News for the Week of 9/12/14


Wellframe raises $8.5 million Series A. Wellframe was interesting to me when I first heard about it. I think they’ve been heads down with early customers and product, and I assume now are looking to scale. Wellframe offers a care management platform that helps patients follow evidence-based guidelines and connects them with care team members more easily. I’ve met the Wellframe team and was impressed.

After much hype, former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman launches Livongo. The company made the announcement this week along with news of its FDA clearance and a $10 million investment. Livongo is a diabetes platform anchored by a two-way connected glucometer. I think Telcare was onto something when it first launched the connected glucometer. Glooko offered an interesting alternative with cables to connect most common glucometers to smartphones, making them connected glucometers in the process. I’m not sure a two-way connected glucometer adds much value — I see more value in the Glooko approach of turning existing glucometers into smart, connected devices. All of these companies can engage patients and caregivers with the data, so that’s not differentiating.


How did I miss that Bill Frist launched a health tech startup last year? Apparently it’s focused on palliative care, which is ironic after Frist’s statements and involvement with the Schiavo case. End-of-life and palliative care need help, both from a cost perspective as well as to improve the experience for patients and families. I’m betting the Frist network will help Aspire.


Mega popular Weight Watchers is integrating with Fitbit and Jawbone to add automatic activity tracking to its weight loss programs. I’m just wondering why it took so long.

A new study from Mayo finds that 70 percent of people are open to telehealth visits with providers. For a survey-based study, this doesn’t seem surprising. I was surprised that 36 percent of people had a webcam, or knew they had a webcam.


Apparently Google is acquiring Lift Labs. Lift makes a special utensil that makes it easier for people with significant tremors, namely patients with Parkinsons, to eat. I’m not sure how this fits with Google. I can’t imagine this helps them organize the world’s information. Maybe they bought it for the team. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

An assessment of 600 common mobile health apps finds that only 183 have privacy policies in their apps. That’s abysmally low. Two-thirds of the notices did not refer to the app at all. The grade level for the practices was 16, or college level. So, mobile health apps don’t have privacy policies, those that do have them don’t reference the app itself, and the policies require a college education to understand. In light of recent health data breaches, there is a lot of concern around security and privacy for health data and apps. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that most apps don’t do much with privacy policies. It’s also likely that consumers have grown so tired of reading impossible to understand privacy policies that they wouldn’t read them anyway. It’s why I really liked this Medstartr campaign to standard privacy notices.

More disappointment about Apple’s recent event, at least disappointment about the healthcare coverage. The event definitely didn’t meet the hype.

Emergency rooms in northern Kentucky are adding telemedicine services to provide remote psychiatric specialty care in the emergency room. I was surprised about the AHRQ statistic that 5 percent of emergency room visits are mental health related. I thought it would be a higher percentage. In any case, telepsychiatry in the ED seems like a valuable service.


There’s been lots of sleep sensor news lately. Another startup, Finland-based Beddit, just raised $8 million.


Senscio Systems raises $2.1 million seed. The company is building a platform for remote monitoring and home care. I think the technology takes data from different sources, including devices, and provides analytics and decision support on that data. Apparently it already has an ACO as a customer.


Travis Good, MD/MBA, is co-founder of Catalyze. More about me.

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