News 1/26/12

If you’re interested the potential of mobile from the pharmaceutical industry perspective, sign up for a free webinar I’m co-presenting next week with Aaron Kaufman, general manager for Kony Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Apple releases incredible quarterly sales numbers. Putting itself in the normally exclusive domain of oil companies, Apple made $13 billion in profit on $46 billion in revenue last quarter. The math comes out to 378,000 iPhones and 157,000 iPads sold every day, respectively. Apparently Apple is now worth more than Greece.

Wireless glucose monitor company Telcare signs a partnership agreement with health plan management company MagnaCare. It’s not totally clear in the release, but I’m guessing that MagnaCare will offer this as an additional service to its clients, taking a piece of the transaction. What was interesting was the quote from MagnaCare that talked about the how Telcare’s product enables patients to connect with loved ones, not providers. In many ways, it’s a better group to lean on than providers, especially in the short term.

Fitbit, which announced a partnership with UnitedHealth last week and unveiled its new wireless scale at CES, closes a Series C funding round worth $12 million. I imagine with this funding, Fitbit will be looking to scale sales both direct to consumers as well as through partnerships like the one with United. I’d also expect to see more testing of Fitbit as a part of an employer wellness program. I think we’ll also see a lot more gamification of the activity tracking that Fitbit does, which would tie well to partnerships with both payers and employers.

Kaiser releases an Android app and mobile-optimized site for patients. The app and site provide access to medical records, messages, location listings, test results, and appointment scheduling. It looks a lot like a mobile version of the web portal, which I guess it is, but it makes me wonder why it took so long to build for mobile. I would have used it when I was a Kaiser member. Now I can’t even get my crappy insurer to send my paper cards to the right address. I guess I’m insured, so I shouldn’t complain.

A new Pew Internet survey finds that tablet ownership in the US doubled from 10% to 19% from mid-December to mid-January. That trend definitely contributed to Apple’s monster numbers.

With Quantified Self and self-monitoring predicted to be a big trend in 2012, this is an interview with a guy struggling to get access to his heart rhythm data recorded by his implanted defibrillator. It brings up some interesting issues he encountered. It also ties nicely to the push to provide consumers access to all of their medical data. Personally, I say give patients the data they want — just don’t expect it to fix our health and lifestyle problems.

Sharecare announces it has raised $14 million and acquired physician directory The Little Blue Book. (TLBB). Sharecare is similar to HealthTap, which recently raised $11.5 million, in that it is a platform where healthcare consumers can go to ask questions of physicians. With the acquisition on TLBB, Sharecare will be trying to be the place consumers come not only to ask questions but also to find providers. It’s taking an interesting approach as it is planning a premium subscription model for providers, but will also be making money from real-time analytics sold to drug companies and other brands in health an wellness. Sharecare was co-founded by Dr. Oz of TV fame.

AT&T adds two new offerings that it hopes will help with mobile adoption in healthcare. The first, AT&T Managed Tablets, is a device management offering that apparently works on both enterprise-owned devices as well as employee-owned personal devices. The second, AT&T Global Smart Messaging Suite for Healthcare, is a partnership with Soprano that enables encrypted messaging from providers to patients, as long as both have the app from AT&T. The app apparently works on any smart phone on any network. It would be nice if it worked on non-smart phones.

This post is very Quantified Self (I’m not sure why I started capitalizing that) heavy, so I’m sorry, but here’s one more. The video above is for the new Nike+ FuelBand. It’s a wristband, much like the Jawbone UP, that tracks daily activities. Each activity is assigned a point value. The points are called NikeFuel and you have daily goals. The wristband’s lighted scale shows daily progress towards your goal and tells you things like steps taken and calories burned. It also syncs with iPhone and iPad apps (no Android until spring.)Retailing at $150 won’t help with competition priced at $99, but Nike does have a great fitness brand.

A new corporate survey (non-healthcare specific) finds that iOS devices are the most common platform connected to "corporate environments." 30% of devices were iOS, followed by BlackBerry and then Android. Android was considered by IT professionals to be the least-secure platform. I’m curious about specific data from hospitals and healthcare organizations.

A new study of women aged 50 years or older finds that fewer of them accessed health information posted online than reviewed identical print health information. The content was related to colon cancer and screening recommendations. I think the main conclusion to be drawn is that taking paper material and digitizing it into non-interactive material does not get you very far when it comes to health education and prevention.

An American Medical News story says payers are moving into the mobile health space to offer more health-related tools, not just mobile member cards. The examples given are Aetna (iTriage), UntitedHealth (CareSpeak, Fitbit, Lose it!), and WellPoint (Verizon).

Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups. More

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