Roundup: Digital health provider news from Q2 2017

The second quarter of 2017 was full of news from hospitals and other providers. Read on for our roundup of partnerships, deployments, research projects and more.

Hospital news

Despite ongoing controversy about data management, DeepMind, the AI-focused, UK-based Google subsidiary, announced this quarter that it would roll out its Streams app in a second hospital. The deployment of the app at Musgrove Park Hospital marks the start of a planned five-year rollout with the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. Streams has been developed in collaboration with kidney experts at the Royal Free Hospital London. The app is designed to help doctors get information about their acute kidney failure patients, including blood tests, faster, which will enable faster diagnostics in situations where time is of the essence. The app uses ‘breaking news’ alerts to make sure doctors’ attention is directed to the patients who need it the most in the moment.

It was a busy quarter for the Mayo Clinic. Epic announced that it will embed authoritative health information from Mayo Clinic in its MyChart and MyChart Bedside portals, aiming to give patients the opportunity to put their healthcare into context. Epic hopes that offering patients at its ambulatory and inpatient clients access to this expertise – more than 18,000 pages of it, covering some 4,000 healthcare topics – will help them learn more about symptoms, conditions, healthy living information and more.

Virtual medical assistant company Sensely also began a collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to ascertain how to leverage patient engagement and chronic disease monitoring technology. The partnership will blend the Mayo Clinic’s triage algorithms and clinical expertise with Sensely’s patient engagement platform in hopes of assessing and predicting which resources can be best used at the right time to help patients without requiring them to leave their homes.

Finally, the Mayo Clinic and 2bPrecise, the cloud-based precision medicine platform, also inked a technology licensing agreement and also announced a research collaboration to develop genomics-based care protocols. Using the 2bPrecise platform and the Mayo Clinic’s electronic phenotyping algorithms and clinical expertise, the two hope to apply those protocols to research in patients with cardiovascular genetic disease.

Another hospital that made a lot of news this quarter was Boston Children’s Hospital. Children’s is the latest to tackle the problem of continuity of care between a patient’s doctor and any emergency room or urgent care center they might find themselves in, testing the technology, from startup Position Health, on some of their smallest and most high risk patients. With Position Health’s offering, parents of these high-risk infants will download an app on their phone that will run constantly in the background. Using geolocation, the app detects when the patient enters a hospital emergency department and pings them to ask if they’re there to receive care for their child. If they are, their doctor is notified automatically and can reach out to the facility to tell them anything they need to know.

Boston Children’s Hospital also rolled into phase two of its deployment of GetWellNetwork’s patient engagement and education platform, which is rooted in putting patients at the center of care by equipping them with digital tools and information to be an active participant in their treatment and condition management. By providing tools for both patients and staff, the GetWellNetwork platform is designed to help hospitals guide patients and their families through self-management of their conditions (pre- and post-admission care) and overall health education while also improving hospitals’ outcome goals. Phase two will expand the deployment from 250 beds to 386, add a new tool for patient-physician communication called the Interactive Patient Whiteboard, and integrate with Boston Children’s patient portal.

Additionally, Boston Children’s Hospital and Duke Health System came together this quarter to develop an Apple CareKit-based iOS app called Caremap, designed to help families securely track their children’s health and share that data with members of their ongoing care team. The app can also serve as a detailed repository of critical information such as allergies, devices in use or emergency action plans.

Boston-based Partners HealthCare announced plans to integrate deep learning technology from GE Healthcareacross its network. The 10-year collaboration will involve Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Clinical Data Science.The initiative will feature co-located, multidisciplinary teams with broad access to data, computational infrastructure and clinical expertise. The initial focus will be on the development of applications aimed at improving clinician productivity and patient outcomes in diagnostic imaging.

Partners also entered into a four-year partnership deal with Persistent Systems to build clinical decision support systems for various departments throughout the hospital. The two groups will work together to develop an open sourced platform based on SMART and FHIR.

Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles partnered with Noteworth, a startup from the second cohort of its accelerator, to give physicians in several hospital departments new tools to monitor the health of their patients at home. The deal is a three-year engagement. Noteworth is being deployed at the hospital’s heart institute, where it will be used with hypertension and congestive heart failure patients; the diabetes treatment and education center, where it will be offered to patients with diabetes and with thyroid disorders; and the obstetrics and gynecology department, where the focus will be on women with high-risk pregnancies.

James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, United Kingdom tapped the services of UK-based digital health company Inhealthcare, which offers a remote monitoring platform used by many National Health Services agencies. It’s part of the hospital’s North England Regional Back Pain Programme – an initiative funded by healthcare charity Health Foundation that is investing over $4.5 million in innovative healthcare projects that can be delivered at scale. Inhealthcare is providing the tools to monitor 3,600 patients who are being treated for back pain in the North East region by sending clinical questionnaires via the web to the patients after they have been referred for treatment by their doctors. All patients voluntarily signed up to receive the questions periodically, and their answers are integrated into existing NHS clinical systems such as SystemOne and EMIS Web.

The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), Canada’s largest cardiac center, became the latest hospital to use SeamlessMD’s mobile patient engagement and care management system. Notably it’s the first cardiac center in North America to use the technology. Toronto-based SeamlessMD makes a suite of mobile products aimed at patients recovering from surgery. The platform helps patients and providers track a patient’s progress, starting from before their operation and going through their recovery.

Nnearly 70 percent of American adults who have a behavioral health condition also have a medical co-morbidity, which led the Bronx, New York-based Montefiore Health System to begin integrating mental health treatment with primary care. It’s a model that has been embraced under mental health parity laws, but typically requires having co-located mental health services at the clinics. So Montefiore is working around the specialist shortages by implementing digital tools,funded by a grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). The most recent example is their 238 patient pilot with Valera Health, makers of a smartphone app and platform to improve treatment of anxiety and depression.

Hospital wayfinding app company Connexient deployed its app at The Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. The hospital is part of Mercy Health, a health system with 180 locations across Ohio and Kentucky. The app, which runs on Connexient’s MediNav platform, is called “Right this Way”. It offers detailed indoor maps to help patients navigate the hospital which can pinpoint the user’s location within a few meters and give step-by-step directions to different areas. The app also allows patients or visitors to save the location of their car in the parking garage and be guided back to it. This is achieved by installing Bluetooth beacons around the hospital.

Seattle Children’s Hospital tapped First Databank, provider of a vast database on drugs and medical device information, to deploy its medication adherence and education tool called Meducation. The tool, which is a cloud-based solution that integrates with many different information systems, is aimed at pediatric patients and their family caregivers who are considered high risk for a few reasons, including language barriers, vision impairments or low health literacy.

Virtual urgent care platform provider Carena announced a partnership with Aegis Health Group, which uses data analytics to help hospitals grow their patient and client basis. Through the collaboration, Carena’s hospital partners can connect with Aegis to guide them on best practices to grow, and Aegis will have the ability to educate employers about virtual care.

Johns Hopkins Medicine tapped Grand Rounds – a digital health company that performs a number of medical matchmaking services like connecting consumers and employers to match patients with specialist doctors, or facilitating meetings for second opinions – to extend the reach of their remote consultations and access to in-person visits. According to a survey by Grand Rounds, 28 percent of people struggle to find a qualified specialist. With the collaboration with Johns Hopkins, Grand Rounds will use its proprietary data and machine-learning toolset to connect patients all over the United States with top neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, which are among the most commonly-sought after specialties from Grand Rounds patients.

Telemedicine news

A lot of the quarter’s provider news revolved around telemedicine. The biggest news was probably the passing of legislation in Texas that made put an end to longterm drama around direct to consumer doctor visits in the state. You can dig in on that decision and its impacts here.

The American Telemedicine Association is recruiting now for a two-year task force on climate change with four stated goals. First, the group will devise green outcomes that can be measured as part of how members routinely measure the outcome of their systems. Second, they will focus on making the ATA itself more environmentally conscious by reducing travel.  The other two goals are about demonstrating the potential positive effects of telemedicine on the environment. The task force will look to show how telemedicine can create more sustainable healthcare practices and how telemedicine can aid in responding to health emergencies caused by climate change — such as warming, disasters and the spread of infectious diseases.

