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  • News & Updates

    The Beckwith Institute awarded 11 new grants to UPMC clinicians and other staff to try out changes big and small that will involve patients and raise the level of care. Projects range widely and include an effort to develop a shared decision-making tool for family members of patients in intensive care units and the creation of an interactive, Web-based “thermometer” to monitor the mood and energy of adolescents with bipolar disorder.

    ShapeUp, a provider of social networking and incentives-based employee wellness solutions, debuted three new Social Wellness challenges. Each new challenge helps employers creatively and actively engage employees in their health.

    PumpUp, makers of an app that allows users to post their fitness and health goals and progress, closed a $2.4 million seed financing round led by General Catalyst Partners. The app currently has over 1.7 million users, according to the startup.

    Healthgrades joined athenahealth’s More Disruption Please program, giving athenahealth’s practice customers the ability to post appointment availability online for patient self-scheduling.

    The parent company of Lumeris announced $71 million in new financing from new and existing investors, which it will use to boost its population health management capabilities and expand from eight to 20 markets for its value-based care solutions. The parent company’s other companies are Accountable Delivery System Institute (accountable care education), Essence Healthcare (Medicare Advantage plan), and NaviNet (communication network).

    e-MDs, a provider of electronic health records and practice management solutions, ranked fifth overall in the Medscape EHR Report 2014, and in the top five in 13 other categories including EHR by practice situation, ease of use, satisfaction, vendor support, and connectivity.

    The State of Arkansas connected Allscripts’ electronic health record solutions with the state’s health care information exchange (HIE) for more efficient and effective exchange of critical patient information, and improve the quality and delivery of care.

    Comanche County Memorial Hospital, a non-profit, acute care facility in western Oklahoma, selected Merge HealthCare‘s vendor-neutral archive and image viewing and sharing solutions for improved disaster recovery and operational workflow. This will enable the hospital to meet Meaningful Use 2 (MU2) requirements, support health information exchange (HIE), and enhance patient experience.

    Varian Medical Systems, provider of medical devices and informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices, will equip the first satellite radiotherapy center in Scotland.

    Maryland Innovation Initiative awarded $6.4M to 67 commercialization projects and start-up companies in fiscal year 2014, including 7 health care and life sciences projects like respEQ, MedSense, EMOCHA Mobile Health, and SilcsBio.

    RWJF Challenge is Changing How Consumers Choose Health Insurance

    RWJFThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is back with another exciting challenge.

    As a result of health insurance exchanges, the market for health insurance is shifting towards orienting sales directly to consumers. The exchanges offers more choices to consumers with considerable variation in benefit design and cost-sharing features of different products.

    While decision aid tools for choosing health insurance do exist, they often aren’t adequate and there is widespread recognition that consumer choice is not being supported. Many of the plan choice tools currently available focus on plan premiums and ignore the variations in cost-sharing features that could be highly significant.

    The RWJF Plan Choice Challenge wants to create a tool that will help consumers make informed coverage decisions. Using the HIX Compare Dataset, this app would allow consumers to understand variations in cost-sharing features to compare and select the best plan for them.

    Pre-register now to enter!

    Health 2.0 Success: Exclusive Interview with uMotif Co-Founder, Bruce Hellman

    Written By: ZPB Associates

    Since appearing at the Health 2.0 Europe conference in London in 2013, uMotif has enjoyed large-scale deployment into the NHS in England. We caught up with the company’s Co-Founder Bruce Hellman, to find out more.

    Your deployment into the NHS came about after meeting a consultant from a hospital in the southeast. Can you tell us how it happened? 

    I saw him speaking at one of the event sessions and could see he would be open to the type of thing we’re doing. I waited until one of the coffee breaks afterwards to speak to him and was able to introduce the company and our app. He really got what it’s about and so we were invited to meet his team, who got it too, and so since then we’ve been working with them closely to slowly work toward deployment stage.

    Getting there takes a lot longer than you realise and the procurement stage means a lot of work from your side, but introducing new tech products into the NHS isn’t easy. Being able to speak to other people going through those same challenges is another benefit of being at events like these.

    You say it takes time to reach the deployment stage, so what else has uMotif been up to since last year’s event?  

