Category Archives: Send a Sample

Health 2.0: How to Use Data Around You to Lead a Healthier Life

Health 2.0 once again exceeded my expectations with their 7th Annual Fall Conference, this year in Santa Clara. Needless to say, I have too much to share in just one post. Today I’ll focus on Tuesday’s morning hot topic, Big Data. In rapid fire, leaders in health data aggregation and comprehension spoke and presented demos.

Here is a snapshot of a few companies that presented in Big Data: Tools and Applications for Individuals.

Ben Wolin, Co-Founder and CEO, Everyday Health

  • Everyday Health has self-learning data algorithms that personalized your healthcare exploration. Using over 6.9 billion data points, 4.5 billion newsletter opens and many fancy data algorithms, they are able to tailor healthcare information for you
  • Essentially, they are the Pandora for health, but with much more data
  • They have proved $2.3 billion in healthcare savings so far

Gideon Mantel, Executive Chairman, Treato

  • Treato lets patients comment on their prescription drug use and then shows how those drugs fare alongside their comparable medications
  • Using crowdsourced patient data, you can easily see which medications cause which types of problems for patients
  • Below, Tecfidera (BG-12) has worse feedback then Copaxone and Tysabri for MS treatments. You can dig in deeper on the website to see exactly why, and what patients have listed as top concerns for the drug

Philippe Schwartz, President, Withings

  • This year Withings, maker of the smart body analyzer scale and blood pressure monitor, has come out with an activity tracker, the Withings Pulse
  • The device can differentiate between walking and running automatically as well as measure your heart beat
  • A more detailed post on the Pulse to come!

John De Souza, President and CEO, MedHelp

  • MedHelp has created apps to track a variety of health events, such as women’s health, diet and mental health
  • They are releasing an app that lets you get instant feedback on your lab results, and grants you access to health coaches who can give you advice when something doesn’t look right (such as cutting back on salt if your lab tests show high cholesterol)
  • The app also allows for involvement from your friends and family into helping you keep a healthy lifestyle. As Peter Tippett, CMO & VP of Verizon said, “Social is what drives change in individuals – it’s the little nudge that helps you quit smoking, it’s not you, it is your surround sound.”

Marvin Ammori, Co-Founder and CEO, Silica Labs

  • Marvin showed us how Google Glass can be used in healthcare, from recording a doctor-patient interaction so that the patient can rewatch the interaction later, or by recording a surgery so that a specialist far away can help, or by creating a surgery checklist for a surgeon in the operating room
  • Glass can even be used in the battlefield to tap into the activity monitors of soldiers to tell a medic which injured fighter needs the most immediate help

Bill Davenhall, Global Manager, Health and Human Services, ESRI

  • I’ve posted on ESRI before – I think it is an excellent tool to see geographic health information
  • The ESRI Geomedicine application lets you see the heart attack rate as well as the toxic release inventory of an area
  • Every triangle is something that is bad for your health in your neighborhood
  • The dashboard also gives a walk score (San Francisco at 97, is excellent)

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Innovation: V-Chip for Quick Blood Tests

As described in the December 18th publication of Nature, The V-Chip is a bar-chart chip that houses 50 wells, each loaded with antibodies that react to blood. Blood contains biomarkers, which are proteins that indicate the normality of your biological processes. For example, changes in a biomarker can reflect and correlate to the risk or progression of a disease. When you inject your blood sample into the chip, the biomarkers in your blood react to the pre-loaded antibodies in the wells. Enzymes prompt oxygen to be released in accordance to the amount of the triggered biomarker, which pushes the blood in each well up the chip to create a graph.

While it might take some time before the V-Chip sees commercial production, its ease of use and quick turn-around time makes it an attractive diagnostic tool. Perhaps one day it can be used to spot various diseases and indications of cancer right at the point of care.

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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.

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23andMe & The Violinist’s Thumb: The Music of DNA

I started reading a book last week that just published this summer called The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code.

The author, Sam Kean, does a wonderful and colorful job of detailing the history and importance of DNA through stories. In Chapter 4, he discusses the “musical score” of DNA and how some musicians have actually translated the A-T-C-G sequence of serotonin into tunes. I was just thinking about how interesting that is (having played the violin for 10 years), when the most appropriate email appeared from 23andMe.

As I had detailed in an earlier post, 23andMe has used my DNA sample to enhance my understanding of my high/low susceptibility of various diseases and my carrier status. Now, they have also composed a DNA melody for me. How does it work? From the website, “This lab creates a melody based on several traits that 23andMe reports on. Your melody will differ from another person’s depending on your specific genotype (ie. AA, GT, CT, etc.).” Pretty neat!


