At-home testing platform attracts $12M
DUBLIN and NEW YORK – LetsGetChecked, a medical health testing platform that allows customers to access regulated laboratory testing and self-test from home, has raised $12 million in Series A funding to scale the company, fuel development of the platform and grow the full clinical support team. “With easier access to testing, individuals can change how and when they are diagnosed, leading to better clinical outcomes,” said Peter Foley, founder of LetsGetChecked, in a statement. “Our goal is to provide individuals with greater control of their health through accessible technology and to continue partnering with more labs and health systems to bring more specialized testing direct to consumers.” The company’s portfolio of testing options includes lifestyle testing, cancer screening, sexual health testing, and fertility and hormone testing. A user can order a physician approved laboratory test online and receive it within a matter of days. The test-kits are completely anonymous, containing only a patient identifier to maintain privacy and confidentiality, and all patient requests and results are reviewed by a board- certified physician. If a patient receives positive or out of range results a member of the nursing team contacts the patient to provide support. Only after that call has been completed will results be released to the patient’s dashboard, where they can track and manage their results over time.
MIT engineers develop kirigami-inspired adhesive film
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a film that can stick to highly deformable regions of the body, like the knee and elbow, and maintain its hold after 100 bending cycles. The film features a series of slits cut into it, inspired by the Asian art of kirigami, which involves cutting and folding paper. The cuts in the film give it not only stretch, but also better grip, the researchers said in a paper published recently in the journal Soft Matter. “Currently in the soft electronics field, people mostly attach devices to regions with small deformations, but not in areas with large deformations, such as joint regions, because they would detach,” said Ruike Zhao, one of the engineers. “I think kirigami film is one solution to this problem commonly found in adhesives and soft electronics.” The engineers said that potential applications for the film include adhesive bandages, heating pads and wearable electronics. The team is now exploring other materials on which to pattern kirigami cuts. “The current films are purely elastomers,” Ruike said. “We want to change the film material to gels, which can directly diffuse medicine into the skin. That’s our next step.”
Bigfoot Biomedical to advance digital diabetes solution with $55M
MILPITAS, Calif. – Digital diabetes solution provider Bigfoot Biomedical has raised $55 million in Series B funding to support ongoing product development, clinical trials and commercialization for its Class III investigational systems. Those systsms include Bigfoot Loop, an infusion pump-based closed loop automated insulin delivery system; and Bigfoot Inject, a connected insulin pen-based decision support system for people on injection therapy. The round included funding from Abbott, which partnered with Bigfoot last summer to develop and commercialize diabetes management systems. The two companies integrated the Abbott FreeStyle Libre glucose-sensing technology as the centerpiece for glucose monitoring capabilities within Bigfoot’s ecosystem of insulin delivery solutions. “Abbott’s inclusion in our financing speaks to our two companies’ alignment of vision for changing the paradigm of care for people with insulin-requiring diabetes,” said Jeffrey Brewer, president and CEO of Bigfoot Biomedical, in a statement.
YouThisMe expands platform to support additional devices
HUDSON, N.Y. – YouThisMe has expanded its remote patient monitoring technology platform to support iOS-compatible biometric devices, including pulse oximeters made by Nonin Medical, and digital scales and blood-pressure cuffs from A&D Company. YouThisMe also enhanced the security of its platform and implemented design improvements to the user interface. “We have created a greater level of choice and flexibility for providers that are implementing remote patient monitoring systems for their patient populations,” said Seth Lachterman, a partner and co-founder of YouThisMe, in a statement. “By using these biometric devices, which connect to a smartphone or tablet computer through a Bluetooth, low-energy wireless interface, the YouThisMe platform is able to read patients’ vital signs directly, without the need for a third-party app.” YouThisMe’s integrated software and hardware solution helps providers manage the vital signs of homebound, chronically ill patients. The company also recently partnered with Denmark-based OpenTelehealth to develop a platform with the iOS mobile operating system.
