Jawbone Unveils UP4, Continues To Blur Line Between Smartphones and Trackers

The world of fitness trackers has fallen under increased pressure recently as consumer electronics manufacturers move into the space and begin competing for the wrists of electronics-loving consumers. The result has been a slow but predictable blurring of the lines between the classic definition of a fitness tracker, and the new, more all purpose smartwatches that are beginning to trickle into the market.

Jawbone Unveils UP4, Continues To Blur Line Between Smartphones and Trackers

Some fitness tracker manufactures have doubled down on developing advanced sensors capable of tracking a broader array of fitness metrics in order to maintain their core customer base, which tends to be fitness enthusiasts. Others, notably Jawbone, have taken the opposite approach by transforming their own line of fitness trackers into something that offers more than the traditional tracker in an effort to maintain the status quo with the introduction of the increased smartwatch competition.

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Partners Healthcare and Samsung Join Forces On Remote Patient Monitoring

Partners Healthcare announces a new remote patient monitoring initiative that it will spearhead in partnership with Samsung Electronics. The project will bring Samsung’s software and hardware expertise and Partners’ disease management expertise together in an attempt to develop software tools that will improve patient engagement, increase medication adherence, and help patients control their chronic conditions.

Partners Healthcare and Samsung Join Forces On Remote Patient Monitoring

The initiative will focus on designing remote monitoring tools that will allow partners to track a discharged patients key medical data, including blood pressure, glucose levels, and weight. With remote access to this kind of information, Partners’ hopes to develop new tools that will be able to identify problematic trends in the disease processes long before a patient would have become symptomatic and turned up at their doctors. By catching small problems before they become big problems, Partners hopes to establish a more effective overall chronic disease management strategy and simultaneously improve patients overall quality of life and drive down the cost of care in the community.

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Apple Watch Sees Broad Early Adoption Across Enterprise Health IT

Apple Watch is enjoying an impressive boost from enterprise health IT firms as business after business takes advantage of this week’s HIMSS conference to announce new Apple Watch products that they’ll be launching in the coming weeks. With the health-focused hype that led up to the release of Apple Watch, its not surprising that health IT firms would take advantage of the buzz generated by announcing a new health IT app, what is surprising is that these companies are jumping into Apple Watch development even after the initial launch, which left out many of the rumored health IT-related features,  was widely seen as a disappointment.

Apple Watch Sees Broad Early Adoption Across Enterprise Health IT

Cerner kicked off the frenzy last week when it announced a new Apple Watch app for patients that it hopes will bridge the gap between patient-generated health data and enterprise EHRs. Brian Carter, Cerner’s senior director for personal health “This is just the first step in the evolution of sharing personal health data — to provide physicians with access to actionable data anytime, anywhere, not just what’s collected at the doctor’s office.”

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Patient Portals Still Struggling To Engage Users

CMS published statistics on patient portal engagement across rural and secondary hospitals and while at first glance the numbers seemed to suggest the roll out of portals was a success, closer inspection reveals that the results were abysmal.

Patient Portals Still Struggling To Engage Users

Meaningful Use Stage 1 mandated that all hospitals and practices provide patients with the ability to view, download, and transmit a patient-friendly copy of their electronic medical record, within four days of being treated. The results were promising on the surface, but the catch is that any hospital that had zero patients attempt to access their portal was excluded from the performance metric. In total, this exclusion applied to 2,472 hospitals, representing 66 percent of all US hospitals. 66 percent of US hospitals had zero patients attempt to access their portal.

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Researchers Genetically Engineer Bacteria To Help Combat Obesity

Researchers with Vanderbilt University have developed a new anti-obesity therapy that relies on genetically engineered bacteria being introduced to the body. The idea comes from an emerging field of research focused on altering a persons microboime, or the helpful bacteria that lives naturally within everyone. Various initiatives are currently underway to see what kinds of benefits can be gleaned from genetically altering microbiome. Researchers hope that one day microbiome could be altered to excrete drugs that would control diabetes, heart failure, or other chronic conditions.

