Why 2015 Could Be the Year Silicon Valley fully Wakes Up to “Digital Health”

BY 

It’s said that the most investable ideas are those with a large market and where incumbents are inefficient or fail to deliver great customer experiences. Sound anything like the US healthcare market? Some of the most prominent VCs are starting to think so.collage of digital health gadgets

Speaking at a Le Web conference in early December, Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson said that if he could invest in only one sector for the next five years it would be healthcare. He explains: 

We all need it, and people will pay for it. When you’re sick, you want to get well. It’s not an expenditure that you can think about making, it’s one that you have to make. 

This marks a major turnaround from a few years ago when Wilson wrote:

 When we look at healthcare, what’s wrong with it, and what needs to happen to fix it, we can’t see as clearly how the web, technology, and large networks of engaged users can impact healthcare in a positive way. 

Google Ventures already made a major shift in that direction, directing more than one-third of its capital into health and life sciences in 2014, up from just 9 percent in each of the last two years – a strategy it plans to continue. A year ago Andreessen Horowitz* added its eighth and most recent partner, Balaji S. Srinivasan, a relatively unknown healthcare data expert from academia. And Benchmark’s Bill Gurley spent much of the year publicly professing his interest in the category, and looking to get smart on the opportunity.

Across the Valley, prominent investors are putting their money where their collective mouths are in this sector. For example Social + Capital’s Chamath Palihapitiyah once told an audience at Fenwick & West’s Digital Health Investor Summit:

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Low Gas Prices + Increased CA Mileage Rate for Medical Travel

Here’s your present from the CA DWC!

Mileage Rate for Medical and Medical-legal Travel Expenses Increases. Effective January 1, 2015

illustration car vehicle wallpaperThe Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is announcing the increase of the mileage rate for medical and medical-legal travel expenses by one and one-half cent to 57.5 cents per mile effective January 1, 2015.

This rate must be paid for travel on or after January 1, 2015 regardless of the date of injury. Labor Code section 4600, in conjunction with Government Code section 19820 and the Department of Personnel Administration regulations, establishes the rate payable for mileage reimbursement for medical and medical-legal expenses and ties it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

IRS Bulletin Number IR-2014-114 dated December 10, 2014 announced the rate increase. The updated mileage reimbursement form is posted on the DWC website.

The Bumpy Road Faced by TeleHealth in Rural California

Dr. Ferguson seeing patient in Lone Pine, CA
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Patient Maniben Bhakta, left, and daughter-in-law Lara Bhakta confer with Dr. Ferguson — “Dr Earl” — at the Southern Inyo Hospital clinic in Lone Pine.

Steering along washed-out roads in California’s southern Sierra, Earl Ferguson gets excited when he sees white plastic stakes sticking up from the ground along the way.

They’re markers of a new high-speed Internet line running from Barstow to Reno, which Ferguson helped to get built.

“Look, there it is,” he says proudly, pointing out his window during a day of driving — and driving, and driving — between the remote medical facilities he works with in the region.

The Digital 395 fiber-optic network will help businesses, schools and medical facilities get better Internet access. It will also help Ferguson, a cardiologist, offer care to patients in isolated communities via two-way high-definition video systems.

Continue reading The Bumpy Road Faced by TeleHealth in Rural California

The 15 Best Fitness Tech Gifts

Dreaming of Healthy Holiday? OK, you’re dreaming of cookies and sugar plums, but know somebody that loves fitness and gadgets?

By Jill Duffy

This year, a glorious cache of fitness tech products are hitting store shelves and the Web.

Holiday Gift Guide bugConsumer devices for exercise, fitness, and home health are booming. Collectively, they come at a wide range of prices, serve a number of different purposes, and are better in quality and more accurate than ever before.

Here are 15 of my favorite fitness tech gifts to give everyone to from the couch-to-5K optimist to the Crossfit fanatic in your life.


