Digital health news briefs for 10/25/2017

By Jonah Comstock
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App for ordering emergency contraceptives sparks controversy

A report yesterday from STAT details how Nurx, an app which allows users to obtain contraceptives, including morning-after pills Plan B and Ella, is getting pushback from legislators in conservative states. Users answer a few questions in an app, receive a prescription from a doctor, and then have the pills delivered in the mail. The report dives into the science as well of the politics of whether these drugs are, in fact, “abortion pills” and what that should mean for telemedicine policies going forward.

Insurer offers members free Apple Watches

Life insurer John Hancock is offering Apple Watches to members who sign up for its Vitality wellness plan and pay a $25 activation fee, CNBC reports. If members meet their exercise goals for two years, they can keep the device without paying any more. If not, they’ll be on the hook for the $299 device, which they can pay off in installments. John Hancock has been piloting the program for a few years.

Kareo adds telemedicine offering

Irvine, California-based practice management software company Kareo has launched a telemedicine offering for its independent practice customers. The HIPAA-compliant video visit platform will be immediately available to the company’s 40,000 provider customers. After 10 free introductory visits, the software will cost providers $7 per visit. The offering also includes a patient-facing mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

MyTelemedicine adds benefits administration offering

McKinney, Texas-based MyTelemedicine already offered a telemedicine platform, but it has now added a benefits management system called SimpoAdmin. The platform is designed to make it easier for MyTelemedicine’s health plan clients to enroll customers in its Access a Doctor suite of telemedicine offerings.

Nomad expands into Florida, North Carolina

New York City-based Nomad Health, which makes a digital marketplace to connect doctors with freelance clinical work, has expanded its services into Florida and North Carolina. Both states have particularly acute doctor shortages, the company says, due to a large percentage of elderly residents and a concentration of doctors in the urban parts of the state. With this new expansion, Nomad is available in Texas, California, and the whole of the East Coast.

Digital health in the House of Lords

The UK parliament’s House of Lords held a hearing on supporting the life sciences sector and promoting innovation, according to the Yorkshire Post. Bryn Sage, CEO of Inhealthcare, told the committee that the UK’s National Health Service needed to move away from the fee-for-service structure through which individual NHS Trusts are still paid. He encouraged Parliament to reform the NHS, not only to save the healthcare system money but also to boost the British economy by encouraging more digital health innovators to set up shop.