Digital health news briefs for 2/28/2017

By Jonah Comstock
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Walmart has updated its app, and made big changes to the pharmacy features. With the new updates, users can refill prescriptions, track their order, and view price and pickup details. Walmart is also introducing express lanes to speed customers who are using the app through the pharmacy pickup line. Users just scan a code at the register and pick up the prescription — payment and receipts all happen through the app.

“What our Pharmacy business is likely most well-known for is our $4 prescription program that has saved our customers nearly $5 billion,” Paul Beahm, senior vice president of Walmart Health and Wellness Operations, said in a statement. “Starting today, we’ll be known for saving them more than just money. By developing and combining the best of our app with a service that our customers depend on daily, we’re driving change that makes living better easier.”

Clarius Mobile Health, which makes a line of FDA-cleared app-enabled handheld ultrasound devices, has inked a deal with emergency supply company North American Rescue. NAR will act as a distributor, selling  C3, L7 and C7Vet Clarius Wireless Ultrasound Scanners to medical professionals at military and federal agencies. The C3 and L7 have different use cases for human patients, while the C7Vet is for use on working dogs.

Winter Park, Florida-based home healthcare company HomeCare Connect is adding telehealth capabilities to its products. The company focuses on enabling home health for injured employees on worker’s compensation. A new app called HomeCare Connect Tele-Connect is an app for smartphones, tablets, or computers that can connect injured employees with healthcare specialists and caregivers. The services will be offered at no extra cost to users.

A new report from Frost and Sullivan’s TechVision practice predicts that smart healthcare will become a $1.565 trillion market by 2020 and that the the machine-to-machine healthcare segment alone will generate $89 billion by 2018. In order to get there, the report says, healthcare will have to overcome a lack of interoperability, a fragmented data infrastructure, and high costs of adoption.

Meanwhile the Consumer Technology Association has a more immediate prediction in its latest report. CTA says the total wearables market in 2017 in the US, including other health and fitness devices, hearables and smartwatches, is expected to generate shipments of 48 million unit sales, a 14 percent increase over 2016, and earn $5.5 billion in revenue, a 3 percent year-over-year increase. What’s more, this increase will be partly driven by clinical use cases.

“A range of technological and social forces are converging that will make patient-generated health data an important part of the clinical landscape by 2020,” Dr. James Mault, vice president and chief medical officer at Qualcomm Life and chairman of CTA’s Health and Fitness Technology Division, said in a statement. “As health insurers and employers begin to use technology to incentivize subscribers to improve their health, consumers will take a more active role in their own healthcare. This enables the medical professional community to deliver patient-specific precision medicine, and move from episodic care to a continuous care model based on real-time health data.” 

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