News 6/22/12

I’m reading and scoring mobile health startup applications this weekend for the mHealth Exchange Conference in Boston next month. I’ve got ~45 to go through. It’s amazing to me how many different companies and concepts are out there, many of which I’ve never heard of. I’m curious to see who ends up in the top 10 to present at the event.

The ONC is planning to provide guidance directly to small and medium-sized provider organizations (which I’m assuming means small to medium-size practices), many of which likely don’t have IT resources, especially IT resources that know how to secure mobile devices to meet meaningful use (MU) requirements. This seems like an waste of time and energy, especially as the goal is to teach providers to manually configure their phones to meet 60% of MU requirements. Without manual configuration, the mobile phones tested already meet 40% of MU requirements.

The other reasons it’s a waste of time and money, are (a) ONC should not train providers on securing personal mobile devices unless they plan to be available 24/7 as a security help desk going forward; (b) providers likely won’t be terribly receptive to making the changes to their personal devices; (c) smartphones will be upgraded every 18-24 months, so it’s a Band-Aid at best; and (d) meeting MU or HIPAA security requirements (the technology parts) is easy but the meeting privacy requirements (user training and compliance) is hard and you’re only as strong as your weakest link.


iTriage releases a universal version of its app that will run on an iPad. It is also retina display-enabled / optimized. I haven’t used the iPad version, but the screen shots look very cool (I’m a big fan of expanding and collapsing panes in iPad apps.) According to the release, iTriage now has over 6 million downloads.

Facebook and GE partner to launch HealthyShare, a Facebook app that allows users to set and share health and fitness goals. Integration with third-party pedometers or sensors aren’t available so far, but this is definitely the direction. In extending the Open Graph, Facebook may want to look to acquire a company like RunKeeper, which focuses exclusively on a health-specific graph integrates many third-party apps and services. If Facebook had $1 billion to buy Instagram, it certainly has enough in its spare change drawer to buy RunKeeper.

Recent events in Washington have apparently cleared the way for the FDA to issue guidelines regulating mobile health apps. The story outlines the reasons why the FDA now has a clear path to develop and publish guidelines. I think regulation is ultimately a good thing, though I remain concerned — as do others — about regulation slowing innovation and hurting smaller companies. Unfortunately I don’t have an good answer or alternative and we’ll have to see how the guidelines are written. It would also be good to have guidelines that are consistent across digital health (web and mobile and anything in between).


Rock Health held its demo day for its second class of startups last week. I wanted to write a post about it, but I wasn’t there and I can’t find any great content other than stories that have already interpreted the event. Here is the story on TechCrunch about it. Most notable to me is that Agile Diagnostics has raised $2.5 million to expand its clinical decision support tool and that Docphin has secured funding from Mayo to scale its medical literature access platform.


GreatCall, which I’ve written about numerous times, closes a $7 million subordinated venture loan (could somebody define that for me?) GreatCall makes mobile devices, including phones, for the elderly. Over the last couple of years, they have been adding services such as for medication adherence and emergency calling. Services also integrate remote family members. According to the release, "GreatCall serves the mature population." I love that.

A new survey of physician social media use finds that YouTube is the second most popular network site behind Facebook. LinkedIn was third. The popularity of YouTube surprises me a bit. As the story points out, physicians posting instructional videos helps credibility, but another factor is that physicians are increasingly turning to online videos for their own education (I can’t find the story for some reason, but I recently read about this.)


On the global mobile health front, the mHealth Alliance and Stop TB Partnership release a report saying that mobile health can be used to combat tuberculosis. It’s an interesting read. My favorite aspect is the use of mobile incentives (mobile phone credits and mobile money) to increase treatment adherence, which is incredibly important in TB treatment. Mobile money and pay-as-you-go aren’t nearly as big in the US, but I think they are powerful tools in emerging markets.

I wish I could have gone to the Games for Health 2012 conference last week. This is a summary of the conference. It was good to learn that ONC was represented.

Secure clinical communications vendor EXTENSION releases Version 3 of its platform. It has lots of new features, but the most powerful to me is easier integration into hospital systems and ease of adding workflows.

Bloomberg has a story on the increased investment in medical startups. Featured: AirStrip, Qualcomm, ShareCare, Oprah, HCA, and Kinnser (home health apps).


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

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