Android medical dictionary promises to save $2,300 per doc

By: Neil Versel | May 21, 2013        

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Adaptxt MedicalFollowing the same notion that speech recognition technology vendors have had about medicine needing customized electronic dictionaries to handle the specialized vocabulary, a British company is bringing medical terminology to texting and mobile typing – and positioning its product as a big money-saver.

KeyPoint Technologies, based in Glasgow, Scotland, this week introduced a set of industry-specific dictionaries for Android smartphones and tablets, including a medical version called Adaptxt Medical that contains a database of 15,000 specialized terms. Many of these words relate to anatomy, disease names and drug names.

The company estimates that the Adaptxt Medical app can save practices thousands of dollars per physician, based on the assumption that 10,000 of those terms do not appear in general dictionaries and that it takes 10 seconds to enter each word into a phone’s vocabulary list to prevent embarrassing “autocorrect” errors. At a median hourly wage of $85.26 for a general practitioner in the US, the data entry and correction of errors amounts to $2,368.50 in lost productivity per primary care physician, according to KeyPoint, which has US headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

“It needs to be addressed,” KeyPoint marketing VP Ronald Brown said of the autocorrect problem.

The medical app, like the other new vocabulary sets for legal, finance, business and general IT professionals, applies algorithms and artificial intelligence to pick up on each user’s unique typing patterns and add words to that person’s dictionary, Brown told MobiHealthNews.

KeyPoint Technologies makes Adaptxt dictionaries in 78 languages, including many with holiday and sports themes, that run on top of a free keyboard app. Each, including the industry-specific dictionaries, sells for 99 cents in the Google Play store.

Currently, KeyPoint only has apps for Android devices. “There’s more flexibility with Android,” Brown says. An Apple iOS keyboard app is in the works, and the company also is looking to develop BlackBerry and Windows Phone versions, though Brown would not say what stage of development those projects are in.

“Expect to see more in healthcare,” Brown added, though he declined to share specifics.

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Take positive lessons from Zeo failure

By: Neil Versel | May 21, 2013        

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Neil_Versel_LargeIt takes guts for former Zeo CEO Dave Dickinson to do what he did in a MobiHealthNews commentary last week, namely, share his lessons learned from the moderately popular but ultimately unsuccessful mobile sleep monitoring and coaching service. I think he realizes Zeo was on the verge of something big, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.

“Early on, we realized that our ability to transcend our customer base, from highly-engaged, ‘quantified self’ early adopters to the mainstream world of the ‘frustrated sleepers,’ would require far more than just the raw data itself. It turns out that the gift wrapping matters as much as the present inside,” Dickinson wrote.

I suspect by “gift wrapping,” he meant the relevance of the data, not the physical design of the product. Elegant design helped Apple conquer the digital music world with the iPod and the smartphone world with the iPhone – at least until Samsung fought back with great products of its own.

But as I have spoken of before, direct-to-consumer has so far been a massive failure in digital health. Healthcare may be a $2.8 trillion industry in the US, but most of the spending is for hospitalization and care of chronic diseases. And most of the spending is through third parties, namely insurance companies and employers that sponsor health plans.

Zeo, however, was more difficult to categorize than the countless DTC fitness and wellness offerings that have failed to find market traction. It certainly was a consumer product, not meant for diagnostic purposes, but people also discovered potential sleep disorders with the Zeo system, which they then discussed with their physicians. How do I know this? Check out some of the comments below the MobiHealthNews scoop from March about Zeo going out of business.

“Because I have their device, first one purchased 2011 soon after I was diagnosed with sleep apnea — I was able to tell my doctor that I was having significant problems, though my AHI was within normal limits. I could compare the data I received from the Zeo to my data from my CPAP machine and found that I was having clusters during both REM and deep sleep — severe clusters that dropped my oxygen level to below 80 percent. I received a sleep study because of this important information and had my prescription settings adjusted. So it’s fair to say, that this little ingenious machine saved my life,” wrote one person identified as Photini McClain.

MobiHealthNews already ran a piece about reader reactions to the initial news, so I won’t rehash the rest of the nearly six dozen comments. In the two months since we first broke the news, the link to the original story had been tweeted more than 900 times, shared on Facebook by nearly 450 people and posted to LinkedIn close to 300 times. The reaction piece has more than 500 tweets, while Dickinson’s commentary has been tweeted upwards of 300 times in less than a week.

MobiHealthNews is a B2B publication, but it is clear that plenty of “regular” people – not the fitness freaks and techno-geeks who pump up otherwise meager sales for other direct-to-consumer offerings – were passionate about this intriguing product, something that also has proven to be rare in the emerging world of the quantified self. Many of these consumers, including McClain, also took the time to leave comments because they seemed to had grown to love Zeo products and were searching for answers about why the service was no longer working.

