Barriers for digital health startups: Too many stakeholders, slow pace

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 18, 2014        

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Chris Gordon Bain Capital

Bain Capital’s Chris Gordon

One of the biggest barriers to innovation in healthcare is that, unlike other industries, there are several key stakeholders who must be addressed before a company can successfully bring their product to market, according to a recent panel at The Economist’s Health Care Forum in Boston this week.

“Any established company in any industry is always faced with the ‘established company vs. innovators’ dilemma,” Bain Capital Managing Director Chris Gordon said. “Do you want to transform your business and potentially cannibalize yourself and put your business at risk or do you want to be too stagnant and wait for someone else to do it for you? I think it’s a particularly tough thing in healthcare, though, because it’s so much more complicated than companies making products and selling them to people who want to buy them or companies who want to buy them. There are so many stakeholders between the regulators, payors, clinicians, and the patients.”  Keep reading>>


Omada Health raises $950K to serve low income populations

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 18, 2014        

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Omada healthSan Francisco-based Omada Health has received $950,000 from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) and The Kresge Foundation to expand its prediabetes program, called Prevent, to low income populations in the US.

CHCF contributed $450,000 through its CHCF Health Innovation Fund and Kresge Foundation contributed $500,000 through its Social Investment Practice. Omada Health will use the funds to conduct Prevent pilots in certain low income clinics. The company also said they would increase access to Prevent “amongst Medicaid plans nationwide”.

“Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects low income Americans and racial and ethnic minorities,” Omada Health CEO Sean Duffy said in a statement. “These investments from CHCF and The Kresge Foundation are a tremendous validation of digital therapeutics as a high-potential new category of medical intervention. We’re excited to leverage the investment and the expertise of our new partners to help test and increase uptake of Prevent in these populations. Through strategic relationships like these, we can more rapidly accomplish Omada Health’s mission of bringing the world’s most effective behavior change therapies to every patient that can benefit from them.”

Omada Health’s program, Prevent, lasts 16 weeks and aims to help those that are at-risk for Type 2 diabetes make positive health behavior changes. The program was based on a 2002 NIH Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) intervention that produced significant results for prediabetics. Users are paired with a health coach who monitors their progress throughout the program. Each week, users take an interactive health lesson that covers a range of topics including exercise and nutrition on a mobile device or computer. As part of the program, users receive a wireless-enabled scale and pedometer so that they can track their progress digitally.  Keep reading>>

ChartSpan gets $1M to find out if the PHR’s time has come

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 18, 2014        

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ChartSpanGreenville, South Carolina-based ChartSpan has raised $1 million in seed funding in a round led by Byrne Medical’s Don Byrne. The Iron Yard, a digital health accelerator that incubated ChartSpan, also contributed.

ChartSpan just recently launched a patient-facing personal health record tool, which, as well as importing records in various electronic formats, can convert paper records into structured data using machine learning and optical character recognition. Using the iOS app (and, in the future, Android, Google Glass, and desktop versions), patients can request records from providers and send records to others, according to the company. The app uses Blue Button Plus to enable the import of data from EHRs.

Co-founder and CEO Jon-Michial Carter told MobiHealthNews that ChartSpan arose out of frustration with the speed of interoperability requirements under ONC’s Meaningful Use guidelines, especially considering recent delays.

“Other than Blue Button Plus, you don’t have anything out there that’s pervasive that’s creating electronic health records for patients,” he said. “We think we’ve made a start in that direction by giving patients access to portals, but the truth is that’s a joke. With most patient portals, you’re left with a PDF that you have to print out that becomes a piece of paper. And the tethered PHRs from the EHR companies, it’s proprietary. It only works with their unique file systems. So we’ve done very little in regards to getting patients access to electronic health records.”

Carter stressed that ChartSpan is 100 percent a tool for patients, not for doctors, which allows for a more comprehensive electronic health record than a single provider can maintain.  Keep reading>>

Viverae acquires mobile-enabled, behavioral health company OneHealth

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 17, 2014        

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OneHealthOnTheGoEmoticonCheckinDallas, Texas-based employee wellness company Viverae has acquired behavioral health company OneHealth for an undisclosed sum. Viverae counts 300 clients in various industries throughout the US that use its health management programs. OneHealth’s offerings will bolster Viverae’s by allowing users to anonymously support each others’ emotional and physical health.

