Qualcomm Life invests in AirStrip Technologies

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 9, 2012        

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AirstripRPMAirStrip Technologies announced a strategic investment from Qualcomm’s recently announced Qualcomm Life Fund. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

In August 2010 MobiHealthNews reported that Sequoia Capital had made a strategic investment in AirStrip and the terms were undisclosed at the time then, too. According to an SEC filing published shortly after the deal was announced, AirStrip raised $30 million in funding that month.

The new funding is a bit of a surprise since AirStrip is already inking multi-million dollar deals with its customers. UPDATE: AirStrip tells MobiHealthNews in an email: “From our perspective, this was not about needing additional capital at all but, with Sequoia’s encouragement, the investment is an excellent vehicle for us to more closely align with a key partner. As previously announced, we will be working with Qualcomm to invent a new paradigm for home care of chronic diseases, and this step will ensure all our incentives for success remain closely aligned.”

Qualcomm announced the formation of its Life Fund at the mHealth Summit last December. The fund is an offshoot managed by its Qualcomm Ventures group and it focuses on venture-backed wireless health companies — focused on everything from personal wellness to disease management —  that will “help accelerate commercialization of wireless health technologies.”

Qualcomm also launched its 2net platform at the mHealth Summit last year, and it named AirStrip as one of its many partners. While few details were available at the time, the companies now disclose that “the collaboration will initially focus on improving outcomes for congestive heart failure (CHF) patients after their initial discharge from the hospital, in an effort to reduce readmission rates and lower healthcare costs.” Up until now AirStrip has focused on in-patient care settings, while its app enabled clinicians to remotely monitor from anywhere. With the 2net deal, AirStrip now will be able to help clinicians and others remotely monitor patients who are at home.

AirStrip already has partnerships with GE, SprintMedtronic, Alere and others.

Here’s how AirStrip describes its offerings: “The AirStrip Technologies platform allows clinicians to securely access patient monitoring data such as continuous heart tracings and other waveforms – along with other physiologic parameters such as blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation, weight, and pulse – from EMRs, bedside monitors and devices, lab, and other clinical information systems. Physicians, nurses and case managers can view and interact with the information seamlessly using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. AirStrip solutions are FDA cleared, compliant with federal patient privacy standards and are CE Mark certified for sale in Europe and elsewhere.”

The AirStripOB app is widely known as the first iPhone app to secure FDA 510(k) clearance.

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

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Mobile health’s stealthy Super Bowl cameos

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 9, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNews(Quick Reminder: MobiHealthNews’ first webinar of the year is today at 2PM ET. Complimentary registration can be found right here — if you aren’t one of the 1,000+ who have registered already!)

This week’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in the history of the United States. According to Nielsen, more than 111 million people tuned in. Very few people, however, likely noticed that mobile health made at least two cameo appearances during the course of the game — both on the field and in at least one commercial.

New England Patriots’ running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis was wearing a specialized chin strap that was monitoring how hard he was hit throughout the game. The impact sensing device, which was developed by Battle Sports Science, includes “microsensor and software technology” that measures the G-force and duration of force to determine the likelihood of concussion. If the sensor calculates that a concussion is likely the chin strap begins to glow red.

During an interview on-site at the game, Battle Sports Science President Jeff Evans said that the device included accelerometers but that “it is actually reading what is going on inside the brain,” Evans said according to a report broadcast on ABC News. Evans has said in past press reports that the chin strap would cost just $40.

In the United States there are somewhere between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sports-related concussions annually, according to the LA-based Sports Concussion Institute. These mostly occur during organized high school sports — football for boy and soccer for girls.

Green-Ellis’ chin strap did not register any serious hits during the Super Bowl, the hope is that more players participate when the next season begins.

Evans said that Green-Ellis wanted to be able to use the Super Bowl and his celebrity to talk about safety concerns and concussions so that kids and their parents could have that discussion at home, too. A few weeks ago MobiHealthNews wondered whether professional athletes would help drive consumer awareness and adoption of mobile health devices and apps. Looks like they are already trying.

The ABC News report also pointed parents to an iPhone app developed by Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC that helps them check kids for concussions and other head injuries.

