DC Medicaid plan launches diabetes texting pilot

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 9, 2012        

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WellDoc_iPhone_splashWashington, DC-based Medicaid managed care organization, D.C. Chartered Health Plan, is rolling out a pilot text messaging program for members with diabetes. The Medicaid plan is providing 50 of its members with the free messages, which will include tips about living with diabetes, as part of a broader program that includes in-person visits.

The texts aim to encourage patients to schedule annual appointments and get annual eye and foot exams in an effort to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room. The texts also include tips for taking medication “appropriately” and other tips for lifestyle changes that would benefit their health. The texts are not all one-way, however, some are interactive quizzes and others are announcements for community events.

In the future, Chartered hopes to expand the program if it proves successful. The plan expects to develop support groups for various diseases, send disease-specific messages, and personalized messages like appointment reminders.

“Mobile health is the wave of the future for improved management of chronic disease,” Dr Richard Katz, director of the division of cardiology at the George Washington University Hospital, stated in a press release. “It can be extremely popular with diabetes patients and result in reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations.”

Last year George Washington University Hospital partnered with Chartered Health Plan on a pilot of WellDoc’s DiabetesManager. In December 2011 MobiHealthNews reported that Dr Katz had presented findings of a demonstration program called DC HealthConnect at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC. The program tested WellDoc’s mobile health program DiabetesManager during a 12-month period. The results: DiabetesManager reduced ER visits and hospital stays by 58 percent on average compared to the previous year — when they weren’t using the program.

“Our goal is to leverage mobile technologies and smart networks to improve the well-being of our community,” Chartered executive Karen Dale stated. “We’ve been committed to improving the quality of care, reducing costs and creating a healthier community for the past 25 years, and will continue to take advantage of new opportunities to solve Washington’s most critical health and social challenges.”

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>


Allscripts launches native iPad EHR app, Wand

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 5, 2012        

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Allscripts Wand iPad EHRThis week EHR vendor Allscripts launched a native iPad application, called Allscripts Wand (formerly code-named “Project Wombat”), which adds a handful of new features. Allscripts was one of the first EHR vendors to offer an iPhone-accessible EHR when it introduced Allscripts Remote at the HIMSS conference in 2009. That was one of the only mobile related announcements that came out of the event, which is in stark contrast to the smartphone and tablet filled booths lining the exhibit hall in the years since.

This week the Allscripts Wand iPad app will be used by about 120 healthcare providers and the app will likely touch about 1,000 patients, Allscripts’ Chief Innovation Officer Stanley Crane told MobiHealthNews in an interview.

(Correction: This article originally stated that Wand was Allscripts’ first native iPad app, which is not the case. More background below.)

In 2010, Allscripts offered up Sunrise Mobile MD II, a natively integrated app designed for iPad users. The iPhone version, Sunrise Mobile MD, had similar features and launched shortly beforehand. The company also launched a home care EHR app in 2010. It was also the first EHR to integrate with WellDoc’s DiabetesManager mobile and web-based program.

Allscripts points to data from Physicians Consulting Network which polled 5,000 physicians last year and found that about 27 percent owned an iPad or a similar device, which was about five times higher than the adoption rate among the general population at the time.

Allscripts expects Wand will help clinicians to more easily and quickly review a chart before entering the exam room; input real-time information like vitals and medications from the exam room; and access EHR information after hours. The native iPad interface brings new features too: Users can now view a timeline of key patient information such as lab results, medications, vitals, and more; review appointment lists and current patient status; retrieve patient data quickly, with drill-down access to details; ePrescribe with electronic transmission to pharmacies; and resolve tasks and respond to messages with a quick swipe of the screen, according to the company.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Mobile tracking helps researchers understand addiction

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 5, 2012        

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Smoking Cessation

Data from MobiHealthNews' Consumer Apps Report, September 2011

Researchers at Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh are leveraging smartphones to help them figure out why some people are able to quit smoking on their first try while others try to quit again and again

At Penn State researchers found that participants in a four week study who successfully quit during the study had a weaker association between their urge to smoke and their ability to quit, while those who were not able to quit smoking did not show any association between their self confidence and their urge to smoke.

“One thing that really stood out among the relapsers is how their urge to smoke just never dropped, in contrast to those who were successful in quitting for a month — their urge dropped quickly and systematically — almost immediately upon quitting,” Stephanie Lanza, scientific director of The Methodology Center at Penn State said. “That was surprising to see.”

Saul Shiffman, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, tracked 304 longterm smokers (pack a day for 23 years, on average) as they attempted to quit.  followed 304 long-term cigarette smokers as they tried to quit. Shiffman reported that 40 participants quit smoking for the first 24 hours, but ended up relapsing, while 207 participants managed to remain “relatively” tobacco free for two weeks after quitting. That meant, if smokers relapsed but only smoked five or less times per day, they were considered successful quitters. The other 57 participants could not quit for even one full day.

