Motorola Mobility gives Google foothold in connected health

By: Neil Versel | Aug 18, 2011        

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Neil VerselGoogle may turn out to be a major player in mobile and wireless health after all.

Less than two months after the Internet search leader announced it was shutting down its overhyped, underadopted Google Health personal health records platform, comes the news that Google is paying $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility. (Is anyone surprised by this? I was at first, until I stepped back and realized that probably was the reason Motorola Inc. split into two companies back at the beginning of the year, handset cable TV set-top box and gadget manufacturer Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions, which enterprise and business networking technology.)

Ostensibly the deal is to give Google some of Motorola Mobility’s nearly 17,000 patents to help protect against lawsuits related to Android smartphones, but look what Motorola has going in healthcare.

No, I’m not talking about ruggedized, disinfectable smartphone handsets for hospital environments. The line of “enterprise digital assistants” actually is from Motorola Solutions, the part of Motorola that Google is not buying.

Sure, the more commercially oriented Android handsets and tablets that Motorola Mobility makes could play a role in healthcare, but come on, let’s face it, the iPad rules the tablet market among physicians right now, and the healthcare smartphone market is dominated by iPhone among individuals—and the occasional medical school—and BlackBerry at the enterprise level. Sure, Android smartphones and tablets could make inroads in the future, but that may be small potatoes compared to the potential the Google-Motorola combination has in connected health. Keep reading>>

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How the Center for Body Computing fits in

By: Neil Versel | Aug 18, 2011        

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Dr. Leslie SaxonAs MobiHealthNews reported last week, the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing wants to become the “epicenter of wireless health.”

That’s a lofty goal, considering the other, similar organizations right there in Southern California, including the UCLA Wireless Health Institute right there in Los Angeles, and, down toward San Diego, the West Wireless Health Institute, the Scripps Translational Science Institute and the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance. But it’s a challenge that Center for Body Computing Executive Director Dr. Leslie Saxon is up for, in a cooperative rather than confrontational way.

“It really does feel like the Southern California corridor is the leader in the wireless health space,” Saxon says in an interview with MobiHealthNews. Saxon happens to be on the medical advisory board of West Wireless, and is eager to collaborate with that budding institution. West, she notes, has a lot of expertise with government and regulatory issues.

What USC, as a private university, brings to the table, is the ability to work in a multidisciplinary manner, across departments and in partnership with businesses and other institutions, according to Saxon. (Seventeen companies are among the founding members of the Center for Body Computing.) Saxon, the chief of cardiovascular medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine, spent 12 years in the state-run University of California system, where much of the technology developed had to stay in the public domain.

At USC, Saxon says, it is much easier to privatize technology transfer and commercialize good ideas, and the institution can provide a level of trust to the marketplace. “USC is willing to manage potential conflicts,” Saxon says.

But she is most optimistic about the chance to work across disciplines. “We have a very strong relationship with the business school,” Saxon says. The medical school has a staff of 500 physicians, who can test technologies in clinical settings, and Saxon reports that some people from the music school have come to her with musical apps for rehab purposes.

The center now is taking advantage of its location in downtown Los Angeles to working with the school’s USC University Hospital and Los Angeles County LAC+USC Healthcare Network to develop an emergency-response system over mobile networks.

The engineering school also has a role to play, such as in developing mobile versions of existing technologies. “We might be working with an engineering company with lots of engineers, but no app engineers,” Saxon says. “We have an engineering school that can help.”

Because it has research infrastructure in place, USC also can do some of the proof-of-concept testing without the need for extra Food and Drug Administration approval, then partner with a company to commercialize its research, Saxon notes. Keep reading>>

Amcom update supports Cisco Cius

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 17, 2011        

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AmcomAmcom announced this week an update to their Amcom Mobile Connect software, which now supports Cisco wireless IP phones and Cius tablets in addition to BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android smartphones. The mobile application allows clinicians and administrators to send encrypted messages of high importance, including code calls, to distinguish them from less-important SMS messages and calls.

New features include two-way messaging with full message traceability to Cisco Unified Wireless IP phones and the new Cisco Cius tablet, as well as multiple language support (Spanish, French, Italian, and German).

