Walgreens Expands Access To Telehealth Visits To 25 States Through MDLive Partnership

Walgreens unveils an updated version of its mobile app that adds support for telehealth visits in 25 states, a significant increase over the five states it brought live with telehealth this summer. The news was expected, as Walgreens had previously announced that its strategic goal was to roll telehealth services out to at least 25 states by the end of 2015. In December 2014, telehealth vendor MDLive was contracted to support the initiative, and since then Walgreens has been slowly adding new states to its telehealth footprint. At launch, the Walgreens app offered telehealth visits to users in California and Michigan, then in June the services were extended to users living in Colorado, Illinois, and Washington. Now, telehealth visits will be available in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Walgreens did not discuss its timeline for expanding these services to the remainder of the country.

Walgreens Expands Access To Telehealth Visits To 25 States Through MDLive Partnership

The way Walgreens delivers telehealth sessions is also changing. Prior to its latest app update, users were required to have both the Walgreens app and the MDLive app on their devices to use the telehealth services. Now, the entire virtual visit experience is facilitated through the Walgreens app alone, doing away with the need to use MDLive.

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Researchers Find Remote Patient Monitoring Fails To Improve Heart Failure Outcomes

The American Heart Association’s 2015 Scientific Sessions are being held this week in Orlando, FL. The conference draws an audience of researchers, public health officials, and front-line cardiologists working to curb some of the nation’s most costly diseases. During the conference, a team of researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA presented findings from a randomized control trial measuring changes to readmission rates and mortality rates when remote patient monitoring solutions designed to supplement heart failure treatment were used. The researchers delivered disappointing news at the conference. Their study showed that the use of remote monitoring technology and regular phone calls from a heart failure coach resulted in no meaningful improvements to either 30-day readmission rates or six-month mortality rates.

Researchers Find Remote Patient Monitoring Fails To Improve Heart Failure Outcomes

Heart failure has long been targeted as an ideal candidate for remote patient monitoring because of the significant toll it takes on society, and because monitoring the disease involves trending a small number of easily captured metrics, namely weight, blood pressure, and heart rate. Based on this premise, researchers recruited 1,400 patients receiving conventional treatment for heart failure. The participants were randomly split into two groups, one that received remote monitoring technology and phone calls from coaches, and a second group that received the current standard heart failure disease management protocol. 

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American Association For Cancer Research Launches Genetic Data Sharing Program

The American Association for Cancer Research announces a new collaborative research project that will combine raw genetic data and outcomes reports from seven major cancer hospitals across North American and Europe. The new initiative, called AACR Project Genomics, Evidence, Neoplasia, Information, and Exchange – or Project GENIE, was announced this past Friday. The founding research partners include US institutions Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University’s Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Toronto-based Princess Margaret Cancer Center, along with Netherlands-based Center For Personalized Cancer Treatment, and France-based Institut Gustave Roussy round out the list of participating cancer centers. Sage Bionetworks of Seattle and cBioPortal of New York are stepping up as informatics partners to facilitate the data sharing efforts that underpin the project’s goals.

American Association For Cancer Research Launches Genetic Data Sharing Program

AACR has coordinated this partnership to provide the oncology community a central repository to store and analyze tumor mutation data. Each year, thousands of patients have tumors genetically analyzed in hopes that an ideal treatment plan will emerge from the data. Unfortunately, this is typically not the outcome of such tests. While evidence continues to mount, correlating specific tumor DNA mutations with effective treatment plans, most mutations do not have evidence linking them to a specific treatment plan. In response to this lack of understanding, AACR is calling on research centers to begin submitting the results of these screening tests so that a single tumor registry can be developed. The hope is that the resulting data set will allow researchers to unlock new links between tumor mutations and effective drug treatment plans. Today, results from the genetic sequencing tests done at prestigious cancer centers are stored in data silos within the organization, where local scientists can use them to for their own research projects, but where they are largely unavailable to the general scientific community.

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Yale Launches Second ResearchKit App, This Time Aimed At Preventing Pregnancy Loss

Yale University has launched its second ResearchKit app in just the last two months. The new app was designed by members of Yale’s Reproductive and Placental Research Unit, led by Harvey Kliman, MD. For years, care providers have suspected that there may be a link between an undersized placenta and late-term pregnancy losses. The placenta is a complex organ that grows during gestation, providing oxygenated blood and nourishment to the fetus, and removing harmful waste. Though the healthy development of the placenta is vital to the overall wellbeing of both the mother and the baby, measurements of estimated placental volume (EPV) are not routinely captured during pregnancy.

Yale Launches Second ResearchKit App, This Time Aimed At Preventing Pregnancy Loss

Now, with the help of Yale’s new app, Kliman and his team hope to validate the suspicions of providers by recruiting pregnant women and helping them track their EPV measurements throughout their pregnancy. The app is designed to take basic placenta measurements that would be captured during a routine ultrasound exam, and use those measurements to calculate an EPV measurement. The team behind the app asks users to work with their OB/GYN or ultrasound technicians to properly capture placental measurements during examinations, and asks that users only enter data into the app with the assistance of a healthcare provider. Users are also asked to report the outcome of their pregnancy.

