Digital health deals: GE Healthcare starts accelerator, UnitedHealthcare adds online weight loss offering, and more

By Heather Mack
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has launched a healthcare accelerator called five.eight to improve health outcomes for the world’s developing economies. So-named for the 5.8 billion people worldwide who lack access to quality, affordable healthcare, the accelerator will look for global health startups with aims to improve healthcare quality and accessibility in places with low resources.

The initial program will bring in up to 10 startups, encompassing everything from education and training to low-cost disruptive technologies and digital tools. GE Healthcare and each startup will look at ways to commercially scale innovations, with the possibility of distribution from GE Healthcare, or integration into the company’s Affordable Care Portfolio. Up to $5 million per startup will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Acumen, Aaviskaar-Intellecap Group, Unitus Seed Fund and Villgro are among the initial applicants for the first accelerator program.

UnitedHealthcare members now have access to , an online interactive weight loss program that includes coaching, appointment scheduling, notifications and an internet TV show to motivate people to lose weight and get active. Beginning January 1, 2017, UnitedHealthcare plan participants who enroll in Real Appeal will be able to use their smartphone, tablet or computer watch the online show, participate in live video conferencing and interactive messaging and track their goals. 

Quartet Health, a behavioral health startup that raised $40 million in a round led by Google Ventures in April, has struck a deal with Premera Blue Cross in Washington, the largest health plan in the Pacific Northwest. As it has in previous payer partnerships,  will help primary care physicians pinpoint which patients may need behavioral health support. Primary care physicians can then use the service to refer patients using Quartet’s referral network. Members can use Quartet Health's app to communicate with a psychiatrist via video or phone, participate in online treatment programs to help manage conditions, view resources and health information to learn about cognitive conditions, and connect with peers. More

Through its “More Disruption Please” accelerator, has welcomed a new company to its marketplace. which provides a hybrid medical answering service, will now be integrated into athenahealth’s nework of more than 80,000 healthcare providers to enable more efficient management of after-hours communication. MedXCom’s communication platform offers both an automated and live operator that are integrated into the EHR, enabling real-time display of a patient’s medical record as calls are received. "MedXCom has changed the landscape of doctor-patient communication. Our team set out to meet the industry's demand for a system that fully interoperable with EHRs, while also providing a secure, low-cost, low-risk solution for automatically managing after-hours patient communications," Henry Kane, CEO of MedXCom said in a statement. "This partnership will potentially allow us to expand our provider base and continue to drive efficiencies in communicating, tracking, and preserving night call data with total accuracy."

Connected health company Health Factors has partnered with the University of South Dakota on an ongoing project analyze the impact of remote monitoring of people with chronic conditions. Looking at at-home monitoring devices for respiratory diseases and congestive heart failure, the collaboration is focusing on claims data and from the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations to determine how real hospital costs could have been impacted if hospital admittance was delayed through at-home monitoring.

The , which serves as the Keck Medicine of USC’s digital health innovation incubator, has teamed up with the , which advocates for healthcare accessibility for people with disabilities. Through the partnership, the organizations will work to create digital health tools for this population and create awareness among companies focusing on digital health product development. Given that the Center Body Computing has developed many digital health tools and projects including wearable devices, smartphone apps, social media content and the like for a wide range of health care populations, it was a natural choice for the Special Hope Foundation.
 
 "We know that health care is shifting dramatically over the next 15-20 years and the key role that technology will play in our communities of those with disabilities," Lynne O'Hara, executive director of The Special Hope Foundation said in a statement. "Our strategic partnership with the USC Center for Body Computing gives us an insider position to influence and leverage relationships with other USC CBC members for the good of all – everyone whether they are a weekend golfer, a youth soccer player, a Special Olympics athlete or a 'couch potato' – should have the tools that enhance their health care and their lives."

Startup incubator 1776 has chosen consulting company Accenture to help guide its roster of digital health startups. Accenture will assign some of its health consultants to the 1776 campuses in D.C. and New York to help evaluate new portfolio companies, advise and engage other emerging health startups. Connecting startups to well-established mentors and corporate partners is a key part of 1776’s incubation model, and Accenture joins a working group of health-sector institutions, including the American College of Cardiology and MedStar Health.

Kansas City-based KVC Health Systems, a nonprofit that focuses on behavioral health and child welfare, has partnered with healthcare messaging platform . The rollout will begin with hospitals in the system, which serves more than 3,500 youth and adults per year at its psychiatric hospitals. The Klara messaging tool, available on iOS and web browser, enables user to collaborate on a single patient-centered platform. Care teams and providers can communicate via instant message with each other, across systems, with patients and external referring healthcare professionals.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to use technology to simplify our team’s work and elevate the care we provide,” KVC President and CEO Jason Hooper said in a statement. “By using Klara for secure medical messaging, we will make care more convenient, accessible and beneficial for the tens of thousands of people we serve.”

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