Researchers develop passive, voice analysis mood detection app for patients with bipolar disorder

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 28, 2014        

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PRIORI app bipolar disorderResearchers at the University of Michigan are developing an app that monitors a person’s voice during phone calls to detect mood changes in people who have bipolar disorder.

The app, called PRIORI, still needs more testing before it can be commercialized, the researchers said, but a small pilot study of six individuals with bipolar disorder has shown the app has the potential to help warn caregivers of a patient’s potential mood shift. This first pilot was funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health and conducted at the University of Michigan Depression Center’s Prechter Bipolar Research Fund.

Researchers gave these trial participants mobile phones with unlimited texts and calls. All phones were preloaded with the app, and researchers asked users to treat this phone as their primary mode of contact during the study. The app recorded outgoing speech and then transferred the data to researchers for analysis. At the end of the pilot study, researchers recorded a total of 221.2 hours from 3,588 phone calls.

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Google’s mixed messaging about its healthcare plans

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 28, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTOnce again, Google has captured the news cycle with the announcement of an ambitious, health-focused project. But although Google’s health portfolio continues to grow, its handful of health projects are still little more than pet projects to the search giant.

As reported last week by The Wall Street Journal, the Google Baseline study will use a combination of genetic testing and digital health sensors to collect “baseline” data on healthy people. The idea is to establish genetic biomarkers relating to “how [patients] metabolize food, nutrients and drugs, how fast their hearts beat under stress and how chemical reactions change the behavior of their genes.”

The study, which is starting with 175 patients at an undisclosed clinic, is in some ways a novel approach to healthcare. It takes full advantage of some relatively recent developments: the current low price of sequencing a genome and the capacity of digital health sensors to collect 24/7 real-world health data. Because of these two advancements, Google is able to create a healthcare study focused solely on well patients, which could produce data on the nuances of the human body’s normal functionality that doctors have never had before.

“With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems,” Dr. Andrew Conrad, the product lead for the Baseline project at Google, told the Journal. “That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like.”  Keep reading>>

MC10, biopharma company UCB team up on neurological diseases

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 28, 2014        

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MC10_BiostampCambridge, Massachusetts-based flexible electronics company MC10 has embarked on its first public partnership with a pharmaceutical company, Belgium-based UCB. Although many of the details remain undisclosed, the companies have announced that UCB will use MC10′s BioStamp technology to pursue new therapies for neurological disorders.

“They’re going to combine our devices with their work to understand neurological diseases with more detail and insight than they can get with their current methods,” Ben Schlatka, cofounder and vice president of corporate development at MC10, told MobiHealthNews. “That’s exciting for a lot of reasons. It’s exciting for researchers of the disease. It’s exciting for physicians that work directly with patients, it’s exciting for the patients themselves. … I think the idea of opening up a realtime insight into physiological parameters and patient responses to therapy is a really important part of the collaboration.”

BioStamp is an iteration of MC10′s flexible, stretchable electronics technology which adheres to the patient’s skin like a temporary tattoo. The micro-electronics can track things like “motion, things like heart rate, things like muscle potential, those different assessments,” Schlatka said, and “once you combine them in a soft, discrete, patient-friendly device that can be affixed to multiple locations across the body, you start to get… novel physiological insights that are taken out in the real world, not in the clinic.”

MC10 has pursued a partnership strategy before when it worked with Reebok to develop the CheckLight, a mesh cap that fits under a sports helmet to detect concussions and monitor impacts. With UCB, the company is showing a willingness to engage in similar partnerships in the biopharma and even clinical space. Elyse Winer, manager of marketing and communications at MC10, said pharma companies started to take notice after a paper MC10 published in Nature about movement and neurological disorders.  Keep reading>>

HealthCrowd case study makes strong case for texting Medicaid patients

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 28, 2014        

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HealthcrowdHealthCrowd, text-message-based patient engagement strategy, has completed a pilot with New York Medicaid plan Healthfirst, showing that 86 percent of Healthfirst’s Medicaid population was equipped to receive text messages.

