Stretchable, flexible sensor maker MC10 taps ex-Broadcom SVP as CEO

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 16, 2014        

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MC10_BiostampCambridge, Massachusetts-based MC10 announced former Broadcom executive, Scott Pomerantz has joined it as its new CEO and president, replacing David Icke, who is leaving the company. At semiconductor company, Broadcom, Pomerantz most recently served as the SVP and GM of wireless connectivity, Broadcom’s biggest business. He joined Broadcom in 2007 after it acquired his GPS company, Global Locate.

This isn’t the first wireless industry executive to join MC10 in recent months, Motorola’s Sanjay Gupta was tapped as their VP of product development this summer.

A spokesperson for MC10 told Xconomy that the CEO “change is consistent with MC10’s trajectory of growth as an organization. We are bringing in leadership with the background and experience to best position MC10 moving forward.” Icke was not mentioned in the press release announcing Pomerantz as the new CEO.

MC10′s highest profile product is its CheckLight mesh cap, co-developed with Reebok, designed to provide realtime feedback about athlete head injuries. Lately, though, the company has discussed a number of different wearable sensors, all predicated on the idea of “stretchable” or flexible electronics. The company is developing a patch that measures hydration in near realtime, a wristband that tracks heart rate and activity, and a skin patch that alerts the wearer’s smartphone when it’s time to reapply sunscreen.  Keep reading>>

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Survey: 30 percent of patients offered online medical record access in 2013

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 16, 2014        

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ONC medical record survey

Around 30 percent of patients have been offered access to their online medical records by their healthcare provider or insurer, according to a survey of more than 2,100 people conducted by the ONC last year.

The survey was conducted prior to the implementation of Meaningful Use Stage 2 and CLIA rules.

“This may in part reflect the limited view, download and transmit (VDT) capabilities of health care providers prior to MU2,” ONC wrote in response to the low number of consumers who were offered access to their medical records. “Fewer than half of all office-based physicians in 2013 had the computerized capability to provide patients the ability to VDT electronic health record data, and only about a quarter routinely used this capability.”

Within the group of consumers who were offered access to their medical records, 48 percent were offered access by a healthcare provider, 44 percent were offered access by both a healthcare provider and insurer, and just 7 percent were offered access to their records by an insurer alone.

Of those that were offered access, 46 percent viewed their records at least once in the last year. And within that group, 21 percent viewed their records one to two times, 15 percent viewed their records three to five times, four percent viewed their records six to nine times, and 6 percent viewed them over 10 times.

The patients who accessed their records did so for several reasons. Seventy three percent viewed records to keep tabs on their health, for example they checked their medication regimen and test results. Another 44 percent used their records to share data with someone else, some 39 percent downloaded the information to their mobile devices and computers, 11 percent sent the information to a PHR or an app, and 10 percent requested corrections in their data. Only 3 percent of consumers who accessed their data said they did not find it useful, while 60 percent said they found it very useful.

Within the group of patients who were offered access, many cited multiple reasons for why they didn’t. Seventy four percent of those that didn’t access their records said they didn’t need to use the records, 28 percent were wary of privacy risks, 23 percent didn’t have internet access, and 16 percent said they found it difficult to use websites.

Overall, 70 percent of consumers surveyed said that online access to medical records was very or somewhat important. Of those that were offered access to their medical records but did not view them, 62 percent said online access was very or somewhat important.

“Together, these findings suggest that even in the early stages of online medical records, individuals do value and find use from basic capabilities to access their online medical record,” ONC wrote.

Self tracking goes meta: Apps to track your app use

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 16, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTTime Magazine’s post-Apple Watch cover story suggests that Apple might finally bring wearables into the mainstream in a way they’ve never been before — and that this might not be a good thing.

“Nobody anticipated the way iPhones exert a constant gravitational tug on our attention,” Time’s Lev Grossman and Matt Vela write. “Do I have e-mail? What’s happening on Twitter? Could I get away with playing Tiny Wings at this meeting? When you’re carrying a smartphone, your attention is never entirely undivided.”

But help might come from an unexpected quarter: Developers are now turning to smartphone apps to solve the problem of people spending too much time on their smartphones. In fact there are now at least two apps for people who check their apps too much.

The newest one, Checky, is a simple application that tells users how many times they’ve checked their phone today, and maps out where they’ve checked it throughout the day. Another app, Moment, gives the amount of time the user has spent on his or her phone instead. While Checky is free, Moment is $4.99, but Moment does deliver some kind of an intervention, not just tracking: the app can alert you after you’ve spent a preset amount of time using your phone.  Keep reading>>

Misfit launches Flash, a less expensive, plastic activity and sleep tracker

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 16, 2014        

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MisfitFlashBurlingame, California-based Misfit, formerly Misft Wearables, today launched Misfit Flash, its second wearable device that tracks various activities and sleep. The sub-$50 Flash’s pricepoint isn’t the only difference between it and Misfit’s original device, Shine. Flash is made out of “soft-touch” plastic instead of the Shine’s stainless steel body. Flash comes in a variety of colors including “lemon-lime Zest, funky Fuschia, and minimalist Frost,” according to the company.

