News 8/17/12

Online mental health telemed platform Breakthrough raises $900K in seed funding. Breakthrough, along with several other startups, is trying to solve a very real problem with access to and affordability of mental health services. The company has signed deals with a couple of insurers in California. These deals with payers enable Breakthrough users, who are also members, to see psychiatrists online for the cost of their co-pay. Pretty cool stuff. They don’t have a mobile app.

iTriage launches a new version of its website modeled after its iPad app. I like it. ITriage needs more usage data and feedback on mobile, so the mobile design is more validated than the old web page. It unifies the experience for users and puts the app front and center, leaving no question about the purpose of the site or the target user. It also allows users to experience the app before installing it. Nice work. I imagine others, especially those that offer services that don’t require login, will start doing this.

Group Health will use Intelligent InSites RTLS in its newest medical facility, which eliminates waiting rooms and will use RTLS to streamline patient flow.

Allscripts and Microsoft announce a partnership to link developer communities and to help app development for the Allscripts Application Developer Program. Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman: "We believe the transformation happening in healthcare requires an open approach to enable innovative advances in how our clients deliver care." I’m not sure you can call it open if it requires integration with Microsoft and/or Allscripts.

Use of social media by doctors represents a great way to connect and communicate with patients, but I don’t think friending doctors on Facebook is a good thing. "Friend" in the Facebook sense, doesn’t really mean much any more, but Facebook is personal and not the place for a professional relationship, regardless of how close patients want to be with doctors. Twitter is another story, as it’s a great public forum to push out content and have patients follow you,without allowing them to message you. This article provides a good background on social media for physicians.

I remember reading about Retrofit right after it launched, but this is a great update on the service. The idea is to create a scalable version of the luxury health spa model used to help people with weight loss. It’s tailored to busy professionals. With a subscription, which isn’t cheap, users get a team of professionals that create a tailor-made weight loss plans. Retrofit integrates Fitbit to monitor activity and uses game mechanics to help increase daily steps.

Startup MyHealthTeams raises $1.75 million to build social communities for specific disease conditions. The company is starting with autism and breast cancer, helping people find others with the same condition. It sounds similar to PatientsLikeMe, but targets different conditions. MyHealthTeam also has a local angle.

Speaking of PatientsLikeMe, it raises another $2 million. I really like PatientsLikeMe and I’m curious to see if this money is used to target patient with different conditions (maybe autism and breast cancer.)

Motion Computing announces several new Windows tablet models. These are the rugged tablets that can resist a beating. The story says battery life was between 3.5 and 6 hours, considerably less than smaller, lighter tablets (Android and iPad).

This was interesting to me. Digital marketing firm BrightWhistle raises $2 million to help healthcare organizations find, qualify, and acquire customers / patients using search and social media. Sorry, subscription required to read the entire news story. Any healthcare orgs using this and want to tell me a little about the experience?

Indiana launches a site that allows parents to access and download (PDF, HL7 VXU, CCD) immunizations records. Indiana should be applauded for fixing a painful process for parents, though I’m still a bit astounded that this is news and is not already available everywhere.

A very preliminary study finds positive results for patient-controlled sharing of medical images. I’m not surprised. As long as you make it easy enough, patients would be more than happy to cut out the middlemen and the long telephone hold times.

A new report from IMS Research concludes that the wearable tech market will reach $6 billion by 2016. Continued growth of existing products in health and fitness is predicted while newer areas, such as smart watches and glasses, will contribute to the fast growing market. Big data here we come.

Researchers at Dartmouth develop a bracelet that uses bioimpedance to uniquely identify individuals. It also detects biometric devices being worn. It could replace barcoded wrist bans initially, but eventually could also collect biometric data, link it to the correct individual, and wirelessly send that data on to records systems. This is probably a ways off in terms of real world applications.

For those interested in web design, this is a great article on responsive web design and how adapting layouts to different size devices (web, smartphone, tablet) isn’t the only consideration. Thought also has to go into filtering content for smaller size screens.

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

  • Marco Polo

    Microsoft is trying to be more “open” from a development standpoint these days. C# has a standard from ISO and a Linux deployment engine through Mono. You can build Windows 8 apps in HTML5 and Javascript. It’s not anywhere near the Stallman/GNU side of openness, but it’s getting better. 

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that Microsoft (and Allscripts, to access their APIs) won’t want your money at some point in time to use their tools. The initial cost to use some of the Allscripts APIs seems prohibitive to random developers looking to experiment on building items for EMRs. I know that I thought about checking it out until I realized that they wanted 100 times more than the Apple Developer Program fees. Perhaps they are working to bake some of those costs into MSDN license subscription costs?

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