Tapping body heat to power monitoring devices

By: admin | Oct 25, 2012        

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Geral Wiant of Perpetua with DHS jacket

Geral Wiant of Perpetua with DHS jacket. Photo Credit: Paul Savage Photography

By Padma Nagappan

What began as a diagnostic tool to find the best place to locate an energy harvesting device on an industrial pump or motor, is now being used to trap body heat and convert it into thermoelectric energy that can power monitoring devices worn on the body.

“One of our engineers placed it on his hand by chance and it converted body heat into electricity — so that was our ‘aha’ moment, when we decided to try developing this for mobile devices,” Gerald Wiant, VP of Marketing for Perpetua Power Source Technologies, told MobiHealthNews during an interview at the WLSA’s Wireless Health 2012 conference in San Diego this week.

Perpetua, which was founded in 2005 in Corvallis, Oregon, develops commercial applications for a thermoelectric thin-film technology that the company has an exclusive license to commercialize from Battelle Memorial Institute, which runs a lab for the US Department of Energy.

The human body is a perpetual thermal engine that generates huge amounts of heat and wearable thin-film thermoelectric generators or TEGs can convert this heat into electricity. This technology can be integrated into clothing or wristbands to power ultra low-power devices that monitor activity or physiological conditions, Ingo Stark, chief scientist at Perpetua said.

At the event Perpetua demonstrated a black jacket that uses the TEG technology to convert body heat into energy to power body-worn sensors. Perpetua has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology division to test the jacket.

The company, which currently has about 25 employees, has received “significant” funding from the Coquille Indian Tribe, which is based in Southern Oregon, and has also leveraged grants that total about $2 million to develop its technology.

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Verizon invests in NantHealth to deliver mobile clinical data

By: Neil Versel | Oct 24, 2012        

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Dr Patrick Soon-ShiongNantHealth, a subsidiary of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks, has received an unspecified equity investment from Verizon Communications, through the telecom’s Verizon Investment arm. Verizon will help NantHealth develop a secure fiber-optic, cloud-based data infrastructure to deliver multimedia healthcare information to mobile devices, according to the companies.

“If we can stream a movie into a smartphone today, why can’t we do an X-ray or CAT scan result?” Soon-Shiong said to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

This kind of content is supposed to help clinicians provide better care. “We believe that evidence-based medicine will be the cornerstone of future healthcare delivery,” Soon-Shiong added in a joint press release. “Partnering with Verizon gives us the national scale to succeed in enhancing patient outcomes and better access to care through secure broadband networks and our mobile platform.”

Soon-Shiong, who placed 47th on this year’s Forbes 400 list of America’s wealthiest people with an estimated net worth of $7.3 billion, also told the L.A. Business Journal that Verizon will help NantHealth develop “smart home” technology for remotely monitoring patients away from traditional healthcare settings.

Verizon and NantWorks already collaborate on the Cancer Knowledge Action Network, which provides clinicians with mobile access to cancer treatment protocols, and a supercomputing platform that reportedly can analyze a cancer patient’s genomic data in less than a minute.

Earlier this year, another Soon-Shiong company, NantPharma, received a $125 million injection of capital from investment firm Blackstone.

Bosch, UK university launch digital health lab

By: Neil Versel | Oct 23, 2012        

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Health Buddy now BoschA British university is joining the growing roster of organizations formally researching the effectiveness of digital healthcare technologies and brainstorming further innovations.

The Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) at the University of Warwick in England is teaming with the university’s WMG innovation center and Bosch Healthcare to create the IDH Learning Lab. Also participating is Britain’s National Health Service Midlands and East Region. The parties did not disclose how much money they are dedicating to the lab.

“In the UK we face an unprecedented need for improved understanding of digital healthcare technology and the benefits it can provide to both clinician and end-user,” IDH Director Christopher James told London-based E-Health Insider. “The IDH Learning Lab is essentially is a space where parties can come together to find the best solutions.”

Initially, the Learning Lab will conduct two telehealth studies. One will evaluate treatment of cancer patients with the Bosch Health Buddy system. Subjects in that study will answer questions about their daily condition and report various vital signs and other metrics through the Health Buddy platform, which will send data to care managers. Researchers will be looking at how the telehealth system can affect quality of life, patient behavior, mortality rates and cost of care.

The other study will assess remote monitoring of more than 1,500 patients with vascular diseases as part of a broader study of treatment of chronic diseases.

“Our ethos is to create systems and products that help people live better quality of lives and achieve what they want to with the aid of technology – making innovation work on a daily basis in homes across the country,” Bosch’s UK president, Peter Fouquet, said in a press release.

“The UK healthcare system is at a very interesting point in its development and technology is becoming more important in terms of delivery in the community,” adds Bosch Healthcare President Jasper zu Putlitz.

Based on a video of the vision for the IDH Learning Lab, researchers also will be looking at bringing digital technologies to medical education and studying unobtrusive patient monitoring systems, wireless implantable medical devices and virtual reality.

