Vecna offers mobile, easy-to-use EHR with solar charger

By: Neil Versel | Sep 4, 2012        

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CliniPAK Vecna TechnologiesSome groups have criticized the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology for not building usability requirements into the national standards for “meaningful use” of electronic health records, suggesting that usability issues have hindered adoption.

Though it hasn’t been designed to help providers achieve meaningful use – or necessarily for the U.S. market – a new mobile records system takes usability to a whole new level.

Vecna Cares, the charitable arm of Cambridge, Mass.-based health IT and robotics firm Vecna Technologies, and their jointly run Global Health Initiative have designed an EHR interface for people with limited computer literacy, suitable for use in areas without reliable electrical service. The system, called Clinical Patient Administration Kit (CliniPAK), is a portable, wireless data collection and reporting kit in a suitcase-sized case.

Designed for community health workers, CliniPAK features a touch-screen tablet with software providing automated patient check-in, vitals capture, clinical decision support, case review and support for biometric and RFID devices. The box also includes an on-board server and solar-powered charger. Keep reading>>

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Five of the fastest growing digital health companies

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 30, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsEvery year Inc. Magazine publishes a list of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. While the publication’s method has its drawbacks, the resulting list is much more concrete than many of the subjective lists of top companies, apps, or products floating around. Inc. ranks companies by percent growth in revenue over the course of the past few years. What’s more Inc. publishes the percent growth figure for the three-year period along with total revenues that the company raked in for 2011. Rare data for private companies to disclose.

To qualify, companies need at least $100,000 in revenues for the first year (in this case it was 2008) and at least $2 million in revenues by 2011. Since the 5,000 companies are ranked by percent growth in revenue, those that have a smaller revenue figure to start with are more likely to make the list, but, as noted above, it’s a better method than most.

This year I noticed a handful of digital health companies found their way into the top 5,000. At least a couple of these should be familiar: Keep reading>>

Nursing case manager on intricacies of mobile diabetes care

By: Neil Versel | Aug 30, 2012        

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ATT WellDocEarlier this week, MobiHealthNews reported on positive – albeit vague – preliminary results from a pilot test of WellDoc’s DiabetesManager system among employees of health insurer Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC) who had type 2 diabetes.

But what does it really mean that 88 percent of the 156 participants called DiabetesManager “highly useful” for self-management of their condition?

Denise Harper-Saxon, a case management nurse for Chicago-based HCSC, tells MobiHealthNews about the comments she heard from one of the test subjects. “Before I started monitoring, I didn’t know what was up or what was down in terms of my blood-sugar reading,” Harper-Saxon reports being told.

DiabetesManager provides real-time feedback, coaching and clinical decision support to diabetic patients via mobile phone or Web portal, based on hemoglobin A1C readings, food choices, and physical activity. “Once they understood what was really going on with their blood sugar in the course of a day, we saw that they were becoming more accountable,” Harper-Saxon says. Keep reading>>

Bluetooth publishes standards for running, cycling sensors

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 30, 2012        

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Bluetooth SmartThis week the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which is responsible for developing technical standards for the short-range wireless technology and evangelizing its adoption, announced the finalized standards for Bluetooth Smart sensors that measure speed and cadence for running and cycling. The standards are for devices that use the Bluetooth 4.0 low energy standard branded as Bluetooth Smart.

According to Bluetooth SIG, Bluetooth technology is already enjoying “significant momentum” in the sports and fitness market where Nike+ FuelBand, Polar heart rate monitors, and other popular devices have already adopted it as a means for connecting fitness data back to other Bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones, smart watches, or cycling computers.

The Bluetooth SIG expects these new standards to accelerate the development of wireless-enabled fitness devices. According to ABI Research, shipments of Bluetooth-enabled sports and fitness devices will grow ten-fold between 2011 and 2016, to total 278 million. ABI sees that momentum being driven by a trend away from proprietary connectivity technologies and toward Bluetooth Smart.

As MobiHealthNews reported late last year, CardioMapper claimed to be the very first iPhone app to leverage Bluetooth Smart in December. The app works with Bluetooth Smart-enabled heart rate monitors to continuously stream heart rate data to a user’s iPhone.

