Remote patient monitors slim down but adoption still low

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 7, 2011        

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Corventis PiiX SensorOnly 50,000 to 70,000 patients in the United States are remotely monitored, Chuck Parker, executive director of the Continua Health Alliance, told the New York Times in a recent interview. Parker states that one reason adoption is still modest is a lack of financial incentives for some of the big players in health. Heart patients that can be monitored remotely at home are far less lucrative than those occupying a hospital bed. Parker told the Times that “some [hospitals] fear about the financial implications” for their facility’s own operations.

Still, the wireless remote monitoring devices are slimming so much that they are approaching near weightlessness.

“Suppose that all of a convalescent patient’s electrode patches were consolidated into a single, nearly invisible and weightless version — as thin as a temporary, press-on tattoo. And suppose that a tiny radio transmitter eliminated the need for any wires tethering the patient to monitoring machines,” the NY Times writes.

A prototype of such a device is currently under development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Researchers there are developing an ultra thin sensor that weighs just three-thousandths of an ounce. This technology could be utilized inside the body and on the skin. The journal Science published research on the sensor last month.

John A. Rogers, an engineering professor and a 2009 MacArthur Fellow, is leading the team at the University of Illinois. Rogers also co-founded MC10, an electronics company based in a Cambridge, MA that has plans to release a commercial version of the sensor in 2013.

The rest of the New York Times article offers a compelling overview of the wireless health space, including whether a lack of financial incentives is one of the biggest challenges facing wireless health. Read more here.

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NHS publishes National Mobile Health Worker study

By: Neil Versel | Sep 7, 2011        

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Panasonic Toughbook C1

Panasonic Toughbook C1

Arming mobile clinicians with full-powered laptops and wireless Internet access could save big money by preventing hospital admissions, unnecessary referrals to specialists and even wasted home visits, a new study from the UK suggests.

In an eight-week trial at 11 sites across England in the summer of 2010, semi-ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook laptops saved an average of £462 ($737) per clinician, which extrapolates to £3,002 annually, or nearly $4,800, according to the National Health Service’s National Mobile Health Worker Project report (PDF).

While results varied widely across the sites, most participants showed productivity increases after they got the Toughbooks. Clinicians also spent more time with patients. “Clinicians across the eleven pilot sites estimated that the devices allowed them to save 507 referrals, equating to a saving of nearly 9 percent across the pilot period. Clinicians across the eleven pilot sites estimated that the devices allowed them to avoid 49 admissions, equating to a saving of approximately 21 percent across the pilot period,” the report says. Keep reading>>

SAP plans EMR iPad app for next month

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 6, 2011        

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emr-dashEnterprise software behemoth SAP is developing an EMR app for hospitals, according to a report over at ZDNet. The company plans to make the app commercially available at the end of October. An Android version is set to follow sometime next year.

SAP unveiled the app, which has been in development for the past three months, during a webinar that was broadcast last week. The EMR’s feature set includes access to patient records, medication history, radiology images, medical allergies and a real-time view of patient vital signs that alerts doctors to abnormal levels.

SAP is currently piloting the app in three unnamed European hospitals. The company previously released the Collaborative eCare app, which allows patients with chronic conditions to upload medical data that can then be viewed by their caregiver.

According to the ZDNet article, the next version of the app will include software for offline access of medical data, intended for network “dead spots” found within hospitals —  which may raise some concerns about the security of patient information temporarily stored on the device. Also expected for the app’s future is the ability for physicians to take photos using the iPad and upload them to the patient records database, as well as enter diagnostic notes and capture vital sign data.

Another large company, GE, recently launched their EMR app Centricity. That app is an extension of GE Healthcare’s web-based Centricity Advance EMR offering, which focuses on practices with less than ten physicians. The app was demo’d at this year’s HIMSS conference.

An additional EMR app developer that has been in the news recently is DrChrono, who announced two rounds of seed funding this summer. ClearPractice also released their EMR iPad app, called Nimble, as well as an EMR offering that works across various Apple devices called Eden. Finally, Epic took its iPhone EMR app Haiku and redesigned it for the iPad’s larger form factor. The resulting app, called Canto, hit the AppStore last June.

You can read more about SAP’s soon to be launched iPad EMR app over at ZDNet here.

