Withings returns to international markets with Steel HR Sport and a new Go

Withings, bought back earlier this year from Nokia by founder Eric Carreel [TTA 3 May, release 31 May], reentered the market last month with most of the Nokia Health line and its new Steel HR Sport, a multisport hybrid smartwatch with heart rate monitoring, connected GPS tracking and fitness level analytics that analyzes VO2 max (release). Like Withings products before the acquisition, it is a pleasure to look at–well designed and more watch-like than smartwatchy–and surprisingly priced at $200. But on the budget side, reports indicate that Withings is reviving the Withings Go, famous for its eInk face. According to Wareable, they found a listing with the FCC for a successor model number to the previous Go (WAM03) containing information about a fresh design and new sensors for this basic fitness tracker. No price or release date is listed, but the 2016 model was about $70 retail.

Withings’ HQ has returned to Paris and is selling in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand.

Nokia throws in towel on digital health, negotiates Withings sale to co-founder Eric Carreel

Nokia finally gave up on consumer health tech, confirming February reports that they were reviewing strategic options for its Digital Health business. Digital Health was a tiny part of Nokia Technologies and an even tinier part of overall revenue (under .2 percent at €52 million of revenues). The prospective buyer in the exclusive talks is Withings co-founder and former chairman Éric Carreel. “Nokia and Éric Carreel recognize that as an original Co-Founder of Withings, he is best positioned to carry the company forward into its next phase,” a Nokia spokesperson wrote to Mobihealthnews.

Withings sold itself to diversifying Nokia in 2016 for a hefty €170 million, becoming Nokia Digital Health in February 2017. The Withings purchase was positioned as a reverse takeover, with Withings staff taking over Nokia’s fledgling efforts in digital health. But the promised results and impact never took place and Withings faded from view, at least in the Americas.

According to their statement, “The planned sale is part of Nokia’s honed focus on becoming a business-to-business and licensing company.” Other interested buyers include Google’s Nest division and Samsung. The company may also head back to France.  TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

Updated–Rounding up this week’s news: VA budget, Shulkin’s troubles, ATA’s new CEO, Allscripts’ wheeling-dealing, Roche buys Flatiron, Nokia out of health?, NHS Carillioning?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Here’s our roundup for the week of 12 February:

VA wins on the budget, but the Secretary’s in a spot of bother. Updated. Last week started off as a good week for Secretary Shulkin with a White House budget proposal that increased their $83.1 billion budget by 11.7 percent, including $1.2 billion for Year 1 of the Cerner EHR implementation in addition to the agency’s $4.2 billion IT budget which includes $204 million to modernize VistA and other VA legacy IT systems in the interim. While the Cerner contract went on hold in December while record-sharing is clarified, the freeze is expected to be lifted within a month. POLITICO  Where the trouble started for Dr. Shulkin was in the findings of a spending audit by the VA’s Inspector General’s Office of an official European trip to Copenhagen and London which included unreimbursed travel by Mrs. Shulkin and free tickets to Wimbledon, at least partly justified by a doctored email. This has led to the early retirement of the VA Chief of Staff Vivieca Wright Simpson and also an investigation of hacking into Wright Simpson’s email. It also appears that some political appointees in the VA are being investigated for misconduct. CNBC, FierceHealthcare.

Updated: POLITICO doesn’t feel the love for Dr. Shulkin in today’s Morning eHealth, linking to articles about the supposed ‘internal war’ at the VA, with veterans’ groups, with the Trump Administration, and within the VA. It’s the usual governmental infighting which within the 16 Feb article is being whipped by POLITICO and co-author ProPublica to a fevered pitch. Dr. Shulkin comes across as doctor/tech geek who underestimated the politicization of and challenges within an agency with the mission to care for our veterans. It’s also an agency having a hard time facing the current demands of a dispersed, younger and demanding veteran group plus aging, bureaucratic infrastructure. As usual the ‘privatization’ issue is being flogged as an either/or choice whereas a blend may serve veterans so much better.

Digital health entrepreneur named CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. A first for ATA is a chief from the health tech area who is also one of the all-too-rare executive women in the field. Ann Mond Johnson, who will be starting on 5 March, was previously head of Zest Health, board chair and advisor to Chicago start-up ConnectedHealth (now part of Connecture), and had sold her first start-up company Subimo to WebMD in 2006. She began her career in healthcare data and information with The Sachs Group (now part of Truven/IBM Watson). Ms. Johnson replaces founding CEO Jonathan Linkous, who remained for 24 years before resigning last August and is now a consultant. ATA release, mHealth Intelligence. ATA relocated in January from Washington DC to nearby Arlington Virginia. And a reminder that ATA2018 is 29 April – 1 May in Chicago and open for registration.