Telemedicine giant Teladoc acquired Best Doctors, a virtual medical consultation company, to enable a connected care platform focused on improving outcomes for some of the most complex medical conditions. Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close next month, Teladoc will pay  $375 million cash and $65 million of Teladoc common stock. The company reports it has secured $360 in financing from Jeffries Finance LLC and Jeffries Group LLC.

Telehealth provider American Well announced two developments the company has taken to expand their footprint, both in regards to consumer accessibility as well as ease of use for providers and health systems using the platform. In a move to nudge telemedicine more firmly into traditional healthcare, American Well unveiled a new enterprise service called AW10, which contains over 100 new features specific to providers to make their experience with American Well’s platform simpler and more comprehensive. The software streamlines the enrollment and verification process for new doctors, so they can start delivering live visits within minutes.

Salt-Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare joined American Well’s online care marketplace, best known as the Exchange. Through the Exchange, Intermountain will make its nurse practitioners and physician assistants available for patient telehealth visits on Amwell.

NewYork-Presbyterian revealed a pair of new telemedicine options for psychiatric and express care services that build out its existing NYP OnDemand telehealth suite. NYP went live with Express Care at its Columbia University Medical Center, which replaces in-person encounters with a video visit to slash admission-to-discharge times from an average 2.5 hours to 31 minutes, according to NYP chief innovation officer Dr. Peter Fleischut. The appointments take place on-site and enable patients to see specialists from 10 NYP hospitals. NYP also launched a telepsychiatry service so emergency department patients don’t have to come back in for a follow-up visit; this option reduced wait times from 24 hours down to under 60 minutes.

Royal Philips debuted its enterprise-level telemedicine software designed for use in intensive care units at the American Telemedicine Conference in Orlando. Philips’ eCareManager, the company’s new FDA-cleared teleICU software, works to alleviate critical care team shortages by offering a platform connecting regular hospital staff with intensivists – physicians trained specifically for work in the ICU – and offering actionable insights to improve outcomes for patients with the most complex cases.

An Illinois-based law firm filed a class action lawsuit against telemedicine company MDLive, alleging that the company takes screenshots of sensitive patient health information and sends them to TestFairy, an Israeli company that does quality control on apps, and that this is a violation of patient privacy. MDLive, for its part, denies that there’s anything improper about its procedures. But, almost before it began, the lawsuit was quickly over.

San Francisco-based telemedicine provider Doctor on Demand added another layer to its virtual visits with the integration of laboratory services with Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, which will be available in the coming months. Rather than interrupt their service and create additional paperwork or communication chains, clinicians practicing with Doctor on Demand can continue playing the primary role on through to the lab test-ordering and result-reading. And, as opposed to the norm of being at the mercy of their provider or institution to order and direct when, where, and how they get lab tests done, patients using Doctor on Demand will be given the option to directly choose which lab works best for them depending on price, location and insurance.

Westborough, Massachusetts-based EMR provider eClinicalWorks added telehealth capabilities to its mobile app. The company’s device-agnostic platform also provides tools for practice management and patient engagement, and the addition of the TeleVisits feature aims to nudge eClinicalWorks into that one-stop-shop territory.

Telemedicine platform providers – featuring integration with electronic health records, provider networks and various other data streams – are certainly not in short supply. But some healthcare professionals have been eschewing the all-inclusive approach and using the foundational technology of Zoom, the Silicon Valley-based maker of enterprise video conferencing platforms. Zoom took note of those customers, and is now offering a cloud-based video telehealth service called Zoom for Telehealth.

Research news

Much of the news we reported on this quarter took the form of published research, both establishing efficacy for particular digital health interventions and more general observations about the space. Additionally some major research efforts, like the NIH’s All of Us intitiative, are studying health more broadly but using digital health tools to do so.

At the HIMSS Precision Medicine Summit in Boston this quarter, All of Us Director Eric Dishman talked a little bitabout the role of wearables in the program. Apps and wearables aren’t rolled out in the pilot group but will be added before too long, he said.

