MIT initiative wants to turn nurses into inventors

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 25, 2013        

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MIT’s Little Devices Lab announced a new initiative to support innovation for nurses at New York’s 2013 World Maker Faire last week.

Little Devices Lab, which develops technologies for the healthcare environment, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched a six month initiative, MakerNurse, to travel the country and talk to nurses in order to learn what technologies and systems nurses use to improve healthcare, and further, what technologies they’ve conceived on their own.

Little Devices Lab director Jose Gomez-Marquez and interim Pioneer Portfolio Team Director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Lori Melichar are heading the venture.

Gomez-Marquez’s first step in the project is to do the research and plan out where the team will end up going when it’s time to start traveling and talking to nurses.

“We will use that information along with other information from other sources to guide us and overlap with regions that we will actually visit,” Gomez-Marquez told MobiHealthNews. “We don’t want to just decide that we’re going to go to a hospital in Boston, a hospital in Houston, and we’re good. We need to understand where, first of all, these daily fabrications are happening and based on that information we’ll be traveling across the country visiting different hospital and clinical sites, talking to nurses, shadowing them, understanding what the daily workflow is like within the lens of what our lab specializes in.”

After that, and for the next six months, the team at MakerNurse plans to collect stories from nurses across the nation in order to understand what tools nurses use, why they use the tools and how they fix problems and improve the patient experience.

Gomez-Marquez and his team plan to ask a number of questions, such as what products nurses they using, what type of devices are they modifying, what type of tools do they use to do that, and what are the materials centered around those things. They are also curious whether nurses get permission for improvised solutions, how they get recognized, and where the “water cooler” is for nurses to talk about these types of things.

Beyond that, Little Devices Lab Medical Device Designer Anna Young told MobiHealthNews that their team plans to also pinpoint differences between hospitals in different geographical settings and possibly how nurses operate in different departments within a hospital.

Already, MakerNurse, which recently launched a beta version of its website has received feedback from nurses interested in sharing their makeshift solutions with the team. While MakerNurse will publish the nurses’ responses on the website eventually, for now Gomez-Marquez just disclosed that nurses have contributed stories about finding alternative uses for the items in supply closets instead of making solutions from scratch.

“In the nursing profession one of the things we’re getting into, and we know we’re going to need more confirmation of, … is that they don’t make these things in the way that an orthopedic surgeon designs a device,” Gomez-Marquez said. “Where [the surgeon will] make it and will be very proud of their invention, and basically send it out into the world as fast as possible, and try to get a patent, nurses make in a very, very quiet way. Nurses come from a culture of what they call a workaround, where they find little ways to work around the normal protocol to get the job done.”

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PatientSafe raises $7M to focus on Asian market

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 25, 2013        

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PatientSafe Solutions raised $7 million from EDBI, the investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board. This completes a $27 million round for the company and brings its total funding to around $70 million. MobiHealthNews covered the first part of this round back in January. It was led by Merck GHI with additional contributions from Camden Partners, TPG Capital and Psilos Group.

The strategic investment coincides with PatientSafe, formerly known as IntelliDot, consolidating its hardware manufacturing and global supply chain in Singapore. This will enable the company to establish a local presence in the Asian and Pacific (APAC) market. The development and design teams will remain in San Diego.

The company will use the money to market its new PatientTouch system, a point-of-care clinical software suite that runs on an iOS device enclosed in a waterproof case, both in the US and in Asia. PatientSafe Solutions shared data supporting its decision to reach out into the APAC market.

“According to a recent Frost & Sullivan analyst report,” the company wrote in a press release, “APAC healthcare expenditures are projected to almost double in the next six years, with the largest share coming from China, Japan, and India. In addition, the APAC region will consist of more than 2.3 billion people aged 65 or older in 2013, comprising 9.8 percent of the population. In Singapore specifically, over 80 percent of hospital beds are publicly owned and operated, creating significant demand for innovative ways to contain costs, enhance productivity, and improve quality.”

The PatientTouch platform includes both an app and a waterproof case for an iPod Touch or iPhone 5. The case also adds a barcode scanner that nurses can use to identify themselves and access patient information. From the app, care team members can keep track of and coordinate medications, vitals, and care plans for patients as well as message each other, physicians, and hospital administrators. The system also collects data about how nurses using it allocate their time, which the hospital can use to staff more efficiently.

Johns Hopkins launches mHealth Evidence reference site

By: Neil Versel | Sep 25, 2013        

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mHealthEvidenceAs mobile health advocates clamor for scientific proof to support their emerging field, Johns Hopkins University has introduced mHealth Evidence, an online reference tool designed to help researchers quickly locate literature demonstrating the feasibility, usability and efficacy of mobile technologies in healthcare.

