Survey: 27 percent of US doctors have tablets

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 31, 2011        

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MIMViewer iPad medical appsA new survey published by Knowledge Networks for the pharmaceutical industry, found that 64 percent of doctors have a smartphone, while 27 percent of primary care providers and specialists say they have a tablet. The survey polled more than 5,400 doctors.

Manhattan Research surveys have found that about 72 percent of physicians in the US as of mid-2010 have a smartphone or PDA, which is fairly close to the figure from this most recent survey. In an email to MobiHealthNews, Manhattan President Meredith Ressi noted that one reason the research company continues to lump smartphone and PDA together for the survey question is that some doctors don’t know the difference.

“It’s a funny quirk of physicians that we found as smartphones came on the market,” Ressi wrote. “We’d ask if they have a smartphone and they’d say ‘no’, but then say that they do have a PDA, which was often actually a smartphone when we asked the types of devices.”

Ressi said one physician in his 60s made a similar comment to her recently when he said he did not use a smartphone but did have a PDA, which he pulled out of his pocket and turned out to be a relatively new smartphone: a Palm Pre.

Knowledge Networks’ figure for the adoption of tablets among physicians is also in line with other estimates: Chilmark Research said that 22 percent of physicians had an iPad at the end of 2010. Rumor has it that the iPad is dominating as the tablet of choice for physicians, the Knowledge Networks figure of 27 percent adoption of (all types of) tablets among US physicians. Assuming both figures are more or less correct: That leaves a small percentage for other types of tablets beside the iPad.

The KN survey also backed up well known stats around app adoption with medical reference apps commanding a majority of physicians as adopters and other apps mostly finding single digit adoption rates.

More from the press release below: Keep reading>>


Tracking the rumored death of Google Health

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 31, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsNext week longtime Google CEO Eric Schmidt will hand over control to one of the company’s founders, Larry Page — a substantial restructuring that surely indicates other changes are likely for Googlers and their many projects. A report in the Wall Street Journal this week specifically calls out the company’s personal health records (PHR) offering Google Health:

“Some managers believe Mr. Page will eliminate or downgrade projects he doesn’t believe are worthwhile, freeing up employees to work on more important initiatives, these people said,” the WSJ reports. “One project expected to get less support is Google Health, which lets people store medical records and other health data on Google’s servers, said people familiar with the matter.”

It’s not the first time Google Health’s future has been called into question, but some believe the report is baseless:

“I think the demise of Google Health is a little premature to forecast,” well-known health IT thought leader Dr. David Kibbe told SearchHealthIT. “I’ve not seen sources for the WSJ article, and I’ve heard nothing to back up their opinion that Larry Page is going to decrease resources. My gosh, they’ve only had a few people at Google Health all along! It’s never been a big initiative for Google.”

Kibbe correctly points out that the Journal said Google Health will “get less support” not axed.

That didn’t stop one former AT&T employee from analyzing the implications of a world without Google Health in a blog post over at the Gerson Lerhman Group, which does not edit or endorse the blogs authored by its large base of loosely affiliated consultants:

“Google Health being dropped is a setback for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) in three ways: 1) Widespread adoption through cloud access; 2) Time-to-market and payback; and 3) Cross-industry collaboration,” Greg Kail writes on the GLG News blog in a post called “Google Drops Health Project”. Kail’s only listed source is the WSJ post, which makes no mention of Google Health “being dropped.” ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley asked Google officials if Kail’s blog post was accurate, but a Google spokesperson gave her the standard: “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”

HIStalk didn’t see the need to confirm the rumor: “If they back out of Google Health, that ought to have a major effect on … well, nobody. PHRs are the consumer versions of EHRs — potentially useful technologies that, rightly or wrongly, aren’t all that attractive to their target audience in their current form.”

Chilmark Research’s John Moore told eWeek that Google Health competitor Microsoft’s HealthVault is focused more on the clinical data side, while Google Health incorporates more consumer wellness tools.

