Livongo's voice chatbot for hypertension, Apple's Williams talks health, and more digital health briefs

Also: An app for Daylight Saving Time adjustment; VR soccer game simulates vision impairment.
By Dave Muoio and Jonah Comstock
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Livongo previews hypertension chatbot. Chronic condition management company Livongo unveiled a new feature it plans to add to its hypertension offering: a voice-enabled chatbot, powered by Amazon Lex. Livongo announced new feature at the company’s SIGNUM conference for clients and members, which begins today.

With the new system, the voice assistant will deliver “Health Nudges”— such as nutrition suggestions — based on their blood pressure readings.

“Our new Amazon Lex powered cellular blood pressure monitoring system is a great example of the collaborative efforts Livongo is taking to advance healthcare and reach more people who prefer voice as a communication channel,” Dr. Jennifer Schneider, president of Livongo, said in a statement. More at Healthcare IT News.

More health tidbits from Apple. Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams gave a rare public speech last week at Elon University in North Carolina and touched on health and fitness a few different times. According to the Times News, a local paper, Williams told students he had just come from a meeting with cardiologists in New York, and that the next Apple Watch would have an even deeper focus on improving health.

Defending the price of Apple devices during a Q&A, Williams also referred to Apple’s onsite physiology lab that they built to develop the Watch, an undertaking that involved hiring 40 nurses and enlisting 1,000 research participants.

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SleepScore Labs sets sights on DST. SleepScore Labs, the consumer-focused joint venture between ResMed, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Pegasus Capital Advisors, has launched a new app feature focused on helping users adjust to Daylight Savings Time time changes.

“Our body prefers predictability, and it has an expectancy of when to wake up,” said Roy Raymann, VP of sleep science and scientific affairs at SleepScore Labs said in a statement. “The change to Daylight Saving Time (DST) in combination with alarm clocks in the morning, is a forceful wake-up method, in a situation where the body is expecting still to be in sleeping mode. The slow transition to lighter sleep that normally happens before the alarm goes off is fully skipped; and waking up unexpectedly one hour earlier can stress the body and cardiac system. That one hour less of sleep may leave behind a groggy and sleepy feeling behind the wheel during your morning commute. From a health and wellbeing perspective, we should stop switching our clocks twice a year. For the interim, the SleepScore app will help gradually adjust to DST prior to the clock shift, making it easier for the body to adjust to the new timing.”

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Informing care. A new study published in JMIR and supported by kidney care startup Cricket Health suggests that the company’s online education program helped patients with end-stage renal disease make decisions about their care. Following the four-week digital program, all of the 25 participants who completed the study were able to make a choice regarding their care. In addition, researchers observed a significant increase in patient knowledge and self-efficacy.

“Implementation of a digital [end-stage renal disease] education program is feasible and may be effective in facilitating patients’ decisions about renal replacement therapies. Larger studies are necessary to understand whether the program affects clinical outcomes,” the researchers concluded.

CareCloud highlights happy patients. Miami-based EHR and practice management software company CareCloud touted new data this morning highlighting high satisfaction scores and shorter registration times among patients using its Breeze platform. In particular, the patient experience management platform has cut 10 to 15 minutes from registration, while increasing collection rates on patient financial obligations by 5 to 10 percent, according to the company.

“We’ve received very positive feedback on Breeze from our patients who are happy to be done with clipboards, but I’d say the biggest piece that sells Breeze as a platform is the payments technology,” Ron Margalit, chief technology officer of My Doctor Now, a primary care group and CareCloud customer, said in a statement. “Being able to present the patient with the information on their balance during the check-in process allows this information to be addressed discreetly. By handling payment up front, our staff is able to focus check-out on answering questions and talking with the patient about managing their care.”

A leg up on the competition. PatientPop has released a new tool helps independent healthcare practices measure their digital presence against others in their local market. The PatientPop Competitive Scanner skims Google rankings, website performance, online reviews and general web presence to generate reports with concrete scores for the user and their competition. The tool is free, as PatientPop is banking on users reaching out to the company for consultations on how they could improve their online presence.

“The PatientPop Competitive Scanner is the most comprehensive competitive analysis available to practices today,” Luke Kervin, PatientPop cofounder and co-CEO. “It’s 100% free for all practices to use at any time, to see the results of their practice growth and how they’re performing in relation to others in their local market. It empowers them with the right information to grow their practice.”

Through their eyes. Sweden’s Paralympic Committee and Toyota have built a VR soccer game that simulates what it’s like to play a sport with a vision impairment. Developed in consultation with an eye care specialist, players can swap between different levels of impairment. The experience will be on hand to try at para-sports events throughout the year.

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