Tired of regulatory delays, hacker patients build their own diabetes tech

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 11, 2015        

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What-an-OpenAPS-looks-like-by-@DanaMLewisWhen Kenneth Stack’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just before his fifth birthday, the doctor told Stack he was just a few years too early for a major medical breakthrough.

“I remember, trying to make sense of all of this, the doctor saying ‘In three years, we’ll have perfected the artificial pancreas and you won’t have to worry about this’,” Stack recalled at a panel discussion at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference just outside of Washington DC. “That was 2003. For nine years, nothing changed.”

Nowadays, continuous glucose monitors are common and so are insulin pumps that can automatically deliver insulin to people with diabetes. But the artificial pancreas — a software and hardware platform that would combine the two and regulate patients’ insulin seamlessly and automatically — has proven more elusive. Not because it can’t be built, but because so far it hasn’t been built in a scalable, reliable way.

This hasn’t stopped an ever-growing cohort of hacker patients, united on social networks under hashtags like #WeAreNotWaiting, from building their own solutions. A few of those patients who presented at HIMSS CHC included Stack; Nightscout developer Ben West; Dana Lewis, who built her own “DIY pancreas“; and Galileo Analytics co-founder Anna McCollister-Slip. Courtney Lias, director of the Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices at FDA, weighed in on behalf of the agency. Keep reading>>


Former Google SVP joins digital health company AliveCor as CEO

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 11, 2015        

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Vic Gundotra AliveCorSan Francisco-based AliveCor, which offers smartphone-enabled ECG devices, has announced former Google SVP Vic Gundotra as its new CEO.

Gundotra, who left Google in 2014 after eight years — including a few heading up Google+, replaces Euan Thomson, an AliveCor board member and Khosla Ventures investor, who assumed the role of interim CEO in 2013. Gundotra becomes AliveCor’s fourth CEO in almost as many years.

As interim CEO for more than two years, Thomson guided the company through many of its most important milestones, which included FDA clearance for three algorithms that boosted the capabilities of the AliveCor ECG device. The company says that as of October 2015 it has more than 20,000 regular users and 30 percent of its users have received an instant atrial fibrillation detection using the AF Detector algorithm feature in the AliveCor app.

“My time at AliveCor has been an important and fulfilling chapter in my career,” Thomson said in a statement. “No one has done what we are doing. I am thankful for the opportunity to help develop products that are helping people across the world. I am pleased to welcome Vic who brings years of experience spanning consumer and technology products that will be of great value as AliveCor works to expand and diversify into different business models.”  Keep reading>>

Boston Children’s shares pilot results from discharge app, inks deals with Rock Health, IBM

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 10, 2015        

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DisCo-dashboardBoston Children’s Hospital released data from a discharge app pilot they launched last year and announced three partnerships, with Rock Health, IBM, and Grand Rounds. Early data from the Boston Children’s discharge app pilot found that 99 percent of patients said the app was useful, up from 82 percent from the first phase of the pilot, which ended two years ago.

The discharge app used for these pilots, called DisCo, was developed in-house after the Boston Children’s providers noticed that their current discharge system had a number of issues.

“I need to get families from the hospital setting back home, and they are in an incredibly vulnerable position at that point,” Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Kelly Dunn said at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference where she shared data from the two pilots.

In the hospital patients are used to having 24-7 access to healthcare professionals to answer questions about their condition. But these days, Dunn said hospitals often send patients home sooner than in the past and expect that parents will provide care for that child at home.

Keep reading>>

Intel’s medical director: Hypertension is mobile health’s biggest opportunity

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 10, 2015        

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CRiJXn0XIAA1KyJDr. John Sotos, a cardiologist and worldwide medical director at Intel, thinks mobile health is the key to defeating what he calls “the worst disease in the world”.

“The worst disease in the world is hypertension,” he said at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference. “And that may seem surprising but it’s quantifiably true. It’s responsible for over half of the fatal strokes in the world, over half of the fatal heart attacks in the world, all the hypertensive heart disease in the world, and over half of the chronic kidney failure in the world. As a result, it’s responsible for one in eight deaths in the entire world.”

What makes it appalling is that hypertension is responsible for so much death, Sotos said, is that it’s eminently treatable.

“There’s a paradox here,” Sotos said. “We’ve seen the toll hypertension takes on the world, but it’s easily diagnosed, easily treated, inexpensive to treat – pennies a day –  and the treatment is overwhelmingly effective. But in the United States, only 40 percent of people are diagnosed and of those that are treated only 50 to 80 percent adhere to their treatment.”

Better data and better monitoring have the potential to have a huge impact here, because detection and adherence are the stumbling blocks to addressing hypertension. But connected home health devices for monitoring blood pressure already exist, in fact blood pressure cuffs were some of the first home health devices and some of the first smartphone-connected health devices.

Keep reading>>

Six ways IBM is putting Watson to work in hospitals

By: Jonah Comstock | Nov 10, 2015        

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IBM WatsonSince IBM launched its Watson Health business unit at HIMSS last year, the group has pushed out plenty of news — mostly partnerships, acquisitions, and the opening of Watson Health’s Cambridge office. But at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference, Shahram Ebadollahi, vice president of innovations at IBM and chief science officer of the IBM Watson Health Group, spoke about how those partnerships and acquisitions are manifesting in actual hospitals.

Here are six examples of ways IBM’s cognitive computing engine either will help health care providers or is helping them right now.

1. Analyzing medical images: Building on IBM’s recent acquisition of Merge Healthcare, Medical Sieve is a system that analyzes medical images and helps doctors spot details and irregularities.

“What we’re doing there is a system called Medical Sieve that actually looks at the content of images of different modalities and different organs to extract the minute details, to extract anomalies,” Ebadollahi said. “Not only images but multi-modal data — what I can extract from text and combine with what can be seen in the images, all combined and put in front of the oncologist and the radiologist who need to have the comprehensive view of the patient when they’re making decisions.” Keep reading>>

VA reveals health app download data, plans to launch health texting program

By: Aditi Pai | Nov 10, 2015        

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VA app download dataThe US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs a few key principles to engage its population with mobile health tools, according to Dr. Neil Evans, co-director of the VA connected health department who spokes at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference this week.

One of the principles the VA focuses on, though Evans admits it is a very basic one, is knowing its customer.

“Our customer is the veteran, America’s veteran, and in particular veterans who are receiving healthcare from us… and so understanding this segment of veterans that we care for is particularly important,” Evans said. “And also understand those who care for veterans — caregivers, family members, loved ones of veterans. As part of this we spent a lot of time trying to understand what brings value to the veteran? What is it we should be focusing on?”  Keep reading>>