In-Depth: Q3 2014 Digital Health State of the Industry

By Brian Dolan
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Despite the third quarter including two usually sleepy summer months, plenty of digital health news broke between July and the start of October. (Download a PDF version of this report right here.)

1. Mergers and acquisitions

M&A activity stayed strong with eight such deals -- only one less than Q2's nine M&A deals.

HCA buys PatientKeeper: The most recent acquisition deal -- just last week -- was Nashville, Tennessee-based healthcare provider HCA's purchase of PatientKeeper, one of the oldest mobile health companies still in operation. HCA's providers have been using PatientKeeper's mobile apps to organize their workflow for the past seven years. Notably, HCA aims to make PatientKeeper a subsidiary that will continue to operate from Waltham, Massachusetts and serve its 100 clients.

Google acquires tremor-canceling spoon company: Google has acquired San Francisco-based Lift Labs, a company that is developing smart utensils for people with Parkinson’s and essential tremor. Lift Labs will join Google[x], which is Google’s secretive innovation lab. Lift Labs has raised $1 million in funding to date. The company was also funded for two years by the NIH. The company was also part of Rock Health’s accelerator in summer 2013.

Preventice and eCardio merge: Remote cardiac monitoring company eCardio has agreed to merge with wearable, remote monitoring device maker Preventice. The new company, which is called Preventice, said the merger will allow it to “drive innovation and growth in remote monitoring systems and mobile health applications”. Preventice’s device, the BodyGaurdian RMS detects and monitors nonlethal cardiac arrhythmias in ambulatory patients. The device uses an algorithm developed by the Mayo Clinic, sensor technology from STMicroelectronics, and wireless technology from Samsung. Patients using the system receive a number of peel-and-stick patches, two sensor units, plus a dedicated smartphone with preloaded software. BodyGuardian commercially launched in May 2013 for providers and organizations that work with providers. Its FDA clearance is for prescription use only.

Validic acquires Infometers to boost clinical device integrations: Durham, North Carolina-based health data platform company Validic announced that it had acquired its partner Mountain View, California-based Infometers for an undisclosed sum. Validic’s CEO Ryan Beckland told MobiHealthNews that his company bought Infometers for its technology capabilities and for its team. All full-time Infometers employees have joined Validic, Beckland said, but the number of employees was not disclosed either. The former Infometers team will continue to work out of their Silicon Valley office, which gives Validic a strategic foothold there.

“What Infometers does is SDK integrations. What Validic has traditionally done is API integrations,” Beckland explained. “The difference is API is server-side so the device, let’s say an Omron Blood Pressure Cuff, would send data to a hub, which might be software on a phone, computer or Qualcomm 2net hub plugged into the wall. Then that hub, whatever it is, sends data to a server. Validic is integrated on the server side so we pull data off the server — that’s the API connection. Now the SDK connection, which is what Infometers does, pulls data directly from the device itself. What Infometers actually has is a piece of software — a hub — that grabs data directly from the devices and sends it to the Validic server. That’s the technology that we’ve added to our portfolio that will allow us to rapidly expand into more classes of medical devices and quickly broaden our horizons into the types of things we can integrate.”

Higi and Stayhealthy merge in kiosk consolidation: Health kiosk startup higi has merged with Stayhealthy, another mobile health company that also has a health kiosk business. The new company will apparently still be known as higi. Stayhealthy had major deals to put kiosks in Kroger grocery stores, Supervalu supermarkets, and Albertson’s drug stores, while higi was previously rolled out in 2,000 stores including Whole Foods, CVS, and Rite Aid. The newly merged company will have 6,000 kiosks, with contracts for 10,000 by the beginning of 2015.

Practice Fusion acquires Ringadoc: San Francisco-based Practice Fusion, which offers electronic health records and patient management software company, has acquired after-hours doctor calls company Ringadoc for an undisclosed sum. Los Angeles-based Ringadoc was originally incubated in Practice Fusion’s San Francisco offices around the same time as another startup, 100Plus. Both startups received an angel investment from Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard and, now, both ended up being acquired by the company too.

Ringadoc connects patients to doctors if they want to avoid using their physicians’ call system. Others who don’t have a physician might also be able to use the service to help them decide whether they should go to the emergency room, the urgent care center, or whether the issue might be handled over the phone. Pricing for Ringadoc starts at $69 per month with one provider for unlimited calls and messages.

Viverae acquires OneHealth: Dallas, Texas-based employee wellness company Viverae acquired behavioral health company OneHealth for an undisclosed sum. Viverae counts 300 clients in various industries throughout the US that use its health management programs. OneHealth’s offerings will bolster Viverae’s by allowing users to anonymously support each others’ emotional and physical health.

OneHealth offers members 24/7 structured peer support, education and tools to aide in the recovery from substance abuse and other behavioral health issues. The program uses social media and real-time tracking to monitor emotional states and to provide anonymous peer supports to help the member or their dependents stay sober.

WebMD acquires patient simulation company Therasim: “To further enhance our offering for physicians, in early July we made a small acquisition to enhance our patient simulation capabilities,” WebMD’s CEO David Schlanger. WebMD VP of Corporate Communication Michael Heinley told MobiHealthNews the acquired company is TheraSim:

“Medscape acquired the TheraSim business in July. TheraSim offers patient simulation technology that replicates physicians’ real-world experiences in clinical decision making and drives application of learning into clinical practice. The acquisition allows Medscape to further evolve and enhance the Medscape experience for health care professionals participating in continuing education,” Heinley wrote. 

2. Industry Metrics

Numerous research reports focused on digital health published during the third quarter of 2014.

Eighty percent of smartphone users are interested in using their smartphones to interact with health care providers, according to a FICO survey of 2,239 adult smartphone users from the UK, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and the United States. The survey analyzed how consumers prefer to interact with health care providers on mobile devices, online and in-person.

Of those that want to do more health-related tasks on their smartphones, 80 percent already receive reminders of upcoming appointments, 60 percent receive reminders to arrange appointments and health checks, 40 percent receive reminders to take medication, 34 percent use their smartphones to look for medical advice, and 32 percent receive reminders to monitor personal health risks.

According to another survey -- this one of thousands of patients in Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, the adoption of digital healthcare services remains low because existing services are either low quality or not meeting patients’ needs. The survey, conducted by consulting firm McKinsey, included responses from at least 1,000 patients in the three countries.

McKinsey found that more than 75 percent of respondents would like to use some kind of digital health service. Many are interested in “mundane” offerings, the firm wrote. “Surprisingly, across the globe, most people want the same thing: assistance with routine tasks and navigating the often-complex healthcare system,” they noted.

In this past year about 9 percent of Americans received comparative information about doctors from a ratings website like HealthGrades.com, Yelp.com, or Angie’s List, according to a survey of about 1,000 conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Within the group, 905 were insured privately, publicly or had another type of insurance and 94 were not insured.

Results from a survey conducted four years ago about Baby Boomer interest in using various technologies to improve their health just published last quarter too. As a group, about 35 percent of baby boomers were interested in using their smartphone to learn about and better manage their own health, according to results analyzed by academic researchers. The survey included responses from 469 consumers, 258 of which are baby boomers.

The baby boomers said they were much more likely to use health information websites, email, automated call centers, medical video conferencing, and texting when compared to the older age group. But they said they were less likely to use podcasts, kiosks, smartphones, blogs, and wikis when compared to the younger age group.

Last year around 30 percent of patients were offered access to their online medical records by their healthcare provider or insurer, according to a survey of more than 2,100 people conducted by the ONC last year. The survey was conducted prior to the implementation of Meaningful Use Stage 2 and CLIA rules.

