Telcare offers up diabetes management app for iPhone

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 15, 2012        

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MyTelcare Diabetes PalThis week Telcare, makers of an FDA-cleared, cellular-enabled blood glucose meter, launched a free, companion iPhone app, called MyTelcare Diabetes Pal that helps Telcare BGM users to track their glucose readings, medications, nutrition, activities and more. The app automatically receives glucose readings from the TelcareBGM device, which means no more manual logging of blood glucose readings. Other non-Telcare BGM device users can still use the Telcare app to manually log their readings.

While there are other ways to transmit blood glucose readings to an iPhone app, like Sanofi’s iPhone dongle blood glucose meter the iBGStar, Entra Health System’s Bluetooth-enabled meter, or by using Glooko’s $39 cord, Telcare explained to MobiHealthNews in an email that since the app was engineered to wirelessly connect to the Telcare BGM via its secure cloud server the Telcare blood glucose meter and the iPhone can be 1,000 miles away or two feet away from one another and it will still sync in real-time. The other devices require users to have both the meter and the smartphone handy.

The MyTelcare Diabetes Pal app also helps users discover trends by reviewing more than ten professionally designed graphs and charts that help users identify trends based on time of day, prescription adherence, target zones, day of the week, standard deviation, before and after meals, before and after activity, and more. The app also enables users to generate and email a one page, “physician-optimized” report in about five seconds, according to the company. What’s more, all data can be exported to Microsoft Excel.

The app also provides feedback to users and their caregivers: “Patients and caregivers receive feedback from Telcare’s proprietary rules-based algorithms and the entire Telcare patient community,” according to the company.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>


Europe to be bigger market for mHealth than North America

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 15, 2012        

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Vitality iPad App

Vitality GlowCap iPad App

The worldwide mHealth market will grow to a revenue opportunity worth $23 billion by 2017, according to a new report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and funded by the GSM Association. PwC notes that while advancements in medical technology and a general worldwide increase in income levels would suggest progress for healthcare, issues of affordability, complexity and access are still big problems for the industry. Given the near ubiquity of mobile networks as well as the rise of smartphones and other connected devices, PwC believes mobile will play an increasingly important role in developed and developing countries to help healthcare stakeholders overcome these challenges.

PwC estimates that mobile-enabled monitoring services, like those offered for chronic disease management, will make up 65 per cent of the worldwide mHealth market and account for $15 billion in revenues by 2017. The second largest segment will be diagnostic services, which will generate $3.4 billion in revenues worldwide, and make up 15 per cent of the global mHealth market. (PwC notes that mobile telemedicine and health call centers are included in that segment.) The third largest market opportunity is in what PwC calls “treatment services,” which include medication and treatment adherence devices (like Vitality’s GlowCap) and services. These will make up 10 percent of the overall market or about $2.3 billion.

According to the PwC report, mobile operators stand to capitalize on mHealth-related revenues of about $11.5 billion by 2017. Device makers have an mHealth market opportunity of $6.6 billion, while content and application developers have an mHealth market opportunity of $2.6 billion. Finally, healthcare providers stand to generate $2.4 billion in mHealth revenues by 2017, according to the researchers.

According to PwC and the GSMA, Europe will be the biggest mHealth market in 2017. The region has a $6.9 billion mHealth market opportunity, while North America’s mHealth market opp is $6.5 billion. Here’s a quick list of other regions and countries mentioned: Latin America, $1.6 billion; Africa, $1.2 billion; United States, $5.9 billion; China, $2.5 billion; Japan, $1.4 billion.

For more on the report, read the full press release below: Keep reading>>

12 trends for mobile health in 2012

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 14, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsLast week MobiHealthNews hosted its first webinar of 2012. During my presentation I shared my 12 trends for 2012. Our co-presenter, Aaron Kaufman from Kony Healthcare Solutions also shared his take on the year ahead. Check out the complimentary, hour-long webinar on demand right here.

1.) The Adoption of Smartphones and Tablets. This is by far the most obvious trend because it has been so steady for the past few years. It is still an important one to consider. By the end of 2011, Nielsen expected half of the US population to own a smartphone. At the end of 2011 62 percent of 25 to 34 year olds had smartphones. About 53 percent of 35 to 44 year olds did. The fastest growing age group for smartphone adoption in the past year was the 55 to 64 year old age group. Adoption among this group went from 17 percent to 30 percent a year later. Similarly the iPad has had the fastest adoption rate of any consumer electronics device in history. We know that now more than 80 percent of physicians in the US have smartphones. Between 30 percent and 50 percent have tablets now depending on who you ask.

