News 9/21/11

An impressively analytical study of telestroke in rural emergency departments finds it to be cost effective when looking at the benefit in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) over an entire lifetime (~$2500/QALY. The conclusion of the authors, and most people it seems, is that telestroke can help reduce disparities in stroke care between urban and rural settings.


National telehealth provider Teladoc gets $18.6 million in investment from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Teladoc’s network of providers enables it to offer nationwide teleconsultations, both voice and video, with an average response time of 22 minutes. With investments like this and the recent $50 million to ZocDoc, both from blue chip investors, we’re going to be seeing a lot of aggressive marketing to push these companies out to all corners of the US. I’m waiting for the deal between a scheduler like ZocDoc and a telehealth company like Teladoc or American Well.

Speaking of American Well, OptumHealth and Rite Aid forge a partnership to offer Optum’s virtual health service, called NowClinic, in Rite Aid stores in the Detroit area. American Well is the telemed platform that Optum uses. Rite Aid customers can access remote care via terminals in stores or at home by visiting www.mynowclinic.com/riteaid. Consultations with nurses are free and it’s $45/10 minutes with a doctor. I believe American Well – and by extension, Optum – offers mobile access only for providers.

More telehealth news and more business for American Well. Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Center (NY), in collaboration with BCBS of WNY and Ascension Health, launches an online primary care practice using American Well’s platform. The telehealth practice will be an integrated part of Mount St. Mary’s system, offering patients telehealth access when they are searching on the web for a Mount St. Mary’s physician. Additionally, and I thought this was very cool, kiosks in the lobby of the hospital will offer access to the online practice, which is a nice and cheap ($25) alternative to an ED visit.

Some international mobile health news. PharmaSecure gets $200,000 from HealthTech Capital. PharmaSecure stamps pill containers with a unique code and phone number that a consumer can check via  SMS to validate that the medication is authentic. Counterfeit medications are a massive problem internationally. PharmaSecure has good traction in India and I recently read that it is moving into Africa. What is interesting to me about this story is that PharmaSecure got the investment from a US-based investor instead of an international investor like Acumen Fund, which funded PharmaSecure’s big competitor Sproxil several months ago.


On the heels of raising capital, iPad EHR vendor drchrono is featured on Apple’s website with a case study of an urgent care center in St. Louis that uses the mEHR. That’s pretty good publicity for an iPad-based EHR vendor.

After the recent release of FDA’s guidance for mobile health app developers, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) issues suggestions about how the FDA should approach apps. The main issue to consider, they say, is whether clinical decision support is automated or mediated by a human factor.


Home health workflow and mobile operations solutions provider CellTrak (video above) acquires home health documentation company MedShare. The combination of CellTrak’s workflow tools with MedShare’s point-of-care documentation and clinical support makes for a complete offering for home health and hospice.


I think I mentioned before how everybody is making infographics these days, so why not have one for online and mobile fitness applications and devices?

The HHS Text4Health Task Force issues recommendations to HHS for mobile messaging and mHealth: a) build and store evidence-based health message libraries (presumably with an open API); b) increase the amount of evidence related to the use of SMS for health; and c) create partnerships to "create, implement and disseminate health text messaging and mHealth programs." The rest of the announcement is about messaging services that HHS has helped create related to smoking cessation.


The Quit Forever app from The University of Tennessee is helping users quit smoking. It’s nice to have an academic name attached to your app if you want your app to be "prescribed."

Health-related startups featured at last week’s Demo Fall Conference in California include LumoBack, which offers a small, connected posture sensor linked to a smart phone app that vibrates when you slouch; Poosh, an SMS subscription service that sends users motivational messages from elite athletes; and MedKenya, which sounds like WebMD for low-end phone users in Kenya.

A new venture fund is launching focused exclusively on health technology. The fund, a part of DC-based Hickory Ridge Group, will have $50 million to invest in new HIT startups.


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


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