News 8/10/12

Startup Mango Health raises $1.45 million in seed funding to create social, gamified health apps. The company, founded by a team with experience in building socially powered games, has a medication compliance app in beta. Mango is entering a crowded space (med compliance) that has been well documented and seems to be a favorite for startups entering healthcare. The big question will be if Mango has enough gaming expertise to really differentiate itself and if it can target the right initial subset for med/treatment adherence (teens, maybe?) Of course, having connected investors will also help find partners that are already in healthcare, as other new, well-funded startups have been able to do.

iTriage announces a pilot with Walgreens health clinics in Chicago and Denver. NPs and PAs at Take Care Clinic treat common conditions and perform preventative services. I remember being informed by iTriage last year, after it acquired a scheduling company (can’t remember the name of that company,) about how it planned to differentiate itself from other scheduling services like ZocDoc by doing more system-based scheduling and less individual physician office scheduling. This obviously fits that model quite well and certainly seems like a good growth strategy to get to geographic saturation.

Independa announces another integration, this time with IDEAL LIFE. Independa has a platform for elderly care and aging at home and IDEAL LIFE has products for remote monitoring and a home gateway and aggregator. It’s a partnership that makes a lot of sense for both companies.

Good news for portal companies from Kaiser. A new study of almost 400,000 Kaiser members finds that members who used Kaiser’s PHR were 2.5 times more likely to remain members than those that did not use the PHR. It’s Kaiser, so this isn’t necessarily generalizable to healthcare, but it does show loyalty associated with PHR portal use.

A study finds that Less than half of Web searches for health information provide accurate information. Government sites were the most accurate, yet still were inaccurate 20% of the time.

AirStrip adds three new senior executives: Lori Jones from McKesson and Deloitte, Matthew Patterson MD from McKinsey and the US Navy, and Rudy Watkins  from GE.

Here’s another challenge for developers. ONC is looking for apps that help educate people with cardiovascular disease about risks, resources, and prevention. The description has fairly detailed instructions about the APIs it wants developers to use. Deadline is October 31.

The above news video discusses the use of tablets at Duke University to gather patient information in the waiting room. We reported on this a while back. Apparently data collection on the tablets is often better than in the exam room. The tablets aren’t iOS or Android, I think they are Windows tablets. Can anyone clarify this for me?

A new survey finds that PAs and nurses spend more time online for professional purposes and use mobile devices more commonly at the point of care than physicians. Does this relate at all to differences in age between physicians and nurses and PAs, the value of apps, or the amount of time given to perform tasks? I don’t really know. I have no clue what the average ages are — I just know who has longer training. A quick search found 45 as the average age for nurses and 51 for docs, but I don’t think my doctor data is that great.

Care management company Alere Health signs a deal with AT&T to license WellDoc’s FDA-cleared Diabetes Manager. Alere will use WellDoc to help with diabetes monitoring, collecting data using WellDoc and providing more insight into individual health for Alere care managers. WellDoc didn’t get much coverage on this release, as it was mostly about AT&T and Alere. AT&T distributes WellDoc.

Here’s a contrasting view to some that say we can replace in-person interactions in healthcare with data entry and algorithms. In truth, I think the answer lies more in the middle. We could replace many face-to-face encounters in healthcare with virtual visits and good decision support based on automated and passive data collection, but doctor-patient encounters aren’t just about the problem, treatment, and biometric data. We do patients a disservice by pushing too far from face to face, even if the chief complaint and acute condition could be handled remotely or virtually.

In related news, this article profiles new services offering fast, inexpensive virtual services. Most of the companies that the author tested I’d heard of, including HealthTap, Ringadoc, and InteractiveMD. The liability of these services remains my biggest concern.

Proteus Medical receives FDA clearance for its ingestible sensor. The sensor, which can be put into things like medications, is activated in the users stomach by exposure to certain fluids (like a potato battery). Once activated, it transmits a signal to a Band-Aid-like patch worn on the skin. The system can be used for compliance, but also to assess physiological changes related to the medication that are recorded by the skin patch. The data is transmitted from the patch to a smart phone.

Back to in-car health. Ford announces it has integrated the iOS Allergy Alert App from IMS Health. The app enables drivers with the iOS app and a 2012 Ford with Ford SYNC AppLink to use voice commands to get up-to-date info about pollen, flu, asthma, and UV based on location. I guess this is something people might use, though I’d imagine not many. Who knows, though — people with allergies can be a motivated group.

Here’s a story on new mobile apps and devices for health. The story is far from insightful, but the comments are entertaining, as they usually are in this subject area. This, I believe, is a polarizing view of patient engagement: "Do we really think that all the fat slobs in Walmart care about being empowered?"

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

  • Chris Joyce

    Re: Duke.  I would bet it’s a Windows tablet based on the fingerprint reader and form factor. That video is a few years old but I was saddened when they took that data they captured electronically and PRINTED it for the doc.  Sigh.  The tablet would have been a perfect tool for the doc and the information could have been presented to him/her, in color, as a simple PDF or interactive.

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