Wireless sensors, tablet computer measure Parkinson’s tremors

By: Neil Versel | Oct 12, 2011        

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Kinesia HomeViewParkinson’s disease is considered a movement disorder, so it lends itself quite well to mobile technologies. At least one tablet-based device to measure Parkinsonian tremors is already on the market, while an iPhone measurement system passed muster in a clinical trial more than a year ago.

Two weeks ago at the AdvaMed 2011 medical technology conference in Washington, D.C., Great Lakes Neurotechnologies, headquartered in Cleveland, demonstrated its Kinesia HomeView device. Kinesia HomeView, which has FDA clearance in the U.S. and also has been approved for sale in several other countries, combines wireless sensors and a touch-screen tablet to help patients and physicians assess whether medications and/or neurostimulation therapy are working properly.

There haven’t been many new, widely prescribed treatments for Parkinson’s lately, so physicians generally treat the disease with a drug called levodopa (commonly called L-dopa) to address stiffness, tremors, spasms and loss of muscle control, and deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure for more advanced cases of tremors. It is an inexact science, because Parkinson’s can manifest itself in different ways.

“These diseases, when they’re treated with drugs and also with neurostimulation devices, the body goes through what’s called acclimation,” Great Lakes Neuro CEO Robert Schmidt explained in a video interview at AdvaMed 2011. “You need to be able to continually update your medication.”

With Kinesia HomeView, the patient takes home a motion sensor worn on the finger, plus a touch-screen tablet that includes videos explaining how to take Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale tests. The tablet gives reminders to take the test several times a day, and then measures tremors and, with a built-in camera, records videos of patients taking the test.

Patients can keep a diary of their symptoms on the tablet, too.

Via a Web portal, physicians get a report out of the system that shows the types of tremors and the time of day of each test. Users can press color-coded dots on the screen to watch video of tremors. Another click brings up data from the sensor’s gyroscropes showing movement accelerations, data that can help with balancing medication regimens or programming deep-brain stimulation and provide quantitative measurements to assist with development of clinical trials, Schmidt said.

The usefulness of this type of technology was shown in a paper presented at the 2010 International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, in Buenos Aires. Biomedical engineers from UCLA built a wireless accelerometer app that takes advantage of the gyroscope sensors built into the iPhone.

“The initial testing and evaluation of the iPhone wireless accelerometer application for quantifying Parkinson’s disease tremor successfully demonstrates the capacity to acquire tremor characteristics in an effectively autonomous environment, while potentially alleviating strain on limited and highly specialized medical resources,” they concluded.

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CTIA: 96 million smartphones in US

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 12, 2011        

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iPhone 4SThere are currently 96 million smartphones in use in the US, an increase of an incredible fifty-seven percent from this time last year, according to CTIA’s latest survey, which it unveiled this week at their annual event in San Diego. In addition, the number of wireless subscriber connections recently surpassed the number of people in the US for the first time. There are currently 327.6 million wireless connections in the US (a nine percent increase from last year) and 315.5 million US residents. (CTIA counted some 50 million active smartphones in their survey from March 2010).

Other metrics from CTIA’s most recent survey include:

  • The number of active data-capable devices is 278.3 million, up from 264.5 million last year (5 percent increase from mid-2010).
  • There are 15.2 million wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems, up from 12.9 million last year (17 percent increase from mid-2010).
  • 1.138 trillion SMS messages were sent and received, up from 982.9 billion (16 percent increase from mid-2010).
  • There were 28.2 billion MMS messages, a decrease from 32.1 billion from mid-2010.

“CTIA’s semi-annual survey proves that Americans love wireless and continue to rely on the most cutting-edge and innovative devices and services in the world. Clearly, we’re using wireless more every day, and the consensus of experts is that demand will continue to skyrocket by more than 50 times within the next five years. These are the reasons why our members need more spectrum,” stated Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA, in a press release. “By making underutilized or unused spectrum available for auction, carriers will continue to invest billions of dollars in their infrastructure, generate hundreds of billions of dollars in benefit to our economy and create up to a half a million new jobs while ensuring the U.S. maintains its position as the world’s wireless leader.”

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Read the CTIA press release below. Keep reading>>

New mobile advertising network targets doctors

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 11, 2011        

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Tomorrow NetworksA new mobile advertising network that serves ads specifically targeted to healthcare providers launched this week. Physicians Interactive Holdings, which offers the popular Skyscape app, and stealthy Remedy Systems partnered to launch the mobile ad network, called Tomorrow Networks. The network launched with some 54 different smartphone medical applications having already signed on. Remedy Systems is providing developer relations and the technology behind the platform, while PI is contributing its sales channels, ad operations management, relationships with ad agencies, and a testbed in the form of its popular Skyscape app.

Tomorrow Networks is intended to be a revenue channel for those medical apps that haven’t monetized yet or those looking for an additional incremental revenue stream. According to the launch press release, Tomorrow Networks already claims to have an app user base of 275,000 healthcare professionals.

“If you are a healthcare marketer trying to reach healthcare professionals on mobile [devices], there has not been a scalable way to do that with display advertising thus far,” Physicians Interactive President Sanjay Pingle told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview. “Sure, there have been messaging opportunities and sponsorship opportunities in medical apps, but you have not been able to target cardiologists in Texas, for example. That has not been available historically, but Tomorrow Networks makes that possible.”

Of course, there are a number of mobile ad networks already available. Two high profile ones include: Apple’s mobile ad network called iAd and Google’s ad network, Admob.

“The only way that Admob or iAd can target healthcare professionals is based on other apps that the user is using,” Pingle said. “They guess you are a medical professional if you are using a medical dictionary app, for example. So, they serve you an ad intended for a medical professional.”