After a soft launch in June, the Center for Communication Programs at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore this week formally introduced mHealth Evidence via the school’s federally funded Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project. “We wanted to have one, designated site to bring together mHealth evidence,” Heidi Good Boncana, a program officer for strategic communication, ICT and innovation in the Center for Communication Programs, told MobiHealthNews.

“For a long time, people were claiming that there was no evidence,” Boncana said. That is changing for sure, but there still are shortcomings. “All of the evidence that does exist is kind of disparate,” Boncana said.

The mHealth Evidence site brings together sources and research related to feasibility, usability and efficacy of mobile healthcare technologies, though Boncana said there still remains limited data on health outcomes. It includes a searchable database and what Boncana said is a way to help researchers know where there are gaps in the literature.

mHealth Evidence currently contains close to 4,400 records, and will automatically pulls in new, relevant citations from PubMed, the National Library of Medicine’s index of medical literature. In the future, the service will add searches from “gray” literature such as that indexed by Google Scholar, including blog posts, presentations and discussions from professional listservs, according to Boncana. She added that K4Health also will be manually combing literature and taking submissions from users to add to the knowledge base.

Next month, K4Health will begin tagging all records in the mHealth Evidence database, a process Boncana expects to be complete by the end of the year.

Users can query mHealth Evidence keywords, Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms, PubMed ID codes, dates, and locations. Location search, according to Boncana, allows for people to see, for example, how technologies work across all of East Africa, not just individual countries.

Registered users can save searches and set up email alerts. mHealth Evidence supports OAuth open authorization so users can sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts.

Visitors to the site also can simply browse through various topics, including patient age ranges, care delivery models, type of mobile application, stage of technology development and intended user bases.

Access is free. K4Health is supported by the US Agency for International Development. USAID recently awarded the JHU Center for Communication Programs a 5-year, $40 million grant to improve knowledge and information sharing in global health programs, particularly for family planning and reproductive health, Boncana said.

Practice Fusion raises $70M from Kleiner Perkins

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 24, 2013        

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Practice Fusion InsightsSan Francisco-based Practice Fusion, maker of a free, web-based EHR, has raised $70 million in a round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). OrbiMed Advisors, Deerfield Management Company, and Industry Ventures also contributed to the round, as did previous investors Artis Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Glynn Capital Management, Band of Angels Acorn Fund, H Barton Co-Invest Fund, and Goldcrest Investments.

The round more than doubles the company’s funding, which was at $64 million, for a new total funding of $134 million. As part of the raise, Dr. Beth Seidenberg, general partner at Kleiner Perkins and former senior vice president and chief medical officer of Amgen, will join the Practice Fusion Board of Directors, as will Michael Harden, partner at Artis Ventures.

The company is growing rapidly, and many entrepreneurs in digital health suggested it was ripe for an IPO last November. Since then, the company has made several big moves. It acquired consumer app startup 100Plus in February for an undisclosed sum. Then, using 100Plus technology, it launched Practice Fusion Insight, an analytics platform meant to give physicians, insurers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and industry analysts highly granular intelligence about populations of patients. Owing to a user base of 100,000 medical professionals, the company says it has a clinical dataset four times larger than the Kaiser Permanente and Veterans Administration systems combined, which Insight will tap into.

“We’re not selling data. We’re selling de-identified, aggregated insights,” Practice Fusion vice president of data told MobiHealthNews at the time. He said the data will help providers learn how they’re doing managing particular populations and help pharma companies learn how much their products are being used relative to the competition.

About a month before launching Insight, Practice Fusion launched its patient-facing initiative Patient Fusion. Patient Fusion is an appointment booking and physician review website, which puts the company in direct competition with ZocDoc, another highly funded company that’s been floated as a likely IPO. Patient Fusion also offers a secure means of communication between doctors and patients, including patient access to medical records and cost tools. Patient Fusion is in some ways an extension of Practice Fusion’s free EHR — all doctors listed on the doctor finder are also users of the Practice Fusion EHR. The reviews are verified, meaning only patients who have actually seen a doctor can review that doctor. Like the EHR, Patient Fusion is free for patients and doctors.

Round leader KPCB has been a prolific digital health investor. Its portfolio includes Teladoc, Noom, Jawbone, Affectiva, and Awarepoint.

Janssen’s Care4Today relaunch uses family, charity to promote adherence

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 24, 2013        

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Cross-Platform FunctionalityJanssen Healthcare Innovations (JHI), a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, launched the new version of its free Care4Today medication reminder app and platform, Care4Today Mobile Health Manager 2.0.

