Talkspace raises $9.5M for smartphone-enabled therapy sessions

By: Aditi Pai | May 12, 2015        

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TalkspaceNew York City-based startup Talkspace, which offers therapy sessions via the web and mobile devices, has raised $9.5 million in a round led by Spark Capital, with participation from SoftBank, according to TechCrunch. Existing investors Metamorphic Ventures and TheTime also participated. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $13 million.

Talkspace’s app, available on iOS and Android devices, aims to remove some of the social stigma associated with therapy. Consumers who sign up for Talkspace receive a free consultation with a therapist, and after a preliminary assessment, they are paired with a therapist. The company then offers unlimited chat and mobile messaging with the therapist for $25 per week or one 30-minute video therapy session for $29. Talkspace also offers couples therapy.

The company explains that Talkspace is not an alternative or competitor to in-person therapy, but rather a “doorway for dealing with real life issues that may be an element in our lives, but may not necessarily require [the] full clinical psychiatric process”.  Keep reading>>

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Survey: 45 percent want devices that monitor “every aspect” of their health

By: Aditi Pai | May 12, 2015        

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Jawbone UP2

Jawbone UP2

Some 45 percent of US consumers want a health wearable or app that monitors “every aspect” of their health, according to a global survey that included responses from 10,131 consumers across 28 countries. The survey was created by Havas Worldwide and fielded by Market Probe International in March 2015.

Havas also found that among worldwide early adopters, which they call “prosumers”, the percentage that want such a device increases to 70 percent. Nearly half of these early adopter prosumer group already own at least one health sensing wearable or app.

“As technology changes every aspect of our lives, it’s given people around the world a greater awareness of their own well-being, and a new arsenal of tools to track and improve their health,” Havas Worldwide Global CEO Andrew Benett said in a statement. “At the same time, technology has opened a rich opportunity for brands in the health, beauty, and fitness spaces to truly become partners to consumers on their journey to wellness. There is enormous potential for those brands able to help consumers make smart decisions about caring for and maximizing the value of their most important asset: themselves.”

Still, over 40 percent of respondents said they are also concerned that if they use new health-monitoring technologies, they will experience a loss of privacy.

At the beginning of the year, an Accenture survey (of 24,000 consumers across two dozen countries) that also focused on health-sensing wearables found that about 8 percent of consumers now own wearable fitness monitors and 6 percent own a wearable health monitor. The survey found that 12 percent of respondents plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor in the next 12 months, while 10 percent expect to buy a wearable health monitor in the next year. About 40 percent expect to buy at least one of the two some time in the next five years.

Intel gifts VA 1,000 Basis wearables for sleep study, weight management

By: Jonah Comstock | May 12, 2015        

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Basis PeakThe VA Boston Healthcare System will launch a pilot using the Basis Peak wearable. The wristworn device will be used to evaluate the effect of a drug on veterans’ sleep habits.

San Francisco-based Basis, which was acquired by Intel last year, is donating 1,000 Basis devices to the Boston VA, some of which will be used for the sleep study, and others of which will be used for the VA’s Move! weight management program.

“This donation represents a long-standing relationship between Basis and the VA, having collaborated with local San Francisco researchers on sleep research, and we look forward to offering future support to the organization,” Jef Holove, general manager of Basis, said in a statement.  Keep reading>>

Six new health-related initiatives for IBM’s Watson

By: Jonah Comstock | May 11, 2015        

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LifeLearn IBM WatsonSince IBM launched its Watson Health business unit last month, the company has been busy, announcing a flurry of partnerships and deployments of its cognitive computing software in different sectors of the healthcare industry. Most of these announcements came out at the World of Watson symposium the company recently held in New York City. Here’s a roundup of what Watson has been up to.

