DeepMind hands off role as health app provider to parent Google

DeepMind’s recent foray into providing software as a service to U.K. hospitals has reached the end of its run.

The Google -owned AI division has just announced it will be stepping back from providing a clinical alerts and task management healthcare app to focus on research — handing off the team doing the day to day delivery of the Streams to its parent, Google. 

Announcing the move in a blog post entitled “Scaling Streams with Google,” DeepMind’s co-founders write: “Our vision is for Streams to now become an AI-powered assistant for nurses and doctors everywhere — combining the best algorithms with intuitive design, all backed

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WeRecover, the Kayak for addiction recovery, raises $2M

Approximately 90 percent of people in need of rehabilitation services for drug and alcohol abuse don’t have access to them, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey. Why? Often, because they don’t know where to look.

Santa Monica-based WeRecover wants to fill that information gap with its Kayak-like online booking engine for rehab centers. The startup’s matching algorithm pairs people with an accredited rehab center with open beds, tailored to that person’s budget, insurance, clinical needs and location. The goal is to make it easier for anyone seeking treatment for themselves or otherwise to quickly discover and secure a spot at a facility, streamlining what can be a daunting and logistically complicated process that prevents people from receiving the care they need. Today, WeRecover is announcing another $2 million fundraise led by Crosslink Capital, bringing its total venture capital backing to $4.5 million. Box
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Meditation app Simple Habit raises $10 million Series A

Five-minute meditation app Simple Habit announced today that it has raised a $10 million Series A, led by Foundation Capital. The round brings the developer’s total funding up to $12.5 million, following a $2.5 million seed last year.

The Shark Tank alum has been kicking since 2016, the result of CEO and co-founder Yunha Kim’s attempt to build a kind of “Spotify for Meditation.” The startup graduated Y Combinator in April of last year and has made a large push to increase available content.

The company has received praise for its focus on helping users incorporate short meditation sessions into their busy lives. And certainly the time is pretty ideal if you happen to be a mindfulness app in search of some serious VC. 

Most of the reception has been positive, and according to numbers provided to TechCrunch by SensorTower, Simple Habit was the third most

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Limiting social media use reduced loneliness and depression in new experiment

The idea that social media can be harmful to our mental and emotional well-being is not a new one, but little has been done by researchers to directly measure the effect; surveys and correlative studies are at best suggestive. A new experimental study out of Penn State, however, directly links more social media use to worse emotional states, and less use to better.

To be clear on the terminology here, a simple survey might ask people to self-report that using Instagram makes them feel bad. A correlative study would, for example, find that people who report more social media use are more likely to also experience depression. An experimental study compares the results from an experimental group with their behavior systematically modified, and a control group that’s allowed to do whatever they want. This study, led by Melissa Hunt at Penn State’s psychology department, is the latter — which
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Hackers stole income, immigration and tax data in Healthcare.gov breach, government confirms

Hackers siphoned off thousands of Healthcare.gov applications by breaking into the accounts of brokers and agents tasked with helping customers sign up for healthcare plans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a post buried on its website that found that the hackers obtained “inappropriate access” to a number of broker and agent accounts, which “engaged in excessive searching” of the government’s healthcare marketplace systems. CMS didn’t say how the attackers gained access to the accounts, but said it shut off the affected accounts “immediately.” In a letter sent to affected customers this week (and buried on the Healthcare.gov website), CMS disclosed that sensitive personal data — including partial Social Security numbers, immigration status and some tax information — may have been taken. According to the letter, the data included:

RapidSOS, an emergency response data provider, raises $30M as it grows from 10K users to 250M

Every day, there are around 650,000 emergency service callouts via 911 for medical, police and fire assistance in the US; and by their nature these are some of the most urgent communications that we will ever make.

But ironically in the age of smartphones, connected things and the internet, these 911 calls are also some of the most antiquated — with a typical emergency response centre still relying on the humans making the calls to tell them the most basic of information about their predicaments before anything can be actioned. Now a new generation of startups has been emerging to tackle that gap to make emergency responses more accurate and faster; and one of them today is announcing a significant round of funding on the back of very strong growth. RapidSOS, a New York-based startup that helps increase the funnel of information that is transmitted to emergency services alongside
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Men’s wellness startup HIMS has launched a line of women’s health products called HERS

Exactly one year to the day since it launched its line of men’s health products, HIMS is announcing its foray into women’s wellness.

