News 8/3/11

Online appointment scheduling service ZocDoc raises $50 million in its most recent round of funding at an estimated valuation of $700 million. All these investments and valuations are making me dizzy. ZocDoc apparently now has 5 million available appointments over the next 90 days. I think this brings the total investment in ZocDoc to $70 million. I imagine this $50 million will help bring ZocDoc to a provider near you.

iPad EMR vendor drchrono gets ONC certification as a complete ambulatory EMR, making drchrono the first native iPad EHR to be certified.

Mobile diabetes management company Welldoc, in collaboration with BCBS and University of Maryland, publishes the results of a trial using Welldoc’s FDA-approved mobile phone-based system. The group using Welldoc had more of a reduction in A1C compared to the control group, which is great because they are actually linking an mHealth tool to an improvement in a clinical indicator. Also, kudos to the primary care docs that dropped the A1C of the control group without any additional intervention.

Big pharma is under fire for tactics it employs to market directly to consumers online and through social networks, trying to capitalize on the increasing number of consumers that go online for health information. The article outlines some of the tactics currently in use including paying patients for telling their stories on forums and creating unbranded websites. The issues boil down to consumers not knowing who or what is being funded by pharma.

Another story on big pharma advertising, but this one is focused on physician targets, not consumers. Epocrates, the free mobile drug reference app used widely by physicians, is a great place for drug companies to pay for targeted ads, as it is usually the last thing a doctor sees before he signs or clicks a script.

On another Epocrates note, though not mobile focused, I got a demo of the new Epocrates EHR and it’s quite intuitive, especially for an EHR. Epocrates has done a great job of using and linking all of its content to intelligently create notes based on chief complaints and problem lists. I’m anxious to see the mobile version and speech recognition.

Another reason Phreesia gives for why providers should use the PhreesiaPad to do patient registration — it helps meet Meaningful Use by collecting up to date med info, smoking status, problem lists, and demographics. I had no idea Phreesia had 10,000 providers signed up.

The Center for Technology and Aging awards ~$500,000 in one-year grants to five organizations to demonstrate uses of mobile health in older populations with chronic disease. Seriously, how do people keep up with all of the various grant opportunities out there?

New nanosensors placed under the skin can detect sodium and glucose levels. Readings are captured by an iPhone 4 camera with a special attachment. The images must be interpreted by a separate machine, but iPhone-only interpretation is on the way. I definitely see the potential for this in remote, or even in-facility monitoring if you could simplify it and just place a watch or wristband over the sensor, put a 3G or wireless card it, and take readings at set intervals.

Social media is a powerful tool if properly integrated into emergency preparedness efforts.

The VA and Pentagon release several mobile apps for vets suffering from PTSD. The apps provide support and guidance for flashbacks. I remember reading a story about a young vet with PTSD who had a trained service dog that could detect when the vet was starting to panic. The problem is that there are not enough dogs for the 400,000 vets diagnosed last year with PTSD. The apps make a lot of sense, but I’m still wondering if most vets have smart phones or if the VA and Pentagon are helping with the cost of the smart phones themselves?

Travis Good is an MD/MBA and is involved with health IT startups.

  • jimmy

    Seriously? They hire people, or consultants, who do nothing but look into grants available for the organization.

  • Chris

    Ugh, I recently had to use Phreesia at my GP’s office, and nothing felt more dehumazing and invasive than using a third party to check in. I felt badly for the elderly struggling with it. I didn’t know what entity was going to have my medical info or credit card data. I didn’t like handling a shared item in an area with sick people. Further, the market research questions and advertising were unexpected and obnoxious, especially in a medical professional’s office. To me, Phreesia is part of the disconnect between office and patient – humans. I hated it.
    The more I read about these, the worse I feel. The only people raving are medstaff who think the use of these will lighten office staff load. And I want to know what incentives doctors’ office have, because they are under pressure to get x-many surveys per week.
    I don’t care what I’m told about supposed privacy and how the company uses “aggregate data”- I am bit a willing participant in their data gathering. Heck, Phreesia is just now hiring someone to formulate privacy policies, so up to now, what are they? Feels Big Brotherish and if my doc continues, I may find a new doc.

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