Halamka to test ways to reduce mobile device distraction

By: Neil Versel | Dec 22, 2011        

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John HalamkaPerhaps the best-known hospital CIO in the country loves the potential of mobile devices to improve care, but he cautions that healthcare organizations had better understand and act to mitigate the risks mobility can introduce.

Writing on the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality’s Web M&M online journal, Dr. John Halamka, CIO of CareGroup Healthcare System in Boston, discusses his experience with mobile devices at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Halamka suggests hospitals need to develop best practices for employing mobile devices in clinical settings.

“At present, our mobile device policies [at BIDMC] include requirements to encrypt all data, to comply with specific password complexity settings and to follow infection control best practices,” the CIO writes. “We are investigating technologies to segregate personal and patient functions in a given device. We are also investigating the possibility of providing mobile devices to healthcare workers that can be checked out for a shift. To try to reduce security and distraction risks, we will pilot test several new policies such as restricting access to personal e-mail and social networking sites.”

According to Halamka, physicians and nurses at the hospital together have purchased more than 1,000 iPads and 1,600 iPhones with their own money—and that doesn’t even include other brands of smartphones clinicians might have. “Nearly 100 percent of our hospitalists and most of our emergency physicians use iPads for entering orders into the system, viewing test results and documenting in the medical record,” he writes.

He says that the multiple capabilities of smartphones—voice, text, video chat, photo sharing—make the devices powerful tools for coordinating care. But there are drawbacks, too. “Some studies conclude that such communication improves the quality of the work environment, patient safety, and care without increasing bedside interruptions. Others, however, note a significant increase in interruptions and disruption of workflow because of the lowered barrier to instant communication,” Halamka notes.

He cites a study at the hospital, published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine earlier this year, showing that physicians using iPads in the emergency department spent 39 fewer minutes at computer workstations per 8-hour shift than those who did not carry wireless tablets. “Presumably this time was spent performing their information-related tasks (order entry, results viewing and clinical documentation) at the bedside,” Halamka says. Keep reading>>

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Most patients want to see notes, some MDs want to share

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 21, 2011        

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Female Doctor with TabletPatients overwhelmingly want access to the notes their physicians take during visits, according to one study that was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. About 95 percent of patients who participated in the twelve-month study (and the survey that followed it) said that giving patients access to the notes was a good idea, while between 69 percent to 81 percent of those participating primary care physicians agreed.

The survey results were from a survey conducted before the start of OpenNotes, a year-long study that began in the summer of 2010 with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, Drane Family Fund, and Koplow Charitable Foundation. OpenNotes included participation from more than 90,000 patients and 114 primary care providers (PCPs) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Only about 110 of the participating PCPs answered the survey questions, while about 42 percent of the participating patients did.

Between 74 percent and 92 percent of participating PCPs expected the OpenNotes initiative to improve communication and patient education. Only about half of those non-participating PCPs felt the same way. More than one half of participating PCPs and a vast majority of nonparticipating PCPs expected that sharing visit notes would lead to greater worry among patients. Only about 14 percent patients felt that way. Less than half of participating PCPs figured the sharing of notes would lead to more questions between visits, while more than 80 percent of the non-participating PCPs expected that. Less than a third of the PCPs thought the practice would increase risk for lawsuits. Keep reading>>

US HealthConnect acquires assets of ReachMD

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 21, 2011        

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ReachMD Medical RadioUS HealthConnect (USH) has acquired the assets of Chicago-based ReachMD, both companies announced this week. All of ReachMD’s assets, including its mobile apps and rights to its Sirius/XM satellite radio station, are included in the deal.

ReachMD’s main offering is a national satellite radio channel for medical professionals, which offers programming on clinical discussions, industry news, and education. (MobiHealthNews provided industry news segments for ReachMD’s radio station for a brief period last year).

Notably, the company released one of the first medical apps in Apple’s AppStore, ReachMD CME, in October of 2008. The application, for continuing medical education (CME), enables physicians to listen to CME-related radio shows and take tests through their smartphone to receive free credits. In 2009, the company launched MedicalRadio, a free iOS app that includes all of the CME offerings from its previous app, plus a live stream of the entire XM radio station right from the user’s phone. Both apps are still available in the AppStore.

ReachMD’s former senior VP Arthur Marchesini Jr. has joined USH as senior VP as part of the agreement.

“The acquisition of ReachMD’s assets very closely aligns with our strategy to extend the availability of medical information and education across all reliable platforms,” stated Frank Russomano, President and CEO of USH, in a press release. “ReachMD’s Internet platform with more than 150,000 members and its satellite radio station with more than 350,000 listeners significantly expands our portfolio of innovative solutions to reach and educate healthcare professionals nationwide.”

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Read more in the press release below. Keep reading>>

Workplace wellness startup Keas raises $6.5M

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 21, 2011        

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KeasKeas, the health gaming platform for corporate wellness programs co-founded by the original Google Health chief Adam Bosworth, has raised $6.5 million in its second round of funding. Atlas Ventures and Ignition Partners led the deal.

Keas describes its offering as a mix of a corporate wellness program, morale program, social network, addictive social game, and more. The company says it has launched team challenges for more than 60,000 employees at companies including Pfizer, Bechtel, Progress Software, and others. Challenges typically last 12 weeks.

The startup plans to use the new funds to build out its distribution channels as well as to add sales and marketing teams.

Since it first launched in late 2009, Keas has pivoted quite a bit. Originally, Keas planned to offer various personalized care plans for consumers interested in leveraging their personal health data to make healthier decisions. Keas planned to take the Apple AppStore approach: People with medical expertise (like Partners HealthCare) would create care plans for Keas which then makes them available to consumers. When consumers bought a care plan, Keas planned to take a 30 percent cut of the revenue and passed the rest onto the plan’s designers.

