GreatCall launches new smartphone
SAN DIEGO – GreatCall has introduced the Jitterbug Smart2 smartphone for seniors. The Smart2 features a new custom user interface designed exclusively for GreatCall customers, with support from GreatCall’s health and safety services, and access to 5Star Urgent Response. “As the needs of our customers change—whether they’re family caregivers or older adults—our products evolve and adapt, as well,” said David Inns, CEO of GreatCall, in a statement. “We wanted to be certain that we not only understood our customers’ needs, but met and exceeded them by customizing every part of the experience possible—the user interface, the hardware, the software and the services provided.” The home screen of the Smart2 features a list of top features, bigger words, higher contrast and larger touch areas. The 5Star button has a dedicated space on the home screen—and every screen—for fast access to urgent response services.
Outset Medical raises $76M for mobile dialysis
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Outset Medical has raised $76.5 million in Series C equity funding. Outset’s technology, the Tablo Hemodialysis System can be used across a range of clinical settings from dialysis clinics to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. The company will use proceeds from the financing to expand the commercial introduction of the Tablo System in acute and chronic care markets in the United States. Using sensor-based automation, wireless data transmission and a touchscreen interface, Tablo was created to feel and function more like a consumer product than a medical device, said Leslie Trigg, CEO of Outset Medical, in a statement. In the dialysis clinic setting, Tablo’s simplicity and small size allows for a new “self-serve” dialysis model in which patients can set up and monitor their own treatment independently without relying on clinic staff. The self-serve option empowers patients to take more control and ownership of their treatment, and can help create cost efficiencies for dialysis providers. The system connects directly to regular tap water, purifies it on demand and generates streaming dialysis fluid in real-time, while the patient is dialyzing. Because centralized water processing equipment is not required, Tablo expands the settings in which dialysis can be efficiently delivered, and can reduce costs in settings such as hospitals and extended care facilities. “This funding will provide the resources needed to scale our launch and brings us a step closer to making a significant and lasting impact on dialysis care,” said Trigg.
Rostom back to GetWell Network as CFO
WASHINGTON – Nazir Rostom has rejoined digital patient engagement platform provider GetWell Network as CFO. “I’m thrilled to have Nazir back on our team,” said Michael O’Neil, founder and CEO of GetWell Network, in a statement. “He was instrumental in developing our business infrastructure as vice president of finance back in 2014 to 2016. Now, his global financial operations expertise will be critical to GetWellNetwork’s continued expansion into international markets.” Rostom returns to GetWell Network from RLJ Entertainment.
Cricket Health raises $24M for tech-enabled kidney care
SAN FRANCISCO – Cricket Health has closed a Series A funding round of $24 million to expand its technology-enabled programs and its clinical footprint. “Our mission at Cricket is to reduce the burden of kidney disease and put patients back in control of their lives with care that is cost-effective, keeps them healthy, and gives them hope for the future,” said Arvind Rajan, CEO of Cricket Health, a provider of integrated nephrology and dialysis care to chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease patients that aims to keep them healthy, at home and out of the hospital. Cricket Health works with risk-bearing payers and health systems to identify high-risk patients before kidney failure and focuses on preserving kidney function as long as possible. Their treatment plan combines in one provider: a nephrology practice that provides remote, in-person and at-home care; a multidisciplinary care team to coordinate care and manage outcomes; state-of-the-art technology to provide patient education and 24-7 peer and clinical support; and dialysis care either at home or in redesigned centers that put patient empowerment first.
Desert Oasis Healthcare teams up with Proteus for digital medicine
PALM SPRINGS & REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Desert Oasis Healthcare and Proteus Digital Health are collaborating to develop a “digital pathway” to improved medication adherence, demonstrated improvements in clinical outcomes, and reductions in hospital admissions for DOHC patients through Proteus’ digital medicines. Digital medicines include widely used drugs, formulated so they communicate when they have been ingested. The medicines work through: a wearable patch that detects medicines and captures physiologic response; mobile applications to support patient self-care and physician decision-making; and data analytics to serve the needs of health system managers. “The value-based contract with Desert Oasis Healthcare means they reduce hospital admissions for their patients through greater health outcomes based on measured high levels of adherence to key cardiovascular and metabolic digital medicines, as well as control of blood pressure and hemoglobin A1c,” said Joe McKenna, vice president of customer partnering at Proteus Digital Health, in a statement. “The patient stays healthier and DOHC contains its costs through fewer hospital admissions.”
