Digital health news briefs for 2/13/2017

By Jonah Comstock
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The National Health Service in England is expanding the rollouts for several mobile apps, according to reports in and The list includes GDm-health, an app for managing diabetes in pregnant women; EDGE-COPD for chronic pulmonary disorder; and SEND, a tablet app for monitoring vitals of patients in hospitals. These apps have all cleared initial trials and the Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with Oxford University, is working with a firm called Drayson Technologies to roll them out to four other NHS Trusts and, eventually, to the whole system. 

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On Under Armour's Q4 earnings call, held at the end of January, CEO Kevin Plank sought to explain lower-than-expected earnings and talked about the company's intention to tighten its belt. Will that affect investment in the company's Connected Fitness segment, formed from the acquisition a few years ago of MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo? An investor asked specifically whether the company would be halting investment in Connected Fitness, and Plank assured him they would not be.

"We know what we do for our livelihoods, and frankly the reason that we got into Connected Fitness to begin with, with an investment like that, was to help us sell more shirts and shoes. And so we still believe in that vision. We still continue to see it coming through. We have a major go-live this year with SAP, with our version of single view of the consumer. And we think that the amount of data that the 200 million users we have, telling us how much they exercise, what they ate and giving us data that will help us learn more about them to ultimately help us sell more shirts and shoes is something important," Plank said. "At the same time, it doesn't mean that we're not going to be prudent across the organization. We'll make sure that ... we're tightening the belt. But at this time, I think we feel really good about the leadership we have with Connected Fitness. We'll continue to, of course, forge on and build something bigger and better there."

Under Armour also got a less-than-flattering mention on MindBody's earnings call, with CEO Richard Stollmeyer expressing disappointment about the results of the companies' recent partnership.

"With respect to the Under Armour partnership, to be really candid, we're disappointed that Under Armour, MyFitnessPal hasn’t done more to promote activity on the MyFitnessPal app," he said during the Q&A last week. "I think they did a beautiful job of the integration, but as of yet we haven't seen them driving a lot of traffic."

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Dr. Joseph Kvedar, VP of Connected Health at Partner's HealthCare, recently co-authored that seeks to answer the question of why digital health interventions aren't posting more real-world success stories. Kvedar and co-author Alexander Fogel argue that engagement is the problem, as something that is both essential for digital health interventions to thrive and hard to prove in a clinical trial setting.

"A clinical trial is designed as follows: an artificial scenario is crafted, willing participants volunteer, participants are carefully selected on the basis of optimal criteria, staffers are thoroughly trained, measurements are taken like clockwork, and participants are induced (by means of monetary payments or a barrage of phone calls, emails, and texts) to use the product or service as directed," Kvedar and Fogel write. "As a result, the experience of individuals who are involved in a clinical trial typically is much more engaging than that of patients who use the technology in real-world scenarios."

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Washington state is the latest , with two bipartisan bills recently introduced into the state legislature. One would would allow patients to use telemedicine services anywhere, including at home (currently telemedicine in Washington has to be accessed at professional sites). Another requires health plans to charge the same rate for telemedicine services as they would for equivalent in-person care.
 

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