Researchers Use Inter-rater Reliability Calculations To Propose mHealth App Review Standards

The digital health industry has largely balked at the idea of embracing a set of vendor neutral mobile health app standards, despite an overwhelming body of evidence showing that app stores are currently littered with clinically questionable health and wellness apps. The first attempt to introduce a neutral review process came from Happtique, a startup focused on creating a formulary of clinically vetted mobile health apps that doctors could trust and prescribe to patients. The startup ultimately failed for several reasons. First, it attempted to monetize by charging app developers to have their products reviewed, something most developers were not interested in paying money for, especially considering that Happtique was a new startup and its seal of approval carried no weight in the market. Second, Happtique’s own validation process was grossly inadequate. After publishing its long awaited formulary, the apps it had approved were almost immediately scrutinized by the digital health industry for a lack of security and clinically questionable content.

Researchers Use Inter-rater Reliability Calculations To Propose mHealth App Review Standards

Since Happtique’s fall, other organizations have stepped in to bring credibility to app stores. In England, the NHS is building its own app formulary that it hopes will help local doctors and patients steer clear of untrustworthy apps. Others in the industry question the need for ratings at all, such as Paul Sonnier, a digital health strategist who notes, “I continue to be amazed at the patronizing stance of those in the medical establishment who feel it’s their duty to say which apps are good or bad. They’re not rating gyms, fitness classes, or even personal fitness trainers, for example, so why the fixation with consumer digital health apps?”

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Ransomware Finds A Home In Healthcare

PwC named cybersecurity one if the top 10 issues facing the healthcare industry in 2016. These warnings stemmed from a series of high profile hacks in 2015 that led to hundreds of millions of patient records becoming exposed to cybercriminals. By the end of 2015, healthcare had the dubious distinction of being named the leading non-government source of data breaches, accounting for 22 percent of all data breaches during the year. According to a 10Fold Communications report, the top seven cyberattacks of 2015 alone resulted in the exposure of 193 million patient records.

Ransomware Finds A Home In Healthcare

While the year was a bad one for data security, 2015 headlines on the topic focused on the rise of hackers stealing patient information from massive databases, such as the January 2015 theft of 78 million patient records from insurer Anthem. Those kinds of attacks are expected to continue, but a new form of cyberattacks – ransomware attacks – is also making its presence known in healthcare.

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Apparel Companies Converge On The Fitness App Market

Asics announces that it has acquired fitness app Runkeeper for an undisclosed sum. The announcement was made by Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs in a press release on Medium.  Run Keeper reports that data extracted from its Shoe Tracker feature, a component of its app that allows users to log the mileage of their running shoes, shows that Asics brand running shoes are by far the most popular brand in use by its users, suggesting that the two companies have a significant consumer overlap that will help strengthen brand loyalty.

Apparel Companies Converge On The Fitness App Market

The deal makes sense for both Runkeeper and Asics. The fitness app market has seen a great deal of exit activity lately as sports apparel companies race to build compelling digital health ecosystems. Nike walked away from its FuelBand fitness tracker line to focus its efforts more directly on building a digital platform for its apparel customers. Under Armour followed suit with a massive investment in several major fitness apps, including MyFitnessPal, which it acquired for $475 million, and Endomondo, which it acquired for $85 million. Adidas has also made its move in the digital health space, snapping up Runtastic and its 40 million active users for $275 million. While Asics declined to report the purchase price for Runkeeper, the app also boasts 40 million active users, just slightly less than MyFitnessPal’s 45 million active users at the time of its acquisition and on par with Runtastic’s user base, so the going rate for a digital health property like Runkeeper has been established and should be well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, making this a major exit in the market.

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23andMe Partners With Fertility Startup To Develop Infertility Genetics Test

Genome sequencing vendor 23andMe has partnered with Celmatix, a New York-based startup working to develop a genetics test designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Founded in 2010, Celmatix has raised $19.5 million in investment capital, coming in the form of a Series A led by Topspin Partners in 2013.

23andMe Partners With Fertility Startup To Develop Infertility Genetics Test

Since its launch, Celmatix has been cataloging genetic mutations associated with infertility and has thus far compiled a list of 5,200 known genetic biomarkers. The team is partnering with 23andMe to gain access to its massive de-identified genetic database in an effort to learn more about these biomarkers. Since its launch in 2006, 23andMe has amassed a database containing hundreds of thousands of fully sequenced genetic samples, that it markets to pharmaceutical companies and other research organizations. The genetic data is valuable because 23andMe also collects self-reported answers to extensive health questionnaires that are submitted alongside the genetic samples. These questionnaires capture detailed information on a variety of health conditions, including fertility, and will help Celmatix learn which genetic mutations are most prevalent among infertile women.

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Withings Launches Hy-Result To Help Fight Hypertension

Withings has announced a new blood pressure monitoring feature that it will make available to users of its Withings Health Mate app. The unveil, Withings explains, was timed to coincide with the start of American Heart Month, an awareness campaign run by the Million Hearts campaign to get people talking about heart health and making healthy lifestyle choices. For its part, Withings is introducing Hy-Result, a set of features designed to help users of its Withings wireless blood pressure cuff trend and interpret their blood pressure readings. Oddly, the new set of features are not free, as many Withings blood pressure cuff owners may justifiably expect. Instead, the add on will be distributed as a $4.99 in-app purchase.

Withings Launches Hy-Result To Help Fight Hypertension

Withings says the new features are an improvement over current blood pressure tracking options because they capture multiple readings over several days and from varying times of day, and then analyzes that information alongside medication details and medical history data to determine how well blood pressure is being managed. The app then presents blood pressure results within three colored zones that help users understand their results. The app then offers best-practice recommendations for lowering blood pressure and allows users to share their results with their doctors.

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