Another mobile health device made a brief and almost inconspicuous appearance during one commercial that aired during the big game. 3GDoctor’s David Doherty spotted the Jawbone UP device around the wrist of Philippe Kahn, inventor of the camera phone and founder of FullPower Technologies. Fullpower’s MotionX Technology powers Nike+GPS and the Jawbone UP’s motion sensing features. Check out the UP around Kahn’s right wrist in this Best Buy commercial here.

Neither of these cameos seemed to get much attention, but the fact that mobile health technologies crept into this year’s Super Bowl should be remembered as a milestone for consumer health.

Nuance looks to shift mobile data processing to cloud

By: Neil Versel | Feb 9, 2012        

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Jonathan Dreyer, NuanceNuance Communications drew big crowds to its booth at the 2010 HIMSS conference when it introduced long-awaited mobile versions of its popular Dragon Medical Mobile Recorder and Dragon Medical Search speech recognition software, in the form of iPhone apps. Nearly two years later, the Burlington, Mass.-based software vendor continues to build its mobile healthcare portfolio.

As MobiHealthNews reported, Nuance announced the PowerScribe |360 Mobile app late last year at the Radiological Society of North America annual conference, a product that will allow radiologists to read and sign off on imaging reports from their iPhones when it hits the market in the middle of 2012. The desktop platform is available now.

Speech recognition can speed up data capture on many platforms, perhaps more so with mobile. “We know that speech is three times faster than typing [on a standard keyboard],” but it may be five to six times faster than typing on a touchscreen or tiny buttons of a mobile device, says Jonathon Dreyer, Nuance’s senior manager for mobile solutions marketing in healthcare.

Dreyer spoke to MobiHealthNews Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Connected Medicine, 60 stories above downtown Pittsburgh. Nuance is one of about a dozen partners that UPMC is highlighting at the center, a showcase for many cutting-edge technologies already in use at the health system.

Nuance is looking to shift much of the processing of data from mobile devices to the cloud in order to offer greater computing power and to safeguard sensitive healthcare information in case a device gets lost or stolen. The other benefit of cloud processing is that users can keep the same profile no matter how or where they access and application, Dreyer says. Keep reading>>

iHeal device aims to prevent substance abuse relapses

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 9, 2012        

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affectiva-q-sensor

Similar device: Affectiva's Q Sensor

The promise of some wireless-enabled remote patient monitoring devices is that they can help prevent heart failure episodes. They aim to reduce hospital readmissions. A new device currently being developed by a team of academics here in Massachusetts aims to do the same thing for drug addiction relapses. After 30 days in a substance abuse clinic, can a remote monitoring device help patients once they re-enter the real world? The iHeal device aims to do just that.

A team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has developed a prototype of a mobile health device that can detect changes in the affective state in an effort to predict when the wearer is about to “transition to risky behaviors,” according to an abstract published in Springer’s Journal of Medical Toxicology this week. Edward Boyer and his colleagues have designed the device for individuals who have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) or a history of substance abuse.

The iHeal device is a wrist-worn sensor device that measures electrical activity of the skin, body motion, skin temperature, and heart rate. These are all indicators of arousal or stress that can be wireless streamed to a smartphone where an app can monitor and process the indicators. When stress levels reach a certain threshold, the app asks users to make a note about the events that led up to the increased stress levels, including information about perceived level of stress, drug cravings, and any other current activities. The opportunity is to deliver personalized, multimedia drug prevention interventions right at the critical moment.

iHeal sounds similar to the $2,000 Q Sensor device from Affectiva. Affectiva was founded in 2009 by two MIT scientists and started as a research project on autism at MIT’s Media Lab. The Q Sensor is a wearable wireless biosensor that measures emotional arousal (excitement, anxiety, and calm) via skin conductance, as well as temperature and movement.

The iHeal researchers believe their technology could also be used for managing chronic pain, overeating, medication adherence, too. Interventions for drug abuse and these other conditions are often ineffective outside of the clinic.

Future versions of iHeal device may be worn around the ankle or it could look more like a wristwatch.

The researchers conclude: “Our findings demonstrate that conducting clinical trials using enabling technologies in natural environments will require a deeper understanding of user preferences. Study designers should rely on recipients rather than ‘experts’ to create intervention content. A focus on preventing identification of research participants to avoid subsequent stigmatization is also key.”