“There’s lots of small-scale studies looking at consumer wearables and finding interesting things, but nothing that’s scaled out enough to be able to say ‘These work great for clinical research, these don’t,” he said. “…We want to and will do mHealth and personal health technologies. We’ll initially start with what people already have, but I think at some point we may have to get the industry to create something for us that would be an All of Us unique device. But I think that’s several years down the road for us.”

A couple of interesting studies during the quarter shed doubt on the effectiveness of mobile health tools: A study of a 450-person cohort at 15 primary care practices across the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill health systemfound that, compared with the traditional method of in-office visits, self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) via digital tools didn’t result in better health and wellness for people with non-insulin-treated type 2 diabetes. And the 1,500-patient HeartStrong Study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine casts doubt on the effectiveness of several promising medication adherence technologies and strategies, including connected pill bottles and lottery-based incentives. Ultimately, the study showed no difference in readmissions, mortality, medication adherence, or medical costs between the intervention and control groups.

Results are yet to come, but The Duke Clinical Research Institute, funded by a grant from Novartis, launched a large-scale study this quarter to explore the effectiveness of mobile apps in the treatment of heart failure patients. The study, called Connect HF, is aiming to enroll 8,000 patients across 160 hospitals by the end of fall 2018, with results hoped for by the end of 2020.

Additionally, new research from IBM suggests technology can fill gaps in screening for diabetic retinopathy. Using a mix of deep learning, convolutional neural networks and visual analytics technology based on 35,000 images accessed via EyePACs, the IBM technology learned to identify lesions and other markers of damage to the retina’s blood vessels, collectively assessing the presence and severity of disease. In just 20 seconds, the method was successful in classifying DR severity with 86 percent accuracy, suggesting doctors and clinicians could use the technology to have a better idea of how the disease progresses as well as identify effective treatment methods.

In the form of a wrist-worn band embedded with flexible sensors and microprocessors, researchers at Stanford and the University of California Berkeley are unlocking the molecular insights from sweat that could diagnose cystic fibrosis, diabetes and other diseases. The device, which is described in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sticks to the skin and stimulates sweat glands, then electronically transmits the results of which molecules are present for analysis and diagnosis. Since different molecules and ions create different electrical signals, the device can identify the presence or absence of compounds indicative of disease. Researchers ran separate studies to detect different molecules –high chloride levels suggest cystic fibrosis; high glucose can indicate diabetes.

Validating whether connected devices actually can passive track caloric intake has become something of a sticking point in recent years. Researchers at the University of California Davis want to figure out if it’s possible, and so they initiated a five-year agreement with Healbe, makers of the GoBe 2 Smart Life Band fitness tracker. The band, which retails at $179, uses the company’s Flow technology, which claims to automatically track a range of metrics including human caloric intake, hydration and emotional state. Dr. Sara Schaefer said she was intrigued by the potential.

Microsoft HealthVault Insights, a research-based projectusing big data to generate deeper patient health insights to improve care, brought Validic’s data connectivity platform into the mix to better understand the engagement part of the equation. Validic’s platform will serve as a key backend component by enabling Microsoft to connect to some 400 clinical and consumer devices. By creating added visibility and contextualizing health data – including trends and correlations from everyday activities and behaviors – HealthVault Insight’s mission is twofold: improve clinicians’ delivery of care on a continuum and foster a sense of personal responsibility in patients.

A new partnership in the diabetes space could bring the promise of an artificial pancreas closer to reality. Senseonics, a Germantown, Maryland company working on a pill-sized, implantable continuous glucose monitor that can last 90 days without needing replacement, will work with digital, personalized medicine company TypeZero Technologies on a project to integrate readings from Senseonics devices into TypeZero’s inControl software platform, which can either be used for decision support for manual insulin dosing or automatically adjust and regulate insulin delivery via an insulin pump. The two have signed an R&D licensing agreement.

Cardiogram, a startup working on algorithms to make the Apple Watch’s heart rate data clinically actionable, announced some results from its mRhythm Study. The data, presented at the Heart Rhythm Society’s 38th Annual Scientific Sessions, shows that the company’s algorithms can detect atrial fibrillation with 97 percent accuracy.