Allscripts’ ‘Such a Deal’! Following up on Allscripts’ acquisitions of Practice Fusion for $100 million (a loss to investors) and earlier McKesson’s HIT business for $185 million [TTA 9 Jan], it hasn’t quite paid for itself, but came very close with the sale of McKesson’s OneContent, a healthcare document-management system, for a tidy $260 million. Net price: $25 million. Their CEO is some horse trader! Some of the savings will undoubtedly go to remedying the cyberattack in January that affected two data centers in North Carolina, shutting down EHR and billing applications for approximately 1,500 physician practices, which have launched a class action lawsuit. FierceHealthcare 

Flatiron Health acquired by Roche. (more…)

Was 2016 a great or off year for digital health funding, M&A, IPOs? (updated)

It depends on the study you read and how jaundiced your view is. If you believe the StartUp Health Insights 2016 ‘Health Moonshots’ report, 2016 digital health funding has hit a zenith of $8.18 bn (up 38 percent from 2015), with 500 companies enjoying funding from over 900 individual investors. Yet over at fellow funder Rock Health, the forecast is far more circumspect. They tracked only half the funding–$4.2 bn in funding–with 296 deals and 451 investors, down from the $4.6 bn over 276 deals in 2015.

There are significant differences in methodology. Rock Health tracks deals only over $2 million in value, while StartUp Health seems to have no minimum or maximum; the latter includes early stage deals at a lower value (their cross-section of ~$1 million deals has 15). StartUp Health gathers in international deals at all levels (pages 11-12),  whereas Rock Health only includes US-funded ventures. Another observation is that StartUp Health defines ‘digital health’ differently than Rock Health, most notably in ‘patient/consumer experience’, ‘wellness’ and ‘personalized health’. This can be seen by comparing their top 10 categories and total funding: (more…)

A busy Nokia, Withings to partner with HUS/Helsinki University neurology center (FI)

Nokia Technologies, wasting no time with deploying its latest acquisition Withings, announced a new partnership with Finland’s largest neurology and leading stroke center at HUS/Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki. Withings devices will be used to develop home-based remote monitoring platforms for HUS. This marks Nokia/Withings move into clinical-level monitoring from its present base in wellness devices. HUS is a five-hospital system centered on Helsinki University Hospital. Its Department of Neurology treats 14,000 patients each year at the Meilahti Hospital Neurological Outpatient Clinic, and specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of diseases of the nervous system or the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system and muscles. Nokia release  mHealth Intelligence

Nokia is on a roll, closing on the Withings acquisition 31 May and opening up a headquarters in San Francisco for their Digital Health business unit led by Cédric Hutchings, the former Withings CEO. A week later, they announced the Withings Body Cardio which measures in seconds weight, BMI, body composition (fat, muscle, water and bone mass), standing heart rate and PWV — a measurement that is a key indicator of cardiac health and associated with hypertension and risks of cardiovascular incidents. It will be sold only on Withings.com and Apple Stores worldwide, priced at $179.95. In early June, Nokia announced the 4th annual Open Innovation Challenge focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) for public safety, connected automotive, industry 4.0, digital health, utilities, security and smart cities. Submissions close 15 August. The Nokia Growth Fund has a $350 million piggybank for IoT investment (and we hope secure IoT).

Nokia is also proceeding with the full acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, establishing a 5G network  and licensing its brand name to HMD for mobile phones.

Forbes also has a fairly long disquisition on why Nokia is moving into healthcare, citing PWC’s 2014 forecast of a $ 2.8 trillion US “new health economy” in the next ten years. But our Readers saw it here first in October and April!

Nokia’s healthcare repositioning confirmed with Withings $191 million acquisition (updated)

“We’re paying for the company, but in reality it’s Withings that’s going to be running the entire digital health business at Nokia.” –Nokia President Ramzi Haidamus

One of the more unusual corporate pivots has taken place over the past few years with Finnish former mobile phone leader Nokia. and has completed a circle with the seemingly friendly acquisition of digital health device and wearables developer Withings.