While they won’t likely make use of the two standards finalized this week, IMS Research predicts a bright future for medical devices that leverage Bluetooth Smart, too. According to a report announced in June, IMS predicts that 4.7 million Bluetooth Smart-enabled consumer medical devices will ship in 2016 and some 10.3 million will ship between now and then.

“Intel sees the approval of the Running and Cycling Speed and Cadence specifications as an important milestone in the transition of low-power wireless fitness sensors from proprietary to a standards-based solution using Bluetooth 4.0,” Eric Dishman, fellow and general manager of health strategy and solutions at Intel stated in the Bluetooth SIG announcement. “Intel is proud to have played a part in this effort, which we believe will improve the experience and benefits of using fitness devices equipped with these important health- and fitness-sensing capabilities.”

More on the announcement here.

Sproxil deal offers free mobile drug authentication in 17 African countries

By: Neil Versel | Aug 29, 2012        

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SproxilSMS-based pharmaceutical authentication service Sproxil has signed a deal with Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel for the latter to offer its subscribers in 17 African countries free texting for drug verification.

“Our goal is to bring affordable and easily accessible health services to over 450 million people,” Andre Beyers, Airtel’s chief marketing officer for Africa, says in a Sproxil press release, referring to the total population of the 17 countries. Airtel claims 257 million customers in 20 African and Asian nations. “The battle against counterfeit drugs is a huge step towards the goal,” Beyers adds.

Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication service includes a scratch-off label affixed to drug packaging. Consumers scratch off the label to reveal a unique code when they buy a medication or pick up a prescription, then text the code to a Sproxil SMS short code. A return text message reports whether the drug is real or counterfeit.

Meanwhile, competitor PharmaSecure this week introduced a free app for Android smartphones and tablets that scans authenticating labels so users don’t have to type in the codes.

A story in Developing Telecoms says counterfeiting is a greater issue in developing countries than in the West. The publication cited a recent study in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases that reportedly found that a third of anti-malarial drugs sold in Southeast Asia were counterfeit. The Airtel deal opens up Sproxil’s anti-counterfeiting effort to consumers in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“By working with Airtel, we can get short codes in various countries’ different markets from just one company, streamlining the process and ‘turbo charging’ our expansion throughout the region,” Sproxil CEO Dr. Ashifi Gogo says in the company statement. “For the consumers it’s a win-win – two advanced technologies working together.”

Cambridge, Mass.-based Sproxil already operates in Ghana and Kenya – two of Airtel’s markets – and Nigeria. Sproxil also has offered its service in India since June 2011.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton praised the Mobile Product Authentication service as a “truly remarkable achievement” during a 2010 speech. PharmaSecure has caught the attention of other global figures, notably landing a $3.9 million investment from an investment company headed by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Rock Health investors up seed funding for startups to $100K

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 28, 2012        

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Halle Tecco Rock HealthDigital health accelerator Rock Health’s investor partners have upped the amount of seed funding they will invest in startups that participate in the program from $20,000 to $100,000. The startups will each receive a total of $100,000 from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Mohr Davidow Ventures, Aberdare Ventures, and the Mayo Clinic. Rock Health, which is itself a non-profit, will continue to take no equity in the startups.

Rock Health just graduated its first class of startups from its Boston-based (well, Cambridge, really) summer program. Rock Health CEO Halle Tecco told MobiHealthNews that it is interested in making the Boston-based program an ongoing one instead of a summer program, but it is looking for more help from Boston-area partners to make that happen. Harvard Medical School and Merck supported this past summer’s program.

“Our goal is to encourage the next generation of tech entrepreneurs to focus on ways to improve health outcomes,” Tecco stated in the announcement. “The increased amount of seed capital will allow us to provide more resources to entrepreneurs who are developing clever, product-centric business ideas that solve meaningful problems in healthcare.”

The increase in funding also comes following the launch of other health-focused accelerator programs like Healthbox, Blueprint Health, and the New York-based Digital Health Accelerator, just to name a few.

Rock Health, which has been in operation longer than the others, has shepherded 35 digital health startups over the past two year.

The group’s next San Francisco-based program has begun taking applications starting today, and the application process closes September 16th.

More about the announcement in the press release below: Keep reading>>