Finally, Apple added some new features to its ResearchKit app.

Roundup: Digital health payer news from Q2 2017

This quarter, news about payers was dominated by two kinds of stories: high-profile digital health partnerships for health plans and legislative efforts on the government payer side. Read on for our roundup of payer news from Q2 2017.

Large health insurer news

On the digital health side, we didn’t hear quite as much from health insurers this quarter as we normally do, but there were some interesting partnerships and developments.

In an effort to reduce the number of missed or delayed doctor’s appointments that are attributed to a lack of dependable transportation options, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association teamed up with ride-sharing company Lyft in a nationwide partnership to provide patients with reliable rides. The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company proactively reached out to BCBS, and the service will begin rolling out over the next few months at no cost to patients. Prior to launching the service, BCBS will work to incorporate Lyft’s platform into a yet-to-be-determined delivery model, and it will function as a service carried out on BCBS’s behalf.

Cigna expanded its collaboration with Omada Health, offering the digital chronic condition prevention program at no cost to members with prediabetes as well as those with an elevated risk for conditions such as heart disease and hypertension. Cigna first evaluated Omada’s digital program in 2015, and has plans to expand availability over time.

And UnitedHealthcare teamed up with Adelade, marking the startup’s first accountable care program for Medicare Advantage plan members, more than 15,000 of whom could participate in the new initiative. Aledade – which was founded three years ago by former National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Farzad Mostashari – will work with UnitedHealthcare in Arkansas to put technology and clinical best practices to work enhancing care coordination and promoting more team-based patient care.

Over in the UK, London-based BioBeats signed a distribution agreement with European health insurer AXA PPP that will put its app, Hear and Now, into the hands of tens of thousands of employees at companies like JP Morgan and KPMC. “Hear and Now” is designed to help employees cope with work stress. It monitors a user’s heart rate and respiration while providing the user with mindful breathing exercises to complete.

Finally, an undisclosed large health plan in Texas, serving more than 200,000 Medicaid members, launched the MyVitalData app from Vital Data Technology, a patient engagement and care coordination app that gives users access to medical information such as immunizations, medications, lab results and health plan details, as well as tools to find the right care.

Smaller startup health plans were also in the news this quarter — some for positive developments and some not so much.

News broke this quarter that the FBI is looking into allegations of fraud health plan Zoom+ may have committed in effort to avoid losing money from required risk adjustment payments. Allegedly, Zoom+ retroactively falsified medical claims to get out of the an Affordable Care Act-mandated requirement that decrees health plans with healthy members must pay into a pool to offset the high costs attributed to their sicker members.

Health insurance startup Oscar Health had a very active quarter. The startup introduced a virtual clinical dashboard that displays multiple steps of an Oscar member’s medical journey, with the goal being to offer a more readable profile of their health; laid out its strategy for expandinginto additional states; and announced a partnership with the the Cleveland Clinic to offer co-branded health insurance in Ohio.

Employer news

The quarter included some discouraging indications for value-based care as digital health startup Twine Health pivoted from working with risk-sharing hospitals to focusing on employee populations.

“Their risk-based contracts are just not risky enough,” Twine Health CEO John O. Moore told MobiHealthNews. “They don’t have enough of an incentive to really do what, in parallel, we were seeing our workplace health providers do. So we said ‘there’s a dramatic difference in uptake here of Twine in these workplace health providers and ACOs, so we’re going to put all our effort into the workplace health providers.’”

Another company that made news in the corporate wellness space this quarter was Fitbit, which reorganized its business to better focus on employee wellness. In May, the company merged Fitbit Group Health and Fitbit Digital Health into a single entity called Fitbit Health Solutions.

“We are integrating because of increasing traction in the healthcare space,” Amy McDonough, who previously served as the vice president of Group Health and will now hold the position of senior vice president of Fitbit Health Solutions, told MobiHealthNews. “Our charge as Fitbit Health Solutions is to take on a more significant role in helping not only employers, but also health plans, and health systems address the ongoing challenges of health engagement, prevention and care management.”

