Also: One Drop lands on Walmart store shelves; Mirror unveils in-home private training service.

MA plan reimbursing Apple Watches, $100M health tech fund established and more digital health news briefs

By Dave Muoio
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Medicare Advantage plan reimbursing for Apple Watches. Startup Medicare payer Devoted Health will be offering Apple Watches to its members as a fitness benefit, according to a report from CNBC that MobiHealthNews confirmed with the company. Devoted Health wrote in its marketing materials that it will be covering $150 of the cost of “wearable devices like an Apple Watch” per year alongside other fitness expenses such as workout classes, making it the first Medicare Advantage plan to do so.

We are pleased that CMS agrees that there is a wide variety of ways that older Americans can keep healthy, including fitness and nutrition classes, and activity monitoring devices such as the Apple Watch. We are thrilled to be the first Medicare Advantage plan to collaborate with Apple, and give our members the chance to use their Devoted Health Wellness bucks towards purchasing an Apple Watch,” Kenneth Baer, a spokesperson for Devoted Health, told MobiHealthNews in an email. “Using innovative technologies to improve the quality of care is core to our mission.”

Inbound health tech funding. US and Israel-based Accelmed announced on Monday the establishment of a new $100 million venture capital fund for medical device and digital health investments. Accelmed Ventures II will be managed by Accelmed partners Dr. Irit Yaniv and Amir Blatt, and will seek out Israeli and global pre-revenue startups.

"In the decade since its inception, Accelmed transformed into a dominant player in its ability to identify, develop and commercialize groundbreaking technologies and solutions in the medical device space, due to the knowledge, expertise and varied experience of its managing team in addition to its network of leading players in the industry,” Yaniv said in a statement.

“The deals which we have recently reported attest to this, and to the significant need in expanding our activity to a new VC fund, which will address the current lack of finance in medical devices in particular and in digital health, as well as the increased interest of medical device giants in acquiring novel solutions in advanced development stages, nearing regulatory approval and commercialization. We are already in the advanced stages of evaluating investments in several companies."

One Drop lands on new store shelves. Apple Stores weren’t enough for digital diabetes management company One Drop, which announced this week that its wireless glucose meter kits and supplies are now available for purchase at “hundreds” of Walmart retail locations in the US.

"Access to affordable care options is a huge issue in the United States, and most people struggle with insurance, scheduling, and co-pays,” Jeff Dachis, founder and CEO of One Drop, said in a statement. “Having One Drop available at Walmart stores means that millions of Americans with diabetes can now access real-time support from Certified Diabetes Educators through our easy-to-use platform.”

The system consists of a blood glucose meter, a lancing device, test strips and a mobile app for smartphones and smartwatches. Subscribers to the service receive replacement testing strips through the mail; are able to track their glucose levels, diet, activity and insulin doses through the app. In addition, purchases of the kit come with a year of free access to the company’s certified coaches.

Done sleeping on sleep health? Apple’s silence on any kind of built-in sleep feature for its smartwatch has been surprising, but more signs are cropping up that something may be in the works. This time it’s an App Store listing for the Apple Watch’s Alarms app, which includes image text referencing unannounced “Sleep app.” Highlighted by The Verge, the listing makes it sound as if the unannounced app will work alongside others to offer features such as timed wake-ups or support for multi-Watch owners.

Who’s the fittest of them all? Mirror, a New York City-based fitness platform that streams workout videos and music through a large LCD panel doubling as a usable mirror, has launched a one-on-one personal training feature for its service. Coming in at $40 per session, subscribed members can request an on-demand, two-way audio and visual session with a live trainer matching their workout preferences.

“The launch of one-on-one Personal Training is an integral step in catapulting us towards our goal of building the first media company that owns both a dedicated channel and original content in the home,” Brynn Putnam, founder and CEO of Mirror, said in a statement. “We’re democratizing premium fitness experiences and giving anyone access to the best trainers, no matter where you live or how busy your schedule may be. Most importantly, we’re thrilled about what’s on the horizon. This lays the foundation for MIRROR to expand, and bring people intimate access to experts in other fields — such as fashion, beauty, and medicine — all from the convenience of home.”