In-Depth: Mobile adoption among US physicians

By: MobiHealthNews | Apr 17, 2014        

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iPad 2After a few years of similar data points, Manhattan Research‘s Director of Physician Research James Avallone feels confident that smartphone adoption among physicians in the US has plateaued.

“We have seen this number in the low 80s since 2011 — it’s been static,” Avallone said. “In 2010 we were at 72 percent of physicians and then the following year we hit four out of five. Since then it’s really plateaued at a low- to mid-80 number in terms of physicians using it for professional purposes.”

Avallone is quick to point out that high level metric is, of course, only a part of the story. What has been more interesting to Manhattan and others who track the field is the way that smartphones, tablets, and potentially future devices will each fit into a physician’s day.  Keep reading>>

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At least four startups are now focused on Google Glass apps for doctors

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 17, 2014        

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AugmedixThis week, Google opened Google Glass sales to the general public for one day only and before the day ended the limited supply of Glass devices that Google offered sold out. While there is clearly some demand for the wearable device, another camp is more skeptical about the role Google Glass will play in the life of consumers and professionals.

One prediction is that Google Glass will find greater success in professional settings, like in healthcare facilities as tools for physicians and other staff. While it’s still unclear whether Google Glass will be a viable longterm option for either healthcare providers or consumers, Google Glass has already inspired a handful of entrepreneurs to launch startups focused wholly on a Glass-enabled offering for physicians.

Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Chief Innovation Officer John Halamka told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview that Glass could have the potential to be the new iPad. Beth Israel is also working with a startup called Wearable Intelligence that develops enterprise offerings using Google Glass, which Halamka has used while working in the emergency department. The startup has developed multiple apps for Glass that will help providers in an doctor’s office setting.

One program, Director, aims to improve workflow for doctors. It can be used to dictate messages or retrieve information from clinical systems. Mentor, another program, allows healthcare providers to take point-of-view videos and photos that they can sent to colleagues who will consult the information and provide recommendations. And Informant offers near-realtime data to the clinician while he is with a patient so that the clinician can have contextual information about the patient while he or she is treating the patient.

Another company, Pristine, advertises the fact that it offers a stripped-down version of Glass in order to keep it HIPAA compliant. So far, the company has launched two products, EyeSight and CheckLists. EyeSight streams near-real time audio and video from Glass to authorized iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs so that, among other uses, wound care nurses can transmit point-of-view video to a physician, emergency responders can send relevant video and information to hospital staff who are preparing to treat the patient, and surgeons can send a livestream of a surgery from their point of view to residents, fellows, and surgeons at other medical centers.

CheckLists helps physicians reduce errors by allowing them to launch any list they want to refer to, for example a surgical timeout checklist, asystole checklist, and cardiac arrest checklist. Voice activation launches any checklist.  Keep reading>>

Pharma company Opko acquires smart inhaler startup for at least $10M

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 17, 2014        

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The Inspiromatic inhaler.

The Inspiromatic inhaler.

Biopharmaceutical company Opko Health has acquired Israeli smart inhaler company Inspiro Medical for a sum in “the low eight figures”, according to Opko’s Director of Strategic Investment Les Funtleyder. The company will be using Inspiro’s Inspiromatic technology to develop an app-connected inhaler that will be bundled with a forthcoming new drug for asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis.

“We are pleased to add this next generation inhaler to Opko’s growing product portfolio,” Dr. Phillip Frost, Opko’s CEO and Chairman, said in a statement. “We expect this innovative device to play a valuable role in the improvement of therapy for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases. We plan to use the Inspiromatic device to test the inhaled form of Opko’s new sulfated disaccharide drug against these disorders. … Of course, we believe that Inspiromatic can improve outcomes of treatment with other drugs, those presently available in more ‘standard’ type inhalers, as well as new inhalation drugs being developed. This acquisition fits our strategy of developing new products that address large markets in need of more effective therapeutic solutions.”  Keep reading>>

RunKeeper launches Breeze, an all-day tracking app for iPhone 5s

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 17, 2014        

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breeze2RunKeeper launched a new iPhone 5 app this morning called Breeze, aimed not just at runners but at walkers and casual exercisers. The app uses the phone’s M7 motion coprocessor to track the user’s movements all day, similar to ProtoGeo’s Moves app or Azumio’s Argus app.

“Breeze gives you simple insights into your daily activity and motivates you to make fitness a bigger part of your life,” the company writes in an introductory blog post. “Breeze starts by tracking all the steps you take — but it goes far beyond your average pedometer. Breeze tells you where and when you are moving throughout the day, offers personal daily goals, motivating notifications that are subtle yet persuasive, and celebrates big moments and achievements. You’ll gain more insight into how your daily activities through a simple, easy-to-use interface.”

The app tracks a user’s movement continuously throughout the day, and sends push notifications informing them of how close they are to reaching pre-set goals. It’s also designed to help give users an idea of when they’re already moving throughout the day and when they could fit in some additional exercise. Finally, the app gives recaps of the previous days’ movement every morning and allows the user to compare each days’ steps to previous days or averages.

