Home-based connected health to overtake hospital-based by 2019

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor.

Sotera Wireless’s ViSi Mobile monitor.

The telemedicine market, which according to BCC Research is comprised of “telehospital” and “telehome” technologies, is expected to reach $43.4 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 percent, according to a recent report from the firm.

According to BCC, the telehospital market refers to “services that are provided within or between hospitals, clinics or other healthcare providers”, while the telehome market consists of remote monitoring devices for out patients.

“In the near to midterm, telemedicine technologies offer one of the few ways of enabling healthcare personnel to meet the increased demand for healthcare services without unacceptable delays or service rationing,” BCC Research healthcare analyst Andrew McWilliams said in a statement. “The growing adoption of telemedicine services is expected to significantly impact larger markets such as healthcare, health insurance, home care, telecommunications (telecom), networking, disease management, e-health, and healthcare IT.”  Keep reading>>

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Despite six-month delay, Scanadu has only lost 100 backers

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTThere seems to be a pattern emerging among health and fitness devices that do well on crowdfunding platforms: Break a record with your campaign, then ship your device several months late. Pebble broke Kickstarter’s funding record, then took more than a year to ship all its backer devices. Misfit Shine raised $100,000 in less than 10 hours on Indiegogo, then delayed its ship date from spring to summer.

Now Scanadu, makers of the Scanadu Scout home health scanner device that broke Indiegogo’s record for most funded project last June, has still not shipped its devices to backers, despite an initial promised date (for early backers) of March 31, 2014. The company is now saying they hope the device will ship this winter, but they are not ready to commit to a date.

“We now certainly have the benefit of hindsight,” Scanadu CEO Walter DeBrouwer told MobiHealthNews in an email. “With that hindsight, it is clear we underestimated the level of difficulty in developing a whole new category of medical product. This combination of hardware and software has never been done before, and accuracy is extremely important. We did not budget enough time at the onset for the level of testing, validation and verification that would be needed for this type of medical device, using a combination of hardware and software. In retrospect, we would have made a larger investment of our time and resources earlier in the development process focused on testing. And although we had buffers built in, we should have been less optimistic.”

The company has been extremely forthcoming about the nature of the delays on its company blog. Initial test units had a persistent accuracy problem which the temperature sensor, which turned out to be interference from heat generated by another sensor. DeBrouwer says the team had hoped it could be fixed with software alone, but they ultimately had to make small changes to the hardware. In the end, the SpO2 and blood pressure sensors also suffered from light and heat interference problems. Keep reading>>

Cigna folds GoYou into digital health coaching program Cigna Health Matters

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 14, 2014        

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Cigna Health MattersCigna has developed a digital health coaching program, called Cigna Health Matters, that offers mobile tools, social media engagement, gamification, and web-based incentives. The program is available for Cigna’s 14 million US members on employer health plans.

“Cigna Health Matters integrates the latest insights and practices of the sociology of engagement, motivation and rewarding behavior change with the latest in health tools and technology,” Cigna Vice President of Product Develompent Eric Herbek said in a statement. “By combining clinical insights, health coaches, digital tools, measurement and reward engines, we have our customers’ backs to help them get on the right path, and stay on it, for better health for themselves and their families.”  Keep reading>>

Philips teams with Dutch hospital for COPD prototype

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 14, 2014        

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Philips eCarecompanionPhilips has unveiled a prototype system, consisting of a wearable sensor and connected software suite, to monitor patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Philips worked with Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands to develop the system.

The sensor used to demo the prototype was the FDA-cleared HealthPatch sensor from Vital Connect, a peel and stick device that measures physical activity and inactivity, respiratory indicators, sleep apnea or sleep disturbance, sleep quality, heart rhythm and heart rate variability.

“The use case is more appropriate for patients who have left the hospital recently,” Manu Varma, Philips’ vice president of marketing and strategy, told MobiHealthNews. “So it may not be something people wear forever, but it’s especially important for the situation where someone who is going from an environment where they get a lot of good care and attention to a place where they are probably by themselves or have a family member helping them, but certainly no one who is a doctor or nurse on hand to watch over them.” Keep reading>>

Telehealth served 12 percent of VA-covered veterans in 2014

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 13, 2014        

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American WellThe US Department of Veterans Affairs announced that 690,000 US veterans received care in the 2014 fiscal year via telehealth, with 2 million telehealth visits scheduled. That means that 12 percent of all veterans enrolled in VA programs received telehealth care of some kind in 2014.

“We have to adapt to meet veterans wherever their needs are,” VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald said in a statement. “A brick-and-mortar facility is not the only option for health care. We are exploring how we can more efficiently and effectively deliver health care services to better serve our veterans and improve their lives. Telehealth is one of those areas we have identified for growth.”

The press release gave a few more statistics about the state and size of the VA’s various telemedicine programs. For instance, 55 percent of VA telehealth visits were for veterans who lived in rural areas, with no VA medical facility nearby.

The VA currently offers more than 44 specialties via telemedicine, and one program — in Miami — schedules 90 telemedicine visits per week. The release also highlighted the VA’s TeleAudiology program for veterans with hearing loss, which has grown from 1,016 veterans served in fiscal year 2011 to more than 10,589 in fiscal year 2014.

The VA has been working with telehealth, in the form of remote patient monitoring programs, since well before 2009. But virtual visits began in earnest in 2011 when the department partnered with American Well (now called AmWell) to launch online consultations at three locations. In 2012, they lobbied to eliminate co-pays for home telehealth visits, in the hopes of removing some remaining barriers to veterans using the service.

Of course, the VA has been a frontrunner in mobile technology for a long time. The Blue Button project, which connects patients directly with their own electronic medical records, originated as an in-house VA program. Just recently the department officially launched 10 health apps that were previously tested as part of a family caregiver pilot, to facilitate better home care of veterans by family and friends.

The VA also recently made some changes to its outside contracting procedures which now allow VA doctors to be reimbursed for certain clinical activity trackers in some cases.

Google invites symptoms searchers to video chats with doctors

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 13, 2014        

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Google Helpouts Doctor Video Visit

Source: Reddit

About a year ago when Google launched its video chats service and directory Helpouts, which connects people to experts in a wide variety of fields, reports emerged that the search giant was now offering video visits with doctors.

Soon after Helpouts’ launch, tech-savvy primary care provider One Medical Group’s CEO Dr. Tom Lee told VentureBeat that his company was working with the search giant on video visits:

“We are learning with Google — [and] it’s been so far, so good.” he said at the time.

VentureBeat also noted that Google had built Helpouts to be HIPAA compliant and had even instructed providers looking to offer healthcare services through the platform to be sure to declare their status as a covered entity when they signed up. Here’s how Google explained it to doctors and other providers considering Helpouts as a channel:

“Helpouts providers are responsible for determining whether they are subject to HIPAA requirements and whether they use or intend to use Helpouts in connection with PHI,” Google writes in its terms. “Users who have not entered into a BAA with Google must not use Helpouts or other Google services in connection with PHI.”

Today there are a number of Helpouts available from One Medical Group, including exclusive video chat options for the medical provider’s patients in Massachusetts, New York and more. Some of these 30 minute calls carry a fee of upwards of $60, while others are listed as free. A quick search on Helpouts for other health-related services results in a wide variety of wellness, fitness, and medical-related help. Some are free but most carry a fee.

Recently Google has begun testing whether including a link to a relevant Helpout session as part of a person’s search results, may increase uptake of the service. Search results don’t always yield enough information and a video call with a relevant provider might.

“When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is to provide you with the most helpful information available,” a Google spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in a statement. “We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people.”  Keep reading>>