Google Fit app now features heart health tracking
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – An update to the Google Fit exercise app now features heart health tracking goals, based on recommendations from leading health organizations. “We’ve worked with the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization to understand the science behind physical activity and help you get the amount and intensity needed to improve your health,” wrote Margaret Hollendoner, head of product for Google Fit, in a recent blog post about the update. She said the new Google Fit is centered around two simple and smart activity goals based on AHA and WHO activity recommendations shown to impact health: Move Minutes and Heart Points. Users can earn Move Minutes for all activity and get motivated to make small, healthy changes throughout the day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Heart Points will give the user points for heart-pumping activities. When you’re walking, running or biking throughout the day, Google Fit will automatically detect activities like walking, running or biking using phone or watch sensors to estimate the number of Heart Points earned. It will also calculate the number of Heart Points or Move Minutes earned from other activities. Google Fit also features an exercise journal to track activities, achievements and goal progress across other fitness apps.
Garrett joins Welldoc board
BALTIMORE – Digital therapeutic company Welldoc has appointed Daniel Garrett to its board of directors. Garrett was formerly a partner at PricewaterhouseCooper. “While I’ve seen many digital health companies come and go during my years with PwC, Welldoc has remained steadfast and vigilant in its pursuit of developing innovative technologies that are clinically proven to transform the lives of patients living with chronic diseases,” said Garrett in a statement. Welldoc provides digital therapeutics for people with chronic diseases.
NIH grant to fund medication adherence study
BALTIMORE – The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health has awarded emocha Mobile Health a $1 million Small Business Innovation Research award to evaluate its medication adherence platform for patients with tuberculosis. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will conduct the evaluation. “We value conducting rigorous scientific research to measure the impact of our technology and are honored to be able to do so through this NIH mechanism,” said Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha Mobile Health, in a statement. The award builds on a study conducted in Maryland by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that found emocha’s video Directly Observed Therapy platform helped patients with tuberculosis achieve 94% medication adherence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also recently approved emocha’s plan to begin a second phase of research to evaluate its medication adherence platform for patients receiving buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder in partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. With the addition of this grant, emocha has been awarded more than $3 million in non-dilutive funding from the NIH since 2015.
AHA launches Center for Health Innovation
CHICAGO – The American Hospital Association has launched a Center for Health Innovation that will focus on providing market intelligence, partnerships inside and outside of health care, leadership development opportunities and more. “This is a pivotal moment for the field, as hospitals and health care systems face unprecedented challenges and opportunities,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, in a statement. “Hospitals and health systems across the country have been incubators of innovation. The center will help us disseminate what is working, as well as test new ideas to improve outcomes and increase value and affordability.” Initial offerings from the Center for Innovation will include: regular updates and intelligence on the forces shaping health care and how they will impact hospitals and health systems;The AHA Innovation Challenge, which will bring together creative thinkers, catalyze ideas and explore new ways to spread innovation at-scale; access to expert cybersecurity resources; and Innovation 90 Boot Camp, acoaching program that helps health care leaders learn the latest innovation frameworks being used in industries from technology to manufacturing.
Philips acquires Xhale Assurance’s nasal sensor technology
AMSTERDAM – Royal Philips has acquired Xhale Assurance, a company developing nasal pulse oximetry sensor technology. Xhale Assurance’s disposable is placed on the wing of the nose, and can measure and transmit a patient’s heart rate and blood oxygenation under diminished blood circulation conditions that can be challenging for conventional fingertip pulse oximetry sensors. “This technology will broaden and differentiate Philips’ existing portfolio of oxygen saturation monitoring solutions and allow the company to expand into a currently underserved clinical segment,” said Felix Baader, business leader of monitoring and analytics at Philips, in a statement. “The sensor technology also offers opportunities to develop measurements of further physiologic parameters. I am excited that this will augment our ability to offer solutions that enhance patient safety, support clinical workflow, improve caregiver efficiency, and help our customers implement value-based health care.”
Stayhealthy adds body fat index to mHealth app for employee wellness programs
LOS ANGELES – Stayhealthy, a developer of health and wellness mobile apps and solutions, is partnering with Attentive Health & Wellness, a provider of employee wellness programs, to develop an app that uses augmented reality to help users scan and measure body fat. “For many years, Stayhealthy’s credo about health care has been that if you can measure and track it, you can change it,” said John Collins, CEO of Stayhealthy, in a statement. “Using augmented reality has made it possible to visually represent health metrics such as body fat percentage. The addition of Stayhealthy’s Body Fact Index App to Attentive’s client employee wellness program will bring engagement, empowerment and enhanced results for all of its serviced employees.”
