Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 was an exciting year for healthcare with the fierce growth in mobile health technologies and the preservation of the Affordable Care Act.

I have highlighted below some of my favorite companies I’ve posted about this year, and if you haven’t checked these products out, you certainly should. Perhaps one or more will help jump start a New Year’s Resolution.

A big thank you to my followers for an amazing year and here’s to health and happiness in 2013!

– Alexis


Best Body Monitor and Activity Tracker:

Fitbit – Self-tracking device

Lumoback – Posture sensor and app

Misfit Shine – Self-tracking device. Not on the market yet, but the size and sleek design makes it one of my favorite

Best Self Tracking and Reminder App:

SkinVision  – Mobile app that tracks changes over time for various skin conditions

PillBoxie – Simple and effective medication management app

Cardiio  – iPhone heart rate sensor

Best Medical Answer:

Healthtap – Health questions answered by doctors and doctor locator

iTriage – Self-triage and doctor finder

iCouch – Tele-therapy website

Best Exercise Motivator:

 – Monetary workout incentivizing app

StickK – Monetary goal incentivizing website

Skinnyo  – Health challenge creator, using social media to incentivize

Best Insurance and Payment Management:

Cakehealth – Streamline health insurance billing and payments onto one platform

Simplee – Compile healthcare records and bills into one easy to understand online dashboard

GoHealth – Quotes for purchasing individual health insurance

Best Up and Coming:

Proteus – Ingestible sensors, embedded in medications to capture information regarding the foods you eat and how your body reacts to them

GeckoCap – Inhaler usage tracker for kids with asthma

Vitality Glowcaps  – Prescription reminder pill cap tops that transmit data about your medication adherence

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fitbit One: Self-Tracking Made Easy

The Fitbit One is a self-tracking device that records steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and stairs climbed. It can also monitor sleep patterns and the device wirelessly uploads all the data online and to the mobile app.

Based on how active the user is during the day, there is a “flower” that grows with more activity and shrinks with less. Over the course of testing the device for a month and getting sub optimal feedback (e.g. I don’t move enough), I certainly became motivated to move more.

Pros of the FitBit:

– Small and portable, can be easily hidden
– Easy to use, one button controlled
– Well constructed, informative yet simple website and mobile app
– Good positive feedback through badges and goal setting

Cons of the FitBit:

– Has to be attached to clothing or placed in a pocket; I narrowly avoided washing it twice
– Reacts poorly to cold weather; in below freezing temperatures it froze up

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

HealthPocket: Find Your Best Health Plan

By upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court confirmed that everyone in the United States must have health insurance – whether it is through an employer or through individual coverage. This past June, I had written about GoHealth, which had built their healthcare insurance search and buy platform before the Supreme Court ruling. Being a first mover is always important – but this business model can be replicated and now we are starting to see second movers take advantage of current market momentum.

HealthPocket ranks all the health plans in your zip code that best fit your age, gender and tobacco use to find the highest quality and lowest priced health insurance available. The site is free to use and the plan ratings aren’t affected by insurance companies or drug companies. The site’s goal is to be as transparent as possible so you can identify the right plan for you and save the most out-of-pocket costs.

Tagged , , ,

Interview: Brent Poole, Mindbloom Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Brent Poole is engaging on the phone – no wonder his company, Mindbloom, founded with co-founder Chris Hewett, has taken health engagement to a new level.

Before Mindbloom, Brent and Chris realized that they took the stresses and pressures created at work back home, leading to a decrease in quality of health and lifestyle. With Chris’s knowledge of behavioral sciences from his work with video games and Brent’s focus on finance and operations, the two created Mindbloom, which couples behavioral psychology with social gaming. In Brent’s words, “To really innovate in the healthcare space you need to take a perspective outside of healthcare. When you are talking customer engagement, you should look at gaming.” Last year the company partnered with Aetna to optimize the Mindbloom Life Game experience and released the program to all Aetna members.

Adding a level of personalization (users’ music and media), the Bloom* app helps people think more deeply and become more engaged in their health through focused motivation. “This isn’t about creating another experience for the Quantified Selfers – it’s about getting people who aren’t focused on their health outcomes to become more active by showing them that small decisions can create a healthier lifestyle,” explained Brent. The Bloom* app sends self-directed and preset inspirational reminders and notifications to your mobile device throughout the day, anything from a reminder to drink more water to a reminder to go for a walk. The app currently has 320k downloads.


