Boston Scientific’s pacemakers get Latitude NXT in Europe

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 18, 2012        

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Boston Scientific pacemakers Ingenio Invive AdvantioBoston Scientific’s Latitude NXT, a wireless remote patient management system that works with a handful of the medical device company’s pacemakers, has officially launched in Europe where a hospital in Italy implanted a Latitude-enabled pacemaker in a heart patient. The patient received an Ingenio SR pacemaker and a home-based wireless communicator. Latitude NXT is still pending FDA review for the US market.

The Latitude NXT system works with two other devices besides Ingenio SR pacemakers — Advantio pacemakers and Invive cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemakers.

Latitude NXT offers GSM cellular connectivity as an option. The system makes it easy for healthcare professionals to access information about their patients’ real-time pacemaker information. It also enables alert notifications via text messaging or email and it can integrate with some EMRs, too. Boston Scientific believes the EMR integration saves clinicians about 15 minutes, which is how long it takes to manually enter routine device follow-up data into EMRs.

Notably, Boston Scientific also offers wireless-enabled weight scales and blood pressure monitors for patients on its Latitude NXT system. This suite of devices helps physicians better monitor relevant biometrics. The system can also help doctors monitor respiratory and sleep apnea trending, according to the company.

Earlier this month Boston Scientific announced that the Ingenio pacemakers that will be able to connect to the Latitude NXT system in the future, have already rolled out in the US.

St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City was among those healthcare facilities to first give patients the connected technology. In its St. Luke announcement, Boston Scientific explained that the system would “let physicians conduct remote follow-ups of these device patients to monitor specific device information and heart health status.” The medtech company also noted that “the system will also detect clinical events between scheduled visits and send relevant data directly to a secure website, which can be accessed by physicians. This wireless technology will allow patients to transmit data to physicians from most locations in North America without the need for landline-based technology.”

Unfortunately, these devices and companion services do not yet make the data available to the patients whose very body they reside in. One patient, named Hugo Campos, has led a movement to help patients get access to the data that is being wireless streamed from their own bodies. (More on Campos’ story in this NPR story from last month.)

More on Boston Scientific’ launch in Europe in the press release below: Keep reading>>

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IHE releases draft implementation guide for mobile access to health data

By: Neil Versel | Jun 18, 2012        

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IHE Mobile Access Health DocumentsWith the proliferation of mobile devices in healthcare and the growing demand for information delivered to those devices, healthcare interoperability collaborative Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) International has produced an implementation guide for providing such access.

The “Mobile Access to Health Documents” guide, published June 5 but not widely publicized until Monday, helps healthcare organizations design their IT networks to support mobility for clinicians, support staff and patients. It is meant to deliver information securely via electronic health records, personal health records or health information exchanges.

The guide, effectively a draft proposal, lays out the framework for an application provider interface (API) to open up access to health documents through mobile channels.

“The Mobile access to Health Documents (MHD) profile strives to define one standardized interface to health documents for use by mobile devices so that deployment of mobile applications is more consistent and reusable. In this context, mobile devices include tablets and smart-phones, and also include embedded devices like home-health devices. This profile is also applicable in larger systems where the needs are simple, such as to pull the latest summary for display on a secondary monitor,” the draft says.

The highly technical document notes that common uses of HTTP might not be secure enough for transferring sensitive healthcare data. “It is recommended that application developers utilize a risk Assessment in the design of the applications, and that the operational environment utilize a risk Assessment in the design and deployment of the operational environment,” it states.

As with other IHE documents, this guidance spells out several use cases in which the standards might be applied. Use cases include: home health and monitoring devices; patient kiosks in hospital registration departments; PHRs publishing information to EHRs or HIEs; apps that enable access to or submission of patient history data; and electronic measurement devices that need to access patient history information from EHRs or HIEs.

“It is, like all other IHE profiles, intended to facilitate secure and seamless exchange of health information,” says Jim St. Clair, senior director of interoperability and standards at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). IHE started as a joint project between HIMSS, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American College of Cardiology, and still receives administrative support from HIMSS.

The document is aimed at providers, vendors and HIEs, St. Clair added.

IHE is accepting public comments on the proposal through July 5. Comments can be submitted here.

Could mobile health ease health disparities?

By: Neil Versel | Jun 16, 2012        

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MobiHealthNews: 2011 Consumer Health Apps for iOS

Might mobile health technologies help alleviate health disparities between African-American and white men? That is the implication in a recent Huffington Post commentary.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Washington, D.C., lawyer John M. Burns cited statistics indicating that black males live 7.1 fewer years on average than men of other races and are 2.4 times more likely than white men to die of prostate cancer. Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and HIV/AIDS also are far more prominent in African-Americans than in white Americans.

“To improve the health of black men, we must ensure that: 1) They have affordable access to health care; 2) they become more knowledgeable and educated about the resources at their disposal to better care for themselves; and 3) we work, as a community, towards changing attitudes and priorities so that men take a more proactive and preventative approach to their individual health care,” Burns wrote.

With June being Men’s Health Month in the U.S., Burns said this is a good time to examine ways to improve the well-being of men of all races and ethnicities. “One way for us to do this more efficiently is by taking advantage of the mobile platforms that are making health care more accessible and giving us tools to better manage our health,” he suggested.

According to Burns, “mobile health initiatives and applications have the potential to build a bridge to better health care for all communities. Innovative wireless technologies provide new and more substantive opportunities for better health and better health education than ever before.”

He even mentioned a September 2011 MobiHealthNews forecast that there would be upwards of 13,000 mobile health apps for the Apple iOS alone by this summer. “Men today have more options than ever to improve their health, and mobile health solutions add another valuable weapon to their arsenal,” Burns said.

