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Alphabet makes offer to acquire Fitbit, health industry group releases business deal security assessment and more digital health news briefs

Also: OptimizeRx's new platform consolidates its acquisitions; Weather Channel app launches machine learning flu risk predictor.
By Dave Muoio
04:43 pm

Alphabet serious about health wearables? Alphabet has reportedly put in an unspecified offer to buy out Fitbit, according to anonymous sources talking to Reuters. The news comes roughly a month after another report from the outlet suggesting that the wearables maker had brought on investment firm Qatalyst Partners to explore a potential sale, in which Alphabet was name dropped as a potential buyer of interest.

Fitbit’s stock jumped at the time of yesterday’s news, and today remains in the $5.50-$5.70 range (up from around $4.30 during the days prior). No mention of the offer was made during Alphabet’s Q3 earnings call yesterday, and only time will tell if Fitbit’s executives will address the rumors on their own call that’s expected to be held next week. Prior earnings reports from the wearables maker have outlined below-expectation smartwatch sales, although its health services unit appears to be growing steadily.

A resource for secure system-vendor business deals. Together.Health, a collection of health systems, startups and other stakeholders, has a released a standardized security assessment for health organizations and vendors seeking to collaborate. The free Together Health Security Assessment is built with the end goal of establishing a standardized institutional process for health startups that want to conduct business securely, but face nonuniform requirements from potential partners.

"Ensuring appropriate protection and use of healthcare data is a critical responsibility of health care organizations,” Dr. Adam Landman, CIO of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement. “Currently every health system uses their own, unique security assessment for IT and digital health tools. Together.Health offers a novel approach using the Secure Controls Framework that has significant potential to improve the efficiency of security reviews for both vendors and health care organizations while allowing continued use of existing assessments.”

Acquired and assimilated. Fresh on the heels of its recent RMDY Health acquisition, digital health messaging software maker OptimizeRx has announced a new platform that combines the features of its new additions and services of other business partners. This EHR-integrated offering allows payers and providers one- and two-way communications with patients or carers regarding condition support, medication affordability and adherence support either at the point of care or beyond.

“Following our latest acquisitions where we entered the additional payer and medical device market, we have now brought together all of our existing and newest offerings onto a single platform with touchpoints throughout the care journey,” Steve Silvestro, CCO at OptimizeRx, said in a statement. “This comprehensive solution further lowers the barriers that have prevented providers and healthcare consumers from achieving the best possible care outcomes.”

Forecasts of flu. The Weather Company, a subsidiary of IBM, is updating its Weather Channel app with a machine learning feature that predicts the users risk of contracting influenza. Called Flu Insights with Watson, the tool incorporates data from the CDC, the Weather Company, and IBM’s Truven Health Analytics to localize its predictions down to the user’s zip code.

You've heard of "Find my Phone..." Inhaler users who often misplace their medication dispenser are in luck — Propeller Health has added a new feature to its connected inhalers that will help forgetful asthma or COPD patients track down their lost device. Much like similar products made for car keys, users will be able to press a button within the Propeller app that will trigger a ringing sound from the inhaler.

“We heard from our users that it’s easy to misplace an inhaler, whether it’s in a purse, down the side of a chair or in a coat pocket,” Greg Tracy, chief technology officer of Propeller Health, said in a statement. “This update to Find My Inhaler is intended to make it quick and easy for users to find their inhaler with the same tool they use to manage their condition every day.”


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