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HelpAround launches mobile platform for people with diabetes

BY Michael Johnsen

TEL AVIV, Israel – HelpAround on Wednesday launched a mobile platform for people with diabetes — and their friends, family and caregivers — that reveals fellow ‘diabetes helpers’ from the crowd, helping people resolve sudden health crises, such as getting caught without essential over-the-counter blood glucose test strips.
 
Its patent-pending Mobile Safety Net technology is the first sharing economy service for consumer health, the company announced.
 
While HelpAround shouldn’t replace emergency room or doctor’s office visits, the Mobile Safety Net shows a nearby mix of other users, relevant people from users’ social graphs and public social media streams — then facilitates connections according to shared patient interests and needs.
 
Personalized to users’ health needs and location, HelpAround also is a resource outside of crisis situations.  Users find each other the best local healthcare services, insurance plans, doctors, pharmacies and retail opportunities. HelpAround’s peer-to-peer support is a vital upgrade to the static content from outdated online forums — nearly impossible to read on mobile devices — and in-person support groups, which lack the anonymity of a virtual medium.  
 
HelpAround also announced Wednesday it raised $550,000 in funding, co-led by Windham Venture Partners and angel investors Walter Winshall, Robert Oringer and former Harmonix COO Michael Dornbrook.
 
“Diabetes management is exhausting for both patients and caregivers, yet there hasn’t been a healthcare industry after-care solution that helps patients by connecting them to each other,” said HelpAround CEO and co-founder Yishai Knobel. “HelpAround’s premise is: The best resource for a patient is another patient. We harness the superior trust, empathy and camaraderie within the diabetes patient community, allowing members to discover peers who truly ‘get it.’”
 
Two launch features underscore HelpAround’s status as a multi-format platform offering a new layer of support for the diabetes patient community, despite its overall mobile-first foundation:
  • EsTuDiabetes.org web widget — HelpAround developed a web-based Safety Net widget for one of the largest Spanish-speaking diabetes patient community’s websites. Using IP addresses to track location instead of GPS, it’s a way for people with diabetes who are without smartphones and tablets to discover each other in the real world; and
  • Nurse on Call — HelpAround is partnering with TeamHealth to provide the first free, 24/7, live phone support with registered nurses from a mobile app. Users in most major U.S. cities tap the “Nurse on Call” button to ask an R.N. their diabetes-related question for free, up to three times a month.
 
Sonny Vu, founder of the wearable computer manufacturer Misfit Wearables, recently joined HelpAround’s advisory board. “An informed patient community provides its members insights and actionable steps they can take — similar to the goal of wearable computers via data collection,” Vu said. “HelpAround’s potential to crowdsource diabetes experience — and deliver it locally and immediately — for quality of life improvement really excites me.”
 
HelpAround also is a patient engagement platform designed to let healthcare providers, brands and retailers join patients’ conversations in identity-based groups — like Type 2 Diabetes, Moms of Children with Diabetes and Teens with Diabetes — interacting with them at moments when they’re seeking advice. With Medicare reimbursement now tied directly to patient satisfaction, healthcare providers benefit from a new way to engage local patients, the company noted. Those providers also can launch their own branded groups within HelpAround, further boosting patient recruitment and brand visibility. Examples of branded HelpAround groups include EsTuDiabetes for the Spanish-speaking diabetes community and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund of Israel for Israelis with Type 1 diabetes.
 
HelpAround welcomes existing local and regional patient communities looking to expand their mobile presence, including diabetes camps and university groups, as well as nonprofit organizations and online communities like EsTuDiabetes, to create groups inside its platform.
 
The HelpAround user interface is available in English, Spanish, French and Hebrew, though users may type in any language. HelpAround plans to support additional patient communities as it expands; several food allergy groups are already in Beta within its mobile platform. The app is available now as a free download in Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
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Walmart to open two Care Clinics in South Carolina

BY Michael Johnsen

SUMTER, S.C. — Walmart will open its first Care Clinics in South Carolina, according to a report published in The State Wednesday.
 
The new clinic locations are in Sumter and Florence. 
 
Walmart recently opened its first owned healthcare clinic in Copperas Cove, Texas, and introduced a pricing model with flat rates of $4 for employees and $40 for customers. "It is a way for Walmart to provide convenient and almost free access to health care for associates and, because Walmart avoids the expense of having associates visit other doctors, it can used the saving to offer a reduced price to customers," noted Retailing Today editor Mike Troy in a recent report on Walmart's shareholder meeting.    
 
According to The State report, the two South Carolina clinics are scheduled to open July 31. 
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Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and McKesson Canada create specialty pharmacy network

BY Michael Johnsen

 

TORONTO – Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada on Tuesday entered into a strategic business relationship with McKesson Canada to launch the Sun Life Preferred Pharmacy Network.
 
"As the leading insurance provider of group benefits, employers are turning to Sun Life to help manage the rising costs of their employee benefits plans and maintain the value of their plan," said Stuart Monteith, SVP Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. "Through this strategic business relationship with McKesson Canada, we are able to help employers sustain their drug plans."
 
"We have always believed that patients are best served in their communities by the professional care most accessible to them: their pharmacist," said Alain Champagne, president McKesson Canada. "Our company services the largest number of pharmacies in Canada, through which Sun Life has established its preferred pharmacy network. Sun Life plan members can access their specialty medication through the network while benefitting from numerous health-related services that can have a positive impact on their overall health and wellbeing."
 
Comprised of more than 1,500 pharmacies across Canada, outside Quebec, this network will help employers and their employees manage the increasing claim costs of specialty medications. Sun Life plan members will benefit from reduced overall claim costs on specialty drugs and have access to medication counselling, home delivery of prescriptions and chronic disease management programs, such as those focused on diabetes, where available.
 
The Sun Life Preferred Pharmacy Network will be available to employees who are covered under a Sun Life benefits plan and use their pay direct drug card to purchase specialty medications. These are drugs that can treat select conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis C.
 
Plan members will have access to a dedicated website and telephone line to find a participating pharmacy in their community that carries their medication and learn more about the additional services offered through McKesson Canada and the participating pharmacies.
 
"The Sun Life Preferred Pharmacy Network creates a unique opportunity to build on the value pharmacists can bring in delivering personalized client-centered services," added Mark Rolnick, assistant VP product development, group benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. "When our customers visit a participating pharmacy, they will be helped by experienced pharmacists who can provide support to manage chronic diseases and improve their overall health."

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