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

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Isabel Healthcare launches diagnostic decision support app

By: Neil Versel | Apr 3, 2012        

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Isabel Healthcare iPhone appIn building its first-ever native iPhone app, diagnostic decision support content provider Isabel Healthcare also seized the opportunity to improve its flagship Web-based product.

“When you design something for an iPhone specifically, it forces you to simplify things,” CEO and co-founder Jason Maude explains. Most notably, the app has to support input on a touchscreen rather than with a mouse and keyboard. “I’m a great believer in simplification,” Maude adds.

The company, which is based outside of London and has a U.S. headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Monday released both its inaugural iPhone app and a new version of its desktop software. The main point of [building a native app] that was to make Isabel more accessible,” Maude tells MobiHealthNews.

The initial response has been positive. Maude reports that the Isabel app had received 11 five-star ratings in the UK iTunes site as of Monday afternoon and was the top-grossing medical app in the UK for the day. In the US, the app was No. 7 in terms of revenue on Monday evening.

Maude says the company sold a few hundred subscriptions without really publicizing the app before this week, and he has been pleasantly surprised at the number of long-term subscribers. Isabel offers a weekly subscription for $2.99, a monthly option for $10.99 or a yearly subscription for $119.99. “I thought most people would take weekly, but a lot are taking monthly or annual subscriptions,” Maude says. Keep reading>>

Medisana readies ThermoDock iPhone infrared thermometer

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 3, 2012        

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Medisana thermodock iPhoneAbout a year ago we noticed a YouTube video demo of a DIY project: An infrared thermometer iPhone peripheral. While it appears to be a separate effort altogether, Germany-based Medisana is making some noise this week about the planned launch of ThermoDock. The device is available for pre-order in the UK for about US $96.

Here’s the pitch over at online shopping site Firebox: “Forget old-fashioned thermometers. Thanks to the ingenious Medisana ThermoDock you can use your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to measure your temperature. And before you ask, no, you won’t have to stick gizmos in your ear, your gob or anywhere else for that matter. This clever little peripheral utilizes non-contact infrared technology to measure body temperature, room temperature, surface temperature and even water temperature. Simply plug it into your gizmo’s charging point and prepare to be blown away as it works in conjunction with the free VitaDock app to deliver accurate, idiot-proof readings that can be stored, collated and exchanged via email.”

While there are other temperature devices available, including the iGrill, a meat thermometer iPhone peripheral that lets users check the temperature of grilled meat, is perhaps the most prominent example. Another: The iCelsius peripheral device for measuring ambient temperature.

A more sophisticated device, which (like ThermoDock) is not yet FDA-approved or commercially available, is the one under development by CellScope. This iPhone peripheral will be used for at-home disease diagnosis using smartphone cameras. The current focus is on pediatric ear and skin infections, which cause over 30 million doctor visits annually in the US. The company expects future products to leverage the technology platform for consumer skin care and interactive microscopy, but adding a temperature component seems like an obvious move, too.

Earlier this year the FDA granted 510(k) clearance to DuoFertility for its temperature sensing wearable sensor, which it is marketing to couples having trouble conceiving. The device is a peel-n-stick sensor that adheres under the woman’s arm to monitor temperature and other indicators to provide 24-hour monitoring for more than six months. The device takes temperature readings up to 20,000 times per day and pits itself up against the much more expensive and invasive IVF. No smartphone required, however: As of yet, the company has made no mention of a smartphone companion app since it has created its own dedicated, handheld device.

For more on ThermoDock, check out this iMedicalApps report.

Good posture startup Lumoback raises $1.1M

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 2, 2012        

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LumobackLumoback, a startup that has developed a wireless sensor and mobile app to help users improve their posture, has secured $1.1 million in a seed round of financing, the company confirmed for MobiHealthNews by email today. (Health 2.0 first reported the news on its blog here.) The seed round included a handful of investors including Innovation Endeavors, Morado Venture Partners and Russell Siegelman. Siegelman is a former partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers where he led investments in Friendster, Digital Chocolate, Mobilygen, and others.

Lumoback’s wearable, wireless sensor patch is about two inches long and worn on the user’s lower back. The sensor transmits posture data via Bluetooth to a smartphone app on the user’s smartphone. The patch vibrates when the wearer has incorrect posture either sitting or standing, and the app can provide realtime feedback on the user’s posture via a simple avatar. The app can also track progress by showing trend data about how the user’s posture is improving or declining.

Lumoback, previously known as ZERO2ONE took part in its investor, Innovation Endeavors’ Runway incubator program. The startup’s founding team is made up of Stanford graduates and included a physician, serial entrepreneur, and an engineer. The team spent 6 months full-time to come up with the idea for its first product, Lumoback. Innovation Endeavor’s profile for the company notes that the startup’s “technology includes proprietary pattern recognition algorithms that interpret movement and behavior wrapped in an engaging framework to encourage small behavior changes that yield dramatic improvements in health.”

