News 9/7/12

After my last post about health IT training and exposure in medical school and residency, I found this story interesting. It’s not only about tech-savvy young docs that want to use smart mobile devices, it’s also about young docs wanting more work-life balance than physicians from previous generations. The story talks about young doctors using smartphones and tablets for clinical care, for purposes such as med reference. It’s not a large sample, but I don’t think it’s that far from reality. My big question is: how are we regulating the apps that these young docs are finding independently (or through student and resident colleagues) on the various marketplaces? Eventually it will be the FDA, but for now, it’s wide open.


Doximity, the private professional network for physicians (LinkedIn for Docs), raises $17 million. This is the second round of funding for the company in 18 months, bringing its total funding to $28 million. I read several years ago that Doximity planned to make money in three ways: a) transaction fees for helping companies find docs to survey (honoraria); b) hiring fees; and c) selling premium services to healthcare organizations using Doximity for secure communications. As far as I can tell, Doximity is only making money right now from transaction fees based on honoraria. The company has also branched out to manage medical school alumni networks for several prominent institutions. Doximity claims a high number of physicians on the network, though I’d bet that the engagement metrics for users are low considering my own experience and those of my friends. However, LinkedIn also has low engagement metrics compared to social networks and that hasn’t stopped it from being perceived as a billion-dollar company. I will say this, though: Doximity’s new mobile app is very nice.

HHS launches a new app contest that seeks submissions to specifically address women’s cancers (breast, uterine, ovarian, and cervical) in underserved and minority populations. The prize is impressively high for a contest like this — $85,000. The app HHS is seeking does require a decent amount of functionality, including storage of data, integration with portals, care plan management, and connectivity to community health workers.


The VA announces that Blue Button has hit 1 million registrations. Blue Button allows patients to download health records to be used in PHRs. Nice job, VA.


Mobile health company iSonea raises $1.5 million. iSonea is developing technology to turn smartphones into respiratory monitors for conditions like asthma and COPD.

The State of Georgia is installing telemedicine units in rural schools to improve access to specialty care. I love telemedicine in schools, churches, and other community anchors, especially in rural and underserved areas. According to the article, the cost to install telemedicine equipment has gone down from $100,000 to $5,000-$7,000 in the last six years. I would have expected it to cost even less, but maybe there are some specialized peripherals I’m not including in my estimate. The telemed platform being used is from vendor MDLive.

Agile Health raises $2 million to use SMS for smoking cessation. The company has the exclusive US license for SMS-based smoking cessation programs that have been clinical validated (peer-reviewed publications exist) in the UK. The company was started by two former CVS executives. It seems like the sole source of protection for Agile against competition is that it has the exclusive rights to the messages and program that have been found to increase quit rates. This isn’t rocket science, though, and I’m curious if other studies (messages, protocols, etc.) will soon show similar results. Wasn’t Voxiva doing SMS quit programs, and did they ever publish efficacy data on quit rates? Of course maybe the founders have access to some of the big payers and plan to sign them quickly, which would also give them a competitive advantage.


Drug maker Lilly Diabetes launches a mobile app to help diabetics and caregivers learn about severe hypoglycemia and its treatment with glucagon. The app provides step-by-step directions as the ability to store expiration info for glucagon kits. Severe hypoglycemia might just be a scary enough event to motivate people to download and use this app.


Apparently Apple will announce the iPhone 5 next week with a rumored sales date of 9/21. The new iPhone supposedly has a larger screen size (4 inches instead of 3.5) and a bunch of other enhancements people are speculating about.

A Stanford study finds that it’s feasible to externally power devices implanted in human beings. The idea is to allow powering of devices like cardiac monitors from outside the body instead of from batteries that need to be replaced over time.

The new Facebook feature that allows users to register as organ donors is now live in Asia. Organ donation registration went up by 800% in California after the company launched the feature in the US. That’s amazing.


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

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