Airplane rescue, Colbert booking round out Topol’s HIMSS week

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 11, 2013        

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Scripps Health Dr. Eric Topol

“We have sensors in our cars, why don’t we have sensors in our bodies?” Dr. Eric Topol, Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health told the crowd at his HIMSS 2013 keynote address. “We could detect a heart attack before it happens.”

When Topol is on a plane, there are sensors there, too.

Just hours after delivering his speech, Topol was called upon to use the AliveCor Heart Monitor he demonstrated at the event to assist a fellow passenger in distress.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Topol used the device to diagnose atrial fibrillation in a woman suffering from nausea and an apparent irregular heartbeat. He was able to calm and stabilize the woman until the flight landed as scheduled, according to the Union-Tribune.

“Diagnosed atrial fib, rapid VR for a woman in distress today on a plane at 30K ft, no emergency landing req’d,” Topol tweeted at the time. He also included a snapshot of the patient’s AliveCor readout.

Amazingly, this is the second time Topol has been in the right place at the right time, with an AliveCor heart monitor, to assist a heart patient on an airplane. The first was a year and a half ago on a flight from Washington, D.C. to San Diego. In that case, Topol diagnosed an imminent heart attack, and recommended the pilot make an emergency landing — which he did, somewhere in the vicinity of Cincinnati. The patient had a stent implanted and survived, according to a report in Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry.

“I guess this is really a sign-of-the-times about how useful these mobile medical devices can be,” Topol told the Union-Tribune on Tuesday.

A recent guest on our first MobiHealthNews podcast, Topol has been described variously as a digital health poster-child, an mHealth thought leader, and even a “rockstar of science.” Now he can add “two-time airline hero” to the list. Who knows what other names might emerge from his upcoming appearance on “The Colbert Report”, announced shortly after his airline ordeal. The interview, in which Topol will discuss his book, “The Creative Destruction of Medicine,” is scheduled to air on March 26th.

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WebMD, Medscape to take on app prescribing, discoverability

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2013        

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WebMD MobileIf WebMD has its way, in a few years time it will be clear that one of the biggest announcements to come out of HIMSS 2013 was its partnership with Qualcomm Life. In an interview with MobiHealthNews, WebMD’s EVP & CTO Bill Pence explained that the initial partnership sees WebMD’s consumer sites and apps serving as a place to collect data from the health devices and services that connect to Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform. (Some 220 partner companies now partner with Qualcomm Life.) Pence said that WebMD’s mobile health plans go well beyond this partnership though.

“Tools and apps have been a focus at WebMD recently,” Pence said at HIMSS13 in New Orleans this week. “As we look at the evolution of wireless health and mobile apps, sensors are becoming increasingly important. Initially, consumer will use them on their own but soon these will be more tethered to physicians.”

Qualcomm Life’s Vice President of Global Strategy and Market Development Don Jones said that WebMD could shake up the patient-physician relationship, just as it did in the 1990s when patients began using WebMD to research their own health conditions and bring in printouts to share with their doctors.

“That same thing will happen again,” Jones said, “that same phenomenon will effectively repeat, but only this time patients will show up with their own data.”

Pence noted that WebMD’s mobile apps now have more than 16 million downloads. The company continues to rollout new mobile apps — just this week it announced the launch of the WebMD Pregnancy app. The newest addition joins a surprisingly short list of mobile app offerings from the company: its flagship WebMD Mobile app, the WebMD Baby app, and the WebMD Pain Coach app. While it’s clear the company sees opportunities in topic specific apps, WebMD is setting its sights much higher.

“Moving forward we can package any number of wireless health services under the WebMD brand,” Pence said. “We can educate people what wireless health is outside of fitness. For example, working with Qualcomm and [companies in the 2net ecosystem], we can suggest to consumers the top 12 best in class devices and apps for diabetes. We could enable them to buy it within the apps through a simple, seamless onboard process. Then we could help them gain insights from those devices and set their own triggers and thresholds and alerts based on their own data.”

Pence expects that WebMD’s flagship mobile app will have a curated mobile health store built right into it. While WebMD has a strong consumer user base, it also has a number of physician-facing properties with Medscape. Pence believes that the consumer-facing WebMD and physician-facing Medscape will come together to enable physician recommendations or prescriptions of mobile apps and wireless health devices.

“That will be the first connectivity solution to allow consumers and Medscape doctors to connect,” Pence said. “That platform will include a lot of different use cases, including the ability to prescribe apps.”

