News 8/31/12

In response to my questioning the reasons for the MEDSEEK / GetWellNetwork partnership recently announced, a reader sent me this. If anyone can confirm or elaborate, feel free. 

Get Well and MEDSEEK share Henry Ford as one of their flagship customers. Henry Ford just signed with Epic recently and the first thing that Epic probably told them was, "Take GetWell@Home and MEDSEEK’s ‘Patient Experience’ and replace it with MyChart, since EpicCare and MyChart are a joint project for most customers." Knowing that they’d need to merge both offerings to provide something that MyChart offers, they partnered up so they both didn’t lose the customer when Epic said they would license Henry Ford MyChart for free (MyChart is free to implement, the cost to customers is through ongoing maintenance)."

On the heels of our guest post of the Rock Health demo day last week, Rock Health made a big announcement about it’s next class of startups, which is set to run from October to March. The incubator will be increasing seed funding from $20K to $100K. The additional investment comes from Kleiner, Mohr Davidow, Aberdare, and, most interestingly, Mayo Clinic. Mayo has been a partner of Rock’s for a while and funded Rock startups, including Docphin. With the previous Rock incubator terms, startups did not give up any equity. I can’t find anything on what startups have to give up for the $100K but I’ve emailed Rock Health to see if I can get an answer. My hope is that it is convertible debt with good terms, but we’ll have to wait and see. Ether way, this will likely bring in lots of applications and make the selection process even more competitive than before. Anybody out there applying?


Sherpaa raises $1.8 million to expand beyond NYC. The startup has an interesting model and target market. It works with employers to choose health plans (typically high deductible ones) and then offers access to Sherpaa Guides for employees. The Guides are physicians that field calls and e-mails 24/7 and respond with recommended referrals, treatments, and follow-up. Based on intelligent routing from Guides rather than employee self-referral to the ED, the employees and employers save money. I think the reason this makes so much sense and Sherpaa has had so much success is that it is working with a lot of young companies, like Tumblr, that have relatively young and healthy employees. Once it reaches San Francisco and Chicago and whatever other cities it is targeting, it will have a very good size market. HelloHealth founder Jay Parkinson, MD is co-founder of Sherpaa.


In international mHealth news, Sproxil, a company I’ve written about before and really like, announces a partnership with Bharti Airtel. Bharti (never heard of them either) will offer Sproxil’s mobile med authentication platform in those 17 countries in which it operates. Sproxil allows users to SMS codes on medications to verify that they are genuine. Counterfeit meds are a huge problem worldwide, especially in Africa. This doesn’t translate directly to the US, but it’s a good model of mobile services to improve problems in health systems. I’ve often wondered why nobody has launched a service in the US where users SMS the name of a prescription medicine and then get back an SMS with a list of local and mail order options and prices. Pharmacies and drug companies could even offer coupons directly this way. You still need to get people to use it I guess. And GoodRx does this with an app.

A survey of 7,000 physicians finds that ~40% are burned out. This is pretty sad stuff. I’m starting to see that more and more with physician friends finishing residency or starting in practice. Many of them, so enthusiastic and optimistic entering the field, seem less focused on the global good and more focused on repaying loans and starting families, and choosing more lucrative and balanced career options instead of what they originally intended. I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I think the system plays a huge role (more patients, lower reimbursements, constantly changing rules, more "documenting," liability, etc.) but after working so hard for so many years, a lot of docs want to shift focus from professional to personal.


AirStrip extends its mobile platform to include a Meaningful Use Tracker, which provides real-time data to clinicians and organization leaders about how they are meeting Meaningful Use requirements. The MU Tracker is licensed under an exclusive agreement from a San Diego company.


I didn’t know that 23andMe, the direct-to-consumer genetics company, does research. Apparently the company has been soliciting DNA samples from people diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the hopes of discovering genes involved in the disease. The company offers testing kits and personalized genetic services for free to recruit patients.

I  stumbled on this post, which is quite good, that covers how powerful engaged patients are for driving good outcomes and lower costs. I couldn’t agree more. Engaged patients would revolutionize our healthcare system and our overall wellness, but engaging patients is not an easy endeavor.

I then found this article, related to the one above, about patient engagement. My favorite quote: "Getting a bunch of data in a visit summary without putting it into context is not meaningful, it is meaningless." I think everyone agrees that we need to go considerably further than providing a data dump for patients, and I’m anxious to see what some of these tools look like. Then I want to know if companies will patent them (see the Apple story below.)


iPhone heart monitor AliveCor, as it awaits FDA clearance, has started marketing the device for vets and pet owners. I reached out to them to see if I could get a device to test on my dog and me for educational purposes. We’ll see what they say.

This post, writhen by a doc, is about the loss of the core place where physicians congregate (the physician lounge) and the increasing push towards productivity taking time away from less formal and less work-related discussions. This could also be an inciting factor for physician burnout. The conclusion of the author is that social media is a great avenue to connect and empower physicians across practice and org settings. I definitely agree, and I know we’ll see more growth in physician social media usage, but right now what I see is still just early adopters.

I thought this was pretty cool. The GA Department of Education launches a competition to get students to develop a mobile app that assists doctors in educating patients with diabetes. It’s great to expose kids to things like this early on. I’m curious to see what the entries look like.

Are you looking to create a business model in healthcare? This is an interesting high-level overview about the challenges in healthcare of finding a customer and then getting them to pay. It’s written by an investor in the health space.


I’ve seen a lot of news about the recent Apple patent victory over Samsung, with Samsung ordered to pay Apple $1 billion. Samsung is appealing, of course, but  a lot of people are still talking about how significant this is for technology. As I understand it, Apple sued Samsung for copying aspects of its design and user experience. The example given was zoom, which now everybody has come to expect from pushing fingers apart on a touch screen. The case itself has nothing to do with health, but it got me wondering about patents in the health tech space. We’re all talking about visualizing and interacting with data, but there is no clear winner yet in terms of how that is done. Could the same Apple protection apply to early innovators in health?


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

↑ Back to top

Founding Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors