Is passivity the future for home health monitoring?

By: Neil Versel | Mar 1, 2011        

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Proteus Biomedical Raisin Personal Monitor

Proteus Biomedical's Raisin Personal Monitor

Think there’s not enough evidence to prove the efficacy of wireless, home-based patient monitoring?

Robin Felder, associate director of clinical chemistry and toxicology and a pathology professor at the University of Virginia, disputes that notion. Felder likes to cite a 2007 paper in the Journal of Telemedicine and e-Health. That paper showed a 74 percent reduction in the cost of caring for patients in assisted living with “passive” monitoring devices, and, notably, the rate of urinary tract infections in the study group dropped to near zero.

To Felder, who conducts research in medical automation, robotics and process improvement in clinical laboratories, the key word is “passive.” This means you don’t have to think about it, even to put it on.

Felder, who spoke during a “Views from the Top” session at last week’s HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla., said that 95 percent of home blood-pressure monitors eventually get stashed in a drawer because patients have to go out of their way to use the devices. The presentation highlighted a new generation of passive wireless patient monitoring that’s part of something Felder called “wellness support.” This is the integration of multiple sources of diagnostic information, covering traditional healthcare encounters, lab testing, pharmacy, molecular biology and lifestyle.

In the near future, expect to see underwear and other everyday garments with embedded blood pressure and pulse sensors. “It’s more passive than strapping something on your arm,” Felder said.

For about a penny, pharmaceutical companies can add a digestible chip to a pill to indicate whether the patient took the drug, monitor stomach pH and other vitals, and transmit readings to a cell phone via Bluetooth. Keep reading>>

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Verizon invests in BL Healthcare’s $2 million venture round

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 28, 2011        

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BL Healthcare touchscreen monitorBL Healthcare announced last week that Verizon Investments had participated in its recent financing round. MobiHealthNews has learned that BL raised about $2 million in the round, but whether others participated is still unclear.

BL Healthcare announced a partnership with Verizon in April 2010 to build an ecosystem of applications for BL’s platform. Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, BL announced an HD version of its home monitor powered by Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network. This past week at HIMSS BL announced a connectivity deal with Sprint, too.

“Verizon Wireless selected BL Healthcare as an ecosystem developer that best aligned with our vision of remote, patient-focused, next-generation healthcare,” John Maschenic, director of healthcare solutions for Verizon Wireless, stated in the press release last April. “The BL Healthcare platform, combined with the Verizon Wireless network, will help healthcare providers select various applications and services based on their patients’ conditions and needs, giving the provider an active role in defining and managing a patient healthcare and wellness program.”

According to BL’s most recent press release, the Verizon investment was arranged through Verizon Communications Inc.’s Verizon Ventures group and will help BL expand its remote health care offerings — including those underway with Verizon and (it seems) other partners.

BL notes on its website there is a 510(k) Class II clearance pending from the FDA for its touchscreen monitor.

“BL Healthcare’s work with Verizon Wireless’ LTE Innovation Center is focused on leveraging the increased bandwidth of the LTE 4G network to enable an entirely new experience of HD video enabled, personalized, remote and home health services.” Michael Mathur, CEO of BL Healthcare, said in the press release.

For more, read the recent BL release here

Mobile health design, regulation, data liberation and business model soundbites

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 28, 2011        

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QuotesEach week the MobiHealthNews team picks a “quote of the week” (QOW) that we include in our free weekly newsletter. Since it’s the end of the month, here’s a roundup of the past two months’ QOWs. Some are important for the content of the quote — others are important simply because the person speaking is recognizing the potential of mobile health. US President Barack Obama, for example, recognized the value of mHealth and telemedicine during two separate speaking engagements these past two months.

Other quotes point to business model strategy, market needs, regulation and data liberation. These serve as a quick pulse check on the mobile health conversation.

“Access to the MyChart app complements a variety of unique patient needs and lifestyles. With the ability to view personal health data and connect a patient with his or her health care provider – where and when they need to – we’re putting a patient’s health record in the palms of his or her hands.” - Dr. Albert Chan, a family medicine physician with Sutter-affiliated Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

“The success or failure of Care Innovations is not based on reimbursement.” - Louis Burns, CEO, Care Innovations (the new GE-Intel JV)

“Mobile healthcare is a strange place and we have a lot of newbies. The newbies are confused by the arcane rules from people like the FDA, other weird things and healthcare acronyms. For old people like us, it’s just standard operating procedure.” - Dr. David Albert, inventor or iPhoneECG Keep reading>>

HIMSS Interview: Humana’s chief strategy officer talks mobile health

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 25, 2011        

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Paul Kusserow, CSO, HumanaFollowing the healthcare legislation and in a move toward diversification, last November health plan Humana acquired health care provider Concentra for about $790 million. This week the health plan built on that acquisition with a much smaller deal with South Africa-based Discovery Holdings: Humana is launching a joint venture with Discovery called HumanaVitality that will provide Humana members with wellness tools and rewards. Humana also will own 25 percent of The Vitality Group, Discovery’s US subsidiary, which will still offer its wellness solution to US employers that are not necessarily Humana customers.

