Kaiser Permanente offers patients Android app for EMR access

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 24, 2012        

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KP Locator

KP Locator

Kaiser Permanente announced today that its nearly 9 million patients can now securely access their electronic medical records (EMRs) from a new, free mobile app on their Android devices or from other mobile devices via a mobile-optimized site. KP expects to launch an iPhone version of the app in the coming months, but it is notable the KP departed from the common practice of launching an iPhone app first followed by Android.

The healthcare system launched its first smartphone app last year: Kaiser Permanente offered an iPhone app, called KP Locator, that helps users locate its healthcare facilities last year.

The new mobile offerings grant Kaiser Permanente patients access to their lab test results and personal health records. They can also email their doctors, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and locate Kaiser Permanente medical facilities right from the Android app or mobile site. Family members who are caring for a KP patient can also access the same services via their mobile devices, and those caring for elder patients can now refill prescriptions and communicate with the doctor’s office on behalf of the patient, too.

KP pointed out that its patients have been able to email their doctors for five years now, but the health system believes that making it even more convenient for patients by including the feature in the mobile app will lead to greater adoption of e-visits.

“This is the future of health care. Health care needs to be connected to be all that it can be. This new level of connectivity is happening real time, and it is happening on a larger scale than anything like it in the world,” stated George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente, in a press release. “The fact that a Kaiser Permanente patient in an emergency room in Paris or Tokyo can simply pull out their mobile device and have immediate and current access to their own medical information is an evolutionary and revolutionary breakthrough for medical connectivity.”

KP states that the mobile offerings use the same security safeguards that protect patient information on the traditional kp.org website. The measures include secure sign-on and automatic sign-out after the site detects user inactivity.

“The benefits of mobile extend beyond member engagement,” stated Philip Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer, in a press release. “Mobile solutions can have a positive impact on health. Health care, itself, will be much more convenient for many people. The mobile-friendly site and app are also a springboard for new innovations that will inspire members to be aware of their health and take steps to improve it.”

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

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2011: More than $500M in mobile health investments

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 24, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAt the end of each calendar year quarter, MobiHealthNews pieces together the most important news, commentary, deals and analysis into a “state of the industry” report available in our premium content section (here). Purchase your copy of MobiHealthNews’ Q4 and 2011 Year-End Report: Mobile Health State of the Industry here.

Last year, 2011, was a big one for mobile health. MobiHealthNews tracked more than 100 deals and partnerships throughout the year and about 60 venture capital investments. We tracked more than half a billion dollars in investments into mobile health companies during the past year. While there were a handful of massive deals, including the $75 million ZocDoc raised over the course of 2011, most of the investment deals were for a couple million each.

The total investment in mobile health-related companies in 2011 was more than twice as much as total investment in 2010. As MobiHealthNews reported about a year ago, the total investment in mHealth companies in 2010 was $233 million. There were also only a little more than a dozen announced investment rounds in 2010. In 2011 there were about four times that many. It also brought in dozens of new investment firms.

Our latest research offering, Mobile Health Q4 and 2011 Year-end State of the Industry Report, includes a roundup of all the notable deals and partnerships, write-ups on each of the investment deals, as well as other recaps of payor news, regulatory changes, healthcare provider announcements, mobile launches from pharma companies, mobile operators and more. Looking for a review of mobile health in 2011? We’ve got you covered with this 40-page report.

Healthbox startup CareWire measures patient experience by SMS

By: Neil Versel | Jan 24, 2012        

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David NicholsSometimes, a smartphone app is more than you need. Sometimes, it is not enough. Perhaps, the “just right” approach is simple technology like a text message.

That is the underlying principle behind CareWire, which automates appointment reminders and other administrative information so health systems can cut down on no-shows and unprepared patients in hopes of producing more productive encounters, reducing hospital admissions and boosting patient encounters. CareWire is the product of Minneapolis-based Healthy Heartland Inc. (HHI), one of the 10 startups that new health incubator Healthbox is supporting.

Each company gets $50,000 in seed funding and is participating in a three-month program in which they are given office space in Healthbox’s temporary Chicago headquarters, plus access to a team of mentors. At the end of the three months, companies will make pitches to venture capitalists in hopes of scoring larger investments.

Healthbox announced its first class of startups in December began the mentoring program in early January. The incubator held a kickoff event and open house in Chicago last week.

“The genesis of CareWire is that there is a variety of ways currently to listen for patient satisfaction and patient dissatisfaction,” Chief Operating Officer and co-founder David Nichols told MobiHealthNews in an interview during the open house. Those ways could include surveys, social media scanning or “ethnographic” interviews, according to Nichols.

“But we were thinking, what would be the least-cost, most widely available medium for engaging with patients and actually getting more or less a blink response from them as to their level of engagement, level of satisfaction, and so on?”

“SMS is nice in that there is no app to download and install. There’s no specific password or security routine you have to go through,” Nichols explained. Plus, most mobile phones made in the last 10 years are capable of handling SMS.

“At least currently, it’s one of the most immediate messaging mediums out there. It has the brevity and directness of Twitter but it has the impact of instant messaging,” said Nichols, who met business partner and CareWire CEO Scott Danielson when both worked at UnitedHealth Group.

At United, Nichols led the development of a business called UnitedHealth at Home, which provides short-term, post-discharge insurance for in-home care. Danielson later moved to AARP, where he helped launch AARPHealth, a health engagement portal for the organization and its members.

They founded Healthy Heartland in late 2009, and started working on CareWire in early 2011, developing the business model and getting feedback from providers, two of which became the company’s pilot sites. CareWire now is testing its technology at Park Nicollet Clinics in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and at Mercy Clinics in Des Moines, Iowa.

