News 9/14/12

A new survey of patients finds them somewhat receptive to health information exchanges. Not surprisingly, the preferred method of data exchange was on a portable device that the patient carried across practice settings. This always seems the most insecure, so I really hope this isn’t even a short- to medium-term solution to the problem. The method that was less popular was central storage of data. Also, participants trusted providers with storing clinical data more than any other party. Again, not surprising.

A new survey by the Red Cross finds that consumers are using mobile apps more in emergency situations. I was a bit confused by this: “Mobile apps now tie social media as the fourth-most popular way to get information in an emergency…” In an emergency, I’d bet that a high percentage of people are accessing social media though mobile apps and sites, so don’t know how you to differentiate the two. I worry about reliability of mobile coverage in emergencies, especially because my service is pretty bad during non-emergencies.


GE and Healthline launch the BodyMaps app for the iPad, which comes with detailed anatomical videos that display body systems and processes. This seems like a nice tool for both patient and provider education (mostly medical students).

More discussion about the ownership and usage of your big data as companies like Nike, Fitbit, Jawbone, Runkeeper and a host of others collect data on people (right now, mostly quantified-selfers). As we start tracking more physiologic data passively, this will become more of an issue. It’s an interesting discussion without a great answer right now. Part of the problem is the ridiculous privacy policies and service terms. I’m sure I’m not alone in not bothering to read 20-page usage agreements every time I sign up for a service. Even when I do look through agreements, they are usually ambiguous. I’m also not that concerned about people or companies knowing my weight or blood pressure or how many miles I run, but I understand why people do have concerns about it.

iTriage, looking to grow consumer trust in the brand, adds Harvard’s stamp of approval to its clinical content. The press release says that “Harvard Medical School has completed an extensive review of its medical content.” I’m curious who at a medical school reviews something like iTriage and commits the approval of the institution. It is definitely a good direction for iTriage as the battle for validated and approved content heats up. Others, like Mayo, offer their own content and are investing in and partnering with apps.


Another OpenTable for Doctors is launching. This one is called BetterDoctor. I like the way it performs searches and I found it simple to use. Of course it is only searching in San Francisco currently and all it offers is a phone number for providers to book appointments. You can save, share, and review providers. The company is raising money and looking to roll out nationally this fall. It’s always interesting to see a new entrant into the provider finding and booking arena.

Startup RxAnte raises a Series A round from Aberdare and West Wireless. I couldn’t find the exact amount raised. RxAnte is developing a platform to enable tailored medication adherence strategies for patients. It mentions decision support and analytics as part of this process. From what I can gather from the company’s messaging, it seems like a smarter approach to adherence than a simple messaging campaign.

This is a cool article about using an iPod’s built-in clock and reminder apps to serve as a job coach for a person with autism. It’s a great concept for those with specific functional limitations. Of course, non-Apple devices could accomplish similar things.

To help pharmaceutical companies get more up to date feedback and info from prescribers, startup InCrowd raises $2.2 million. The company already has a growing database of verified providers and has signed eight of the 10 top pharma companies. InCrown enables pharma companies to push specific surveys to targeted segments of providers.

GymPact, the startup that offers real cash to users that perform fitness goals, partners with Runkeeper. GymPact began only with check-ins at health clubs but now user can earn cash rewards for logging workouts on Runkeeper.

Crowdfunding for healthcare is still very new. This is an article about the sites that are trying to help health companies and researchers raise money directly from individuals. The featured app is EndoGoddess, which is hopinh to raise money for a clinical trial. EndoGoddess is using MedStatr, but unfortunately had only raised about $1,200 of its $25,000 goal by September 1.

Health reform will force consumers to take a more active role in decision making about their health and payer options according to an LA Times article. Payers are offering differentiating services such as mobile apps and wellness games. We’re already seeing big payers piloting these services through partnerships.

Smart clinical communications platform company PerfectServe claims 25,000 physician users across 54 hospitals. I think that’s about half as many users as Doximity, but 54 more hospitals. Does that mean PerfectServe could raise the money that Doximity is raising (~$30 million over the last 18 months)? It would require a large change to PerfectServe’s growth and revenue model. I think a lot of these clinical communications companies are going to either become more directly competitive or will partner with each other.

Apple formally announced the iPhone 5 this week. The biggest changes are the screen size, which is now four inches instead of 3.5, and the new dock connector (pictured above). The new screen real estate seems like a major plus for me, as I consume a lot of info on my phone and I’d love to eliminate scrolling. In terms of mobile PACS or EMR viewing, I imagine the new screen size will improve the experience a bit, at least if the apps are native. The dock connector should be faster, but it also makes lots of peripherals obsolete without the newly introduced dock converter. Apple has been using the same dock for a long time and lots of hardware add-ons are based on it. I wonder how this effects some of the health connectors like the iBGStar Glucose Monitor? It could use the dock converter, but it wouldn’t look quite as nice. You can pre-order today (September 14) and it will be available on September 21 in stores. A couple of other mobile-related announcements from Apple: the new iPod Touch looks awesome (I’d love to see things like Voalte or PatientSafe running on it, though I guess the case design these companies use will have to change to do that) and the iPhone 4 is now free with a two-year contract (and a hefty monthly data plan, of course).

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

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