Pence said that mobile health has been “a cottage industry for a while” and WebMD’s contribution will not only be exposing it to a larger audience but also taking the pain out of it for consumers by layering in additional insights and actionable information alongside the data.

“This will accelerate the prescribing of apps — and remember — I define apps as any combination of hardware, software and pharmaceutical.” Jones said. “It will be consumer-driven, not top-down.”

MobiHealthNews coverage of the HIMSS13 event in New Orleans is sponsored by AirStrip Technologies.

Kentucky primary care provider launches MeVisit after two-year study

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2013        

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MeVisitDr. William “Chuck” Thornbury, the CEO and Medical Director of Medical Associates of Southern Kentucky, gave one of the livelier and more passionate presentations at HIMSS13 this week. The Glasgow, Kentucky-based primary care doctor discussed how offering his patients online visits and consultations over the phone has helped him mitigate the primary care provider shortage in his area — and how a simple setup like that could help primary care providers meet increasing demands around the country — while cutting costs.

Thornbury told MobiHealthNews in an interview following his presentation at HIMSS that the idea for “mobile e-visits” came after he trained in the “lean” strategy principles pioneered and championed by automaker Toyota, at the University of Kentucky three-day Lean Executive Leadership Institute program. After attending the program a few days ago Thornbury’s team began discussing ways to fix the growing problem of having so many patients that they had to turn people away.

After trying real-time online visits with patients, Thornbury decided the process was too cumbersome and that a more elegant solution would only require that he or another physician use their smartphone. The patient could have the flexibility to access the online questionnaire via their PCs or mobile devices. In Thornbury’s practice most patients do choose to use their home or office computer, he said.

Thornbury began a one-year study of the offering, which asked established patients to pay $32 per e-visit in lieu of an in-person visit at his clinic. Patients were educated about the service’s availability via handbills, websites, and telemarketing. Thornbury made the service available 24 hours, which is why sending it to his phone was crucial. After patients filled out a form online, a brief call (2 to 3 minutes on average) was scheduled with the doctor, who could then complete an assessment and contact the pharmacy if need be.

Thornbury noted that while the median age of the patients was about 43 years old, the range was from 16 to 89 years old. Typically, those on the older end of the spectrum were using the service with the help of an adult child, he noted. Perhaps not surprisingly, 78 percent of the e-visits took place after his normal office hours, however, very few patients contacted him very late at night. Thornbury said he believes his patients understood he worked hard and did not want to disturb him if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

In all, Thornbury studied the mobile e-visits offering at his practice for two years and believes the results are glowing. After two years, about 20 percent of his patients are using the service. At that adoption level, Thornbury said he has increased his capacity by 15 percent, which enables him to provide care for more patients or spend more time with those that need it. He said it works out to about an extra hour in his day. He also claims that the system has lowered per capita cost by 15 percent in his practice.

Interestingly, Thornbury has only used video visits on a handful of occasions over the past few years.

“If I really need to see the patient, I just ask them to come visit me in-person,” he said. “Our platform allows for up to five photos that the patient can include, too.”

Thornbury has leveraged his experience and the two years of study to launch a startup, called MeVisit, to make the platform available to other physicians.

MobiHealthNews coverage of the HIMSS13 event in New Orleans is sponsored by AirStrip Technologies.

HIMSS13 Roundup: Nuance, AT&T, AirStrip, Philips

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2013        

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Vidyo Healthcare PhilipsNuance’s MD survey on voice-enabled, virtual assistants

Ahead of the big event in New Orleans, Nuance Communications surveyed 10,000 doctors in the US about how virtual assistants, think Apple’s iPhone voice query tool Siri, might affect healthcare. Based on the survey, 80 percent of US physicians believe that they will “drastically change” how they interact with and use EHRs and other healthcare apps within five years. Of course, that is Nuance’s flagship product for healthcare — voice input.

The survey found that about 65 percent of physicians believe a virtual assistant would provide them with more accurate, timely information to support care or alert them to missing information in records and 80 percent believe virtual assistants will help patients by engaging them in the care process and helping them develop healthier behaviors. Read More

AT&T to power cellular-connectivity in Numera’s Libris mPERS offering

AT&T announced at HIMSS that it would provide M2M cellular connectivity for a mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) it is developing with Valued Relationships Inc. and Numera Libris. Like other wireless-enabled mPERS systems, AT&T’s would automatically send for help when a fall is detected. Read More

TigerText offers up secure messaging API to mobile health developers

At HIMSS secure messaging vendor TigerText announced that it has begun offering an API that enables developers to add its secure messaging to their mobile health apps. TigerConnect is an “open API that lets any organization use the power of secure messaging to reach any colleague, customer or partner in real-time,” according to the company. TigerText already has API integrations with Dropbox and SpotMD. Read More

