News 6/15/12

Axial Exchange acquires Mayo mobile startup mRemedy. Axial Exchange’s platform connects hospitals, payers, and ambulatory sites and helps with transitions in care, specifically discharge and readmission prevention. It won an HHS Partnership for Patients competition last December, which is when I initially heard of it. mRemedy has a suite of mobile apps for chronic disease as well as a white label mobile app for health systems. I think from a technology perspective, Pipette would have been a better acquisition for Axial, but got to them first. Axial is not in the chronic care arena, at least not yet, and I don’t see many Axial customers asking for glucose tracking apps. This acquisition is very good for Axial beyond the tech itself, though, as it not only speeds the process of mobile app development for patients, but it also gets Mayo as an investor and partner. Several Mayo docs will act personally as investors and join the advisory board.

SoloHealth announces that is has received FDA approval for its health kiosks. The kiosks assess vision, blood pressure, and weight, as well as conduct subjective questioning. The kiosks are bilingual. The company is planning an aggressive national rollout through partnerships with large retailers. There is a web site where patient can track data and send to healthcare professionals. I’m curious if Solo will make the majority of revenue from employers or payers who can offer this to employees/members at a discount.

The AARP and Microsoft introduce AARP Health Record for AARP members. It sounds like the the PHR is a white-labeled version of MS HealthVault. It’s a good way to promote a PHR and comes with the integrations MS already has to places like pharmacies and labs. The release talks about AARP wanting to develop "online tools and services" for AARP members, which is a gold mine for developers if AARP members actually use and pay for them.

Smart phone EKG maker AliveCor raises another $10.5 million on top of the $3 million it raised about 10 months ago. Its smart phone case turns the phone into a portable, wireless EKG. It is still awaiting FDA approval, but this round of funding will help to scale operations internationally. The story mentions using the device to monitor animal heart health in addition to human heart health, which is a bit odd to me.

CellScope, a Rock Health company, raises $1 million. Its first product is an smart phone otoscope. I didn’t know CellScope was building an otoscope as it initially started out as a smart phone microscope targeted at developing countries. An iPhone otoscope is something I’ve discussed with friends and it seems like a great product, especially for parents. You still need a doc to use the image to diagnose and treat. The second product from CellScope will be a dermascope, again targeted at consumers. My wife uses olloclip’s macro lens, which is awesome and relatively cheap (especially because you get more than just the macro lens) as a dermascope. I wonder what the price point on these CellScope products will be?

Ottawa Hospital, which I wrote about when it deployed iPads in 2010, now claims to have deployed close to 2,000 iPads to its physicians and is considering rolling out up to 5,000 iPhone and iPod Touch devices for the rest of the staff. The investment is part of a strategy to bring providers back to the bedside from desktops at the nurse stations. Physicians can review test results and order imaging studies from the iPads, with additional order entry capability planned for later this year. The hospital says physicians love it, calling demand “insatiable.”

The Advisory Board Company announces a new developer challenge – the Patient Engagement Blue Button Challenge. The idea is to help health systems, providers, and individuals share data. The winner gets $25,000 and submissions are due 8/6/12. Guidelines are on the site. My interpretation: if you want to win, create a solution that can be white labeled for health systems, write it in HTML5, make it bilingual (at least English and Spanish), create a place to make a trusted recipient list (both providers as well as family), support DIRECT, and then have it pull and send data on demand with one click to any or all of the recipients. That’s a lot, I know, but it’s the Advisory Board with its very long list of hospital clients. I was unaware that Aneesh Chopra had joined Advisory Board as a senior advisor.

Another Blue Button-based challenge, this one from the ONC, wants developers to combine Blue Button data with other data sources and make the mashup meaningful to patients in some way. The submissions are due 9/5/12. If you’re into Blue Button, just do all of the above for Advisory Board, then spend August combining the Blue Button data with other data sets.

While we’re on the subject of challenges, two new challenge winners were announced. The first was IOSTREAM (it really annoys me when companies make their names all caps), which won in the adverse event reporting category. IOSTREAM created an online collection tool for consumers and providers to submit adverse events. The submissions are converted to standardized formats. I wonder how many people will actually use this or are actually using this now? The second challenge winner was MyHealthDIRECT for discharge follow-up appointment scheduling. MyHealthDIRECT enable discharge planners to search provider networks, book, and confirm appointments. The company won $5,000 and a pilot opportunity.

A new Kalorama report ($2,500) predicts the mobile medical app market will grow by 25% per year for the next five years. The market in 2011 was about $150 million. This is just apps used in the medical field, not by patients, though it does include education tools such as flashcards and games. I wonder what percent of the $150 million was Epocrates?

Mobile analytics company Flurry reports that seven of 10 new apps are being written for iOS. Flurry attributes this to differences in revenue for developers on iOS vs. Android and the fragmentation of the Android market that makes it harder to pin down technology specs.

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

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