NJ hospital taps Cypak for mHealth joint venture

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 12, 2010        

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Cypak iMPak Meridian Health Pain JournalMeridian Health, a not-for-profit group of hospitals in New Jersey, has teamed up with wireless technology firm Cypak to form a joint venture, called iMPak, which is focused on creating wireless health monitoring devices and services. iMPak aims to launch a number of reliable, low cost, easy to use solutions based on Near Field Communications (NFC), embedded sensors, and storage capabilities from Cypak for various health conditions, according to the companies.

The first offering from the JV is iMPak’s Health Journal for Pain, a “portable, lightweight, digital, wirelessly-enabled diary that empowers patients to easily record their pain levels before and after their prescribed medication regimen, providing physicians with readily available, useful, patient information and reports,” according to the companies. The device is made of cardboard but the companies are currently working on a credit card-sized plastic alternative version, too.

“Currently, physicians encourage their patients to keep a handwritten diary of their pain intensity and response to pain medication,” stated Sandra Elliott, director, Consumer Technology and Service Development at Meridian Health, in a company release. “It is often a cumbersome process for patients, and seldom provides physicians with actionable data about the patient’s response to their prescribed treatment.”

While the device currently works with A&D Medical’s RFID reader, which connects to PCs through the USB port, Elliott told MobiHealthNews that iMPak intends to connect the device to newer Nokia phones that include NFC and RFID reader technology. Elliott believes that as more phones launch with NFC functionalities these will be the best readers for iMPak’s wireless health devices and services.

“Pain is considered the fifth vital sign and is critical to overall health and well being,” continued Elliott. “It is one of the most common reasons people seek care from their physician. If we can help patients and physicians better manage pain through a device that helps collect meaningful and timely information, we will consider it a major achievement.”

For more on iMPak, check out this press release

  • Medical BillDog

    Well, I can see one thing wrong with iMPak. The pain specialists always ask the same comparative question. Always. On a scale of one to ten, where ten is the worst pain imaginable and 0 is no pain at all, where would you rate your pain. Chronic pain sufferers have the idea ingrained: pain happens on a scal of one to ten.

    So why build a chart that only goes to six?

  • Brian Dolan

    Medical BillDog,

    I see your point but in case you didn’t notice those six “buttons” actually each contain a few numbers. The first button is “0” the next one is “1-2″ then “3-4″ and so on up to “9-10.”

    So while you are right — just six options — they are labeled with the traditional 0-10 scale.

    Makes you wonder why they didn’t just make it 10 options, though.

  • Mark A. Hanson, PhD

    This is an interesting concept; however, it is my opinion that mobile phones are the ideal platform for this application. Andrew Thompson recently stated: “More people have mobile phones than have access to water and electricity.” With such ubiquity, if patients could simply text message their pain rating (i.e. 0-9) to the health service provider, they would not need a wireless diary, RFID reader, PC, or USB cable – just their mobile phone.

  • Medical BillDog

    You got me there, Brian. My eyes aren’t that good. I hadn’t noticed the small numbers. Still seems odd, though, yeah.

  • Brian Dolan

    I’m with you and Andrew Thompson (Proteus Biomedical CEO for those that don’t know) — mobile phones seem like a much simpler way to go.

    This low-cost wireless device looks like a great a concept — easy to use upfront, until the NFC card reader and/or adoption of NFC-enabled mobile devices enters the picture.

  • Sandra Elliott

    Thanks for the feedback Mark et al. Let me see if I can add some details that might help explain our decisions to develop the tool. 1.) Most patients do not do a great job of keeping diaries to rate their pain – they either just don’t do it or it is not in a format that is easy for the physician to quickly review and determine if changes in therapy are warranted. 2.) The data collected by the device is easy to trend over time and thus the patient and the physician can really get a better feel of overall managment issues. 2.) Most of the patients we have tested the device with love it – easy, portable, and for many patients a preferred way to document – without having to burn battery power or worry about connecting it to their computer. What we have found from interviewing people who are managing chronic diseases- what seems easier(just logging into a cell phone) isn’t always used for various reason….just like many glucometer manufacturers offer free software for patients to track their results – but it goes highly underutilized. We hope to learn a lot from people as the product is used in many types of clinical scenarios.
    As far as the pain scales – we decided to go with a pain scale that has been validated clinically and most clinicians use versus create an alternative rating system.

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