News 4/25/12

Thanks Terry Edwards of PerfectServe for his guest post on clinical communications.

I’m leading again with another poll, this one relating to how providers should be using social media.


Continua Health Alliance (did they add the word "Health" or was that always there?), the industry group that develops standards for device interoperability, releases its newest set of Design Guidelines to the public. This is good news for those not lucky enough to have the deep pockets necessary to become a Continua member since access to the Design Guidelines was previously restricted to members. The Design Guidelines help developers create devices and services that can be connected to other devices and services that follow Continua standards.


Warm Health, a provider services for health plans and their members, releases a new iPhone app. It enables members of plans that use Warm Health to enroll in educational programs and to securely chat with care managers. This is another service that I’d like to see more concierge practices offer. I think people who pay to participate in a practice would pay a subscription fee for tools like this.


Aging at home platform company Independa announces it has completed a convertible note round of financing worth $2.35 million. This seems like a significant round of financing for convertible debt. Am I wrong on this, I thought the high-end of the range for a convertible note was typically $1.5 million, with up to $2 million being extremely rare? The story goes on to say that Independa is now seeking to raise an equity round of financing. I assume the money will go to scaling sales and adding some additional partnerships. Independa offers a platform on dedicated tablets and the web, as well as implemented on 3rd party devices like LG TVs, to help seniors accomplish tasks of daily living and stay connected with loved ones. If Independa can become widely adopted, the opportunities for additional revenue from its platform seem huge.

Mobile health startup Massive Health, which released its first app in November, has unveiled data and created some pretty cool visualizations. The Eatery alllows user to take photos of meals, rate them, and have friends rate them. The app has logged more than 7.68 million food ratings, though that is ratings and not logged meals. I think anecdotally we know most of the findings that Massive data showed, but the numbers are a nice, data-driven touch. Most impressive to me is how much worse we eat as the day goes on.

Walgreens unveils a "Find Your Pharmacist" feature on its website. Results can be filtered by years in practice, areas of expertise (med management, immunizations, etc), and location. The site also includes pictures, which alone made me feel a little more connected to my pharmacist. Walgreens is on a serious mission to change the image the public has of pharmacists and pharmacies in general. It’s going to be interesting to see how effective it can be at making itself part of the care team and not just a drug dispensary.


Boston Children’s Hospital launches a mobile app called MyWay. It does the usual phone numbers lists, physician lookups, and other hospital services. Boston Children’s also partnered with Meridian to provide users with turn-by-turn directions within a building. Meridian converts paper maps to interactive mobile maps for places like museums and now apparently hospitals. Considering that hospitals, especially large and academic ones, can be a bit confusing to get around, this is a nice touch.


Fitbit, of pedometer fame, announces the official release of its Aria Wi-Fi scale. You can order one today for $129 (2-4 weeks to ship). Aria was introduced in January at CES. The scale tracks weight for up to eight users (similar to other wireless scales) and automatically sends and tracks via the Fitbit website and mobile app. If you’ve got the Fitbit pedometer and want to add to your data points, this is good addition.

Speaking of wireless scales and quantified selves, Withings partners with BodyMedia to automatically send weights records from the Withings Wi-Fi scale to BodyMedia. BodyMedia makes an armband that tracks tons of different biometric parameters. Of course you have to wear it around on your arm, not slip it in your pocket or on your belt.

This is a good commentary and summary of games for health. It walks through a lot of initiatives and the science behind health games to create behavior change. I was surprised that 4-5% of all games are health related games.


The above infographic highlights mobile usage trends. It’s a good view of how, when, and why people use mobile. Specific highlights I found interesting were that mobile web is expected to overtake desktop web by 2015, main uses of mobile are search and browse, and 90% of mobile searches result in an action (going somewhere, buying something, etc). This last statistics, coupled with health related searching (doc finding, med price lookups, self diagnosis support), is powerful.

A new smart phone camera attachment, called OScan, is being tested for oral cancer screening in the developing world. The attachment captures and sends images for remote reads. The article says oral cancer makes up 40% of all cancer cases in India, which is astounding to me. Pretty soon the untrained health workers who are using these new tools (cameras, microscopes, data collectors, etc), are going to have an impressive kit of phone attachments and apps.

Rock Health is moving to Boston this summer to host an incubator class. Rock is really spreading the brand these days. If you’ve got an idea and would like to spend the summer in Boston, give it a shot.


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

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