Two weeks ago the Lumoback team put together a five minute demo video. For more, watch the video here.

Rock Health launches incubator program in Boston

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 2, 2012        

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BostonSan Francisco-based digital health incubator Rock Health announced plans to expand with a new program in Boston set to kickoff this June, according to the Boston Globe’s tech columnist Scott Kirsner. Unlike the five-month long spring and fall programs that Rock Health offers in San Francisco, the Boston program’s duration will be three months: June to August. While the programs have different mentors and locations, at first blush they appear to be the same otherwise.

Why did Rock Health choose Boston for its second location?

“It’s an obvious region of innovation and a longstanding leader in healthcare,” Rock Health Managing Director Halle Tecco told MobiHealthNews in an email. “Many of our entrepreneurs are from Boston (including members of Care at Hand, Cardiio, Omada, Agile Diagnosis, and BrainBot). And there are great technologies coming out of the labs and universities that we’d like to support and help commercialize.”

Harvard Medical School’s health media group director Ed Coburn helped Rock Health launch the Boston program, according to the Globe. Kirsner also reports that five local entrepreneurs have already signed up to serve as mentors: Jason Jacobs of RunKeeper, Ben Rubin of Zeo, Erika Pabo of Harvard Medical School, Sonny Vu of Misfit Wearables, and Jacob Sattelmair of WellFrame. Also, former MIT Media Lab director Frank Moss and Keas co-founder and CEO George Kassabgi, who have served as mentors in the San Francisco program in the past, will also participate in the Boston program.

Last December Rock Health announced its second class of startups, the “Spring Class of 2012,” for its San Francisco program. The class included 15 companies that began the incubator’s San Francisco program, which lasts five months, this past January.

Rock Health offers startups a $20,000 grants (in exchange for no equity), mentorship from health policy and business experts, office space, and more. The non-profit was founded by Harvard Business School graduates in March 2011. It announced its first class of startups in June 2011.

During an interview with TechCrunch last year, Tecco said that of the 13 startups in its first class of startups, “a good handful of them have already received funding.” Earlier this year one Rock Health team — Pipette — was “acqhired” by MIT Media Lab spinout Ginger.io. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Rock Health Boston is currently accepting applications for startups, and it appears to be looking for mentors, too.

More details here.

Putting the mobile health ad opportunity in context

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 2, 2012        

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Mobile Health Access November 2011 DataAbout 33 percent of people with smartphones in the US tracked their diet or their exercises with their mobile devices, a comScore representative told The New York Times this week. ComScore said that for tablet users the numbers climb a bit: 35 percent used the devices to track diet and 39 percent used tablets like the iPad to track their exercise. The research firm also stated that about 100 million Americans own a smartphone.

As MobiHealthNews reported in January, comScore found that on average 16.9 million people used their mobile devices to access health information, based on data collected last September, October, and November. That figure marks a 125 percent growth rate over the same three month period from 2010. The research firm found that about 3 in 5 (or about 60 percent) of the mobile health information seekers were under the age of 35.

These are impressive numbers considering that 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 previous 12 months. The firm reported that only 12 percent of US adults had searched for health information via mobile devices in its 2010 report.

Everyday Health, an online health company with 30 million visitors per month, told the Times that it has noticed mobile users downloading apps for tracking signs of pregnancy, tracking signs of various sexually transmitted diseases, in addition to ones that helped them manage their eating, drinking, and exercise. Everyday Health CEO Benjamin Wolin reported that the number of site visitors coming from mobile devices has spiked fivefold in the past two years.

The New York Times report also noted that three of the top five symptoms search for on Yahoo Mobile in January 2012 were early pregnancy, herpes, and HIV. Healthline, which powers Yahoo’s health search engine, released the top 10 mobile health searches of 2011 at the end of last year. The top five did include “herpes” and the top ten included “pregnancy” but HIV was not on the top 10 for 2011.

While the New York Times’ headline pointed to a growing mobile advertising opportunity for brands given the rise in mobile health searches, downloads, and visits, it provided little context.

ComScore noted that health ads made up a mere 1 percent of all online display ads according to its count at the end of 2011.

Geoff McCleary, group director for mobile innovation at ad agency Digitas Health, said that pharmaceutical companies “are struggling” with challenges of including safety information into mobile ads as required by regulators.

The report did not mention that some pharma companies are already advertising on mobile health apps through mobile advertising networks like the one launched last year: Tomorrow Networks.

Read the NYTimes report here.