That demonstrates to me that there is a market for self-monitoring. It may not be a big one yet, but Dickinson has it right: data from such devices has to be relevant to “something else I care about NOW,” in his words.

“Unfortunately, consumers are not motivated enough to take action when the resulting benefits are longer-term or too scary, like the prospect of getting a terrible illness one day in the future. This is one of the greatest challenges of preventative healthcare; however, other ideas may be able to help here. For example, we found that comparing your personal sleep data to others your own age was far more motivating,” the former Zeo chief said.

I’ll take it several steps further: make the data clinically relevant – but not overwhelming – so healthcare professionals will want to tap into the measurement system. Then make the devices compatible with electronic health records so data flows seamlessly to clinicians at the right point in the workflow.

Get to that point and you will start to see healthcare providers and payers investing in technologies that allow them to deliver better care at lower costs. That’s where the real sweet spot is in digital health.

American Stroke Association launches app to ID symptoms

By: Aditi Pai | May 20, 2013        

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Spot Stroke FAST appThis week the American Stroke Association, American Heart Association, and Ad Council officially launched Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T., an app that aims to help users identify when someone is having a stroke. The app was based on Think FAST, and app launched by Australia’s National Stroke Foundation in 2010.

F.A.S.T. stands for the steps a bystander should take to determine whether someone is having a stroke. “F” prompts the bystander to ask the patient to smile, while checking if his or her face droops on one side. “A” reminds the bystander to ask the patient to raise his or her arms and check if one drifts downwards. “S” stands for asking the patient to repeat a simple phrase as the bystander assesses if that person’s speech is slurred or strange sounding. “T” stands for time and reminds the bystander to quickly call 911 if they believe the person they are with is suffering from a stroke.

The new app is not only designed for emergencies but also as a tool for information on dealing with and preventing a stroke. In an urgent situation, a user can check stroke symptoms, locate nearby hospitals and connect to the local 911 hotline. For non-emergency situations, the app contains a video that shows users how to identify stroke symptoms and resources to prevent a stroke ahead of time.

Hank Wasiak, chair of the American Stroke Association Advisory Committee, told MobiHealthNews that he hopes the app will build awareness and understanding of how to identify when someone is having a stroke.

“The reason we [launched the app] is that one of the most important things — either when you’re having a stroke or someone you know or love is having a stroke — is to get treatment fast,” Wasiak said. “Because the longer you wait to get that treatment, the more brain cells you have to rejuvenate.”

The app is part of a longtime, broader campaign to spread awareness about how to identify a stroke: The newest iteration of the campaign includes an infographic and an online video PSA.

“We hope it will increase awareness of the signs and symptoms, that people will say this is something I should know and keep at my fingertips,” Wasiak said. “My personal crusade is that everybody should have the app on their phone. [Mobile operators] should have it preloaded [on phones].”

Wasiak noted that underserved communities, particularly African American and Hispanic communities, have higher rates of incidents of stroke, but also a higher use of mobile devices.

“If we want to make a difference we have to take it digital and especially mobile,” Wasiak said. “We look at digital and mobile as a very important part of what we’re doing at the American Heart Association because we all come out of a traditional world. Mobile and digital is playing such an important role in how consumers access healthcare, we want to be there.”

After first launching for iOS users in January and Android users earlier this month, the app now has more than 7,000 downloads to date. Wasiak said that the groups plan to measure the campaign’s impact by conducting benchmark studies, and tracking calls to 911 emergency services that were initiated by users of the app.

Study: Smartphone-enabled dermatology is comparable, less comprehensive

By: Jonah Comstock | May 20, 2013        

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handyscopeA small validation study in Sweden suggests that teledermatology, conducted using an iPhone, a dedicated app, and a connected dermascope, can be roughly as effective as a face-to-face dermatology consultation.

The study of 69 lesions (the number of patients is not specified) was conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden and published in the journal Dermatology Practical and Conceptual. The lead researcher, Dr. Alexander Borve, is also the founder of iDoc24, the app used in the study. Borve is an orthopedic surgeon, not a dermatologist, and was not involved in any of the diagnoses.

In the study, patients who came in for face to face dermatology consults first had their lesions photographed with the iPhone and connected dermoscope, a German-made device called a Handyscope by FotoFinder. (This device is not FDA-cleared but the company said it may register as Class I in the future.) The images were sent to two separate teledermatologists, whose diagnoses were compared with the face-to-face diagnosis.

The teledermatologists were comparable to the face-to-face dermatologist, but over all not as accurate. The in-person dermatologist diagnosed 46 of the 69 lesions accurately, a rate of 66.7 percent, while the teledermatologists accurately diagnosed 42 (60.9 percent) and 35 (50.7 percent), respectively. However, when researchers looked only at the classification of benign vs. malignant, accuracy went up considerably, with the in-person dermatologist at 87 percent accuracy and the teledermatologists at 75 and 79 percent respectively.