“We continue our development focus on this popular product and are evolving its capabilities based on new devices in the market and input from our growing list of customers,” stated Chris Heim, President, Amcom Software in a press release. “Adding Cisco wireless IP phone and tablet support broadens the ways this powerful system can be used in hospitals to support a variety of staff.” Amcom was acquired by USA Mobility last March for $163.3M.

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Quantia releases diabetes coaching app

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 17, 2011        

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DailyCoachQuantia announced this week the release of DailyCoach, a fitness coaching app for its QuantiaCare platform. The app, a free download for iOS and Android, is a collaboration with Gary Scheiner, founder of Integrated Diabetes Services, which focuses on intensive blood glucose control and lifestyle intervention for diabetics. QuantiaCare is a collection of mobile and web-based health management and assessment tools.

The app is intended for those with diabetes (or at risk) and patients with cardiovascular conditions or obesity issues. It was designed based on input from  a 1,000-patient study done from members on QuantiaCare, in which half of the respondents felt that exercise and weight loss were the most difficult issues in managing diabetes.The app’s features include activity coaching, a weight tracker, pharmacy and health professional locator, as well as the ability to send summary reports via fax or email to a physician. Physicians can  also recommend using DailyCoach to their patients within the app’s interface. QuantiaMD undertook a survey in June in which 1 in 4 MDs said they owned both a smartphone and tablet, while thirty percent of physicians polled owned only a smartphone.

Michael Paskavitz, Editor in Chief of Quantia, stated in a press release that “We recently conducted a study of our physician members and found that, on average, they felt patients were only about 30% adherent to diet and exercise regimens. By giving our physicians the ability to share DailyCoach with their patients, as well as get results back from them, we are reducing mutual access barriers between doctor and patient within the time constraints of the physician and the lifestyle barriers for their patients.”

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Kvedar: Collaborative environment vital to mHealth

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 17, 2011        

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Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Center for Connected HealthPatients knowing that their health care provider is regularly reviewing their individual results dramatically improves adherence to wellness programs, according to a recent post by Dr. Joseph Kvedar of the Center for Connected Health (CCH) on their cHealth blog. However, Kvedar adds that the increasing use of biometric sensors to provide personal health data to patients needs to be combined with a collaborative environment between patient and physician to be truly effective.

Citing findings from a recent focus group of diabetic patients at the CCH, Kvedar explains that they were much more likely to regularly record their diet and exercise info along with glucose readings if they knew their health care provider would regularly view the data and offer guidance. Further, Kvedar explains that heart failure patients reported that having a nurse check in on their weight increases would help motivate them to more closely monitor their salt intake and fluid restriction.

“Imagine a discussion with your doctor or nurse at your regular office visit. Instead of asking you about your weight, or your recent exercise level, the health professional looks at a screen and begins a dialogue with you about how adherent you have or haven’t been to the care plan you agreed on,” Kvedar wrote. “Scary thought? Nowhere to hide? Perhaps, but once you have embraced the need for certain health behavior changes, these tools promote an honest dialogue with your provider.”

Last January, Kvedar wrote about how health sensors are improving but not yet elegant. He spoke to MobiHealthNews in 2009 about the future of text messaging in healthcare.

You can read Kvedar’s blog post here.

By 2016: Healthcare WiFi market to hit $1.3B

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 16, 2011        

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ABI ResearchThe market for Wi-Fi healthcare services will grow to $1.34 billion by 2016, according to a new report by ABI Research. The report, “Wireless Technologies in Professional Healthcare,” examines the expanding size of the global market for Wi-Fi hardware and services.

According to ABI Research, Voice over Wi-Fi and RTLS (real-time location systems) will be joined by “medical body area networks” (MBANs), which utilize Wi-Fi in mobile monitoring devices. Nearly 30 million healthcare MBAN devices are expected to be globally shipped, annually, by 2016. The report also covers the growing market for WiFi-embedded consumer devices, such as offerings from BodyMedia and Fitbit, which will increasingly make their way into professional settings. In June, ABI released a report stating that wearable wireless sensors for fitness and wellbeing will surpass 80 million devices by 2016.

“ABI Research expects the number of smartphone and handheld computing devices leveraging professional healthcare Wi-Fi networks to grow by close to 20% in this market in 2011,” stated ABI principal analyst Jonathan Collins, in a press release. Last year, ABI stated that WiFi adoption in healthcare increased sixty percent within a twelve month period.

Read the press release after the jump.

Keep reading>>