Rally launches new consumer wellness platform, Apple AR rumors and more digital health news briefs

Also: Lyft integrates blockchain platform for medical transports; Owkin's new funding, hire.
By Dave Muoio
03:04 pm
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Rally’s new benefits platform. This weekend at SXSW, Rally Health announced the launch of a new digital, consumer-focused wellness platform. The system helps users view, access and manage their employee benefits within a single interface, while offering employers a tool to drive health engagement.

“Today we’re taking our Rally platform to a new level by making traditionally disparate elements of the health and health care ecosystem work together seamlessly in a unified consumer experience — even across multiple health plans,” David Ko, president and COO of Rally Health, said in a statement. “The easier it is for employees to engage in their health and take actions to manage and improve it, the greater the opportunity for employers to maintain a high-performance workforce, reduce health care spending and improve business metrics. It’s a win-win proposition for employees and employers.”

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Apple AR. Production on an Apple augmented reality product will enter mass production as early as this year, or by mid-2020 at the latest, according to an analyst cited by 9To5Mac. The AR glasses will primarily act as a display, according to the analyst, with much of the computing, rendering and other supporting tasks handled by the wearer’s iPhone.

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Blockchain comes to medical rideshares. Lyft’s non-emergency healthcare transportation business will receive a blockchain boost thanks to a recently announced integration with Solve.Care’s tech. Going forward, Care.Wallet users will be able to use the blockchain platform — which usually helps manage healthcare coordination, administration and payments — to schedule non-emergency trips to the doctor’s office, hospitals and pharmacies.

“Solve.Care is continuously working to offer better access to medical care,” Pradeep Goel, CEO of Solve.Care, said in a statement. “By partnering with Lyft, our platform will provide a more efficient and seamless experience for patients and enable payers, employers, and other agencies to improve patient satisfaction through timely access to care, reduced wait times, and simpler cost-sharing and access to transportation subsidies.”

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Smog watch. King’s College London and the British Safety Council have launched an app that tracks outdoor air pollution and warns outdoor workers of exposure that exceeds WHO guidelines. The app uses GPS to calculate exposure on a rough hourly basis, and suggests tips for keeping it in check.

"The app gathers data from the London network, which is the most advanced urban air quality monitoring network in the world,” Andrew Grieve, senior air quality analyst at King’s College London, said in a statement. “We hope that information provided by the app can be used to inform health risk assessments and contribute to scheduling work that reduces exposure. Crucially it can also help employers and workers to monitor their progress in avoiding unhealthy levels of pollution.”

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Medical research startup’s new funding. Last week New York City-based Owkin, which uses machine learning to enhance biomedical research, announced a new funding round led by F-Prime Capital and Eight Roads Ventures, with participation from GV, Cathay Innovation and NJF Capital. The startup did not specify how much it raised or how the funding would be deployed, but did highlight the appointment of Parker Moss, F-Prime Capital and Eight Roads’ entrepreneur in residence, as its chief business officer.

“Understanding the ‘ground truth’ of disease biology is the key to improving survival and reducing treatment toxicity for some of our most complex and devastating diseases… that ‘truth’ lies within the study of human data,” Moss said in a statement. “I am proud to be joining Owkin’s world class team of clinicians, life scientists, data scientists and engineers who have created a new model of collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare sector. By analyzing human data through our federated network of hospitals, we will accelerate the pace of research, protect patient privacy by never taking data out of the hospital, and share the rewards of our research with our hospitals partners.”

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