Here’s where the smartphones came in: “Five times randomly throughout the day, mobile devices prompted participants to answer questions. These questions asked the smokers about their emotional state, their urge to smoke and if they were smoking. They rated their urge to smoke at that moment on a scale of zero to 10. Using this data collection method, the researchers collected data from subjects in their natural environments.”

The study results were published online in the journal: Prevention Science. More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

GreatCall launches subscription-based LiveNurse iPhone app

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 5, 2012        

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GreatCall LiveNurse iPhone appFew iPhone health apps available today are specifically designed to connect patients with care providers in real-time. GreatCall, which offers the Jitterbug mobile phone service, launched such an iPhone app this week: LiveNurse offers unlimited access to a registered nurse 24 hours a day and seven days a week along with a medical library and symptom navigator tool. GreatCall partnered with A.D.A.M. to include its medical encyclopedia and interactive decision tools, which are based on information from the NIH and CDC. While its free to download, the LiveNurse iPhone app requires users to have already signed up for a $3.99 monthly subscription.

The app offers “one touch” access to users looking to speak to a nurse. Nurses are available to talk to patients anytime without an appointment, according to the company. Nurses are available for both English and Spanish speakers, too. The app also lets users search for their symptoms by body part, keywords, or the alphabet. Users can also revisit past searches for recurrent issues. An avatar also helps users search for symptoms by body part or area. Perhaps the best feature is GreatCall’s “Shake for Help”, which enables confused app users to simply shake their phone to receive a help bubble that explains how that particular screen of the app works.

GreatCall already offers LiveNurse to its Jitterbug users through its Jitterbug Service Store. In mid-2010 the Jitterbug version of LiveNurse already had 12,000 users, according to GreatCall. The company also offers a personal emergency response app for iPhone users called 5Star and a medication adherence app called MedCoach. Similar offerings are available to Jitterbug subscribers.

“Our customers want the convenience of obtaining information and connecting with a healthcare professional that can answer their specific questions and provide concise, relevant advice when they need it and from where ever they are,” Madeline Pantalone, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, GreatCall stated in a release. “LiveNurse was designed to do just that. Whether you’re at the playground with your child, shopping with a friend, on vacation, or visiting a family member, you can have immediate access to the service and use it to address any health concern when it arises.”

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

RxEOB: Mobile soon to be necessary part of ‘meaningful use’

By: Neil Versel | Apr 4, 2012        

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Robert OscarSo far, incentive program for “meaningful use” of electronic health records has not required any mobile component, nor may it ever, but mobility is fast becoming a de facto necessity for achieving meaningful use in many clinical settings.

“I’m not sure how [physicians] do that without having access to [EHRs] wherever they are,” Robert Oscar, CEO of RxEOB, a Richmond, Va., company that makes Web-based and mobile applications mostly to help consumers understand the pharmacy benefits of their health insurance, says in an interview with MobiHealthNews.

Doctors will use their mobile devices to view and update the EHRs in their practices as well as connect to the hospitals they practice at and admit patients to. “They’re going to need mobile apps,” Oscar says. “The concept that they’re going to carry around a laptop or sit at a desk all the time just doesn’t seem feasible to me.”

As insurers and patients increasingly demand higher-quality care at lower cost, physicians will need data no matter where they are. Oscar says that it will be “critical” for practice management systems – not just EHRs – to be mobile, too.

“Smartphones and tablets are becoming the prevailing form of communication technology,” Oscar says. Avoiding this trend is “just lunacy,” he believes.

“I think hospitals will need this because it makes it easier for physicians.” But a lot of work remains. Keep reading>>

Researchers test smartphone video for TB med adherence

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 4, 2012        

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Apple Facetime

While Apple has previously noted that its FaceTime app (shown) meets HIPAA requirements, the program piloted by UC San Diego researchers just uses recorded video messages not real-time interactions.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego are testing out how well smartphone-enabled video recordings of medication intake helps tuberculosis (TB) patients living in San Diego and nearby Tijuana, Mexico, according to a post from The California Health Report.

Last year the researchers equipped 51 TB patients — 43 in San Diego and eight in Tijuana — with smartphones already loaded with a “streamlined” video app that can send video messages securely. The patients only have to press a few buttons to record a video of themselves taking their TB pills at designated times, physicians receive the messages and can remotely view and track medication adherence. The researchers said that it is not uncommon for TB treatment to last an extra month or two because if a patient is not seen taking their medication, then another dose is added to the end of the regimen.

The researchers hope that this process will prove better — more convenient — for the patient and reduce costs for the healthcare system. The video recordings could also help patients complete treatment sooner, decrease the chances for treatment failure as well as the chances that the patient develops a drug resistance.

The researchers also noted the limitations of the program. Patients receiving medication injections for TB treatment will still likely need assistance from a nurse. Harsh side effects from the medications also won’t be adequately addressed through asynchronous video messages. Finally, some patients and providers will prefer live interactions whether in-person or remotely.

For more, read this report from the California Health Report