West Wireless Health Institute CEO Don Casey steps down

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 19, 2012        

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Don CaseyLast week the West Wireless Health Institute’s CEO Don Casey announced his resignation. He plans to join an as yet unnamed “major health care company” where he plans to bring the institute’s mission of lowering the cost of healthcare. The WWHI has not yet named a replacement CEO.

Prior to joining the WWHI in March 2010, Casey was the worldwide chairman for Johnson & Johnson’s comprehensive care group, where he managed Johnson & Johnson’s cardiovascular, diagnostic, diabetes and vision care global franchises. Casey led J&J’s chronic disease management strategy, which included patient-centric solutions and innovations with medical device offerings for diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

The institute has been busy in recent months. Here’s a roundup of 2012 announcements about and mentions of the non-profit organization:

At the end of last year, a rep from the WWHI shared insights on tablet adoption at US hospitals: Less than one percent of US hospitals have fully functional tablet systems, according to Jonathan Mack, director of clinical research and development at the West Wireless Health Institute. Despite financial incentives from the government, US hospitals are still slow to adopt EMRs, Mack told Kaiser Health News in a recent interview. Those that do might not have access to a native tablet application from the EMR developer, and even then, the app might include only read-only functionality. To circumvent this, virtualization programs such as Citrix are used on EMRs designed for keyboard input, making for a slow and frustrating usage experience.

In January the WWHI kicked off a research study with its partner, the Carlos Slim Health Institute (CSHI), in Mexico that aims to track the impact mobile health and connected devices have on maternal health in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. The technologies used in the study are part of a “Wireless Pregnancy Remote Monitoring Kit,” developed by WWHI and CSHI.

In February the institute announced that six hospitals were in the process of deploying or had already deployed its “medical grade wireless open framework” in their facilities, including, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA and HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, in Leominster, MA. Scripps Health in San Diego is in the process of deploying it, too.

At the beginning of this year, WWHI Vice Chairman Dr. Eric Topol also published his book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, which we reviewed along with an interview with Dr. Topol in a post earlier this month: How Medicine Will be Topol’d (few picked up on the “toppled” pun, unfortunately.)

Casey remains on the WWHI’s board and is also on the board of a small pharmaceutical company called Biodel. Given the characterization of his next gig as being at a “major” healthcare company, however, it is unlikely that Biodel is where he’s headed full-time.

For more details on Casey’s resignation, read the press release below: Keep reading>>


iPads make University of Chicago medical residents more efficient

By: Neil Versel | Mar 19, 2012        

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iPad 2Maybe iPads aren’t so bad after all acting as Citrix terminals for mobile EHR access.

Unlike in the failed, much-publicized, small-scale trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital last year, medical residents and interns in internal medicine at the University of Chicago felt more efficient when carrying iPads around the hospital, according to new research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In a trial of 115 internal medicine residents who were issued iPads to access the hospital’s Epic Systems EHR through a Citrix client, 78 percent reported that they felt more efficient when carrying tablets through hospital wards, believing that they saved about an hour per day. More than two-thirds of the residents said that iPads helped them avoid delays in delivering patient care.

Almost 90 percent of the medical residents studied indicated that they used their iPads for performing clinical responsibilities and about 75 percent said that they used their iPads every day while on duty. Keep reading>>

Mobile PERS provider buys diabetes monitor startup

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 19, 2012        

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ActiveCare ActiveOne PALLast week Salt Lake City-based mobile personal emergency response (MPERS) provider ActiveCare inked a deal to acquire 4G Biometrics, a company that offers near real time blood glucose monitoring to insurers and self-insured employers. According to an SEC filing, the pricetag on the all-stockdeal will be equivalent to 6.6 times a six month sales period ending in September. While this is likely not the same number, it does provide a frame of reference: According to the SEC filing, if the company rakes in more than $1 million in sales during that period, then 4G Biometrics Founder and CEO Randall Gardner will be appointed to ActiveCare’s board of directors.

ActiveCare said that the deal will help it “dramatically increase” its membership base and gives it direct access to insurance and self-insured companies.

4G Biometrics offers its customers a near-real time blood glucose monitoring device enabled by Bluetooth that sends the captured data to a desktop application. The online portal includes an “e-logbook record” with time stamps as well as a manual entry activity and meal trackers. Here’s how 4G Biometrics has described the monitoring side of its service in the past: “Your blood sugars will be monitored on a daily basis and if your readings are dangerously high or low; you, your family members, or caregivers, including physicians, you may be contacted by phone, email, instant messaging, or text message; whichever method you select.”

ActiveCare already offers a special mobile phone, the ActiveOne PAL, that enables users to make regular phone calls (via a concierge service). The device also includes GPS for tracking and virtual fencing applications, as well as an accelerometer for “automatic fall detection”. While the company has added some medication adherence services for its device and through a partnership with MedMinder, prior to this 4G Biometrics acquisition the company did not offer an specific diabetes management services.

