News 7/28/12

I finally made it back from Boston. It wasn’t exactly an enjoyable travel experience. My flight to Boston was cancelled and my rebooked flight didn’t get me to there until about 1:00 a.m. My flight back was delayed, I didn’t make my connection, and I got stranded in Detroit for a night. I made it home after four hours of sleep.

My lessons learned:  healthcare should not follow the airlines when it comes to customer experience and data entry. I was unfortunate to have a trainee working on my rebooking at the gate, and hearing the trainer explain the ridiculous key combinations made me wonder which companies are trying to remake the booking interfaces like companies are trying to do with EMR front ends. I also learned that third parties, in my case Kayak, are much better at utilizing data than the airlines themselves. I forward all my itineraries to (it can process e-mails from airlines, Orbitz, Travelocity, whatever) and they parse it and save my trip details in a structured way. Kayak was sending my wife and me more timely and usually more informative updates about my travel before the airlines did. It would be so great if you could do this with healthcare documents like prescriptions, if only prescriptions weren’t chicken scratch.

I was in Boston for the mHealth Innovation Exchange, which turned out to be a fun and informative day. In addition to panels and keynotes, the event featured 10 startups pitching their ideas. Several companies I liked a lot and I think have viable products and good connections and teams to execute. I’m anxious to hear what pilots resulted from the event as startups were connected with health systems and payers to discuss pilot potential.

Another Mint for Healthcare analogy. This time it’s a company called Zipongo and it just raised $1 million. The company is a mix of Groupon and a tailored nutrition service. Part of the plan is to work closely with retail grocers to enable users to get deals on meals. This is a good fit in the middle class mom market, but I think getting to some lower income groups that really could use nutritional advice and discounts is going to be much harder.

Janssen Healthcare Innovation, a division of Johnson & Johnson, launches a free medication adherence service called Care4Today for both web and mobile. It sends customized reminders to take meds and get refills.

WellFX raises $5 million in a Series A round. The company has a platform that, from what I can glean, creates social networks for healthcare organizations to use internally as well as for patients to use with each other. I can’t tell what overlap their is with providers and patients. It’s unclear to me if this is like Jiff or Ozmosis or a combination of the two.

A new funding report shows that Q2 VC funding was $293 million in 28 deals. That’s a high average investment, but I guess the report included later stage M&A deals.

A new report finds that patient engagement is a high priority for many HIEs. I see why this makes sense from the HIEs perspective, but I really don’t see HIEs being an effective vehicle to engage patients. Providing patients access to records is something we need to do, but I don’t think it is going to engage patients in their health.

Practice management vendor Kareo launches a mobile app to give providers access to schedules in their pockets. I like Kareo a lot with its API and simple pricing.

Aprima releases a mobile version of its EMR and PM. The mobile app, which runs on both iOS and Android, allows for access of patient records and appointment schedules.

Researchers at UAB create a web app that analyzes digital pathology images for cancer-related patterns. Pathologists can upload images to the web app and over time the algorithms will get better with more experience. Very cool idea. Initially, with the comparison in the article to Instagram, I thought the system was taking path slides and adding "filters" for different type of stains, but I don’t think this is actually the case. I’m not sure that is possible, but it would pretty awesome if it was.

Employer benefits company CHS Health Services signs a partnership with the Center for Connected Health. The deal allows CHS to offer telemed services from Partners (I’m betting CHS will call them Harvard) specialists to its employer clients. I read recently about Healthrageous, a spinoff of the Center for Connected Health, signing with a benefits company, but I don’t think it was CHS. Anybody out there want that can clarify this?

iRobot, the maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, is getting into telemedicine. The company will be releasing a robot for remote care of hospitalized patients later this year. The remote provider can use an iPad or computer to interact with patients the robot is seeing. The cost will be $4,000-$6,000.

In support of the new iRobot, a new report finds physicians, patients, and families like robots as supplements to face-to-face care in the ICU. The key word is "supplement".

Are you starting a company with a mission to combat obesity? If so, the good news is that Bank of America predicts this will be a major investment trend for the next 25-50 years.

I’m contacted from time to time by people asking about potential jobs with healthcare startups. As I learn of opportunities, I’ll post them. Here’s a good one if you’re in the market for a national sales position. You can find more details here. The company is Healthfinch. It has a product, funding, EMR partners, and paying customers.

I got a kick out of this story. An orthopedic resident in New York sells a famous Lou Gehrig home run ball to pay off a portion of his debt. He had received it as a med school graduation gift.

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

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