Study finds Nintendo Wii games may improve balance for people with MS

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 2, 2014        

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Wii Fit balance boardA small study published in Radiology found that patients with multiple sclerosis who played a high-instensity video game on a Nintendo Wii saw improvement in the microstructural changes of their brains, which in turn improved the participant’s balance.

While MS has many symptoms, one symptom is loss of balance.

Researchers conducted the trial to determine if the video game would help result in changes of a patient’s cerebellar peduncles, which is the area of the brain responsible for coordination. The specific Wii device used in the trial is the balance board, which is a Nintendo accessory that senses a user’s foot movement and incorporates it into the game.

The researchers did not develop their own game but rather used some of the games that come prepackaged with the Wii balance board.  Keep reading>>

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Epson to launch its smartwatch, fitness band in September

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 2, 2014        

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EpsonJapanese electronics company Epson will launch its health sensing smartwatch, called Pulsense Watch, and fitness band, called Pulsense Band in September. Consumers can preorder the device on Epson’s website until then. The company first announced the devices at CES in January.

The Pulsense Watch costs $199, while the Pulsense Band costs $129.

“The Pulsense product line will be Epson’s first smart wrist wearable devices to leverage the company’s patented Bio sensing technology,” Epson America New Ventures Director Anna Jen said when she announced the product at CES. “These products showcase Seiko Epson’s heritage in wrist watch technology and consumer electronics manufacturing. Pulsense has set the performance and features benchmark for the next generation of activity monitors.”  Keep reading>>

Survey: 60 percent of likely wearables adopters want health features

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 2, 2014        

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Samsung's Gear Fit.

Samsung’s Gear Fit.

As Apple gears up to launch its much-rumored wearable device, new data shows 60 percent of likely adopters of wearable technology want to use their device for health or fitness, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers by ON World.

The report also looked at shipments of wireless personal area devices, a category which includes smartwatches, smart jewelry, pet and child trackers and proximity monitors. ON World predicts 265 million such devices will ship in 2018. Previously, the firm reported that by 2018, 300 million smartwatches will have shipped, total.

“Mobile sensing is quickly becoming a mass market meme,” ON World research director Mareca Hatler said in a statement. “Wearables are the largest and fastest growing segment with the most growth coming from general purpose smart devices that integrate multiple sensors as well as multiple communications capabilities.”  Keep reading>>

10 Reasons why Aetna CarePass failed

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 2, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTThe one big piece of information Aetna hasn’t shared about the shutdown of its CarePass health data platform is the very one everyone wants to know: Why? Over the last week, there’s been plenty of speculation about a number of possible explanations.

Three years ago, after a similar high-profile shuttering, MobiHealthNews wrote a popular post called “10 Reasons why Google Health failed,” where we rounded up some of the discussion around Google’s shut down of its PHR effort. While Aetna isn’t in exactly the same situation as Google was, the shutdown of CarePass has produced a similar response in the industry, as people search for answers and ask whether this will spell failure for all insurer-led consumer engagement efforts. Maybe more to the point, a number of the reasons suggested for Google Health’s failures have been suggested with regards to Aetna as well: failure to integrate with the EHR, lack of patient trust, and simply being before its time.

Read on for 10 possible answers to the question of why CarePass failed, suggested by various voices in the industry in the days since the announcement.  Keep reading>>

Apple bans developers from selling HealthKit data to ad platforms

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 2, 2014        

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iwatch patentLate last week the Financial Times (sub. req.) reported that Apple had modified its iOS developer license agreement, its rules for developers that create apps for its devices, to ban developers from selling health data collected by HealthKit.

The company wrote that developers must “not sell an end-user’s health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers”, according to the report. The agreement further demands that developers not use HealthKit’s API or the information collected from it “for any purpose other than providing health and/or fitness services”.

In June Google announced its plans for Google Fit, a similar but more fitness-focused platform to Apple’s HealthKit, which already boasts partnerships with EHR vendors and various health systems across the country. A column in Forbes argued that Google was the most likely of the recent health tracking platform entrants to use the personal data collected via the platform to target ads.  Keep reading>>

VA to reimburse for certain clinical activity trackers

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 28, 2014        

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The modus health StepWatch is the kind of device the VA will reimburse for.

The modus health StepWatch is the kind of device the VA will reimburse for.

At the beginning of this month, MobiHealthNews noted in an In-Depth report that a new class of wireless, wearable activity tracker is increasingly finding its way into the clinical space, especially to help people with movement disorders or lower body injuries. That trend just got a big boost from the US Department of Veteran Affairs, which thanks to a recent change in its contracting template will soon begin reimbursing its doctors for activity trackers in some circumstances.

“We’ve allowed for outcome monitoring devices for the first time ever,” Dr. Joe Miller, National Program Director for Orthotic and Prosthetic Services at the VA, told MobiHealthNews. “And we’ve developed a methodology for paying for these devices. The industry is constantly referring to different devices and outcomes. But nobody has prescribed a way or developed a way for how you go about collecting those outcome measures.”

The change the VA has made is to introduce a new mandatory template for providers to use when negotiating contracts with the vendors that sell prosthetic limbs and custom orthotics for injured veterans. Part of the impetus is to keep the costs down by giving VA medical centers across the country a consistent idea of what they should be paying for various systems. But, for the first time, the contract also allows providers to be reimbursed for monitoring devices that can, in turn, deliver data on the effectiveness of prosthetic devices and how much patients are using them.  Keep reading>>