“We are excited to reach this agreement with 4G Biometrics,” Jim Dalton, CEO of ActiveCare, stated in a company release. “The healthcare industry currently is not well positioned to effectively treat and prevent diabetes. 4G Biometrics has come up with a proven program that encourages patients and their employers to work together in battling the disease. This acquisition provides ActiveCare with another helpful service to offer our members. At home and on the go — our members and their families want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that ActiveCare is watching over them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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

Johns Hopkins: Health apps should have disclaimers

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 15, 2012        

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Source: Global mHealth Initiative

Source: Global mHealth Initiative

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University’s Global mHealth Initiative has undertaken what the Baltimore Sun calls “one of the broadest efforts to assess mHealth strategies” with 49 official studies underway by dozens of university faculty members. According to the report, the initiative is evaluating which mHealth services can help physicians, community health workers and consumers “in ways equal to other more traditional methods” like clinic visits or in-person coaching. (Maybe even in ways superior to existing and legacy methods?)

“It’s a nascent field, and few health apps have been rigorously evaluated,” Alain B. Labrique, director of the Global mHealth Initiative, told the Sun. “A lot of the apps you see out now have a disclaimer, or should have a disclaimer, that they have not been validated through rigorous research. It comes down to the individuals’ perceptions that the app works for them.”

Labrique told the Sun that his team has already uncovered some evidence that certain apps do have value. Those include: Ones that “help patients adhere to their drug regimens through regular reminders… help people change harmful behaviors such as smoking with various messages… and… aid in weight loss through texts about specific goals and behaviors.”

Labrique describes some of these apps as “guardian angels” in your pocket.

For more, read this worthwhile article in The Baltimore Sun

Boston Scientific taps Vodafone, AT&T for mobile patient monitoring

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 15, 2012        

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Boston Scientific Latitude Connected (Concept) iPhone app

Boston Scientific Latitude Connected (Concept) iPhone app

This week Boston Scientific announced that it had inked a deal with Vodafone Global Enterprise to develop mobile health monitoring devices that remotely provide physicians with real-time information about patients’ cardiac health and other vital signs. The mobile health monitors will be cellular-enabled medical devices that patients use to send information to their care providers who will then be better positioned to respond to early signs of worsening patient conditions.

“With long patient lists and busy schedules, doctors are always looking for solutions that improve patient care while driving clinical efficiencies. Our collaboration with Vodafone allows us to use their mobile expertise and provide wireless remote patient monitoring services that appeal to both patients and healthcare providers,” Boston Scientific Senior Vice President and President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Michael Onuscheck, stated in the company announcement.

Given Onuscheck’s title, it is likely the deal is for mobile health monitors set to launch in markets in EMEA. Last month Boston Scientific announced that it would leverage AT&T’s cellular network to power the connectivity of future generations of its Latitude cardiac patient monitoring services, pending FDA clearances of the devices, of course. Those devices included future generations of pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators and pacemakers (CRT-Ds and CRT-Ps), according to the companies.

For a few more details on the Vodafone deal with Boston Scientific, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

Cambridge Consultants demos asthma training device

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 14, 2012        

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T-HalerMedical device design and development consultancy Cambridge Consultants showed off its latest creation this week, an asthma inhaler training device called the T-Haler. According to the company the concept device “more than doubles patient compliance.” More than three Americans head to the emergency every minute because of an asthma attack, according to the company. About 5,000 people in the US visit the emergency room because of an asthma attack each day, based on a study done by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Since studies show that as many as 75 percent of people with asthma do not use their inhalers properly, Cambridge Consultants believes its device can help.

Here’s how the company describes its offering: “Interactive software, linked to a wireless training inhaler, monitors how a patient uses their device and provides real-time feedback via an interactive video game. T-Haler provides visual feedback to the user on their performance and the areas that need improvement… The T-Haler measures three key factors for proper inhaler use. First, whether the patient has shaken the inhaler prior to breathing in; second, the force with which they breathed in; third, when they pressed down on the canister (the step which releases the drug). These three variables can determine the efficacy with which drugs are delivered in a real metered dose inhaler (MDI) device.”

A report over at CNET noted that a similar device is already available: The AeroChamber aims to address the improper use of metered dose inhalers, but it’s only prescribed to those who have had difficulty using traditional inhalers.

This isn’t the first concept for a connected inhaler that Cambridge Consultants has showed off: In 2009 it first demonstrated its Vena Inhaler, which focused more on patient medication adherence instead of training. Asthmapolis has created its own connected asthma device that tracks inhaler usage and the location of asthma attacks. More recently, iSonea announced plans to create a smartphone-enabled version of its Wheezometer device for people with asthma.

For more on the concept T-Haler device, read the press release below: Keep reading>>