98point6 raises $50M to grow text-based primary care service
SEATTLE – 98point6 has raised $50 million in new funding to scale its text-based primary care service, grow its physician teams and expand the capabilities of its platform. The company has raised a total of $86.1 million since its beginnings in 2015. “We set out to make primary care accessible and affordable for everyone, to address a crisis in America that has led to nearly one-fifth of the population not having a relationship with primary care,” said Robbie Cape, CEO and co-founder of 98point6, in a statement. “The phenomenal demand we’ve seen in just a short period of time reaffirms the need for 98point6, and this latest investment will enable us to deliver on our vision, driving deep engagement with our patients and empowering them to take control of their health.” 98point6 combines artificial intelligence with board-certified physicians to deliver care to a patient’s smartphone. The technology automates and completes tasks that don’t require direct physician interaction, allowing them to focus their time on treating more patients. The new funding will also allow 98point6 to expand into new markets, including health plans, health systems and higher education, said Cape.
MediSprout integrates with Alexa, Withings
NEW YORK – MediSprout’s V2MD telehealth platform will now integrate with Amazon Alexa for patient scheduling and Withings for integration with its wireless blood pressure monitor. These integrations will allow patients to schedule video appointments with their physician’s offices through simple voice commands and to share blood pressure information. “Telehealth is the fastest growing technology in the health care space because it allows physicians to use their time more wisely,” said Dr. Samant Virk, founder and CEO of MediSprout, in a statement. “By leveraging video calls to fill late or canceled appointments and schedule after-hour and follow up calls, the doctor’s office has created efficiencies and enabled better overall care while turning callbacks and traditionally non-billable time into a new source of revenue.”
MediSprout’s V2MD is a secure two-way video communication solution that connects doctors with their own patients.
AAKP partners with VA to test nutrition app
TAMPA, Fla. – The American Association of Kidney Patients is partnering with the American Society of Nephrology and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit patients to test a new nutrition mobile app for veterans and other individuals managing kidney disease. The MyKidneyNutrition app will allow patients to track daily activities, including nutrition, fitness and medication information. “Participating in the testing of this mobile app is an important step in making a real difference in the future of kidney care for both veterans and other individuals impacted by kidney disease,” said Edward Hickey III, chairman of AAKP Veterans Health Initiative, in a statement. “Veterans are natural consumers of technology and the ability to use a new tool to manage their kidney health is a welcome innovation.”
CoachCare launches pain management platform
NEW YORK – Digital health care startup CoachCare has introduced a digital pain management platform for health providers that features a custom-branded patient mobile app, clinical dashboard, and connected proprietary trackers and scales to help monitor patient progress and treatment. “We launched into the chiropractic space last month, and were met with serious excitement and interest in our new pain tracking feature,” said Wes Haydon, president of CoachCare, in a statement. “We expect the same reaction from pain management practitioners who are looking for better ways to monitor and treat their patients away from the office, while also improving their outcomes.” The company plans to add video conferencing and a content library to the platform by the end of this year.
Eko, Mayo Clinic seek to ‘transform the stethoscope’
BERKELEY, Calif. – Eko, creators of a heart and lung monitoring platform that combines non-invasive cardiac sensors with machine learning, is collaborating with Mayo Clinic to develop and commercialize technology that will help physicians detect patients with heart disease. The data-driven technology uses machine learning and a smart digital stethoscope to screen patients for the presence of a low ejection fraction (a weak heart pump). “With this collaboration we hope to transform the stethoscope in the pocket of every physician and nurse from a hand tool to a power tool,” said Dr. Paul Friedman, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in a statement. “The community practitioner performing high school sports physicals and the surgeon about to operate may be able to seamlessly tap the knowledge of an experienced cardiologist to determine if a weak heart pump is present simply by putting a stethoscope on a person’s chest for a few seconds.” The technology leverages Mayo Clinic’s cardiovascular database and expertise in medical artificial intelligence and heart disease screening, and combines it with Eko’s cardiac monitoring platform. With the new algorithm, patients can be screened immediately by any health care provider. “By co-developing this technology, we can combine the knowledge of millions of ECGs and health care screenings to get an almost instantaneous snapshot of a patient’s heart,” said Connor Landgraf, CEO of Eko, in a statement. Eko plans to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the technology after running clinical studies with Mayo Clinic to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the algorithms for in-clinic screening.
