Just As It Prepares For Its IPO, Fitbit Is Hit With A Lawsuit From Jawbone

Earlier this month, Fitbit filed for an IPO that it hopes will raise an additional $100 million in capital. The offering is backed by what analysts are calling “phenomenal” financial figures and growth forecasts, setting Fitbit up for what seemed like a slam dunk IPO. Now, however, the road to its IPO has gotten a bit more complicated, as activity tracker rival Jawbone has filed a lawsuit against Fitbit alleging that the company stole confidential information through a series of strategically poached employees.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in the state of California, charges Fitbit with “systematically plundering” information from Jawbone by hiring employees who downloaded strategically sensitive and confidential information just before quitting. “This case arises out of the clandestine efforts of Fitbit to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property from its chief competitor,” says the court documents. The court document goes on to allege that Fitbit’s recruiters contacted nearly one-third of Jawbone’s employees this year, and while some of those employees left without downloading protected information, others copied Jawbone’s future product and business plans prior to departing. Some employees went so far as to use third-party software to delete system log files in an effort to cover up their actions. Fitbit’s own executives have acknowledge poaching staff from Jawbone, but have adamantly denied allegations that it also stole confidential information.

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Athenahealth Welcomes Three New Startups Into Its MDP Program

Athenahealth’s More Disruption Please program has been firing on all cylinders so far this year, with new office space introduced in Silicon Valley, and now three new startups introduced to inaugurate the San Francisco space. With the addition of the new campus, Athena’s MDP accelerator program now has three campuses: San Francisco, Boston, and Austin. The company also has investments in a growing number of startups through its MDP program. Athena seeks out early to mid-stage health IT startups and provides them with free office space, seed funding, mentorship, and access to Athena’s 64,000 physician end users through Athena’s app store-like online marketplace.

Athenahealth Welcomes Three New Startups Into Its MDP Program

Athena announced that it would open a new MDP location in San Francisco this past January, and this week the company followed that announcement with more details on who the initial startups are and what they will be working on.

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Ovuline Raises $3.2 Million To Ramp Up Fertility App

Boston-based digital health startup Ovuline announces that it has closed a $3.2 million funding round led by Martin Ventures with additional contributions from the investment arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Prior investors include Lightbank, LaunchCapital, LionBird, and David Cohen, founder and CEO of Techstars. The new round brings Ovuline’s total funding to $5.7 million.

Ovuline Raises $3.2 Million To Ramp Up Fertility App

Ovuline has worked closely on a pilot project with BCBS Massachusetts over the past several months. Starting in February, the team rolled out a pregnancy support app that allows BCBS to send users tailored articles, screening information, and general reminders. Ovuline CEO Paris Wallace notes that the trying-to-conceive population is difficult to identify and says, “In general, insurers are really excited about engaging with all of their members, but especially with this population. Most have fantastic benefits for their pregnant members and those trying to conceive, and sometimes they don’t know the best way to communicate that with their members.” Since its launch, Ovuline has connected with more than 250 other insurance providers to offer targeted messaging to this population. More recently, Americord Recovery announced that it was also partnering with Ovuline to deliver targeted content about its cord blood banking services to expecting mothers.

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Apple Introduces Apple Watch Support For Its Enterprise Healthcare Apps

In July 2014, Apple and IBM announced a new partnership in which the pair would co-develop a library of enterprise applications aimed at streamlining workflows within a variety of industries, including healthcare. An initial set of apps was released shortly after the announcement and then, in April 2015, Apple unveiled its first set of enterprise healthcare apps.

Apple Introduces Apple Watch Support For Its Enterprise Healthcare Apps

Four apps were unveiled as part of the April announcement. Each app was designed to support clinical care delivery, with nurses in mind as the primary end users. Hospital RN was designed to connect nurses with a patient’s EHR by using Apple’s indoor locator service iBeacon to automatically open the chart when nurses approach a patient’s bed. From within the same app, nurses are able to review results, patient requests, and safety alerts. The app also provides secure messaging tools between clinicians. Now, using the Hospital RN app, users will be able to receive the same notifications on an Apple Watch.

