MyRoutine app reduces kids’ doctor visit anxiety

By: Aditi Pai | Aug 1, 2013        

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MyRoutineVisiting the doctor might be a daunting experience for kids who aren’t yet used to the process, especially those with a developmental delay.

To address this concern, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee created an iPad app, MyRoutine, to show children what a doctor’s office visit generally looks like as well as other daily routines. Parents and providers can use the app to create storyboards centered around bedtime, craft time, a doctor visit and more. Within the storyboard, the creator, parent or provider, adds tasks with pictures and optional voice overs. When that’s done, he or she just has to hit play. The app comes with a photo gallery of children going through a routine check-up at the doctor’s office for the doctor or parent to customize.

The Center for Child Development at Vanderbilt, which primarily sees children ages 18 months to 14 years, plans to use the app in clinic for patient appointments.

“The app has been designed keeping children with special needs in mind, but even typically developing children could benefit from this,” Niru Madduri, M.D., clinical director for the Center for Child Development told Vanderbilt’s official news outlet. “A lot of these children respond to using the iPad. It’s made an impact on how they learn skills. When children know they get something out of it, they are more likely to complete the tasks.”

MyRoutine is an upgrade from the center’s current visual aid, a hardcopy storyboard filled with photos and words that offer a short narrative for patients about a clinic visit from checking in to the end of the doctor’s visit.

Behavior Consultant in Children’s Hospital’s Center for Child Development David Crnobori, M.S.Ed. found, “children, especially those with developing language skills, tend to be visual learners.”

Since implementing the hardcopy storyboard, Crnobori has seen a “decrease in patient anxiety,” which “has allowed for more effective evaluations and has created a more pleasant experience for the patients and their families.”

Other children’s hospitals have also experimented with apps that offer patients and their families a more interactive experience. In June, Boston Children’s Hospital finished a pilot for a new app, MyPassport which increases parents’ interaction with the care delivery system in several different ways like helping patients and parents keep track of all the people involved in a child’s care. The app also includes a care plan, that tells the patient or parent exactly what benchmarks the patient needs to meet before being discharged.


Frothy times for Google Glass in healthcare

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 1, 2013        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsGoogle Glass is the highest profile wearable device right now. While it exists and thousands of beta testers have prototype versions of it, it’s not commercially available yet. What’s striking about the current Google Glass conversation — especially in healthcare — is that so little of it is critical. Even the iPad at launch stirred emotions among physicians and health IT types who were quick to list off its shortcomings.

Maybe it’s harder to find faults with a device as novel as Google Glass. Maybe Google’s brilliant PR campaign, which distributed the device to influential types who were willing to post promotional tweets and notes on social media sites to win the Google Glass lottery, has been effective at keeping the reviews overwhelmingly positive so far.

Of course, it could be that many in healthcare don’t yet take Google Glass seriously enough to offer up criticism. It was clear from the very beginning that the iPad threatened “medical grade” tablets and the standard COW (computers on wheels) set-up from the minute Steve Jobs brought it out on stage. At first blush it’s tough to say what Glass really threatens to disrupt in healthcare. It is clear, however, that many in healthcare are very excited to find out.

Already at least three surgeons have worn their Google Glass prototypes during surgeries. The first widely reported Google Glass streamed surgery came out of Spain. Stateside, one physician live streamed a surgery (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) using Google Glass. Around the same time, another surgeon used it to live stream an orthopedic surgery so medical students could remotely follow along from his point of view. So far, Glass has been found to be an expensive but helpful, head-mounted camera.

A handful of health startups are already working to add more value for surgeon fans of Google Glass. One, called Pristine, is already working to develop apps for clinicians to use during surgery and in other clinical settings. Pristine’s founders contend that Google Glass is much more likely to succeed as an enterprise device than a consumer one. (The initial $1,500 pricetag will certainly keep many potential early adopter consumers away.) Another startup, Augmedix, recently entered digital health accelerator’s Rock Health’s latest class of startups to develop a business around its plans for Google Glass medical apps.

Most recently Qualcomm Life announced that it had teamed up with San Diego area healthcare system Palomar Health to create an incubator dedicated to discovering how wearable computing devices like Google Glass could benefit healthcare. The incubator is called Glassomics — an obvious reference to Google Glass.

Influential healthcare CIO Dr. John D. Halamka recently penned a list of ways that Google Glass could help clinicians. It included: meeting meaningful use stage 2 requirements, clinical documentation, emergency department dashboards, decision support, as well as alerts and reminders.

“Just as the iPad has become the chosen form factor for clinicians today,” he writes, “I can definitely see a day when computing devices are more integrated into the clothing or body of the clinician.”

10 smartwatches that may take on fitness trackers

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 31, 2013        

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AGENTOne way or another, the wrist is going to be a consumer battlefield.

In the world of health and fitness tracking, smartphone connected devices like Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP, and Basis Band have scoped out the wrist as the ideal place for accelerometers, pulse, and galvanic skin response sensors to give people feedback about their workouts. In the mobile computing sphere, startups like Pebble and giants like Apple alike are developing smartwatches. A smartwatch is a wirelessly-connected watch that serves as a second screen for a smartphone, located on the wrist for easy access. Or, in the case of a few startups, the smartwatch is a whole mobile computer on the wrist — no phone required. ABI Research predicts more than a million smartwatches will ship in 2013.

