University of Michigan children’s hospital targets obesity with telemedicine, wearables

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 21, 2015        

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Fruit StreetThe CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan is launching a new telemedicine program to help reduce childhood obesity. The hospital will work with Fruit Street, a recently-formed digital wellness and telemedicine platform, to provide a program for patients that integrates video visits with monitoring via wearable devices.

“Childhood obesity is a significant public health concern,” Dr. Susan Woolford, the medical director of the weight management program, said in a statement. “Many children with excess weight will grow up to be severely obese adults and will suffer from obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Our goal is to help teens and their families improve their health through lifestyle changes and we believe that well designed communications technology can help us connect with our patients and increase the likelihood of our patients achieving success. Fruit Street is the software solution we chose to use to accomplish this.” Keep reading>>

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MyTime raises $9M for appointment booking app

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 21, 2015        

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MyTimeSan Francisco-based general appointment booking service MyTime raised $9.25 million in a round led by existing investor, Upfront Ventures, with participation from new investors Khosla Ventures, Daher Capital, Accelerator Ventures, and Westfield Corporation. While MyTime is not helping patients book appointments with primary care physicians, it helps users book appointments for a number of health-related services.

This latest round brings the company’s total funding to at least $11.75 million.

MyTime, available for iOS and Android devices as well as online, allows consumers to book appointments with vendors in the automotive industry, health and beauty, home and garden, medical and dental, sports and fitness, lessons, and pets. Under the medical and dental category, users can book appointments for a dental exam and cleaning, teeth whitening, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, eye exam, and physical therapy.

“America’s small businesses are falling massively behind when it comes to finding, booking and paying for services online, even more so when it comes to mobile,” MyTime CEO Ethan Anderson said in a statement. “This new funding allows us to expand our focus from being the most popular consumer destination for finding and booking appointments online to providing our merchants with the tools they need to enable online booking and communication with their clients 24/7.”

The new app, called MyTime Scheduler, is not consumer-facing but rather btob. The feature helps MyTime’s partners manage the appointments booked through the app, communicate with clients through MyTime Communicator, view a client’s appointment history, set custom appointments for clients, and send clients push notifications.

iPhone manufacturer Foxconn is ramping up its own medical device efforts

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 21, 2015        

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Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor.

Sotera Wireless’s ViSi Mobile monitor.

Last year Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn quietly acquired a stake in continuous vital signs monitoring company Sotera Wireless for an undisclosed sum. (As MobiHealthNews reported at the time, an SEC filing last April showed that Sotera had raised $20 million from undisclosed backers.) The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Foxconn is working to expand its medical device efforts through a deal with another California-based medical device maker, radiation-treatment device company Varian Medical Systems.

Foxconn told the WSJ that it expects its medical device business to ramp up from $20 million last year to $200 million in revenue come 2020.

As part of the Sotera investment, Foxconn will make the device’s sensors and batteries as well as become its exclusive distributor in China. While production of the Sotera device is currently done in the US, that could move to Taiwan too.  Keep reading>>

Digital health-savvy insurer Oscar raises $145 million

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 20, 2015        

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An Oscar-branded Misfit Flash device.

An Oscar-branded Misfit Flash device.

New York City-based health insurance startup raised $145 million in a round led by Peter Thiel and Brian Singerman from Founders Fund. Other contributors to the round include new investors Li Ka-shing of Horizons Ventures, the Wellington Management Company and Goldman Sachs, in addition to all existing investors, a group that includes Box Group, Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, and Red Swan Ventures.

This is Oscar’s fourth round of funding, and it brings the company’s total funding to $320 million. Oscar is also growing fast: when MobiHealthNews first wrote about Oscar in November it had 16,000 members. Less than six months later, it’s now reporting 40,000.

“We don’t get excited about raising money, but rather, see it as a small step towards improving experiences for our members each and every day,” CEO Mario Schlosser wrote in a short post on the company’s blog. “Our most recent round of financing will ensure our continued dedication to service and innovation for our members. It will allow us to grow our staff, create new products and extend our plans to new members across the country.” Keep reading>>

JAMA, BMJ each call for more health app evidence

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 20, 2015        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTTwo of the biggest medical journals in the world have taken up some big picture mobile health questions this week: How are patients to know which medical apps work out of the sea of available options, and should healthy patients be making use of mobile health apps and devices at all?

The first question is the subject of a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, while the second is tackled in a point-counterpoint discussion in the British Medical Journal.

Despite years of talk about app ratings systems and app formularies, the JAMA piece argues, the field is still quite daunting for both doctors and patients, and the apps continue to proliferate. JAMA points to WellDoc’s BlueStar as the exception that proves the rule of mobile health apps being generally not well vetted or clinically tested. And though the FDA’s recent decisions to explain how they plan to exercise greater regulatory discretion are good for innovation, they add to the supposed problem of patients and doctors not having anywhere to turn for vetted apps. Keep reading>>

Report: 78.5 million will use home health tech by 2020

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 20, 2015        

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American Well

American Well

The number of people using home health technologies will increase from 14.3 million worldwide in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020, according to a report from Tractica.

In Tractica’s view, home health technologies include offerings that allow providers to remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions, use technology to improve care for elderly people, and conduct virtual visits with a physician.

“Key factors driving interest in home healthcare technologies include rising healthcare costs, aging populations, and a rise in the number of people living with chronic diseases,” Tractica Principal Analyst Charul Vyas said in a statement. “However, significant challenges remain for the industry to solve, including regulatory issues, data security and privacy, and technology interoperability and integration issues.”

Tractica added that within the home health technology space, medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment will be the largest markets between 2014 and 2020. And these technologies “will drive the deployment of a wide variety of connected health devices and software applications”. The company explains that other key segments in the home health market include remote consultations, eldercare, and health and wellness.

At the beginning of this year, a Harris Poll survey commissioned by American Well found that 64 percent of patients are willing to participate in a video visit with a doctor. Of those that were willing to visit with their doctor over video, 61 percent said convenience was a factor in this decision. Seven percent of respondents who had been with their doctor for less than a year said they would switch doctors to get online video visits. And 10 percent of respondents who had been with their doctor for two to four years said they would switch. Younger people were more likely to switch to a physician that offered video visits.