“Over 80 percent of the population we intervened on had a mobile phone,” Neng “Bing” Doh, HealthCrowd’s CEO and cofounder, told MobiHealthNews in an exclusive interview. “Historically, a lot of Medicaid plans have had the preconception that because their members were lower income, that they didn’t have mobile phones. Another preconception is that people don’t want to pay for these messages or [that they] find them intrusive. We absolutely debunked that as well. Our response rate was anywhere from 30 to 60 percent and our opt out rate was really really low; it was 3.7 percent.”

HealthCrowd worked with 941 patients for two and a half months during the study. The target group was pregnant women and families with children and teens, and the interventions were designed to encourage families to get vaccinations, well child visits, and/or prenatal care.  Keep reading>>

In-Depth: ACO’s digital health patient engagement opportunity

By: MobiHealthNews | Jul 25, 2014        

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Over the course of the past decade the concept of an accountable care organization (ACO) has come to define a variety of healthcare provider setups that have primary care as a core focus, payments tied to care quality improvements, and an incentive for lower costs. These models have long been held up as ideal contexts for the flourishing of digital health tools. While not all ACO systems are alike, their core principles generally are. As the Brookings Institution’s Mark McClellan and colleagues explained in a widely cited Health Affairs piece from 2010:

“Accountable care organizations can be implemented through different payment models. These could include opportunities to share in demonstrated savings within a fee-for-service environment, in which providers took on no new financial risk. They could also include limited or substantial capitation arrangements, in which payments were unrelated to the volume of services provided, to the intensity of service use, or to the frequency of face-to-face meetings, and in which providers took on some financial risk for poor-quality results or failure to control costs,” McClellan wrote.

“Thus, accountable care organizations should have considerable flexibility in many aspects of design,” he explained. “At the same time, all variations would be based on these core defining principles: (1) Provider-led organizations with a strong base of primary care that are collectively accountable for quality and total per capita costs across the full continuum of care for a population of patients. (2) Payments linked to quality improvements that also reduce overall costs. (3) Reliable and progressively more sophisticated performance measurement, to support improvement and provide confidence that savings are achieved through improvements in care.”

Some provider groups have been practicing a form of accountable care for decades, but the recent health reform legislation has served as a catalyst for hundreds of other providers to transition to accountable care models.  Keep reading>>

Nearly half of Kaiser Permanente’s members use My Health Manager

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 25, 2014        

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Kaiser PermanenteAround 4.4 million members in health system Kaiser Permanente’s 9.1 million member network are using Kaiser’s online health management platform, called My Health Manager, according to a Kaiser’s 2013 annual report.

Kaiser Permanente’s health manager website had over 131 million visits last year. The report adds that through Kaiser’s online and mobile health services 34.4 million lab test results were viewed online, 14.7 million secure emails were sent, 3.6 million online appointment requests were made, and 14.8 million online prescriptions were refilled.

Of the members who used My Health Manager’s Healthy Lifestyle feature, which provides members with health programs, 56 percent said they lost weight and 58 percent said that they quit smoking. Healthy Lifestyle users with insomnia increased their nightly sleep by 32 minutes on average.

Kaiser also released app download data from two of the company’s apps. The first app, called Kaiser Permanente, reached 455,512 downloads in 2013. Through the app members can email physicians, schedule or cancel appointments, get refills for a prescription, and access lab results. The app also helps users find nearby KP medical facilities. In June, Kaiser released new download numbers for its app, which has now reached over 1 million downloads – or more than 10 percent of Kaiser’s member network.

“We’re seeing that members are using the app most often to securely email their doctors and manage appointments,” Madhu Nutakki, vice president of digital presence technologies, Kaiser Permanente said at the time. “Giving members the ability to quickly and easily connect with their doctors and other care providers, no matter where they are, empowers them to become actively engaged in their health care.”

The Kaiser Permanente app first launched for Android devices in January 2012, and by May, the app had 100,000 downloads. That May, Kaiser Permanente also launched an iOS version of the app. At the time Kaiser Permanente Mobility Center of Excellence Executive Director Brian Gardner said the year before, through the online platform the healthcare facility had before the app, 29 million lab tests were viewed and 2.5 million appointments were scheduled. He added that the number was likely to go up now that the feature is better enabled for mobile devices.

One of Kaiser’s other apps, called  Every Body Walk!, which encourages users to walk 30 minutes a day, saw 165,000 downloads last year. The app offers resources and articles on walking and a personal section on which users can pledge to walk.