Online tool helps myeloma patients find best treatments
SALT LAKE CITY – Patient advocacy and research group The Myeloma Crowd, a division of the nonprofit CrowdCare Foundation, has launched an online tool to help multiple myeloma patients find their best myeloma treatments and accelerate research toward a cure. Using the tool, called HealthTree, patients can track their myeloma lab values across all treatments, see personally relevant treatment options they could consider, view collective reports of anonymized data, find personally relevant clinical trials, and contribute de-identified data to be aggregated for review by myeloma researchers and the patient community. “The health care industry still acts as if the Internet doesn’t exist with every patient having to reinvent the wheel to learn about their disease,” said Jenny Ahlstrom, developer of the tool, in a statement. “HealthTree gives the 80% of patients not seeing a myeloma specialist access to information from the experts that they can share with their doctor. Patients could be living years longer with today’s wide range of therapies if they received the right treatment at the right time.” Using machine learning, HealthTree can identify patterns that could inform treatment decisions, improve patient outcomes and advance a cure for myeloma. Ahlstrom and her husband and co-developer, Paul Ahlstrom, plan to expand HealthTree to other types of cancer and terminal diseases in the future.
AI makes Cleveland Clinic list of top medical innovations to watch in 2019
CLEVELAND – Artificial intelligence is one of the technologies that will enhance healing and change health care in the coming year, according to the Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Medical Innovations of 2019 list. The list was announced at Cleveland Clinic Innovations’ recent 2018 Medical Innovation Summit. “In health care, AI is changing the game with its applications in decision support, image analysis and patient triage,” said Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic, in a statement. “Today, artificial intelligence is helping physicians make smarter decisions at the point of care, improving the ease and accuracy of viewing patient scans and reducing physician burnout. With AI’s continued integration into health care, caring for patients has become a matter of working smarter, not harder.” Other innovations on the annual list include: pharmacogenomic testing, an expanded window for acute stroke intervention, virtual and mixed reality for medical education, and 3D printing of patient-specific medical devices.
LabCorp integrates with iPhone Health Records
BURLINGTON, N.C. – Patients who have a LabCorp patient account can now access their lab test results through Health Records on iPhone. “Our strategy to support the increasingly engaged health care consumer is a critical part of our mission to improve health and improve lives,” said David King, chairman and CEO of LabCorp, a medical technology company, in a statement. “LabCorp on Health Records will help provide health care consumers with a more holistic view of their health. Laboratory test results are central to medical decision making, and broadening access to this information will help patients take charge of their health and wellness, and lead to more informed dialogues between patients and their healthcare providers.” In addition to their LabCorp test results, patients will have information from participating health care institutions organized into one view, covering allergies, medical conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals. Patients will receive notifications when their data is updated.
Livongo launches Applied Health Signals
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Livongo, a digital health company for people with chronic conditions, has launched a line of products and services aimed at combining data science, behavior enablement and clinical impact to help make it easier for people to stay healthy. The company’s Applied Health Signals includes a voice-enabled cellular blood pressure monitoring system, free medication incentives for eligible members, and a number of new data science capabilities and partnerships with companies like Medisafe, Abbott and Lilly. “It’s exciting to introduce products that change the way people think about and experience chronic conditions,” said Amar Kendale, chief product officer at Livongo, in a statement. “We are making health care less noisy and paving the way for meaningful and measurable change. That’s what Applied Health Signals is all about.” Livongo’s voice-enabled blood pressure system and co-pay incentive programs will be made available to members in 2019.