With the sale of its phone brand to Microsoft in 2013 and the majority acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent last year (finalized in January), Nokia seemed to reposition itself firmly in telecom networking. It retained an impressive brace of IP and international patents in the field managed by Nokia Technologies, plus licensing of its name. Nokia also introduced a successful iPad Mini clone in China, the N1 Android tablet, a virtual reality camera rig built for film studios and sold the HERE map app for $3 bn. But the company retained an interest in health tech over those years. In 2012, it started the annual Nokia Sensing XChallenge, a $2.25 million competition that is part of XPRIZE. Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) invests in the digital health sector.

We noted their below-the-radar health moves last October, and this confirms that true to the reports, Nokia had been been developing a digital health strategy called WellCare, centered on data and insights collected from wearables. WellCare will now apparently be integrated into Withings. The combination will also be competitive with Apple HealthKit and ResearchKit, which has had extensive takeup by both developers and clinical researchers–but there is plenty of room in the field. Withings retains a strong and uniquely quality design-driven identity, though perhaps not the most well known brand especially in the US, and has a small share in covetable, pricey fitness wearables. But it’s the integration and developments which will be of great interest after the expected closing in 3rd quarter this year. Two articles in Engadget (here, here) and The Verge

Updated: Mobihealthnews publishes an interview with Nokia’s president Mr Haidamus on why Withings, calling it a ‘reverse takeover’ where Withings will be in charge of expanding their health tech presence with no layoffs on either side. However, he’s a little disingenuous in implying that Nokia had no interest in digital health prior to selling their handset business to Microsoft in 2014–see the XChallenge above.

 

Nokia’s second act to spotlight healthcare?

Building its way towards a comeback is Nokia, once a global power in mobile phones and now, after selling its handset business to Microsoft two years ago, strictly (and profitably) in telecom networking equipment–for the time being. In April there was the €15.6 bn Alcatel-Lucent acquisition which includes famous research powerhouse Bell Labs; in January it launched the N1 Android tablet in China and days ago a “virtual-reality camera”. It also will license its name to other mobile phone makers when their non-compete expires in 2016. The real value of Nokia rests in its IP and worldwide patents which can be used in multiple areas. Since 2012 it also staked a claim in healthcare with the Nokia Sensing XChallenge for innovation in remote health monitoring. Mentioned but briefly in the Reuters article is that their technologies division is working on health-related projects. Deliberately staying below the radar? Hat tip to David Doherty (@mHealthInsight) via Twitter to remind this Editor of Nokia’s health ‘chops’. 

34 to 22 to 10: the Tricorder XPrize finalists

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize has arrived at the ‘Final 10’ for the $10 million prize going to the best (and working) “precision diagnostic technolog(y), making definitive health assessment available directly to “health consumers.”” . Less than one year ago, 34 companies had made it through from the initial 255 [TTA 12 Nov 13]. Further reductions brought the next stage to 22. Making the Final 10 are, as expected, Scanadu, but the UK/NI favorite has to be zensor (Intelesens) with its sensor-based patient monitoring in home, hospitals and assisted living (which your Editors have been following since 2010). Four are American companies with one Canadian (Cloud DX), one Indian (Danvantri), one Taiwanese (Dynamical Biomarkers Group), tw0 from the UK (zensor and SCANurse) and one from Slovenia (MESI). Next steps? Supplying X Prize with working prototypes sometime this wenter, 30 complete devices which will be tested at a medical center (not disclosed) May-October 2015 and the award in January 2016. Press release, Mobihealthnews.

Not X enough for you? There’s another, little-noticed XPrize–the Nokia Sensing XChallenge (more…)

The Internet.org initiative and the real meaning for health tech

Internet.org — Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Much has been made of the Internet.org alliance (release). The mission is to bring internet access to the two-thirds of the world who supposedly have none. It is led, very clearly, by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. Judging from both the website and the release, partners Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia (handset sale to Microsoft, see below), Opera (browser), Qualcomm and Samsung, no minor players, clearly take a secondary role.  The reason given is that internet access is growing at only 9 percent/year. Immediately the D3H tea-leaf readers were all over one seemingly offhand remark made by Mr. Zuckerberg to CNN (Eye emphasis):

“Here, we use Facebook to share news and catch up with our friends but there they are going to use it to decide what kind of government they want, get access to healthcare for the first time ever, connect with family hundreds of miles away they haven’t seen for decades. Getting access to the internet is a really big deal. I think we are going to be able to do it”

Really? The Gimlet Eye thought that mobile phone connectivity and simple apps on inexpensive phones were already spreading healthcare, banking and simple communications to people all over the world. Gosh, was the Eye blind on this?

Looking inside the Gift Horse’s Mouth, and examining cui bono, what may be really behind this seemingly altruistic effort could be…only business. (more…)