    Well since Health 2.0 2013, we’ve won an award that included partnering up with a marketing firm; we’ve launched our app on the Apple Store and Google Play, configured it to work with even more patient groups and are currently preparing for a special launch in September.

    How are technologies like yours transforming patient care, and the delivery of service for clinicians?

    Any technology is best when it focuses on human behavior; it’s a principle that’s millennia old. That’s why we have focused our technology on enhancing human relationships.

    We wanted to improve the relationship between patient and clinician and ensure that for the first time clinicians have data that helps them make not just better decisions, but shared decisions.

    Our technology delivers self-management and empowerment in a way that’s easy to consume, improving medication adherence, patient experience, patient education, post-op care and reducing emergency readmission. Continue reading →

    News & Updates

    New York-Presbyterian Hospital is renting space at the Blueprint Health accelerator, installing its own computers and servers at the accelerator’s SoHo offices to create an “innovation space.” The hospital says it is also open to commercializing technologies developed by Blueprint’s startups.

    Chinese electronics company Xiaomi debuted a new fitness band that will retail in China for just $13 (79 RMB). The device will track activity, act as a silent alarm, and do will unlock the user’s phone in lieu of a password.

    England-based HealthUnlocked, which calls itself “LinkedIn for Health” in connecting people with a given condition to each other and to providers, plans to expand globally as it releases a new mobile app.

    Walgreens introduced its new “Balance Rewards for healthy choices” initiative, which is the third iteration of the Walgreens Balance Rewards program’s digital health components. This latest update will see Walgreens training some of its pharmacists and online customer reps in Stanford psychologist and mobile health expert Dr. BJ Fogg’s behavior change methodology, called Tiny Habits.

    The New York eHealth Collaborative announced the first seven health care startups selected to participate in the 2014 New York Digital Health Accelerator. The 2014 class includes: AllazoHealth, Clinigence, Covertix, iQuartic, Noom, Quality Reviews, and Sense Health.

    HealthEquity, which offers an online health savings account management system, announced plans for a $100 million IPO.

    According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research, the global e-clinical solution software market is estimated at $3,005M in 2014. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.8% from 2014 to 2020 to reach $6,515.3M in 2020.

    OBGYN.net will publish relevant content about events that impact obstetrics and gynecology, including the Hobby Lobby decision, the FDA‘s investigation of the use of mechanical power morcellation in minimally invasive gynecological surgery, and the American College of Physician‘s recommendation against pelvic exams.

    NoInjuries.com, a non-profit initiative, is offering a free support kit for implementing and sustaining a facility-wide health care injuries prevention program. It includes handy assessment guides for conducting a facility self-assessment, helpful hints on organizing a team, changing the workplace culture, an early patient mobility guide, and ongoing updates.

    News & Updates

    Epion Health, a SaaS patient engagement platform provider, raised $4.5M in Series A funding from Deerfield Management. Epion replaces clipboards and paper forms with iPads, and fully integrates with electronic health record and practice management systems.

    Galen.me is an integrated technology platform that allows medical professionals to register and list their services for prospective patients. Patients can search for physician offerings by location and price.

    DICOM Grid, a comprehensive cloud-based platform for medical image management and exchange, raised $6M in inside funding round. Key investors include Canaan Partners, CHL Medical Partners, and Mayo Clinic among others.

    Michigan Health & Hospital Association partnered with ArborMetrix to integrate its database with the ArborMetrix’s EpisodeMetrix platform to provide its member hospitals with insights into their performance on readmissions measures and other clinical measures of acute care quality.

    CVS Caremark entered into new clinical affiliations with four major health care providers. Through these clinical affiliations the patients of these health care providers will receive access to clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and wellness programs at CVS/pharmacy stores and MinuteClinic. CVS will also provide prescription and visit information back to health care providers through the integration of secured electronic medical record (EMR) systems.

    Wearable technology developer Sensoria closed a $5 million funding round. Sensoria produces textile and traditional sensors and software, which allow manufacturers to create clothing to gather biometric data. The company has created a bra, T-shirt and socks with embedded textile sensors that relay heart rate, activity, running form, wellness and fitness levels to a smartphone app in real time.