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InsideTracker: All We Need is Your Blood

InsideTracker helps athletes optimize performance by testing their blood for biomarkers and then providing plans to help more fully engage those markers. Turns out you don’t need to be a super athlete to join the program, although for now the website is clearly branded towards marathon runners and ironman athletes.

1) Mix  / Matched Page:  Like the Withings site, the bottom half of this homepage just doesn’t match with the top half of the page.  Even the font and spacing doesn’t look the same. The colors are dull and plain and less exciting.

2) Confusion Central: This is the most important of the three boxes because it describes what the customer needs to initially do. However looking at this I have no idea how to give them my blood and what kind of plan I get afterwards. Looking at Step 2, the confusion continues as I wonder what is the purpose of mushrooms, the sun, and a boatload of pills?

1) Replace With This: This “Tour” page should be on the front page, replacing the entire (1) box. Clicking through, the 5 slides track the process of how the program works. This is easier to understand and more descriptive. From these slides I know that my blood will be taken at LabCorp. I actually thought from glancing at the home page that I would have to take my own blood and send it off to the Company, as I did with my spit for 23andMe.

2) What’s Missing: Tab with customer reviews and raves – for a Company that needs my blood, I need to see that athletes love this and that this program works. Recommendations need to have a dedicated page, more than just a few sentences on the front page.

1) Checking Out: Step 1 is filling out my name and DOB, and Step 2 is giving out my credit card information and making the purchase. Really? It’s not even clear to me how this plan will / can optimize my biomarkers yet. Check out should never be Step 2. Step 2 should be an extra page selling the customer again with why they are purchasing the product, solidifying the reason why they are spending $300 or $500 and making the customer less prone to second guessing and ultimately not purchasing the product/service.

2) Guarantee: Is there a guarantee on any of this? Any money back? Maybe an extra month or a free third blood test? Having a guarantee might not only get more people to sign up, but more people = more great reviews and customer quotes.

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23andMe: Consumer Friendliness Takes out the Scariness

23andMe allows you to explore your own genome and compare it to those of friends and family (if they are willing to share). The company is consumer targeted, although had previously faced issues in California and New York, states that argued against the site because of the lack of doctor involvement in the process. But by bypassing doctors, the company has a straight shot to directly market and sell to consumers.

1) Keep the check out process easy: Place to sign in, place to register, and place to see what is in your shopping cart. Expand on these tool headers once the user is registered and has access to more information.

2) No subscriptions: Find out what works for your business model and stick to it. In December 2007 the cost of a test was $999. Then the Company started to offer an upfront+ subscription payment plan as well as a one time payment option (of the aggregate amount). In 2011 the price was down to $99, plus a $5 monthly fee for a year. In January 2012 the price was raised to $99 plus a $9 monthly fee for a year. And finally as of May 2012, the Company disregarded the subscription model all together for a flat lifetime fee of $299. Consumers understand that a TV becomes cheaper over time as technology matures and the manufacturing process becomes more efficient. Poor signaling on price makes some consumers question the quality of the product and causes others to wait it out for a potential sale down the road.

3) Constant improvement: In January 2012, 23andMe took 6-8 weeks to process and deliver data upon receiving a sample. 2-3 weeks is a major improvement and a great selling point.

1) Diction: “Def” and “ur” isn’t cool and hip. These informal abbreviations make it seem like your users and subscribers are airheads. Edit out the grammar but keep the meaning.

2) Relevance: If it is 2012, put a more up-to-date quote than one from 2008. The more recent the comment the more immediately fresh the product will seem.

1) Legend box: There are other symbols used on this page including ones dictating gender specific diseases and new findings. Create a “legend” as one would for a map and place it on the side or bottom of the site so that all symbols have a definition, not just this particular one.

2) Confidence level consistency: 23andMe uses the same confidence indicators (4 stars for most confident) for disease risk as well as for carrier status. These two indications are not comparable. 4 stars for heart disease means that the test is sure that when compared to the average population (which gets statistically stronger as more members join 23andMe), your individual risk is x% higher than average for heart disease. 4 stars for carrier status means that you definitely carry a variant for a certain disease. The use of stars for both categories is confusing and can cause great doubt regarding the certainty of the disease risk results.

3) Laboratory outsourcing: LabCorp is an $8BN market cap company that gets more than 400,000 samples per day. This partnership makes me confident that my sample will be analyzed properly than if it was done by a relatively young business with $60mm in startup funding (as is 23andMe).

23andMe is successfully targeting the consumer audience. The website is very user friendly (taking out the scariness of the potential test results) and the company promotes its product like most consumer products and services. The tutorials are easy, the videos are fun, and of course the star recognition and support helps too (Warren Buffet and Jimmy Buffet are both customers

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