A similar study, this one conducted by TechnologyAdvice, focused on patient awareness of portals. While 49 percent of patients know their doctor’s office offers a patient portal, 40 percent were not aware of a patient portal offering and 11 percent of patients know their doctor doesn’t offer one, according to the survey of 430 patients. The research firm suggests that the number of patients who are not sure whether their physician’s office offers a patient portal is high because physicians are not properly communicating what tools are offered.

Two recent surveys, one from activity tracker maker Withings and the other from research firm IDC Health Insights asked consumers about their engagement with connected health devices.

In the IDC survey, the research firm found that one out of three consumers who own fitness trackers stopped using their devices in the past 12 months. IDC adds that to maintain consumers’ engagement with these devices, there needs to be more education on the benefits of health devices and activity trackers.

Withings’ survey explored how much consumers know about connected health devices and vital signs in general. The company asked respondents to list off vital signs without being prompted. Almost half of the consumers in the survey could recall blood pressure as a vital sign, 28 percent recalled pulse, 22.4 percent offered BMI, 21.8 percent said blood sugar, and 20.9 percent said cholesterol level. Only 8.8 percent of users added respiratory rate to their list and 7.8 percent included blood oxygen saturation.

Another survey found that 60 percent of likely adopters of wearable technology want to use their device for health or fitness, according to the poll of 1,000 consumers conducted by ON World. The survey also found that 55 percent of respondents would prefer wearable technology on their wrists over any other part of their body. Finally, 38 percent of smartwatch adopters want to use their wearable technology for health applications.

Although one third of consumers who own wearable devices stop using them within six months, the rate of adoption of smart wearable technology has increased, according to a survey of 1,700 device owners from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Endeavour Partners.

An estimated 330 million smartwatches will ship worldwide by 2018, up from less than 4 million in 2013, according to a recent projection from research firm ON World. ON World projected that in the next fives years an estimated 700 million wearable technology devices will ship worldwide, which will make for a $47.4 billion market. It also predicted that hardware sales will continue to dominate revenues for the next five years but monitoring services, apps, and subscriptions will have faster growth rates.

The percentage of households in the US that do not have landline phones and rely on mobile phones continues to rise. The annual CDC survey recently found that the number now stands at 41 percent. A greater percentage of respondents with only mobile phones were engaged in physical activity more, 40 percent, followed by those with landlines, 36 percent, and consumers without a phone, 32 percent.

People who had no phone were most likely to also not have insurance, 27.2 percent didn’t. Just over 25 percent of mobile-only participants didn’t have insurance, and 14 percent of participants with a landline didn’t have insurance. Still, only a small percentage of all consumers couldn’t get the medical care they needed in past year because of financial barriers — 5.4 percent of participants with a landline, 10.9 percent of consumers with only a mobile phone, and 10.7 percent of consumers without a phone.

By 2018 an estimated 75.7 million consumer health and fitness devices with integrated wireless connectivity will ship, up from 23 million such devices in 2011, according to a recent report from IHS Technology. The research firms points out that Bluetooth Smart-connected devices are the most popular, but devices that make use of the fitness and health-focused ANT standard also have a foothold.

Over the next five years, ABI Research expects 100 million wearable remote patient monitoring devices to ship. This growth, ABI said, is in part a result of providers who are more aware of the benefits remote patient monitoring wearable devices can provide to patients outside of the hospital. ABI adds that because of the growing interest in these devices, there’s a bigger opportunity for platforms that collect data from several devices and apps, for example Apple’s HealthKit.

In a survey of employers at companies with 1,000 employees or more, Towers Watson found that currently, 22 percent offer telemedicine consultations as a cost-saving alternative to emergency room or primary care visits. An additional 37 percent planned to offer those services by 2015, which would constitute a 68 percent increase. And by 2016 or 2017, another 34 percent of employers said they were considering telemedicine.

A somewhat similar survey found that 48 percent of employers will make telehealth services available to employees, in states where it’s legal, in 2015. That's according to a National Business Group on Health survey of 136 employers representing approximately 7.5 million employees. Within this group, 33 percent of employers plan to offer these services without incentives or penalties and 15 percent plan to offer the services with incentives and penalties.

According to research firm Parks Associates the number of doctor-patient video consultations in the US will almost triple over the next year. The firm expects 5.7 million such consultations in 2014 and more than 16 million in 2015. The figure will exceed 130 million in 2018.

Parks said that 42 percent of households in the US with broadband services had used at least one online service offered to them by their physicians. The most commonly offered and used service was requesting a prescription refill online, according to the firm.

Nearly 30 percent of these US broadband households also own and use at least one connected health device, according to Parks.

Parks also predicted recently that the number of connected digital trackers sold worldwide would double again in 2014 — and top 22 million. The number sold in 2012 was 6.6 million by Parks’ count and 13.6 million last year.

According to a study from Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Cologne in Germany, less than a third of health apps in the iTunes and Google Play store had any privacy policy at all in place. Researchers looked at the 300 most popular apps from each store, out of an identified pool of 24,405 health apps total. They found that only 183 of the 600, or about 30 percent, had privacy policies.

Sixty five percent of nurses use a mobile device at work for professional purposes and for at least 30 minutes every day, according to a survey of 2,498 nurses by Wolters Kluwer Health. The company recruited 1,921 practicing nurses, 386 nurse academics, 135 who are retired, and 56 other nurses.

Sixty-nine percent of physicians said patients should use tech tools to help them form a diagnosis, while 84 percent of patients said they should be able to. That’s according to a recent survey from WebMD/Medscape. In a follow up, the survey asked physicians if patients should self-diagnose using technology, to which only 17 percent of physicians said they should.

Finally, a research report that published during the quarter concluded that healthcare is falling behind other industries in prioritizing and attending to security concerns. The report from security company ForeScout based on a survey conducted by IDG Connect found it’s particularly true in the area of mobile device security, the report found.

IDG surveyed 1,596 IT decision makers across the healthcare, education, financial, retail, and manufacturing markets. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed, or about 350 individuals, came from the healthcare sector. Those surveyed came from the UK, the US, and the DACH region of Europe which includes Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The biggest problem in healthcare relative to other industries seems to be with mobile device security. Overall, mobile device usage was given low security ratings for poor policy definitions, poor technical controls and poor mitigation capabilities by 60 percent of respondents. In healthcare, however, 65 percent gave mobile device security a low rating in those categories. 

3. Payors

By far the biggest payor news this quarter came from Aetna. The insurance company, which has made a number of consumer digital health plays over the years, shut down its much-hyped CarePass platform. MobiHealthNews broke the story after reporting on the departure of two executives: Martha Wofford, former Vice President and Head of Consumer Products, left the company in June and Dan Conroy, Head of Business Development for the CarePass platform, left in July.

"At this time, we have decided to make no further investments in the CarePass platform,” an Aetna spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email. “Current CarePass users will continue to have access to the CarePass platform for the time being, but we plan on closing the CarePass web and mobile experiences by the end of this year. In addition, we will not be conducting pilot programs with Aetna plan sponsors that were previously reported.”

But Aetna also had some positive news in the quarter: the company announced the launch of a new mobile-based offering, called NeoCare, for members who are new parents with infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). NeoCare Solutions, which is a startup that is a part of Aetna’s Healthagen’s subsidiary, offers a tablet-based app that keeps parents connected to a NeoCoach — a registered nurse or social worker — who supports them throughout their child’s time in the NICU and during their transition home.

