News 3/7/12

CMS announces a partnership with Text4Baby to promote enrollment in CMS-sponsored programs like Medicaid and CHIP. I wrote about the initial research data for the Text4Baby program back in November. At that time, I wrote that the most important finding of the study was that 39% of all Text4Baby users, and 53% of users without insurance, contacted a service that was listed in a Text4Baby message. I also wrote that this one stat was hugely valuable to HHS. It makes a ton of sense to promote CMS programs with Text4Baby; I’m just not sure why it took 3 months to do it. Or maybe that’s actually quite speedy for CMS?

Orca Health releases a new iPad app for dental health called, appropriately, KidsDental. The free app provides interactive education to kids about dental hygiene. The app also allows dentists to register and parents to find registered dental specialists. There is not much info about Orca on its website but it has released several similar educational apps for specific symptoms or conditions. It seems as though it is using an iTriage-like approach of getting consumers looking for health info and education then offering them the ability to search for providers. I imagine providers will pay for premium listings. I also imagine patients finding providers using iPhone and iPad apps are on the more desirable end of the patient spectrum for providers.

Speaking of iTriage, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini launched a new version of the app. According to the release and app store, it seems like provider searching has been improved and medication refill reminders have been added. Also, this is the first app that is part of the CarePass platform from Aetna.

A new report written by The Boston Consulting Group asserts that mobile technology can improve health and lower costs in all countries. To accomplish this, the standard changes required are given like stakeholder alignment and incentive reform. The biggest stat, and there are many stats in the press release, that jumps out is that 30% of smartphone users will be using “wellness apps” by 2015. I’m curious how they define using (downloading, using daily, using once, etc) and how they define “wellness app” (not my quotes).

Medivo, which uses lab testing to tailor for patients, both through providers and directly to patients, acquires WellApps. WellApps has one real mobile app for patients with chronic GI conditions and several more “Coming Soon”. The acquisition will extend Medivo’s platform offerings to other conditions and very quickly make it a mobile app developer. Medivo raised $7 million last year.

Northwestern University is creating several different technologies to help patients with depression. One is a smartphone, called Mobilize!, that detects patterns of behavior with sensors and phone usage. It sounds a little like but specific for depression and with prompts and guidance built in, not just monitoring. Another new product, called MedLink, sounds like a combination of Vitality and a mood journal for patients with depression. What’s very cool is it links medication usage directly to mood and side effects.

A new study finds that virtual cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than typical care for teenagers with chronic fatigue syndrome. The results are pretty impressive. The study included 135 total participants with 1/2 receiving typical care and 1/2 receiving online care.

This article argues that Nike should broaden the marketing push for its new Fuelband activity tracker, potentially partnering with pharma. I think we’ll likely see these types of partnerships, whether is is fitness tracking device vendors partnering with pharma or payers (Fitbit and United is a good example) or, hopefully, healthcare providers. At launch it makes more sense to focus on what you know, who you have access to, and who is a proven customer base, which is exactly what Nike is doing.

AirStrip adds Connie McGee (formerly KPMG) as VP of Strategic Accounts and opens a new office in Nashville on the heels of the announcement that HCA had invested in AirStrip. I’d vote for the Nashville office over the San Antonio headquarters.

Fairview Health Services (MN) chooses Amcom as its communications platform vendor. Amcom supports secure messaging to smartphones.

I found this story amusing. For all those academics out there who are curious about how to cite a tweet in an academic paper, the MLA has developed a format for it. It’s rather simple, actually, but I thought Twitter accounts didn’t require a first and last name linked to them?

A new report on Internet usage finds that mobile web traffic has increased by 35% since last July. It’s another clear indication of the increased adoption and utilization of smartphones. Despite that increase, almost 90% of total web traffic remains non-mobile, or PC, based.

Apple’s much anticipated announcement was today. All of the speculation centered on this being the unveiling of the next iPad and, not surprisingly, it was. The new iPad, which looks very similar in hardware design to the iPad 2, has a retina display, 4G capability, a 5MP camera, a 1080 HD video camera, a new quad-core chip, and new, more powerful versions of Garage Band, iMovie, and iPhoto. Supposedly battery life is still 10 hours. Retina display is definitely the coolest part of this new release.

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


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