Illumina launches long-awaited MyGenome iPad app

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 25, 2012        

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Illumina MyGenome iPad appIn the fall of 2009 at the first Consumer Genetics Show in Boston, whole genome sequencing company Illumina’s CEO Jay Flatley announced plans to develop an iPhone app, called MyGenome, that would give users access to their own fully sequenced genome.

“Ultimately, we think this data needs to be mobile-connected and probably in the cloud,” Flatley said at the time as he cued a series of slides that showed rough concepts for a Illumina iPhone app. “We think an iPhone type device is where this data will end up living, but clearly we can’t fit an entire sequence on the iPhone of today.”

This week Illumina announced the launch of the MyGenome application for Apple’s iPad. It costs $0.99 and is available for download from the AppStore now. While the application does not include the personal genomic data for its customers yet, the concept is still the same: The app helps users “explore a real human genome and view reports about important genetic variations through a simple, intuitive, and educational interface for genetic data exploration and learning.”

“Illumina’s vision of a future where healthcare is made more precise through the use of genetic information, together with our position as a sequencing technology leader, puts us in an ideal position to stimulate interest in a mainstream tool for genomic exploration,” Flatley stated in this week’s announcement. “The MyGenome app is an exciting educational tool that enables consumers to learn how much we already understand about variation in the human genome, served up in a graphically accessible format. This first version of the app provides a glimpse of what we think could become a clinical tool for use by physicians with their patients to improve understanding and communication of genetic data.”

Illumina said that future versions of the MyGenome app will allow users to download their own data securely. Interestingly, Illumina said a physician could use the app to view the results of genetic tests they have ordered — including for issues like Mendelian disorders and pharmacogenomic drug response — before providing direct access to consumers.

Shortly after Illumina demo’d its MyGenome app concept at the Consumer Genetics Show in 2009, Apple interviewed Flatley for the iPhone business section of its website.

“Illumina is developing an iPhone application that will allow consumers to carry around their genomic information,” Flatley explained to Apple three years ago. “Part of it may be on the phone itself, part of it may be in the cloud that the phone would have access to. It would allow the customer to bring up the application and interact with it live in conjunction with their doctor.”

“The understanding of the human genome, which is very inaccessible to most people, can start to become accessible through iPhone,” Flatley said at the time. “It will be a mechanism for communications, for sharing, and for data management. iPhone can translate something very complicated into something very user-friendly.”

The app’s launch is another baby step toward the marriage of genomics and wireless health, a mega-trend long predicted by Dr. Eric Topol.

More on the first iteration of the Illumina MyGenome app in the press release below: Keep reading>>

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Striiv adds wireless for competitions, heads to Best Buy

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 25, 2012        

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StriivThis morning smart pedometer maker Striiv announced an updated feature set for its activity tracking device, which now enables users to setup challenges by pairing devices at close range over a short range wireless connection. Striiv also announced that its device, which has been available online and through the Home Shopping Network, is heading to 600 Best Buy stores across the country at the end of the month. The Striiv device costs $99.95.

Striiv says its device is not for “Type A” people who are already motivated to go to a gym or have an interest in charts and graphs that document their workout regimens.

“For many of us, fitness is the first thing that falls off the schedule,” Striiv’s Head of Design Lexy Franklin told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview. “Our target user is in their 40s. They are busy. They have a family. That’s who we created the Striiv Smart Pedometer for — we call it the first ‘smart’ pedometer because it learns from your activity, learns your behavior and motivates you to walk a lot more throughout the day. Striiv senses when you are getting close to a personal goal and gives you additional goals and challenges that are just out of reach to keep you exercising.”

Franklin said that Striiv’s average user is a 47-year-old woman with a BMI around 30. The company’s goal is to help motivate Striiv users to walk a little bit more each day.

“There are lots of companies out there trying to get people to measure their activity,” Franklin said. “When we look at companies like Jawbone, Nike, BodyMedia — all these companies are focused on data and monitoring — lots of charts and graphs. We believe that’s only motivating for those ‘Type A’ people. We are going after other people who will be better motivated from the device itself, it’s not a solution offering charts and graphs — it’s much more.”

The new Striiv Connect feature leverages a short range wireless connection similar to the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum wireless mouses use to connect to PCs, according to Franklin. The new feature enables users to challenge each other to seven different types of races. Those include a competition to see who can walk the equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge first or who can climb the equivalent number of stairs to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty. Striiv devices need to be no more than around 10 feet apart to start a competition then the users can go about their days. To see who won, the devices do need to come back together, Franklin said.

