At-home digital health: Here’s what you need to know

ResMed AirMini app at-home digital health

ResMed’s AirMini CPAP device includes an app for smart devices that provides insights including a 30-day therapy history and daily therapy score. [Image courtesy of ResMed]

Demand is increasing for at-home digital health systems, where sensors follow people’s health data and automatically turn them into real-time insights for themselves and their health providers.

From ResMed and its connected CPAP technology to Clarify Medical getting user feedback for its light therapy system for skin conditions, medical device companies have started to score successes in at-home digital health, according to Scott Thielman, CTO of Product Creation Studio (Seattle).

“We really need to focus on cultivating user experience — a great user experience that will be sticky, that will overcome the downsides of having to live with whatever this technology is in their lives. There’s design work there to be done that we really need to lean in to and focus on to keep these innovations successful,” Thielman said during the latest podcast at our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.

Go to MDO and listen to Thielman provide some solutions to common challenges medical device creators face in the at-home digital health world.

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What is the future of medtech in 2019?

future of medtech medical device predictions crystal ball

[Image from Unsplash]

A global push to increase medical device industry regulation and the continued blurring of high tech and medtech – those are but some of the predictions that Medical Design & Outsourcing editors are hearing from experts.

Read on to discover some of the top predictions of where the industry is going in 2019.


Senior editor Nancy Crotti and assistant editor Danielle Kirsh contributed to this report. 

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Senators question basis for FDA’s digital health pre-cert pilot

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass., left), Tina Smith (D-Minn., center) and Patty Murray (D-Wash. right) [Images are public domain]

Three Democratic senators representing major high tech and medtech hubs in the United States are questioning the statutory basis of FDA’s new pilot program for digital health product precertification.

“We support FDA’s efforts to update the medical device review regime to better accommodate digital health devices and believe that it is an important step in ensuring that America remains an innovative, cutting-edge producer of medical devices. However, it is essential that changes to FDA’s regulatory framework are done in compliance with the current statutory framework and do not compromise public safety.” Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a letter dated Oct. 10 to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Their letter requests a response from Gottlieb by Nov. 9. FDA plans to respond directly to the senators, said agency spokesperson Stephanie Caccomo.

Get the full story on our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing. 

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Venture investing in medtech and digital health: Here’s advice from the trenches

Medtech entrepreneurs agree that it’s still tough to find funding at the Series A level. Here’s their advice about how to find it.

Bill Evans

[Image is public domain]

Competition for medtech venture investing is fierce, at the same time that traditional investors pull back from the space.

To get to the bottom of what’s going on, I reached out to entrepreneurs at the Series A stage, as well as bankers, startup accelerator programs and industry observers. The result is a three-part series:

Read on the find out about the best types of investors to have and how to find them, what types of organizations offer valuable help, regulatory tips, the special issues in digital health and advice on running your startup.

Get the full story on our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.

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CES 2018: Medical technologies you need to know

Mobile health devices and wearables have increasingly played a prominent role at the annual CES show in Las Vegas.

Health and medical devices touted at CES 2018 seek to improve everything from heart health to posture. Here are nine companies exhibiting digital health solutions at this year’s show.

Next >>

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Study of medication adherence with AI-supported selfies highlights potential for clinical trials

AiCure’s tool uses a form of artificial intelligence for facial recognition to confirm that patients have taken the correct medication.

Rock Health highlights geographic diversity of digital health M&A deals

By Rock Health’s count, there were 20 digital health mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter of 2017. Although Castlight Health’s acquisition of Jiff was interesting, it’s not the size of the deals that’s a head turner so much as the fact that many took place beyond the usual locales of Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York.

It’s also worth noting that Rock Health generally takes a more conservative approach to assessing deal flow on a quarterly basis than, say, StartUp Health. Rock Health counted 71 digital health deals totaling more than $1 billion (but a lot less than the $2.5 billion StartUp Health counted).

The biggest deal for the quarter was unquestionably McKesson’s $1.1 billion acquisition of CoverMyMeds, a Columbus, Ohio-based technology developer to automate medication prior authorizations for pharmacies, prescribers, payers and pharmacy benefits managers.

Who were the investors? JumpStart and Charles Hallberg were among the first investors in CoverMyMeds. Francisco Partners, Medical Growth Fund, and SaaS Capital also backed the business.

Retail health kiosk businesses higi, based in Chicago raised $40 million in 2016 for the development of retail partner support tools. Last month, it acquired a Seattle, Washington-based company that developed a rewards system to encourage healthy behavior — EveryMove.

Who were the investors? EveryMove investors included Premera Blue Cross in Washington state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and Seattle angel investors.

RxWiki and TeleManager’s merger gave birth to Digital Pharmacist, an Austin, Texas-based company that developed a marketing platform to support community pharmacists to give them the kind of engaging digital resources that big box drugstores have at their disposal. Digital Pharmacist acquired PocketRx, a mobile app for prescription refills based in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Telemedicine technology group GlobalMed in Scottsdale, Arizona acquired TreatMD, a Miami, Florida-based, bootstrapped telemedicine company.

Birmingham, Alabama based DAXKO acquired Denver-based Zen Planner, a member management software company for gyms and sports clubs in Colorado, Mainsail Partners is a Zen Planner investor.

Rock Health’s report notes that with 20 digital health companies that have raised more than $100 million since 2011, there are more M&A deals to come this year.

The report also spotlights new funds targeting digital health. Veteran digital health investors Oak HC/FT are raising a $500 million fund. Venrock, which is a major digital health investor, closed a $450 million fund — its eighth. The fund invested in both Castlight Health and Jiff.  New York-based Lux Capital raised a $400 million fund.

Among the brand-spanking new funds in the first quarter include Biomatics Capital’s $150 million fund launched by two Gates Foundation executives that will target genomics and data-driven healthcare.

