Misinformation exacerbates mHealth growing pains

By: Neil Versel | Sep 22, 2011        

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Neil VerselLike any rapidly evolving industry, mobile health is suffering some growing pains.

A study published in the September issue of the journal Diabetes Care found that type 2 diabetes patients who were given behavioral coaching with the mobile phone-based WellDoc DiabetesManager system lowered their hemoglobin A1c readings significantly more than those who only received care during occasional doctor visits and through self-management.

If the WellDoc system was linked to clinical decision support, the results were striking. Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that the group of patients whose physicians had access to CDS saw their A1c levels drop by 1.9 percentage points. Those in a control group, who only received traditional, office-based care had a median A1c reduction of 0.7 points.

“To our knowledge, this is the first cluster-randomized study of a mobile diabetes-coaching intervention conducted in a community setting over a 1-year treatment period. Few previous studies of electronic or mobile communication interventions for diabetes were randomized, included a control group or covered 1 year,” the researchers wrote.

But it was not all good news. The researchers observed no “convincing” changes in other measures of diabetes control, including blurred vision, pain, depression, and abnormal blood pressure and lipid counts. They hope future studies could focus more on these secondary measures of diabetes control, but for now, there remains plenty of fodder for skeptics in many areas of mobile health. Keep reading>>

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Report: Telehealth market $6B by 2020

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 21, 2011        

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Telehealth_2011

According to research firm InMedica, unit shipments of telehealth equipment worldwide were worth $163.3 million in 2010, with the vast majority in North and South America ($122.9 million). By 2015, InMedica projects the total will be $990 million, and by 2020, $6.28 billion, with North and South America contributing 36 percent of the total.

According to the report, increasing use of home-monitoring medical devices such as blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, weight scales and peak flow meters will spur economic growth of the sector. In 2010, the biggest categories of peripherals were blood pressure monitors, weight scales, and blood glucose meters, which will remain constant in 2015 and 2020. “In 2010, the combined unit shipments of home-use digital blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, weight scales, pulse oximeters, and peak flow meters used in telehealth applications were estimated to be around 134,000,” the report stated. “By 2015, the unit shipments are forecast to grow to over 950,000.”

Wireless devices will increase in total percentage, with wired telehealth devices decreasing, according to the firm.

Other interesting numbers include the shipments of telehealth “gateways” totalling 67,000 in 2010, to an expected 561,000 in 2015 and over 3.5 million units by 2020.

Public healthcare systems that aim to reduce hospital visits and stay lengths will also be a critical factor. The study claims the U.S. leads countries in telehealth markets, citing the Veteran’s Health Administration’s home Telehealth service, which aims to have 92,000 patients enrolled on Telehealth services by 2012. Large-scale trials have also occurred in Europe, “most notably in the UK in 2010 and 2011, where PCTs have initiated some projects involving more than 2,000 patients.”

“What is apparent is the convergence of many different industries in this space, including Telehealth companies, device manufacturers, healthcare agencies, service providers and telecommunication companies to name but a few,” stated Diane Wilkinson, Research Manager at InMedica, in a press release. “With such interest from a wide range of investors and the need to minimize healthcare expenditure globally while managing the chronic disease epidemic, there is obvious motivation for the full acceptance of Telehealth from governments, physicians and patients alike.”

Read the full press release below and the InformationWeek article here. Keep reading>>

ZocDoc appointment booking comes to Boston

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 21, 2011        

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ZocDocZocDoc a free iPhone, Android, or web app that enables users to schedule dentist and doctor appointments launched in the greater Boston area last week. ZocDoc’s database includes user reviews of providers, which insurance they accept, and other relevant background information to help potential patients determine the best provider for them. Users can also find out ahead of time whether they will be visiting with a physician or physician assistant.

While the service is free for patients, doctors pay a $250 monthly fee to fill open appointments.

Earlier this year ZocDoc announced a $50 million third round of funding from DST Global. The company’ has raised about $70 million to date.

According to a report in the Boston Herald, about 40 percent of ZocDoc users get appointments with doctors that will take place within 24 hours of booking, while about 60 percent secure appointments that are three or fewer days away. ZocDoc claims the average wait time for an appointment using legacy methods is about 50 days for Massachusetts.

The service is now available in 11 cities and for some 40 different doctor specialties. The site launched in 2007 as an appointment booking site for dentists.

Healthagen, which offers the iTriage mobile app, recently added appointment booking to its app after it acquired AppointmentCity.com for an undisclosed sum this past February.

More on the Boston launch over at the Herald

Nokia to launch diabetes program in India

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 21, 2011        

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CMM-2011-LargeArogya World, a US-based non-profit, announced a collaboration with Nokia at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting this week on an SMS-based diabetes prevention program in India. The program aims to raise awareness about diabetes and its prevention through text messages and hopes to reach one million consumers in rural and urban India over the next two years.

