Study: Exercise app use decreases BMI, increases leisure-time activity levels

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 17, 2015        

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RunKeeperApps can help increase the amount of leisure time that users spend exercising as well as positively impacting their BMI, according to a new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The researchers surveyed 726 people via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk on their usage of exercise apps and their exercise habits. It was conducted by researchers from Lander College, Columbia University, Long Island University, and Marymount Manhattan College.

Sixty-three percent of the sample group had never used an exercise app, 16 percent had used an app in the past but no longer used it, and 20 percent currently used an exercise app.

Current users were 27 percent more likely than the other two groups to self-report being active. The survey results showed that the groups reported being equally active during non-leisure time, for example, from incidental exercise like walking to work. The app users, however, said they were more active than other groups said they were during leisure time. Lower body mass index was also correlated with higher app usage in the study.

But study authors dug deeper in an effort to establish that the observed effects were really a result of causation, rather than mere correlation.

“However, it is still possible that higher interest in exercise, which may be more likely among individuals with lower BMI, can account for both the adoption of an app and the length of its use,” study authors wrote. “It is thus still plausible that individuals who are more interested in exercise are more likely to seek out tools, such as exercise apps, which can help them to achieve their goals—but at the same time these individuals would be more likely to exercise even in the absence of such tools. In other words, app users may be natural ‘high exercisers’, who also have lower BMI.” Keep reading>>

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Israeli company seeks FDA nod for ear-clip-based glucose monitoring

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 17, 2015        

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GlucoTrakIsraeli medical device company Integrity Applications has begun the process with the FDA to bring its noninvasive glucose monitoring device, GlucoTrack, to the United States.

GlucoTrack allows users to monitor their blood glucose level without drawing blood. The user wears a clip on his or her ear, and GlucoTrack uses a combination of sensors to determine blood glucose level, then sends the data to handheld device about the size of a smartphone. The ear clip still has to be calibrated every six months, and the calibration presumably requires drawing blood.

“GlucoTrack performs three independent measurements simultaneously, using thermal, ultrasound, and electromagnetic technologies,” the company explains in the FAQ section of its website. “The results are weighted, using a patented, unique algorithm to provide a reading which is displayed on a color touch screen of the device by large, clear digits. The result is announced verbally as well, allowing visually impaired users [to use the device as well].” Keep reading>>

Digital health hires: Practice Fusion’s new CEO, 23andMe CFO, more

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 17, 2015        

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Practice Fusion's Ryan Howard (right) and MobiHealthNews' Jonah Comstock at Health 2.0 2014 (Source: Health 2.0)

Practice Fusion’s Ryan Howard (right) and MobiHealthNews’ Jonah Comstock at Health 2.0 2014 (Source: Health 2.0)

Practice Fusion announced that its CEO and founder Ryan Howard will step back away from the helm of the cloud-based EHR company, but will stay on as the company’s board chairman. Tom Langan, Practice Fusion’s chief commercial officer, will become the company’s interim CEO. According to a post over at the Wall Street Journal, the move is part of a series of steps the company is taking ahead of an expected IPO.

23andMe announced this week it had hired Dean Schorno as its chief financial officer and head of operations as the direct-to-consumer genetic testing company gets ready to start selling health risk tests again, according to a report over at Bloomberg. Schorno was most recently CFO of Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp.

McKesson Ventures has named Dave Schulte its new managing director. Schulte previously was VP and managing director at Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

Healthcare-focused investment bank Leerink Partners has hired Ryan Stewart as a managing director. Steward previously served as a managing director and partner at health technology-focused investment bank TripleTree.

San Francisco-based pet health company Whistle has appointed former Basis CEO Jef Holove to its board of directors. Holove has been a general manager in Intel’s New Devices Group since that company acquired Basis in 2014. Whistle creates wearable devices and companion services for pets, including an activity tracker.

Global market for healthcare biometric authentication to generate $250M in 2015

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 17, 2015        

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TracticaHealthcareBiometricsAs more and more mobile devices embed biometric sensors, mostly for health and fitness tracking, the market for using biometrics for identifying and authenticating people is trending up, according to a recent report from analyst firm Tractica. The group also points to the healthcare industry as one of the most promising sectors for adoption of biometric authentication. Tractica believes that biometrics can help healthcare providers speed up administrative processes, reduce fraud, and help eliminate mistakes stemming from providers’ demanding workloads.

“The outlook is strong for healthcare biometrics, however it remains a nascent market,” Tractica’s principal analyst Bob Lockhart said in a statement. “Success stories are scarce. Even large healthcare networks are barely dipping their toes into the water, with early proofs of concept.”

While the global market for biometric authentication in healthcare is likely to hit just $250 million this year, the firm expects it to reach $3.5 billion by 2024. Its set to generate $12.5 billion in revenues between now and then, Tractica estimates.

In May Tractica discussed a report that pegged the total global market for biometric authentication at $14.9 billion in 2024. That means the global healthcare industry is set to make up north of 23 percent of the overall market at that time.

Home or remote patient access, care provider authentication, patient identification and tracking, and pharmacy dispensing will be the healthcare use cases that drive the market, the firm writes.

Four ways the AHA thinks mobile health research needs to improve

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 17, 2015        

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MyHeart Counts, an app based on AHA guidelines.

MyHeart Counts, an app based on AHA guidelines.

A new review published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, looked at mobile health interventions around cardiovascular health over the last 10 years and concluded that a number of improvements are needed to the general state of mobile health efficacy studies.

“Our literature searches uncovered a wide variety of products that have been developed,” researchers wrote. “However, the reviews also identified the paucity of published empirical evaluation of their effectiveness. To date, many devices have no published evaluation, and those that have undergone evaluation are often limited to measuring customer satisfaction and user sustained engagement. Although such intermediate measures are important, they fall far short of actually determining whether the users of these products had clinically meaningful changes in biological parameters.”

The authors, led by Lora Burke from the University of Pittsburgh, looked at 69 studies, mostly RCTs, that investigated the use of mobile technology to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors. Ten studies targeted weight loss, 14 focused on increasing physical activity, 14 were concerned with smoking cessation, 15 addressed blood glucose management in people with diabetes, 13 focused on hypertension, and three pertained to lipid management. Keep reading>>

Webinar next week: Digital health strategies for patient acquisition and member enrollment

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 13, 2015        

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Brian Dolan - MobiHealthNews Editor-in-ChiefDigital health services often aim to help lower the cost of care and improve outcomes, but they also help savvy healthcare organizations acquire new patients, members, or customers. In recent years, text messaging, symptom navigator or appointment booking apps, remote video visit services, and many other digital health offerings have helped health groups acquire new patients or members.

In this MobiHealthNews webinar, we will review the ways in which healthcare providers, health plans, and other organizations can harness digital health technologies to attract new patients. We’ll also take a deeper look at how text messaging in particular is an important acquisition tool for all healthcare stakeholders with a focus on engagement.

Join us Thursday, August 20th at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT for this complimentary online event. Don’t miss out — sign up today!