Phillips-Medisize announces expansion
HUDSON, Wis. – Medical device manufacturer Phillips-Medisize has expanded its connected health team and its global Front-End Innovation (FEI) footprint. “The company’s connected health solutions are driven by its FEI team, which has expanded because of increased demand for device innovation and Connected Health services,” said Kevin Deane, the new vice president of front-end innovation at Phillips-Medisize, in a statement. Deane is a former partner at PA Consulting. Joining Deane on the team are: Andrew Tubb, former director of global marketing at Sanofi; Chris Conger, former vice president of R&D at IntriCon; and Neil Williams, a health IT expert previously at TotalMobile, Microsoft and Hospira. “Together, we bring more than 80 years’ experience across all facets of connected health, from deep electronics and communications technology to the impact of digital for our customers’ global sales and marketing plans,” said Deane. The FEI team works with clients to develop differentiated and drug-specific strategies to better define clients’ connected health value propositions and enhance return on investment. The company has also announced planned FEI additions to its Fremont, Calif., office, with future expansions slated for its Hudson, Wis., office and a Massachusetts location to be finalized later this year.
“Our FEI expansion, in terms of expertise and footprint, is key for Phillips-Medisize,” Deane said. “Our goal is to leverage innovation, development and connected health sources around the world to deliver the best to our customers and, in turn, their patients.”
Philips licenses Air Force’s mobile technology
ANDOVER, Mass. – Philips Healthcare has signed a non-exclusive patent license agreement with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory for a mobile software application that provides integrated, real-time patient monitoring.
The software application, known as Batdok (Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit), was developed by the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and was designed as a wearable technology that allows a medic to monitor multiple casualties in the field using a smartphone or tablet.
Adaptation for civilian applications will advance telehealth capabilities, said Kirk Hendler, vice president of business development for government solutions at Philips, in a statement.
Wireless sensors placed on the patient send vitals information to the device, providing medical personnel enhanced decision making when alerted to changes in patient condition. The application also records all vital signs and information logged by the attending staff, with seamless data transfers during patient handoff.
The patent license agreement allows Philips to finalize product development and begin offering solutions to government and civilian customers.
“By combining exceptional mobility, user experience and reliability, Philips will use Batdok to improve patient monitoring,” Hendler said. “This all-in-one mobile solution will enhance care delivery by bringing critical data to decision makers.”
Telehealth helps SNFs avoid hospitalizations, study finds
CRANBURY, N.J. – Telehealth has helped skilled nursing facilities avoid hospital visits, according to a study published recently in The American Journal of Managed Care.
The study by TripleCare physicians’ group and the Targeting Revolutionary Elder Care Solutions Institute found that when doctors could be reached after hours via telehealth to decide whether a patient in a skilled nursing facility should be hospitalized, 29% of the patients avoided a hospital visit, saving more than $1.55 million over the course of a year.
“As nursing facilities are called upon to care for higher-acuity patients and drive better clinical outcomes at a fraction of the cost of a hospitalization, systems that deliver better quality physicians to the bedside at times of a change of condition will be required,” wrote Dr. David Chess, one of the study’s authors. “By leveraging technology, we can improve the quality of both primary and acute care in nursing facilities, transforming care and often preventing the trauma associated with hospitalization in the elderly.”
Nurses called a toll-free number if they needed a physician to evaluate a change in patient condition, such as fever, chest pain, or shortness of breath. If the patient needed a physical exam, the telehealth unit would be placed bedside, and the physician and nurse collaborated on the exam. Physicians were also able to access patient electronic health records.
In one year, 313 patients were cared for by physicians via telehealth and 259 were treated at the skilled nursing facility, including 91 who avoided hospitalization, Chess wrote.
St. Luke’s launches virtual care hub
BOISE, Idaho – St. Luke’s Health System has launched a virtual care center that will serve as a suite of telehealth programs consolidated into one building.
“Merging technology and care delivery is the way we have to operate in order to be successful in population health,” said Krista Stadler, senior director of telehealth services for St. Luke’s Health System, in a statement. “Hiring an army of 20,000 people to deliver quality care services is not realistic. With the growing Idaho population and consumer demand for convenient care, we had to explore how we can use technology to achieve our goals and meet the needs of our patients.”
When St. Luke’s began offering telehealth services several years ago, the focus was an electronic intensive care unit that decreased the number of days people spent in the intensive care unit and improved overall patient outcomes. Today,
the new virtual care center represents St. Luke’s ongoing commitment to giving patients access to quality care without barriers, including geographic and physical barriers.
“In addition to removing barriers, virtual care also helps St. Luke’s more effectively reach specific patient populations, such as people with chronic illnesses,” said Stadler.
A high-tech hub features a centralized medical team that includes physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and IT professionals. When fully operational, 350 team members will work to ensure the center provides continuous care, and telehealth services are available for patients at clinics, hospitals and homes throughout Idaho and Eastern Oregon.
There will be more than 60 virtual care stations with the ability to operate continually using two-way audio and video.
The services that will be supported include: at-home telehealth, inpatient telehealth and clinic telehealth consultation.
“This space will allow us to grow our services and capacity throughout the organization to ensure patients have access to the right care at the right time, regardless of geographic location,” Stadler said. “The virtual care center will serve as the epicenter of discovery and innovation as we act on this belief.”