2.) Increased FDA Clarity. This was the big trend of 2011: The FDA proposed guidelines for how it translates existing medical device regulations into the world of apps, smartphones, and tablets. For the most part these guidelines were well-received, but a number of questions remained over where exactly the FDA would draw its lines. The mHealth Regulatory Coalition recently asked the FDA to re-publish an updated set of proposals that take into account changes it should make based on comments from the industry. While it is unclear whether the FDA will publish new guidelines for a new commenting period, it is expected that the FDA will publish either the final guidelines or a new draft set by year-end. While the regulatory discussion will continue to be an important one — there are still a number of loose ends including how the FDA views clinical decision support, for example — this won’t be the primary focus of mobile health discussions in 2012.

3.) Consumer Devices in the Healthcare Enterprise. This is the trend that is really at the heart of the mobile health IT discussion for healthcare providers. While a good number of healthcare facilities are deploying consumer devices like the Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and in rarer cases Android devices, for the most part these devices are being brought into work by healthcare workers. BYOD is the name of the trend and its a big one for everyone working in all areas of IT today. The big issues stemming from this trend include security concerns, HIPAA compliance, and user experience. Security solutions and broader mobile device management solutions will find a lot of customers in healthcare this year. The other issue brought about by BYOD is accessing enterprise apps. As the Seattle Hospital’s iPad debacle last year showed, these devices aren’t enough — they require well-designed native apps to ensure that providers will use them for accessing EHRs and other HIS apps. I expect design and usability concerns vs. security concerns to be a huge headache for providers this year. Finally, these consumer devices provide access to distracting consumer apps. Healthcare providers are being distracted by these devices while on the job. While this might be controversial, I think this is a rather absurd concern. We trust them to do so much, we should trust them to know when not to be surfing Facebook. Keep reading>>

Bosch sues three competitors over Health Buddy patents

By: Neil Versel | Feb 14, 2012        

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Health Buddy now BoschRobert Bosch Healthcare Systems has sued three makers of remote home health monitoring technology, claiming that the competitors infringed on patents for Bosch’s Health Buddy system.

The telehealth business of German industrial conglomerate Robert Bosch GmbH filed three separate lawsuits last month in federal court in California against: mobile health monitoring technology vendor MedApps, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Austin, Texas-based startup Waldo Networks; and telehealth vendor Express MD Solutions, Berkeley Heights, N.J. At press time, MobiHealthNews was awaiting copies of the lawsuits, but spokeswoman Cheryl Kilborn of Robert Bosch LLC, the U.S. affiliate of Robert Bosch GmbH and parent of Bosch Healthcare said the three cases relate to intellectual property.

“We feel it is important to demonstrate that IP is important, and not just to our company,” Kilborn told MobiHealthNews. “Bosch Healthcare Systems, like most high-tech companies, values its intellectual property as an essential asset of its business,” she added in an e-mailed statement.”Bosch is open to working with those companies that are interested in securing this technology through a licensing agreement, and we are in discussion with numerous companies in this regard.”

Bosch is seeking to have the court order the three defendants to stop marketing their products, plus unspecified punitive damages.

The three companies do, like Bosch, market products for home-based health monitoring. MedApps makes connectivity software and devices for home health, including the HealthPAL data-transmission unit. Express MD Solutions offers the Electronic House Call vitals monitor and various Web-based telehealth services. Keep reading>>

Study: Mobile phone-based heart failure monitoring convenient, easy to use

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 13, 2012        

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LifeWatch's CardGuard PMP4 Suite of Devices

LifeWatch's CardGuard PMP4 Suite of Devices

A recently published study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that mobile phone-based heart failure telemonitoring was an easy to use solution that offered immediate feedback to both patients and clinicians. The small study — just 22 heart failure patients used the mobile phone-based monitoring system for six months — required patients to take daily weight and blood pressure readings along with weekly single-lead ECGs and daily symptom questionnaires.

Five participating cardiologists also received alerts to their mobile phones.

Of the 22 participating patients, 17 did not have an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) so they were provided with an ECG recorder and asked to take weekly recordings. Weight and blood pressure were recorded by a weight scale and blood pressure monitor developed by A&D Medical. ECG recordings were taken by SelfCheck ECG PMP4, developed by LifeWatch’s CardGuard. These were automatically sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to a BlackBerry Pearl 8130 smartphone developed by Research in Motion. The data was then sent to a software application on the BlackBerry device where it was displayed and stored before being transmitted to a data repository accessed by the hospital.

The patients found the mobile phone-based telemonitoring system to be easy to use, even very elderly patients — one was 88 years old — as well as those with no prior mobile phone experience were able to successfully use the telemonitoring system, according to the researchers. The researchers noted that some patients took about a week to get comfortable using the system and many patients had family members who helped them when necessary.

