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Digital healthcare digest — July

It seems that digital healthcare is one of the industries that weather the crisis that came with pandemic just fine; at least, reports on midyear funding, two new digital health IPOs, and two companies with evaluation more than a billion dollars suggest so. We’ve collected the most interesting news about startups, new inventions, studies, regulations, and other things that have been happening in the field in July - for you to know more about the state of affairs.

New products and launches in digital health startups & businesses

Sprout, a platform for autistic care that offers early diagnosis and matches autistic children to world-class therapists that develop personalized programs that include applied behavior analysis, speech, and language therapy, and occupational therapy, both for in-home and online sessions launches with $10M in funding.

CVS Pharmacy developed Spoken Rx™, a new feature for their brand app that reads prescription info out loud - it’s super important for adherence and safety of people with visual impairments.

Elucid Digital Health launched a function that will give pharma and CROs real-time data about adherence during a clinical trial. Here’s how it works: patients receive notification that it’s time to take a pill, they touch a dispense button and the pill is ejected from the bottle, and adherence is tracked.


Elucid’s Pill Connect

PureTech Health’s Sonde Health announced the launch of an app that will listen to the voice of employees who’s want to go back to the office to find out if they have potential respiratory conditions and shouldn’t drop WFH just yet. The app is called Sonde One.

Orexo announces two new digital therapeutics: deprexis for treating depression symptoms and vorvida for alcohol misuse. The products will be released on the American market, too, as the FDA’s regulations around products for psychiatric disorders were relaxed due to the pandemic.

The WHO will launch a new AI-based smoking cessation initiative that was developed by Soul Machines. AI’s name is Florence, it connects to camera and microphone and stimulates face-to-face conversation - you can take a look at it here. The program will pilot in Jordan, a country with the highest tobacco-use rates in the world.

Magellan Health pilots Mightier from Neuromotion Labs: it’s a biofeedback video game platform that will aim to help children regulate their emotions - in particularly, neurodivergent kids and kids with behavioral health conditions. ‘Biofeedback’ because it’s connected to wearables that measure heart rate to figure out the level of natural distress in the game and the way it can impact the game’s outcomes.

Digital health startups funding in July

Humana invests $100M into Heal, house call, and a telehealth platform, as a part of their partnership that will deliver Heal services to Humana’s members - and help Heal push their offerings into new regions of the USA.

Withings raises $60M in Series B. It’s a company that offers consumer medical-grade health hardware that can be leveraged by medical professionals to deliver more accurate care. They plan to use their funds to ramp up their B2B efforts.

Turkish-German mental health firm called Meditopia raised $15M in Series A. Their focus their approach on highlighting and addressing the cultural differences in the way different topics - such as, for instance, sexuality - are perceived, and how it may impact the mental health of people of these cultures (in opposition to widely accepted Western-culture generalizations that are usually applied in the development of medication apps.)

NovaSignt finalized its Series A with $8M of funding. They want to fight and research vision disorders worldwide (in particular, myopia) and plan to use their funds to continue their pivotal study to get FDA 510(k) clearance for their lazy eye treatment device.

Medly, a digital pharmacy, announced the close of $100M in their Series B. It’s a tech-enabled pharmacy that allows users to schedule meds delivery via phone or online and track where their meds are. They plan to use the funds to open new locations and improve relationships between pharmacies, physicians, and patients.

Nayya, a startup that simplifies employee benefits management through ML and data transparency, raises $2.7M in the seed.

Kindbody, a startup that provides fertility, gynecology, and family-building care, raised $32M in Series B. They use tech to deliver affordable fertility programs (30% less than the average price on the market), serving both as provider and network solution. They plan to use funds to expand their offerings in the USA and improve their services.

K4Connect, a startup that brings new tech - such as voice assistants, home automation algorithms, and simple things like digital messaging to seniors and people with disabilities, raised $21M in Series B.

