VA to launch several health apps after year-long pilot program

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 9, 2014        

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Launch PadThe Department of Veterans Affairs plans to launch several new mobile apps this fall, according to a report from Federal News Radio.

Many apps that the VA plan to launch were part of the organization’s Family Caregiver Pilot, which began in June 2013 and lasted a year. In addition to those apps, the VA has also converted desktop applications from its health portal into mobile apps.

As part of the year-long pilot, VA recruited 1,000 seriously injured post-9/11 Veterans and their caregivers to participate in the pilot. Each caregiver was given an iPad for the length of the pilot.

The apps in the pilot included HealthAdvocate, which allows a veteran to give a caregiver access to all of their personal health information; SummaryOfCare, an app that allows users to view their VA medical information like lab results, medications, and allergies; HealthAssessment, which lets veterans complete some self-assessments and make the results available to their caregiver; and Rx Refill, which helps veterans fill prescriptions. Two other apps in the pilot helped veterans coping with particular conditions: PainCoach and PTSD. PTSD is a modified version of the PTSDCoach app the VA released in 2011.

The VA also plans to convert a desktop applications available through a VA health portal, called MyHealtheVet, into mobile apps. In an interview with Federal News Radio, Veterans Health Affairs Connected Health co-director Neil Evans said the two apps they are converting from MyHealtheVet are SummaryOfCare, which was also one of the apps in the pilot, and Mobile Blue Button. (Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the Blue Button app was Humetrix’s iBlueButton, while Mobile Blue Button is actually an app developed in-house by the VA.)

All the new apps will be available in an app store that the VA plans to launch this fall. The VA inked a $9.3 million contract in 2012 with Longview International Technology Solutions to develop the app store and build a mobile device management system.

A few weeks ago, the VA made another announcement in the digital health space. The department said that they would soon begin reimbursing its doctors for activity trackers used for rehabilitating veterans with prosthetic limbs. The change the VA made is to introduce a new mandatory template for providers to use when negotiating contracts with the vendors that sell prosthetic limbs and custom orthotics for injured veterans.


IBM’s Watson to help Mayo Clinic tackle clinical trials

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 8, 2014        

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Watson at Memorial Sloan-Kettering

IBM’s Watson, a cognitive computing system that has already been deployed in a number of healthcare use cases, is teaming up with Mayo Clinic to bring its computing power to bear on the  age-old problem of matching active clinical trials with eligible participants.

“Using natural language processing and powerful data analytics capabilities, Watson will help Mayo clinicians quickly sift through millions of pages of clinical trial and patient data and complete this cumbersome process in seconds,” Sean Hogan, general manager and vice president of healthcare at IBM, wrote in a blog post. “The new Watson solution will help ensure that all eligible patients are considered for clinical trials and could help accelerate medical research.”

According to IBM, there are 8,000 clinical being carried out at any given time by the Mayo Clinic, and 170,000 worldwide. Currently, matching eligible patients with trials is a matter of luck and guesswork — the patient’s doctor or someone the patient knows has to hear about the trial and get in touch with investigators, and investigators have to cast as wide a publicity net as they can manage to get the word out about their trials. As a result, some trials are never completed or are insufficiently rigorous because of a lack of enrollment. And many patients who would benefit from an experimental treatment don’t have access to it. It’s been repeatedly identified as one of the highest impact opportunities for mobile health. Keep reading>>

Study: Less than a third of popular health apps have privacy policies

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 8, 2014        

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Mobile SecurityAccording to a new study from Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Cologne in Germany, less than a third of health apps in the iTunes and Google Play store had any privacy policy at all in place.

“Our findings show that currently mHealth developers often fail to provide app privacy policies,” study authors wrote. “The privacy policies that are available do not make information privacy practices transparent to users, require college-level literacy, and are often not focused on the app itself.”

Researchers, led by Boston Children’s Dr. Kenneth Mandl and Dr. Ali Sunyaev of the University of Cologne, looked at the 300 most popular apps from each store, out of an identified pool of 24,405 health apps total. They found that only 183 of the 600, or about 30 percent, had privacy policies. Keep reading>>

Sleep sensor startup Beddit hits $8M in funding after latest round

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 8, 2014        

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BedditHelsinki, Finland-based Beddit announced that with their most recent round of funding, the company has reached $8 million in funding to date. The round was led by Inventure. Beddit will use the investment to help fund its US and European product distribution in time for the holiday shopping season.

Beddit’s sensor uses ballistocardiography to detect individual heartbeats from cardiac contraction forces and breathing rhythm from chest wall movements. The strap measures time in bed, awakenings and bed exits, sleep time, sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), testing heart rate, sleep quality and breathing movements, including snoring.  Keep reading>>

Misfit Wearables releases developer toolkit, launches with 30 partners

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 8, 2014        

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Misfit-Beddit integration

Misfit-Beddit integration

Wearable device maker Misfit Wearables released its Misfit Developer Toolkit so that other health apps and devices can integrate Misfit’s data into their products. So far, more than 30 companies have partnered with Misfit to use the developer kit.

The toolkit offers Misfit’s cloud API, the device’s SDK, and the company’s scientific library, which includes Misfit’s sensor algorithms and software analytics.

Misfit published a full list of their launch partners, but some familiar names on the list include diet tracker MyFitnessPal, running app RunKeeper, food log Lose It!, wellness tracker Azumio, and fertility tracker Glow. Prior to the release of the Misfit Developer Toolkit, Misfit had announced integration partnerships with mattress sensor startup Beddit, smartwatch maker Pebble, and just a few others.

The company also announced a separate corporate partnership program and announced Coca Cola and Walgreens as launch partners.  Keep reading>>

Wellframe raises $8.5M to build out its mobile-enabled therapy platform

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 8, 2014        

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WellframeBoston-based patient engagement and care management company Wellframe raised $8.5 million in a funding round led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), with additional investment from Formation 8, Waterline Ventures and Queensbridge Venture Partners. This brings the company’s total funding to date to $10 million.

Existing investors include athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush; Tim Draper, founder and managing director of DFJ; Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, president of the British Medical Association; and Russ Nash, former global managing director at Accenture.

Wellframe’s platform includes a web-based clinician dashboard and a patient-facing mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android devices. The offering includes two-way, HIPAA compliant messaging and a care plan that the company says aims to amplify, not replace, therapeutic relationships. Wellframe’s app also offers medication reminders, activity tracking, short messages of educational content, and other short questions.

“Mostly our focus is going to be on building out our product and engineering team to accelerate our pace of product development,” Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair told MobiHealthNews. “We have a very aggressive roadmap of stuff we want to tackle over the coming year or two and we have put together a great core team across engineering, clinical, and data, but the goal will be to continue to build those out.”

In April, when Wellframe announced its last round of funding, the company had 8 employees. It now has 20.  Keep reading>>