At an Xconomy event last month, RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs talked about how he sees passive tracking on the phone fitting into the activity tracker market over time, compared to dedicated devices like the Fitbit or Nike Fuelband.

“What we started to notice was this fitness-specific hardware was on a road to nowhere, because over time it’s on a path to commoditization and how can they possibly maintain these margins when there’s less and less differentiation and more and more players in the market?” Jacobs said at the time. “So from a focus standpoint, we’re squarely focused on being the software that powers the fitness component of phones and, in general, wearables. And while we still plan to integrate with the third party inputs, we don’t think the standalone devices that are fitness specific are the vehicle that is going to take this stuff to the mass market. We think it’s going to be the phone.”

Because it relies on the M7 co-processor to provide continuous tracking without overly taxing the battery, the app is currently available only for the iPhone 5s. However, the company says it is looking into expanding Breeze to other devices. Other future plans include deeper integration with RunKeeper’s flagship app and more personal and specific features and notifications — likely the same sort of personalized features Jacobs talked about at the Xconomy event.

“If we know that you’re supposed to run 10 miles tomorrow or today and we know your schedule and we know that it’s raining outside, we also know when it stops raining,” he said at the time. “Or we don’t today, but we sure could, the technology’s there. Right? So what if we pinged you and said ‘Hey it stopped raining, might be a good time to get in that 10 miles,’ since we know you have two hours free in your schedule? It’s scary, but it’s incredibly powerful if harnessed for good.”

RunKeeper incorporated the M7 motion coprocessor into its app back in November as well, when the company introduced a feature called Pocket Track. Breeze seems to be a broader, more advanced implementation of the technology.

Nielsen: 46 million people used fitness apps in January

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 17, 2014        

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NielsenAlmost one-third of US smartphone owners, which is about 46 million unique people, used apps from the fitness and health category in January 2014, according to a report from Nielsen’s Mobile NetView 3.0 software, which is on-device software installed onto iOS and Android smartphones with permission from survey participants. Approximately 5,000 panelists aged 18 and over participated in this report.

The 46 million users accessed the apps, on average, 16 times per month and used for close to an hour.

The number of smartphone users that accessed fitness apps in January 2014 jumped 18 percent year over year. Nielsen said popular apps that connect to wearable devices include Fitbit’s app, which has 3.3 million users, and Nike+Running, which has 0.8 million users. Nielsen also included Samsung’s S Health app, which has 3 million users, in this category although when the survey was conducted in January, before Gear Fit launched, there were no wearable devices that connected with the S Health app in the US.

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Nuance acquires mobile-focused image-sharing company Accelarad

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 17, 2014        

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Accelarad's mobile app.

Accelarad’s mobile app.

Nuance Communications has acquired cloud-based medical image sharing company Accelarad for an undisclosed amount and is launching Accelerad’s technology, combined with Nuance’s existing networks, under the new name PowerShare Network.

“There are 1,900 users connected to [Accelarad's] network today, actively sharing images,” Christy Murfitt, director of solutions product marketing for diagnostic solutions at Nuance, told MobiHealthNews. “One of the things that was so attractive about this model is that healthcare really should be moving into the modern age, and we want this type of interaction to be like Dropbox or LinkedIn — very light, very easy. And it makes sense for us, given our huge footprint in the industry, that we hear about the frustration and we want things to be seamless. We know that this addition to our solution portfolio will really tear down those walls and the silos of communication and improve patient care.”

According to Murfitt, medical imagery is currently shared between institutions via CDs that are either sent through the mail or delivered with the patient when he or she is transferred. In addition to being costly, about 20 percent of the time the receiving organization can’t access the images and must re-do the X-ray or scan, which creates a significant amount of waste.

PowerShare Network will allow doctors and radiologists at any hospital in the country to share images and reports, including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, EKGs, wound care images, and dermatology images, with one another over the cloud. The offering will be a freemium model — doctors will be able to receive images for free, but will need to become paying customers to send them. Murfitt anticipates fast growth, given 1,900 Accelarad users already on the system and even more existing Nuance customers who are likely to adopt; the company’s PowerScribe system for radiology note-taking counts half the nation’s radiologists among its users.

Doctors can access these images on personal computers or on iOS devices, with Android support as a possibility in the future. Murfitt said mobile was a key consideration in Nuance’s choice to acquire Accelarad.

“We are seeing an increase in the use of mobile devices inside the hospital within the hospital walls,” she said. “You can access these images via workstation or mobile device. Fifty percent of Accelarad’s customers actually access their images through mobile devices. The image quality, the viewing quality has been a focus for this solution. … And that really is something that is critical to this industry moving forward.”

Nuance quietly bought Accelerad about a month ago, according to Murfitt. The Atlanta, Georgia-based business has been around since 1999 with no reported funding. When Life Image CEO Hamid Tabatabaie wrote about rumors of the acquisition in a recent blog post, he said the company does about $6 million a year in sales.