Verizon healthcare authentification adds smartphone support

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 6, 2011        

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Dr. Peter Tippett, VP, Verizon BusinessVerizon has added smartphone and tablet support to their Verizon Universal Identity Services for Healthcare offering, the company announced last week. The identity authentification software service is now accessible on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices.

Verizon Universal Identity Services-Healthcare is a cloud-based service launched in November of last year that offers secure authenticated identity credentials for health information exchanges (HIE), including digital signatures for e-prescribing, lab reports, discharge orders, and EHR access.

Dr Peter Tippett, Verizon’s Vice President of industry and security told MobiHealthNews last year that by the end of 2010 Verizon expected to be ready to facilitate exchanges for mobile health applications via its HIE. At the time Tippett said that the exchange would enable app providers to connect with a potential base of more than 350,000 physicians, 2,700 clinics and almost 2,500 hospitals that are in the Medical Transcription Service Consortium, which the telecom partnered with for its HIE launch.

“Securely and quickly authenticating the digital identity of health care professionals is a key foundational element supporting the electronic exchange of health care information,” Tippett stated in a press release. “By streamlining and strengthening the issuance of health identities, our newly enhanced universal identity service for health care will help boost widespread adoption and act as a catalyst for further transformation of the U.S. health care delivery system.”

You can read the full press release after the jump. Keep reading>>

How to effectively use SMS for teen weight loss

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 2, 2011        

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A new study of overweight teens published in the journal Obesity reveals the most effective ways text messages could be used to encourage healthy behavior change in adolescents, reports the LA Times.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, who believe tailored text messages could help teens adopt healthier lifestyle changes. Four focus groups consisting of 24 male and female teens in weight management programs were sent six different message types: testimonials, meal and recipe ideas, targeted tips, reflective questions, feedback questions and tailored messages.

The teens responded well to instructional messages from peers, including recipes and testimonials about weight-loss strategies. Positive messages were also well-received, including exclamations and emoticons, but colloquialisms like “LOL” were not.

Other negative response came from the mention of unhealthy food and behavior, even with references to healthier options; Teens began to crave unhealthy foods after being asked about them. Reflective questions, like “What does being healthy mean for you? How does screen time fit in with your goals? How could cutting back on it help improve your health?” were also ineffective. Concrete directions about achieving weight-loss and eating healthier were preferred. Researchers thought the delivery method (140 character texts) might be to blame.

The researchers are now exploring whether these preferred messages are effective at reducing weight. Previous studies have revealed that SMS reminders are effective at smoking cessation and flu vaccine adoption, but not birth control. The effectiveness of Text4Baby is a still topic of much discussion.

For more on the study, read the L.A. Times article here.

Interview: Sprint Chief Healthcare Exec Julee Thompson

By: Neil Versel | Sep 1, 2011        

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J Thompson Head ShotLess than four months ago, Sprint brought on Julee Thompson as chief healthcare executive. A registered nurse with an MBA and more than 25 years of experience as a clinical leader and consultant, Thompson brings a new perspective to the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier.

“I was definitely thrilled about Sprint opening up to someone coming out of the provider side,” Thompson tells MobiHealthNews.

As Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said during his keynote address to open the 2010 HIMSS conference, “If I had to pick the one industry facing the biggest gap between need for change and use of wireless to facilitate that change, it would be healthcare.” Hesse said that healthcare spending on telecommunications services would increase from $8.6 billion to $12.4 billion in the next few years, and two-thirds of the growth would come from wireless apps and services.

“Wireless solutions are excellent for healthcare,” Thompson agrees. “We are in transition to much more mobile and virtual healthcare system,” according to Thompson. “I like to refer to it as ‘minding the gap.’” Telecommunications technologies can help fill the gap between the current and future healthcare systems, she explains.

Thompson sees three categories of mobile and wireless health: personal wellness, personal observations of living—also known as observations of daily living or aging in place—and chronic disease management. “In each of the [first] two areas, you see more self-motivation coming along,” Thompson says.

To the Sprint healthcare executive, the most promising aspect is the personal measurement of daily living because it can affect the big picture, namely population health. “We’re helping patients become active participants in their care,” Thompson says. Keep reading>>