App to help physicians screen for domestic abuse

By: Neil Versel | Oct 20, 2011        

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Abuse Screening AppA Florida domestic violence shelter and treatment facility has created what it calls the first smartphone app to screen patients for symptoms of abuse. The R3 App, which stands for “recognize, respond and refer,” will be available for free for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices in the coming weeks.

Created by Orlando-based Harbor House of Central Florida, the app incorporates the “HITS” process for screening, developed by Dr. Kevin Sherin in 1998, before he went on to become director of the Orange County, Fla., Health Department in Orlando. The process asks suspected victims of abuse how often in the previous 12 months their partners: physically hurt them; insulted them; threatened physical harm; and screamed or cursed at them.

Like the test itself, the app asks patients to assign a score of 1 to 5 regarding the frequency of occurrences. With the app, any score of at least 13 of a possible 20 points alerts a healthcare professional who can help and provides the screening physician with the address of nearby shelters for victims of domestic violence.

“We know that 85 percent of women who have been abused report that they want to tell their doctor, so if we actually have physicians who, because of this app, can now screen not just when they suspect, but every single time that they see a patient, we could potentially save thousands and thousands of lives,” Harbor House CEO Carol Wick says in a video provided by Florida Hospital. The Orlando-based health system, which funded development of the app, is making the electronic tool available to clinicians at multiple locations across Central Florida.

R3 is geared toward healthcare professionals, but will be available to the general public via iTunes and the Android Market. People who think they have been abused can discreetly take the test and find resources to help them.

The HITS test gives physicians a specific set of protocols to follow in pinpointing and treating cases of domestic abuse. Dr. Ademola Adewale, who practices emergency medicine at Florida Hospital, says it’s always tricky when people present with injuries that could signify domestic violence.

“When you see these patients, they’re actually afraid to tell you what really happened, and you actually have to probe more. And if you do probe and you find out something was going on and you’re trying to get the law enforcement involved, and the next thing you know, they’re afraid to tell their story,” Adewale says in the video.

Adewale says the app makes it easier for him to know what he is dealing with, what to evaluate and which questions to ask the patient. “At the same time, I’ll need to know what local resources we have in the community,” he adds.

According to Adewale, only about 30 percent of community physicians actually ask their patients about abuse. “This application makes it easier for them to know the pertinent questions to ask,” he says. “The goal is to identify the patient before they become a victim.”

Given Florida’s large Hispanic population, Harbor House is preparing a Spanish-language version of the R3 App. Wick also envisions providing the app to emergency medical technicians who respond to calls after incidents of domestic violence. She expects the app to gain a foothold worldwide, as Harbor House says that at least one in three of all women around the globe is physically or sexually abused during her lifetime.

Coincidentally, the R3 App’s release comes just as the Department of Health and Human Services is wrapping up a challenge for developers to create apps that will address sexual assault on college campuses. Submissions to that contest were due Monday, and HHS will announce the winners on Oct. 31.

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Study: 26 percent are mobile health users

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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iTriage: One of the relatively few health apps that boasts millions of users.

Some 26 percent of US adults used their mobile phones to access health information in the past year, according to a new Cybercitizen Health study by Manhattan Research. The number has nearly doubled from the 12 percent reported in 2010.

According to the study, looking up health information or reading health-related news remains the most popular mobile health activity. The survey polled 8,745 adults online and via phone during the third quarter of 2011.

Another interesting metric: 8 percent of consumers used prescription drug refill or reminder services on their mobile phones, up from 3 percent in 2011.

“Growth in mobile health is impressive, but still in line with our and several health stakeholders’ expectations,” stated Monique Levy, VP of Research at Manhattan Research in a press release. “The interesting part is when, how and from where mobile phones are being used. Getting these details will impact the success of mobile investments in 2011 and 2012.”

While not specifically mobile-related, worth noting that the report found some 56 million US consumers had accessed their medical information on an electronic health record (EHR) system maintained by their physician, with an additional 41 million expressing interest in doing so in the future.

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Wests launch $100 million health investment fund

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 19, 2011        

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Gary and Mary WestGary and Mary West, the co-founders of the West Wireless Health Institute, launched a $100 million investment fund, called the West Health Investment Fund, that will provide capital to cutting edge health care technologies and services that aim to substantially reduce the cost of care. A regulatory filing published last year disclosed that the Wests had already invested in Sotera Wireless, a wearable vital sign monitoring technology startup.

In September 2010 MobiHealthNews reported that West Wireless Health Institute had launched a $100 million venture fund, based on comments made by Qualcomm’s Don Jones at an industry event in London. At the time, the institute told MobiHealthNews that no such fund existed.

Clearly, it does now.

“The Fund is a logical next step for us, as we work to create a vibrant ecosystem around health care innovation to lower health care costs,” Gary West stated in a press release. “Since Mary and I established the West Wireless Health Institute in 2009, we have seen literally hundreds of companies focused on innovative and low cost health care solutions that cannot find funding. Without financial support for low cost health care innovation, the research we do at the Institute and the work other agencies, institutions and entrepreneurs are undertaking will have a tougher path toward becoming a reality and actually lowering health care costs for the public.”

Here’s the type of company or startup the fund is looking to fund:

“The Fund’s areas of interest include health care technologies, data analytics, technology-enabled services, cost transparency, and interoperability,” the press release states. “These areas offer significant opportunities to transform health care delivery and lower health care costs encountered by individuals, health plans, providers and governmental programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans’ Administration.”