    San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced the city’s open data strategic plan, which outlines six goals for the next three years, ranging from improving data quality to encouraging more data driven decision making. This plan came five months after the appointment of Joy Bonaguro as the city’s first Chief Data Officer (CDO).

    Geisinger Health System partnered with Hamburg, Germany-based Indivumed on a new initiative to offer patients advanced, personalized cancer treatment protocols and clinical trials. Indivumed seeks to better understand the biological differences between tumors and how patients respond to treatment to support the implementation of personalized therapy through their biobank of tissue and data from more than 20,000 patients.

    Remedy Partners, which demoed their approach to managing bundled payment programs on stage at Health 2.0’s 7th Annual Fall Conference, raised $35 million in funding.

    News & Updates

    Close to 100 Indiana high school football players will wear impact-detecting sensors on their helmets during an upcoming all-star game. If a player takes a hard hit on the field, a red light will turn on, alerting officials that the player may need to be checked out.

    Starting in September, cruise line MSC Cruises will offer guests a multilingual pediatric telemedicine service, available 24/7. The initiative is in partnership with the Giannina Gaslini Institute in Genoa, Italy.

    CVS Caremark and IBM will commit $1.5 million to the “Technology Solutions for Smarter Health” grant program in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers. The grants will support the use of innovative technology in community health centers to boost patient engagement.

    Researchers at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology developed a smartphone-connected tool that can sense dust levels (an important metric for some public health issues). When tested, the technology showed a good initial performance, but future iterations of the tool will offer increased sensitivity.

    Researchers at Stanford developed a portable microchip-based test that can diagnose Type 1 diabetes using nanotechnology. The researchers are seeking FDA approval for the device.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a new initiative, allocating more than $100 million in technical support to collaborate with states to improve Medicaid programs and lower costs.

    BetterDoctor, a provider search engine, raised $10M in a Series A funding round led by New Enterprise Associates. Existing investors including SoftTechVC and Lifeline Ventures also participated in the round.

    inVentiv Health, a health care technology and services company, initiated refinancing transactions to fund its continued growth plans. The transactions will extend debt maturities and substantially reduce cash interest expense, and are expected to close within 30 days.

    NueMD, a provider of medical billing, practice management, and electronic health record solutions, released NueMD 4.0, an updated version of its flagship product for small practices and billing companies. It focuses on simplifying complicated business processes to help providers streamline workflows and increase reimbursements.

    BACtrack, maker of personal and professional-grade breathalyzers, launched BACtrack Vio, a smartphone breathalyzer that transmits BAC results via Bluetooth Smart technology to the free BACtrack companion app. It also uses proprietary MicroCheck Sensor technology to offers users with a high level of accuracy and reliability.

    News & Updates

    Misfit Wearables, makers of the wearable tracker Shine, is collaborating with a Finnish sleep analysis company Beddit. The move pairs Beddit’s thin, unobstrusive sleep monitor, which fits under a mattress, with Misfit’s tracking app for iOS and Android networks.

    MediSafe released its medication adherence app for Google’s Android Wear smartwatch technology.

    CMS designated non-profit Health Care Cost Institute as the first national Qualified Entity, meaning it can merge Medicare claims data with commercial payer data to provide price and quality transparency.

    Syapse raised $10 million in Series B financing, led by Safeguard Scientifics. To date, Syapse has raised a total of $14.5 million.

    A hospital in Spain is using the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset in the OR for nervous surgical patients. The device provides calming scenic movies with music that minimize the patient’s perception of the OR’s noises and bright lights.

    eLoyalty, a customer management technology company, received PCI and HIPAA compliance for its cloud platform. eLoyalty can now provide the health care industry with a multi-channel solution that meets all requirements outlined by HIPAA’s security standards.

    Caremerge, a care coordination platform for the senior care industry, partnered with CPS, a consultative group purchasing organization specializing in senior living products and services. This partnership will empower CPS’ clients to improve the communication and care collaboration channels serving their staff, outside providers, residents and their caregivers.

