Roundup: Startups, futurists, and the fate of Weight Watchers

By Jonah Comstock
05:00 am
onlinedevices Weight Watchers online portal and app.

This week in mobile health, we saw FDA clearances for Alere and Verizon, trials from Scripps and Qualcomm, and some interesting new products in the consumer health sphere from Beddit, Emotiv, and BioBeats. Some other articles from around the web have also highlighted mobile health trends. Here's some interesting pieces that caught our eyes this week.

The ObamaCare Start-Up Boom -- TIME Magazine 

It's nice to see a major magazine like TIME picking up on some of the trends in mobile health. In this piece, Christopher Matthews highlights a representative, if somewhat arbitrary, selection of health startups: IntelligentM, Care at Hand, AdhereTech, Zenefits, Aidin, and Health Recovery Solutions. He connects the boom in start-ups (and in accelerators like Blueprint Health and StartUp Health, both referenced in the piece) to opportunities and challenges created by the Affordable Care Act. Provisions of the ACA, or ObamaCare, encourage hospitals to reduce readmissions and move from fee-for-service to outcome-based payment, opening up room for cost-saving startups like AdhereTech and IntelligentM. But Matthews argues the law also opens an opportunity for small, web-based health insurers like Zenefits to fill the post-ObamaCare needs of small businesses.

TIME has the article available for subscribers, but StartUp Health published the whole thing on a slideshare on their blog.

Internet killed the dieting star: Why Weight Watchers is floundering. -- Washington Post blog

It's a testament to the rising popularity and use of health and fitness apps that they're apparently on their way to putting weight loss giant Weight Watchers out of business. That may not be the best way for the mobile health industry to get press, but it is the consensus of sources like Reuters and the Washington Post. Even more interestingly, the now 50-year-old company may turn to employee wellness to make up the lost sales, another area where they may run into a digital health startup or two.

Could The Future Of Health Care Mean No Waits In Hospitals? -- Fast Company

Nuance CMIO Dr. Nick van Terheyden starts this piece off with a link to a 1950s "hospital of the future" video from the Kaiser Foundation, but then moves into some predictions of his own. Terheyden says that some trends in healthcare aren't going far enough -- for instance, EHRs are being implemented and are even integrating mobile data, but they aren't always intuitive or user friendly. He suggests doctors could interact with EHRs via digital assistants akin to a more advanced, specialized version of Apple's Siri (a technology developed with quite a bit of help from Nuance). Terheyden also sees consumer devices like Fitbit and Jawbone moving from their current use case further into the clinical realm, and telehealth platforms like (also a Nuance partner) leading to emptier and emptier hospitals.

3 data-driven health technologies I'd like to see -- KevinMD

Physician-blogger Robin Friedlander also has a list of three things she'd like to see in the future of healthcare, all to do with data. Friedlander's ideas are fresher than a lot of what gets written in healthcare, and it doesn't hurt that they come from a practicing physician. In this piece, she asks for food tracking apps, like the many that already exist, but with an EHR integration or swivel capability, allowing the physician to get a real picture of what the patient is eating. She calls for an app that will use smart data to track a patient's health choices and assign them a score to help train people to take better care of themselves. Finally, Friedlander suggests the need for a "truly collaborative EHR" that will allow patients and doctors to contribute equally to the patient's health plan.

The Health Tradeoffs of Entrepreneurship -- New York Times Well Blog

At MobiHealthNews we speak to a lot of entrepreneurs who are trying to improve people's health. But the Times looked at how healthy the entrepreneurs themselves are. Drawing on data from a recent Gallup poll, the article says those who start their own business usually eat well and focus on wellness, but also experience more stress and negative emotions than others, and often go uninsured. The piece also highlights StartupInsurance, an upcoming platform for entrepreneurs to find health plans.


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