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How to make wearables work? Digital health coaching.

| September 12, 2014

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Steph Habif and Glennis Coursey

Over the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion of companies working to scale digital health coaching. Rock Health specifically has seen a number of exciting announcements in 2014.

In February, MyFitnessPal announced the acquisition of Sessions. Omada Health completed a Series B funding round of $23 million in April. In May, Weight Watchers acquired Wello, and Kurbo Health announced that it raised $5.8 million to “use digital health coaches to help fight childhood obesity.”

Apple watch and activity trackers’ day of reckoning

| September 11, 2014

Jonathan Palley, Co-founder and CEO, Spire

Activity trackers died and were reborn on Tuesday. With the Apple Watch as well as Jawbone’s announcement that its apps will work with anyone’s hardware (which follows a similar announcement from Misfit), wearable activity tracking is no longer a product—its a feature.

What’s a wearable activity tracking company to do?

Jawbone and Misfit’s answer has been: platform! Wearable-donned people can use their app anywhere while the companies bring all of the user data onto their server. History is not on their side. All the great platforms in technology—from Windows, to iOS to Facebook and even to Google’s ad network—started out with a core technology/business that no one else could replicate. Then came the platform. While we can argue over which activity tracking app is best, the difference and the technology is minimal.

Meet the More Disruption Please pitch competition winners!

| September 02, 2014


We finished off our recent fourth annual Health Innovation Summit in the full-spirit of our mission to support entrepreneurs powering the future of digital health, partnering with athenahealth on a fast pitch contest to find and reward five up-and-coming digital health startups.

Attendees from across the country submitted their ideas over the two-day event and our favorites stood up in front of the audience to share their company stories. Introducing the winners:


Meet the future of digital health

| July 17, 2014|Tags: ,


We’re one month into our first Summer in Digital Health program and can’t wait any longer to introduce you to the stellar group of interns who spend their days working on various projects for our portfolio companies, and their down time attending Rock Health roundtables, social events, and weekly founder breakfasts. Meet the interns!


Rock Weekly: 23andMe makes up with the FDA

| June 23, 2014|Tags:

Rock Weekly

June 23, 2014

The FDA is up to their neck in digital health. First, in a rare move, they announced they’ll be hands-off with certain mobile medical apps that happen to resemble HealthKit. Then they told pharma and medical device companies what they can and can’t tweet. They finished the week off by launching a review into a new 510(k) application—this time from 23andMe as part of its first step to re-enter healthcare.

Want to train your brain in the art of digital health company building? Check out our Startup Elements series, where luminaries drop knowledge about everything from IP and accounting to HIPAA and the FDA.


Healthcare needs lean management

| June 20, 2014

Kevin MacDonald, Co-founder & CEO, Kit Check

Is healthcare in the United States inefficient? The answer is a pretty obvious ‘yes’ if you’re up to speed with the state of healthcare economics. At Kit Check, we started a company on the premise that hospital pharmacy operations are inefficient. Digital health startups often struggle not because their innovation falls short, but because they can’t overcome institutional resistance to change.

We recently surveyed pharmacy directors from over 600 hospitals across the US to determine how they thought about improving operational efficiency. The data was encouraging. Traditional resistance is shifting to institutional support.

No one expects lean management in healthcare
In hospital pharmacy, discussions tend to focus on new drug therapies, complex pharmaceutical interactions and identifying substitutes for drugs on shortage. You can imagine how surprised we were that 78% of the 600 hospital pharmacies surveyed were using Lean Management in select areas and 37% consider it part of their core philosophy.

Visual Wednesdays: The adoption of mhealth applications

| June 18, 2014|Tags:

With over 13,000 health and fitness apps in the App Store, the market for mhealth applications is hugely consumer driven. This growing trend is bolstered by the fact that 35% of Americans believe that monitoring their health will help them live longer. Though one in four physicians prescribe apps to their patients to help them meet this goal, 42% of physicians actually worry that these apps will make their patients too independent. Get the skinny on how doctors and patients use mhealth applications with this infographic.


Rock Weekly: Google and Apple race to control your health data

| June 16, 2014|Tags:


June 16, 2014

Another week, another tech giant’s digital health platform. It looks like Google is planning a comeback in digital health, while Apple feels it’s their moral imperative to move into the space. The feds are looking to cross over too, luring young tech minds to the East Coast to conquer HealthCare.gov 2.0, despite the culture clash.


HIPAA for dummies

| June 13, 2014|Tags: , , ,

We sat down with attorney-turned-entrepreneur Chas Ballew to get his take on what HIPAA compliance means for digital health companies. Catch Chas at CES’ Summer Summit Health Innovator’s Bootcamp dropping knowledge on HIPAA and everything startups need to know about working with patient data.

What do healthcare startups need to know about HIPAA?
HIPAA is the federal regulatory scheme that protects the privacy and security of patient health data. Not every digital health startup is subject to it, but most are. And nearly all of the really interesting, high-impact data is regulated.

The most important thing for a startup is to make something people want, which likely means working with that high-impact data. Startups need to experiment and iterate to find out what works and what doesn’t, so access to data is key.

Biosensing wearables. You asked, we answered.

| June 12, 2014|Tags: ,

We had an overwhelming number of questions during the session, so here’s a rundown of all the answers we covered in our Q&A session.

For more on biosensing wearables dive into the full report and the webinar.

How are biosensing wearables being supported and who is leveraging the data from those devices? 
It’s largely a function of the platform companies that we outlined. Companies like Jiff & Redbrick are good examples of companies that are leveraging the data. They are working in the employer wellness space alongside health insurance companies and employers. Employees have their choice of device they bring with them to work and they get rewards and incentives for using them. Employers can leverage biosensing wearables in order to be able to track their incentive programs and have a viable source of truth for their employees biometric data.