Meanwhile, a group of some of the leading fitness device and app companies are working together to open APIs and share their own data with each other — knitting together much of the same data that Google Health has promised to host. Wellness services including Zeo, RunKeeper, FitBit, WiThings and Digifit are all sharing data now.

So, while it may be true that rumors of Google Health’s demise have been greatly exaggerated — it may or may not be here in the new Larry Page era — a better question might be whether the platform ever really needed to exist at all.

Slow start for two payors’ wellness apps

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 31, 2011        

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Aetna Student Health Calorie Tracker BlackBerryMost health apps debut on Apple’s iOS for iPhone and then make their way to Android. Some even move to the BlackBerry platform or in rarer cases the Windows Phone 7 OS, which recently launched. Very few health apps created by well known healthcare organizations launch on a smartphone platform other than Apple’s, however, two payors decided to go down that launch path in recent months.

United Health Group subsidiaries OptumHealth announced the launch of its OptumizeMe app in time with the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS. The buzz around the new Microsoft smartphone platform’s launched helped bring the spotlight on OptumizeMe, which was touted as the first health-related app for the new OS. OptumizeMe enables users to challenge friends to fitness competitions and trade “encouragement and digs” along the way. Those staffing the OptumHealth booth at the recent CTIA Wireless event in Orlando, Florida told MobiHealthNews that the app had attracted about 9,000 downloads since last November. For a new health app on a brand new smartphone platform maybe that’s not too surprising. Some 9 percent of American adults have health apps on their phone after all, although Parks found that 21 percent of smartphone owners it had surveyed in mid-2010 had fitness apps like OptumizeMe on their phones.

This week Optum announced that the OptumizeMe app was now available for iPhone users and Android devices users, too.

Another payor, Aetna, announced the number of downloads one of its wellness apps has logged to date: Aetna Student Health Calorie Tracker app for BlackBerry users has had “close to 1,700 downloads” to date, according to the company. The app is available for download from Aetna’s website but the free app does not appear to be listed in the BlackBerry App World store. The tracker is also available for other smartphone users who can access it via their mobile browsers at

“Our goal is to help students make thoughtful, health conscious decisions. We know that one way to communicate effectively with students is through social media,” Chekesha Kidd, head of Aetna Student Health, stated in the press release. “We are pleased with the positive feedback we have received on our social media communications from students, parents, colleges and universities.”

According to Aetna, the mobile app helps students count calories and delivers daily nutrition and fitness tips. It includes calorie information on more than 70,000 food and beverage items from popular restaurants and brands, according to the Aetna press release.

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

American Medical Association launches CPT app and medical app contest

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 30, 2011        

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mzl.xvbljjei.320x480-75This week the American Medical Association (AMA) announced the launch of its first smartphone app called CPT E/M QuickRef, a reference guide that helps physicians determine the appropriate CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) code to use for billing. The AMA also launched a medical app contest for physicians and medical students.

“Compatible with Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, the app features both decision-tree logic and quick search options, allowing physicians to digitally track CPT codes and email them anywhere,” according to the AMA’s iPhone app description. “Physicians can also save their most frequently used codes by location or type of service to allow for even more ease of use.”

The app carries a caveat: “This app provides suggested codes,” the AMA wrote. “Final code selection remains the full responsibility of the individual user.”

The AMA 2011 App Challenge is looking for ideas for apps from physicians, medical students and residents, which the AMA will then “bring to life.” Winners get $2,500 (cash and prizes) and a ticket to New Orleans to watch the “unveiling” of their app at the AMA’s annual gathering later this year.

“The AMA’s new CPT quick reference app helps physicians determine the appropriate E&M code for billing quickly, easily and accurately,” AMA Board Secretary Steven J. Stack, M.D. stated in the association’s press release. “To find the next great medical app idea we are going right to the source by inviting physicians, residents and medical students to participate in the first-ever AMA App Challenge.”

