$80 smartphone drives Kenyan mHealth adoption

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 19, 2011        

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The MedKenya Android App

It’s widely accepted that the rise of low-cost smartphones in developing nations will play an important role in accelerating mHealth adoption. An Android-based smartphone called IDEOS that retails for $80, developed by Chinese manufacturer Huawei, has already reached more than 350,000 users in Kenya. According to a new article by Jeremy Ford for Singularity Hub, these low-cost phones can “jumpstart the spread of liberating technologies.”

The IDEOS smartphone, offered through Kenya’s telecom Safaricom, has a low price point due to the falling price of microelectronics, and by using less advanced components: The IDEOS includes less memory and screen size than offerings like the iPhone, but is otherwise comparable to phones sold in major world markets.

The open source nature of the Android operating system will allow for region-specific applications. Medkenya, a reference app similar to WebMD, won top prize recently at the Pivot25 entrepreneurial contest recently held in Nairobi. The app provides symptom checkers, first-aid information, medical alerts, and searchable doctor & hospital directories in an attempt to make healthcare more accessible for Kenyans.

“I have a hunch that this is just the beginning of healthcare-related apps in Africa,” writes Ford. “We’ve seen smartphones adopt all kinds of medical technology, from digital stethoscopes to cancer diagnosis, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see similarly stunning med-tech reach even the remotest areas one day. An app that tracks mosquito outbreaks or a smartphone with an HIV-testing peripheral would work wonders to address persisting healthcare challenges of the developing world. Who knows? Maybe one day they’ll be able to carry a doctor around in their pocket.”

At last month’s World Congress 3rd Annual Leadership Summit on mHealth, Kate Canales, creative director of Frog Design, spoke about what mHealth programs can learn from the developing world. Speakers at the GSMA-mHA Mobile Health Summit, held in Capetown, South Africa earlier this summer, focused their talks on growing the emerging mobile healthcare market and making it sustainable.

You can read the full Singularity Hub article here.


DrChrono receives another $650k

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 18, 2011        

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dr chronoEHR platform DrChrono announced this week another round of seed funding totaling $650,000, as well as the release of a new patient check-in app.

DrChrono, a free download from the App store, is one of the first EHR apps built specifically for the iPad. DrChrono also offers iPhone and Android apps (a version for Android tablets is in development).

The investment comes from Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global, and venture capital firm General Catalyst. In July, DrChrono announced $675k in funding from various venture capital groups, and as well as a collaboration with M*Modal for text-to-speech functionality within their app.

The check-in app, OnPatient, aims to replace the traditional paper check-in process in the physician waiting room and is a free download for the iPad. It can be used as a standalone app or integrated with the DrChrono EHR, and allows for the HIPAA consent form for patients to be signed digitally.

“The OnPatient check-in app digitizes the waiting room and eliminates significant barriers to mass adoption of patient check-in technology by leveraging sophisticated iPad technology. Proprietary check-in hardware is prohibitively expensive and integration with existing EHR systems is too complex,” stated DrChrono CEO Michael Nusimow in a press release. “We designed the OnPatient app to be intuitive for both physicians and patient users to create a better patient check-in experience.”

Read the press release after the jump.

Keep reading>>

By 2016: 100M wearable wireless sensors

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 18, 2011        

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Garmin wireless sensorThe market for wearable devices will exceed 100 million units annually by 2016, reports ABI Research in a new study. A study released by ABI last June estimated that 80 million of those units would be fitness sensors.

The announcement comes on the heels of yesterday’s news of an expected $1.34B wireless health industry also by 2016. According to ABI, adoption over the next five years will be driven by devices, ranging from heart rate monitors to wearable blood glucose meters, in both consumer (sports, fitness) and clinical settings. New, low-power wireless technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0 will combine with social networking and smartphone integration to drive adoption.

“A number of short range wireless protocols are jostling for position in this emerging market and they line up against traditional tethered connectivity such as a USB cable to a computer as well as emerging M2M offerings,” stated ABI analyst Jonathan Collins in a press release.

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Congress: How’s FCC doing on mobile health oversight?

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 18, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAfter two years of research and a joint effort between groups of security experts working at separate academic institutions, a professor and a graduate student showed attendees at hacker conferences Black Hat and Defcon how to build a “cheap” $1,000 system to mimic the control mechanism on a pacemaker. The researchers were able to eavesdrop on private data that identified the patient, doctor, diagnosis and the device’s instructions. They could also control the device to put it into test mode, to drain the battery or turn off therapies.

