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Connected Medical Devices
iHealth expands its retail, connected medical device empire and looks to move into corporations, hospitals
iHealth has been fast on its feet with a whole lineup of inexpensive, connected products targeting cardiovascular and diabetic health. And while the company has its roots in device manufacturing, it's angling to nab massive consumer sales and starting to look toward corporate wellness and even hospital sales.
Before the year is out, iHealth expects to announce a number of new devices and a new app, as well as additional U.S. retail and enterprise partners, the company's director of marketing, Yelena Kozlova, told FierceMedicalDevices in an interview.
iHealth was early to the party for smartphone- and cloud-connected medical devices. It was started in 2010 as a subsidiary of Chinese medical device manufacturer Andon Health ($XSHE). The main mission of the iHealth business has been to market personal mobile health devices primarily to U.S. consumers.
The company launched its first mobile-app-enabled blood pressure device in 2011, adding a wireless blood pressure monitor in 2012 and a wireless blood glucose monitor in 2013. It had the first health device sold in Apple retail stores, and its products are carried by major retailers including Walgreens ($WAG), Best Buy and Amazon.
iHealth now has a whole lineup of connected products that all funnel data to the cloud as well as healthcare providers, and can be viewed and analyzed in concert. They include a smartphone-connected plug-in blood glucose monitor as well as a wireless glucometer, in addition to other connected devices such as blood pressure monitors, body analysis scales, pulse oximeters and an activity and sleep tracker.
Part of the company's strategy is to clear its devices with the FDA, which will likely make it easier to expand into the hospital and corporate settings, as well as to reassure consumers and physicians relying upon the data. All of its devices are cleared already by the agency, except for the scales and the fitness tracker. Providing monitoring to patients with hypertension and diabetes, groups that tend to overlap, is core to iHealth.
Kozlova offered a recent case in point in its relationship with the Fire Department in Satellite Beach, FL. The city has a number of elderly residents, many of whom frequently resorted to 911 calls to resolve health crises. In an effort to better manage the needs of its population, the firefighters bought some of the iHealth devices at Best Buy to try them out. They then contacted the company to work with it more closely, she said.
Now, it's an "exciting collaboration focusing on telehealth and remote monitoring," Kozlova said. "They were receiving high instances of 911 calls from patients not taking their medication who were suffering from diabetes and hypertension."
"The paramedics give the devices to their patients, they train them on it. The elderly population finds these devices easy to use and paramedics get daily email reports on the vitals of their patients," she said, adding that often a simple phone call with a medication reminder was all that was necessary to get patients with aberrant readings back on track.
Summed up Kozlova, "We really believe that we can get more out of technology. It's a way to help manage chronic conditions. Smartphones are enablers for that, but we do have some devices that have wireless connections directly to the cloud. … Allowing many inputs can enable better management of chronic conditions--that's the strategic vision of the company."
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