With only two wrists per person, which class of device is going to win out? Or, perhaps more likely, will the winning smartwatch be the one that includes health and fitness tracking capabilities? Here’s a roundup of the some of the most talked about smartwatches — on the market, coming soon, or rumored — with a special emphasis on their health and fitness tracking capabilities.


Pebble RunKeeper

The Pebble smartwatch was a Kickstarter sensation to which many tech writers have attributed the modern rise of the smartwatch. Making use of e-paper technology, the wristworn device connects via Bluetooth to Apple and Android phones to display notifications about incoming calls, text messages, emails, and social media notifications, among other things. Keep reading>>

FDA clears Ambio wireless health monitoring system

By: Neil Versel | Jul 31, 2013        

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AmbioAging in place and disease management technology developer Ambio Health has gained FDA 510(k) regulatory clearance for its flagship Ambio Remote Health Monitoring System. The system, first introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, essentially adds wireless capability to standard home health monitors and automates data collection.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Ambio is now free to sell the system in the US, and it will do so at a price point significantly lower than competitors, according to CEO Kevin Jones. The wireless gateway, which plugs into a standard home-based Ethernet router, costs $19.99 by itself or $44.97 bundled with an AgaMatrix Presto blood-glucose monitor and proprietary Ambio wireless connector. A package with a Homedics BPA-060 blood-pressure monitor is priced at $89.97.

An Ambio Health-branded digital weight scale, sold for $84.98 with a wireless gateway or $64.99 without, has the transmitter built in. Monitoring service costs $4.99 a month per device, based on an annual subscription.

Wireless connectors, which plug into the USB port of personal medical devices, sell for $19.99 each if purchased separately. “It’s meant to stay in there,” Jones said of the matchbook-size peripheral that makes home medical devices wireless and communicates with the gateway over distances far greater than the Bluetooth standard allows. Keep reading>>

Study: Proteus tracks adherence with 94 percent accuracy

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 31, 2013        

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proteus-digital-health.top_Proteus Digital Health, the ingestible sensor company that raised $45 million in May — the largest funding raise in digital health this year so far — has published the results of a small clinical trial in a peer-reviewed journal. The study of 27 adults with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia found that the addition of an ingestible sensor to their regiment led to 67 percent of patients taking their medication within 2 hours of their designated time. The mean adherence rate was 74 percent.

The study, which was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry as an online exclusive, was conducted over four weeks in May 2011. Along with Proteus, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Zucker Hillside Hospital were collaborators.

The main purpose of the study was to test the accuracy of Proteus’s digital health feedback system, which includes the ingestible sensor pill, a patch and a mobile app. Compared to tracking adherence by observation, the ingestible sensors tracked adherence with 94 percent accuracy.

The feedback system also tracked other statistics about the users including activity and sleep. Activity among the participants ranged from 847 to 15,930 steps per day and subjects slept between 3.2 and 15.2 hours per day. The system also tracked sleep disruption — the amount patients wake up during the night — a number that could be very useful in assessing the effectiveness of medication for a condition like schizophrenia, according to the researchers. Mean sleep disruption varied from 5 percent to 43 percent over the course of the study period.

The study affirmed that Proteus’s FDA-cleared ingestible pill had few-to-no adverse affects on participants. No subjects had a worsened psychosis because of the pills. Five experienced mild skin irritation due to the patch that transmits the data from the sensor to collection devices, but none dropped out of the study because of it.

Finally, study participants were asked some questions about the digital health feedback system. Nineteen of the 27 participants (70 percent) found the system easy to understand and 24 (89 percent) thought it could be useful to them. Twenty-one (78 percent) expressed interest in having the system send reminders to them via text message if they forgot to take their medication.

Health, fitness devices to make up half of all wireless accessories shipped by 2018

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 31, 2013        

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Shipments of app-enabled smart wireless accessories will approach 170 million by the end of 2018, compared to over 18 million this year, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Wireless accessories refers to the hardware that links to the smartphone, often via short-range wireless technology such as WiFi or Bluetooth. Some devices considered include smartwatches and smart glasses. The market entry of players such as Apple and Google will further drive the adoption of premium wearable devices, and at the same time publicizing and educating consumers, according to Juniper.


The report also found that the fitness and healthcare sector together will account for over 50 percent of the devices shipped this year and a multi-channel strategy is essential to gain traction in the race to secure a place in this new market. At that time, Juniper predicts, the market will be dominated by consumer electronics and fitness accessories, although in the longer run healthcare smart wireless accessories are expected to gain most traction.

A few weeks ago, a report from IHS found installs for sports and fitness apps, which usually accompany device accessories, are expected to grow to 248 million in 2017 from 156 million in 2012, a 60 percent rise. In May, IMS Research a subsidiary of IHS, conducted a survey that predicted sports and fitness monitors, a category with some overlap with wireless accessories, will hit 56.2 million global shipments in 2017, up from 43.8 million this year.

Additionally, an IMS survey last year found smartphone owners who exercise at least once a week and are interested in sports and fitness apps are are also willing to buy a fitness sensor that connects to an app on his or her phone. IMS interviewed around 400 consumers in the United Kingdom and the US for this survey. About 62.3 percent of the respondents said they were prepared to buy such a sports sensor.