But that was 2008.

For the first time at this year’s DefCon there was a full track for kids. There was also a talk by computer security expert Jay Radcliffe who explained to attendees how easy it was to hack into an insulin pump. Radcliffe himself is a diabetic and his demonstration was meant to sound the alarm that these devices are not yet secure enough. While most media reports didn’t make this clear, Radcliffe did not teach the hackers at DefCon how he took control of a pump — he used the podium to explain that it was possible. Radcliffe also noted that pace makers, intravenous pumps, and blood pressure cuffs are among the other connected health devices that have been successfully hacked in recent years.

Radcliffe’s demonstration worked. Keep reading>>

Motorola Mobility gives Google foothold in connected health

By: Neil Versel | Aug 18, 2011        

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Neil VerselGoogle may turn out to be a major player in mobile and wireless health after all.

Less than two months after the Internet search leader announced it was shutting down its overhyped, underadopted Google Health personal health records platform, comes the news that Google is paying $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility. (Is anyone surprised by this? I was at first, until I stepped back and realized that probably was the reason Motorola Inc. split into two companies back at the beginning of the year, handset cable TV set-top box and gadget manufacturer Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions, which enterprise and business networking technology.)

Ostensibly the deal is to give Google some of Motorola Mobility’s nearly 17,000 patents to help protect against lawsuits related to Android smartphones, but look what Motorola has going in healthcare.

No, I’m not talking about ruggedized, disinfectable smartphone handsets for hospital environments. The line of “enterprise digital assistants” actually is from Motorola Solutions, the part of Motorola that Google is not buying.

Sure, the more commercially oriented Android handsets and tablets that Motorola Mobility makes could play a role in healthcare, but come on, let’s face it, the iPad rules the tablet market among physicians right now, and the healthcare smartphone market is dominated by iPhone among individuals—and the occasional medical school—and BlackBerry at the enterprise level. Sure, Android smartphones and tablets could make inroads in the future, but that may be small potatoes compared to the potential the Google-Motorola combination has in connected health. Keep reading>>

How the Center for Body Computing fits in

By: Neil Versel | Aug 18, 2011        

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Dr. Leslie SaxonAs MobiHealthNews reported last week, the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing wants to become the “epicenter of wireless health.”

That’s a lofty goal, considering the other, similar organizations right there in Southern California, including the UCLA Wireless Health Institute right there in Los Angeles, and, down toward San Diego, the West Wireless Health Institute, the Scripps Translational Science Institute and the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance. But it’s a challenge that Center for Body Computing Executive Director Dr. Leslie Saxon is up for, in a cooperative rather than confrontational way.

“It really does feel like the Southern California corridor is the leader in the wireless health space,” Saxon says in an interview with MobiHealthNews. Saxon happens to be on the medical advisory board of West Wireless, and is eager to collaborate with that budding institution. West, she notes, has a lot of expertise with government and regulatory issues.

What USC, as a private university, brings to the table, is the ability to work in a multidisciplinary manner, across departments and in partnership with businesses and other institutions, according to Saxon. (Seventeen companies are among the founding members of the Center for Body Computing.) Saxon, the chief of cardiovascular medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine, spent 12 years in the state-run University of California system, where much of the technology developed had to stay in the public domain.

At USC, Saxon says, it is much easier to privatize technology transfer and commercialize good ideas, and the institution can provide a level of trust to the marketplace. “USC is willing to manage potential conflicts,” Saxon says.

But she is most optimistic about the chance to work across disciplines. “We have a very strong relationship with the business school,” Saxon says. The medical school has a staff of 500 physicians, who can test technologies in clinical settings, and Saxon reports that some people from the music school have come to her with musical apps for rehab purposes.

The center now is taking advantage of its location in downtown Los Angeles to working with the school’s USC University Hospital and Los Angeles County LAC+USC Healthcare Network to develop an emergency-response system over mobile networks.

The engineering school also has a role to play, such as in developing mobile versions of existing technologies. “We might be working with an engineering company with lots of engineers, but no app engineers,” Saxon says. “We have an engineering school that can help.”

Because it has research infrastructure in place, USC also can do some of the proof-of-concept testing without the need for extra Food and Drug Administration approval, then partner with a company to commercialize its research, Saxon notes. Keep reading>>