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Progress Continues On Pursuit of Mind-Controlled Prosthetics

Researchers working out of an Icelandic orthopedics company called Ossur announce that they recently tested a mind-controlled prosthetic leg on two amputees with promising results from both experiments. The devices are lower-limb prosthetics and communicate with the remaining muscle tissue through a mesh network of sensors implanted in the residual muscle tissue. As a result, signals sent from the brain to the leg are able to continue on through the leg and into the prosthetic. This allows the prosthetic to respond to subconscious instructions that brought a needed sense of cohesion between the device and the wearer. Gummi Olafsson, one of the recipients of the new device, describes the initial sensation of using it:

Progress Continues On Pursuit of Mind-Controlled Prosthetics

It was, like you couldn’t believe the feeling when you were moving your ankle. It was really strange. I couldn’t explain it. It was like, I was moving it with my muscles, there was nobody else doing it, the foot was not doing it, I was doing it, so it was really strange and overwhelming.

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Jiff Raises $23 Million Series B, Expands Its Employee Wellness Platform

Employee wellness startup Jiff has raised a $23 million Series C led by digital health newcomer Rosemark Capital, and with additional funding contributed by GE Ventures and returning investors Venrock Associates, Aberdare Partners, and Aeris Capital. The company has raised $50 million in total since its 2011 launch. Rosemark Capital was founded last year by entrepreneur Chris Keane after selling his advertising startup Rosetta for $575 million. Jiff is Rosemark’s first investment since its launch, but since launching the company has evaluated and ultimately passed on more than 1,500 other digital health startups. Kuenne explains, “We’re taking our learning from building Rosetta and marketing know-how, and applying them as investors.” Kuenne will be joining the Jiff Board of Directors as part of the deal.

Jiff Raises $23 Million Series B, Expands Its Employee Wellness Platform

Jiff has been growing its employee wellness platform since 2011, and now has 15 customers signed up. The company markets a set of applications that integrates with existing benefits systems and engages employees to live more active lives and reduce the cost of care. The system allows employers to roll out incentive programs that reward healthy decisions through behavioral economics, gamification, and financial incentives. The platform also allows users to create group or personal challenges that help employees to track progress toward individualized fitness goals. The entire platform is back-ended with an analytics engine that serves up cost analysis and utilization dashboards for benefits managers to gain more detailed insights into how challenges and incentives are performing.

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Stride Health Raises $13 Million Series A For Its Health Insurance Exchange

San Francisco-based health insurance exchange startup Stride Health has raised a $13 million Series A led by new investor Venrock and with additional support from returning investors Fidelity Biosciences and New Enterprise Associates. The new round closely follows a January 2015 seed round worth $2.4 million, and brings Stride Health’s total funding level to an impressive $15.4 million since its 2013 launch.

Stride Health Raises $13 Million Series A For Its Health Insurance Exchange

Stride Health has taken the same basic principles that went into Healthcare.gov and other state-run insurance exchanges, and added the much needed usability and innovation that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are known for. While federal and state exchanges have burned through hundreds of millions of dollars and are still struggling to overcome technical glitches and poor design choices, Stride Health has launched an insurance exchange that operates in seven states, representing 44 percent of the US population. While it takes an average user over one hour to enroll in insurance on Healthcare.gov, Stride Health has trimmed the process down to between 12-15 minutes.

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New Gene Therapy Technique Shows Promise In Vision Restoration For Some Blind Patients

A new field of science suggests restoring vision to the blind might be within sight. A promising new technique described in a New England Journal of Medicine article this month, published by researchers led by Zhuo-Hua Pan, PhD at Wayne State University in Detroit, suggests restoring vision to the blind might be possible without the need for mechanical implants. The new technique has been extensively tested on animals and could be available for human trials as early as next year. It is only one recent exciting development in the field of optogenetics.

New Gene Therapy Technique Shows Promise In Vision Restoration For Some Blind Patients

Normal eyesight is controlled by photoreceptors, or rods and cones, within the retina of the eye that interpret light and convert it into a visual representation.  In a functional eye, visual data is transferred from the rods and cones to ganglion cells, which carry information from the photoreceptors to the brain. When photoreceptors are damaged, eyesight is hindered. The new technique does not repair these photoreceptors, but instead bypasses them entirely. Researchers have found that by using gene therapy, ganglion cells and bipolar cells can be genetically altered to become light sensitive, essentially enhancing them to perform the job that the damaged rods and cones are no longer able to. Focusing on the ganglion cells, researchers have found that by inserting light-responsive molecules into the cells and shining different wavelengths of light on them, they are able to trigger the eyes’ visual receptors as though information was being passed from functional rods and cones.

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