mHealth study draws big numbers, journal says
STANFORD, Calif. – More than 400,000 people have enrolled in a study being conducted by researchers at Stanford Medicine and Apple to determine whether a mobile app that uses the optical sensor on the Apple Watch to analyze pulse rate data can identify atrial fibrillation. An update on the study, which began last November, was published recently in an online paper in the American Heart Journal. “We hope this study will help us better understand how wearable technologies can inform precision health,” said Dr. Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford’s School of Medicine, in a statement. “These new tools, which have the potential to predict, prevent and manage disease, are finally within our reach.” Study participants use an app on their iPhone to intermittently check the heart-rate pulse sensor for measurements of an irregular pulse. If sufficient episodes of an irregular pulse are detected, then the participant receives a notification and is asked to schedule a visit with a doctor involved in the study. Participants are then sent electrocardiography patches that record the electrical rhythm of their hearts for up to a week. The researchers wrote that the study has entered the final phase of data collection and will be completed early next year.
Sonora Quest Laboratories, uMETHOD Health partner on Alzheimer’s disease platform
TEMPE, Ariz. – Sonora Quest Laboratories, a provider of diagnostic testing and information services, is partnering with uMETHOD Health on an artificial intelligence-based platform for Alzheimer’s disease. Through the partnership, health care providers will have access to the RestoreU METHOD via Sonora Quest for their patients experiencing memory loss. The platform includes lab tests and individualized care plans to assess and minimize the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and to help slow the progress of the disease in its early stages. “We believe this partnership furthers our mission to offer innovative solutions that empower health care providers and patients with the necessary tools to improve outcomes,” said Christina Noble, chief growth officer at Sonora Quest Laboratories, in a statement. The RestoreU METHOD provides a personalized combination approach by using AI to interpret data from a patient’s bio-specimens, demographics, medical history, lifestyle and more. The technology matches the data against scientific research on Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in individualized plans that help doctors manage or slow the progress of the disease. Sonora Quest Laboratories is a joint venture between Banner Health and Quest Diagnostics.
DTA defines digital therapeutics in recent whitepaper
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Digital Therapeutics Alliance has released a whitepaper that seeks to define digital therapeutics (DTx), create industry best practices and share examples of DTx products currently on the market or under development.
In the paper, the group defines digital health as “all technologies that engage patients for health-related purpose,” then explains that DTx products “form an independent category of evidence-based products within the broader digital health landscape.” DTx products are distinguished from other digital health categories through their primary function of delivering software-generated therapeutic interventions directly to patients to prevent, manage or treat a medical disorder or disease, the paper’s authors wrote.
The authors of the paper wrote that the benefits of DTx products include: delivering reliable, evidenced-based interventions with a high control of quality; increasing access to therapies that are clinically demonstrated as safe and effective; and personalizing care based on individual patients’ needs and abilities.
Following the release of the whitepaper, the DTA plans to continue developing best practices and frameworks around digital therapeutics.
“The growth of the digital therapeutic industry will be dramatic over the next 18 months, resulting in major impacts for users, organizations and the health care industry,” wrote the authors. “The integration of digital therapeutics into health care is no longer a theoretical conversation.” DTA launched in October 2017 through a collaboration of four digital therapeutics companies—Akili Interactive, Propeller Health, Voluntis and WellDoc—with the mission of broadening the understanding, adoption and integration of clinically-validated digital therapeutics into healthcare through education, advocacy and research.
Amazon launches brand of consumer medical devices
SEATTLE – Amazon has launched a brand of consumer-use medical devices for diabetes and hypertension management.
The new Choice brand will include a range of blood glucose monitors and blood pressure monitors, both with supporting mobile apps that offer measurement tracking, data mobility and reminders.
“The Choice brand is all about accessible wellness,” said Bob Guest, CEO of Arcadia Group, which is developing the Choice brand for Amazon, in a statement. “Now, in the privacy of their home, consumers can review, compare and purchase the products of their choice—no insurance is required. Choice is freedom.”
The Choice brand will offer both conventional models and devices enabled with Bluetooth connectivity features.
“Over time we intend to incorporate voice driven measurement interpretation as well as individualize wellness recommendations,” Guest said. “This is all possible with Alexa, and will provide patients with a wellness experience not available until now.”