Witty takes lead at Optum; Renfro heads up Optum Ventures
MINNEAPOLIS – Andrew Witty has been named CEO of UnitedHealth Group’s health information and technology firm, Optum, effective July 1. The company’s CEO, Larry Renfro, will take the lead of UnitedHealth Group’s enterprise growth efforts through Optum Ventures. Witty is the former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline and has served as a member of the UnitedHealth Group board of directors since 2017. Renfro will focus his work on UnitedHealth Group’s growth priorities. He will help accelerate the company’s innovation capacities and reach as managing partner of Optum Ventures, a series of domestic and international funds, including a new, $100 million Global Fund, dedicated to emerging and advanced technology, data analytics and health care services companies with transformative capabilities. Renfro joined UnitedHealth Group in 2009 as CEO for the Public and Seniors Market Group before becoming CEO of Optum in 2011 and also vice chairman in 2014. “I am both excited and grateful that Larry will partner with me at the enterprise level, dedicating his talents to strengthening our present day growth agenda and future capability development and strengthening of Optum through early-stage investing at Optum Ventures,” said David Wichmann, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, in a statement. “We are deeply fortunate in Andrew Witty to have the right person to extend Optum’s momentum and lead the business in its next phase of growth.” Following his new appointment, Witty will step down from the UnitedHealth Group board of directors, effective immediately.
Microsoft recognizes Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, Oneview Healthcare for health innovation
RANDWICK, Australia – Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and Oneview Healthcare were recently named recipients of Microsoft’s 2018 Health Innovation Award for Engage Your Patients. The award recognizes health organizations and their technology solution partners for using Microsoft’s Azure technology in innovative ways that help engage patients, empower care teams, optimize clinical and operational effectiveness, and transform health. “The health industry is undergoing a digital transformation in which intelligent health technologies are helping organizations, communities and individuals improve care by helping them better understand and share information,” said Chris Sakalosky, vice president, U.S. Health & Life Sciences, Microsoft, in a statement. “This year’s Microsoft Health Innovation Award recipients are advancing the goals of improved patient engagement and care coordination through their pioneering use of Microsoft devices, platforms and cloud and AI services.” Oneview Healthcare’s My Health Memory mobile app allows patients and their families to communicate with health care teams, access education, confirm/schedule appointments and share health information. “We are all incredibly excited about the difference this application can make globally to patients, their loved ones and their caregivers,” said James Fitter, CEO of Oneview Healthcare, in a statement. “This sort of consumer centric innovation is embarrassingly overdue in the health care industry.” The app has been deployed at Sydney Children’s, the largest network of hospitals and services for children in Australia. “Oneview Connect has opened new horizons in sharing between our patients and our clinicians or clinical teams,” said Cheryl McCullagh, director of clinical integration at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, in a statement. “We’re not just giving our patients data, we’re giving them contextualized data they can act on and someone they can talk to about it.”
Johannesson to lead Glooko
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. & GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Digital diabetes management provider Glooko has appointed Russ Johannesson as its new CEO. Outgoing CEO Rick Altingerwill remain with Glooko as the executive vice president of corporate development. Johannesson recently served as COO of Sharecare and prior to that was chief client officer of OptumHealth. “Digital health solutions have a proven impact for people with chronic diseases like diabetes, and Glooko is driving real results among the patients and providers who use it,” said Johannesson in a statement. “I am thrilled to be a part of a company with such a strong team, mission and product,” he continued. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Glooko’s first clinical therapeutics application built on the Glooko platform, the Mobile Insulin Dosing System.
Kaiku Health lands $5.4M for international expansion of digital therapeutics
LAUSANNE, Switzerland and HELSINKI, Finland – Digital health company Kaiku Health, which provides intelligent patient monitoring software for health care providers across Europe, has raised $5.4 million. The company will use the funding to advance its international expansion and to further develop its line of digital therapeutics; it plans to conduct several clinical trials this year to validate the digital therapeutics. “We have seen the significant positive impact our patient monitoring platform can have on people’s health,” said Lauri Sippola, co-founder and CEO of Kaiku Health, in a statement. “This funding allows us to provide our platform to a growing number of health care providers and patients internationally.” The Kaiku Health platform is currently used in routine care by over 30 clinics in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Finland.
