Elegant digital health solutions

Everyone knows hospitals as sterile places that often smell of industrial cleaners but, still and all, about 100.000 people die each year in the U.S. because of hospital-borne infections according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lot of these infections occur because doctors, nurses, and technicians don’t wash well enough.

To solve this problem, a startup called IntelligentM has developed a bracelet that vibrates when the wearer has scrubbed his hands sufficiently. The wristband reads RFID tags on hand-washing and sanitizing stations. An accelerometer can detect how long an employee spends washing; the wristband buzzes once if it’s done correctly and three times if it’s not. Because RFID tags are also placed outside patients’ rooms and on some equipment, the system alerts healthcare workers to clean their hands before doing a procedure that carries a high infection risk, such as inserting a catheter. Here is the full video explaining how it works:

(More info: Technology Review)

How to reduce medical errors is a vexing issue for providers, healthcare professionals, oversight groups, and especially patients. Each hospital has its own system. Parallax Enterprises LLC, a health IT startup based near Baltimore, Maryland, has adapted the pilot checklist approach to operating room to create a standardized system for tracking medical practices and reduce errors.

The system is a heads up display that mimics what a fighter pilot sees on the canopy of a plane. The unit is mounted underneath the bed and an arm equipped with a laptop-size screen and a camera comes around the patient’s head. The heads up display uses gesture technology so that the surgeon can work through the checklist while remaining sterile. The same checklist is displayed on a large screen for everyone in the room to track. The patient can also be part of the experience through a web site to collect medical information before and after surgery. Parallax is planning for an end-of-summer beta launch with at least one Baltimore hospital.

(More info: Med City News)


At the D11 conference hold last May in California, Motorola presented a swallowable electronic device: a pill from Proteus Digital Health company that you can ingest and it is switched on by the acid in our stomach. Then it creates an 18-bit ECG-like signal in your body that can be picked up by devices making our entire person an “authentication token.” The pill has already FDA’s approval and it is manufactured for medical purposes.

(More info: AllthingsD)

12 entrepreneurs reinventing healthcare

Here is an interesting list by CNN Money of 12 American entrepreneurs who are reinventing healthcare through their successful and innovative startups. Can you name them?

+Jake Winebaum with Brighter.com
+Halle Tecco with Rock Health
+Jeff Tangney with Doximity
+Chriss Hogg with 100Plus, recently acquired by Practice Fusion
+Tom Lee with One Medical
+Desiree Vargas Wrigley with GiveForward

+Rich Metzger with Saturing
+Giovanni Colella with Castlight Health
+Ron Burns with Proton Media
+Tomer Shoval with Simplee
+Albert Santalo with CareCloud
+Peter Hudson with iTriage

Read full article.

PayPal co-founder’s new plan – to get you pregnant


PayPal co-founder Max Levchin

“When I called PayPal co-founder Max Levchin last week, we talked about ovulation cycles, not payment cycles.” says Lauren Goode from AllThingsDigital. That’s because Levchin’s newest start-up involves an iPhone app aimed toward helping women get pregnant: called Glow, the company has built a fertility tracker that uses cutting-edge data analytics and published information on ovulation cycle forecasts to help advise a woman – and her partner – on the best times for her to conceive.

After entering in personal details about their menstrual cycles, their body temperatures and other habits, the app gives its user insight into her fertility window. “Glow also offers clever prompts and notifications. For example, Levchin said, the app might remind a woman on an especially fertile day that it’s a good time to wear nice underwear. Her partner might receive a notification on the same day to bring flowers home.”

Levchin is underscoring his commitment to Glow, and to the new age of digital health, by contributing a million dollars of his own money to a mutual insurance fund that goes to pay for fertility treatments for those who fail to get pregnant after 10 months of using the app. But his goal, ultimately, isn’t just to help women get pregnant. He believes arming the average citizen with data about his or her health will ultimately cut down on health care costs in the long run. He said he plans to eventually apply this financial model to other areas of health.

Read full article.

World’s most innovative healthcare companies

Fast Company just released Most Innovative Companies 2013, its annual guide to world’s top 50 most innovative startups and established businesses. Giving it a quick look, it’s easy to notice than many of them are from the healthcare industry. So who are these businesses whose innovations are having the greatest impact on how care is provided and delivered?

Here is a list of the 10 most innovative healthcare companies together with a brief explanation of why Fast Company picked them, and their corresponding rank on this year’s top 50. Note that although the three bottom ones did not make it to the cross-industry Top 50, they were included on Fast Company’s healthcare-specific Top 10.

