3M rockets mobile health to International Space Station

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2011        

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Kibo

Kibo at the ISS | Source:NASA

3M has worked with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to equip its astronauts with the 3M Littmann Scope-to-Scope Tele-Auscultation System on-board at the International Space Station (ISS). The system will allow physicians on the ground to hear the actual heartbeat of astronauts in space in real-time.

JAXA will use the system for coronary tone data collection in a series of autonomic nervous activity rhythm experiments set to be carried out onboard the ISS. The tests will include linking Earth-based medical professionals with the astronauts. They will take place in “Kibo,” which is Japan’s first manned space lab.

“For astronauts to be able to send heart and body sounds in real-time from space with the same sound quality and clarity as if the physician on Earth was in the same room, is a real step forward for telemedicine and for patient care in all areas, especially when we apply this technology in rural and underserved areas,” Ingrid Blair, vice president of patient assessment, 3M Infection Prevention Division stated in the company press release.

3M describes the system like so: “At the patient site, the Scope-to-Scope Software digitally captures heart sound with a state-of-the-art sound sensor, wirelessly transfers the sound to software using the Bluetooth enabled Littmann Model 3200 electronic stethoscope, and sends the sound across the Internet securely. At the consultant site, the sound is delivered to the eartips of the consultant who hears the patient’s internal sounds as if the patient were in the room.”

In mid-Novemeber last year 3M first unveiled the Littmann Scope-to-Scope Tele-Auscultation System, which enables physicians to remotely listen to patients. According to 3M: “Using Bluetooth connectivity, the system transfers in real time audio gathered on one Littmann Model 3200 stethoscope to another anywhere in the world.”

That should now include those orbiting this world, too. Keep reading>>

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GlaxoSmithKline taps Sproxil for SMS drug authentication

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2011        

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SproxilGlaxoSmithKline has teamed up with Sproxil to use its Mobile Product Authentication (MPA) codes, which is a text messaged based drug verification system, in Nigeria, according to a report from SecuringPharma.com. GSK is reportedly using the system for its widely-used antibiotic product, Ampiclox 500mg, which sells about 2 million units in the country each year. This is the first foray into SMS-enabled pharmaceutical verification for GSK, according to the report, and if it’s successful the company is likely to roll it out to other products and other markets in Africa.

Sproxil is expanding into additional markets in Africa thanks to its recently announced $1.8 million round of funding. The company also plans to launch subsidiaries in other countries, including India.

In early 2010 Sproxil pitched investors through the online Reuters Small Business presents video series. Sproxil CFO Alden Zecha said that the startup brought in less than $100,000 (USD) in revenue for 2009, the year of its founding. For 2010, Zecha had expected Sproxil’s revenue to top $1 million. In order to expand its sales team, Sproxil was looking for a venture capital injection of between $3 million and $4 million.

Last week SecuringPharma broke the news that Sproxil had secured $1.8 million from an undisclosed investor, according to a document filed with the SEC. Sproxil told the publication that it would use the money to expand into India.

The company’s service has won accolades, too: Former US President Bill Clinton lauded Sproxil’s product offering as a “truly remarkable achievement” during a speech last year.

The Epoch Times described the Sproxil system well: “Person buys drugs. Person scratches a sticker on the bottle or packet to reveal a 12 digit pseudorandom number, then sends it to an SMS shortcode (a five digit number). Person gets an SMS response about whether the drugs are good or not. In that time, the 12 digit number has been routed from the local telecom to servers in the United States, hosted by Amazon. It gets checked against the database, and they get a response SMS telling them whether they should return the drugs, or ingest them.”

More on the GSK deal over at SecuringPharma.com

Studies: SMS effective for smoking cessation

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 9, 2011        

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Smoke 'em if You Got 'emTwo small studies from researchers at the University of Oregon (UO) and UCLA have shown that text messaging (SMS) is an effective and low-cost way to measure and intervene in urges people have during smoking cessation programs. The two studies used the same group of 27 subjects, who were heavy smokers recruited from the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program in Los Angeles.

The researchers included Elliot Berkman, an assistant professor of psychology at UO, Emily Falk of University of Michigan, and Matthew Lieberman of UCLA used fMRI to map the areas of the subjects’ brains where “impulse control battles are fought.” The team published their findings in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association of Psychological Science: Individuals’ abilities to inhibit their responses to cravings can be predicted through fMRI testing and it may be possible to tailor smoking cessation programs to individuals’ capacities as a result.

The researchers conducted a second study with help from Janna Dickenson of UCLA to test text messaging “as a user-friendly and low-cost option for ecologically measuring real-time health behaviors.” The participants received eight text messages per day for three weeks that requested they document their ongoing cravings, mood and cigarette use. Text messaging was at least as effective as more expensive and harder-to-use handheld data collection devices, which can cost more than $300 each.

