News 5/25/12

It’s been an incredibly busy week for me and I’m just glad it’s Friday, mostly because I have the weekend to catch up on stuff. The highlight for me this week was having a 30-minute presentation to a group of 40 or so doctors (not a great setup to begin with), only to show up and find no Internet and a broken projector. The Internet problem was fixable (hotspot from my iPad), and I can talk to slides without projecting them, but about half of the presentation was to show a demo. Afterwards, I was talking to a friend about it and he recommended that I carry a Pico projector around with me at all times. He told me having one has saved him on more than one occasion. Anybody out there have any recommendations for carry-on projectors, something I can use to present off of my laptop, iPad, or even iPhone? Thanks in advance.

iMPak Health announces RhythmTrak, a mini-EKG about the size of a credit card. The device communicates with phones and tablets using near field communications (NFC), as long as you have a device that supports NFC. The device allows patients to capture EKGs at home, store them, or send them on to providers. Again, the NFC piece might be the biggest challenge for this, though more devices are adding NFC. RhythmTrak has been submitted to the FDA for approval.

With Lipitor going generic, drug maker Pfizer releases a mobile app in partnership with EatingWell magazine. The app gives users healthy recipes and includes a mobile Lipitor discount co-pay card. The idea of the app is to build brand loyalty and keep consumers buying the higher-priced brand name instead of the cheaper generic form of Lipitor. I’m not sure that will work, but it’s a nice attempt.

A new survey finds that consumers search for and trust health information online. It found that 30% of people search for health info online and 65% of them find the info trustworthy. My favorite other finding: "Only 15 percent of Americans who turn to the Internet for medical information say they at least sometimes misdiagnose themselves."

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Blueprint Health startup Meddik raises $750K to build a better health search for consumers. The idea is compelling. Meddik allows users to search for health-related terms or tags and provides results from user-generated content sources, such as blogs. The idea is that information from patients who have first-hand experience is more valuable than the algorithm and results that typical search engines provide. The site will also allow people to share information and experiences with others. I really like it — they just need to get out there and build the brand. Here’s another story I found about Meddik this week.

More activity in the health price transparency space. Last week (or was it the week before?) I reported about the recent round of financing that Castlight closed, bringing the total it has raised to $185 million. Now Rock Health company HealthInReach has merged with PriceDoc. Both startups offer sites where users can search for health services and get prices before booking. I’ve used both sites and find them to be rather unfriendly. The big challenge these companies have is translating and lumping CPT codes — and the corresponding descriptions that are sometimes unreadable — on the provider side to something that consumers can search, find, and book with confidence. It will also help to selectively offer services so consumers are not overwhelmed with options that only make up <5% of what people are looking for. This specific merger seems like HealthInReach is the winner, as it will continue to operate while the PriceDoc site will cease to exist.

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In related price-transparency news, more startups are getting into drug price listings and coupons. One not listed that I would watch is GoodRx. If I was going to pick a winner from this article, I’d go with MedMonk because it’s used at the point of sale, the founders are pharmacists (they get it), and it has a pilot with 80-100 Walgreens stores. Being a YCombinator company doesn’t hurt MedMonk either.

The State of Pennsylvania relaxes restrictions on the use of telemedicine services for Medicaid patients. New rules allow consultations to take place with a nurse, not just a physician. New specialties and services were also added.

Another survey finds Epocrates to be the most popular mobile app for physicians. Half of Epocrates users open it on a daily basis. Even though the Epocrates EMR was a flop, at least it’s got something to fall back on.

Do you have a great idea for an app that "improves interoperability among office-based ophthalmic imaging devices, measurement devices, and electronic health records (EHRs)?"If so, ONC has a new challenge for you – The Ocular Imaging Challenge.

The above infographic about text messaging shows statistics and also highlights some studies of texting for health and wellness.

Dr. Oz is a busy guy these days, starting and funding health startups all over the place. I knew about Dr. Oz’s involvement with ShareCare, but apparently he also has founded Enforcer eCoaching and YouBeauty. Enforcer eCoaching is an interactive daily wellness coaching technology (or it will be when it is built) targeting smoking cessation and weight loss. Enforcer just raised $1.6 million. It doesn’t sound terribly innovative, but it probably doesn’t have to be with Dr. Oz and Michael Roizen MD of Cleveland Clinic as founders. ShareCare raised $14 million earlier this year. I don’t know if YouBeauty is funded.

Massage therapists now have an Android-based EMR, Espresso Massage Therapy. It’s basically a custom version of an existing EMR for massage therapy. It’s not the prettiest app I’ve seen. I imagine the massage therapy market is big, though they don’t get the same government boost.

I wrote a couple weeks ago about the constant distraction of mobile phones. I found this article and thought it was interesting. It lays out why we don’t ever disconnect and ways we can start "turning off." It’s not as related to being distracted on the job, which is mostly what I was writing about.

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

  • Chris Wasden

    you can actually get an inexpensive NFC add on to your phone if you don’t have NFC in your phone. this can turn any smartphone into an NFC phone.

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