The quarter was also peppered with news from other major insurers, including Humana, UnitedHealthcare, HCSC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, all of which launched apps of one kind or another during the quarter.

UnitedHealthcare opened up its mobile health app, Health4Me, to the general public, two years after the company first launched the app for its members. The app is available on both iOS and Android platforms. The Health4Me app allows users to access their health information and their families’ health information in one place. Users can also find healthcare facilities in their area and compare prices for 520 medical services across 290 episodes of care so they can better estimate their healthcare expenses.

Humana, meanwhile, launched a new health app for users of its wellness rewards program, HumanaVitality. Humana members whose plans include HumanaVitality can use the app to keep track of their health and fitness goals. In addition to tracking health and fitness metrics, select members can use the app, available on iOS and Android devices, to take health assessments, challenge coworkers to health-related competitions, and read information on staying healthy.

Insurance company Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), which offers insurance plans to residents of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, launched its first wellness app for its members, called Centered. The app focuses on activity tracking and meditation. Centered will display a daily summary of calories burned, miles walked, and time spent being active every day, but it also offers meditation sessions for users to complete every week that range from four to 19 minutes.

Finally, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts added a mobile and online offering from OneHealth, to bolster its mental health and behavioral health programs. OneHealth offers members 24/7 structured peer support, education and tools to aide in the recovery from substance abuse, according to the health insurance company. The program uses social media and real-time tracking to monitor emotional states and to provide anonymous peer supports to help the member or their dependents stay sober.

Some other Blues also made news this quarter. The philanthropic arm of insurance company Florida Blue gave a $100,000 grant to Johns Hopkins-affiliated researchers to launch a study on how tracking devices and apps can help obese teenagers make healthier decisions. The researchers have begun recruiting the 50 teenagers it plans to sign up for the study, which will include the use of Fitbit tracking devices and the MyFitnessPal app. Study participants will track their activity and sleep with the Fitbit device, while MyFitnessPal will help them track what they eat.

Another, Blue Shield of California, an independent Blue and a not-for-profit health plan, signed on as a new Rock Health partner in August.

Healthfirst, a Medicaid plan, worked with HealthCrowd, a text message-focused patient engagement company, to prove that 86 percent of Healthfirst’s Medicaid population was equipped to receive text messages. The pilot program secured a response rate of 30 to 60 percent.

In the area of employee wellness, a few notable developments broke to the surface.  In July, San Francisco-based Appirio saved $280,000 in annual insurance payments by implementing a wellness program using Fitbit devices.

Specifically, the company convinced insurer Anthem to reduce its insurance bills by 5 percent after showing them data from a program called CloudFit, administered via Indianapolis-based Spire Wellness. With CloudFit, Appirio distributed 400 Fitbits to employees across the company. These employees could opt in to sharing some or all of their data either in a special group set up within the Fitbit app, or via Chatter, an enterprise social network connected to Salesforce.

Also in the quarter, the Department of Health and Human Service’s Idea Lab and the Office of the National Coordinator have partnered with San Diego-based Total Communicator Solutions to develop the Idea Lab’s workplace wellness initiative, called Project Boundary. Project Boundary, which was created by HHS Innovator in Residence Naganand Murty and Presidential Innovation Fellow Nayan Jain, aims to help employers engage their employees with proximity sensors and messages that are sent to the user’s smartphone. 

4. Providers

The third quarter was a huge one for provider news, with hospitals launching pilots and deployments of tracking tools and apps, patient-facing apps for engagement and care management, and video visits. Of course, between HealthKit and its partnership with IBM for enterprise apps, Apple was a big name in provider news this quarter.

The quarter saw reports trickle out that Apple was adding more and more hospital partners to HealthKit, including Stanford University Medical Center and Duke University Hospital. Stanford is using the technology to track blood sugar in children with diabetes, while Duke will be tracking blood pressure and weight for patients with cancer and heart conditions.

Separately, Apple and IBM entered into a partnership in July focused on working together to create iPhone and iPad apps for enterprise, including healthcare enterprise. In an earnings call early during the quarter, Apple senior vice president and CFO Luca Maestri said that Apple's market penetration in the business world is only around 20 percent -- and he hoped the IBM partnership could drive it up to 60.

And IBM, through it's cognitive computing software Watson, teamed up with Mayo Clinic in September to bring its computing power to bear on the long running problem of matching active clinical trials with eligible participants.

Patient-generated data

One of the biggest promises Apple's HealthKit platform is making to hospitals is the ability to feed patients' self tracking data -- from various apps and devices -- into their electronic health record.

This tracks with a prediction from Lux Research early in the quarter that clinically-focused mobile health devices “will soar past consumer-focused counterparts after a slow start due to regulatory approval barriers and slower integration into physicians’ workflows”. The firm predicts that clinical vital signs monitoring devices that leverage mobile technologies will grow from a $372 million market last year to a $16 billion market come 2023. Meanwhile, consumer health applications will also grow from a $2.5 billion market in 2013 to $7 billion in 2023. 

One area where self-tracking entered the healthcare sphere was activity tracking for neurological disorders, such as modus health's StepWatch, which spun off from the research field into clinical practice in July. Similary, an Australian company called dorsaVi got FDA clearance for its ViMove system around the same time, prompting MobiHealthNews to investigate the phenomenon of clinical activity tracking in an in-depth report.

Microsoft teamed up with mobile operator TracFone Wireless and the Health Choice Network, a Miami-based company that manages a 17-state health IT network for community health centers, to launch a mobile health pilot for patients with diabetes. In the pilot, 100 Medicaid patients with Type 1 and 2 diabetes were be equipped with smartphones containing both health management tools and traditional smartphone features.

Partners HealthCare, which has done a number of patient generated data trials through its Center for Connected Care, launched a small pilot of Raiing's wireless thermometer to continuously monitor children with leukemia for signs of fever. And researchers from Intermountain Healthcare in Utah developed a smartphone-based test for measuring salivary cortisol, which can help care providers understand the patient’s stress levels. The test can be performed at the point of care in just five minutes.

Finally, during the quarter, MobiHealthNews talked to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital's CIO John Halamka, who believes HealthKit will kick off a renaissance of patient-generated data in hospitals.

Patient engagement

Another trend that continued apace this quarter was hospitals using apps and other digital health tools to help patients engage with their own health. Kaiser Permanente reported early in the quarter that nearly half of its members use its My Health Manager online platform, and at least two hospitals launched patient-facing apps.

Intermountain Healthcare released its second patient-facing app, called Intermountain Health Hub. The app, available from both the iOS AppStore and the Google Play store, contains a number of different features and functions for Intermountain patients including medical reference information, information for locating care, and access to health records. It included an interesting feature called GermWatch, which uses location data to let the user see “how active various germs are in your area and around the state, and see how their activity level is trending,” according to the app store description. The app gives information about symptoms, how germs are spread, treatments, vaccinations, and when to call a doctor as well.

Meanwhile, New York City-based Mt. Sinai Medical Center began offering iPads to patients to keep track of their hospital stay. The central feature of the app, Patient Itinerary, allows patients to stay informed about when they are scheduled for surgeries, lab tests, and consultations. The Patient Itinerary app was developed in-house at Mt. Sinai, but the hospital partnered with NYC-based PadInMotion (a Blueprint Health graduate) to add more functionality to the app. Patients can use PadInMotion’s software to securely access entertainment offerings like Netflix or Facebook, as well as to access a curated library of health content particular to the reason for their visit.