CMS news

Much of the quarter’s payer-related news involved the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the changing reimbursement landscape for digital health and telemedicine.

In April, the Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Gary Peters (D-Missouri) introduced the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act, which require the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to “test the effect of including telehealth services in Medicare health care delivery reform models.” The bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to allow eligible hospitals to test telehealth services through CMMI.

Another bipartisan bill, the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, was introduced in May. The bill primarily works to waive restrictions around Medicare telehealth coverage that many consider outdated or arbitrary. Along with the Senators, it also has the support of the American Medical Association, the American Telemedicine Association, and the Alliance for Connected Care along with many industry groups, health systems and tech vendors.

Yet another bill, the Creating High Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act of 2017 (CHRONIC), aims to hone in on Medicare payment reform in order to expand telemedicine services for chronic disease management and at-home care coordination. This bill was also introduced in April.

All three bills are currently being considered by the finance committee.

In other CMS news, Silicon Valley company Able Health, which helps providers navigate complex payment programs, was approved by CMS as a MIPS Qualified Registry under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System. This will allow the company to submit data to CMS, which will help provider customers to more easily track their performance and secure reimbursement.

Finally, the Center for Connected Health Policy released the fifth edition of its State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies Report. The report found that 48 states and Washington, D.C., provide reimbursement for some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service. Specifically, 13 states reimburse for store-and-forward delivered services in Medicaid; states that only provide reimbursement for teleradiology were not counted in this number. Twenty-two states reimburse in Medicaid for remote patient monitoring.

Roundup: Digital health pharma news from Q2 2017

In Q2 2017, we continued to see more pharma companies step up their efforts in digital health, from app launches to FDA clearances to wearable usage in clinical trials. Read on below for a summary of those moves.

In a move that could have growing significance for pharma going forward, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), a public-private partnership of pharma companies, academics, and regulators, including FDA, looking to create a new “gold standard” of clinical trial design using digital technology, released new endpoint recommendations focused on the use of mobile technology in clinical trials.

“By engaging with experts who have been early champions of mobile technology in trials and combining that with patient insights, CTTI has created practical recommendations and action-oriented tools that have the potential to really accelerate the use of mobile technology in clinical trials,” Craig Lipset, Pfizer’s head of clinical innovation, said in a statement at the time. “In particular, the use cases provide a realistic pathway for incorporating novel endpoints through technology into clinical development programs. CTTI’s recommendations show we may be closer than previously believed to realizing the benefits of these novel endpoints, creating a sense of urgency to act.”

Along those same lines, life sciences consulting firm Parexel teamed up with Sanofi to research the role of wearables in clinical trials this quarter. While sensor-enabled devices have increasingly featured in a variety of research projects and studies, their efficacy and accuracy remains a point of debate, and Parexel and Sanofi hope to investigate that question. Together, Sanofi and Parexel are leveraging their respective clinical, regulatory, logistical and technical expertise to determine how wearables can optimize data collection and study performance, ultimately resulting in faster drug development.

Shire Pharmaceuticals is taking another approach to innovating research, teaming up with online patient network PatientsLikeMe to develop digital communities and create research opportunities for people with highly specialized, often underserved conditions. Through the multi-year collaboration with Shire, the two companies will focus their efforts on creating more opportunities to connect patients with rare diseases through PatientsLikeMe’s platform, which allows anyone with a chronic condition the opportunity to track and share symptom and treatment experiences and contribute data for research.

The quarter also saw Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka and startup Proteus Digital Health make a second try for FDA clearance for the first ever drug with a bundled sensor. One year after the FDA declined to approve the new sensor-embedded formulation of antipsychotic drug Abilify, the companies are giving it another shot, resubmitting the application with additional information. As before, the application is a New Drug Application (NDA) — both the Proteus system itself and Abilify are already FDA cleared and approved, respectively. The companies expect to hear back by Q4.

The rest of the quarter’s pharma news had to do with the launch of new apps and/or connected adherence devices from various pharma companies.