OneHealth offers members 24/7 structured peer support, education and tools to aide in the recovery from substance abuse and other behavioral health issues. The program uses social media and real-time tracking to monitor emotional states and to provide anonymous peer supports to help the member or their dependents stay sober.

“Viverae and OneHealth are well matched, because we share a passion for helping people get healthier,” Michael Nadeau, founder and CEO of Viverae said in a statement. “We’re emotionally invested in this business because we see the impact every day, and we know we’re making a difference. Our combined resources will help individuals navigate through a maze of health concerns while increasing productivity and preventing or mitigating the risks associated with chronic disease.”

Just a few weeks ago, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced that it had added mobile and online tools from OneHealth to its members.

Last summer Boston Medical Center, a safety-net hospital and affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine, began using the OneHealth system – which was originally designed to treat substance abuse, depression and other behavioral issues — to its patient-centered medical home initiative. Boston Medical Center offers low-income patients access to the OneHealth online and mobile platform to promote self-management of chronic diseases, offer peer support and engage them in between office visits.  Keep reading>>

Privacy concerns lead Fitbit to hire a lobbyist in DC

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 17, 2014        

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FitbitAbout a week ago Fitbit hired a lobbyist firm to represent its interests on the Hill, as the National Journal reported. According to the official lobbyist registration form, Heather Podesta + Partners will help Fitbit “educate lawmakers regarding health and fitness devices”. The form also lists two general issues of interest to Fitbit: health care issues and consumer issues around safety and protection. Considering the lashing Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gave Fitbit in early August, the move to hire a lobbyist isn’t a surprising one.

“US Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed today that personal health and fitness data – so rich that an individual can be identified by their gait – is being gathered and stored by fitness bracelets like ‘FitBit’ and others like it, and can potentially be sold to third parties, like employers, insurance providers and other companies, without the users’ knowledge or consent,” a release from Schumer’s office stated in early August. “Schumer said that this creates a privacy nightmare, given that these fitness trackers gather highly personal information on steps per day, sleep patterns, calories burned, and GPS locations… There are currently no federal protections to prevent those developers from then selling that data to a third party without the wearer’s consent. Schumer therefore urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to push for fitness device and app companies to provide a clear and obvious opportunity to ‘opt-out’ before any personal health data is provided to third parties, who could discriminate against the user based on that sensitive and private health information.”

About two week’s later, Schumer touted Fitbit as a model for other fitness tracking companies to follow after it tweaked its privacy policy.

“Schumer today praised Fitbit’s new privacy policy which now clearly states that they will never sell personal data that identifies an individual,” the senator’s office wrote. “Fitbit will only share data when it is (1) legally necessary or (2) when the data is de-identified and aggregated, or (3) when the user opts-in and directs the company to share data.”  Keep reading>>

Google Glass could help surgeons spot complications sooner

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 17, 2014        

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vitalmedicalsA new pilot study from Stanford University shows that Google Glass can help surgeons monitor patients’ vital signs more closely during surgery, potentially helping them to prevent more complications. Researchers used a software called VitalStream from VitalMedicals, a startup led by a Stanford surgeon who was involved in the study.

“During conscious sedation procedures where you don’t have an anesthesiologist, it’s just you and the nurse administering the medications, it’s unfortunately very common to get so focused in on the procedure and for the nurse to get distracted with all the multitasking that is required of them that you can lose sight of the patient’s vital signs and condition,” Dr. Oliver Aalami, a surgeon at Stanford Hospital and CEO of VitalMedicals, said in a video demo. “And what Google Glass provides through VitalStream is an amazing opportunity to have this information in front of your face when you need it and also when it’s critical, by getting alerts, for example when the blood pressure drops, when the oxygen saturation drops. So I see tremendous value being able to have vital signs on the Glass during procedures.”  Keep reading>>