Study finds most patients want the option to withhold data from their doctors

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 17, 2014        

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Dr. William Tierney

Dr. William Tierney

HIPAA is designed to give patients control of their own medical data — who can see it, who can access it, and who can use it, especially with regards to third parties. But when it comes to physicians themselves, the status quo is patients being expected to fully disclose, so doctors have all the information they might need to treat them. A new study is challenging that paradigm.

The study comes out of The Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine and Eskenazi Health, published as a five-part special supplement to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and it shows that patients for the most part want controls of their data. Using Eskenazi Health’s in-house electronic record system, researchers gave 105 patients the option to block sensitive information, including information on sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse or mental health, from their care providers. Doctors could still gain access to the data if they deemed it medically essential by hitting a “break the glass” button in the back-end interface.

“To the best of our knowledge, a trial like ours has never been attempted before, and we believe it presents an opportunity to shape national policy based on evidence,” Regenstrief President and CEO William Tierney, MD, principal investigator of the project, said in a statement. “We learned that patients have widely different opinions of what kinds of their health care data they would like visible to different members of their health care team and others, such as health services researchers, who might have access to information in their electronic medical record.”  Keep reading>>

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13 health and fitness crowdfunding projects looking for backers

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 17, 2014        

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Over the last two months, crowdfunding campaigns have launched for numerous smartwatches and fitness wearables, as well as a number of more health-specific devices. These devices purport to help track eating behavior, heart health, dental health, sleep, and even cancer detection. Some devices aim to track health holistically, and the list even includes a smart water bottle meant to help users track hydration.

Read on for a round-up of 13 new projects looking for backers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Ear-O-Smart

Ear-O-Smart

Ear-O-Smart has a new proposition for the tracker market: tiny stealthy activity trackers embedded in earrings. The placement also allows the device to monitor heart rate. The Canadian startup explains the appeal like this:

“The wearable market is expanding quickly, but the problem is that your options are very limited; most fitness monitors are limited to wrist-based electronics. Would you want to wear a bulky wrist monitor to a party or on a date? We think no.”

The earrings will run on a coin cell battery and cost $150 for a pair. The company is also offering a DIY kit at the same price that lets users customize the design of the earrings while keeping the tracking component inside. Ear-O-Smart has raised $8,372 Canadian of a $30,000 goal so far. Keep reading>>

Survey: 43 percent of millennials want access to patient portals on their smartphones

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 17, 2014        

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Healthcare Portals: Millennials and Baby Boomers Engage in Unique WaysForty three percent of millennials prefer to access patient portals on their smartphones, according to a Harris Poll survey conducted online for Xerox in September. Harris Poll surveyed 2,017 consumers for the survey. Some were millennials, aged 18 to 34 and some were baby boomers, aged 55 to 64.

In the group surveyed, 1,250 do not use online patient portals and 767 do.

Of the respondents that don’t use online patient portals, 57 percent of consumers said they would be more interested in using them if the portals gave them online access to their medical records.

“With providers facing regulatory changes, mounting costs, and patients who increasingly seek access to more information, our survey points to an opportunity to address issues by simply opening dialogue with patients about patient portals,” Xerox’s Commercial Healthcare Chief Innovation Officer Tamara St. Claire said in a statement. “Educating patients will empower them to participate more fully in their own care while helping providers demonstrate that electronic health records are being used in a meaningful way.”

Keep reading>>

Sony unveils technology to make any eyewear smart

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 17, 2014        

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Sony smart glass attachmentSony has developed, not a pair of smart glasses, but a device that attaches to any piece of eyewear to make it smart.

“This display module possesses the potential to enrich users’ lives in a variety of ways,” Sony writes in a statement. “By simply attaching it to a pair of fashionable glasses, goggles, sunglasses, or other type of eyewear, you can instantly gain access to visual information that adds a level of convenience to your everyday life.”

Sony’s technology will be shown in January at CES as a concept and it will be equipped with a high-resolution OLED microdisplay, WiFi functionality, an accelerometer, a touch sensor, and an electronic compass. The attachment will weigh approximately 1.5 ounces.

The company plans to launch a software development kit (SDK) for this module so developers can use the module to create wearable products for specific use cases. Developers will have the option of either loading an app onto Sony’s smart glass attachment or connecting it to a smartphone app over WiFi. The company said it would start mass production of the module within the coming year.

Keep reading>>

American Well has raised $81M since 2010 for its video visits service

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 16, 2014        

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AmWellSince 2010 Boston-based video visits company American Well has raised $81 million in a mix of equity, options, and securities, according to an SEC filing. According to the filing, the investment closes out a round of funding that included tranches in 2010 ($25 million from equity) and 2012 ($12 million more from equity). So the most recent funding apparently totaled $44 million (and included options and securities).

A company representative told MobiHealthNews in an email that strategic investors Anthem and Jefferson Health System contributed to the round along with other undisclosed investors.

American Well offers its services both direct-to-consumer and through other organizations like payers, employers, universities, and providers. American Well’s offering lets patients set-up on demand, video-enabled visits with physicians via their computers or through an iPad, iPhone, or Android device.

“Our mission is to transform healthcare from within by making it more convenient and less costly,” American Well Corp. Chairman and CEO Ido Schoenberg said in a statement. “Together with our partners, we are now focused on expanding the role of telehealth to connect existing care teams with their patients and offer more services to chronically ill patients in their own homes.”

American Well’s apps include LiveHealth (which they created with WellPoint’s HMC), NowClinic (created in partnership with Optum), and Online Care Anywhere (created for BCBSMN).  Keep reading>>

Lift raises $1.1M for health peer-to-peer health coaching app

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 16, 2014        

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Lift WorldwideSan Francisco-based health app developer Lift, not to be confused with Google-acquired Lift Labs, raised $1.1 million from Spark Capital and Obvious Ventures, according to a post from TechCrunch. This brings the company’s total funding to date to at least $3.6 million.

The company was incubated at Obvious Corp, which also spun out Twitter.

Lift’s app helps users set goals to improve their health. Users also receive encouragement from the Lift community and can use coaching tips as well as reminders to help them stay on track.

In addition to raising funds, Lift launched a paid coaching feature that aims to help users with more complicated goals. Lift’s app now offers expert-led, step-by-step plans if users need more guidance and an updated tracking feature so that users can try to reach weekly targets. Users who want to connect with coaches will pay $14.99 per week to message with them through a chat function on the app. Eventually, the company said, users will also be able to pay for additional services, like a phone conversation or diet plan.

Coaches on Lift are not certified or health professionals, they are just people who have reached the same goal that the user wants to reach.

The service currently has 700 coaches who can help users reach 4,000 different goals.

Another company, Weilos, had a similar model to Lift’s — Weilos used to connect people who have weight loss success stories to those who were just beginning their journey. Weilos eventually pivoted to offer a free weight loss app because, according to the founder Ray Wu, payment was a source of friction for people who were interested in using an app to lose weight.