The company is using its mountain of venture capital to support the new brand, called HERS. In September, HIMS raised another $50 million in a round led by IVP.  The financing valued the startup, which has brought in $97 million to date, at $500 million, according to PitchBook. “Our goal is to help women make the most informed choices about their health at every stage of their healthcare journey,” HERS brand lead Hilary Coles told TechCrunch. [gallery ids="1740364,1740363,1740365,1740366,1740362"] Upon launch, HERS is offering three categories of products: sexual wellness, skin care and hair loss treatments. Its line of sexual health products includes a prescription-based birth control pill and Addyi, the only FDA-approved medication for women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. “We thought it was offensive really that
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Emotional wellness startup Aura raises $2.7 million from Cowboy Ventures and Reach Capital

Aura, an app for emotional well-being, has raised a $2.7 million seed round co-led by Cowboy Ventures and Reach Capital, with participation from others.

When Aura first launched a couple of years ago, its bread and butter was short, three-to-seven-minute meditations based on your current mood — be that stressed, anxious, happy or sad. Since then, co-founders Steve and Daniel Lee say the company has grown to a few million users. “We’ve since grown to become everyone’s emotional wellness assistant,” Steve told me. “We ask how people are feeling right now and then offer content to help them feel better.” Aura works with therapists, coaches and meditation teachers to offer a variety of content to help people get the type of help they’re looking for. In addition to meditation, Aura offers life coaching, music and inspirational stories. Premium users, who pay $60 per year, have unlimited access to content,
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Ex-One Medical exec launches mental health studio

Access to timely, quality mental health services can be a struggle. Octave, a mental health studio founded by Sandeep Acharya, One Medical’s former head of strategy, is launching today to help with just that.

“The mission of Octave is to create a society where people are as proactive about their mental well-being as they are about their physical well-being,” Acharya told TechCrunch. Octave offers individual therapy, a stress management coaching program and daily, drop-in classes for people seeking mindfulness, help with insomnia and general coping skills. Drop-in classes start at $15 per class while coaching is $75 per session. Octave, however, is still quite costly for ongoing therapy ($180 a session) — and cost is often a significant barrier for people seeking mental health services. Octave is designed to address people’s therapy needs who may not already have a relationship with a therapist.

Sandeep Acharya, Octave founder and CEO

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Naya Health, once a promising breast pump startup, now leaving customers in the dark

With their loud noises and hard plastic flanges, breast pumps are the bane of many a new mother’s existence. Founded in 2013, Naya Health is one of the most notable tech startups working on a better pump. But the company’s support site is now shutdown and it’s stopped updating its social media accounts. In a report today, CNBC spoke to several customers who said their pumps, which cost $1,000 and aren’t covered by insurance, had stopped working, and Naya Health had not provided them with adequate support or replacement parts.

Several users have also complained on Naya Health’s Facebook page about non-delivery of pumps they ordered months ago. A Kickstarter campaign created for Naya Health’s smart baby bottle, which raised more than $100,000, is also filled with complaints about orders not being fulfilled (the last response from co-founder and CEO Janica Alvarez was posted six months ago). Naya Health’s
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iPharmacy Roman fights stigmas with premature ejaculation meds

There’s a war brewing to become the cloud pharmacy for men’s health. Roman, which launched last year offering erectile dysfunctional medication and recently added a ‘quit smoking’ kit, is taking on $97 million-funded Hims for the hair loss market. Today, Roman launched four new products it hopes to cross-sell to users through a unified telemedicine subscription and pill delivery app. It now sells meds for premature ejaculation, oral herpes, genital herpes, and hair loss at what’s often a deep discount versus your local drug store. And for those who are too far gone, it’s launching a “Bald Is Beautiful, Too” microsite for finding the best razors, lotions, and head shaving tips.

Roman CEO Zachariah Reitano

“It’s unlikely that you’ll buy razors from Bonobos or pants from Dollar Shave Club. But with a doctor, it’s actually the exact opposite” Roman CEO Zachariah Reitano tells me. “As a customer you’re frustrated if
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China is funding the future of American biotech

Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by “Eastern” medicine.

It’s been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. That’s the story at Viela Bio, a Maryland-based company exploring treatments for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which raised a $250 million Series A led by three Chinese firms.

Chinese capital’s newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the strongest year of venture investment ever, with over one hundred companies receiving $4 billion in investment.

As Chinese investors

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Hackers breach Healthcare.gov system, taking files on 75,000 people

A government system used by insurance agents and brokers to help customers sign up for healthcare plans was breached, allowing hackers to siphon off sensitive and personal data on 75,000 people.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed the breach in a late Friday announcement, but revealed few details about the contents of the files stolen. The hacked system was connected to the Healthcare.gov website, the front-facing portal for anyone signing up for an insurance plan under former President Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act. Hackers targeted the behind-the-scenes system that insurance agents used to help customers directly enroll in new plans, and not the consumer Healthcare.gov site itself.  In order to sign up for healthcare plans, customers have to give over a ton of personal data — including names, addresses, and their social security number. CMS didn’t say exactly what kind of data was
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Future Family raises $10M to make fertility treatments more affordable

Future Family, a startup that helps families more easily afford fertility services like IVF and egg freezing, has raised $10 million in a Series A round.