Finally, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center approached patient engagement in another way, launching a pilot in which 700 mental health patients received access to their therapists’ notes on their laptop or smartphone.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine continued to gain in popularity this quarter, with a HIMSS survey that showed that 46 percent of healthcare providers use multiple telemedicine technologies in their practice, with the most popular technology by far being two-way video messaging. The survey found that while nearly 60 percent of respondents were using two-way video and 55 percent were using image sharing technology, only about a quarter were using remote patient monitoring and less than 20 percent were using smartphones for telemedicine. When hospitals without telemedicine systems were asked what they were considering implementing, two-way video was still at the top with 67 percent saying they were looking into it.

The survey was backed up by some moves from big players. EHR provider Practice Fusion got into the telemedicine game through its acquisition of Ringadoc, though the latter company focused on phone, not video, telemedicine. Later in the quarter, Planned Parenthood launched a pilot program for a service that prescribes birth control to women via video visits, powered by American Well (now called AmWell), and then sends them either the pill, the patch or the ring through the mail.

And Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania began a one-year pilot of a novel telemedicine program, one that will allow first responders to connect select patients to a doctor via an iPad rather than actually transporting them to the hospital. Potentially, Allegheny’s pre-hospital telemedicine service can save money by keeping patients from being admitted to the hospital unnecessarily.

Google Glass

Google Glass was one of our top trends for Q2, and it has continued to make headlines. In the third quarter, Stanford University Medical Center’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery started using Google Glass in its resident training program. Stanford uses software from Glass app maker CrowdOptic to help train residents on performing cardiothoracic surgery. A second pilot study from Stanford showed that Google Glass can help surgeons monitor patients’ vital signs more closely during surgery, potentially helping them to prevent more complications. Researchers used a software called VitalStream from VitalMedicals, a startup led by a Stanford surgeon who was involved in the study. 

5. Pharma

The third quarter was a big one for pharma news, but no one company dominated the headlines as much as Novartis.

Novartis continued to make news in the third quarter, most notably by signing a licensing agreement for Google's much-hyped passive glucose-sensing contact lenses. Novartis' division Alcon mentioned two future use cases for the smart lenses. Noninvasive glucose monitoring (via tears) for people with diabetes was one. That’s the use case about which Google met with the FDA last year. The other was for people with corrective vision needs.

“For people living with presbyopia who can no longer read without glasses, the ‘smart lens’ has the potential to provide accommodative vision correction to help restore the eye’s natural autofocus on near objects in the form of an accommodative contact lens or intraocular lens as part of the refractive cataract treatment,” Alcon said in a statement.

Additionally, at some point during the summer, Novartis added a page to its company website describing its broad technology vision and explicit interest in mobile health. The document highlights partnerships, especially with startups, as an interest area for Novartis. In the post, Novartis highlights tracking and monitoring of patients as one of the biggest opportunities in mobile health. They mention the now-discontinued VaxTrak app, for instance, as well as Podhaler Pro, an inhaler training app for cystic fibrosis patients.

Novartis currently has 13 iPhone apps in the Apple App Store, nine of which are patient or consumer-facing. The list includes two games, “Sickel Cell Iron Invaders” and “Marley’s World” which are designed to teach players about Sickle Cell disease and Multiple Sclerosis, respectively. Their list also includes MyNetManager and Clinical Trial Seek, two apps that launched last March.

Several other pharma companies made moves in the third quarter: Bayer, Belgium-based UCB, Eli Lilly, Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen, Roche subsidiary Genentech, Sanofi, and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Bayer launched what MobiHealthNews believes is the first digital health accelerator run by a pharma company. Grants4Apps, which started last year as a crowdsourcing initiative, was releaunched as an accelerator at an event earlier this week.

The commitment on Bayer’s part is pretty significant: they’ll be offering 50,000 euro (about $65,000) to each of the five startups, and taking less than 10 percent equity in the companies, according to a report from VentureBeat. The accelerator will last three and a half months and companies will also get free office space at Bayer headquarters in Berlin and biweekly meetings with healthcare mentors. The program will end on December 1st with a demo day.

UCB partnered with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based MC10 in July. Although many of the details remain undisclosed, the companies have announced that UCB will use MC10′s BioStamp technology to pursue new therapies for neurological disorders. There will be short term and long term benefits from the partnership, according to MC10. In the short term, its researchers who will benefit from having more complete and robust data on trial participants. But down the road, pending FDA clearance, UCB could make the technology available bundled with a drug or therapy, giving patients and doctors access to the data from BioStamp.

Eli Lilly and Company, the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant went mobile, with a new responsive-design version of its non-commercial website Lilly for Better Health. The website presents a wide range of health information to consumers. The front page presents topical information designed to appeal to a wide range of people — in the summer months, for instance, it might give information about how to pack your medications when traveling, or tips for protecting your skin against the sun. The website also contains a database of resources in the form of articles, videos, and interactive features like quizzes.

In September, Sanofi Diabetes, a division of Sanofi-Aventis, launched a new mobile game for iOS and Android phones in the United Kingdom. The game, called Mission T1D, is meant to be educational, to teach children as well as their parents, caregivers, and friends about Type 1 diabetes.

The Health 2.0 conference at the end of September was rife with pharma news from Genentech, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Jannsen Healthcare Innovation. Genentech's Joling Mew talked about the work the company has done with various online patient communities like PatientsLikeMe, Crohnology, SmartPatients, Inspire, and MediGuard. By seeking input from these patients, Genentech was able to fix the design of some very challenging clinical trials.

Boehringer Ingelheim announced a partnership with Propeller Health at the event, wherein Propeller attached a sensor to Boehringer Ingelheim's Respimat inhaler for asthma and COPD patients. And Janssen announced that its medication adherence tool Care4Today is introducing a provider-facing component, allowing doctors and other care providers to track their patients' adherence via the app. Care4Today also added Spanish language support.

Finally, though not a pharma company move per se, former Wired editor Thomas Goetz launched his health startup Iodine at the event, an online platform meant to crowdsource effectiveness data of drugs and guide consumers about drug purchasing decisions. 

6. Government

The third quarter of 2014 marked an increasingly busy one for government-related digital health news.

The US Food and Drug Administration proposed to largely deregulate a sizable list of Class II and Class I medical devices and no longer require their makers to go through the 510(k) process. The agency made clear the deregulatory move would not necessarily exempt the device makers from other steps like appropriately registering and labeling their wares as medical devices or quality systems requirements. While the announcement is just a proposal and requires the usual public comment period and so on, the FDA said it would not enforce 510(k) requirements for the devices it listed and it doesn’t expect companies making these devices to submit 510(k)s for them in the meantime.

The proposed deregulation includes categories of devices that many smartphone-connected medical devices have used over the years when seeking their clearance from the agency. While it appears the proposal could clear regulatory pathways for some such device makers, it's not entirely apparent if the smartphone-connected devices are an exception to the devices outlined in the proposal. MobiHealthNews has reached out to FDA for clarification, but has yet to receive a response.

The FDA cleared a handful of devices and apps during the quarter.

A clinically-focused, activity tracking wearable was cleared by the FDA, one aimed specifically at the monitoring and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Personal KinetiGraph, from Melbourne, Australia-based Global Kinetics Corporation, “offers comprehensive, automated reporting of a Parkinson’s disease patient’s movements so that neurologists and other physicians can more easily identify changes in movement symptoms to assist in decisions to optimize therapy,” according to the company.

Otoharmonics, a startup out of the Baker Group supported by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, received FDA 510(k) clearance for an iPad or iPod Touch application that treats a medical condition called tinnitus. Technology behind the Levo system, originally developed at Cedars-Sinai, uses sound therapy to train the brain to ignore the ringing sounds caused by tinnitus.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based EarlySense, which makes a passive and contactless bedside monitor that continuously measures respiration rate, heart rate and motion, received a new FDA clearance for a sensor designed to work with not a bed, but a chair.