The new app is not just an update to Care4Today, which launched last July, but a completely new app built in-house, whereas the original was built on Diversinet’s MobiSecure technology. Diversinet’s assets were acquired by IMS Health in August.

“We thought it would be better to own the application,” Dave Tripi, Partner at JHI, told MobiHealthNews. “We didn’t find a vendor that could meet the requirements.”

The new app runs on iOS and Android smartphones. If the user doesn’t have a smartphone, he or she can set up medication reminders from a web app and have the reminders sent to his or her feature phone via SMS. The system can give reminders about any drug, not just drugs from Johnson & Johnson.

“Our patient is our number one priority and we want to make sure our patients get their maximum benefit out of their medication,” Tripi said. “We recognize consumers don’t want 10 apps, they want one application that does all of it, to help them get the best results per their doctor’s orders.”

Care4Today 2.0 has the same features as the original Care4Today but with a new user interface. There are 20,000 prescription and over-the-counter drugs pre-programmed into the app. It includes pictures of the pills so users can set alarms and reminders that will deliver an unambiguous cue about what meds to take. If users need to program a drug that isn’t in the database, they can enter a custom name and take a picture with the phone’s camera. Users can print out a 7-day or 30-day report of their adherence that they can share with their physicians.

The new app also has two new features designed to improve adherence. One, Care4Charity, allows users to select one of three charities: AIDS United, American Diabetes Association, and Save the Children. The company will donate 5 cents to that charity for each day that the user is fully adherent to their medications. Users can track their donations and the combined donations of all users of the app. JHI will donate a minimum of $20,000 to each charity and at most an additional $90,000 between the three.

The other new feature, Care4Family, allows the app to notify family members when doses are missed. It can be set to tell them immediately, at the end of the day, or not at all.

In addition to medication, Tripi said future updates to the platform might include custom reminders for checking blood glucose, checking weight, and taking out your contact lenses. They are also working on a Windows phone version and a Spanish translation.

Sprint launches mobile health accelerator in Kansas City

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 24, 2013        

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Sprint AcceleratorSprint and Techstars have launched a mobile health accelerator in Kansas City, the hometown region of Sprint, that will mentor 10 startups, according to a press release.

Applications are open until December 6th, finalists will be notified in January, and the actual program is expected to start March 2014. The program will last three months and companies can receive up to $120,000 in funding, $20,000 upfront and the option to accept a $100,000 convertible debt mode funded by Sprint. Techstars retains 6 percent of the equity for each company.

The parameters given for companies that can apply are “any tech-powered start-up who has an innovative idea for a product and/or service that will propel mobile health forward.” The accelerator is looking for companies that are already “well-rounded”. This means, while the accelerator will provide mentorship and guidance, each company must be capable of building its own product. The Sprint Accelerator will accept applications from companies that already offer a service in the health space, but may not necessarily have a mobile component yet.

“To me, Kansas City is an obvious place that has an up-and-coming tech community to rival other top geographies,” Founder and CEO of Techstars David Cohen said in a press release. “The presence of leaders in the mobile health care space makes this the perfect home for the accelerator. We have been watching Kansas City from afar, seeing it come together, and now we’re excited to join. It’s great to see Sprint giving first through their tremendous network of resources and executive knowledge. It makes all the difference for the companies we fund through the program.”

Some examples of types of companies provided on the website include: Wearable technology, sensor-driven devices and networks, products to help care for parents, kids, or pets, socially enabled products and services focused on achieving personal goals, physical products that interact with a person’s smartphone, health tools that interact with mobile cameras, mobile apps that can diagnose, medication schedule apps and big data.

Techstars and Sprint reached out to their respective networks to build a team of mentors. Notable mentors of the program include Co-Founder & CEO of EveryMove Russell Benaroya, Foundry Group Managing Editor Brad Feld, Audax Health VP of Mobile Product Ian Klassen, Ginger.IO CEO Anmol Madan, SuperBetter Chief Creative Officer Jane McGonigal, Facebook Engineering Director Alex Himel and HIMSS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Leavitt.

Three years ago, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse keynoted HIMSS. At the time Hesse pointed out a few compelling use cases for mobile health including e-prescribing, secure access to vital signs, advanced mobile apps for consumers, ultrasound probe that plugs right into a mobile phone, and wireless video monitors for virtual, in-home visits. Since then the company has remained relatively quiet.

In December, Techstars teamed up with Nike+ to launch an accelerator and announced the 10 finalists this March. That program is geared towards startups that can leverage Nike+ technology and data to help people be more active.