CES: Pro athletes may hold key to wider patient engagement

By: Neil Versel | Jan 18, 2012        

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zephyr-under-armour-e39-shirtWant to empower consumers to improve healthcare and their own health status? Build a Tricorder and convince youngsters to “be like Mike.”

Those were the takeaways from a high-level session featuring Dr. Leslie Saxon of the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing and Qualcomm’s Don Jones at the third annual Digital Health Summit at 2012 International CES last week in Las Vegas.

Saxon, a cardiologist who is executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing, said that researchers are readying results from a study of wireless monitors on pro and college football players that revealed previously undetected conditions in elite athletes. “If the NFL monitored the heart rate of all players, they’d end up benching 30 percent of them,” Saxon declared.

That doesn’t mean that nearly a third of National Football League players have heart conditions, just that sometimes they overexert themselves, according to Saxon. This could easily be applied to children and weekend warriors, too, through the sensor-equipped apparel that athletic clothing maker Under Armour supplied for the NFL’s annual scouting combine.

Under Armour is a popular brand already. Adding sensors to clothing sold to the general public could spark a revolution of sorts.

“Kids won’t just want to wear Michael Jordan’s sneakers,” Saxon said. “You’re getting them to wear sensors to ‘be like Mike.'” Keep reading>>

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Sharecare acquires Little Blue Book, raises $14M

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 18, 2012        

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The Little Blue Book AppThis week Sharecare announced that it had raised $14 million from Galen Partners and TomorrowVentures. The company has also acquired The Little Blue Book (TLBB) from Galen Partners and other investors in exchange for shares in Sharecare.

TLBB has been a popular reference tool for physicians for more than 20 years. Sharecare will make some of TLBB’s content available on its platform so that users can locate physicians, practices, and hospitals. TLBB  counts 400,000 physicians in its database and 140,000 practices. Sharecare will offer each physician its suite of provider-focused offerings designed to enhance their practices, including digital business cards, lead generation and search optimization tools. Sharecare also mentioned SharecarePro, its soon-to-launch expert membership product.

The Little Blue Book is offered as a free app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices. The Android version just launched last October. The app is useful to both physicians and consumers — similar to a yellow pages app, but just for finding contact information for healthcare providers.

In the fall of 2010, Jef Arnold, founder of WebMD, launched a new health site for consumers and healthcare professionals, called Sharecare. Sharecare’s core offering is an interactive question and answer platform that allows people to “ask, learn and act upon” hundreds of thousands of questions about health and wellness. The answers to the questions are provided by various experts from hospitals, physicians, non-profits, healthcare companies and more. Brands that sponsors the site can also answer the questions.

Sharecare’s offering bares some basic similarities to another health-focused Q&A startup, HealthTap. Ron Gutman, HealthTap’s CEO explained some of the differences to MobiHealthNews last year.

Arnold has previously said that Sharecare will be a platform upon which other mobile health apps could communicate. The site is also mobile optimized, specifically for iPad users, Arnold said.

Sharecare intends to become more than a Q&A site — in his original demonstration, Arnold announced plans for a wide range of applications and services, including future plans for one-on-one video consultations between patients and physicians. At the time Sharecare was piloting those video consultations with physicians in Atlanta, Georgia, where the company is based.

Arnold created Sharecare in collaboration with television personality and physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, Remark Media, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications.

As part of the recent announcement, Arnold is assuming the title of CEO of the company, too.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Mass General Hospital deploys iPhones to nurses

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 18, 2012        

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Screen shot 2012-01-18 at 12.02.01 PMFollowing a research and test phase of Voalte’s iPhone-based voice, alarm, and text communication offering, Massachusetts General Hospital has begun to deploy iPhones to nurses in its newest hospital facility, the Lunder Building. Voalte says its system went head-to-head with VoIP and badge-based communications technologies during the pilot phase at MGH.

Voalte’s offering combines high-definition voice calls, critical care alarms and presence-based text features and is intended for use by staff in acute care hospitals in the US and Canada — especially nurses. The company also bundles in medical reference information via a partnership with Epocrates. Voalte says the offering enables faster response to patient needs. Voalte’s list of customers includes Cedars-Sinai, Nebraska Medical Center, Texas Children’s, Heartland Health, Huntington Hospital, and Sarasota Memorial.