Researchers Genetically Engineer Bacteria To Help Combat Obesity

To demonstrate the concept in practice, researchers altered the microbiome of mice to produce an appetite-suppressing chemical that is normally produced by the intestines when food is eaten. The chemical relays a message to the brain to reduce the sensation of hunger. Some people, researchers say, do not produce enough of this compound and as a result overeat. Pharmaceutical companies are already working on therapies that introduce this compound as a means of combating obesity.  In this study, researchers introduced the compound by creating genetically modified bacteria that naturally excretes it.  In the study, researchers gave mice

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Maven Launches Digital Clinic For Women on $2.2 Million Seed Funding

New York-based digital health startup Maven launched a beta-version of what it’s calling a digital clinic for women. The company was founded by Kate Ryder, a former VC from Index Ventures, who recognized the need for a digital health app dedicated to women’s health and wellness, and so left her job and pursued the idea full time. Maven closed a $2.2 seed from a laundry list of investors, including Great Oaks Venture Captial, BoxGroup, F Cubed, as well as a number of angel investors, including WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and former AOL executive Susan Lyne.

Maven Launches Digital Clinic For Women on $2.2 Million Seed Funding

Maven approached the “digital clinic” concept by merging traditional telehealth services with more general Q&A features, similar to what HealthTap is doing. The platform is also borrowing a page from ZocDoc’s business plan by allowing users to search for new doctors and book appointments over the app. Though others, like Doctors On Demand, HealthTap, and ZocDoc, have already established a strong presence in their respective markets, no one has brought these features together under a single platform and then targeted it exclusively toward women. In doing so, Maven is piloting a genuinely new digital health concept. The company is also differentiating itself from the pack with its price point. Maven will price telehealth visits at just $18 per visit, far lower than industry average.

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ONC Launches Digital Health Resource Center For State Innovators

In December 2014, the CMS Innovation Center announced that it would disperse $644 million in new funding to states participating in its State Innovation Models Initiative. The program was created and funded under ARRA along with the Meaningful Use program, and was tasked with testing new innovative care delivery models that cross both public and private payers, as well as practices and health systems, and that meaningfully reduce the cost of care incurred by CMS. In its first round, CMS funded $300 million in pilot projects focused on payment reform, population health, and health IT, ultimately partnering with 25 states. Now, with an additional $644 million in funding, ONC is ready to roll out round two of its State Innovation Models Initiative.

ONC Launches Digital Health Resource Center For State Innovators

The initiative funds projects in two categories Model Design and Model Test. Under Model Design projects, states focus on confirming private partners and developing a strategy and roll out plan for their innovation project. Later, after the design phase is complete, states can apply for additional funding under the Model Test program to help them implement their ideas.

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Digital Health Weight Loss App Weilos Acquired By Weight Watchers

Just days after Rock Health reported on the uptick in mergers and acquisitions seen during Q1 of this year, Weight Watchers sets the pace for an equally busy Q2 after announcing that it has acquired Weilos, a social media platform where people interested in fitness and weight loss can post before and after pictures as they work toward their health goals.

Digital Health Weight Loss App Weilos Acquired By Weight Watchers

Weilos initially launched as a platform aimed at bringing accountability to weight loss by pairing users with personal coaches. Interestingly, the team chose coaches that were not professional nutritionists or personal trainers, but amateur fitness enthusiasts that had once struggled with weight issues themselves, but went on to lose the weight. Under this model, users were reporting an average of 1.3 pounds of weight loss per week. The company, which was founded by a Cornell MD and a UC Berkley computer scientist, struggled to gain traction in the overcrowded fitness app space, and in early 2013, re-launched with a new social media-based vision for supporting weigh loss goals. On its new platform, users were encouraged to brag about their accomplishments, post pictures celebrating their weight loss, and celebrate with others as they post their own updates and photos. The new model worked and the company’s user base grew. Shortly after, Weilos was accepted into Y Combinator’s 2013 Summer program.

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