Striiv users can even raise the stakes and make bets on the race’s outcome:

“No race would be complete without the ability to bet,” Franklin said. “Betting is exciting. You can bet Striiv currency or real world chores or prizes — buy the other person a cup of coffee… or they have to take out the trash.”

Striiv’s virtual currency can be used to build the FarmVille-like virtual world, an “enchanted island” called MyLand, that comes preloaded on the device. Each step the device tracks earns an energy point that can be spent on the island or converted into real world donations to charities that Striiv can make on the user’s behalf. While Striiv itself is the first corporate sponsor of the donation program, it expects to add others.

Here’s how Striiv describes the device’s newest features:

Ready, Set, Race! – Step or stair-based competitions let people bet energy or real life prizes. Once the stakes are established, users connect devices, choose to walk together or separately, and Striiv keeps track of who reaches the finish line first. New Striiv characters (AKA Waddles, Sir Bacon or Walkatron), also provide opponents, and as in life, raise the stakes and win more! More difficult opponents and longer races, the more energy can be won!

Social Milestones – Beating friends’ or family members’ stats (like daily average or personal record for steps, stairs or minutes of activity) earns people bonus points and a trophy for that day. Social milestones are part of Striiv’s positive reinforcement focused Motivation System.

Myland Expansion Pack –Myland, the addictive, Farmville-like, energy-based game launched with Striiv, adds new characters, plants, and structures. People can also spend energy points on Mystery Boxes, treasure boxes that contain exciting (or not so exciting) prizes.

More Reasons to Sync – Each time Striiv is connected to a computer, the latest activity information is stored, and people win a free Mystery Box to use in Myland! Syncing lets people record steps, stairs, calories burned and donations made, so they can keep track of progress.

For more on the new Striiv features and Best Buy distribution deal, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

Boston Children’s Hospital offers app for appointment requests, medical records access

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 24, 2012        

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Boston Children's Hospital MyWay appThree healthcare facilities have made announcements in recent days about new mobile health app offerings, mobile vendor partners, or the time and cost efficiencies brought about by past mobile device deployments.

Boston Children’s Hospital announced this week the launch of a new mobile app, called Boston Children’s Hospital MyWay, which offers access to information on more than 1,000 physicians, more than 200 clinical programs and six Boston Children’s clinical sites. The app also enables users to request appointments, access the MyChildren’s Patient Portal website to view their child’s medical records, and more. The hospital tapped Meridian for to develop a location-based, turn-by-turn directions feature, too. The app is free to download for iOS and Android users from the platforms’ respective app stores.

Meanwhile, Miami Children’s Hospital announced that it had partnered with PatientPoint, a provider of care coordination and patient care management solutions, to offer its clinicians an iOS-based care coordination system:

“We signed with PatientPoint in February and went live within 6 weeks with over 40 check-in points across the hospital and with complete integration to our new ADT systems. Based on the iOS platform, HealthSync offers best-in-class patient tracking, patient care coordination and a complete set of mobile applications for patient engagement. We believe it will provide a highly effective, end to end, enterprise-level solution for care coordination and patient engagement during pre-care, point of care and post care,” Ed Martinez, CIO of Miami Children’s, stated in the release.

The hospital plans to leverage the platform to create various patient engagement technologies, including wellness digital gaming and mobile and online applications, for pre-care and post-care patient reminders as well as medication and treatment adherence. The system will also enable the facility to offer patients tablet-based check-in and check-out as well as to administer clinical surveys.

Finally, Nottingham University Hospital, the fourth largest hospital in the UK, counted time savings and cost efficiencies thanks to a rollout of Cisco Cius tablets, BlackBerry devices, and a mobile-centric platform called NerveCenter. Here’s how PC Advisor described the rollout:

About a year ago, pushed to the brink of inefficiency, Nottingham decided it must invest in modern technology, and fast. The hospital’s IT group implemented Cisco’s end-to-end network. It then purchased Cisco Cius tablets for nurses and doctors and worked with a third-party app developer called NerveCenter to build an Android app (also called NerveCenter) that works as a task-assignment workflow tool. After patient information and doctor and nurse assignments are entered into the PC system, the Hospital@Night coordinator can allocate tasks via the NerveCenter app on a Cisco Cius tablet. The junior doctors receive assignments on their mobile devices be it a Cius tablet or a BlackBerry device, which NerveCenter also supports. The doctor accepts the assignment using the NerveCenter app and it is logged. The whole staff can see if the task is being done, who the patient is and which doctor or nurse is assigned to that patient.