“We have this integrated wellness program now but we know we need to figure out how to put it through mobile apps to drive engagement,” Paul Kusserow, Chief Strategy Officer, Humana Venture Capital told MobiHealthNews in an interview at the HIMSS event in Orlando, Fla. this week. “We are talking to a lot of people to get ideas there.”

Kusserow said that he is most interested in data standardization and analytics currently: “If mobile is the last mile and that’s the face of the consumer, then you better make sure the data is out of the silos and personalized. Otherwise people aren’t going to use it.”

Diabetes management, aging in place and social networking and media trends have been top of mind for Kusserow recently.

“Health IT valuations are stratospheric,” Kusserow said. “It will be interesting to see what happens there… On the apps side I haven’t seen such high valuation, though. In the post reform market, the individual market tends to be young and independent. We want to make sure they get their information and staying engaged. We want to make sure we are getting information to these folks.”

Kusserow also sees opportunities on the other end of the age spectrum. Keep reading>>

12 mobile health stories from HIMSS

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 24, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsA number of longtime HIMSS attendees, including my colleague Neil Versel, pointed out that this year’s event in Orlando, Fla. had renewed energy. The past two years’ events were more staid on account of the down economy. The magicians at vendor booths had less flourish, anyway.

Whether you are of the opinion that HIMSS has its mojo back, is tapping into a hype cycle or neither — what is undoubtedly true is that HIMSS has discovered mobile in a big way. As predicted by many, countless vendors demonstrated how potential customers could use tablets (overwhelmingly Apple’s iPad) and smartphones (still a good mix, but mostly iPhone and Android) to run new apps or legacy software.

I had the chance to sit down and discuss mobility in healthcare with a number of care providers, payors, vendors and even a handful of investors (yes, there’s more of them at HIMSS now, too).

Here’s a quick round-up of 12 mobile health-related news bulletins to come out of HIMSS this week. We’ll have more on some of these and other HIMSS stories in the coming days. A sampling of the mobile highlights at HIMSS: Keep reading>>

WWHI forms group to standardize in-hospital wireless

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 24, 2011        

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Nox Medical“Assurance is the number one fear for new wireless sensor companies looking to work in the hospital environment,” Ed Cantwell, a new Senior Vice President at the West Wireless Health Institute, told MobiHealthNews in an interview on-site at the HIMSS event in Orlando, Fla. Cantwell said that the four principles of assurance are coverage, signal strength, capacity, and certainty.

“We continue to be focused aggressively on the question: How do we lower healthcare costs?” WWHI CEO Don Casey told MobiHealthNews. “One of the best ways a not-for-profit medical research organization can do that is to help create standards and protocols that can facilitate adoption of different parts of the mHealth ecosystem. We believe that once those are set up, established, and adopted, it will set off a flurry of innovation. With the virtual explosion of wireless medical devices used in hospitals, coupled with consumer oriented communications devices that have come into the hospital environment, we think we can play a role in creating a reliable utility-like resource. In order to do that we went out to find someone with the entrepreneurial zeal, expertise and practical bent of having actually executed these type projects to lead our initiaitive in this space.” That’s where Cantwell comes in.

Does the wireless network blanket the facility? Is the signal strength strong enough? Is there enough capacity? Will another wireless or connected device interfere with the new one?

“We believe that creating some standards and architectures that guarantee those four things would allow anyone — from GE Healthcare to Carefusion to Sotera Wireless — to develop with confidence that there will be an environment that will guarantee their devices and applications will work,” Casey said.

Cantwell is leading the not-for-profit institute’s initiative to help create these standard by forming a steering committee made up of hospital CIOs who have had success with wireless networking in their facilities as well as CIOs who haven’t yet along with CTOs, CMOs, wireless operator executives and regulators from the FCC and FDA.

“The platform of wireless health is the wild wild west right now,” Canwell said. “We need to turn it into a reliable, medical-grade wireless utility.”

Cantwell said the plan is to work with the steering committee, which is just being formed now, to formulate a reference architecture that is executable right away.

“Our objective is that by mid-year we will have a first version of the architecture,” he said.