Welltok-IBM Watson, Carena-Virginia Mason, StartUp Health-Janssen, and 6 other digital health deals

By Jonah Comstock
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Using IBM Watson technology, Welltok has launched a "Virtual Benefits Agent" feature that they will offer to health plans. It's an artificial intellegence agent that can field questions about a health plan like "what is my current deductible?" or "what services are free to me?". The idea is to reduce the call volume during busy times of open enrollment.

"We are just starting to discover the countless ways we can apply cognitive computing to healthcare," Ryan Pellet, senior vice president of consulting and services for Welltok, said in a statement. "We are excited to have addressed a costly and cumbersome issue with our proprietary technology and IBM Watson, and will continue to explore opportunities to simplify the consumer's experience and drive new, more effective ways to engage with and satisfy them." More

Carena, a ​Seattle-based virtual care provider, will work with regional healthcare system Virginia Mason to offer insurance billing to Virginia Mason Virtual Care Clinic patients insured by Regence BlueShield. The first-of-its-kind partnership for Carena will allow 40,000 Virginia Mason patients to have virtual visits paid for by their insurer.

“We are excited to kick off virtual care insurance billing with a trusted partner in our home market,” Carena President and CEO Ralph C. Derrickson said in a statement. “Empowering Regence BlueShield members to apply their insurance benefits for care delivered through Virginia Mason Virtual Clinic opens the door to superb virtual care for even more patients.” More.

Digital health investor and incubator StartUp Health has signed a three year collaboration agreement with Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson division, to give Janssen's senior leaders more direct access to StartUp Health's network of digital health entrepreneurs and innovators.

“It’s an honor to partner with Janssen, one of the world’s most important health companies," Steven Krein, cofounder and CEO of StartUp Health said in a statement. "We believe that the best and fastest way to improve the wellbeing of billions of people is to make it easier for organizations like Janssen to collaborate with the entrepreneurs passionately working on transforming health around the world. This program is an exciting opportunity to make that happen.” More.

New Zealand practice management software maker Gensolve Practice Manager has tapped UK company Physitrak for a telemedicine offering that will provide patient education and telehealth to their customers, who make up 90 percent of the physician market in New Zealand.

“While digital in-practice and remote care are on the agenda of private and public healthcare systems all over the world, very few countries have managed wide implementation of easily accessible and working solutions," Henrik Molin, CEO and cofounder of Physitrack, said in a statement. "Gensolve’s innovative move today, that provides this unique combination of digital home exercise provision and Telehealth technology to what is in effect 90 percent of the New Zealand market, is groundbreaking and we are very excited to be part of this historical move.” More.

Kurbo, a mobile health coaching program aimed at children and teens announced that it would integrate with Fitbit's API to help teen and adult users more easily track exercise and weight in the Kurbo app. Users will be able to incorporate data from Fitbit devices, including the Aria smart scale, into the Kurbo app where that data will also be available to the user's personal health coach.

“By integrating Fitbit’s open API into our app, we have made it that much easier for our teen and adult users who enjoy wearables to track their progress,” Kurbo CEO and cofounder Joanna Strober said in a statement. “It also ensures we have accurate health and activity tracking data in our system to provide useful feedback to our customers.” More.

After offering the service to a few Medicare Advantage members in Arizona last year, Humana is expanding a collaboration with MDLive to make telemedicine services available to Medicare beneficiaries in select counties in Georgia and South Carolina.

“With on-demand services playing a big role in people’s lives today, it’s important that we offer our members access to on-demand care to help reduce some of the primary barriers that prevent people from getting medical care,” Humana’s Regional Medicare President Jim Laughlin said in a statement. “Video and telephonic visits allow our members to receive health care when and where they need it so we can help them achieve their optimal health. For Medicare beneficiaries, getting care when it’s needed may be able to help reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits.” More.

New York Presbyterian as added a new capability to its suite of digital health tools with the integration of American Well into its NYP OnDemand app, offering patients video consultations via two clinic services called Digital Urgent Care and Virtual VisitNow. This is the latest feature in the NYP OnDemand service, which launched in July and has been gradually adding new features.

The key feature of the collaboration is that American Well’s role is relegated to the background. The telemedicine company’s SDK powers the visits, but the experience to the patient is indistinguishable from the rest of NYP OnDemand, and patients can access the health system’s physician network that includes ColumbiaDoctors, Weill Cornell Medicine’s Physician Organization and New York Presbyterian Medical Groups. Instead of requiring patients to download a secondary app or have a virtual interaction with a doctor not familiar to them, patients don’t have to go outside of the NYP OnDemand app to move in between services. More.

Pharmaceutical company Takeda is looking to up its digital strategy game, pairing with a few companies to advance clinical trials, analyze data and develop biosensor and wearable technology.

Takeda has adopted the platform of Koneska Health, an early stage technology company that works with data gathered through mobile, wearable and other digital technologies to measure health indicators, to power some of the pharmaceutical company’s clinical trials using biosensors and wearables. Takeda is also collaborating with German image analysis and data company Definiens for another aspect of clinical trials – tissue analysis. Using Definien’s cloud-based digital pathology platform VeriTrova, which allows for biomarker analysis, Takeda will leverage the technology reduce the normal analysis time from months to weeks. More.

Get Real Health, a  Maryland-based personal health record company, has partnered with Validic to bring patient-generated health data from clinical devices, fitness wearables and digital health apps into its two patient engagement products, InstantPHR and CHBase. Validic's VitalSnap technology will allow Get Real Health to access data from non-connected devices as well. 

“Providers need to fill the gaps in their clinical records with data from patients’ apps and devices,” Get Real Health President and Founding Partner Robin Wiener said in a statement. “By integrating with Validic, our platform becomes even more powerful by allowing patients and providers to take a more active role in recognizing behaviors and taking measures to prevent costly acute problems before they start.” More.nike air max 1 mens