News 3/22/12

Telemedicine platform vendor Consult A Doctor introduces a new service called MyHealthPlan 24/7, a cloud-based platform to enable payers to quickly offer members access to virtual consults. The platform provides members access to care remotely via phone, email, mobile app, or video chat. Payers can provide access to their own provider network or can leverage Consult A Doctor’s national network of providers. This new offering sounds very similar to others from Consult A Doctor, but specifically targeting payers as customers.

A pilot in New York is testing the feasibility of using tablets to help educate and consent patients for health information exchange. The tablets will be equipped with apps that provide whatever level of detail the patient desires about exchanging their health data. I’m sometimes floored by how much time, money, and effort goes into consenting patients about health information exchange.


T-Haler from Cambridge Consultants teaches users the proper technique for using an inhaler. The device has sensors and Wi-Fi to assess if the inhaler is being used properly and then displays results on a computer. It’s a neat concept. I had no idea that 75% of peds patients don’t use inhalers correctly. According to data from Cambridge Consultants, the T-Haler can increase the percentage of correct users threefold. Since it’s a connected device, I imagine down the road it will be able to track inhaler usage and issue reminders that add value beyond teaching proper technique.

AirStrip keeps getting good press from HCA’s strategic investment. HCA has a blog post that speculates about the potential for improving care and access with remote monitoring tools.


Good news for startups, especially those in healthcare. Average angel investments (I assume this is by round of investment) grew from $500,000 last year to $700,000 this year. Even better news is that healthcare was the number one industry in terms of total angel dollars invested. Not surprisingly, the most active region was California. I realize California is a state and not a region, but to make it competitive the state was broken out as its own region.

The Johns Hopkins Global mHealth Initiative aims to make sense of all of the noise in the mobile health app area. The Initiative has 49 studies underway. It’s a lofty goal considering the more than 40,000 health apps. To me, what this really means is there will be a small subset of app winners that get validated by groups like the one at Hopkins. Those will rise above above the crowd to help providers and patients.

Patients using a PDA (what is a PDA these days?) to track weight and receiving daily feedback were more likely to be adherent to a weight loss regimen than those using a paper journal, according to a new study. This improved adherence and weight loss was only noticeable for the first 24 months, after which time the study groups were equivalent. It’s interesting that the difference in outcomes between groups dropped off after 24 months, indicating that programs need to be continually updated to continue to engage users.

Is anybody going or speaking at the Health Data Initiative – The Health Datapalooza? Submission are being accepted through March 30. The event is in DC June 5-6. The idea is to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders around innovative applications that use health data.


Aging at home company Independa announces a partnership and integration with Telcare’s connected glucometer. Independa’s CloudCare platform integrates sensor and other data about elderly users, making it available to remote caregivers. Independa has a pretty cool platform that is much more than just remote health monitoring.

In a very similar integration, eldercare company ActiceCare acquires 4G Biometrics. 4G Biometrics has a Bluetooth-enabled glucometer that ActiceCare will integrate into it’s home care platform and emergency response mobile device.

A new report from The Advisory Board Company concludes that accessing virtualized desktops for EMR access over mobile devices, both tablets and smart phones, "invites" an increase in medical errors.


A new HHS contest seeks a Web app that use Tweets to track health trends in real time. I love the this concept. I’ve reported in the past about correlating historical Twitter data with flu outbreaks and using it to track Dengue fever outbreaks. I’m curious to see what people come up with for this. The winner gets $21,000.

A new study finds that the ordering of symptoms on web sites affects the perceived risk of having a specific diagnosis. Users are more likely to believe they have a  given condition if general, non-specific symptoms such as fatigue are listed first, and less likely if unusual symptoms such as increased salivation or rash are listed first. If you’re looking to drive patients to your clinic or urgent care or office, launch a site or mobile app that shows vague symptoms at the top and offer help with those symptoms.

A Deloitte survey finds that healthcare is seen as the most promising industry for the growth of mobile technology. Woohoo!

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

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