For the Couch-to-5K Crowd
If you know someone who is just getting started with fitness, I have two recommended gifts, and they’re both activity trackers:

Misfit Flash

Misfit Flash$24.99 at Amazon
At $49, the Misift Flash is the best entry-level activity tracker you can buy for less than a hundred bucks. That price makes it a great gift. It lacks some sophisticated features that veteran fitness enthusiasts might want, but first-timers will find a lot to love. It’s also a waterproof tracker and totally safe for swimming.


Jawbone UP Move

Jawbone UP Move$49.99 at Amazon 
The exceedingly similar Jawbone UP Move hits that same low price, but has some key differences. It’s not waterproof, but it does a better job of tracking sleep. Plus, it has a really interesting integration with an app that tracks your caffeine intake to figure out whether too much joe is affecting your Zzzs. For restless sleepers and first time-trackers, the UP Move is a great gift.’

[FULL STORY HERE]

37% Of Americans Believe Most Workers’ Compensation Claimants “Don’t Want To Work”

If perception is half the battle… then these are fightin’ words!

Survey reveals injuman with beer belly asleep on couch with remotered workers deal with stigma and an overly complex process.Phoenix, AZ

A stubborn stigma persists toward injured workers who file workers’ compensation claims, according to a new survey commissioned by Summit Pharmacy Inc.

  • Nearly two in five Americans (37 percent) believe “most workers’ compensation claims are made by people who don’t want to work.”
  • One in three American workers (34 percent) believe if they were injured on the job, “it would be a nightmare process to get the pain medication(s) my doctor prescribed.”
  • More than one-third of Americans (35 percent) agreed with this statement: “You need a PhD to complete all the necessary paperwork associated with a worker’s compensation claim.”

The survey of more than 2,000 adults (aged 18+) was conducted online from September 29- October 1 by Harris Poll on behalf of Summit Pharmacy, which preserves the rights of injured workers by helping them get the doctor-prescribed medications they need, while working with attorneys and physicians to expedite the worker’s compensation claims process.

“The vast majority of workers are holding up their end of the bargain by putting in an honest day’s effort,” said Dr. Joel Morton, founder, president and medical director, Summit Pharmacy Inc. “Too often, injured workers face stigma and complications as they attempt to wade through complicated and frustrating bureaucracy. Work-related injuries often create a spiral of despair that affects entire families, sometimes permanently.”

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Impact of Healthcare Reform on Workers’ Compensation

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Affordable Care Act logoThe Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act (a/k/a Obamacare, or ACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010. This piece of legislation has changed the way we think about healthcare in the United States.  Among those changes is the “individual mandate,” which as of January 1, 2014, requires every person to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a tax based on family income.

ACA and Workers’ Compensation Programs

Since the implementation of the “individual mandate,” there has been discussion as to how the ACA will impact workers’ compensation insurance.  On its face, the ACA does not change or alter the requirements of workers’ compensation insurance.  However, there has been a lot of discussion as to the impact it will have as the workers’ compensation system is sometimes viewed as the “medical insurance for the uninsured.”

Goals of the ACA

The primary goal of the ACA was to expand coverage of healthcare insurance for the nearly 40 million uninsured in the United States.  Other stated goals included:

  1. Expand access options to the insured and uninsured;
  2. Reform consumer protections in healthcare;
  3. Place added awareness of wellness and preventative services; and
  4. Fight the rising costs of healthcare delivery and insurance premiums.

The ACA has increased the number of Americans covered by healthcare insurance.

Continue reading Impact of Healthcare Reform on Workers’ Compensation

Protecting Your Employees’ Backs and Your Business Protecting Your Employees’ Backs and Your Business

Gives new meaning to, “We got your back.”

By Jefferson City, MO –

lifting safety yellow diamond signEver hear the old saying, ‘lift with your legs, not your back’? There is a lot of truth in it. If you’re not already, it’s time to get serious about back safety. Back injuries due to lifting are one of the top five types of injuries reported to MEM. The average lost time injury is $35,000 and can have long-term effects. With a little training, your business can avoid prevent these types of injuries altogether.

Some important things to remember when you are considering whether or not to invest your time in back safety training include the fact that the Missouri workforce is aging, meaning employees are injured more frequently and it takes longer to heal. Most adults already experience back pain and many have some level of degeneration already occurring.

Teach the basics