AirStrip One launches for cross-platform, mobile-enabled EHR, HIS interoperability

Ahead of the HIMSS13 event, AirStrip Technologies announced the launch of its AirStrip One offering, which is first being implemented at Dignity Health. AirStrip describes the offering as an “enterprise-wide, data- and vendor-agnostic mobility solution to securely deliver patient data from medical devices, electronic medical records (EMRs) and patient monitors to clinicians anywhere across the care continuum.” AirStrip describes it as a key to mobile healthcare interoperability. Read More

Meritus Medical Center taps PatientSafe Solutions for mobile health rollout

PatientSafe Solutions, which offers iPod touch-based point-of-care platform called PatientTouch, announced that Meritus Medical Center in Maryland had tapped it to implement PatientTouch throughout the 272-bed hospital. Read More

Philips and Vidyo expand partnership for video-enabled remote patient monitoring

At HIMSS13 Philips announced that its IntelliSpace eCareManager 3.9 will incorporate Vidyo’s VidyoRouter technology to better enable remote video monitoring of patients who are in the hospitals or at home. Read More

MobiHealthNews coverage of the HIMSS13 event in New Orleans is sponsored by AirStrip Technologies.

HIMSS-backed health accelerator Avia to launch soon

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2013        

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approach-1Chicago-based health accelerator Avia announced that it had partnered with HIMSS to help connect health startups to hospital systems, according to a report in MedCity News. The accelerator plans to announce its first hospital partner by the summer. Avia plans to work with its hospital partners to first understand their needs and then seek out promising startups that might fill them. The obvious benefit to startups is the customer match-making, and providing capital is a secondary concern.

Avia’s team includes CEO Eric Langshur, co-founder Ted Meisel, COO Eric Jensen, and Chief Strategy Officer Leslie Wainwright. Langshur is also a co-founder of Abundant Venture Partners, social networking site CarePages, and Rise Health. Meisel is a partner at venture capital firm Elevation Partners, which was co-founded by U2’s Bono. Prior to Avia Jensen was with McKinsey and Wainwright was with Sg2.

Avia told MedCity News that they see their team acting like a business development group for its hospital clients. Avia is initially focused on startups working on patient engagement (including mobile health), analytics, clinical decision support, and telemedicine. Ideal startups would have a little more traction than those currently participating in one of the health incubators, but graduates of those programs might be a fit.

According to Avia’s website, the team will help hospitals not just identify promising startup partners, but also “evaluate, select, and implement” the best ones that “align with their innovation priorities”.

Avia’s board of advisors includes HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Innovation for Northwestern Memorial Hospital Dr. Lyle Berkowitz, and the Founder and Former President of hospital alliance Premier Alan Weinstein, among others.

Beyond Lieber’s role as an advisor, the specifics around how HIMSS and Avia will work together have yet to be announced.

MobiHealthNews coverage of the HIMSS13 event in New Orleans is sponsored by AirStrip Technologies.

Mobile slowly becomes a path to health information exchange

By: Neil Versel | Mar 9, 2013        

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commonwellInteroperability clearly was one the main themes at the just-concluded Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in New Orleans.

Probably the biggest vendor-related news to come out of HIMSS13 was the launch of CommonWell Health Alliance, a partnership between Cerner, McKesson – including McKesson health information exchange subsidiary RelayHealth – Allscripts, athenahealth and Greenway Medical Technologies to promote interoperability based on open standards.

While the participants did not give specifics of how their collaboration will work, they apparently are taking mobile technology into consideration. “Allowing data to flow more freely fits the needs of a mobile society just as providers are taking on more financial risk in coordinating care,” Greenway President and CEO Tee Green said in a press release.

Still, mobile is just starting to make its way into HIE. As MobiHealthNews reported earlier from HIMSS13, Dr. Kate Christensen, medical director of Kaiser Permanente’s Internet Services Group, said that 22 percent of traffic to Kaiser’s patient portal comes from mobile devices. “The use of smartphones is also skyrocketing among older people, and I don’t really think it’s a barrier until about [age] 85,” Christensen added.

Kaiser, of course, tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to all sorts of health IT, connectivity and interoperability – and it has an advantage over other healthcare providers because it is a tightly integrated organization that also includes a payer side. But others will have to catch up soon because the “meaningful use” electronic health records (EHR) incentive program requires them to in order to earn Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments. Keep reading>>