Did the fact that it was mobile make a difference? The researchers noted that patients said the portability of the mobile phone-based telemonitoring system was useful, because it could be taken on vacation. Also, researchers noted that the website for the study “was seldom used by patients” and that only 13 patients ever logged onto the website.

The clinicians also liked the portability of the mobile phone-based telemonitoring system, because they could monitor their patients from anywhere: “One of the cardiologists’ main concerns was the potential lack of time to respond to alerts, due to their busy schedules, if the telemonitoring system was permanently integrated into the clinic. They suggested a nurse practitioner manage the alerts, instead of a cardiologist,” the researchers noted.

Check out the full report over at JMIR here.

AT&T helps developers connect apps to health systems

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 13, 2012        

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To date, WellDoc's DiabetesManager is one of the few mobile health apps to have gone through an RCT.

In the fall of 2010, AT&T announced a partnership with WellDoc to bring the mobile health startup’s DiabetesManager app and service offering to its enterprise customers. Ever since then the mobile operator has been searching for other “best of breed” vendors to help bring to market. During that “exhaustive search” AT&T realized that both its customers and the developers it had met with were in need of access to better tools to improve mobile health applications, Eleanor Chye, Executive Director, Mobility Healthcare and Pharma, Mobility Product Management, for AT&T Business Solutions told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview.

Most apps are disconnected from healthcare systems. Most apps aren’t able to share data with hospital information systems. Most apps don’t even talk with each other.

That’s why this week AT&T launched a beta version of its AT&T Developer Center ForHealth, which aims to help mobile health app developers to build apps that are connected to the healthcare system and that make use of publicly available data sets. AT&T expects the developer platform to “streamline, accelerate and lower costs in the development, deployment and management of enterprise-grade mHealth applications,” according to its press release.

There is a real need from both sides — mHealth developers and our customers want to unleash the siloes in which data resides in,” Chye said. “This will enable developers to create mashup applications and umbrella applications. Up until now, each time an app developer or someone with a device peripheral wants to upload or connect that data to a legacy health IT system — whether it’s a health insurer or hospital — that is extremely expensive. There are huge barriers to that. So, [at AT&T] we said why don’t we create that connection and bring to bare our knowledge on how to create that infrastructure.”

The beta version of the the new developer platform includes cloud-based developer tools, an ability to aggregate clinical and wellness data from apps and devices, HIPAA-compliant data storage, and an API gateway and mobile client that can be embedded into any third party app to enable apps to link together. AT&T is funding five health startups to go through StartUp Health’s academy, Chye said. AT&T is also working with Health 2.0 on its developer challenges to make AT&T’s developer platform the “platform of choice” for developers participating in the challenges, she said.

AT&T said a number of additional features are in the works, including a data integration engine that will link apps to enterprise data systems in hospitals, practices, health insurers and other healthcare institutions; an API gateway that enables developers to leverage AT&T services and other third party services like texting or location-based services on a pay per use basis; and, finally, enterprise billing and customer care tools.

Cloud based services. Innovations in database management. Innovations in API gateways. Identity management. Application to application sharing of data. We built all that with healthcare in mind. That’s the genesis of this open developer suite of tools with common infrastructure to bring these faster and cheaper while linked. Now end customers can get access to all of these applications. Can get applications that are linked together and to their backend systems.

Chye told MobiHealthNews that the platform will be free to use for developers. AT&T is “not going to touch” developers’ intellectual property. The operator plans to generate some revenues from the platform for its paid services, including the HIPAA-complient storage service, texting services, location-based services, and for providing the secure connections to healthcare institutions’ systems.

“That’s going to be a much lower cost to go through us then have the developer pay to [connect to each healthcare system] one-by-one,” Chye said.

AT&T is already working with a number of groups who put on healthcare hackathons and developer challenges, including Health 2.0, StartUp Health, HIMSS, and Rock Health, to seed the platform with developers. Chye says more than 100 developers have already signed on to — in the very least — “take a look under the covers.” The platform will have connections to some of the device makers and app developers who already make APIs available, including Withings, Fitbit and others. It will also launch with connectivity to some of  the applications AT&T has built itself.

“That includes an app AT&T built called MyHealthFamily,” Chye said. “With it, a parent can look at the healthcare across their entire family. We have built the integrator on the database so it can connect [to healthcare IT systems] using the HL7 protocol. We could go through a hospital and connect through HL7. We can also connect through [continuing care document] data. We are building over time our repertoire of connectivity points.”

AT&T, however, hasn’t yet begun discussions with healthcare providers and HIS vendors. Chye expects to begin those discussions next week at HIMSS. “It’s really early days,” she said.

For more on the new AT&T developer platform, read the press release below: Keep reading>>