Assuming Stack was referring to the CPT quick reference app as the most recent “great medical app idea,” our research shows at least 46 other developers beat the AMA to the punch. MobiHealthNews’ last survey of the health-related apps available for the major smartphone platforms found that 46 apps were available to download from Apple’s AppStore as of September 2010. This group of apps grew 170 percent over the six months leading up to our survey — in February 2010 there were only 17 apps that helped healthcare providers look up billing codes. (More in our apps report: The Fastest Growing and Most Successful Health & Medical Apps.)

For more on the AMA’s app and app challenge, see the press release below: Keep reading>>

HealthTap raises $2.35M from Mohr Davidow, angels

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 30, 2011        

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HealthTap LogoLast week Silicon Valley-based start-up HealthTap announced it had secured $2.35 million in its first round of funding from Mohr Davidow Ventures and a group of angel investors including Esther Dyson, Mark Leslie, Aaron Patzer (founder and former CEO of and others. While HealthTap’s offering is currently in private beta the startup plans to create an “expert health companion” that improves interactivity between physicians and patients. Mobile components for the Companion are also in the works, according to the company.

HealthTap founder and CEO Ron Gutman only made vague comments about HealthTap’s plans in the company’s press release: “This funding allows us to focus 100 percent of our resources on accomplishing our vision: to create a healthier, happier world – one decision at a time. We have the resources, leadership and expertise to create a solution that delivers tailored knowledge from doctors to users seeking useful and actionable health information online.”

Mohr Davidow’s Bill Ericson added a little more detail:

“HealthTap is integrating personalization, game dynamics, and social networking to increase our engagement with our health and well-being. Consumers and physicians are increasingly joining the online conversation, and interactive health deserves the close attention of the investment community,” Ericson, a general partner at MDV stated in the press release.

HealthTap founder Gutman is perhaps best known for his previous startup, WellSphere, which he sold to HealthCentral in early 2009 for an undisclosed amount. WellSphere reportedly had $3 million in funding at the time of acquisition. Since then Gutman has been an angel investor, and advisor to the SMArt Initiative and the recently announced mHealth and Health 2.0 incubator Rock Health.

Mohr Davidow Ventures has invested in a handful of mobile health companies including Massive Health, Corventis, iRhythm. It’s also one of Rock Health’s VC partners.

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

GreatCall: Voice apps best approach for seniors

By: Neil Versel | Mar 30, 2011        

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Jitterbug Wireless patient monitoring devices tied to a home-based connectivity hub are supposed to improve the quality of life and to prevent hospital readmissions for the elderly, people with chronic diseases and post-operative patients. But they have one serious flaw.

“They’re great until you go past the mailbox,” noted Madeline Pantalone, vice president for strategy and business development at GreatCall, creator of the Jitterbug cell phone and several wireless health and wellness apps for seniors. Cellular connectivity is a better idea, Pantalone said Wednesday morning during the opening general session of the mHealth Initiative’s Third mHealth Networking conference Wednesday in Rosemont, Ill.

The average user of GreatCall products and services is 68 years old, according to Pantalone, so the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company wants to keep its apps simple. Jitterbug phones, with large buttons and uncluttered screen displays, “are terrible for texting because you have to triple tap, and seniors don’t want that anyway,” Pantalone said.

Pantalone said that 80 percent of seniors’ activity on cell phones is making or receiving calls, not texting, browsing the Web or running smartphone apps. That’s pretty much opposite the trend for younger generations, so GreatCall’s services are mostly voice-to-voice. “We’ve found that voice and IVR-based apps are effective,” Pantalone said.

GreatCall is developing apps for the iPhone and the Google Android platforms—the iPhone version will launch in about a month—but Pantalone promises that the views will be simple so users won’t have to scroll or tap through multiple screens to find what they want.

Pantalone also reported on another interesting data point among its older customer base that runs counter to attitudes of younger people: 38 percent of Jitterbug and GreatCall users surveyed in 2010 expressed a willingness to pay a recurring monthly fee for a health-related service. This explains why the company has been successful despite the fact that Medicare and other health insurers aren’t paying for remote monitoring and mobile wellness services.

“We’re too early to get payer reimbursement on a lot of this,” Pantalone said. “If we wait around for the government to pay for all of this, we’re going to lose this generation of seniors.”