Tomorrow Networks, however, knows if the users of apps on its network are medical professionals. It’s beginning to learn much more than that, too.

“We have launched a number of initiatives to increase the amount of profile data we require from users before we provide them with free content,” Pingle said. “We know their profession, their specialty, and like most everybody else — we know their location.”

Pingle said with the granularity of user data that Tomorrow Networks has, the network can, for example, target ads to nurses who treat multiple sclerosis. Thanks to that precise targeting, PI and Remedy expect medical app developers to leverage Tomorrow Networks because it will enable them to charge advertisers higher premiums. Keep reading>>

Sprint, Ideal Life offer wireless biometric kiosks

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 11, 2011        

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Ideal LifeSprint and Ideal Life extended their partnership this week with the launch of Ideal Life’s remote monitoring kiosks for high-volume settings (schools, living centers, physician offices and health clinics) using Sprint’s wireless network.

Ideal Life’s M2M kiosk measures blood pressure, weight, blood glucose levels and other biometric readings. Last November, the company launched a similar program for community hospitals in China through a partnership with Novatech.

According to Ideal Life, a two-year study by the Health Research Institute revealed that annual savings using remote healthcare monitoring could amount to approximately $21 billion, 88 percent of physicians would like their patients to be able to monitor their health on their own, and e-visits were able to replace in-office visits in 40 percent of the study’s 2,531 cases.

“Wireless M2M solutions present an opportunity to streamline health care and provide greater access to critical patient information at significantly less cost and effort,” stated Wayne Ward, VP of Emerging Solutions Group at Sprint, in a press release. “Sprint is proud to collaborate with IDEAL LIFE to facilitate real-time dialog and data exchange between individuals and medical professionals. The potential to impact patient wellness and physician efficiency in an on-demand setting is just one example of how connected devices are fundamentally changing every aspect of the way we work and live.”

“IDEAL LIFE already has a strong track record of health care cost reduction,” stated Jason Goldberg, President of IDEAL LIFE, in a press release. “Our collaboration with Sprint will allow seamless integration into the marketplace with the IDEAL LIFE kiosk, enabling our company to quickly deploy more solutions providing greater access to care and creating additional health care savings.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Facebook mobile chief: I’ll help Epocrates with mobile development, connectivity

By: Neil Versel | Oct 11, 2011        

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Erick Tseng Epocrates FacebookEpocrates made an interesting move over the summer, naming Facebook’s mobile chief, Erick Tseng, to its board of directors. Tseng is a hot commodity in IT, having jumped to Facebook last year from Google, where he served as senior product manager for the booming Android smartphone operating system.

Tseng has worked for plenty of heavy hitters in the high-tech industry, including Microsoft, Yahoo and the MIT Media Lab. He also did a stint as a consultant for McKinsey & Co.

On the side, Tseng serves an advisor—and is an investor in—HealthTap, a recently launched, interactive site and platform that crowdsources health information from a network of 5,000 physicians.

Facebook’s mobile strategy has been a bit of an enigma, though this week brought some clarity, with the release of a long-awaited, native Facebook app for the iPad. Keep reading>>

Smartphone ultrasound device launches commercially

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 10, 2011        

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Mobisante MobiUS smartphone ultrasoundIn February Mobisante announced that the FDA had cleared its handheld, smartphone-enabled ultrasound offering, and while the company hoped to launch “a long time ago,” MobiUS only just became commercially available in recent days, Mobisante co-founder and CTO David Zar told MobiHealthNews.

Since it received its 510(k) clearance eight months ago, Mobisante has been working to put its quality systems in place along with a number of other FDA mandated controls related to product tracking, potential recalls, software updates and more. Zar said that the process took a lot long than expected. The extra time and additional protocols have helped the company further refine its product, Zar said, so ultimately it’s been a good thing.

The initial FDA clearance process cost Mobisante in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars, Zar told attendees at the West Wireless Health Institute’s HCI-DC event earlier this year.

The mobile ultrasound imaging system includes a Toshiba Windows Mobile-powered smartphone, an ultrasound probe and the company’s software. Mobisante’s device is intended for ultrasound imaging, analysis and measurement in fetal/OB, abdominal, cardiac, pelvic, pediatric, mucoskeletal, and peripheral vessel imaging. The smartphone-based ultrasound system can leverage both cellular and WiFi to send images for diagnosis, second opinion, or to a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) for storage.

MobiUS only works on the Windows Mobile 6.5-based Toshiba TG01 smartphone and requires a USB 2.0 port for the probe. Because they lack support for USB 2.0, popular devices like Apple’s iPhone and devices running on Google’s Android OS cannot support MobiUS.

Zar said that some of Mobisante’s potential clients have asked about support for healthcare specific tablets like those offered by Panasonic’s ToughBook division as well as those offered by Motion Computing, so Mobisante is looking into a tablet-based solution for that group.

“These are tablets healthcare professionals have had at the bedside for years,” Zar said. “[MobiUS] would be an added benefit for the platform they already have in place. For many, this is not a replacement system. We can also offer the full imaging solution, though, and that might appeal to smaller clinics. Our work has just begun, really.”

Zar is frustrated with smartphone and tablet makers as well as US mobile operators who are not bringing devices to the US market with USB host support. Some phones available in Europe, for example, have full USB support but once the model launches in the US the feature is removed or stripped down.

“I’ve heard it’s because of security concerns or that some user will take down the carrier’s network,” Zar said. “Sounds like an attorney is making that decision, not an engineer.”

Mobisante’s MobiUS offering is available now with a starting pricepoint of $7,495, which is comparable to its next closest competitor, GE’s Vscan — a mobile, but not wirelessly connected handheld, ultrasound device.

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