California court’s BYOD ruling could affect hospitals’ policies

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 19, 2014        

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Female Doctor with TabletA new California Court of Appeals ruling has dealt a major blow to bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Although the case focused on employees working in retail, the court’s decision may have implications for any employer with a BYOD policy in place. It could potentially have repercussions for healthcare down the road.

In a class action lawsuit, a customer service representative named Colin Cochran sued his employer, Schwan’s home food delivery service on behalf of 1,500 customer service reps who had been denied reimbursement for work calls made on their personal mobile phones. Overturning the verdict of the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals ruled that employers must reimburse employees for some “reasonable portion” of their phone bill, even if the employee’s phone plan was unlimited (so the work calls cost them no additional money) or was paid for by a third party.

“It does not matter whether the phone bill is paid for by a third person, or at all,” the court wrote. “In other words, it is no concern to the employer that the employee may pass on the expense to a family member or friend, or to a carrier that has to then write off a loss. It is irrelevant whether the employee changed plans to accommodate work-related cell phone usage. Also, the details of the employee’s cell phone plan do not factor into the liability analysis. Not only does our interpretation prevent employers from passing on operating expenses, it also prevents them from digging into the private lives of their employees to unearth how they handle their finances vis-a-vis family, friends and creditors.”  Keep reading>>


Atonarp raises $8 million for cancer-sniffing sensor device

By: Aditi Pai | Aug 19, 2014        

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Atonarp graphTokyo-based Atonarp raised $8 million in a round led by Walden Riverwood Ventures to further develop the company’s smart spectrometer. Atonarp is developing a spectrometer that can non-invasively detect early phase cancer detection and it also has designed on non-invasive blood glucose measurement.

To detect cancer, the company’s device analyzes a user’s breath. Atonarp’s website notes that several different organizations have conducted research, including Cleveland Clinic, on how to detect cancer through a user’s breath. The company noticed that while some of these studies got as high as 93 percent accuracy for detecting devices, a dog that was trained to detect cancer had 98 percent accuracy.  Keep reading>>

Novartis’ mobile health strategy poised to move from tracking to virtual care

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 19, 2014        

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Iron InvadersWhile Novartis’ recent partnership with Google and its longtime relationship with Proteus have indicated that the pharma company has an interest in digital health, a page on the company’s website, added this summer, lays out its broad vision and explicit interest in mobile health specifically. The company even has a mobile health strategy lead, Michele Angelaccio, who holds the title of Associate Director US Mobile Health Strategy at Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

“We have a unique understanding of the challenges doctors and patients are facing, and can help guide startups in building and testing proposed solutions,” Angelaccio says in the piece. “Partnering with these health technologists is the cornerstone of our mobile health strategy. It will continue to propel us forward as an innovator and it is the means by which mHealth will help us to meet our customers’ needs and solve some of the business challenges we’re facing.”  Keep reading>>

ChemiSense developing wristworn air quality sensor for people with asthma

By: Aditi Pai | Aug 18, 2014        

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ChemiSense appBerkeley, California-based ChemiSense has developed a wristworn wearable air quality monitor that helps people detect chemicals and pollutants in the air around them, according to a report from MIT Technology Review.

The ChemiSense wearable will help people will asthma identify places where the air is more polluted, which will in turn help them identify triggers and avoid certain places.

The wearable device will identify carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone. The data gathered from the wearable device will be sent to a connected app. The company plans to use air quality data added to the app to crowdsource heat maps of air quality.

“Air pollution is more than just something that clouds your vision on a sunny day,” founder and CMO Will Hubbard said in a presentation. “In fact, the World Health Organization just labeled air pollution as a class 1 carcinogen, in the same ranks as asbestos and cigarette smoke. And so most people don’t even appreciate the fact that this leads to millions of premature deaths every year, which in turn leads to the reality that billions each year are spent on issues directly related to air quality.”

To measure air pollution now, cities use large sensors called municipal air quality monitors, which cost between $70,000 and $150,000, according to Hubbard.  Keep reading>>

Study: Remote monitoring of implantable cardiac devices halves mortality rate

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 18, 2014        

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Biotronik studyRemote monitoring of patients with implantable cardiac devices reduced the mortality rate for cardiac patients by 50 percent and improved their clinical status by nearly 10 percent in a randomized control trial recently published in The Lancet. The trial was sponsored by medical device company Biotronik.

The trial was conducted at 36 different clinics and hospitals in Europe, Australia, and Israel and included a total of 664 patients. All patients had either implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) or cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators (CRT-Ds) with telemonitoring functionality, but only one group used that functionality. An experiment group of 333 patients had readings from their device evaluated daily by medical personnel, while the remaining 331 formed a control group that received standard care with no telemonitoring. The mean age of all patients was 65.5.  Keep reading>>

Intel partners with headphones maker to develop health-sensing earbuds

By: Aditi Pai | Aug 18, 2014        

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biosport_blueIntel has partnered with headphone maker SMS Audio to develop biometric-sensing earbuds, which the companies plan to launch later this year. The earbuds are powered by Valencell’s PerformTek technology. Rapper 50 Cent is a majority owner in SMS Audio.

“The wearable technology collaboration between SMS Audio and Intel elevates our capability to bring smart exercise to consumers,” Brian M. Nohe, president of SMS Audio said in a statement. “With the introduction of the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones powered by Intel, we’re now the first to provide this level of integrated, seamless and helpful biometric information to inspire customers to advance their fitness experiences.”

The headphones will offer a built-in optical sensor for continuous heart rate monitoring, sweat and water resistance, and integration with RunKeeper so that users can supplement heart rate tracking with pace, distance, elevation, and calorie tracking metrics. Users will be able to see at which times they were in a relaxed state and at which times they were working hard.  Keep reading>>