HHS launches suicide prevention, training tool app for providers

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 12, 2015        

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Suicide Safe SAMHSAThe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, has launched a new training tool, an app called Suicide Safe, for behavioral health and primary care providers.

Suicide Safe is based on the suicide assessment five-step evaluation and triage (SAFE-T) practice guidelines. Providers can use the app to learn the five steps in the SAFE-T practice guidelines, download the guidelines to work in offline mode, learn how other providers have used the SAFE-T approach through case studies, and access conversation starters as well as other tips for speaking with patients about suicide. The app also lists crisis line phone numbers and offers a location finder feature so physicians can refer patients to the appropriate behavioral treatment center.

“Suicide devastates lives throughout all parts of our nation, but it is a public health issue that is preventable and SAMHSA working to provide people on the front lines with resources they need to save lives,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement. “Suicide Safe is a major step forward in suicide prevention. The app gives behavioral and primary care providers an essential and modern prevention tool at their fingertips to help address suicide risk with their patients.”

Organizations in the private sector are also working on mobile tools for suicide prevention.  Keep reading>>

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Cerner taps Validic to bring patient-generated data into portal

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 12, 2015        

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ValidicDurham, North Carolina-based health data company Validic has partnered with electronic health records vendor Cerner in a deal that will allow healthcare providers using the Cerner EHR to enable patients to import clinical, fitness, wellness and nutritional data from consumer devices into their records via the patient portal.

Validic told MobiHealthNews in an email that it is working with a number of other large EHR vendors as well, but it was not able to disclose them at this time.

“Cerner is committed to working with our clients to create a future where the health care system works to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities,” Brian Carter, senior director and general manager of personal health at Cerner, said in a statement. “To be successful, it is critical to provide access to actionable data on a regular basis, not just what’s collected when someone goes to the doctor.”

Patients whose providers use Cerner can upload data from any Validic-supported device into their HealtheLife patient portal. From there, they will be able to opt in to send that information into their electronic health record. Doctors and nurses, and individual hospitals, can decide what to do with that data. Keep reading>>

It’s open source, so will Apple ResearchKit include Android?

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 11, 2015        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTApple’s ResearchKit has only just been announced, and most agree that the project has tremendous potential to improve medical research. Being able to tap anyone with a smartphone as a potential low-time-commitment research participant could make research trial recruiting cheaper, easier, and lead to larger, more representative samples.

But will ResearchKit be able to tap anyone with a smartphone, or just anyone with an Apple device? As Dan Primack wrote in a recent Fortune editorial, on a global scale Android is the more popular platform. And the technology can be of a bigger benefit to medical research if it can be used by anyone, regardless of smartphone platform.

The truth is, whether the platform will work with Android phones is still an open question. The API won’t be available for another month. So far, the five apps that have been released have been iOS apps, and the scope of their research is limited to Apple users. John Wilbanks, the Chief Commons Officer at Sage Bionetworks, which worked on two of the five initial apps, said that right now those apps work on Apple phones for logistical reasons. Keep reading>>

Homeland Security taps two accelerators to push wearables for first responders

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 11, 2015        

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Google GlassDallas-based accelerator Tech Wildcatters and Chicago-based accelerator TechNexus have announced that they are accepting applications for a new incubator program, called Emerge. The program, which will include 10 to 15 companies across the two accelerators, will accept companies that are working on wearable technology that can help first responders.

The two accelerators were tapped by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the nonprofit Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). In a press release, DHS explained what kind of technology is being sought:

“The accelerator program, called Emerge! Accelerator program, is aimed at entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas that address the unique needs of the Homeland Security community and whose wearable technology could be adapted for first responder operations,” they write. “This includes wearable technologies, such as body-worn electronics, advanced sensors, and integrated voice and data communications embedded in a responder’s gear.” Keep reading>>

BCBSMA, American Well to launch video visits pilot with two physician groups

By: Aditi Pai | Mar 11, 2015        

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American WellBlue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has partnered with American Well to pilot the company’s video visits offering, called WellConnection, with two physician groups, Emerson Physician Hospital Organization (Emerson PHO) and Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization (LGPHO). BCBSMA nurse care managers will also pilot the offering with members.

WellConnection is a white-labeled version of American Well’s digital video visits offering that helps patients consult with physicians via their computers, smartphones, or tablets.

The physician groups participating in the pilot are a part of BCBSMA’s Alternative Quality Contract (AQC) program, which is what the payor calls its accountable care initiative. BCBSMA launched its AQC model in 2008.

Over the course of the two-year pilot, providers will use WellConnection to conduct video visits with patients to address a variety of health issues that are ultimately up to the discretion of the participating physicians. BCBSMA offered up a few examples: providers can use the offering to monitor a patient’s concussion recovery, offer wellness coaching, check the patient’s response to a medication, or monitor a patient’s recovery after they were hospitalized.

BCBSMA Director of Network Innovation Greg LeGrow told MobiHealthNews that video visits have the potential to improve cost, access, quality, efficiency, as well as patient and physician satisfaction.  Keep reading>>

Independa has raised $11M to date for TV-based health engagement for seniors

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 11, 2015        

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Independa TV AngelaAfter closing its second round of funding a few months ago, a $6 million round, San Diego-based Independa has raised a total of about $11 million over the years for its television-based, health engagement offering for seniors. The company has inked strategic partnerships with TV-maker LG and mobile device giant Samsung in recent years, and is currently signing up channel partners to drive sales of its product, called Angela. It has signed up three such partners since the start of 2015 and has another set to launch in the coming weeks.

Angela, which runs on specific models of LG televisions as well as some Samsung tablets, features one-touch shortcuts to video chats, email, the Internet, Facebook, games and puzzles, and other interactive content. The interface offers large screen fonts, higher contrast and bright colors for those with poor eyesight. Angela can also remind users to take medications; keep medical and personal appointments; and remember birthdays and anniversaries. the company describes the product as being designed for the “non-technical elderly”.  Keep reading>>