    Navigating Cancer, an oncology-specific patient portal, achieved ONC HIT 2014 Edition Modular EHR Certification for its Patient Engagement Portal version 5.1. Navigating Cancer’s solution is now capable of supporting eligible providers with meeting Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use measures required to qualify for incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    According to a new study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, young adults with a history of hazardous or binge drinking reduced their binge drinking by more than 50% after receiving mobile phone text messages following a visit to the emergency department.

    HealthPocket, a free website that compares and ranks health insurance plans, found that expenses for deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs are changing inconsistently among the four categories of Obamacare plans, and the actuarial values requirements have not simplified the health plan shopping process as originally intended.

    News & Updates

    Validic, a technology company that creates digital health ecosystems, acquired Infometers Inc., a company that connects remote health care monitoring devices to the health care system. This acquisition increases Validic’s digital health ecosystem by 44% enabling Validic clients’ greater access to key patient data from clinical devices.

    AllazoHealth, a predictive analytics company, and the Accountable Care Coalition of Greater New York (ACCGNY) received grant of $91,914 by the 2014 Pilot Health Tech NYC. The pilot will target ACCGNY’s Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, and focus on improving medication adherence for patients with hypertension, epilepsy, heart failure, diabetes, and/or hyperlipidemia.

    EZDoctor, an online platform for booking medical appointments, now includes individual doctors’ pricing data for specific services alongside state averages for the same services. EZDoctor had pricing data for nearly 1 million doctors across the country.

    Cumberland Medical Center deployed DataMotion’s Direct Secure Messaging with Cumberland’s MEDITECH electronic health record (EHR) system, and successfully gained attestation for Meaningful Use Stage 2. DataMotion is a health information service provider (HISP) with more than 15 years of secure messaging experience.

    Healthcare Interactive secured $8M in Series A funding led by Grotech Ventures and Harbert Venture Partners. Healthcare Interactive (HCI) gathers data from multiple existing systems to present to the appropriate person in an actionable manner.

    CliniWorks announced a strategic alliance with Pfizer in which the companies will work to develop a population health management platform that will enable large medical groups and IDNs to improve patient engagement, and deliver more efficient and effective quality health care in nearly real time.

    PokitDok unveiled its API, “PokitDok Platform,” filled with often obscure pricing data. Third-party developers, health systems, insurers and employers will track in real time the life of a claim to see how efficient, or inefficient, a given doctor’s office or outpatient center may be.

    Health 2.0 recently released a revamped Map of Health 2.0. The Health 2.0 Worldview is a fun visual tool that helps illustrate the current lay of the land in Health 2.0 as we see it.

    AdhereTech, 2013 Pilot Health Tech NYC winners and makers of smart pill bottles, announced a $1.75 million Series A financing round. The funding will primarily go towards a redesign to make AdhereTech’s bottles smaller, more affordable, and easier to use.

    5 Ways to Engage Patients in Digital Health: Part II

    On a cold January afternoon, we stood shoulder to shoulder in the square like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, leaving no space for attacking police forces to infiltrate between us, as we chanted for the ousting of Egypt’s standing President of 30 years. I heard a sudden “Thump!” and felt the negative pressure of the grey-haired man standing beside me as he fell to the ground, losing his breath to asphyxiation by the ghastly tear gas.

    I saw then what would be my most vivid memory of the revolution: As if it were the action of a magical wand, the crowd swiftly split creating a human tunnel that allowed a paramedic on a motorbike to penetrate the endless crowds, pick up the fallen rebel, and rush him back into the medical tent on the other side of the historic Tahrir Square.

    What baffled me was comparing that smooth maneuver to the countless ambulance vehicles that get stuck for hours in Cairo’s traffic. Why did the crowd cooperate so smoothly in this instance? And how could a physician with basic training and simple medical tools in a tent, be more effective than the doctors of our prestigious University Hospital?

    Back in the medical tent, operations ran like clockwork: Patients were brought in, received treatment, and either left on their feet or were transferred to a public hospital. Volunteers rushed to provide the man with CPR and quickly administered Aminophylline, but we stood and watched as the man’s rapid shallow breathing gradually slowed down and faded out.  While death was considered a daily routine in the hospital, it was a peak of emotional intensity in the medical tent.

