser printers, the fine toner dust from which can even result in permanent disability if inhaled over years.”

While portable devices that monitor dust currently exist, researchers say they currently range from $1,000 to several thousand dollars.  Keep reading>>

Employer gets $280K insurance discount for using Fitbits

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 15, 2014        

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Fitbit Flex__ColorsThe corporate wellness market is an increasingly big opportunity for activity trackers like Fitbit, but data is just now starting to come in about how much those programs really help corporations. According to a recent story in Citeworld, however, one company, San Francisco-based Appirio, has saved $280,000 in annual insurance payments by implementing a wellness program using Fitbits.

Specifically, the company convinced insurer Anthem to reduce their insurance payment by 5 percent after showing them data from a program called CloudFit, administered via Indianapolis-based Spire Wellness. With CloudFit, Appirio distributed 400 Fitbits to employees across the company. These employees could opt in to sharing some or all of their data either in a special group set up within the Fitbit app, or via Chatter, an enterprise social network connected to Salesforce. The company is working on an in-house app to aggregate the data from all their employees.  Keep reading>>

HeiaHeia finds 71 percent of its overweight users improved their health

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 15, 2014        

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HeiaHeiaJust over 71 percent of obese or overweight employees using employee wellness program HeiaHeia have improved health and fitness since starting the program, according to a survey of 2,039 users that Finland-based H2 Wellbeing, the company behind HeiaHeia, conducted.

Around 49 percent of users in the survey were overweight and all respondents were based in Finland.

HeiaHeia, which is derived from a Scandinavian sporting chant, is an employee wellness platform with an emphasis on social interaction and gaming. The platform also offers companion apps on iOS, Android, and Microsoft devices. The survey was also a representative sample of the 250,000 HeiaHeia users in Finland, according to the company.

The survey also found that 60 percent of users have consistently increased their level of physical activity, 77 percent of users now exercise more than 3 times a week, and 64 percent of users said the program improved their physical fitness “to some or large extent”.

“The way that we want to see this [survey] is we want to be realistic and understand where these products have an impact,” H2′s CEO and co-founder Jussi Raisanen told MobiHealthNews. “There are also findings that show there is no impact. For us [this information] is an important part of what we’re doing in the future as well.”

For example, a future survey that Raisanen might look into is whether health-sensing wearables are effective. While HeiaHeia is not a wearable  device maker, Raisanen believes it’s important to understand if wearables can improve the health of employees or if these devices are only suitable for a particular group of users.

From this recent survey, the company learned that the platform they’ve built is suitable for different kinds of people, not just athletes and very active employees.

“What we think is really powerful [is that] the results are even better among a target group of these kinds of programs especially when we are talking about obese and overweight people,” Raisanen said. “They are the ones that should be doing these things.”

In April, the company raised just over $2 million (1.5 million euros) to scale their product. At the time they mentioned that HeiaHeia eventually would launch new features that would focus on changing workplace wellness by turning an individual’s workday into a less sedentary experience. Raisanen confirmed that these updates would launch in the fall of this year.