Short Tuesday takes

Alere, Optum, Wyss, Proteus, Soreon Research, Baywater Healthcare

Alere Health to be acquired by Optum. Alere is selling its condition, wellness and case management group for $600 million to the health services subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. The surprise is that Alere Health, which presently serves 22 million patients in 29 states, includes two service lines considered hot: analytics and connected health. Alere Connect, the former MedApps, is included in this sale. Alere (the parent company) will be concentrating on rapid diagnostics. Alere Health release, fact sheet….Vibrating insoles may help to guide the balance-impaired, eventually. Research on stochastic resonance as an aid to balance and gait has been researched for nearly ten years–our earliest article on it was written by former EIC Steve in 2006. The current study tested ‘white noise’ to help lower the level of buzzing needed to generate stimulus in the feet. Conducted by the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, and Merck Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) Consumer Care. (more…)

A random walk through ATA 2014

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /] Editor Donna attended ATA 2014 on Monday only. This article is a set of impressions (mainly) of the exhibit floor and visits to a number of select booths.

Donna, it’s Baltimore. You’re not in NYC or Las Vegas.

Arriving after a long trip to a city you used to visit regularly, but haven’t been to in over 30 years, is disorienting, especially when you are heading on a fair spring day to a section that didn’t exist then. The Inner Harbor and Camden Yards resemble Atlanta, not necessarily a bad thing since the parts of ‘Charm City’ they replaced were largely past ‘gentrification’. The Baltimore Convention Center was unexpectedly huge, the distance to registration made longer by a taxi driver who dropped me off at another entrance two blocks away. Any resolve I had to drop in on the many educational sessions was dissuaded by the sheer length of the halls. The thick Exhibit Guide confirmed that the show floor filled two city blocks–a challenge to cover and spend time with my appointments before the close of the day.

Was it a hardware show, a software show or somewhere in between?

You could make a case for both views. One observer I walked with at the start compared it to a radiology trade show–all hardware. Yet a closer look indicated that the hardware–the PCs, tablets and smartphones–was there to show software that integrated: systems to track patients, distribute information, workflows, store and forward images and reports. It was about enabling secure consults, platforms, interoperability, two-way data flows, mitigating readmissions and putting telehealth, telemedicine and education into provider and patient hands. It was also about making the business case. It was most definitely NOT about gadgets and single purpose peripherals, though the latter were still quite visible. The old picture of telehealth closed systems, of proprietary monitoring devices feeding data onto a proprietary PC platform where it’s seen by a care manager, is so 2011.

Noteworthy: the growth in specialized services like telepsychiatry, teleneurology, teleradiology and teledermatology. Contrast: despite VGo‘s ubiquitous telepresence robots accosting you on the floor, a tablet-faced robot following a nurse down the hospital hall and ‘consulting’ with patients will likely still be a rarity.

Patient engagement on top

Traditional telehealth device makers are connecting their devices and opening up their reporting platforms to be accessible to patients. But there are bumps along the way in this transition. A&D Medical has gone ‘Wellness Connected’ with a mobile app (more…)

Around the mHealth Summit in 70 pictures

Courtesy of mHealth Insight/3G Doctor, David Doherty takes the LIFE magazine approach and delightfully, you feel like you are there. He hosted a get-together at his booth on Monday (many pics), stops by AliveCor, Alere Connect (hello Kent Dicks), the Venture+ Forum (see Lois Drapin’s earlier article; hello Richard Scarfo, director of the Summit and Pat Salber of HealthTechHatch crowdfunder and the DoctorWeighsIn), VNA Health Group, investor in many things Esther Dyson, Google Glass Explorers, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the ‘panini generation’ courtesy of AT&T ForHealth. But you’ll have to page all the way down to see the last shot of an ‘wild, wooly and yo-ho-ho’ AliveCor demo in My thoughts on the 2013 mHealth Summit as it happens…

Alere Connect gains FDA approval for MobileLink

[grow_thumb image=”×180.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]We had been surprised at how quiet Alere Connect, the former MedApps, has been since its acquisition a year ago. Their latest news is that their newest and quite streamlined gateway hub, Alere MobileLink, has received FDA clearance to add to its recent CE Mark certification, clearing it for introduction in both US and Europe later this year. The US announcement also indicates that it will be packaged with Alere’s INRatio 2 PT/INR Monitor as part of home patient monitoring of anticoagulant medications programs through Alere Home Monitoring. This Editor notes that anticoagulant monitoring is ‘high-value’ and for remote monitoring, fairly different. Like the earlier MedApps HealthPal, it is also ‘vendor neutral’ compatible with multiple telehealth devices for glucose meters, weight scales, blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeters. Much of the emphasis of the new Alere Connect is how it integrates tightly with Alere’s programs and Connected Health informatics, care management and accountable care solutions, which is confirmed by CEO Kent Dicks’ quote included in the release: “The Alere Connected Health platform has the ability to connect flexibly with devices and systems regardless of their manufacturer and origin. The platform captures and analyzes data with robust analytics, and then backs it up with comprehensive health management services.” No information on rollout in UK or Europe. Release.

For long-time followers of MedApps, their HealthPal wireless hub is still being supported by Alere but will not at this point be integrated with INR monitoring. Also pending FDA clearance is a home health information tablet, Alere HomeLink.

Flashback: Integration of devices with service delivery providers was a major point brought up in our discussion of the MedApps acquisition value back in January, What a telehealth device company may be worth.  “What may be a better way is that device developers joint venture themselves from the start with health or service providers. And that those already seeking financing seek provider partners.”–Editor Donna

Alere under shareholder fire

Medical device and care management company Alere has come under fire from ‘activist investor’ Coppersmith Capital Management, which owns 7 percent of the company’s shares. Most recently in our pages for their acquisition and restaging of MedApps, now Alere Connect [TTA 4 Jan], Alere’s recent acquisition streak has added to revenues in its diagnostic unit and to about 9.1 percent growth in the past quarter, but not to profits. Struggling units such as Diagnostics and Health Information Solutions have helped to spiral debt. Coppersmith wishes to place three directors on the board at the shareholder meeting 7 August to stop the car crash of shareholder value and sell off assets. Management believes that it is carefully investing for the future of the company. Next week will tell. Alere’s losses triple as investor fight awaits (FierceMedicalDevices)