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Lumo Raises $10 Million Series B To Launch Its Full Stack Wearables Platform

Lumo Bodytech, a Palo Alto-based digital health startup that markets a series of wearable trackers, has just closed a $10 million Series B funding round led by new investor WuXi Healthcare Ventures, and with support from returning investors AME Cloud Ventures, Innovalue Capital, Innovation Endeavors, Madrona Venture Group, and MAS Holdings. Eli Harari, founder of SanDisk, also joined the round as an angel investor. The new funding brings Lumo’s total raised to $17 million since it launched in 2011. Outside of equity investments, Lumo has also done notably well in the crowdfunding space. In a 2012 campaign on Kickstarter, Lumo raised $200,000 for a posture improvement sensor and app, doubling its initial funding goal of $100,000. In 2014, Lumo launched a self-hosted crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for its next-generation posture sensor, the Lumo Lift. The team set a goal of $200,000, which it passed in just four days on its way to raising north of $500,000. In total, Lumo has raised $2 million through equity-free crowdfunding campaigns.

Lumo Raises $10 Million Series B To Launch Its Full Stack Wearables Platform

Last month, Lumo added its third product to its portfolio, Lumo Run, a sensor-laden pair of running shorts that incorporates its posture sensor technology into a new form factor designed to track and improve running form. Lumo says the shorts are washing machine safe and have an expected battery life of one month. An array of sensors embedded in the waistband tracks cadence, ground contact time, bounce, stride length, pelvic rotation, and changes in speed. Each data point is synced with a running coach smartphone app that provides real-time audio feedback to help correct a user’s form during the run. The app also provides an after-workout graph pinpointing a runner’s variance from the ideal form. The shorts will not ship until 2016, but the company is now taking discounted pre-orders.

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Teladoc Reports Q3 Losses, Announces Plans To Raise Visit Fees

Teladoc reports its third-quarter results: Revenue increased 83 percent to $20 million. Visit fees paid directly by consumers accounted for $3 million of the company’s earnings, while $17 million came from subscription fees paid by employers, payers, and other enterprise clients. Growth across both revenue streams contributed to the overall revenue increase, with a 122-percent increase in visit fee revenue, and a 78-percent increase in subscription fee revenue. Despite the impressive quarterly growth, Teladoc is still operating in the red, recording a net operating loss of $13.2 million for the quarter.

Teladoc Reports Q3 Losses, Announces Plans To Raise Visit Fees

Now in its 13th year of operation, Teladoc is the largest telehealth vendor in the US. The company processes around 40,000 online consultations per month, monetizing this traffic through direct consumer payments and contracts with clients that are structured around per-member, per-month fees, or PMPM fees. Teladoc looks at PMPM fees as a core metric of its financial success. CEO Jason Gorevic noted on its investor call, “Our third-quarter results show solid growth across all of our metrics…. Importantly, our PMPM fees increased both sequentially and year over year.”

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Fitbit Beats Expectations In Quarterly Earnings, Then Named As Defendant In Yet Another Jawbone Lawsuit

Fitbit had a busy Monday. The company announced its quarterly earnings, which outpaced analyst estimates by a wide margin, but then watched the good news turn bad as its stock price dropped eight percent on the revelation that it was preparing to sell an additional seven million shares of common stock to raise capital. In addition to its hectic day in the stock market, Fitbit was also named in yet another lawsuit by its chief rival, Jawbone.

Fitbit Beats Expectations In Quarterly Earnings, Then Named As Defendant In Yet Another Jawbone Lawsuit

The biggest news of the day for Fitbit was undoubtedly its quarterly report, which was stellar. The company reported $403 million in revenue, up 168 percent from the same quarter last year, and beating analysts forecasts of $359 million by a wide margin. EPS was $0.19, nearly double analyst forecasts of $0.10. The impressive quarter was driven by sales reaching 4.8 million devices in Q3, and speaks volumes to Fitbit’s ability to thrive in a market once expected to be consumed by the emerging smartwatch market. The company set its year end revenue guidance at $1.7 to $1.8 billion. Ordinarily, stock prices soar on such news, but within Fitbit’s earnings report the company announced that it was preparing to sell an additional seven million shares, while at the same time releasing restrictions on employee stock options that would potentially add an additional 14 million new shares to the market. The fear that a flood of additional stock was about to hit the market sent share prices down eight percent by the end of trading Monday.

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Monclarity Raises $5 Million Seed Round, Launches Brain Training App

The scientifically questionable, yet increasingly crowded marketplace for brain training apps is about to have another vendor to contend with. Monclarity, a new digital health startup co-founded by a seasoned gaming industry entrepreneur and a clinical cognitive neuroscientist, just announced that it has closed a $5 million seed round led by Access Industries. The team is also launching its flagship product, Brainwell, a cognitive training app that claims to help with many of the same conditions that its competition, Lumosity, Elevate, Fit Brain, and Brain HQ, are already tackling.

Monclarity Raises $5 Million Seed Round, Launches Brain Training App

At its core, Brainwell is a personalized training app that runs users through a series of games designed to stimulate key parts of the brain, with the goal of improving performance in similar real-life scenarios. An often referenced use case for cognitive training “brain games” is facial recognition. People that struggle remembering names or faces can use Brainwell or any of the other commercially available apps to improve their ability to remember these details. The apps attempt to improve these cognitive deficiencies by having users train with simulated game-based scenarios that exercise the parts of the brain responsible for name recollection and facial recognition. The quality of these games varies widely between the competing vendors, with most agreeing that Lumosity games are boring and difficult to stick with, while Fit Brain offers a more video game-like experience in its training program. Brainwell should compete well from this perspective. Its founder, Anthony Tikhman, is a computer scientist with a long and successful career in the gaming industry. He built and sold several earlier startups to major video game companies.

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