The $100 million Section 32 fund in San Diego is being launched by Bill Maris, former CEO of Google Ventures.

Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan is launching a corporate venture capital arm to invest in health technologies that lower the cost of healthcare and improve the patient experience. Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit, integrated, managed care health care organization.

Photo: Nicols Meroo, Getty Images

Insurance navigator Wellthie looks beyond healthcare with $5M Series A round

Wellthie, a health insurance navigation startup launched by a former Anthem Blue Cross Bue Shield product development executive, has raised $5 million in a Series A round, according to a company blog post. The new funding will be used to bolster the New York-based company’s sales and marketing muscle as it prepares to expand into vision, dental and life insurance in the second quarter, Sally Poblete, Wellthie Founder and CEO, told MedCity News in a phone interview.

IA Capital Group led the investment round with participation from Aflac Corporate Ventures. Last month, Aflac announced plans to set up a $100 million fund to invest in early stage companies relevant to Aflac’s core business. Some of the angel investors from the insurance industry that have backed Wellthie include Mike Battaglia, former chief consumer officer at Humana, Dr. Bill Winkenwerder, a former co-CEO of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Sam Havens, a former CEO of Prudential Healthcare.

“What’s unique and exciting about this round is insurance industry luminaries are putting in their own money,” Poblete said. “It shows that the support we’re getting is from people deep within the industry.”

Poblete said she sees the business as a way to support insurance brokers that work with small businesses and carriers with technology by improving decision support and providing other robust features.  For brokers, Wellthie can do scenario planning, provide a virtual storefront and give medical and ancillary quotes through a shopping and enrollment platform. For insurers, it can help them manage small group and individual members and drive growth. Wellthie’s platform also helps payers do market analysis based on members’ purchasing behavior. 

Wellthie and other technology companies have developed customer relationship management products to help insurance companies become more consumer-focused and their plans easier to understand.  As the insurance industry waits for the GOP to put their own legislative stamp on insurance reform, it will be interesting to see whether insurance companies will rely more on health tech companies like Wellthie.

Photo: Sean Lau / EyeEm, Getty Images

With $25M fundraise, Amino launches price transparency services for employers, providers

About 16 months ago, Amino became the first for-profit company to gain access to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services‘ vast database of Medicare claims. Now it’s not only expanding its price transparency services to self-insured employers and healthcare providers but also giving these groups access to this data.

The company raised a $25 million Series C round to support the launch of Amino Plus for EmployersAmino for Providers, and make its data platform available, according to a blog post about the fundraise. The physician search and appointment booking service allows consumers to search for physicians and gain information on prices based on individual conditions, service needs, health insurance coverage and personal preferences. One goal is to help hospitals improve their consumer/patient experience, particularly to find physicians in their network and make more informed decisions about their care. Another is to help self-insured employers reduce their healthcare costs.

Highland Capital Management led the round. Other investors that took included Accel, Aspect Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, and Pilot Wall Group, among others.

“This phase of financing is about building the full ecosystem around Amino,” said David Vivero, Amino CEO, in a phone interview. “Through these services. we can make sure users get access to realtime deductibles, view their plan designs and [contact details].”

Vivero and his team have taken a number of steps to try to set Amino’s approach apart from other companies. Aside from the Medicare database access, it doesn’t allow physicians to pay for exclusion. Users can see whether a doctor’s rate for a given procedure is higher than, lower than, or similar to other doctors nearby. The search engine uses statistical adjustments to account for differences in the types of people doctors treat, so a doctor with healthy patients isn’t unfairly compared to a doctor who treats sicker patients. Last year, it became a Medicare consensus-based entity, a status that means Amino gets support from CMS to create healthcare quality measures that become available to other groups with the same status.

“This is a very big next step for us,” Vivero said. “In the history of American healthcare, everyone has had their own facts and that’s left consumers with conflicting data.”

Photo: Hong Li, Getty Images

Report: Digital health startups raise $2.5B in Q1 even as deal volume declines to six-year low

This post has been updated with data from Rock Health’s Q1 report

Digital health startups raised $2.5 billion across 124 deals in the first quarter of the year — a record high amount for the first quarter but lowest deal volume since 2011, according to a report from StartUp Health. Big data analytics business Grail’s supersized $914 million Series B fundraise accounted for a big chunk of the funding raised for the first quarter.

“Even though [venture capital firms] are betting less, they’re betting bigger,” the report noted.

Like Ping An Good Doctor’s $500 million round last year, Grail was also a spinout — in this case from Illumina. Although Grail is considered a cancer diagnostics company, it also has biotech software component, with high-intensity sequencing tools to detect signs of cancer in the blood, including ctDNA.

Interestingly, Grail is somewhat similar to Freenome, a company that raised $65 million in March. Freenome uses machine learning and big data analytics to spot signatures from immunological and metabolic changes towards early cancer detection.

For the first time, population health startups attracted more investment than other digital health subsectors, raising $392 million in 25 deals. Alignment Healthcare alone raised $115 million from private equity investor Warburg Pincus. Livongo, which focuses on diabetes management and prevention, raised $52 million from General Catalyst Partners is also listed in the population health category.

Venrock topped other investors with four investments in the quarter. Among them were Virta Health — a health IT startup that claims it can help people reverse Type 2 diabetes.

At this time last year, StartUp Health noted that startups in digital health had raised $1 billion in 100 deals, dominated by health insurance startup Oscar with a $400 million fundraise. Although big data analytics companies raised the most — $286 million — the patient/consumer experience category accounted for the highest volume of deals at 20.

Source: StartUp Health Insights Report Q1 2017

Source: StartUp Health Insights Report Q1 2017

Photo: Goir, Getty Images