Digital healthcare market news & partnerships

IPO window is open: Accolade and GoHealth went public this month. Previously, Rock Health published a midyear funding report: the first half of 2020 had the highest funding in the digital health industry’s history.

Also, it looks like 2020 will be a banner for M&A deals, too: 35 deals were made in the first half of the year. Check out MobiHealthNews’s report here.

Sema4, a health intelligence company that helps to uncover insights from all the data that inform patient conditions through analytics, is now worth over $1 billion. It’s the second company in the digital healthcare market that managed to reach such a high valuation.

The first company from the industry that reached over a billion valuation mark is Ro, $1.5 billion from investors, which started with treating erectile dysfunction and transformed into a wide-range telemedicine service that helps manage and treat 20 conditions.

Doccla, Swedish medtech startup, partnered with Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust (NGT) to trial remote smart patient monitoring and free up NHS’ capacity. Doccla develops a virtual ward, created with interconnected medical wearables at patients’ home, which will allow clinicians to monitor vitals of recovering coronavirus patients and people who live with chronic conditions.

Amazon inks a deal with Crossover Health. That will allow their employees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area access Crossover’s centers for primary care, chronic care, vaccinations, and other health-related services - both in person and virtually.

Oncoshot, Singaporian medical startup, partners with MyDoc, digital healthcare provider, to give cancer patients a possibility to hear the second opinion on their condition from leading oncologists.

Braingaze, a digital therapeutic company from Spain, partnered with Ping An Group, Chinese insurance giant, and with 7invensun, eye-tracking innovator, to deliver convenient and accurate care to Chinese kids with ADHD. Companies will create a solution that will help conduct ADHD tests accurately, so kids would start to learn how to manage it early.

Mayo Clinic wants to reduce administrative burden and optimize ER visits, so they decided to automate their patient triage system by partnering with Diagnostic Robotics. Their AI-driven platform will help physicians make better decisions based on analyzing ER patients’ symptoms, test results, and medical history and showing them in the same digital place.

Propeller Health will release a co-package of its digital health platform with new meds for uncontrolled asthma (Enerzair and Breezhaler) from Novartis.

Chugai, Japanese pharmaceutical giant, and Biofourmis, a digital therapeutical company from the USA, partner to develop a digital solution that will help assess and evaluate pain, associated with endometriosis.

Regulations and clearances in digital health

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s released a new regulation for the way American hospitals should collect health data. Here’s and Wired’s article on what this addition means for health systems and interoperability.

RapidAI that specializes in stroke imaging and develops Rapid ASPECTS, a program that machine learning physicians use to detect brain injuries, and determine if a patient is good to do thrombectomy, gets FDA clearance.

Qure.ai, a startup from Mumbai who develops qER, an AI-driven product that analyzes head CT-scans and detects clinical abnormalities, such as cranial fractures and midline shifts, also received their first FDA 510(k) clearance.

Abbott’s Bluetooth-connected defibrillators also received FDA clearance. Patients can connect the device to MyMerlinPulse, an app that lets both patients and providers see transmission history and device performance. In such a way, patients stay connected to their doctors through their implant - and, if anything, clinicians can react quickly and patients are encouraged to care and track their health.

Cochlear, a company that develops hearing devices and software for them, got three of their new products cleared by the FDA.

Data protection & security threats in digital healthcare

COVID-19 contact tracing applications developed with Google and Apple’s APIs still collect location data from Android users. Who knew? Not us.

For instance, encrypt data on laptops and PCs that contain people’s health info. Lifespan Health System hasn’t, and they paid OCR $1.04M HIPAA Penalty for a stolen device. Sad emoji.

Healthcare is one of the most attractive fields for hackers, so we also recommend you to read about the most active malware threats, such as Emotet - who’re spreading among healthcare organizations via e-mails “from Microsoft” and Ryuk, a virus that easily re-infects servers once their power is restored if tech teams aren’t careful.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations showed COVID-19 legislation that aims to allocate $53M of funds to the Homeland’s department of Cybersecurity to protect the pandemic research data and related sensitive info.

