Digital health deals: IBM Watson, VA contract, Microsoft, and more

By Jonah Comstock
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IBM Watson Health announced that its Watson for Oncology program, trained at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, will be rolled out to 21 hospitals throughout China. The initial 21-hospital introduction is the beginning of a multi-year partnership through which IBM's Chinese partner Hangzhou CognitiveCare will introduce Watson for Oncology to hospitals across China. More.

CareMore Health System announced a partnership with the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine to "study novel approaches to caring for high-cost, high-need patients and to train the next generation of leaders in health care delivery and implementation science." The CareMore-Gehr Fellowship will "create a pipeline of clinicians with the skills to be effective health system leaders in the years ahead,” CareMore President Dr. Sachin Jain said in a statement. “There has been a lot of discussion about how to create ‘learning’ health systems, and a program like this may be one way to make this concept a reality.” More.

Personal health record company Medelinked has partnered with Microsoft to integrate wellness data from the Microsoft Health app and Microsoft Band wearable into its PHR. Data about step counts, workouts, and sleep quality collected via the Microsoft products will be available in Medelinked, an app patients can use to track all their health data to make it easily available to healthcare providers in a crisis or for routine care. Medelinked has previously worked with Garmin Connect, Jawbone UP, Samsung S Health, Nokia/Withings and iHealth. More.

Bodimetrics, which makes a dedicated telehealth tablet that supports noninvasive monitoring of ECG, heart rate, SpO2 with Pleth waveform, and temperature, has been awarded a contract that will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs, the US Military Health System and other government groups to use and be reimbursed for the devices. More.

Dallas, Texas-based ADVault, which makes digital emergency, critical and advance care planning platform MyDirectives partnered with personal health record company Get Real Health to make MyDirectives functionality available within the Get Real Health PHR. "“Offering MyDirectives to our customers makes our suite of health management and patient engagement tools even stronger for our clients around the globe,” Get Real Health President Robin Wiener said in a statement. “... We selected the MyDirectives platform for its interoperability, compliance with important new advance care planning standards and its global footprint.” More.

Employee wellness company TriWellness has added Ensono, a Chicago-based IT firm with 700 employees, as a customer. TriWellness's WellnessConnect portal will be available to Ensono employees on phone, tablet, or computer. Features include  a health assessment and biometric screening, professional wellness coaches accessible via phone, email and on the portal, and a "buddies" feature that allows coworkers to share success and motivate each other, increasing accountability. More.

Pharmacy and medical supply company PharmMedCo and healthcare technology company Healthcom have teamed up to create CareLinkConnect, a service for patients transitioning to home from hospital or nursing facilities. Through the initiative, patients will be given a free mobile help button, which can connect them to their homecare nurse, caregiver or medical assistance, at any time. More. 

App development company Kinvey and EHR integration firm Redox have teamed up to launch "an end-to-end solution designed to accelerate the delivery of digital health innovations by solving the hard problems related to bridging EHR data into mobile, web and smart device applications." The two claim that the platform, available now, can accelerate the development process by 80 percent. More. 

The Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) 775 Benefits Group, which includes employees of the State of Washington, has tapped online and mobile weight loss service Retrofit to roll out new benefits to its member population. According to Retrofit 25 percent of SEIU 775 members are morbidly obese, 17 percent are obese and 32 percent are overweight. Members will receive an activity tracker, a Wi-Fi scale, an app and dashboard for tracking and notifications, expert-led interactive classes and social support from an online community. More.

Anthem Blue Cross made a diabetes prevention program available to community groups such as Black Women for Wellness and Valley Jewish Community Center, via a partnership with Solera Health, which offers healthy lifestyle coaching and weekly classes to help prevent and manage diabetes. The yearlong program will integrate Solera’s network of community groups as well as national and digital DPP programs, so qualified Anthem Blue Cross members can easily access whichever type of program works best for them. Digital programs include offerings from HealthSlate, Retrofit, Blue Mesa Health and Lark. More.

Anthem Blue Cross also announced its new offering of Spanish-language telemedicine through LiveHealth Online. More.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is rolling out two new technologies incubated in its recently-launched accelerator program. Cedars Sinai VP of Legal and Technology Affairs Jim Laur told MobiHealthNews that all 11 companies in the first class are partnering with the healthcare system going forward, but the latest two now have all the contracts signed and are be ready to be announced: Well, which makes a system that allows patients to communicate with the hospital via text message; and Grace, an online platform that helps families deal with the logistics of the death of a loved one. More.

Digital patient engagement company HealthPrize Technologies has partnered with Walgreens to offer its medication adherence platform on the drugstore chain’s website. The program will be offered to patients filling certain brand-name prescriptions for chronic conditions, starting with diabetes and eventually expanding to others. The platform will be web-based, but Walgreen's site is optimized for mobile devices. More.

AstraZeneca is working with Quintiles on a new clinical trial of connected inhalers for medication adherence in COPD. The study aims to find how reminders can help improve medication maintenance in a population that hasn’t done well with adherence – refill rates for COPD patients using combination therapy averages only 3.9 times per year, previous studies have shown. Additionally, COPD patients with lower adherence tend to have higher overall healthcare costs. More.