Welltok expands partnership with IBM Watson Health and more digital health deals

By Heather Mack
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Health enterprise SaaS company Welltok announced an expanded partnership with IBM Watson Health. Health managers using Welltok’s CafeWell Health Optimization Platform to organize individual’s health resources and benefits will have the data analytics and cognitive computing technology of IBM Watson to improve their approach to consumer health, including episodic clinical care and everyday wellbeing maintenance.

"It's about time the healthcare system puts the consumer front and center," Welltok chairman and CEO Jeff Margolis said in a statement. "With this collaboration, we can create a data-driven, personalized and engaging experience for individuals that connects them seamlessly to the broader digital health ecosystem."

In another bit of news from IBM: IBM Watson Health announced a joint initiative with the US Food and Drug Administration to study the use of blockchain technology to share health data to ultimately improve public health.IBM and the FDA will look at how the technology can facilitate information exchange across a spectrum of data types, including clinical trials and real world data. For example, patient-generated data from connected devices could provide clinicians with more insights into population health, potentially offering up research opportunities and ways to leverage large quantities of data into biomedical and healthcare industries.

Health technology company AristaMD, which makes the eConsult platform to increase efficiency of specialist referrals, has partnered with the San Mateo Medical Center to develop a customized platform and clinical checklists for the 70,000-patient hospital and clinic system. The partnership will bring the eConsult platform to up to six SMMC sites, allowing for quick collaboration between the system’s 800 healthcare providers and helping them place the right patient with the right specialists.

Dignity Health has teamed up with Docent Health to launch a new technology-enabled program for expectant parents to navigate a personalized maternity care experience. The platform, made by Docent, uses a combination of digital and human interactions to create customized healthcare journeys based on an individual patient's specific needs and preferences, which are integrated with medical history, social support systems or patient concerns. The platform then suggests individualized outreach, which will included prenatal classes, birthing plans, and patient engagement opportunities, and will be delivered via the patient’s preferred communication channel – digital, mobile, or in-person. A specially teamed staff member is on site at the hospital to interact with patients throughout the course of their care. Dignity is piloting the programs at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, California and Chandler Regional Medical Center in Arizona.

Mountain View, California-based Glooko is collaborating with Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to develop a digital diabetes management platform. The non-exclusive partnership, developed and branded by both companies, will combine Glooko’s digital capabilities and Novo Nordisk’s deep knowledge of diabetes. Glooko offers a mobile, cloud-based platform for people with diabetes to track and manage their condition, and the app syncs with data from most diabetes and exercise devices. Novo Nordisk makes several diabetes drugs and delivery devices, and has been integrated with IBM Watson Health since December 2015 to improve diabetes care based on data collected from its devices and treatments.

Fitbit announced it would acquire the Romanian smartwatch startup Vector. The announcement followed Fitbit’s acquisition of Pebble, and the company's announcement that it would be developing an app store. The terms of the Vector acquisition are so far undisclosed.
 
Cincinnati, Ohio-based PatientPoint, which makes engagement platforms and apps for providers and patients, is collaborating with the American Heart Association to provide educational resources on heart health and stroke prevention to doctors and physicians at the point of care. PatientPoint will act as an extension of the American Heart Association’s informational efforts, leveraging its network of over 290,000 healthcare providers to share the AHA’s public service announcements and educational content through its multiple channels.

Health Savings Account provider HSA Health Plan has partnered with Boston-based Wellable, an employer wellness company, to offer an incentive program to its members.Wellable’s digital, customizable wellness platform is built around wearable devicces and mobile apps, and through the partnership, HSA Health Plan members will be offered a Garmin vivoki. If they take at least 8,000 steps per day on 20 or more days in the month, employees can earn $20, which will be deposited directly into their HSA accounts.

Greenville, South Carolina-based Proactive MD, which offers onsite health management services to employers (including full direct primary care services) acquired Charlotte, North Carolina-based Verimoov, an employee wellness and patient engagement company offering a mobile app to track employees' movement and activity. The terms of the acquisition were undisclosed.

Chicago-based Apervita, a health analytics and data platform provider, announced its integral role in developing the US Department of Veterans (VA) Digital Health Platform. As part of the proof-of-concept for the Digital Health Platform, Apervita acted as the analytics engine to help the VA integrate information for all patients and care providers across the VA system to improve patient care.