Privacy concerns in Washington about digital health tools have grown in recent months.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) sent a letter to US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell asking her to help make HIPAA regulatory guidance clearer for app developers. The congressmen wrote the letter a few days after ACT — The App Association and a number of its mobile health company members sent a letter to Marino encouraging him to do so.

Earlier in the summer at a Tech in Policy event sponsored by Washington newspaper The Hill, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill made it clear that the FTC is aware of recent concerns about health app data privacy and security and is looking into new ways to police the industry.

One sign of the times: All the talk about privacy concerns and digital health devices even led Fitbit to hire its first lobbyist. According to the official lobbyist registration form, Heather Podesta + Partners will help Fitbit “educate lawmakers regarding health and fitness devices”. The form also lists two general issues of interest to Fitbit: health care issues and consumer issues around safety and protection.

Privacy isn't the only concern for Fitbit in Washington, however. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal government agency, will soon send Fitbit its findings from an investigation into rashes stemming from Fitbit device, Fitbit Flex. Fitbit issued a voluntary recall for its newest device, the Fitbit Force earlier this year. The company said it does not plan to do the same for Fitbit Flex.

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has released an unpublished proposed rule that will soon lead to changes in coverage under Medicare Part B. Notably, the proposed rule will expand the range of telehealth services that can be reimbursed under Medicare. The current document contains requests that were submitted in 2013 and will go into effect in 2015. Anything submitted now, would go into effect in 2016 at the earliest.

In the new rule, CMS proposes to add seven new telehealth reimbursement codes, all category 1, that fit into three general areas. In the area of mental healthcare, CMS has added codes for psychoanalysis and family psychotherapy (which has two codes, one for family therapy with the patient present and one for family therapy with the patient absent). The next two codes are ones that therapists use to report sessions that go overtime or require additional time over the scheduled hour-long visit — these will now be eligible for reimbursement via telehealth.

A new bill in the House looks to phase in coverage for more telemedicine services. Like previous telehealth bill efforts, the bill seeks to amend the Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, the law that has long limited government-reimbursed telemedicine to rural areas and specific use cases. The current forthcoming bill, called the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014, is measured, expanding the reach of Medicare in telehealth slowly over four years and establishing efficacy data requirements along the way.

For its part, the US Department of Veteran Affairs changed its contracting template in such a way that enables it to soon begin reimbursing its doctors for clinical grade activity trackers in some limited circumstances.

“We’ve allowed for outcome monitoring devices for the first time ever,” Dr. Joe Miller, National Program Director for Orthotic and Prosthetic Services at the VA, told MobiHealthNews. “And we’ve developed a methodology for paying for these devices."

The VA won’t be reimbursing for Fitbits and Jawbone UP devices, however. The contract template specifies that the devices be able to measure a number of highly specific metrics such as stance and swing time, gait symmetry, dynamic function, cadence and cadence variability, step count, numbers of steps per time interval, peak performance, and functional level assessment. And they have to record continuously and accurately as well. One such device is modus health’s StepWatch.

During the quarter MobiHealthNews also caught up with the new ONC consumer eHealth chief, who has a particular interest in ensuring digital health tools are made available to lower income populations. We also covered a California court's ruling, which could spell trouble for some hospitals' BYOD policies. 

7. Research

During the past three months MobiHealthNews tracked a number of (mostly small but) relevant efficacy studies for digital health technologies or therapies. There were also a handful of new digital health technologies created in academic research labs during the past quarter. Here's a roundup:

Texting for better adherence, reduced no-shows: An interactive text-message based care management system was able to create a 40 percent improvement in appointment adherence and modest improvement in medication and care plan adherence, according to new data from New York City-based Sense Health’s randomized control trial with Montefiore Medical Center. The pilot was conducted at Montefiore through their University Behavioral Associates group, and was supported by a $100,000 Pilot Health Tech NYC Grant. Over two months, Sense Health’s system was tested on 67 patients and 15 care managers.

Sense Health uses pre-scripted but customizable text messaging to help overloaded Medicaid care managers work with a large number of patients, while still making those patients feel they’re getting individual attention. The company also sends out educational and motivational content as well as specific appointment and medication reminders and check-in messages to solicit patient feedback.

Texting for cervical cancer screenings in at-risk populations: In a recent JMIR study, a team of researchers in Minnesota explored the potential of mobile health to reach people who sometimes fall through the cracks of the healthcare system. They found that a text message intervention could help Korean American women, a group that has one of the highest cervical cancer mortality rates in the United States, seek preventative screenings (Pap tests). Researchers designed a text message based intervention for a study group of 30 Korean American women, 90 percent of whom had been living in the United States for less than 9 years and nearly two-thirds of whom had a family history of cancer.

Results were mixed. A week after the intervention, participants were generally more knowledgable about cervical cancer and the importance of screening. Significant differences were observed in general knowledge, knowledge of risk factors, and knowledge about and attitudes toward the Pap test. But when asked whether they planned to get a screening in 1 year, 3 months, 1 month, or not at all, the increase wasn’t statistically significant.

RPM reduces ICD patient mortality rate in half: Remote monitoring of patients with implantable cardiac devices reduced the mortality rate for cardiac patients by 50 percent and improved their clinical status by nearly 10 percent in a randomized control trial recently published in The Lancet. The trial was sponsored by medical device company Biotronik.

The trial was conducted at 36 different clinics and hospitals in Europe, Australia, and Israel and included a total of 664 patients. All patients had either implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) or cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators (CRT-Ds) with telemonitoring functionality, but only one group used that functionality. An experiment group of 333 patients had readings from their device evaluated daily by medical personnel, while the remaining 331 formed a control group that received standard care with no telemonitoring. The mean age of all patients was 65.5.

Nintendo Wii games may improve balance for people with MS: A small study published in Radiology found that patients with multiple sclerosis who played a high-instensity video game on a Nintendo Wii saw improvement in the microstructural changes of their brains, which in turn improved the participant’s balance. While MS has many symptoms, one symptom is loss of balance.

Researchers conducted the trial to determine if the video game would help result in changes of a patient’s cerebellar peduncles, which is the area of the brain responsible for coordination. The specific Wii device used in the trial is the balance board, which is a Nintendo accessory that senses a user’s foot movement and incorporates it into the game.

iPad HIV prevention game increased adolescents’ knowledge of the disease: Children who played iPad-based HIV prevention game PlayForward: Elm City Stories knew more about HIV risk than those that played other video games, according to an oral abstract on a randomized control trial of 198 adolescents presented at the AIDS conference this week. The mean age of children in this trial was 13.

The NIH-funded video game was developed by Yale University Associate Research Scientist Dr. Kim Hieftje and Associate Professor of Medicine Dr. Lynn Fiellin.

Online behavioral intervention improves weight loss outcomes: While adding in-person group support sessions to a weight loss program produces the best results, adding just an online behavioral intervention can produce results nearly as good, at a much lower cost. Those are the findings from a 230-person trial from social wellness platform ShapeUp, recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

All of the study’s subjects participated in ShapeUp Rhode Island (SURI) 2011, a 3-month competition-driven weight loss program. Participants competed in teams and received a pedometer and access to a website where they could report their daily physical activity, weight loss, or both. One arm of the study was involved only in SURI.

