News 4/20/12

Two players pushing hard for a major role in shifting the way healthcare is delivered, Verizon and NantWorks (Patrick Soon-Shiong’s technology and health company), announced a partnership at the World Health Care Congress earlier this week. The first initiative is an "integrated information infrastructure" targeting cancer treatment called the Cancer Knowledge Action Network (CKAN). My interpretation is that the CKAN will combine, analyze, and make actionable scientific data on cancer treatment so that clinicians at the point of care can deliver the most up to date, tailored treatment possible. Speeding the process from bench-to-bedside would be fantastic and I don’t doubt that NantWorks and Verizon have the technology and resources to do it. The question is how does it happen practically in our health system. Maybe some hand-picked pilots will show what’s possible.

Sotera Wireless receives FDA clearance for its mobile, wireless patient vital signs monitor. The device is meant to provide real-time, constant monitoring of patients outside the ICU. It monitors heart rate, 3 or 5 lead EKG, O2 saturation, BP, respiratory rate, and temp. This definitely extends the reach of hospital monitors to other settings, I’m thinking homes in particular. Seeing as both Sotera and AirStrip are funded partially by Qualcomm, it would be interesting to see Sotera as another data partner for AirStrip.


A new study of in-home telemonitoring of 205 elderly patients (average age 80.3) with multiple health issues finds no difference in ED visits and hospitalizations between the telemonitoring group and control group. An unexplained finding was that mortality was higher in the telemonitoring group. The results are certainly interesting and don’t paint a picture of home monitoring as a means to decrease expensive healthcare utilization.

Payer Highmark announces a pilot with 10,000 members to provide them virtual visits using Teladoc. The cost for a virtual consultation is $38. I’m assuming this is a discounted rate for Highmark members, right?


Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman recently wrote an article Forbes about the changes coming to healthcare and the power of devices we already have (iPhone, Wii, Fitbit, XBox, Skype, etc) to transform the delivery of care. The two things that stick with me from the article are: 1) Glenn Tullman and Steve Ballmer have good relationships with their doctors, and 2) who was the first to find the quote by William Gibson: "The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed" (I heard Todd Park use it at the Healthbox demo day a couple weeks ago and liked it).

More good news for health IT entrepreneurs looking for funding. A new report finds that VC funding in health IT was the highest ever recorded in Q1 2012. The total invested was $187 million across 27 deals. I hadn’t heard of the two biggest deals(Kinnser Software and Healthx) but I’m fairly familiar with the next three (Sharecare, DocuTAP, and PerfectServe).

A new report by PwC finds that consumers increasingly turn to social network to find and share health-related information. This is more evidence why I think providers need to at least have a presence on social networks. Some of the highlights:

  • A third of those surveyed use social media to find and share medical information
  • 90% of those in the 18-24 age bracket trust health information found on social networks
  • 72% said they would use social networks for scheduling appointments (how about a ZocDoc Facebook app?)
  • 34% said social media would affect whether they take a particular med (no reminder apps to fix that problem)
  • 82% of health organizations have their marketing departments manage their social media efforts

Mobile app startup Alt12 Apps announces the release of a new app and associated social network Kidfolio. The company also raised $1.26 million in seed funding. Alt12, which is creating apps and communities targeting women, had two previous apps with good uptake – one a lifestyle app for women and the other for pregnancy. The theme (which I think is a good one) is to target women with apps and give them access to small, meaningful communities. The apps are a bit like a targeted, themed version of Path. Starting with menstrual period tracking and ovulation, then on to pregnancy, and now Kidfolio, which is a like a mobile, interactive, collaborative scrapbook for moms, Alt12 is positioning itself well with an engaged group – expectant, new, or young moms. Alt12 charges for membership to its networks. Who knows, up next maybe we’ll see Alt12 apps for wives to track marital issues or for adult daughters to track the health of elderly parents. It fits the company focus.

Humana is piloting Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management workshops for 100 members. How many members does Humana have, anyway? Either way, the lucky 100 members participate in six-week workshops, conducted online, to help them better self-manage chronic diseases.

The White House announces the winners of the Apps Against Abuse Challenge. Both apps enable users to press a button to connect to family and friends, send location information, and get access to abuse hotlines and services. I’ve heard the statistics before, but I’m always astounded that one in five women in college will be a victim of sexual assault.

In what sounds exactly like text4baby but for developing countries, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action is using SMS — as well as short audio messages over mobile devices — to deliver tailored education and instruction to pregnant women. Just like text4baby, Johnson & Johnson is a partner. Does anybody know what company is providing the technology? I didn’t see Voxiva (the text4baby tech partner) listed anywhere.

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

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