+Sproxil – for sticking it to fraudulent pharmaceutical sellers (#7)
+Safaricom – for bridging the healthcare gap with telecom (#9)
+Seechange health – for making health (not healthcare costs) its top priority (#20)
+D-Rev – for bringing design to third-world healthcare (#25)
+Proteus Digital Health – for putting GPS in our pills (#34)

+GE Healthcare – for making an ultrasound for your whole body (#34)
+Dexcom – for bringing design to your blood-sugar monitor (#34)
+Walgreens – for redefining the role of the pharmacy (-)
+Athena Health – for making it easy to access medical records online (-)
+Teladoc – for strengthening the doctor-patient connection (-)

See full ranking.

mHealth in a mWorld

Mobile technologies are one of the fastest growing markets in the world. The latest and greatest in mobile technology was displayed last February at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress. Healthcare, education, urban planning and other sectors can greatly benefit from mobile technology and a recent report out from the GSMA and PricewaterhouseCoopers gives a snapshot of how mobile technology could save money, increase opportunities and enhance health and safety in the coming years.

According to it, in Sub-Saharan Africa, one million lives could be saved over the next five years with mobile health initiatives that help patients stick to their treatment plans and access information, as well as aid workers in monitoring the availability of medication and follow treatment guidelines. For example the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action enables health care workers and pregnant women to share health information via SMS in South Africa helps HIV patients and healthcare workers comply with Antiretroviral Therapy programs, cutting missed appointment rates from 27% to 4%.

In developed countries, mobile health or mHealth could also lead to positive outcomes. In 2017, it could cut health care costs by more than $400 billion in four ways:

As telemedicine grows mobile-based services could become more common in helping with immediate care. The GSMA-PwC report estimates that mobile-based care for patients with sudden health incidents could reduce primary and emergency care visits by 10%. Already, companies like Sherpaa and Ringadoc let patients reach physicians 24/7 by phone, text or email.

In non-emergency situations, mobile technology could also play a role in helping doctors keep tabs on elderly or recently discharged patients remotely. With Sotera Wireless, for example, physicians can monitor patients’ blood pressure, heart rate and other indicators through a flip-phone-sized device worn on a patient’s wrist. GSMA-PwC’s report estimates that remote monitoring technology could lead to elderly care savings of up to 25% and improve patients’ quality of life.

As more hospitals use the electronic medical records (EMR), patient information will increasingly be captured and accessed from mobile devices. PatientSafe, for example, lets doctors and nurses log patient data and manage other workflow tasks from an iPod Touch. Mobile access to EMRs could lower the administrative burden on hospitals by 20 to 30% the report says.

Finally, the old SMS could also play a major role in saving money and improving patient care. Appointment reminder services, like that offered by Kaiser Permanente, have been shown to reduce costs and boost patient attendance. Companies like AllazoHealth and AdhereTech use SMS to remind patients to take their medication after sensors or algorithms note when a patient hasn’t taken medication or is likely to skip it.

There is a mobile healthcare revolution taking place around the world. A number of organizations and mobile technology industries are now sponsoring projects to explore new mHealth, applications.

If you are an entrepreneur already developing (or expect to develop) a mHealth app and intend to sell it in the US market you should have a look to the report FDA 101: A Digital Guide to the FDA for Digital Health Entrepreneurs. Released on March 25 by the digital health accelerator Rock Health, the report helps digital innovators to navigate the Food and Drug Agency’s regulations and premarket requirements around medical devices. It also explains when a mobile health app would be classified as a medical device by the FDA and would require a clearance.

According to the FDA 101 report, mobile health apps will be considered medical devices if they serve as implants, implements, instruments or in vitro reagents used in the diagnosis of a disease, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of a disease or serve as an accessory in one of those functions.

The report also recommends entrepreneurs to hire an advisor to make their company’s methods more appropriate and fitted to FDA’s guidelines. Finally, it includes quotes of digital health entrepreneurs that have successfully navigated the process offering pointers and best practices to startups.

The mobile health space is booming thanks to an unstoppable flow of money into it. In 2013 first quarter 37 deals valued at $365M have been signed. That is 35% higher than the same period of last year, showing that 2013 will be another record year for the digital health industry.

Lessons Learned:

  • Over the past few years mHealth has transitioned from novel startups to a global industry.
  • Among the many factors that are affecting the transformation of the health industry, the growing ubiquity of cell phones, smartphones and mobile devices is at the top.
  • Technology is bringing change to every piece of the health industry: wellness, fitness, healthcare and medicine.
  • Many entrepreneurs and startups are seeing the opportunity in mobile health technologies and want to get in on the game, but many are not aware of how to develop their apps, devices or services so that they are in line with the FDA’s regulations. A recent report from Rock Health startup incubator provides them the guidelines to succeed.