Phillips finds a vulnerability in DreamMapper mobile app, a tool for personalized therapy adherence that helps manage sleep apnea. The vulnerability allows attackers to get access to log files that contain descriptive error messages remotely, even if hackers have very low skills. Despite the fact DreamMapper doesn’t diagnose or provide therapy directly - so patients’ health couldn’t be harmed as it’s regulated by, for instance, HIPAA, - it’s still dangerous to leave out such gaps when developing apps.

Vulnerabilities in wearables that help people with cognitive decline or memory issues sustain medication adherence can, potentially, drive people to overdose, if exploited. So be mindful of those.

Online fraud in the industry bloomed along with the rise of telehealth: now, healthcare online fraud in America approaches $300 billion annually (this is huge). Check out Jumio’s recs on how to protect the telehealth business from it - and our article on what simple rules you can follow to avoid the most common cyberattacks.

Science & business research in digital healthcare

A new survey from Accenture shows: the pandemic has shifted patient behavior towards virtual care for good. For instance, nearly half of all patients reported that they are getting treatment at home - and 60% of them want to use tech more for communicating with healthcare providers and managing their conditions. Check out the full report here.

Big Health’s CBT app Daylight reduces symptoms of anxiety - people who use the app experience greater remission than those in the control group. Here’s the paper.

Research published in JAMIA showed: people think chatbot screeners for COVID-19 less capable than live responders, even if both providers gave them the same answer. The negative bias is explained with the fact chatbots don’t reassure users as good as real people do - case in point for your chatbot development.

A study from JMIR discovered that VR can be a viable and scalable solution for treating chronic pain. Also, it occurs virtual physiotherapy is as effective as in-person treatment - here’s proof.

Journal of Pain Research’s work published a study that demonstrated the efficiency of digital treatment for nonspecific low back pain. They used a digital program called Rise-up that contained telehealth, electronic case reporting system, a treatment algorithm, and Kaia’s application for users. The research was conducted in Germany. The intervention group reported a 33.3% reduction in pain in comparison to a 14.3% reduction in the control group.

To measure users’ engagement with digital health tools, you need more than tracking how long or often they log in - a new study from SilverCloud Health.

Also, check out this research work on pencil-paper on-skin electronics and energy harvesters, or how to paint on the skin with bioelectronic “ink” and how that ink can be used in healthcare: to track body’s temperature or get drug compounds inside of it. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, we swear.

Digital healthcare vs COVID-19

Sharecare releases a virtual offering for employers. It’s called Well-Being@Work; it integrates with Sharecare’s main platform and helps employers address challenges - from emotional to operational - that come with the pandemic for themselves and for their employees with different tools (like COVID-testing and voice-based stress tracker) and resources (like educational materials on the subject.)

Good read on how socialized medicine & tech can fight COVID-19.

ViroMasks, a company from the United Arab Emirates, launched a reusable facemask: they claim it can kill COVID-19 virus within 30 minutes of contact.

Smart garments are getting more and more popular, and Nanowear collaborated with NYC-Metro Health System to use such clothing to detect changes in clinical biomarkers induced by coronavirus.


Researchers from Cambridge’s MRC Epidemiology Unit started a research project in collaboration with digital health company Huma: through Huma’s app, they plan to ask users to provide them with insights on the detection and progression of coronavirus.

Other news

Mayo Clinic performed the first shoulder arthroplasty procedure using mixed reality from Wright Medical: surgeons saw the 3D holographic view of patients’ preoperative plan.

Korean AI medical software called Dr Answer that can identify abnormalities in body fluids and tissues - and can detect and diagnose eight diseases - will go through a clinical trial in Saudi Arabia.

What to read

Classification of tools for youth mental health.

Wired’s guide to CRISPS.

How Vitable Health brings basic health services to underserved populations.

Google promises not to use Fitbit’s health data for advertising to secure EU approval of the acquisition.

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