SMS-based Ebola Screening Tools Are In the Works

Public health officials from Doctors Without Borders are building a next generation outreach tool that it hopes will help West African countries turn the tide as they battle to control a historic Ebola outbreak.

SMS-based Ebola Screening Tools Are In the Works

The project started this summer when public health officials began work on an Ebola outbreak map that could be updated by anyone with access to a smartphone. The team created an app that can be used by local health workers to report and track new Ebola cases, and communicate bed availability to other local clinics. The app also identifies villages that practice high risk cultural behaviors, such as unsafe burial customs, or a general unwillingness to report symptoms or seek medical care. The map has been a key tool for public health officials and care providers trying to balance patient needs across a network of short staffed clinics.

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IntelliQuit Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Gamified Smoking Cessation Platform

IntelliQuit Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Gamified Smoking Cessation Platform

New York-based digital health startup IntelliQuit launches a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of a smoking cessation platform that it hopes will improve success among smokers using the traditional smoking cessation program that clinicians have relied on for years. The program was designed by Matthew Bars, co-founder and CEO of IntelliQuit, and the director of the tobacco treatment program for the New York Fire Department. Under his leadership, the NYFD has seen its smoking rates drop 70 percent. Victor Marchione, MD, co-founder, and CMO of IntelliQuit is a pulmonologist with 30 years experience helping patients quit smoking.

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Google Extends Its Cloud-based Genome Data Set Business

This summer, Google formed a partnership with Autism Speaks, a US-based autism research foundation, that resulted in Google hosting 10,000 fully sequenced genomes on its cloud infrastructure. The partnership was formed to reduce the lag time researchers were experiencing when they tried to share newly sequenced genetic data. With a single fully sequenced genome filling a 100 gigabyte disk, researchers tend to rely on conventional mail to share data when sharing hundreds of genetic samples, rather than trying to transfer the information over the web. The financial arrangements behind this deal were never disclosed.

Google Extends Its Cloud-based Genome Data Set Business

Now, Google is announcing a similar partnership with the Institute for Systems Biology, a Seattle-based cancer research foundation. ISB has been pioneering genetic research for the Cancer Genome Atlas for the past five years. The Cancer Genome Atlas is a collaborative project that aims to explore the link between genetic abnormalities and various types of cancers. This data set also holds 10,000 samples, which researchers have no easy way of sending to new collaborators, other than to mail it to them.

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Welltok Raises $25 Million Series D To Expand Patient Engagement Platform

Welltok publishes a seemingly premature press release announcing that it has raised $25 million of a planned $37 million Series D round. The round is being led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with no details provided on secondary investors. Welltok and BVP anticipate completing the fundraising by the end of the year. The new funding follows a February 2014 Series C that netted $22 million and brings the company’s total funding to $73 million. That number will jump to $85 million if it is able to extend its Series D round all the way to its $37 million target.

Welltok Raises $25 Million Series D To Expand Patient Engagement Platform

Welltok operates in a particularly difficult digital health segment to monetize, patient engagement. The company launched in 2009, and has been marketing a software suite that lets patients and providers set health goals, and then tracks progress toward those goals through integration with fitness trackers, medical devices, and weight loss apps. Health systems and insurers can use the platform to incentivize healthy decision making by providing rewards when goals are met, and providers can use the platform .

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ROI of Online Appointment Scheduling

My last post about telemedicine got me thinking about other direct-to-consumer health technology tools and services. This post is about online appointment scheduling.

I consider both to be tools for patient engagement. Both are being offered as features by several EHR vendors and also offered by dedicated non-EHR vendors. Both have potential for existing patients as well as for finding new patients.

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Thync Raises $13 Million From Khosla For Mood-Altering Wearables

Thync Inc, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based wearables startup that has been operating in stealth mode for several years, announces a $13 million Series A round led by notable industry heavyweight Khosla Ventures. Khosla was joined in the round by several other undisclosed investors.  This is the company’s first publically disclosed funding round.

Thync Raises $13 Million From Khosla For Mood-Altering Wearables

Thync was launched in 2011 with the goal of creating a wearable device that would be able to deliver “on-demand mood shifts” to users. For example, if a user needed to be more focused for a project they were working on, but found themselves feeling anxious or excited, Thync claims its wearable device would be able to immediately shift the users mental state from excitement to a more focused and calm state.

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NIH Announces Big Data Innovation Projects

The National Institutes of Health unveils a wide-ranging new research and development program focused on developing data analytics capabilities in healthcare. The program launched with the announcement that $32 million has already been committed to fund efforts at various organizations where researchers are dissecting some of healthcares largest data sets, looking not for cures, but for better ways of processing the information and extracting helpful insights.

NIH Announces Big Data Innovation Projects

The initiative, known as the NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge project, is slated to spend $656 million funding research projects by 2020. The grants will be used to support teams creating new tools and training programs that will help the US health care system use big data technologies to advance research capabilities, improve outcomes, and combat the rise of healthcare costs. With practices and hospitals merging to create massive, centralized EHR systems, DNA sequencing beginning to find its way into care delivery, and an overall increase in data-heavy research initiatives, the nations health system is creating far more data than ever before.

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Google Pilots Virtual Physician Consultations Embedded In Search Results

The new feature was first reported by a Reddit user on Friday. A man searching Knee Pain was shown not only the typical search results one would expect, but also a link that said “Talk with a doctor now.” The feature no longer appears to be live, but for a short while, Google apparently tested a virtual visit solution that would intercept users searching for medical advice before they got to competing sites, like HealthTap or Doctors On Demand, providing in-line physician consultations directly from the Google search results page.

Google Pilots Virtual Physician Consultations Embedded In Search Results

The initiative is similar to previous projects launched by Google. In November 2013, the company unveiled Helpouts, a video chat service run through its Hangouts platform that would connect stumped DIY’ers with experts willing to lend a helping hand. In its marketing, Google positioned the platform as a way of connecting a chef with someone struggling with a recipe, or a mechanic with someone attempting their own auto repair job. However, unlike the trial version of Google’s virtual visit experiment, Google Helpouts is not free.

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