“Text messaging may be an ideal delivery mechanism for tailored interventions because it is low-cost, most people already possess the existing hardware and the messages can be delivered near-instantaneously into real world situations,” said the study, which is scheduled to appear this week in Health Psychology, the journal of the American Psychological Association.

More details in the press release below Keep reading>>

Online community builder Sonnier joins WLSA

By: Neil Versel | Mar 8, 2011        

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WLSA Co-Founder Rob McCray

WLSA CEO Rob McCray

The Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance has hired industry community builder Paul Sonnier for the newly created role of vice president for partner development. In this role, Sonnier will help grow the organization’s membership and seek additional networking and business opportunities for existing members of the San Diego-based organization.

Sonnier has been successful in bringing together various players in this rapidly developing industry. Since founding the Wireless Health group on business networking site LinkedIn as an online community for the large number of telecommunications and mobile health professionals in San Diego-area, Sonnier has taken the geographic restrictions off the group and helped build membership to more than 5,100 people.

“He’s had the time and passion to put this together,” WLSA President and CEO Robert McCray tells MobiHealthNews.

Sonnier also co-chairs the Healthcare Communications Special Interest Group for CommNexus San Diego, an industry organization that promotes the large telecommunications industry presence in and around that city. There, Sonnier has engaged in many of the activities he will lead at WLSA, including facilitating business relationships and educating others about wireless and mobile healthcare.

“This [new job] is the validation of my efforts,” Sonnier says via e-mail.

Like the industry as a whole, WLSA is growth mode.

“I judged in 2009 that 2011 was going to be Year 1 in the wireless healthcare sector,” McCray says. Keep reading>>

USA Mobility buys Amcom for $163.3 million

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 7, 2011        

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Amcom Mobile ConnectLast week wireless paging giant USA Mobility bought Amcom Software for $163.3 million in cash. USA Mobility used $110.8 million of cash on hand and $52.5 million through a credit facility from Wells Fargo Capital Finance. The acquisition helps modernize USA Mobility’s messaging services beyond legacy paging services and into messaging and unified communications.

“Amcom’s strength in health care lies with their operator console products,” Medical Connectivity’s Tim Gee wrote in a recent blog post about the deal. “This PC-based software integrates with the hospitals PBX and ADT system via HL7, presenting a user interface to operators who can easily look up and connect calls to hospital patients. Amcom is one of the few vendors to offer an operator console with ADT and HL7 integration. ADT stands for ‘admission, discharge and transfer,’ the ‘hotel’ function of the hospital information system that identifies and tracks patients throughout their hospital stay.”

The acquiring company said Amcom’s revenue for 2011 will be between $239 million and $255 million with operating expenses between $175 million and $183 million and CAPEX in the $6 million to $9 million range.

“USA Mobility is by far the largest wireless paging provider in the US, with over half the market,” according to Gee. “But the best years for the paging business are behind us… World wide, paging subscribers peaked in 2000 at almost 180 million and have declined since.”

“Amcom Software, Inc. will operate as our software subsidiary,” USA Mobility president and CEO Vincent Kelly stated in a company press release. “Both companies will continue to function with their existing management structures. Chris Heim, Amcom’s former chief executive officer, will continue to serve as the president of Amcom Software, Inc. and Dan Mayleben, Amcom’s former chief financial officer, will serve in the capacity of chief operating officer of Amcom Software, Inc.”

For more on the acquisition, read the full release after the jump: Keep reading>>

Walgreens: 1M subscribe to prescription text alerts

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 4, 2011        

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Walgreens Refill By ScanAfter just four months of launching “Refill by Scan,” Walgreens have found that users of its smartphone application have embraced the feature which enables them to use the camera on their phone to scan the barcode printed on a prescription label to order a refill. Walgreens said half of all refill orders originating from a mobile device are now from Refill by Scan. The feature has been available to users of Walgreens’ iPhone and Android apps since November 2010.

Walgreens also announced that more than 1 million people have subscribed to its prescription text alert service, which informs customers when a prescription is ready for pickup. That service was launched in March 2010.

“Our customers have enthusiastically adopted our mobile applications and we’re continuing to bring innovative technology to our online and mobile platforms to enhance the customer experience,” Sona Chawla, Walgreens President of E-commerce, stated in the company release. “With refill by scan, prescription text alerts, unique photo features and the ability to shop or browse products all available on a mobile device, we’re adding new levels of choice, control and convenience for our rapidly-growing numbers of mobile customers.”

Walgreens plans to launch a new advertising campaign this week to promote Refill by Scan and its other mobile services.

Scanning barcodes via smartphone cameras have other use cases in mobile health. Last year we profiled a startup called ScanAvert, which offers an app that allows users to scan barcodes on various food items to see whether those foods contain ingredients they are allergic to, contain ingredients that might interact with their drug regimen and more.

For more on Walgreens’ mobile scanning and alerts, read the full press release below: Keep reading>>