Fitbit launches COVID-19 Study; Mindstrong raises $100M; Facedrive unveils TraceSCAN to stop COVID

Steven Loeb · May 29, 2020 · Short URL:

Virtual care, week of 5/29

In a strange way, healthcare seems to be reverting back to a style that had gone out of fashion many years ago, with an increased amount of health taking place in the home. There are now around 12 million people who are now getting in-home care, from more than 33,000 providers, and last year the annual expenditures for home health care were projected to be over $72 billion.

This is thanks, in large part, to technology and, more specifically, to connected in-home devices that can easily collect and send data to a physician in real-time. This allows patients to be monitored remotely, without constant trips to the doctor, and for physicians to do more timely interventions based on patterns picked up by AI and machine learning.

In July, Vator, HP and UCSF Health Hub will be holding an event centered around these devices, and how they are affecting the healthtech space. Every week until then we will be doing a roundup of some of the news around in-home devices and what some of the major tech companies are up to in this space.

 Mindstrong raises $100 million

Mindstrong, a healthcare company dedicated to transforming mental health through innovations in virtual care models and digital measurement, raised $100 million in Series C funding from General Catalyst, ARCH Venture Partners, Foresite Capital, 8VC, Optum Ventures, and What If Ventures, among others. 

The company has now raised a total of $160 million in funding. 

Mindstrong combines remote patient monitoring and mental health symptom measurement with an in-house clinical team of therapists, psychiatrists and care coordinators who can virtual care to members through a smartphone app.

The smartphone app allows members to monitor their own mental health symptoms through AI-powered digital biomarker technology, which can track changes in mental health. It can also trigger alerts to a member's clinical team when these markers indicate that a user's mental health may be at risk or deteriorating. Therapists are able to use in-app messaging, video, and phone conversations to connect with members, who also receive telehealth medication management with a psychiatrist through the Mindstrong app.

“People living with a serious mental illness will tell you that managing their symptoms isn’t one of those things that fit neatly into business hours or can be deferred because of COVID-19,” Daniel Graf, CEO of Mindstrong, said in statement. “The combination of our technology and our in-house clinical team puts us in a position to unlock a unique solution that increases access to care and improves health outcomes.”

Vault Health partners with Workpath to oversee at-home COVID-19 tests

Workpath, a SaaS platform that deploys mobile labor to perform on-demand healthcare services, partners with Vault Health, a startup specializing in healthcare for men, to dispatch telehealth workers to oversee the implementation of COVID-19 testing. Vault has the capacity to process more than 30,000 tests a day in all 50 states.

Vault chose Workpath's platform to schedule and manage Vault healthcare providers' digital supervision of patients who require a COVID-19 saliva test. It is now also going to be using Workpath to manage the availability and qualifications of the healthcare providers who are supervising the COVID-19 test over telehealth video calls. They will walk the test taker through the process on how to properly extract the saliva sample and provide them with instructions about how to safely return the kit to the lab for testing. 

The two companies have partnered before, as Vault Health had already been using Workpath to dispatch mobile healthcare workers to its patients for blood testing.

"Workpath has been essential in allowing us to quickly scale our mobile telehealth team to oversee COVID-19 testing," Vault Health Founder and CEO Jason Feldman said in a statement.  "Vault has been able to safely and efficiently supervise the at-home testing process vital to helping people across the United States get their COVID-19 results."

Workpath currently deploys tens of thousands of mobile healthcare workers into patients' homes in all 50 states on a daily basis. The company, founded in 2015, has raised $19.1 million in venture funding, while Vault Health, founded in 2018, has raised $30 million.

Fitbit launches COVID-19 Study

Fitbit launched the Fitbit COVID-19 Study, available in the Fitbit app, which will help determine whether Fitbit can help build an algorithm to detect COVID-19 before symptoms start.

Users who are over the age of 21, living in the United States or Canada and have had or currently have COVID-19, or symptoms consistent with the flu, are invited to answer a few questions that will help contribute to this research as Fitbit tries to develop this algorithm. 

Questions will include whether or not the users has, has had, or may have had flu or COVID-19; any symptoms they are experiencing or may have experienced; and any additional related details regarding their medical history and demographics. These answers will be used in conjunction with other indicators in the user's Fitbit data to help researchers try to determine early signs of COVID-19 and flu. Participation is entirely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time.  

Fitbit had previously partnered with the Scripps Research Translational Institute and the Stanford Medicine Healthcare Innovation Lab on research aimed at using Fitbit data to help detect, track and contain infectious diseases like COVID-19.  

Facedrive unveils TraceSCAN to stop spread of COVID-19

Facedrive, a Canadian ridesharing company, announced TraceSCAN, a COVID-19 contact tracing platform which includes an application, wearables and artificial intelligence technology to help spread of COVID-19 and predict future outbreaks.

TraceSCAN, which is a joint initiative by Facedrive Health and the University of Waterloo, uses Bluetooth technology to alert users when they come in close contact with someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19. It's available for the general public uses, allowing users to take safety precautions such as self-isolation or close monitoring for signs of COVID-19 symptoms, and it also available for businesses to use as their employees return to work.

As part of the TraceSCAN platform, Facedrive Health and Waterloo researchers are also developing Bluetooth-based wearables that will improve contact tracing accuracy and real-time monitoring of the recovery progress through measurement of specific vital signs. 

“As an innovative technology company with a people-and-planet-first business model, we believe it is Facedrive’s responsibility to contribute advanced technology solutions to our country during times of crisis,” Facedrive Chairman and CEO Sayan Navaratnam said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased to be working with the University of Waterloo’s team of researchers to enhance the TraceSCAN platform to develop a full solution that helps slows the spread of the virus and helps to identify any future COVID-19 outbreaks.” 

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