News 4/25/14


On the heels of Nike pulling out of the digital health hardware space and stopping development on its Fuelband, Moves app is acquired by Facebook. Nike has chosen to focus on software, not hardware, and to leverage the technology already being made by handset makers and other hardware makers. Moves similarly focuses on software and built its software product to track activity using iPhone hardware. The Moves app is solid and has improved a lot over time. It’s interesting to see Facebook getting into activity tracking and it maps to Facebook’s focus on mobile engagement. Ultimately Facebook derives value from data about people and higher levels of engagement and Moves fits well with that.


Filament Labs has moves beyond wellness to digital care plans. Filament started with a wellness app called HealthSpark, but has now gone beyond that to a model of digital, mobile care plans. Filament and its digital care plan platform PatientIO is targeting home care and infusion. Rethinking the paper-based care plan is a huge need with much potential, especially with health providers endorsing it, which is how Filament distributes its care plan platform. I also think targeting specific types of episodes and care plans, like infusion, is the right approach.


End-of-life decisions often fall through the cracks and there’s ambiguity if people haven’t made and documented their decisions. I picked Vimty as my favorite startup at Health 2.0 Launch last fall. I think there’s a big void in the market around educating patients about end-of-life issues and providing easy tools to document decisions. Another company, Luminat, announces a partnership with UMass Memorial to "fully integrate" the Luminat end-of-life planning platform into the UMass EHR. I’m not sure an end-of-life questionnaire needs to be fully integrated in the EHR as long as a trigger can be set to remind clinicians to ask about end-of-life care. Ideally all of this would be in one place, but I don’t think it’s worth the resources to do the integration in all cases.

The Owlet, the smart, connected baby monitor company, raises $1.85 million. The baby monitor attaches to a newborns foot and tracks pulse ox, heart rate, and temperature. Not surprisingly, the data is accessible via a nicely designed mobile app. The cost is $250 and they’ll ship this summer. Similarly to the Withings baby scale, I don’t  understand this at all. New parent fear and paranoia must be powerful. Owlet should find a concierge practice that can charge per phone call after hours for all the freaked out parents who don’t understand what they are seeing.


Retail pharmacies have a big role to play in healthcare delivery. Using thousands of physical locations isn’t enough to reach everybody, so MinuteClinic also uses telemedicine in rural settings. An on-site provider (LPN or LVN) collects vital signs and asks patient basic questions. A live video session is conducted with a remote NP, who diagnoses and orders treatments. The patient picks up meds if needed, completes a satisfaction survey, and leaves. It’s a simple model that works well for a retail clinic. It also extends reach to places where Minute Clinic can’t hire an NP or an MD.

Diabetes is expensive. The statistics never cease to amaze me. In Mississippi, diabetes accounts for 3 percent of the state’s economy. The state signs a new telemedicine law into effect that will require payers in the state to reimburse telemedicine at the same rates as in-person exams. Mississippi has access problems and hopefully this will alleviate some of them. The announcement also comes with partnerships for GE-Intel, GE (solo), and C-Spire for technology assistance.

Florida Blue is bringing Healthbox to Tampa Bay. The class will be 10 startups. Healthbox also just announced $7 million in additional funding.


MDLive, a telemedicine platform and network, signs a partnership with Carenet. MDLive will add a doctor behind Carenet call center nurses for cases in need of escalation. Fitting telemedicine into existing services, like nurse call centers, is a good idea.

NIH is looking for mobile tools to help underserved chronic disease populations. Grants can be painful, but non-dilutive financing is a plus.

More about Better and Mayo. Better is the mobile app with Mayo content that offers a premium subscription giving you access to a care navigator. As can be seen over the last week or so with Better, a Mayo investment and partnership gets a lot of press.

Apparently people in Indonesia still use BlackBerry devices. At least that’s what I can gather from this press release about Axial Exchange launching its patient engagement app on BlackBerry. The news coincides with Axial announcing a large Indonesian health system as a customer. I had the impression Axial was doing well, and maybe it is, but the US market is still untapped for patient engagement. Going after the patient engagement market in Indonesia seems like something you wouldn’t do if you had a lot of demand in the US.

Hearst buys CareInSync and rolls it into Zynx. CareInSync has a platform for managing patients post-discharge and Zynx is focused on evidence-based content. Presumably Zynx can leverage CareInSync to help drive evidence-based care outside the four walls of the hospital.

BettrLife announces a partnership with Viridian Health Management. Bettrlife will provide its mobile apps for data collection and dashboards to help Viridian health coaches manage their patients.


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

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