Weekly Recap 6/28/13

VA and DoD Hint at iEHR Mobile?

Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs have announced that an iEHR compromise is in the works that will result in the collaborative development of integrated mobile apps for clinicians rather than a full integrated EHR. It’s an interesting concept, but one that’s sure to leave a lot of the problems that initially inspired the iEHR program unsolved. One benefit of approaching integration through a series of small projects, like apps, is that the likelihood of failure is lower, and the capital investment at risk is similarly lower. Also, developers should be able to zero in on effective integration points because smaller projects will allow them to be more responsive to early adopter feedback.

ZocDoc Raises $55 Million in Convertible Debt

According to a recent SEC filing, ZocDoc has raised $55 million in convertible debt provided by a handful of undisclosed investors. The debt comes at a time that ZocDoc is facing a growing number of active competitors in a market that it once owned almost exclusively.

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Keas, a health startup founded by former head of Google Health Adam Bosworth, has raised $8 million in venture capital funding. Earlier this year, after several years of lukewarm results, the company shifted its business strategy. Upper management was replaced and their portfolio was redesigned to be more consumer oriented.  Keas is building an employee health and wellness program delivered through a social networking site that the company says will outperform most incumbent systems by three to one. The new funding will be used to continue building and supporting the enterprise employee wellness product.

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PokitDok, a startup that offers a platform for healthcare providers to advertise directly to consumers, raises $4 million in funding.

Sway Medical Exits Stealth Mode, Closes $750k Series A Round

Add to the growing library of FDA-approved medical apps the Sway Balance App. Sway Medical, the company behind the app, exited stealth mode this week by announcing that it has received FDA clearance for its flagship balance app and has closed a $750,000 Series A round led by angel investors. Sway has raised a total of $1.325 million.

Withings Launches Pulse Activity Tracker

Withings announces that it will begin shipping its Pulse activity tracker in the next 30 days, according to the company’s website. The activity tracker was unveiled at this year’s CES tradeshow as an addition to its already comprehensive product portfolio. Pulse received praise as being the first activity tracker to deliver a pulse monitor.

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Massachusetts economic development officials tentatively agree to extend $9.5 million in state tax credits to athenahealth in exchange for athena’s pledge to add 1,900 workers by 2022. Athenahealth also announces it will bring 500 new jobs to Atlanta and invest $10.8 million in a new office complex.

Lumosity Building World’s Largest Dataset on Human Cognition

San Francisco-based startup Lumosity is opening its database to researchers working in the field of neuroscience in a project the company is calling the Human Cognition Project. Researchers are using the information to explore the relationship between cognitive training and a host of conditions, such as ADHD, TBI, stroke, MS, and schizophrenia. Lumosity now has the world’s largest and fastest-growing database on human cognition, collected from 40 million users who have collectively completed nearly one billion “brain games.”

Congress To Hold Additional Hearings On Medical App Regulation and Security

On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Health and Technology held a hearing titled “Mobile Medical App Entrepreneurs: Changing the Face of Health Care,” during which members heard testimony from Alan Portela, CEO of AirStrip; Keith Brophy, CEO of Ideomed; Christopher Burrow, EVP of medical affairs for Humetrix; and University of Buffalo systems engineering PhD candidate Sabrina Casucci. Some notes from the testimony:

  • Rep. Chris Collins opened saying, “Our overall economy is still weak, but the apps economy seems to be thriving. Some studies have found that mobile devices and their apps are responsible for creating over 500,000 jobs, and global revenue for mobile apps exceeded $20 billion last year.” He went on to praise entrepreneurs and small businesses working in the mHealth space for helping both strengthening the economy and helping to reduce the nation’s health costs.
  • Portela said, “Mobile technology will play a crucial role in the development of new federal and private reimbursement revenue models that can improve the quality of care, reduce costs, prevent job losses and create new, more specialized healthcare jobs.”
  • Christopher had the following to say on federal regulation of the mHealth market: “Many organizations, including the App Developers Alliance, have established principles and policy recommendations for the fair regulation of mobile medical apps. These principles may be informative as policymakers continue to consider how to support mobile access to health information as a key component of improving the safety and cost-effectiveness of health care.”

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The New York Times covers the rise of ingestible "smart pills” after a recent FDA decision to ease its regulatory requirements. The pills contain sensors that monitor a variety of conditions, powered by electrical current within the human body. They can send an alert to the patient and their physician if they detect an abnormality. Digital health startup Proteus Digital Health was a driving force behind the FDA decision.

Google Glass Has Entered the OR

Surgeon, TEDx veteran, and mHealth innovator Rafael Grossman, MD, FACS blogs about his experience live streaming from the operating room via Google Glass. This is his most recent post in a series he has been writing describing the innovative disruptor that Google Glass represents for healthcare and specifically surgeons.

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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette covers the federal government’s Blue Button initiative, calling for its expansion into the private sector and citing it as a key concept to moving forward in an EHR-enabled healthcare system.

Travis discusses the corporate history of both Keas and Jiff as they enter into the patient engagement market, both pivoting strategies several times before both ending up focused on delivery of Employer Wellness programs. Kyle breaks down the cultural differences between startups and white collar corporations in his weekly post, highlighting the balancing act founders must walk when the internal business culture is casual and at times chaotic but the external environment requires a stable and refined image.

Summer is here and I couldn’t be happier. Twelve weeks to pack in as many campfires, barbecues, concerts, and beach days before we all shake it off and trudge into fall. If you’re going anywhere interesting, check in from the road. Get a picture of yourself with some HIStalk gear and Mr. H might publish it on the main site. If you’re anything like me, you want to spend as much time away from the computer as you can while the weather is good, so consider signing up for news alerts. You’ll get an e-mail sent straight to your phone so you can kick back and read your favorite stories right from your beach chair. As always, thanks for reading. – Lt. Dan

Sponsor Updates

  • Kony Solutions raises $18 million in funding from Telstra, which it will use to expand into the Asia Pacific region.
  • Truven Health Analytics will build the State of Georgia’s health information exchange platform, the fifth statewide HIE contract for the vendor.


Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne.

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Practice.

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