Mindbloom also recently partnered with Vivacity, a workforce wellness company, to give their users access to various Mindbloom applications. The first of which is Juice, an app that tasks users to track their energy levels during the day based on levels such as sleep and exercise. The app creates awareness on how your behaviors change the way you feel. Launched November 20th, traction has been fantastic with 31k downloads to date with more than a third of users engaging with the app at least 7 days in a row.

What can we look forward to in 2013? The company is working on making all its existing applications cross-platform, not just on iOS. Also, Mindbloom has several apps in the ideation stage and two in production. We should see the first 2013 release in early spring, and another shortly thereafter. Brent wouldn’t release further details, but did say that they aligned with Bloom* and Juice, both linking positive psychology, personal efficacy, and behavioral health. We are certainly excited for what’s to come!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Zensorium: Measure Circulatory and Respiratory Functions with Tinké

Tinké is a small device which measures your circulatory and respiratory functions. Simply place your thumb on the device to measure your blood oxygen level, heart rate variability (less variability = more stress), respiratory rate and heart rate. The device uses optical signals to measure blood volume changes in the body to determine those four factors and then assigns you a fitness score and stress level score. Tinké is powered by your iPhone (no external charger required) and all your measurements are directly uploaded to the iPhone application, which also offers breathing exercises to de-stress.

I personally feel that this is a neat tool to use and would be interested in tracking my own metrics for a week, measuring myself at the same time, five times a day, to see how my body varies and adapts. But I also generally believe that I am a healthy individual who’s statistics won’t change very much and after a week of use, will start to ignore the device. But who knows, maybe I’ll get one next year and maybe it will surprise me. The company will release an iPhone 5 compatible version by March 2013.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

23andMe: New $50 Million Raise to Help Reach One Million Customers

Six months ago, I wrote about 23andMe and their price reduction to $299 per kit from the December 2007 $999 price tag. Today, the Company announced that it has raised $50 million in new funding and has lowered the cost of its genome service to $99. This round was led by new investor Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire known for his investments in Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Spotify and ZocDoc. By lowering the price point, 23andMe is looking to attract more customers and grow their DNA data pool. The Company has a goal of engaging one million users (from 180,000 currently), and by analyzing the data of these genotyped individuals, hopes to discover new ways of disease treatment and prevention.

Tagged , , , ,

Pillboxie: An Effective Way to Manage Meds

Pillboxie is a simple and effective medication management app. After you add your medication (including visual shape and color), dose and time due, the app will notify you to take it. Pillboxie also keeps track of when you miss a dose in your history. You can keep track of multiple people and set special notes for each medication, i.e. take with food.

You don’t need to be on prescription medication to use Pillboxie. I’ve found that adding a specific time to take my daily vitamin has helped with my adherence.

Tagged , , , ,

BitGym: Making Stationary Workouts More Interactive

I use the stationary bike in my living room three times a week while watching Homeland and Nashville, biking at a moderate pace. After using BitGym’s Fit Freeway for 10 minutes, in a retro-arcade-style land dodging cars and sharp turns, I’m totally in the zone. I don’t even notice that I’m pedaling like crazy until I’m off the saddle to catch my breath.

The concept of using head-tracking games to influence a more intense workout is an interesting concept. Perhaps the company will roll-out an iPad plug in – like a simple handheld one button detonator so I can shoot at dinosaurs or zombies while biking as fast as I can away from them.

For those who want a more calming application, Virtual Active takes you through beautiful locations throughout the world including Italy, the Grand Canyon, and US cities on a 10-60 minute tour while you are on your bike, elliptical or treadmill.


Tagged , , ,

Basis: Taking Self-Tracking to a New Level

Basis is a self-tracking watch that is taking exercise and health monitoring to a new level. The watch has multiple sensors where it touches your wrist, which measure blood flow, perspiration, and even skin temperature. Heart rate, sleep and activity metrics can be synced and viewed online, and the Basis has a bluetooth chip that will be enabled with the highly anticipated release of the company’s mobile app. With all the extra sensors, the watch is bulkier than other tracking technologies but its sleek design makes it unique. If the company added a GPS tracker, this watch could start to substantially compete with Garmin watches.

The goal of the device is for the user to spot trends in their daily and weekly activities to help form and shape healthy habits. This is definitely a device to try and I’m interested to see how Basis evolves.

Tagged , , , , , , ,