The study authors conclude that teledermatology could be useful as a screening device or a triage tool, with a clear implication that it is not sufficiently accurate to replace face-to-face dermatology. Borve told MobiHealthNews in an interview that the study also found that 10 to 15 percent of the time, the face-to-face doctor found an additional lesion that turned out to be dangerous in the course of a full body screening.

“It’s a good way to screen one mole, but it’s not a good way to screen a whole patient,” he said. “One thing you have to understand is, just taking a picture with your iPhone, we cannot diagnose from that, but we can screen it, give a probable diagnosis and treatment information and education.”

The study as conducted, with a $600 dermascope, doesn’t have clear indications for direct to patient, “store and forward” teledermatology. However, there are relevant consumer applications: In addition to iDoc24’s direct to consumer application, where users can pay $39.99 to anonymously submit pictures of skin lesions or moles and receive suggestions from dermatologists, the company offers iDoc24Pro to general practicioners who can use it for in-office consultations. And the startup is conducting a pilot where dermascopes are placed in pharmacies and patients can send off for their consultation in-store.

Borve said he’s working on a follow-up study with a much larger sample: around 900 patients. The study will include four dermatologists and 122 general practitioners. Preliminary results in the second study suggests that teledermatology triage can reduce the average time for diagnosis of a malignant melanoma from 46 days (the average with traditional paper referrals) to 14 days.

Utah healthcare system inks deal for wristworn vital signs monitors

By: Jonah Comstock | May 20, 2013        

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visi-productsSotera Wireless, the San Diego-based in-hospital mobile wireless monitoring company that’s raised nearly $60 million from investors like Qualcomm and Intel, announced a deal with Utah-based healthcare system Intermountain Healthcare.

Back in March at HIMSS, Sotera announced it was piloting its ViSi Mobile wireless patient monitoring platform with two Intermountain hospitals, its flagship Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. This week’s announcement elevates that pilot to an official customer deal, and Intermountain’s executive vice president and chief financial officer Bert Zimmerli will join Sotera’s board of directors. Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit healthcare system with 22 hospitals and 185 clinics in Utah and Idaho.

As a clinical partner of Sotera, Intermountain will join Scripps Health, Palomar Pomerado Health, and NASA. According to Pomerado News, Palomar Pomerado became the first hospital to incorporate the ViSi Mobile system in February of this year. The system interfaces with Palomar Pomerado’s EHR system, as it will at Intermountain Hospitals, according to Sotera.

The ViSi Mobile system monitors blood pressure, heart rate or pulse rate, electrocardiogram (ECG) or heart rhythm, blood oxygenation level, respiration rate and skin temperature from a wearable sensor system with a wristworn screen. ViSi received FDA clearance for it’s full system in August 2012, after getting the monitoring device cleared in April 2012.

The company claims the system is as accurate as standard ICU devices, and it includes an alarm system that alerts physicians to sudden changes. Scripps Health cardiologist and unofficial digital health ambassador Dr. Eric Topol frequently uses the ViSi in his technology demonstrations, including his appearance on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report earlier this year.

Sotera Wireless raised $14.8 million this past February, bringing the company’s total funding to a little under $60 million. Among the company’s investors are Qualcomm Ventures, Intel Capital, and the West Health Investment Fund.

Hello Health launches patient-facing iPhone app

By: Jonah Comstock | May 20, 2013        

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hello health appMyca Health subsidiary and “patient platform management” company Hello Health has taken its emphasis on patient engagement mobile, with the company’s first iPhone app.

The app, called PortalConnect, enables patients whose physicians use the Hello Health EHR to update and access their own personal health record (PHR). Using the app, they can enter and review their medical information, send and receive secure messages from their doctors, revisit appointment notes, review and print lab results, and schedule appointments. Currently the app is available in both English and Spanish.

The Hello Health PortalConnect app was quietly added to the AppStore in January, but the company is only now publicizing the launch. Most of the features of the app were already available previously on Hello Health’s online patient portal. The online portal has a subscription fee of $48 per year or $4 per month, which also includes video visits. The new app is free to download, but can’t be used without a Hello Health subscription. Correction: An older version of this story listed an outdated pricing model for Hello Health.

Hello Health markets its patient portal to providers as a way to meet Meaningful Use guidelines for patient engagement with its’ EHRs. The company has raised $21.5 million, with $11.5 million coming in last November from First Generation Capital since its founding. Hello Health powers the employer clinic practices at Qualcomm and Apple among other large, self-insured employers.

Despite its ties to Apple, Hello Health says it will be releasing its app for Android as well in the future. The company also plans to release a provider-facing version of the app.