News 6/13/14


The American Medical Association approved a set of guiding principles for telemedicine this week. AMA President Robert Wah, MD said, "This new policy establishes a foundation for physicians to utilize telemedicine to help maintain an ongoing relationship with their patients, and as a means to enhance follow-up care, better coordinate care, and manage chronic conditions." This is similar to recent recommendations from the American Telemedicine Association, which promotes telemedicine for use in existing provider-patient relationships. That’s a powerful and smart use of telemedicine, but more acute care delivery and services for new patients are headed this direction. Retail pharmacies are pushing to provide convenient access to care through new patient-provider interactions and it makes sense to leverage telemedicine in the same way. The AMA also urged standardization of state rules, which is again in line with ATA’s recommendations.

The push into healthcare by Apple and Samsung has spurred a lot of commentary and attention. Another tech giant is apparently gearing up to announce its interest in helping consumers aggregate their health data – Google, which is rumored to be planning an announcement of Google Fit. That would be a return to health by Google after the company dropped its failed PHR in 2011. This is a better time and Google Fit would be a smarter service than the digital health file cabinet that was Google Health. Aggregating on mobile will be the key to success, so I’m curious how Samsung and Google will work together on Samsung hardware running Android OS.


More about the announcement by Google. I remember writing about Runkeeper 2011 shortly after Google Health was put to rest. Runkeeper had recently announced its Healthgraph API, which aggregates data from fitness apps similar to what Apple, Samsung, and Google are trying to do. Three years later, it looks like Google is back to compete with Runkeeper, and this time, the competition (including Apple and Samsung) is more direct.


A Microsoft blog post covers Surface in healthcare and cites several use cases. The two most interesting are Seattle Children’s using the Surface as a laptop replacement and UPMC deploying 2,000 Surface devices. In the case of UPMC, the Surface was chosen over the iPad because of the ability to record data into the EHR, not just view information. I’m curious what clinicians who are charting with the Surface think about it. The display still seems small for most EHR user interfaces.


A study finds that Text4baby participants feel more favorably about prenatal vitamins and going to prenatal visits while negatively viewing alcohol use during pregnancy. No behavioral change was observed since it was purely a perception study. The data is good on Text4baby, but ROI is still a question because it’s hard to quantify.


Health Wildcatters, a Dallas-based health tech accelerator, announces that its first 12 startups have raised $4.6 million six months after finishing its program.

Do you have a startup or an idea? Are you in Iowa? Wellmark will hold a July 1 event to match entrepreneurs with mentors.

Weave raises $5 million to accelerate its growth. Weave is a smart VOIP system designed for dental practices, but it looks more like a dental CRM for front desk staff. It integrates with dental systems and makes communication easier with patients, which in effect improves relationships. It would be valuable in just about any medical practice.

PM vendor Kareo announces integration with Chartlogic, an EHR targeting surgical and "complex areas of medicine." Kareo’s marketplace of integrated partners continues to grow.


Telemedicine initiatives are taking hold in Ohio. Services for Medicaid patients are being offered, which seems to be a common first step in telehealth. It’s interesting that St. Elizabeth’s Health Care launched a cash-only $35 video visit service, which seems reasonable since it’s not much more than a co-pay.


VoCare announces a partnership with Motorola. The announcement was challenging for me to decipher. VoCare offers a connected mobile platform targeting seniors. It’s a smartphone, basically. VoCare is trying to help with aging in place, or aging at home, for the elderly. I assume it uses Motorola hardware. The confusing part is that the announcement also covers VoCare’s $5 million Series A funding and its intention to seek $20 million in Series B. I would think the $5 million would have lasted for a while, although maybe it’s a late announcement and they’ve already spent the money.


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

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