Rewards boost enrollment, but not sustained engagement: Rewards-based systems work to bring people into an online health management program, but they don’t do much to encourage sustained engagement, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Internet Medical Research.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, looked at 140,000 potential users of an online health intervention called My Health eSupport. About half of the patients were recruited via an airline miles website, with the promise of 10 frequent flyer miles for completing a health risk assessment and an additional 10 miles for enrolling in the support program. The other half were simply recruited via the Heart and Stroke Risk Foundation website.

Apps help adherence to tracking food intake but not weight loss: According to a small study at Arizona State University, tracking weight loss on a smartphone leads to more consistent tracking than paper and pencil. But a dedicated weight loss app — in this case Lose It! — did not improve tracking over simply using the smartphone’s memo application, nor was there any difference in weight loss observed among the app users, smartphone memo users, and paper trackers.

The researchers studied a group of 47 volunteers across an 8-week weight loss trial, semi-randomly assigned to three groups. One group did dietary tracking with a pencil and paper, one group did the same kind of tracking in the memo application on the smartphone, and one group used Lose It!, a popular smartphone diet tracking app.

In addition to the efficacy studies outlined above, researchers in academia also developed a number of digital health sensors and apps during the third quarter.

Among the research projects discussing during Q3 was an app that could determine if a patient was faking alcohol tremors, a diagnostic app for newborn jaundice, a passive voice analysis mood detection app for patients with bipolar disorder, a smart seatbelt that senses heart rate to combat driver fatigue, and a smartphone-based air quality sensor for public health. 

8. Funding

Proteus Digital Health raises $52 million: Digital medicine company Proteus Digital Health raised an additional $52 million from undisclosed investors following a whopping $120 million raise the company announced just last month. That brings Proteus’ latest round of funding — its seventh — to $172 million. By our count the company’s total known funding is now close to $400 million, which makes it one of the most-funded, private companies in digital health. Read More

Teladoc raises $50 million: Dallas, Texas-based virtual visits company Teladoc raised $50 million. The round was led by Jafco Ventures with additional funding from FLAG Capital Management, Greenspring Associates, Mellon, and QuestMark Partners. This brings the company’s total funding to about $96.6 million. Teladoc disclosed that its revenues range between $25 million and $100 million. This indicates at least a small increase in revenue from the company’s 2013 total, $20.5 million, which was published in a recent Inc Magazine list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies. Teladoc offers patients an alternative to a standard doctor’s visit. When a patient needs a doctor but doesn’t want to make an appointment, he or she can call Teladoc to schedule a virtual visit. Read More

AirStrip raises $25 million: San Antonio-based AirStrip raised $25 million in strategic funding led by new investor the Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund, Sequoia Capital and Wellcome Trust with participation from other existing investors HCA and Qualcomm. Other new investors include two customers — Dignity Health and St. Joseph Health (SJH) — and investment bank Leerink Partners. The company plans to use the funds to support continued growth for its AirStrip ONE mobile technology offerings, to expand into home health, and to expand internationally. Read More

iHealth raises $25 million: iHealth Labs, the Mountain View, California-based subsidiary of China’s Andon Health has raised $25 million, a strategic investment from Chinese investor Xiaomi Ventures. The funding will coincide with a corporate restructuring that will transform the subsidiary into a more globally decentralized company. iHealth Labs will become simply iHealth and will be split into three regional operating groups based in Mountain View, Paris, and Hong Kong. Existing iHealth personnel, technology, patents and assets will remain with the new company. Read More

Doctor On Demand raises $21 million: San Francisco-based video visit app Doctor On Demand raised $21 million in a round led by Venrock with additional funding from Shasta Ventures and Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, which offers employee wellness program Virgin Pulse. This brings the company’s total funding to $24 million. Doctor on Demand is currently in Rock Health’s accelerator program. Patients can use the service, available via iOS and Android apps, to connect with physicians. The company just added a web version of the service so patients can use their computers to reach doctors. Read More

Netpulse raises $18.6 million: San Francisco-based Netpulse, which offers software to fitness clubs that connects fitness devices and apps to gym equipment, raised $18.6 million in a round of funding led by Nokia Growth Partners and with participation from August Capital, Javelin Venture Partners, DFJ Frontier and Docomo Capital. Nokia Growth Partners’ John Gardner will join the Netpulse board as part of the deal. Read More

Jiff raises $18 million: Employee wellness curation platform Jiff raised $18 million in a round led by Venrock with participation from existing investors Aberdare Ventures and Aeris Capital. Jiff has raised $25.8 million to date. Jiff originally launched with a provider-to-patient education platform, called JiffPad, the company pivoted in June 2013 and now offers a service called The Health Outcomes Marketplace. The marketplace is a customized app that Jiff builds for each of its employer customers. Read More

Propeller Health raises $14.5 million: Madison, Wisconsin-based Propeller Health, formerly known as Asthmapolis, raised $14.5 million in a round of funding led by Safeguard Scientifics with participation from return backer The Social+Capital Partnership. Propeller has also hired Practice Fusion’s Chris Hogg as its first COO, and he’ll head up the company’s new San Francisco office. The smart inhaler company’s devices and companion apps offer geographic mapping of inhaler use and asthma triggers as well as adherence tracking and early warning alerts for COPD patients. Read More

Athos raises $12.2 million: Redwood, California-based wearable technology maker Athos raised $12.2 million in a round led by DCM, with additional funding from True Ventures, NBA team Golden State Warriors Managing Partner Joe Lacob, Golden State Warriors player Jermaine O’Neal, and existing investor The Social+Capital Partnership. The company will use the funds to commercialize its fitness apparel line that Athos aims to release this fall. Athos’ shirt offers 18 sensors. Fourteen are dedicated to electromyography (EMG) tracking, which allow athletes to understand how hard their muscles are working, if they are reaching certain muscle targets, including building, toning, and under training, and if they have muscle fatigue. Read More

Hello raises $10.5 million: Fresh off its $2.4 million crowdfunding campaigning for sleep tracking, bedside orb, Sense, San Francisco-based startup Hello announced $10.5 million in backing from a group of angel investors. Investors include former PayPal head David Marcus, Facebook executive Dan Rose, former Facebook designer Aaron Sittig, Spotify advisor Shakil Khan, and Hugo Barra, a Xiaomi executive. Hello’s founder James Proud is a Thiel Fellow who dropped out of college in 2010 — some of his startup’s investors have obvious ties to Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook and many other tech companies. Read More

Healthsense raises $10 million: Medical device maker HealthSense raised $10 million in equity, debt, and securities in a round led by Mansa Capital with additional investment from existing investors Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and Radius Ventures. Another existing investor that wasn’t mentioned in this round is Fallon Community Health Plan. This brings the company’s total funding to date to at least $17 million. Healthsense, which has offices in Minneapolis and Boston, offers several products for senior living communities. For remote monitoring, HealthSense offers eNeighbor, a monitoring system that includes an emergency call pendant, sensors that track around-the-house activity like sleep, activity, and bathroom use, and other contact sensors placed around the home. Read More

BetterDoctor raises $10 million: San Francisco-based patient education tool BetterDoctor raised $10 million. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $13 million to date. Existing investors include Jeff Clavier from SoftTechVC, Dirk Lammerts from Burrill & Co, and 500 Startups. The service, available via iPhone app or online, helps patients find better doctors based on specialty and insurance. To prescreen the doctors, BetterDoctor analyzes their experience, education, medical licensing, board certification, judicial sanctions and professional and referral network. Read More

