We bring you this week’s medtech news, from Boston and beyond:
1. PillPack launches mobile reminder app
“The best solution to adherence is simplicity, and the PillPack design tackles this challenge physically with our dispenser and individual pre-sorted packs,” said TJ Parker, CEO of PillPack, in a press release. “Our goal with the app is to further simplify and re-imagine the medication management experience digitally, so we can help folks with their medications, whether they’re our customer or not, and regardless of the number of medications they take.”
The app, which can be used by both PillPack and non-PillPack customers, automatically imports the user’s medication list from their name, address, date of birth, and last four Social Security number digits. Patients can then set medication reminders based on time of day, day of the week, or location.
2. Aetna plans to acquire Humana in $37 Billion Deal
Leading healthcare insurance company Aetna is set to acquire rival Humana for $37B in cash and stock. The merger will leave Aetna with more than 33 million members and bring in an estimated revenue of about $115 billion per year – 56% of that coming from government-sponsored programs like Medicare. These increases will help the company compete more effectively with UnitedHealth Group and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Should the deal be approved, Aetna has the potential to continue to build its digital health footprint — a suite of apps including iTriage, Resources for Living, and Aetna Mobile –with Humana’s Cue and HumanaVitality. Cue provides users with regular tips, such as “drink water” and “focus on posture,” to help foster long-lasting healthy habits. HumanaVitality operates under a similar principle by motivating employees to engage in wellness activities.
If the Aetna-Humana merger passes, it will be interesting to see how Aetna chooses to consolidate and expand in the digital health arena.
3. Researchers develop software to detect eye diseases
Using a smartphone, physicians can now detect eye diseases, such as diabetic macular edema, thanks to software developed by researchers at the Medical and Surgical Center for Retina (MSCR). The tool uses the phone camera to spot any abnormalities in the thickness of the retina, which will then allow general physicians to refer the patient to a specialist.
“The idea is to detect and prevent diseases in general practice. We are not replacing the specialist; we want to know which patients have a disease and make an early detection,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Altamirano Vallejo, MSCR medical director in a press release.
The app is most promising in rural communities, where high costs decrease access to ophthalmologists.
4. Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) releases new app for patients
The IDF recently launched a new mobile app allowing patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases to track their health information, including symptoms, diagnoses, medications, infusions and more. Building off its desktop and web ePHR versions, the mobile app’s features include goal tracking, reminders and notifications and the ability to view info through easy-to-read charts and graphs.
“People living with primary immunodeficiency tend to have extensive health records,” said IDF President and Founder Marcia Boyle in a press release. “By building on our legacy of utilizing innovative technology to help patients, the IDF ePHR app now gives our community a simple, secure way to keep their health information organized and always accessible on a smartphone or tablet.”
Approximately 250,000 people in the United States live with PI diseases varying widely in both symptoms and treatments.The IDF ePHR is also connected to PI CONNECT, the IDF patient-powered research network that allows consenting patients to share anonymous data with the United States Immunodeficiency Network for research.
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