Without specifically mentioning it, Burns also seemed to argue in favor of a last month’s Federal Communications Commission plan to open up dedicated wireless spectrum for healthcare usage.

“As we consider public policies that encourage better health, we should ensure that access to advanced mobile networks is at the top of the list,” he said. “That is good not just for men, but for this country and for our economy.”

Off-the-shelf smartphones meet few HIPAA, MU security requirements

By: Neil Versel | Jun 15, 2012        

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ONC's Dr. Farzad Mostashari

ONC's Dr. Farzad Mostashari

Most mobile phones on the market today meet no more than 40 percent of security requirements — such as those called for by HIPAA or proposed “meaningful use” Stage 2 standards — in the out-of-the-box configurations, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

And even after being manually configured, only iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones typically achieve about 60 percent of standards. Other brands do not fare as well, Will Phelps, an IT security specialist in ONC’s Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, said, according to a report in Government Health IT.

Phelps spoke last week at the Government Health IT conference in Washington. The publication is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which sponsored the event.

ONC is conducting research as it prepares guidance to help small and medium-sized provider organizations secure the growing number of mobile devices that process health data. “They may not have an IT staff or third-party vendor to manage their devices for them. So we want to get them to a point where their devices are operating as securely as possible,” Phelps told the gathering, according to Government Health IT.

“You have to make sure that the devices are able to apply the appropriate security controls to make sure that the patient records are protected,” he advised.

For the guidance, which ONC will publish online later this year in the form of a series of best practices, the office will describe how to handle security in various use cases, according to ONC Office of the Chief Privacy Officer attorney Kathryn Marchesini. Scenarios will include logging in from a coffee shop, sending e-mail from a mobile device and responding to the “bring-your-own-device” phenomenon, she reportedly said.

The office also will disseminate its best practices through the national network of federally funded regional extension centers set up to help smaller providers adopt and use health IT.

In developing guidance, ONC plans on testing security software from various vendors for compliance with security standards, according to the Government Health IT report. Expect to see future outreach to vendors and patients as well.

AirStrip acquires Palomar tech to enable mobile EHR access

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 14, 2012        

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Simulated screenshots of AirStrip's expanded iPad app

Simulated screenshots of AirStrip's expanded iPad app

This week San Antonio-based AirStrip Technologies announced that it was expanding its suite of mobile patient monitoring applications to enable physicians to more easily access information housed in various electronic health record systems (EHRs) via their mobile devices. The expanded offering leverages a recent acquisition by AirStrip. The company bought the worldwide, exclusive rights to market and develop San Diego-based healthcare system Palomar Health’s EHR-agnostic and mobile-enabled MIAA (Medical Information Anytime Anywhere) platform.

While the companies aren’t calling it an acquisition officially, that is what it is in effect, they told MobiHealthNews.

AirStrip’s expanded offering will make available real-time access to medical device data as it always has but it will also now include all other current and historical patient information that is relevant to clinical decision-making. AirStrip’s CEO Alan Portela stressed to MobiHealthNews in an interview that the key is that the augmented mobile application will allow physicians to access information stored in EHRs developed by different EHR and EMR vendors. Because of increasing consolidation between organizations that own healthcare facilities and the fact that it is not unusual for the same healthcare system to have different EHR systems installed in its various facilities, the need for a mobile app that can access data from multiple records systems is crucial.

AirStrip specifically pointed to Cerner and the VA’s VistA EHR system as two examples of the EHRs it currently can help physicians access through the app.

AirStrip’s Portela has long-argued that EHRs are important but mostly as platforms, like the operating system on a computer. Their true value and benefits are unlocked by connecting mobile apps and other technologies built on top of them.

More details on the expanded feature set of AirStrip’s mobile offerings in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Axial acquires Mayo Clinic mobile health startup mRemedy

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 14, 2012        

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mRemedyCare transitions technology provider Axial Exchange has acquired mRemedy, a mobile health app company formed by the Mayo Clinic and DoApp in late 2009. While the companies did not disclose specific financial details about the acquisition, Mayo Clinic and Axial’s existing investor Canaan Partners both invested in Axial Exchange to help it complete the acquisition. The resulting company now counts those two investors as well as Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Paul Y. Takahashi and Dr. Nathan Jacobson as investors and board members.

As part of the agreement Axial Exchange also gains access to content from MayoClinic.com that it will incorporate into its patient-facing wares.

While mRemedy initially launched a handful of consumer health apps, its core product was myTality, a patient-facing mobile health app that aims to help users better navigate a future hospital visit and helps hospital market their services. Axial’s software as a service platform includes two key offerings: Axial Patient and Axial Provider. myTality will help Axial scale up its mobile offerings, the company wrote in a statement.

Notably, Axial’s products took the top prize in a recent HHS Partnership for Patients Initiative innovation competition, run by ONC called, “Ensuring Safe Transitions From Hospital to Home.”

When mRemedy launched almost two years ago the company planned to develop apps based on Mayo Clinic’s research and services. The first mRemedy app, Mayo Clinic Meditation, launched in the final days of 2009 in Apple’s AppStore for iPhone and iPod touch users. That first app, which teaches users relaxation and breathing techniques costs $4.95 and is based on a program created by Mayo professor Dr. Amit Sood.

After a few consumer health app launches throughout 2010, mRemedy pivoted and launched myTality. When it launched, myTality was described as a suite of custom apps built for “clinics and hospitals and their patients” and includes medical trackers, medical directories, medical reference guides and more. At the time of this acquisition, mRemedy’s suite of mobile app trackers include myWeight, mPressure, and myGlucose. In mid-2011 mRemedy announced that Lexington, Kentucky-based Central Baptist Hospital had signed on as the first hospital to offer the suite of apps to its patients.

That pivot is what led mRemedy to its buyer this week.