When it announced its deal with Cedars-Sinai last November, Voalte said it had added approximately 30 additional features to its offering related to workflow, delivery and support technology based on feedback from staff at Cedars.

In September Voalte rolled out Voalte Connect, a mobile device management (MDM) solution for hospital networks that leverages the AirWatch platform’s technology. The new service allows the company to remotely secure, monitor, manage and support mobile devices deployed across a hospital.

For more on the MGH deployment, read this press release below: Keep reading>>

Mobile health trends and challenges in 2012

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 17, 2012        

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mobile health challenges 2012In a few weeks MobiHealthNews will host its first webinar of 2012, which will look at the trends that are set to dominate the year ahead. The online event, called 2012 Mobile Health Trends, will also include a sneak peek of what we expect to be the talk of the HIMSS 2012 event that takes place in Las Vegas next month.

Three years ago the buzz at HIMSS was that an electronic medical records (EMR) vendor had developed a smartphone app. Two years ago the industry wondered whether consumer-grade tablets would really find their way into clinical settings. Last year an overwhelming number of vendors showed off smartphone and tablet apps — or promised that such apps were in the works. While many were terminal apps with frustrating user interfaces, it became clear that mobile was now the platform of choice for physicians.

Following my presentation on mobile health trends — both consumer-facing and provider-centric — in 2012, Kony’s General Manager of mHealth, Aaron Kaufman will share his perspectives. We’ll be sure to save plenty of time for Q&A with attendees. The webinar begins at 2PM ET on February 9th.

Registration is complimentary — sign up today! (More details here.)

I’m also excited to share a new video report that we produced in collaboration with our friends at ListenIn Pictures. The short video, MobiHealthNews: Challenges for mHealth 2012, was shot on-location at the mHealth Summit this past December. It pulls from interviews with dozens of MobiHealthNews readers who shared their thoughts on the biggest challenges facing mHealth in 2012. The video frames some of the problems that mobile health services could help solve. It features a number of warnings and lessons learned from mHealth workers with experience in the field.

Watch our new video, MobiHealthNews: Challenges for mHealth 2012, after the jump. Keep reading>>

Each month 16.9M access health info via mobiles

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 16, 2012        

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Mobile Health Access November 2011 DataAccording to a new report from comScore, the number of people in the US who access health information from their mobile devices is on the rise. During the months of September, October, and November last year, an average of 16.9 million people used mobile phones to access health information. That number marks a 125 percent growth rate over the same three month period in the previous year. The research firm found that about 3 in 5 or 60 percent of the mobile health information seekers were under the age of 35.

ComScore stated that at that growth rate, mobile health content is “quickly becoming one of the fastest growing content categories.”

Last year Manhattan Research reported that about 26 percent of US adults had used their mobile phones – both smartphones and not-so-smartphones – to access health information in the past year. The firm reported that only 12 percent of US adults had searched for health information via mobile devices in its 2010 report.

In its October 2010 survey, the Pew found that of the 85 percent of American adults who used a mobile phone at the time, 17 percent had used their phones to look up health or medical information.

Here’s a larger version of the most recent comScore chart on the subject:

Mobile Health Access November 2011 Data

NHS: How to secure tablets for healthcare

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 16, 2012        

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iPad 3The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) Connecting for Health division recently published a guidance document for how healthcare providers in that country should and shouldn’t be using tablet devices. The document is chock-full of warnings about tablet use in healthcare settings, but it also includes some helpful hints for how CIOs should secure the devices.

The NHS states that tablet devices are more likely to be stolen than traditional IT equipment because of their portability, desirability, and ability to be easily concealed. The guidance document also warns that it is easy to access content from the devices once they are stolen.

While the security issues are very real and important, it’s also worth pointing out many of the “risks” about tablet use in healthcare listed above are the same as the reasons they have found such quick adoption. Physicians and other providers appreciate how portable the devices are and — when apps are designed well — how easy it can be to access clinical information from them.

An NHS spokesperson gave The Guardian a quick explanation for and overview of the guidance and its scope: “We have developed interim guidance about the safe use of tablet devices within the NHS in response to growing interest in this area. This makes it clear that these devices are currently not as secure as more traditional IT equipment. They should therefore not be used to store sensitive patient data and should, as with all mobile devices, be encrypted. Further guidance will be updated as necessary.” Keep reading>>