According to Nichols, the participating clinics have mobile numbers for 85 percent of their patients. One organization asks patients to opt in, while the other will include patients unless they opt out.

With Medicare cutting off reimbursements for some preventable hospital readmissions and with the advent of Accountable Care Organizations and bundled payments, health systems are finding less incentive to fill their beds and are more motivated to manage cases in primary care. Keep reading>>

Nike+ Fuel Band looks to compete on design

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 23, 2012        

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Nike+ Fuel BandThese days when it comes to connected fitness devices, what a device is capable of doing is less of a differentiator from how a device looks and how it engages its user. That’s why the unveiling of the Nike+ Fuel Band device this past week was less of a technological breakthrough for fitness devices, and more of a breakthrough in fitness device design.

At first blush, based on form alone, it sure looks like Nike has set itself apart from the pack.

The device’s name, Nike+ Fuel Band, comes from the virtual health currency, or the composite score, that the device tracks: Nike Fuel.

Nike launched the device at a media event hosted by talk show host Jimmy Fallon and guests including professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, professional basketball player Kevin Durant, and professional sprinter Carmelita Jeter. Nike is marketing the device with the slogan: “Life is a Sport.” While the Nike+ Fuel Band demo video claims the device is designed for use by anyone, the initial launch and other marketing materials show Nike isn’t shying away from marketing the device to the fitness-inclined and sports-minded.

At the event Nike executives announced that total Nike+ users now number more than 5 million. Keep reading>>

AT&T offers to secure tablets, messages for healthcare

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 23, 2012        

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Cisco Cius Tablet Docking StationAT&T announced two new mobile security services for healthcare providers: security services for tablets and secure messaging services that enable providers to send encrypted information in HIPAA-compliant ways. Appointment reminders, lab results, and payment notices were among the type of messages that AT&T provided as examples. AT&T is working with Soprano to power its secure mobile messaging platform.

The two new mobile security offerings are called AT&T Managed Tablets and AT&T Global Smart Messaging Suite for Healthcare.

The tablet security offering follows on the growing trend of tablet adoption among healthcare providers, especially physicians. As has been pointed out repeatedly in the past few years, tablets and other mobile devices likely increase security threats given their portable and sometimes highly desirable status. As physicians push to have better access to hospital information systems, especially EMRs, right from their mobile devices, companies like AT&T see an opportunity to provide security services and help CIOs feel more comfortable about enabling providers access to sensitive data on tablets.

AT&T says its tablet security offering can work with any tablet. Part of the offering includes remote wipe capability, so the device can be erased if it is lost or stolen. The mobile operator also says the offering works for both tablets that a healthcare facility deploys to its physicians as well as those personal devices that care providers bring in from home.

The AT&T Global Smart Messaging Suite for Healthcare, which AT&T is working with Soprano to offer, includes encrypted outbound messages that enable providers to send patients highly-secure healthcare communications when they opt-in to do so. Cipher is the part of the system that transmits the encrypted information, while a downloadable app, called AT&T Secure Messaging, decrypts the message. The offering works across mobile operators, on any smartphone platform, and on some feature phones.

“Text messaging is proving to be an effective way to engage patients in their care, improve patient satisfaction, and even improve clinical outcomes,” Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, stated in the AT&T announcement. “Messaging programs have great potential for providing low-cost, accessible, educational messaging to patients, and we look forward to additional applications of these powerful tools for reaching diverse and large patient populations.”

For more, check out the press release below: Keep reading>>

Health plan to offer Telcare BGM to members

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 23, 2012        

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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterA health plan that services self-funded employers in New York and New Jersey, MagnaCare, recently announced that it would offer Telcare’s cellular-enabled blood glucose meter to its members. MagnaCare said the device and its corresponding apps will help its members be more proactive in managing their own health conditions, while also helping physicians stay better informed.

The deal with MagnaCare marks the first publicly announced distribution channel for the recently FDA-cleared, cellular-enabled glucose meter.

Here’s how the Telcare BGM offering works: Telcare BGM is a 3G-enabled blood glucose meter that wirelessly transmits glucose values using T-Mobile USA’s wireless network to an FDA-cleared online clinical server. Clinicians can then view the data if that server connects up to their electronic medical records system. The data is also pulled into a smartphone app that can be accessed by the user or by caregivers. Telcare says the device “transmits real-time access to readings, provides feedback and enables physicians and caregivers to intervene when blood glucose levels reach dangerous levels.”

The Wall Street Journal’s tech columnist Walt Mossberg recently gave the device a rather positive review.

“The biggest challenge in the treatment of diabetes is compliance, which, with a ten percent improvement in glucose control, can reduce the incidence of complications by thirty-seven percent,” Dr. Jonathan C. Javitt, CEO and Vice Chairman of Telcare stated. “The Telcare BGM was developed to eliminate non-compliance and inconsistency in tracking numbers.”

The executive team leading Telcare is impressive: Javitt is a former healthcare advisor in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations and he has previously founded four publicly-traded health IT companies some of which eventually got acquired by Siemens, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group. Javitt co-founded Telcare with John Dwyer, who previously served as CEO of e-MEDx and COO of Active Health Management, which was acquired by Aetna in 2005. Dwyer worked there with Javitt. After his last executive assignment as the CEO of Vetcentric, a specialty on-line pharmacy, he joined the Washington based law firm of Arent Fox LLP advising numerous early stage healthcare technology and biotechnology companies. (More on the executive team here.) Telcare’s team also includes Matt Tendler, one of the original developers of the popular GlucoseBuddy app.

More on the MagnaCare deal in the announcement below: Keep reading>>