Extension, Ascom race to FDA clearances: Ascom wins.

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 2, 2011        

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In late January and with an eye on HIMSS 2011, Cisco’s partner Extension Inc. issued a press release announcing that it had submitted its HealthAlert for Nurses offering to the FDA for clearance. Is said that the FDA could find no communications tool on the market that was “substantially equivalent” to HealthAlert for Nurses.

“This submission for FDA clearance culminates two years of research and tremendous effort designed to differentiate Extension from similar – but certainly not equal products – currently available in the marketplace,” Extension CEO Todd Plesko stated in the release. “It also offers comfort to our growing hospital client base seeking to utilize their existing Cisco infrastructure and/or the emergence of smartphones, and serves as future-proofing for our clients and partners in the face of more FDA regulation in the middleware communication space. I think everyone in the industry agrees more FDA regulation in mobile health and communication is on the horizon. We’ve positioned ourselves well ahead of the pack both for Cisco IP-based handsets and smartphones.”

This week a different middleware vendor in the clinician communications space announced an actual FDA clearance for its product — not a submission — a clearance, which might mean Plesko overstepped in his declaration that Extension was “well ahead of the pack,” at least in terms of that specific FDA submission: Keep reading>>

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Four more must-read mobile health reports

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 2, 2011        

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Mobile Health ResearchLast April we published a list of “five must-read mobile health reports” that were free to anyone to download. The list was an instant hit and in recent weeks I have had requests from a number of people for a refreshed list. As of March 2011, there have been four free, must-read mHealth reports by my count — and together they do a fine job of encapsulating a good portion of the mHealth conversation. Reading (or even skimming — some are lengthy) these four reports (in addition to last year’s five) makes for a fine primer on mHealth.

There are a number of worthwhile paid research reports out there — including our own reports on smartphone health apps, tablets, quarterly reviews, etc. — but these four free reports published since our round-up last April, should get mHealth noobies feet wet.

As we said last year, if you haven’t yet soaked in these four mHealth reports, you are handicapping your mHealth acumen. Here’s four freely downloadable reports you must read: Keep reading>>

Roundup: NIH mHealth Institute; $500K grants

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 1, 2011        

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The NIH mHealth Summer Institute: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the first NIH mHealth Summer Institute set for this summer. The week-long workshop will bring together leaders in mobile health technologies, behavioral science researchers, federal health officials and members of the medical community to provide early career investigators with an opportunity to learn about mHealth research. The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), part of NIH, partnered with Qualcomm to create the workshop. Release

$500K in mHealth grants: The Center for Technology and Aging (techandaging.org) has released grant application guidelines for a $500,000 Mobile Health (mHealth) Diffusion Grants Program. Up to six one-year grants will be made to organizations successfully proposing programs that focus on delivery of health-related services to patients, clinicians and caregivers through mHealth technology platforms on cellular or wireless networks. Details

Microsoft’s healthy apps competition: Microsoft announced a competition for health app developers to incentivize them create apps for the Windows Phone 7 platform. Oddly the ten winners will receive an Xbox 360 4GB console with Kinect. I know Kinect has some fitness games and lots of potential, but the prize doesn’t really fit the competition, does it? Here’s the quick pitch: “Beginning on February 18, 2011, Windows Phone 7 (WP7) partners, developers and software design hobbyists can enter their health and life science applications for Windows Phone 7 for a chance to win an Xbox 360 4GB console with Kinect. Ten (10) winning applications will be selected by our judges. Don’t delay—the contest ends June 1, 2011 at 5 p.m. (Pacific Time). Winners will be announced on June 6, 2011.” Medgadget

Do-It-Yourself Health Care with Smartphones: That’s the misguided title of an article in the New York Times this week. The article starts with the 500 million people will be using mobile health statistic — which is the best confirmation we have for mHealth being atop the Gartner hype cycle — and devolves into a discussion about Microsoft’s HealthVault, Google Health and other PHRs. New York Times

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>>

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>>