FDA approves Medtronic’s CGM system
DUBLIN – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Medtronic’s Guardian Connect continuous glucose monitoring system for adults with diabetes. The system is a smart standalone CGM system to help people with diabetes stay ahead of high and low glucose events by alerting patients of potential high or low glucose events up to 60 minutes in advance. Guardian Connect, which uses the company’s Guardian Sensor 3 to power the hybrid closed loop system, was proven in a clinical study to accurately alert patients of 98.5% of hypoglycemic events. Caregivers can use the system to stay more informed about their loved ones with diabetes as well by tracking glucose in real-time or receiving text alerts. People using the Guardian Connect system also have access to the company’s Sugar.IQ smart diabetes assistant, which uses artificial intelligence technology from IBM Watson Health to continually analyze how an individual’s glucose levels respond to their food intake, insulin dosages, daily routines and other factors. “The FDA approval of the Guardian Connect system fills a key gap that exists in diabetes treatment today—how to predict dangerous glucose highs and lows so they can be potentially avoided,” said Annette Brüls, president, Diabetes Service and Solutions at Medtronic, in a statement. “The Guardian Connect system enables people to proactively manage their diabetes, so they can focus on living their life, not constantly worrying about their glucose levels.”
Travelers, Samsung, Cedars-Sinai partner on pain management with VR study
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Travelers insurance company is collaborating with Cedars-Sinai, Samsung Electronics America and Bayer to explore the effectiveness of a digital pain-reduction kit that uses therapeutic virtual reality and wearable technology as a non-pharmacological supplement to managing pain associated with acute orthopaedic injuries of the lower back and extremities. Cedars-Sinai’s Center for Outcomes Research and Education and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery will conduct a clinical research project over 16 months to improve outcomes for injured workers by leveraging VR technology. “Identifying new, non-pharmacologic alternatives for pain management can help an injured employee avoid chronic pain, lower the chances that they will develop a dangerous opioid addiction and reduce medical costs,” said Dr. Melissa Burke, national pharmacy director at Travelers, in a statement. The digital pain-reduction kit to be used in the trial consists of a Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, headset; Samsung GearFit2 wearable; therapeutic pain management content, powered by biosensors provided by appliedVR; and an Aleve Direct Therapy transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device, provided by Bayer. The kit will measure day-to-day functional status, work productivity and the use of pain medication of participants. “Health technology like virtual reality has tremendous potential to improve outcomes while saving costs, which is why we’re so excited about this collaboration among academia and industry,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai, in a statement.
Livongo, Cambia Health Solutions partner
PORTLAND, Ore., and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Nonprofit health insurance provider Cambia Health Solutions and Livongo Health are partnering to make Livongo’s digital diabetes solution available to Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The companies will then expand their partnership to co-develop solutions that personalize care for conditions like hypertension and integrated behavioral health. “We see great potential in collaborating with Livongo to transform the experience Americans have in health and in sickness,” said Mark Ganz, president and CEO of Cambia Health Solutions, in a statement. As part of the partnership, Echo Health Ventures, the digital health investment company jointly owned by Cambia and Mosaic Health Solutions, has made a strategic investment in Livongo. “We’re energized by the opportunity to partner with Cambia and expand the reach and impact of our ‘whole person’ approach to health and health care,” said Glen Tullman, CEO of Livongo, in a statement. Livongo has also raised $105 million in new funding to support market growth, continued investment in data science, deeper integration with clients and partners, and the development of the company’s comprehensive consumer platform.
Global Kinetics receives $7.7M to commercialize wearable
MELBOURNE, Australia – Global Kinetics has received $7.7 million from the Australian federal government’s Biomedical Translation Fund to commercialize its Parkinson’s KinetiGraph wearable. The company also announced funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation, as well as Shake It Up Australia Foundation and Parkinson’s Victoria, to support a clinical study using Global Kinetics PKG technology. The trial is aimed at “sparking a paradigm shift in the treatment and management of Parkinson’s disease,” said John Schellhorn, Global Kinetics CEO, in a statement. “The defining feature of our technology is that it is already used every day to help people with Parkinson’s. Target ranges are the next evolution in the use of wearables to extend the benefits of measurement to people with Parkinson’s who have the greatest need for support.”
