News 4/18/14

I’ve mentioned Oscar, the new tech-powered insurer in New York, a few times. It was gunning big for the insurance exchange there, but only enrolled 14,000 people during the open enrollment period, which is less than 2 percent of the people who enrolled in New York. I have to imagine that’s a major letdown for them. I think the value in Oscar will ultimately be in the technology it creates, so I’m interested to see if this result changes its trajectory.


Validic seems to be everywhere these days. Here’s a good local story on what they are doing in Durham. I had no idea they were growing so fast, currently with 16 people and growing by another 19 by the end of the year.


Better, the much-touted mobile app with content from Mayo Clinic, launched this week. The app enables users to store health information and access Mayo content for free (I think Mayo content is already free and does well on SEO.) The premium service for $49 per month gives users access to a personal health assistant. I’m assuming the health assistants are medical assistants, but the release just says "trained health professionals." There were also originally more expensive packages that enabled users to access Mayo nurses and/or doctors, but I can’t see the pricing for those options any more. Lt. Dan also covered this and the huge $5 million seed round that Better has raised. $5 million seems too big to be seed to me.


Maybe not surprisingly, a new survey finds that lots of people use mobile apps to track health and wellness data about themselves (70 percent), the majority of them do not share this tracking information with their physicians (60 percent), the main reason people stop using apps to track health is because they forget, and a good chunk of people would increase use of such apps if doctors recommended them (34 percent). I think the results of this survey would likely have been the same one or even two years ago as health and wellness apps are not new. What’s also not new is that mobile app health tracking is not integrated into care and that doctors do not recommend health apps. I’m curious if these numbers will start to shift in another year or two or if we’ll still be largely in pilot mode for integration of self tracking into traditional provider settings.


I’m a huge direct primary care (DPC) fan. I like concierge, too. I am very bullish on DPC scaling and becoming a much larger percentage of the overall health system. One Medical Group is the poster child for DPC, which may not be the best thing as One Medical continues to require large amounts of money to keep going. This week it announced another $40 million in funding on top of $77 million already raised. The funding is being spun as growth capital and maybe it is just that. I’m just skeptical because I’m not sure how the new practices in places like Chicago are growing.


Box and Dignity announce the winner of their app challenge – WelVU. WelVU offers providers with a platform to delivery personalized, multimedia education to patients. As a winner, WelVU gets $100,000 convertible note. WelVU also closed $1.25 million in funding last month. Personalized medical education, as a form of engagement to drive higher adherence to treatment, is a huge opportunity, but is one that hasn’t scaled. It will be interesting to see winners emerge.


The new Dell Medical School in Austin seems cool. Here’s an interview with the new Dean Clay Johnston, who’s going to Austin from UCSF. He’s involved with startups and talks about the medical school as a place to help test, incubate, and accelerate digital health concepts. Very cool indeed. I spoke with Dr. Johnston a few years ago when he was still at UCSF and remember being impressed with his combined and synergistic knowledge of academic medicine and tech startups.


According to a new report, there were 163 healthcare IT deals in the first quarter of this year totally $858 million. By volume, there were more consumer-oriented companies, but by revenue enterprise-oriented companies won out.


The industry, at least a vocal subset, remains excited about the potential of Google Glass in healthcare. This story covers everything from clinical care to telemedicine to patient entertainment as healthcare use cases for Glass.

eCaring, a NY company with a home care platform for elderly, raises $3.5 million. It sounds similar, in terms of why people would use it, to Independa. The idea is to use technology to help people stay their homes longer.

CloudVisit, a telemedicine company, announced it now supports CCR format for export of data. This is not really huge news on its own. I mention it because I see and talk to more and more small, new companies looking to do CCR, CCD, CCDA, and/or HL7 to improve interoperability with existing systems.

An international mHealth story, something we used to include more often but haven’t covered much lately. An Ethiopian company has raised funding from US-based The Africa Group to expand its telemed product called Hello Doctor. The article mentions recent data that there are 250 mHealth projects going on right now in Sub-Saharan Africa. The space overseas, especially in Africa, is so wide open but also so ready for mobile health services because other mobile services, especially mobile payments, have paved the way.


Travis Good is an MD/MBA and co-founder of Catalyze. More about me.

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