OMsignal raises $10 million: Montreal, Canada-based smart clothing maker OMsignal raised $10 million in a round led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP). Existing investors also participated in the round including Real Ventures, Mistral Venture Partners, Golden Venture Partners, David Cohen (managing partner at Techstars), Flextronics, and Primera Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $11 million. The company will use some of the funds to explore partnerships with fitness and sportswear apparel companies. OMsignal manufactures clothing embedded with various health sensors. The shirt captures ECG, activity, breathing patterns and “emotive” states on a continuous basis. Read More

WiserTogether raises $9 million: Healthcare treatment comparison tool WiserTogether raised $9 million in a round led by Martin Ventures and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund with participation from WiserTogether CEO Shub Debgupt and existing investors Grotech Ventures, Harbert Venture Partners, 7Wire Ventures, and Blue Heron Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $20 million. WiserTogether’s offering aims to help personalize the decision-making process for patients who want to choose which healthcare treatments they should receive. The platform helps guide and inform the patient on treatment options based on 22 factors, including clinical evidence, personal and popular preferences, cost, and coverage. Read More

Wellframe raises $8.5 million: Boston-based patient engagement and care management company Wellframe raised $8.5 million in a funding round led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), with additional investment from Formation 8, Waterline Ventures and Queensbridge Venture Partners. Wellframe’s platform includes a web-based clinician dashboard and a patient-facing mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android devices. The offering includes two-way, HIPAA compliant messaging and a care plan that the company says aims to amplify, not replace, therapeutic relationships. Read More 

Wearable Intelligence raises $8 million: Google Glass startup Wearable Intelligence, which, among other things, outfits Google Glass devices for use in hospitals, raised just under $8 million. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, whose parnter Barry Eggers also joined the board. This is the first funding the company has announced, but the company previously raised seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Initialized Capital and Subtraction Capital. Read More

Atonarp raises $8 million: Tokyo-based Atonarp raised $8 million in a round led by Walden Riverwood Ventures to further develop the company’s smart spectrometer. Atonarp is developing a spectrometer that can non-invasively detect early phase cancer detection and it also has designed on non-invasive blood glucose measurement. Read More

Keas raises $7.4 million: Health gaming corporate wellness platform Keas raised $7.4 million. This brings the company’s total funding to date to at least $32.9 million. Keas was co-founded by the original Google Health chief Adam Bosworth. Keas’ corporate wellness program offers users a social health and wellness gaming community. It integrates data from health risk assessments and apps used by employees and mines this data to identify health risks or suggest actions to manage those risks. Employees can also access a social media feed to connect with others at the company and support each other. Read More

Kurbo Health raises $5.8 million: Palo Alto, California-based Kurbo Health, which is developing a mobile-enabled program aimed at preventing childhood obesity, raised $4 million new funding in addition to the $1.8 million we reported on in May. The round was led by Signia Ventures and other investors include Data Collective, Bessemer Venture Partners, Promus Ventures, and angel investors: Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Greg Badros, former VP of Engineering and Product at Facebook. Read More

Pristine raises $5.5 million: Austin, Texas-based Pristine, maker of a video streaming Google Glass product for healthcare, raised $5.5 million in a round led by S3 Ventures with participation from Capital Factory, HealthFundr, and strategic clients. This brings the company’s total funding to about $6 million. Pristine’s flagship product, called EyeSight, streams near-real time audio and video from Glass to authorized iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs so that, among other uses, wound care nurses can transmit point-of-view video to a physician; emergency responders can send relevant video and information to hospital staff who are preparing to treat the patient; and surgeons can send a livestream of a surgery from their point of view to residents, fellows, and surgeons at other medical centers. Read More

Validic raises $5 million: Durham, North Carolina-based health data platform company Validic raised $5 million in first round funding, co-led by Greycroft Partners and SJF Ventures. Existing VCs and angels also contributed, according to Validic CEO Ryan Beckland. Beckland says the funding round, which brings Validic’s total funding to a little over $7 million, will help them keep up with fast growth and tremendous demand. Validic works with hospitals and healthcare providers to help them integrate data streams from many different apps and devices into one secure, easy-to-interact with pipe. Read More

Sensoria million $5 million: Sensoria Fitness, the wearable sensor company formerly known as Heapsylon, has raised $5 million from Italian investor Reply SpA. In exchange, Reply SpA will acquire a hefty 20 percent interest in the company. Reply SpA will also work with Sensoria on marketing and distribution, including building up the Sensoria SDK. The funding will be used for engineering, sales and marketing efforts, according to the company. Read More

Beam Technologies raises $5 million: Louisville, Kentucky-based smart toothbrush maker Beam Technologies raised $5 million in a round led by Drive Capital for its manual smartphone connected toothbrush. This brings the company’s total announced funding to date to $5.5 million. The new funds will be used to scale the product and open a new office for the company in Columbus, Ohio. The connected toothbrush, called Beam Brush, which received FDA 510(k) clearance in July 2012, has an embedded accelerometer that tracks a user’s brushing schedule. Read More

PhysIQ raises $4.6 million: Naperville, Illinois-based PhysIQ raised $4.6 million in a round led by LionBird for its digital health analytics platform. This brings the company’s total funding to $5.6 million. The company is in the process of completing a series of clinical studies. One study, with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Salt Lake City has been completed, but two others at the University of Chicago Medical Center are still ongoing. All trials have around 20 congestive heart failure patients participating. Read More

Epion Health raises $4.5 million: Roseland, New Jersey-based Epion Health raised $4.5 million in an investment led by investment firm Deerfield Management Company for its iPad-based patient check-in tool. Epion Health was in Healthbox’s second Boston class, backed by Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts. Staff at physician practices can use the tool in place of paper-based registration forms — contact information, consent, and health history information – and to collect payments with a credit card reader that is built in to the casing around the iPad. Read More

Cambridge Temperature Concepts raises $4.38 million: UK-based Cambridge Temperature Concepts raised $4.38 million (£2.6 million) in a round led by Longwall Venture Partners. The company previously raised just over $5 million (£3 million), CEO Dr. Claire Hooper told MobiHealthNews in an email. Cambridge Temperature Concept’s flagship product, called DuoFertility, is a stick-on sensor and handheld reader device that tracks specific biometrics like temperature to help women conceive. The company offers three different levels of services: lite, premium and deluxe. Read More

EyeNetra raises $4 million: Somerville, Massachusetts-based eye diagnostic tool maker EyeNetra raised $4 million from one investor. This brings EyeNetra’s total funding to at least $7 million. The company, which spun off from The MIT Media Lab Camera Culture Group, developed a smartphone peripheral, called Netra-G, that measures nearsightedness, farsightedness, age related blurriness, pupillary distance, and astigmatism. After the test, the companion app connects the user to healthcare providers and vendors depending on his or her eye condition. Read More

Figure 1 raises $4 million: Toronto, Canada-based Figure 1 raised $4 million in a new round led by Union Square Ventures. This brings the company’s total funding to $6 million. Existing investors include Version One Ventures, Rho Canada Ventures, Investment Accelerator Fund, Ryerson Futures, Accelerated Medical Ventures Founder Zen Chu, and Rypple Cofounder Daniel Debow. Figure 1 allows medical professionals to take and share photos with other medical professionals securely. As an extra privacy measure, the app also has a face blocking feature to automatically block faces after the picture of the patient is uploaded. Read More

6SensorLabs raises $4 million: 6SensorLabs raised $4 million in seed funding to tackle the food allergy problem, starting with gluten detection. In addition to testing food and returning a result, the company's sensor will send the data to the user’s smartphone and allow the user to record and store the results of each meal. The round was led by Upfront Ventures and included contributions from SoftTech VC, Lemnos Labs, Kapor Capital, SK Ventures and Xandex Investments. Lemnos Labs is an accelerator the company has been participating in. 6SensorLabs’ first product is called the Canary sensor. Read More