Duke launches Apple ResearchKit MS study
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University’s Center for Research in Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis (DREAMS Center) has launched the MS Mosaic Study, an Apple ResearchKit study that uses mobile technology to understand why some people with multiple sclerosis experience different symptoms than others, and why symptoms and side effects can vary over time.
MS Mosaic is an iPhone app that uses a mix of surveys and tasks that use phone sensors or wearable devices to collect and track the user’s health and symptoms of MS. The insights gained from this study may help customize symptom management and perhaps eventually influence all MS care, the researchers said on the MS Mosaic website.
The study’s goals are: To learn about the variations of MS; to improve the way MS is described and managed; to learn how mobile devices and sensors can help the DREAMS Center measure MS and its progression; and to ultimately improve the quality of life for people with MS.
Study participants will receive notices on their phone asking to complete the surveys and tasks like walking 25 steps, turning around, then walking 25 steps back, while holding their iPhone to assess gait; tapping on the iPhone screen repeatedly to test motor speed and coordination; moving a virtual peg across their phone screen; and playing a short pattern game to assess short-term memory.
Wearable patch may help detect hypoglycemia, researchers find
CHICAGO – A wearable patch can detect hypoglycemia in patients with Type 1 diabetes, according to research presented recently at the Encocrine Society’s annual meeting.
Researchers at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands studied the use of VitalConnect’s HealthPatch to determine if a continuous monitor could detect hypoglycemia, Hypoglycemia, which speeds the heart rate and alters heart rate variability, and alert patients earlier.
“Timely detection of impending hypoglycemia is critical to avoid severe, potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia,” said Dr. Marleen Olde Bekkink, one of the researchers, in a statement. “Our proof-of-principle study found that measuring heart rate variability using a wearable device in an outpatient setting seems promising for alerting to upcoming hypoglycemia.”
Study subjects wore the adhesive patch on their chest, as well as a continuous glucose meter, for five days at home. They recorded any low blood sugar level, verified by fingerstick measurement.
The patient’s heart rate data was transmitted wirelessly to an iPad or iPod, and researchers used an algorithm they developed to determine various parameters of heart rate variability. They conducted their primary analysis on 39 hypoglycemic events that occurred in 10 subjects and found that the algorithm detected clear patterns of change in heart rate variability at the start of hypoglycemia in 72% of the subjects.
Olde Bekkink said the team of researchers will now refine the algorithm to increase its accuracy and precision before being able to use the biosensor in daily practice for patients. Future developments will include creating a smartphone hypoglycemia alert.
Rice University students develop Parkinson’s app using augmented reality technology
HOUSTON – Engineering students at Rice University have designed a mobile app to help patients with Parkinson’s disease.
The app can help patients overcome a symptom known as “freezing,” in which the legs temporarily refuse to follow the brain’s command to lift and move forward.
For many patients, researchers have found that visual, audio or vibratory cues can help them overcome freezing. The app incorporates augmented reality technology, allowing the user to point the phone at the floor or sidewalk and trigger it to place the image of a block, circle or other object where his or her foot should land. That visual cue is often enough to allow patients to initiate their gait.
The Stairway to Stability app can also provide audio or sensory cues through the phone’s sound and vibration capabilities.
“This is for patients who, in their day-to-day lives, experience freezing episodes,” said Gaby Perez, one of the student engineers, in a statement. “There are a couple of devices on the market to help them, but none of them incorporate all three kinds of cues.”
The students said the app has the potential to work more effectively at a significantly lower cost than current solutions for patients, like a cane with a laser attachment.
Because some patients may also experience tremors in their hands, the team created a lanyard phone case that a patient can wear to make the phone easier to manipulate.
The team worked with the Houston Area Parkinson Society to recruit patients who are helping them test the app at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.
“Our goal right now is to prove that the concept of augmented reality can be used in a therapeutic context, while maintaining the user-friendly nature of smartphones,” said Dan Burke, another engineering student, in a statement.