According to the report, the facility estimates about $175,000 in savings thanks to more efficient use of its staff’s time as well as more than $500,000 in savings thanks to reductions in patient stays.

Can tablets help nurses better screen for domestic abuse?

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 24, 2012        

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iPad 2Researchers at nursing schools at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University are set to begin a government funded study to determine whether surveys on tablets may be a better way to screen pregnant women for abuse over the existing method of a nurse verbally asking during a home visit, according to a report in Psych Central.

The study will oversee 4,000 screenings of women in Baltimore and rural areas of both Virginia and Missouri. Half of the women screened will be asked about abuse by a visiting nurse, while the other 2,000 women will be handed a mobile tablet, like an Android device or iPad, along with ear phones and then guided through a series of questions about domestic partner violence. Importantly, the mobile app will have a safety button that can be pressed to cover up the questions in case the abuser walks in.

Researchers predict that the number of women that will self-identify as being victims of domestic abuse will increase by as much as a third when using the tablets.

The results of the study could change how policymakers use money set aside for home visits under the Affordable Health Care Act, according to the Psych Central report.

While it wasn’t specifically focused on domestic abuse: Last year HHS sponsored an app developer challenge, called Apps Against Abuse, to encourage the creation of apps that helped prevent sexual assault and dating violence. Two apps won the competition: Circle of 6, a prototype of an iPhone app that aims to make it quick and easy for users to reach out to their circle of friends or family and let them know where they are and what they need. The other winning app, On Watch, also enables easy check-ins with friends, 911 or campus police. It also enables users to set count-down timers that send messages and GPS information automatically if events or activities don’t go according to plan.

Survey: 45 percent of doctors have iPads

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2012        

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JiffPad iPad appA recent survey of 971 physicians found that about 74 percent already own or plan to buy an iPad in the next six months. The survey, called the April 2012 Joint Survey of Physician Digital Behavior, was conducted by virtual event platform provider ON24 and MedData Group.

Of the physicians surveyed, some 45 percent currently owned an iPad and about 52 percent were already iPhone users. About 10 percent said they use a non-iPad tablet, while some 25 percent claimed to use some kind of smartphone other than an iPhone. The researchers asked respondents which type of device they planned to buy in the next six months: 29 percent said an iPad, 17 percent planned to buy an iPhone, 4 percent expected to purchase a non-iPad tablet, and nearly 6 percent said they planned to buy a non-iPhone smartphone.

The survey also found that while physicians are interested in attending online events and meetings for CME training, pharmaceutical education, or medical device training, less than 7 percent of the physicians surveyed said they participate in any kind of virtual training very often.

Read this InformationWeek article for more details.
Or read more in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Numera acquires mobile-enabled PERS device maker

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2012        

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BlueLibris Libri PERS deviceLast week Numera announced that it had acquired BlueLibris, maker of a wearable, cellular-enabled personal emergency response device. Numera plans to integrate the device, called the Libri, into its own suite of telehealth products and services, but it also intends to expand the device’s capabilities by adding new sensors.

The BlueLibris device enables two-way, hands-free voice communication via AT&T’s 3G cellular network, GPS-enabled location tracking, and fall detection. A couple of Freescale sensors power the fall detection and activity monitoring. The acquisition brings Numera new relationships with AT&T and Qualcomm, too. Numera plans to integrate the device with its telehealth gateway to enable users to upload biometric measurements from its health devices.

The Libri device is able to pick up on certain words like “I’ve fallen” or “Call for help” and automatically begin a two-way voice call without requiring the user to push the device’s button.

Last September USA Today reported that the BlueLibris device and service would soon be available from “various health care providers,” but the device and service never commercially launched.

“Very much like an OnStar for people,” BlueLibris founder and CEO Ram Fish told the newspaper: “The device lets the owner push a button to talk to someone on the other end, while simultaneously wirelessly transmitting a wealth of medical data such as heart rate and blood pressure (with the help of other Bluetooth medical body sensors).”

The company plans to start selling the device during the fourth quarter of the year.

More in the release below: Keep reading>>