Roche chose to up its app game late in the quarter through acquisition, snapping up longtime partner mySugr. Under the agreement, mySugr will continue to function as a separate legal entity, but will serve as the central point of Roche Diabetes Care’s patient-focused digital health services. mySugr, which was founded in 2012, is now present in 52 countries spanning 13 languages. People with diabetes use the mySugr GmbH app and service for coaching, testing trips and automated data tracking thanks to integration with a wide variety of connected devices.

In Japan, several pharma companies tapped Japanese startup Welby to help build their apps. Welby will develop an app for irritable bowel disease patients with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen; an app for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients with Japanese pharma company Nippon Shinyaku, and an app for rheumatoid arthritis patients with UCB Japan. Welby works with at least 10 pharmaceutical companies altogether, making apps for lifestyle-related illnesses, chronic pain, central nervous system diseases, oncology, immunology, and rare diseases.

Sanofi quietly received FDA clearance in April for a smartphone app with a built-in insulin dose calculator. According to FDA documents, the app, cleared at the end of March, is called My Dose Coach. A pending trademark application gives a more in-depth description of the app, describing it as “downloadable software in the nature of a mobile application for use by patients with diabetes, for calculating and monitoring insulin dosages”. The trademark application also suggests the app will contain some kind of database of diabetes information.

Synergy Pharmaceuticals launched an interesting app for people with Chronic Ideopathic Constipation, an educational app that features a team of animated emojis called The Poop Troop. The free keyboard app, available on the App Store and Google Play, features a cast of anthropomorphic turds representing different stages of the bowel movement continuum, from constipation to normal to diarrhea. The aim of the app, which is part of Synergy’s Confront Constipation initiative, is to spark more productive conversations in hopes of improving treatment. Synergy focuses on research and development of new therapies for a range of gastrointestinal conditions, so the app could help people with CIC and their doctors better understand how they are responding to medication.

One the device side, Bayer received FDA approval for a connected auto-injector for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis medication and companion app. The device is called the Betaconnect Electronic Autoinjector and the app, due out in July, is myBetaApp. The Whippany, New Jersey-based pharma company didn’t clear the app and device through the 510(k) medical device pathway; instead the agency approved a supplemental Biologics License Application for the drug, Betaseron.

And Crystal Lake, Illinois-based Aptar Pharma is teaming up with digital health startup Kali Care to develop a new way of measuring adherence to eye drops in clinical trials. Because they are somewhat onerous to use, eye drops have even lower rates of adherence than other medications. Kali Care, based in Silicon Valley, makes a small sensor that can be installed in a container for eye drop medications.

Finally, Merck and Amazon Web Services teamed up to launch a developer competition that plans to harness artificial intelligence for people with diabetes. Dubbed the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, and powered by Luminary Labs, the contest aims to incent startups and individual developers to create apps that harness Amazon’s Alexa voice-enabled technologies particularly for patients recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The contest just recently announced its five finalists.

Roundup: A bevy of digital health FDA clearances mark a busy second quarter in 2017

The FDA has been a busy agency these past few months. The second quarter of 2017 has seen a flurry of clearances, many for technologies that continue the trend toward mobile, or even wearable devices. It’s been a good period for those with diabetes, sleep disorders and traumatic injury, not to mention those just looking to maintain and manage their health – with a little digital help, of course.

Keep reading>>

Q2 adds 12 more digital health acquisitions, bringing midyear total to 24

With today’s acquisition of mySugr by Roche, the second quarter of 2017 hits a total of 12 digital health acquisitions —tying Q1 and bringing the total for the year so far to 24. Among these are some major names in the space, including telemedicine leader Teladoc, early digital health entrants Voxiva and GreatCall and even consumer tech giant Apple. Because only one acquisition had terms disclosed, we’ve led with that one and listed the others in chronological order. Click the “More” links to check out our past coverage of each deal.