While still working toward the original approach, in February 2010, Bosworth said: “We have tens of thousands of users right now That’s not as many as we want. Originally we wanted to have about 100,000 users by now. By the end of the year our goal is to have at least one million users and at least 10 million by the end of next year. That’s just within the U.S., but we are under enormous pressure from other countries.”

Ultimately, not gaining enough traction as a consumer health play, Keas transformed into a workplace wellness by November 2010. (Xconomy has a great writeup of the pivot here.)

In the release announcing its new funding, Keas included some results from two of its corporate customers:

“At Chilton Hospital, a non-profit hospital with 1,300 employees, 40 percent of eligible employees registered for the Keas challenge. In addition to the 1,230 pounds Chilton Hospital employees shed during the 12-week challenge, 73 percent of Keas players reported feeling more positive towards their employer and 64 percent thought the experience made them more productive at work. By the end of the Keas challenge, 88 percent of players reported that they would remain proactive about their health as a result of the program.”

“At Progress Software, an enterprise software firm headquartered in Massachusetts with 1,700 employees globally, 65 percent of eligible US-based employees registered for Keas. At week 12, half of all participants were consistently and continuously engaged with the program, setting goals, sharing results and posting to the challenge feed. Plus, 63 percent of participants lost weight (592 lbs. in all), and 36 percent reported an improvement in their stress level. In January 2012, Progress will expand the challenge to include all 1,700 employees across the globe.”

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More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Rock Health unveils second batch of startups

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 20, 2011        

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Screen Shot 2011-12-20 at 2.18.22 PMMobile health incubator Rock Health recently announced its second group of startups, the “Spring Class of 2012.” The 15 companies will begin the incubator’s five month program in January. The program includes $20,000 in grants, mentorship from health policy and business experts, as well as office space.

Rock Health, founded by four Harvard Business School graduates, launched as an digital health incubator in March. Rock announced its first class of startups in June. The first batch included 13 companies, including CellScope and Skimble.

During a recent interview with TechCrunch TV, Rock Health Managing Director Halle Tecco said that of the 13 startups in its first class of startups, “a good handful of them have already received funding.”

TechCrunch TV also asked Tecco why startups should join Rock Health instead of other incubators, like Y Combinator. Tecco said that the startups in Rock Health’s program benefit from its network of mentors, which offer expertise in the nuances of healthcare policy, regulation, and business models.

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Read on for a brief description of each of the 15 companies in the Class of 2012: Keep reading>>

Healthbox incubator’s first class of startups

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 20, 2011        

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healthbox-logoA new health incubator, Healthbox, is  set to launch on January 9th with its first batch of 10 health startups, which it chose from some “hundreds” of applications that came in from 26 states and eight countries. A group of healthcare providers, payors, venture firms and others supported the formation of Healthbox, including venture capital firm Sandbox Industries, the BlueCross Blue Shield Venture Fund, the California Healthcare Foundation, Walgreens, Ridgeview Medical Center, Merrick Ventures, and HLM Venture Partners.

The incubator’s three-month program offers $50,000 in seed capital, access to business and healthcare mentors, the requisite collaborative workspace, and “structured forums led by business experts,” according to the organizations recent announcement.

Like most incubators, the three months end with an Investor Day where the startups each pitch their wares to a select group of venture capitalists.

Chicago-based Healthbox is just the latest health startup incubator to launch this year: San Francisco-based Rock Health and New York-based BluePrint Health are two other existing incubators. We expect there will be more in the year ahead.

Here’s how the 10 Healthbox startups describe themselves:

PUSH Wellness (Chicago, IL) is an outcomes-based wellness incentive provider that drives behavior change in health factors that are meaningful, measurable and modifiable, producing tangible benefits for participants and employers.

PaJR-Patient Journey Record (Dublin, Ireland) uses a cloud-based system with machine learning capabilities to identify patients at high risk of readmission using patient and caregiver self-reported health status.

SwipeSense (Evanston, IL) is hand-washing 2.0, arming healthcare providers with a portable hand-sanitation device in combination with real-time data analytics in order to increase compliance and reduce hospital-acquired infections.

CareWire (Minneapolis, MN) is a patient engagement solution that utilizes automated patient text messaging to increase billable appointment yield, visualize patient satisfaction in near-real-time and improve provider performance.

The Coupon Doc (Atlanta, GA) provides an easy-to-use, centralized platform that allows consumers to access manufacturer discounts on their prescription and OTC medications.

Corengi (Seattle, WA) connects qualified patients with ongoing clinical research studies through a comprehensive online platform. Patients are able to quickly distill relevant studies, trial sponsors are able to reduce costly delays and medical innovation is accelerated.

Iconic Data (Norcross, GA) delivers a cloud-based patient list manager solution that provides physicians access to near-real-time snapshots of clinical care episodes across disparate, non-integrated facilities, resulting in increased charge capture and reduced inefficiencies.

UnitedPreference (Princeton, NJ) offers employers a Tailored Spend™ payments network that allows health plans to improve participation in preventative health initiatives via branded prepaid cards that can be used to purchase items determined by the health plans.

DermLink (Atherton, CA) is a cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant application that enables remote diagnosis of dermatology cases, dramatically reducing wait times for patients while driving increased revenue and flexibility for providers.

CareHubs (Beaverton, OR) is a healthcare enterprise social platform that offers dynamic, innovative tools to help patients and healthcare providers better connect, coordinate and engage.

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Read on for more from the press release: Keep reading>>