Just weeks back, Future Family switched up its offerings to feel less like a loan, and more like a monthly subscription. The end results might seem pretty similar — with both, customers get the services they need without having to cough up a big pile of cash up front — but the monthly subscription approach has a big advantage: flexibility. If a customer realizes a few months in that additional fertility services are needed, the cost can just be wrapped right into the monthly plan on the fly. The company’s fertility offerings start at $195 a month (for 60 months) for a plan that pairs you with a clinic and concierge to help you start navigating, while $250 a month (for 60 months) covers
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Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is teaming up with Zenefits

Many are familiar with Arianna Huffington’s personal journey from media mogul to outspoken sleep advocate.

In April 2007 she collapsed, broke her collarbone and woke up in a pool of blood, a well-publicized accident she attributes to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. In the years that followed, she shifted her focus to wellness, authoring two books on the topic: Thrive and The Sleep Revolutionand later founded a wellness media company called Thrive Global. Thrive, which bills itself as a “behavior change” startup, helps businesses help their employees develop healthy relationships with technology and manage stress and burnout — issues with which Huffington is personally familiar. The company has raised nearly $43 million in venture capital funding to date, at a $121.5 million valuation as of May. Today, Thrive is announcing a new partnership with Zenefits, the provider of software that helps small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) manage human
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UK health minister sets out tech-first vision for future care provision

The UK’s still fairly new in post minister for health, Matt Hancock, quickly made technology one of his stated priorities. And today he’s put more meat on the bones of his thinking, setting out a vision for transforming, root and branch, how the country’s National Health Service operates to accommodate the plugging in of “healthtech” apps and services — to support tech-enabled “preventative, predictive and personalised care”.

How such a major IT upgrade program would be paid for is not clearly set out in the policy document. But the government writes that it is “committed to working with partners” to deliver on its grand vision. “Our ultimate objective is the provision of better care and improved health outcomes for people in England,” Hancock writes in the ‘future of healthcare’ policy document. “But this cannot be done without a clear focus on improving the technology used by the 1.4 million
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Keeps parent company Thirty Madison raises $15 million to fight male pattern baldness

Thirty Madison, the healthcare startup behind the hair loss brand Keeps, has brought in a $15.25 million Series A co-led by Maveron and Northzone.

The company provides a subscription-based online marketplace for men’s hair loss prevention medications Finasteride and Minoxidil. Keeps sells these drugs direct-to-consumer, working with manufacturers to keep the costs low. On Keeps, a subscription of Minoxidil, an over-the-counter topical treatment often referred to as Rogaine, is $10 monthly. A subscription to Finasteride, a prescription drug taken daily, is $25 per month. “It’s an end-to-end platform that is the single best place for guys who are looking to keep their hair,” Thirty Madison co-founder Steven Gutentag told TechCrunch. Keeps is tapping into a big market. According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of American men experience some hair loss by the age of 35. You may have heard of Hims, a venture-backed men’s
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Medical device maker Medtronic finally fixes its hackable pacemaker

Medtronic, a maker of medical devices and implants, has pulled the plug on its internet-based software update system, which security researchers had found had a dangerous security vulnerability

The company said in a notice this week that it’s switching off the software distribution network after researchers found that a hacker could update the pacemaker’s software with malicious software that could manipulate the impulses that regulate a patient’s heartbeat. The researchers, Jonathan Butts and Billy Rios, revealed the vulnerability at the Black Hat conference in August, more than a year after first reporting the vulnerability to Medtronic. The bug isn’t within the pacemaker itself but the devices that are used by doctors to connect to the pacemaker to check its battery and status. These “programmer” devices weren’t checking if downloaded software hadn’t been tampered with. Medtronic issued several updates throughout the year to try to mitigate the vulnerability, but only this
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With $300M in new funding, Devoted Health launches its Medicare Advantage plan in Florida

Devoted Health, a Waltham, Mass.-based insurance startup, has raised a $300 million Series B and began enrolling members in eight Florida counties to its Medicare Advantage plan.

The company, which helps Medicare beneficiaries access care through its network of physicians and tech-enabled healthcare platform, has raised the funds from lead investor Andreessen Horowitz, Premji Invest and Uprising. The company declined to disclose its valuation. Devoted’s founders are brothers Todd and Ed Park — the company’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, respectively. Todd co-founded a pair of now publicly-traded companies, Athenahealth, a provider of electronic health record systems, and health benefits platform Castlight Health. He also served as the U.S. chief technology officer during the Obama Administration. Ed, for his part, was the chief operating officer of Athenahealth until 2016 and a member of Castlight’s board of directors for several years. Venrock partners Bryan Roberts — Devoted’s founding
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