Beyond Verbal raises $3.3 million: Tel Aviv, Israel-based emotions analysis company Beyond Verbal announced $3.3 million in funding in addition to the launch of its Beyond Wellness API, which enables app developers and wearable device makers to add emotion sensing capabilities to their offerings. The funding was a follow-on to the round of funding Beyond Verbal closed last year, bringing total funding for the company up to more than $7 million. Lead investors included Winnovation and SingulariTeam. The new API turns any smartphone or mic-equipped wearable device into a proactive, emotional wellbeing sensor that can correlate behavior and activities with different emotional states. Beyond Verbal’s platform can sense 400 emotions, according to the company. Read More

HealthPrize raises $3 million: Norwalk, Connecticut-based medication adherence platform company HealthPrize raised $3 million in a new round of funding led by Mansa Capital to help it expand globally. HealthPrize, founded in 2009, had previously raised about $4 million from angel investors including dLife Founder Howard Steinberg and former Advo CEO Robert “Kam” Kamerschen. HealthPrize’s mobile and online offering uses education and rewards to help patient take their medications, while also collecting information like accurate prescription-histories and market research about patients verified to be on particular therapies, for their pharmaceutical customers. Read More 

CareDox raises $2.5 million: New York City-based mobile medical record system CareDox raised $2.5 million. CareDox has raised around $4 million to date. Existing CareDox investors include First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, Band of Angels, and Giza Ventures. Schools and parents can use CareDox’s online and mobile platform to store students’ data. Through the platform, academic institutions will have access to a student’s immunization records, medical history, allergies, medications, and special dietary needs. Read More

TelePharm raises $2.5 million: Iowa-based TelePharm raised $2.5 million from venture capitalist John Pappajohn and Bruce Rastetter, president of the Iowa state Board of Regents. The company, which is also a member of the Rock Health accelerator, will use the funds to scale its business, which connects pharmacists to one another and to patients via cloud-based mobile apps. TelePharm has several different businesses that help pharmacists spread their expertise across multiple pharmacies. This allows local chains with spaced out rural pharmacies to reduce their overhead significantly. Read More

PumpUp raises $2.4 million: Mobile wellness social network developer PumpUp raised $2.4 million in a round led by General Catalyst Partners with additional investments from Azure Capital Partners, Relay Ventures, Freycinet Investments, and angel investors. The company plans to use the funds to hire engineers from Canada and the United States. The app offers users a photo-based social network on which they can share photos of themselves after tough workouts, healthy meals, or other health-related activities. Read More

AdhereTech raises $1.75 million: Smart pill bottle maker AdhereTech raised $1.75 million from undisclosed investors, the company’s first non-seed round. CEO Josh Stein told MobiHealthNews the funding is for a very specific need — redesigning the prototype bottle that AdhereTech has been using in its pilots. AdhereTech’s pill bottles contain sensors and a cellular antenna. The bottles send adherence data to AdhereTech’s servers, which analyze that data in near-real time. When a patient misses a dose, the system can remind them in several ways including a call, a text message, and flashing lights and chimes on the bottle itself. Read More

Axial Healthcare raises $1.75 million: Nashville, Tennessee-based Axial Healthcare raised $1.75 million in a round led by BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and Sandbox Industries, which manage health accelerator Healthbox. Axial will use the funds to develop its partnerships further. Read More

Sense.ly raises $1.25 million: San Francisco-based Sense.ly raised $1.25 million from accelerator Launchpad Digital Health, Eastlink Capital Management, and five angel investors. The company was incubated in mobile operator Orange, but became an independent company in 2013. Sense.ly has developed a “virtual nurse”, called Molly, that provides follow-up care to patients, focusing mostly on those that have chronic diseases. Read More

ChartSpan raises $1 million: Greenville, South Carolina-based ChartSpan has raised $1 million in seed funding in a round led by Byrne Medical’s Don Byrne. The Iron Yard, a digital health accelerator that incubated ChartSpan, also contributed. ChartSpan just recently launched a patient-facing personal health record tool, which, as well as importing records in various electronic formats, can convert paper records into structured data using machine learning and optical character recognition. Read More

Omada Health raises $950,000: San Francisco-based Omada Health has received $950,000 from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) and The Kresge Foundation to expand its prediabetes program, called Prevent, to low income populations in the US. CHCF contributed $450,000 through its CHCF Health Innovation Fund and Kresge Foundation contributed $500,000 through its Social Investment Practice. Omada Health will use the funds to conduct Prevent pilots in certain low income clinics. Omada Health’s program, Prevent, lasts 16 weeks and aims to help those that are at-risk for Type 2 diabetes make positive health behavior changes. Read More

Azumio raises $916,000: Palo Alto, California-based health app maker Azumio raised $916,000. This brings the company’s total announced funding to $3.4 million. Existing Azumio investors include Founders Fund, Accel Partners, and Felicis Ventures. Although Azumio declined to comment on the funding, the filing suggests five investors participated in this round. Azumio has developed 24 apps including Instant Heart Rate, which measures a user’s heart rate by leveraging a smartphone’s camera and flash, Glucose Buddy, which helps users track their glucose intake, and Sleep Time, an alarm clock app that also measures a user’s sleep cycle. Read More

Appian Medical raises $580,000: Severna Park, Maryland-based mobile sleep apnea-focused company Appian Medical raised $580,000 from angel investors to conduct validation studies and apply for FDA 510(k) clearance for its app. Appian CEO Michael Thomas was formerly the CEO of asthma monitoring company iSonea. Appian Medical’s app, called SnoreSounds, uses an algorithm that the company licensed from University of Queensland in Australia. Read More

HelpAround raises $550,000: Israel-based HelpAround, which makes an app that connects people with diabetes in the same immediate area, has raised $550,000 from Windham Venture Partners and angel investors Walter Winshall, Robert Oringer and former Harmonix COO Michael Dornbrook. Windham and the angel investors co-led the round. MobiHealthNews wrote about HelpAround earlier this year at HIMSS, where the company positioned itself as one of the first to bring the “sharing economy” to healthcare — starting with diabetes but eventually moving into other areas like food allergies. Read More

Listrunner raises $500,000: Mountain View-based Listrunner raised $500,000 for its app, which helps physicians stay organized while doing their rounds. The app puts patient notes, lists, and tasks in one place so that physicians can input all information related to their patient while doing their rounds. Listrunner says its app also makes for easier handoff between care providers. Read More

Beddit reaches $8 million: Helsinki, Finland-based Beddit announced that with their most recent round of funding, the company has reached $8 million in funding to date. The round was led by Inventure. Beddit will use the investment to help fund its US and European product distribution in time for the holiday shopping season. Beddit’s sensor uses ballistocardiography to detect individual heartbeats from cardiac contraction forces and breathing rhythm from chest wall movements. Read More

DocSpera raises undisclosed sum: Sunyvale, California-based Compliant Innovations raised an undisclosed sum from Lifeforce Ventures and Attractor Ventures for its online doctor communication platform, called DocSpera. The platform allows surgeons to collaborate with their care teams as well as other physicians before operations and treatments. Providers can use the platform to send messages that contain text, photos, or videos in private groups or private messages. Images and text that might be shared include x-rays and surgery schedules. Read More

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly checks out the Microsoft HoloLens aboard a space station on February 20, 2016. The device is part of NASA's project Sidekick, which is exploring the use of augmented reality to reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency with which astronauts can work in space. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)