IBM Watson partners with Mayo Clinic, Epic: Watson’s cognitive computing platform will integrate with Epic’s EHR, allowing doctors to use Watson for clinical decision support in the way that some cancer centers already do. The technology could help “develop patient treatment protocols, personalize patient management for chronic conditions, and intelligently assist doctors and nurses by providing relevant evidence from the worldwide body of medical knowledge, putting new insight into the hands of clinical staff,” IBM wrote in a release. Although the integration is being tested at the Mayo Clinic, it could be rolled out to other Epic customers in the future. Keep reading>>

Insulin dose calculator apps may actively contribute to inaccurate dose recommendations

By: Aditi Pai | May 11, 2015        

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CHCF Smartphones in Health Care ReportA recent study published in the BMC Medicine medical journal concluded that smartphone apps that offer an insulin dose calculator may actively contribute to incorrect dose recommendations, according to the systematic assessment of 46 insulin dose calculator apps available on iOS and Android in the UK App Store. Apps data was collected in August 2013.

Researchers explained in the abstract that inaccurate dose recommendations put “current users at risk of both catastrophic overdose and more subtle harms resulting from suboptimal glucose control”.

The assessment found that 59 percent of the apps offered a clinical disclaimer that suggested the patient discuss their condition with a healthcare professional before using the calculator and use personal judgement when interpreting the results. But, 91 percent of the apps had no numeric validation, meaning impossibly high or low values would be accepted if a user entered them — even negative values were accepted.

Some 59 percent of apps calculated a dosage even if one or more values had not been entered; 48 percent of apps used ambiguous terminology that could have been misinterpreted by the user; and 9 percent of apps “did not use adequate numeric precision”, for example, some apps offered a data field for measurements in mmol/L that accepted only whole integers.

Researchers also found that 67 percent of apps showed a risk of generating inappropriate dose recommendations. Some 48 percent of this group of apps violated basic clinical assumptions, 37 percent did not correctly update in response to changing user inputs, and 14 percent did not match a stated formula.

“Healthcare professionals should exercise substantial caution in recommending unregulated dose calculators to patients and address app safety as part of self-management education,” researchers wrote in the abstract. “The prevalence of errors attributable to incorrect interpretation of medical principles underlines the importance of clinical input during app design. Systemic issues affecting the safety and suitability of higher-risk apps may require coordinated surveillance and action at national and international levels involving regulators, health agencies and app stores.”

Eight years of Fitbit news leading up to its planned IPO

By: Jonah Comstock | May 11, 2015        

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As news broke last week of Fitbit’s IPO plans, MobiHealthNews took some time to look back at moves made by the company over its eight year journey to going public. The company started up in 2007 with a less-than-catchy name: “Healthy Metrics Research, Inc.” As we learned last week, in time since its founding the company has sold more than 20.8 million devices as of the end of March 2015, has 9.5 million paid active users, and posted $754 million in revenues last year. Rock Health is forecasting device sales upwards of 20 million in 2015 and annual revenue between $1.6 billion and $2 billion this year.

MobiHealthNews has been following the company almost since the beginning. Here’s a timeline history of some of the company’s product launches, milestones, and other major highlights:

October 2008: Fitbit raises its first round of funding. Fitbit raises $2 million from True Ventures, SoftTech VC, and angel investors before it launches its first device, when the wearable activity space is in its infancy.

FitbitSeptember 2009: Fitbit launches its first device. Fitbit launches its first device, simply called Fitbit. The wireless-enabled device, which clips on to the user’s clothing, uses an internal motion detector to track the wearer’s movement, sleep and calorie burn during both the day and night. The device costs $99. The first Fitbit isn’t smartphone-connected; it comes with a wireless base station, or docking unit, that can synch to the device when it comes within 10 feet. The device comes with synching software that the user needs to install on their Mac or PC to get the wireless updating to work. Once set-up, the device ports the data to Fitbit’s online portal, which includes a dashboard to help users better understand their activity levels and calories burned.

September 2010: Fitbit raises $8 million. Fitbit quietly picks up $8 million from undisclosed investors as the company work on its second device. The Foundry’s Brad Feld joins the company’s board around the same time.  Keep reading>>