News 6/8/12

In light of my last post about Rock Health’s new incubator class in Boston, I was curious to learn if readers would apply to a health incubator.

iPad EHR vendor drchrono announces two new cool features to its mobile apps. The first is real-time health insurance eligibility, allowing patients, using drchrono’s mobile patient check-in app, or staff, using the mobile or web apps, to access cost info for various services.

The second new feature is credit card processing in the drchrono app using Square. If you don’t know Square, it’s an incredibly handy and small credit card reader that plugs into the headphone jack of mobile devices, allowing for cheap credit card processing without a merchant account. The device is free — just go to the site, order one, and see what you think. Square also has a Pay with Square app that’s not widely used yet, but gets me closer to my strange fascination with "running a tab" at place I shop. In the case of drchrono, payments through Square are magically (drchrono wouldn’t give me the details on the technology behind the integration) integrated into drchrono so physicians and staff can quickly capture payments without leaving the drchrono app. Drchrono CEO Michael Nusimow told me the payment system has been in testing with about 100 physician users and for certain practices, especially those across multiple facilities, it has been very well received. I was curious if this was the first of other device integrations. Apparently it is and drchrono is currently testing several other third-party device integrations, though Michael couldn’t tell me specifically what they were. Anybody know and want to share? Either way, I love the vision of using the the mobile device as the hub and integrating data and services directly into it, replacing the clipboard and doctor’s bag. It’s a ways off, but still a cool vision to make data entry and processing seamless.

A new study by PwC on global mobile health trends concludes that consumer interest in the technology is higher than that of the healthcare industry itself. The report is based on surveys of consumers, physicians, and payers. Not surprisingly, physicians seem to be the slowest to adopt these technologies into practice. The report cites the systemic issues in healthcare as the main barrier to adoption of mobile health. Since the report was global, it also assessed differences in trends between developed and developing health systems, a topic I find very interesting. This is the best summary statement I’ve read on the differences between mobile health in developed and developing countries: "In developed markets, mHealth is perceived as disrupting the status quo, whereas in emerging countries it is seen as creating a new market, full of opportunity and growth potential. In younger, developing economies, healthcare is less constrained by healthcare infrastructure and entrenched interests" (Chris Wasden).

A new study of search engines for health information finds that four major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and deliver very different results for the term "breast cancer." I think the study would have been much more valuable if it looked at different types of searches and not just a very deep dive (200 websites from each search engine) of one search, especially since most people are only going to click on the top links.

Discharge care coordination vendor CareInSync raises $1.6 million to officially launch its Carebook product. The product, which runs on tablets, smart phones, and web, provides discharge checklists, risk stratification, communication tools to coordinate with post-care providers, and dashboards. The goal is to help hospitals proactively assess and mitigate the risk of readmissions. I wonder how something like this fits into current clinical workflow and how it will be received by the clinical staff.

iSonea releases an asthma tracking app, AsthmaSense. The app allows users to track symptoms and get medication reminders. iSonea also has technology for assessing sounds using smartphones for things such as wheezing. Future version of AsthmaSense will integrate wheezing measurements and tracking, something that would make this app much more valuable.

Consult A Doctor announces a new iPhone app, iDR 24/7. As the name implies, it’s an iOS app that lets members/users of Consult A Doctor contact an on-call physician 24/7. Consult A Doctor has a network of providers, but also enables health systems and payers to add telemedicine services to the offerings of their providers. The app includes messaging, requesting a call back, and health education.

Guess what company was awarded a large VA contract to create a wireless infrastructure for VA medical centers? Answer – usual government suspect Harris Corporation. The contract is two years and $19 million.

RTLS vendor Awarepoint raises $14 million. Strategically for Awarepoint, $7.5 million of the investment came from the Heritage Healthcare Innovation Fund, a new fund backed by a bunch of large health systems. Getting funded by potential customers is a strong move for Awarepoint as it looks to scale beyond its current customer base of 186 hospitals.

More funding news, this time in the fitness and wellness area. MapMyFITNESS raises $9 million. The round included strategic investors Competitive Group (which runs events like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons) and Running Specialty Group, owner of 19 running stores and MapMyFITNESS has multiple apps to allow people to track and share their fitness activities. My favorite – MapMyDOGWALK.

I’m on the Advisory Council for the mHealth Innovation Exchange Conference being put on by the World Congress and ONC in July. We’re looking for startups that want to pitch a the event to a group of industry experts and funders. If you’re interested, download and submit the application here.

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

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