Keep reading>>

81 digital health funding deals from Q2 2017

StartUp Health’s recent funding report placed Q2 2017 as one of the biggest quarters of all time, and MobiHealthNews’s own data seems to back up that claim. During the quarter, we tracked 81 deals, totaling $2.58 billion. Read on for the full list of companies that raised equity from investors over the last three months, and click the links to check out the full story. We’ve ranked them in order from largest to smallest, with undisclosed rounds at the end.  Outcome Health — $500 million. Outcome Health, a maker of waiting room screens and tablets for patient education and pharmaceutical marketing, raised at least $500 million in first round funding, lending the company a valuation of around $5 billion. Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Alphabet’s growth equity investment fund CapitalG, Leerink Transformation Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and Balyasny Asset Management are a few of the many investors in the round, along with some undisclosed strategic investors that include health systems and other stakeholders.  Peloton — $325 million. Peloton, the New York City-based technology company that has seen impressive success combining exercise bikes with tablets to create virtual cycling classes, raised $325 million in late stage funding. The investment brought the company’s total funding to nearly $445 million and brought its valuation to $1.25 billion. Wellington Management, Fidelity Investments, Kleiner Perkins, and True Ventures led the round, with additional contributions from Comcast NBCUniversal, GGV Capital, Balyasny, and QuestMark.  Modernizing Medicine — $231 million. Modernizing Medicine, which makes a mobile-based EHR for specialists, raised $231 million from global private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The company has raised funding a number of times before, so this raise took its total funding to $318 million.  Bright Health — $160 million. Bright Health, the Minnesota-based health insurance startup that boasts “a smarter, more connected” experience, raised a new round of $160 million. Greenspring Associates led the round, with additional participation from new investors Greycroft Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Cross Creek Advisors and existing investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Bessemer Venture Partners, and Flare Capital Partners. The raise followed an $80 million round from Bright Health in April of last year, bringing the company’s total funding to $240 million.  Patient Point — $140 million. PatientPoint, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company that makes education and engagement platforms for patients and providers, raised $140 million in new funding from Searchlight Capital Partners and Silver Point Capital. The company – which provides content through a variety of delivery methods including digital waiting rooms and interactive touchscreens in exam rooms – plans to use the latest funding to expand its already considerably large digital footprint.  Clover Health — $130 million. Clover Health, an insurance startup with a patient engagement bent, raised $130 million in a round led by existing investor Greenoaks Capital Management. New investors Google Ventures, Palm Drive Capital, and Western Technology Investment and existing investors Sequoia Capital and First Round Capital also contributed.  Blink Health — $90 million. New York City-based startup Blink Health, which makes an app and online tool to help consumers find low prices on medications, raised $90 million in Series B funding in a round led by 8VC. Previously, the company raised $75 million – also led by 8VC – bringing the company’s total funding to date at $165 million.  Sharecare — $85 million. Atlanta, Georgia-based Sharecare, a wellness and patient engagement company known for its serial acquisitions, received an investment from Summit Partners that brings the company’s total funding to $300 million. Given the company’s previous funding, Crunchbase pegged the May funding raise at $85 million. Sharecare will use the latest capital to expand their workforce and invest in new strategies to continue growing.  Outset Medical — $76.5 million. Outset Medical, a startup focused on innovating the practice of kidney dialysis, raised $76.5 million in a series C round led by T. Rowe Price Associates. In addition to new investor T. Rowe Price Associates, existing investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, Partner Fund Management LP, Warburg Pincus, Perceptive Advisors and The Vertical Group also participated. This round of funding brings the company’s total funds raised to $185.5 million.  ClassPass — $70 million. New York-based ClassPass, a virtual fitness membership network, raised $70 million in Series C funding in a round led by Temasek. Existing investors Acequia Capital, CRV, General Catalyst, GV, M13 and Thrive also contributed to the funding, which ClassPass will use to expand operations and develop new products.  babylon — $60 million. UK-based health chatbot company babylon, which raised $25 million in early 2016, raised an additional $60 million in April. While the company didn’t disclose the investors, the round reportedly included Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire business family, NNS holdings, Vostok New Ventures, and existing backers Kinnevik.  Omada Health — $50 million. San Francisco-based Omada Health raised $50 million in new funding, led by commercial partner Cigna. Civilization Ventures and Sanofi Genzyme BioVentures also contributed to the round. Omada last raised money in September 2015, when it took in $48 million. This latest round brings the company’s total funding to $127.5 million.

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