Similar to its predecessor, Flash operates on a coin cell battery and does not require charging. It automatically tracks steps, calories burned, distance, sleep quality and duration, cycling, and swimming. To enable swim tracking, the new device, like the Shine, is also waterproof. It also can be worn in a number of ways: around the wrist or clipped to pants, a shirt, shoes, a lapel, or attached to a keychain.  Keep reading>>

App developers ask Congress, HHS for HIPAA clarity on cloud, more

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 15, 2014        

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Reed Morgan ACT App AssociationThis morning ACT — The App Association and a number of its mobile health company members sent a letter to Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) to encourage Congress to push HHS to make HIPAA regulations clearer for mobile app developers.

“We see a huge chunk of our membership engaged on both fitness and the more health-specific side,” ACT’s Executive Director Morgan Reed told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “I would estimate about a third of developers today are looking to be a part of this [trend]. I would hazard a guess that close to 30 percent of our members are either actively pursuing this or already engaged in it.”

Reed argues that the language of the HIPAA rules is not easy for software developers to parse in terms of how it relates to their apps. The app association also writes in the letter that publishing information about HIPAA and other relevant health IT policies in the Federal Register is not the best way to disseminate this information to developers. HHS should seek other channels to publish this information, ACT argues, and it should also proactively seek out developers instead of expecting them to come to them. Given their general unfamiliarity with HIPAA privacy regulations, app developers are avoiding healthcare, Reed said.

“We see a resistance from some developers who are doing amazing apps to get involved with anything that even smells of HIPAA,” Reed said. Before she departed as the ONC’s chief privacy officer, Joy Pritts had discussed these issues with him and his group on a number of occasions.

“I was often bringing up issues with her where our members had found problems with healthcare providers who would say ‘no’ to an app and raise HIPAA as an issue. Ms. Pritts would dutifully note that the issue raised [by the care provider] wasn’t actually a HIPAA problem at all. The issue our members face, though, is that if care systems don’t understand the intersection of HIPAA and mobile, and their reaction is to say ‘no’, then apps that improve outcomes don’t make it through the front door.”

Reed said that patients, care providers, and health app developers all need to be better informed about HIPAA, especially on how it relates to health apps that make use of cloud services.

An illustrative setup is “information encrypted end-to-end and transiting from your device to a cloud storage provider and then to a care provider who is actually a covered entity,” Reed explained. “We see that as a vital function for making mobile apps work better. If all of those end up having to be business associates and to go through that, then it makes it very hard for new entrants into the cloud space to look at that as something worth pursuing. Let’s face it, that’s onerous. If you have no access to the information — you’re not looking at it, not manipulating or changing it — you are merely transiting it, it’s really hard to argue that you are a business associate.”

Since the government is the largest payor in US healthcare, Reed believes it should not only take its requisite lead as regulator, but also lead the market as its biggest customer. Its actions as a payor and provider could help others to better understand how to safely adopt mobile health apps while ensuring HIPAA compliance. In other words, it could lead by example.

“Ultimately, the government is the largest purchaser of healthcare services in the country. They have an enormous stake in the industry. They have a particularly loud voice,” Reed said. “The government has a very clear role to clarify the regulations as they currently exist, put a spotlight on new technologies that improve patient outcomes, and finally act as the largest consumer of healthcare services in the country [and] highlight those healthcare services that they believe could be improved by better and more accurate following of HIPAA.”

Read on for an excerpt from the ACT’s letter to Rep. Marino, including its three suggestions to Congress regarding mobile health apps and mobile:  Keep reading>>

Duke, Stanford are also working on HealthKit pilots

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 15, 2014        

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Epic hospitals HealthkitAccording to a report from Reuters, two more large hospitals are embarking on pilots with Apple’s HealthKit: Stanford University Medical Center and Duke University Hospital. Stanford is using the technology to track blood sugar in children with diabetes, while Duke will be tracking blood pressure and weight for patients with cancer and heart conditions.

Apple appears to be working with a large number of prominent hospitals to explore HealthKit’s potential in different use cases. The company announced its partnerships with Mayo Clinic and EHR maker Epic Systems when it announced HealthKit at its WWDC event in June. Since then, reports have surfaced that the company is working with Johns Hopkins, Mt. Sinai, and the Cleveland Clinic — as well as health insurers UnitedHealthcare and Humana.  Keep reading>>