A consortium of organizations in India and the US, including Emory University, Biocon, LifeScan, and Aetna, are providing financial and research support. Market research firm Synovate will conduct a two-year analysis of the program’s effectiveness.

“Tough challenges in global health can be best addressed through public-private partnerships — no one organization can do it alone,” stated Arogya World founder Nalini Saligram (Ph.D.) in a press release. “Arogya World is committed to preventing diabetes through lifestyle changes in India, and is leveraging mHealth as a solution to the diabetes crisis. If found effective, our mHealth efforts in India could potentially serve as a benchmark for chronic disease prevention in developing countries, where diabetes and NCDs have the highest impact.”

As part of the program, Arogya World will provide free content for six months to both current and new Nokia customers in India who have Nokia Life Tools, a program that provides targeted information via SMS for Healthcare, Agriculture, Entertainment and Education. Messages will be delivered twice a week and are available in 12 commonly used languages in India. After the sixth month introductory period, the diabetes awareness and prevention messages will be available to subscribers at a nominal fee. Nokia Life Tools is currently available in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.

“Mobile phones are ushering in an information revolution in the daily lives of millions, especially in the emerging markets. We are very pleased to partner with Arogya World and the other industry partners to take mobile Health services to the next level. Delivering targeted diabetes prevention messages to a profiled audience using our Nokia Life Tools platform, in a sustained and continuous engagement will, we believe, encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” stated Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head, Nokia Life Tools, in a press release.

“Applications of mobile health messaging in other areas such as maternal/baby health have demonstrated that the technology has tremendous potential as a tool to empower individuals to better manage their health,” stated Leona Brenner-Gati, MD, Medical Director at LifeScan, in a press release. “We are eager to see if mobile health is found effective in diabetes prevention, screening, and management.”

LifeScan also helped fund the pilot study of WellDoc’s DiabetesManager.

Read the full press release after the jump.

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Vodafone, NantWorks partner on mobile health R&D

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 21, 2011        

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IPPLEX LookTel formerly SeeScan

LookTel powered by NantWorks

Earlier this month Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong announced the name of the company that he has been building through a series of acquisitions over the past few years: NantWorks. This week Vodafone announced that it had partnered with NantWorks on researching and developing remote patient care mobile health services over advanced wireless networks. Vodafone recently opened its Silicon Valley-based research center called Vodafone Xone and NantWorks participated during its launch event along with other likely Voda partners.

Following the sales of two companies Soon-Shiong founded — American Pharmaceutical Partners (sold 2008) and Abraxis BioScience (sold 2010) — he has invested more than $400 million dollars in acquisitions. In February Soon-Shiong acquired GlowCaps maker Vitality for an undisclosed sum thought to be in the low tens of millions. GlowCaps made an appearance at the Vodafone Xone event, which makes it likely the device is part of NantWorks.

NantWorks other portfolio of companies and offerings include: “state of the art semiconductor chips, switches and encryption technologies, augmented reality, novel object and voice recognition technologies, broadband telecommunications services and ultra-low power remote monitoring devices,” according to its launch press release.

“With Vodafone’s global mobile network, and its partner Verizon Wireless here in the United States, Vodafone is truly a global mobile powerhouse,” Soon-Shiong stated in a press release. “It is the ideal partner for NantWorks to work with as we develop the technologies that will bring the digital revolution to more aspects of people’s lives, including healthcare and education.”

For more on NantWorks deal with Vodafone, read the press release after the jump. Keep reading>>

Voalte taps AirWatch for device management

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 20, 2011        

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VoalteVoalte announced Voalte Connect this week, a new mobile device management (MDM) solution for hospital networks that utilizes the AirWatch platform’s technology. The new service allows the company to remotely secure, monitor, manage and support mobile devices deployed across a hospital.

Voalte is an iPhone application suite that combines voice, alarm and text features and is intended for use by staff in acute care hospitals in the US and Canada — especially nurses. The company also bundles in medical reference information via a partnership it has with Epocrates.

“Introducing updates, data and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices through Voalte Connect allows hospitals to better control and protect their data as well as greatly reduce cost and risk,” stated Voalte VP of innovation Trey Lauderdale in a press release. “This is essential for data and device security.”

“Providing a turn-key management solution allows the hospital to conserve their IT department resources, yet gives them the ability to monitor and control the hospital’s sensitive information that resides on these devices,” stated Lauderdale. For more background on Voalte, check out our  interview with Lauderdale at HIMSS 2009, which took place shortly after the company launched.

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