Is mobile health about to enter a patent thicket?

By: admin | Oct 23, 2012        

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OrionBy Orion Armon, IP Litigation practice group, Cooley LLP

Until now, the mHealth industry has experienced relatively few patent infringement conflicts, and little or no litigation instituted by non-practicing entities. But these trends may be disrupted within the next few years.  Companies in the medical device, computer, networking, and communications industries are all patenting in the mHealth space, and the likely result will be a thicket of overlapping patents on mHealth products and their components. As the patent thicket grows, patent infringement conflicts likely will increase—especially as mHealth technologies mature and winners within the industry emerge.

To help you navigate the patent thicket, this article discusses the current patent landscape in the mHealth industry and concludes with recommendations that mHealth companies could pursue to manage their intellectual property more effectively and reduce patent infringement risk.

Summary of Findings

  • The number of mHealth patents issued by the Patent Office has increased steadily since 2000 (when the number of mHealth patent applications was negligible), and will continue to surge until at least 2014.
  • Large companies are winning the mHealth patent race by obtaining the vast majority of newly-issued mHealth patents.
  • Intellectual Ventures, a non-practicing patent aggregator, is patenting aggressively in the mHealth space.  Licensing demands and litigation from IV (and possibly other NPEs) are sure to follow.
  • Almost half of the top twenty mHealth patent holders are not mHealth companies, or even medical device developers.
  • The incidence of mHealth patent infringement conflicts likely will increase as companies become more profitable and patent portfolios mature.  To manage patent infringement risk, companies should consider the following options:
    • If you have never been sued, consider purchasing insurance;
    • Properly structure IP indemnification rights and obligations;
    • Build-out your patent portfolio—even ancillary improvements in the mHealth space may become critical if they are widely adopted by your competitors;
    • Streamline  your internal invention disclosure, review, and patent filing processes, and where appropriate, use the USPTO’s Track 1 process to accelerate examination of key patent applications;
    • Monitor competitors’ patent filings and patent portfolios, and consider making pre-issuance submissions of prior art during prosecution of competitors’ patents;
    • Proactively cross-license patents with key IP owners to expand your freedom to operate—or utilize commodity components from major companies who will indemnify you for their use; and
    • If competitors are infringing, consider enforcing your patents before your competitors’ patent portfolios mature.

Keep reading>>

Independa nabs $1M to fund LG TV rollout

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 22, 2012        

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angelaSan Diego-based senior care platform developer Independa has raised $1 million of a hoped for $4.3 million round in an effort to bankroll the deployment of its Angela software on LG Electronics’ Pro:Centric-enabled commercial televisions. The Independa deal with LG was first announced at the CES event at the beginning of the year. According to report in Telecare Aware, the new funding comes from a “variety of angels”.

Independa’s flagship offering is Angela, a tablet-based application that helps manage the lives and care of elderly patients who choose to stay in their homes rather than move to assisted living or nursing homes. According to Independa, Angela is a “social interaction solution tailor-made for the non-technical elderly.” The software 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 LG deal brings Independa’s Angela software to televisions at three senior care communities in San Diego, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh. Angela is pre-loaded on the televisions and is therefore television service provider agnostic.

In April of this year, Independa announced that it had topped up its most recent round of funding to $2.35 million. Independa announced $1.6 million in funding last September and added about $750,000 in additional funds from new and existing investors, including Miramar Venture Partners and City Hill Ventures.

Aetna taps DRX for Medicare enrollment iPad app

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 22, 2012        

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DRX's iPad app for Medicare enrollment

DRX's iPad app for Medicare enrollment

Aetna recently announced that it had tapped DRX to develop and launch of a new tool for its infield Medicare sales agents and brokers: Mobile Field Enrollment for iPad. The app is a secure and easy-to-use alternative to paper applications and it will help agents enroll patients into an Aetna Medicare plan whether the device is connected or in offline.

DRX, which was formerly named Destination Rx, developed the app. DRX also offers various Medicare plan comparison tools, technology and data. While the app was built to help streamline the enrollment process for agents, it’s also built to be used by patients looking to enroll, too.

“The new tool lets brokers take in-office capabilities straight to their customers, wherever they are,” David Firestone, national head of distribution for Aetna Medicare stated in the announcement. “Best of all, it streamlines the process for agents, eliminates errors that can happen when paper applications are processed manually, and speeds up the application and approval process for the consumer.”

The iPad tool captures and submits enrollment information right from the device; works whether it is online or offline; detects input errors and missing information; automatically updates plan data within the app; tracks and reports on broker or agent’s enrollment activity right from the device; and includes security measures to protect PHI. Aetna claims the tool has decreased app processing time and cut down on costs. According to agents who tested the app, they estimated it could save them enough time to see 20 percent more clients each week.

MobiHealthNews first reported on the DRX iPad app in February. At that time the company said it had deals in place with seven health plans.

More details in the announcement here.