More over at Springer’s website here.

UPMC center showcases ‘virtualization’ of healthcare

By: Neil Versel | Feb 9, 2012        

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Dr Watson

UPMC's Dr. Andrew Watson

The long-awaited boom in home-based, wireless health monitoring devices might happen sooner rather than later. In fact, Dr. Andrew Watson, medical director of the UPMC Center for Connected Medicine in Pittsburgh, believes that it will start in the next six to 12 months.

“Right now, the devices are so close,” Watson says. And the biggest driver will be cost avoidance, either by payers, integrated health systems or even consumers.

“We need to stress the fact that healthcare is going to be virtualized very soon. In this world, the data that we need is going to be living in a virtual world,” says Watson, a fourth-generation surgeon who is a regular user of telemedicine. In fact, he says that about one third of his practice is cloud-based.

“My communication is almost immediate,” Watson says. “I threw my pager away and I don’t miss it.”

Watson actually performs rounds in rural and outlying hospitals from his downtown Pittsburgh office thanks to a telemedicine cart, a process he calls tele-rounding. An ultrasound badge on the cart verifies his virtual presence.

He also says it is safer, cheaper and requires less time off work for patients to get their healthcare needs met online rather than in a traditional healthcare setting. Watson reports that he has performed consultations while in India and Mexico.

“The delivery method of healthcare is not talking clearly to the patient right now,” Watson says. “That is changing in Pittsburgh.”

In fact, he says that he asks his patients not to call his office, but rather to communicate online, where they can see their electronic health records, view test results, and report back with updates on their health status through UPMC’s patient portal. Soon, Watson believes patients will use their phones to communicate with health providers, but mostly to dictate notes like physicians do now. Patient voice messages will be captured for transcription and incorporation into the medical record, Watson says.

But healthcare infrastructure has to support this, not just provide traditional means of care. “A connected environment is absolutely critical,” Watson says, touting UPMC’s tight integration of hospitals, clinics, physician practices and a health plan, enabled by technology. “The heart of the connected environment is the data center.”

UPMC has committed more than $400 million just to a partnership with IBM and has relationships with dozens of other IT vendors, including EHR vendors Epic Systems, Cerner and Allscripts. Mobile technology providers Verizon, BlackBerry and Nuance Communications are among the organization’s partners in the Center for Connected Medicine. The center serves as a showcase for how UPMC is working to improve healthcare processes.

“We have to rethink the way we practice healthcare,” Watson says.

iPad app aims to streamline Medicare enrollment

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 8, 2012        

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DRX iPad app Medicare enrollmentA new iPad app intended for use by in-field Medicare sales agents aims to make the Medicare enrollment process more efficient by cutting down on paperwork, costs, and processing time. The app, called the iPad Mobile Field Enrollment app, was developed by DRX. The company already has plans to license the app to seven health plan carriers.

“Large Medicare plan sponsors process hundreds of thousands of paper-based enrollments annually, at a cost that can exceed $100 per application,” stated Randy Herman, CEO of DRX, in a company release.

During a pilot test field agents for Coventry Health Care’s Senior Market Sales team said the app decreased their organization’s processing time by one full day, which led to cost savings. The app reduced the time it took agents to complete applications and also reduced time to collect commissions. The firm also found that the app led to more complete and correct applications which led to faster approval for clients.

“Our agents estimated that the time savings with DRX’s iPad tool would allow them to see 20 percent more clients each week,” Milton Kleinberg, CEO of Senior Market Sales stated in a company press release. “Agents also reported that the faster application processing resulted in more timely payment of commissions, and that customers loved feeling engaged in the enrollment process. Customers were also impressed by the technology and functionality.”

Here’s what the app offers, according to DRX: “Electronic capture and submission of enrollment information directly from the iPad, eliminating the redundancies of paper submissions. Offline availability to facilitate plan comparison and enrollment when an Internet connection is unavailable at the point of sale. Immediate detection of input errors or missing information, eliminating carrier processing delays. Automatic updating of plan data. Reporting of enrollment activity, including completed enrollments and utilization metrics. Full compliance with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations.”

More in the DRX press release below: Keep reading>>