    It struck me then, that the patient here was simply one of us – we were beyond scrubs and gowns. Empathy, as it turns out, was what transformed us from cold hospital scientists to passionate revolutionary activists. It’s no surprise that it is the key element behind the most inspired, disruptive and viable designs.

    3 years later, disgruntled with the health care system and fascinated by innovation, I moved to San Francisco to get involved in a different kind of movement: The Digital Health Revolution. Are people really willing to engage with new health solutions? I was determined to find out.

    As soon as I landed, I bought iHealth’s new Bluetooth blood pressure monitor, so I could test a population’s engagement in a place beyond premiums, hospitals and disease. I set out to the only exciting place where money doesn’t exist: Burning Man.

    My neighboring camper, a Yoga and meditation instructor, was looking to start a session but couldn’t figure out how to get more people to join him. I quickly offered my services “What if I told you that I have a device that can help you show people their heart rate before and after your sessions?”  He was sold. We went on measuring the participants before and after the session, word spread and more people joined in the next day. Some were so excited they asked me to email them the graphs when we got back.

    In a resource-based economy, with a digital monitor as my only resource, I had won a lot of friends and been lavished with numerous sustained resources in return (some healthier than others, it was Burning Man after all).

    As I celebrated what to me was proof that digital health works, the Yogi explained in his fascinating Australian accent, what I did not understand yet: “ It was the feedback that got ‘em hooked, they’ve earned something through the exercise and you showed them exactly what that was in return”. A positive feedback loop – that was the secret sauce.

    Beyond the exciting world of flamethrowers, art cars and overt nudity, positive feedback loops play an important role in almost anything we engage in. We post to Facebook for likes, tweet for mentions, and anxiously wait for exam grades.

    In Part I of this blog post, I interviewed Lori Scanlon, VP of Marketing for PatientsLikeMe and Jacob Sattelmair, CEO of Wellframe. The only way I could learn about what they described as key elements in their design was by reflecting on my own life experiences from the moment where the crowd magically separated in Tahrir Square to the wondrous people of Burning Man and the patients I dealt with in the hospital. As it turns out, inspiration for engaging your patients in the digital health world won’t come from any number of articles, but from your own stories.

    Tick Cook, CEO of IDEO, describes in his book Change by Design how the power of story telling is replacing the conventional ‘30 second spot’ TV ads. Lori’s story for instance, about how a patient’s life radically improved after he found out about drug dosage from the Patients Like Me forum, leaves the patient himself with an experience worth telling and sharing.

    So close this device, leave the office, go on a field trip and start creating your own patient engagement stories.

    Omar Shaker completed medical school in Egypt, followed by internships in the US. He soon left primary care for the world of digital health, moving to San Francisco to work on his own projects. These posts represent his reflections on a series of interviews he conducted with some of the more exciting entrepreneurs working in digital health today. Omar can be reached at  shaker118@gmail.com

    Microsoft: Transform The Way Healthcare is Delivered

    Written By: Paul Ehrlich, M.D., Dr. Scott Boyle, and Hanan Lavy (Microsoft Ventures)

    In the past century, medicine has gone from a largely unscientific trade where noxious drugs were given to patients to purge them of unknown toxins to a science where we have the technology to decode the human genome and peer into the deepest recesses of our anatomy non-invasively.  We have learned so much and generated massive amounts of data relevant to the understanding and care of the human body.

    Globally, we spend enormous sums on healthcare, but we are not necessarily getting any healthier.  In 2012, U.S. healthcare spending was $2.8 trillion, or roughly 18% of GDP[1].  Compare this with the global average of 10.2%, the EU at 10.1% or The Netherlands, the developed country with the second highest per capita spending of 12.4%. Despite the scientific advances and extraordinary spending, access to the best, most effective care is far from ubiquitous.

    Healthcare, like any other industry, is driven by motivators. While government and regulatory pressures drive many behaviors in medicine, financial considerations are also important drivers  When healthcare reimbursement works on a fee-for-service system in which providers are compensated for each service they provide, the incentives do not necessarily  promote the most efficient and cost-effective options. Rather, the incentives encourage the delivery of “more” healthcare. But we don’t necessarily need “more” – we need “smarter.” More adds costs. Smarter solves problems.

    Continue reading →

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