With the launch of the fund, the Wests have announced investments in five other healthcare technology companies:

Biological Dynamics: The company is developing “next-generation diagnostics technology” that could “enable physicians to detect cancer from a simple blood draw and rapidly intervene.” Change Healthcare: The company offers a “web-based decision support tool that provides consumers with personalized views of pricing information and alerts on where to save money on routine healthcare services including medical, dental and prescriptions.” goBalto: Another “web-based solution” that aims to “simplify pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device clinical research.” Healthsense: This company offers “monitoring sensors and solutions [that] alert family members and providers of potential health problems before they become acute, enabling seniors to remain healthy and independent.” Humedica: This is “a clinical informatics company whose cutting-edge analytics for health care organizations delivers a truly longitudinal and comprehensive view of patient care.”

Interestingly, most of these companies are not specifically using wireless technology. The focus is on lowering the costs of care instead. Also, and this is perhaps less surprising, Gary and Mary West will not individually profit from the investments made by the West Health Investment Fund — the benefactors plan to commit the fund’s returns to medical research, according to the release. “The structure also differs from a traditional investment fund, as there are no management fees, there is no carried interest, and compensation for the manage­ment team is salaried.”

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

Six hospitals deploy AT&T’s emergency care video app

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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Screen Shot 2011-10-19 at 1.06.47 PMAT&T and Washington Hospital Center unveiled CodeHeart this week, a platform that allows cardiologists to view video and test results (an ECG, for example) of a patient in transit during critical care situations. The app, which was conceptualized by doctors at Washington Hospital, is available for desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

According to the company, cardiologists can use the app to assess a patient’s physical condition via video link, talk with the patient’s first responder, review test results, and prepare for the patient’s arrival to the emergency room. Videos will be archived for later review.

The app will help the hospital more efficiently distribute its care team and resources since it will be able to determine a patient’s condition before their arrival.

Washington Hospital Center has already rolled out the CodeHeart app at six hospitals. The center serves patients who live as far as hundreds of miles away from Washington D.C., which means enabling physicians and first responders to communicate ahead of time could be a crucial element of the new service.

AT&T recently created a new executive position, Chief Medical Information Officer, and appointed Dr. Geeta Nayyar to it. AT&T has kept busy in the mHealth space, announcing partnerships over the last couple of years with a number of companies, including WellDoc, Vitality, and MedApps. It also recently entered the imaging space with a cloud-based service offering, AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management service, which launched this summer.

“Washington Hospital Center has been in the forefront in heart care for decades,” stated Lowell Satler, MD, director of Interventional Cardiology at the Hospital Center in a press release. “When it comes to treating a patient who appears to be suffering from chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, every second counts. CodeHeart delivered from AT&T’s network helps us provide optimal care as quickly as possible and effectively treat every heart patient that comes to our facility.”

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HHS: EHR data to be used in Text4Baby study

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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Text4babyPhoneAn upcoming efficacy study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the Text4Baby SMS service will make use of electronic health records (EHR) data, according to an announcement in the US Federal Register.

Text4Baby is a free, SMS-based health information service for new and expectant mothers. Text4Baby launched in February of 2010 and currently has more than 190,000 subscribers via a number of public and private sector partnerships. Voxiva, which powers the Text4Baby service, recently launched Text2Quit, a similar service for smoking cessation. Alere is offering the smoking cessation service thanks to a licensing agreement with Voxiva.

On a project proposal posted on the Federal Register, the HHS wrote that “the goal of this program evaluation is to examine the characteristics of women who utilize the Text4Baby mobile phone-based program, to assess their experience with the program, and to determine whether enrollment in Text4Baby is associated with healthy behaviors and timely access to health care during pregnancy and an infant’s first year of life.”

According to the Federal Register’s notice, respondents who consent to the release of their EHRs will have that data linked with responses to a mobile phone survey. The study survey women while they are pregnant and once again “approximately nine months later” some time after their baby is born. The study will also include focus groups, stakeholder interviews, and key informant interviews.

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Read more details over at iHealthBeat here and read the Federal Register release here.

GreatCall launches dedicated personal emergency device

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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greatcallresponderGreatCall announced this week the release of a mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) device 5Star Responder, as well as an accompanying Instant Response iPhone app that offers similar functionality. The device is available for $49.99 at GreatCall’s website and will also be available at Walmart and Sears locations. Both the device and app require their own $14.99 month subscription.

The Responder features a single button which connects users to Certified Response Agents; the button can also directly contact 9-1-1. The agents can then use the device’s GPS to locate the user or offer additional help, including access to a personal profile that functions as a HIPAA compliant brief medical history for cases of emergency.

GreatCall first launched the 5Star service this past summer. GreatCall subscribers who use a Jitterbug J phone can add the 24/7 emergency service to their rate plan for an additional $14.99 per month. GreatCall acquired mPERS startup MobiWatch in November 2009; the all-stock deal for MobiWatch was valued at around $100,000, according to a regulatory filing. In addition, GreatCall launched its first iPhone app, MedCoach, this summer. The app includes medication lists and pharmacy listings.

The 5Star iPhone app offering is an interesting approach. At least one of the major PERS providers, Life Alert, has an iPhone app already, called Life Alert Mobile. Philips Lifeline hinted to MobiHealthNews recently that they are looking seriously at opportunities for mobile phones, too. Beginning of a trend, maybe?

“The 5Star Responder will revolutionize public safety,” stated GreatCall CEO David Inns in a press release. “No matter how serious the situation – even if it’s just to have one of our Response Agents stay on the line with you as you walk to your car late at night – you can be assured that we are there with you until your situation is resolved.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>