News 8/31/11

Carolinas Medical Center, which already has a mobile website that allows users to find facilities and look up ED and urgent care wait times, releases a mobile app for both Android and iOS. It looks similar to KP Locator, Kaiser’s app that I was impressed by last week, and has positive reviews in the app store.

Quantia, the online physician collaboration network with ~125,000 members, releases a new mobile app on its QuantiaCare platform. The new app, called DailyCoach (free), is supposed to help diabetics, or those at risk of developing diabetes, get motivated to exercise and have fun doing it. That’s a good start, but I can’t really imagine having much success with such a passive, non-customized app.

The American Telemedicine Association is calling for "abstracts on any topic relating to telemedicine, telehealth, mHealth and remote medical technologies" for its spring conference next April. Full guidelines are here.

VC firm Morgenthaler Ventures announces 11 finalists for DC to VC: HIT Startup Showcase. Their founders will compete in front of investors and other entrepreneurs with their presentations. Many finalists are mobile or related to virtual care, either messaging or apps. Only a couple fall outside these categories.

AliveCor, the maker of a skin that transforms an iPhone or Android phone into a single-lead EKG, raises $3 million in Series A funding. One of the investors is Qualcomm. We reported several times about AliveCor after it made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The funds will be used for clinical trials, FDA approvals, and commercialization of the product. This is a very cool technology, but I’m curious to see how it plays out in terms of consumer uptake, if that is a target market.

I saw this timely article on the lessons to be learned from health technology startup failures. Many points related to who will pay, enterprise partnership/sale cycles, and reimbursement, which speakto a lack of knowledge and insight into the industry.

Pharmacy relationship management firm OPUS Health partners with VoicePort, a speech recognition company in the pharmacy industry, to offer retail pharmacy customers med adherence and co-pay assistance. It sounds like automated, speech recognition-based adherence reminders to hopefully get people to fill prescriptions and be more compliant. I’m surprised that retail pharmacies wouldn’t do this themselves, but maybe OPUS’ strong links to pharma and VoicePort’s technology make it a winner as a vendor.

A new app from IMO (Intelligent Medical Objects, Inc) and Nuance allows providers to use voice to match terms to problem and diagnosis codes. It supports ICD-9, but ICD-10 will be available in October. If you look at the IMO website, it looks like they integrated IMO into the Dragon Medical Search app, not actually releasing a new app as the press release states.

A retrospective study assessing the use of telemedicine for diabetic retinopathy screening with patients seen physically at PCP sites finds it to be effective at increasing screening compliance and helping to streamline specialty care, or at least referrals to a specialist. If 24% of those screened were uninsured, I wonder what percent actually saw the specialist?

AFrame Digital gets a follow-on NIH grant to study its wrist-worn fall monitor. The device, which looks like a very large watch, tracks seniors and can detect falls and deliver tailored alerts. This tool gets over the hump of having to remember the device, as long as the user wears it constantly. AFrame also has a web interface for caregivers to track users. I didn’t see how much the grant was worth.

Along similar lines, a new wearable antenna developed for the military may have applicability to track seniors and connect to health devices and apps. The antennas can be sewn into clothes. I wonder how well they’d stand up to washings? I’m not as sold on this as a constant monitor, but I could see it being useful in certain healthcare settings as a lightweight tool to communicate data, say from a chair or bed.

Google forfeits $500 million worth of revenue from 2003 to 2009 for allowing online Canadian pharmacies to target US consumers to illegally import drugs into the US. Google is now required to comply with new reporting and compliance standards to assure it doesn’t do it again.

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

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