Voice input for medical apps to trend?

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 30, 2011        

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Nuance Dragon Medical Search iPhone AppTouchscreen devices will never catch up to the speed of typing on keyboards, but speech recognition technology can help such devices bridge that gap. That’s the mindset of Nuance’s Jonathon Dreyer, senior manager of mobile solutions marketing at the company’s healthcare division:

“I definitely think voice will be the primary form of input into these mobile devices,” Dreyer told MobiHealthNews recently.

Nuance first entered the apps market two years ago with the launch of its Dragon Mobile Medical Search and Dragon Medical Recorder, free applications that were complementary to its desktop products for healthcare. In February, it launched the Nuance Mobile Healthcare Development Platform, a cloud-based service that allows third parties — software developers at vendor companies as well as hospital providers (internal IT labs at hospitals or provider facilities) — to rapidly integrate speech recognition into their mobile device or web client. Next year, the service will expand to Europe with 23 additional supported languages.

Dreyer said that its development platform has “pretty good traction” now that it’s been about eight months since its launch. More than 100 developers have signed on and around “a couple dozen” Nuance-enabled apps will arrive before the end of the year, Dreyer said. “The biggest thing holding up app developers [for our platform] is approval of their apps [from Apple],” he said. The main types of apps using Nuance are point of care and reference, while other categories include pharma, clinical trials, education programs, patient communications, and disease management apps. Dreyer believes that these categories will eventually change: “These things will morph over time, and we’ll see new categories emerge, as well as categories we thought were categories turn out to not be categories.”

The vast majority of Nuance-enabled apps are for Apple’s iOS devices. “I’ve seen a growth in the number of Android developers, but it’s still significantly less than iOS,” Dreyer said. “It might come down to the fact that a significant amount of clinical professionals own [iOS] devices for personal use.” However, Dreyer doesn’t think Apple’s lead in the marketplace is set in stone. “If a company can claim its device is more secure — that it is more tailored to the market — it can help them lock in that lead.”

“I’ve read so many reports recently that complain that [medical apps] are unusable,” Dreyer said. While adding voice recognition to a medical app may make it a little easier to use, it doesn’t necessarily make it a good app.

“If the app sucks, the app sucks,” Dreyer said. “There’s not too much we can do about it.”

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GE Centricity Radiology app receives FDA nod

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 30, 2011        

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GEGE Healthcare’s Centricity Radiology Mobile Access 2.0 app received FDA (510k) clearance this week, the company announced in a press release. The mobile imaging application is a free download for Apple iOS devices and is cleared for remote viewing of computed tomography and magnetic resonance exams.

Centricity Radiology Mobile Access 2.0 accesses images and reports from the Centricity PACS (picture archiving and communication system) platform remotely, with no data downloaded to the phone. The company says that one in five radiology exams in the US is stored on its Centricity platform. The first mobile radiology app to receive FDA clearance, Mobile MIM, was cleared in February of this year. The FDA cleared Calgary Scientific’s ResolutionMD app earlier this month.

“This application and its diagnostic clearance provide further validation of our continued investment in our Centricity PACS platform,” stated Don Woodlock, Vice President and General Manager of GE Healthcare IT, in a press release. “As a native application for the Apple iOS and Android operating systems, Centricity Radiology Mobile Access requires very little training and, we believe, provides a more productive user experience versus an emulated Windows application that was designed to be driven by a mouse.”

UPDATE: A GE Healthcare representative has informed MobiHealthNews that while Woodlock mentioned an Android native app in the quote above, GE Healthcare’s Centricity Radiology Mobile Access 2.0 app is available and FDA (510k) cleared for diagnostic use on the Apple iPad and iPhone only. There is an Android app available, but it is not cleared for diagnostic use by the FDA and is actually an earlier version of the app.

GE released its Centricity Advance Mobile this summer, an iPad EMR app designed for primary care physicians in small practices. That app is an extension of GE Healthcare’s web-based Centricity Advance EMR offering, which focuses on practices with less than ten physicians.

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Wireless hygiene system crosses 4 million uses

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 29, 2011        

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nGageProventix’s ZigBee-powered, RFID-enabled nGage hand hygiene system has recorded over 4 million hand cleanings in the United States since its release, according to the company. Hospitals using the system had an average 105.6 percent increase in hand hygiene solution dispenses and a decrease in healthcare associated infections (HAI) by more than 24 percent.

The Proventix nGage system monitors hand hygiene compliance 24 hours a day, 7 days week, according to the company. Here’s how it works: Healthcare workers wear ZigBee-enabled badges that are uniquely recognized by control units at soap dispensers throughout the hospital. When the worker enters a room or area where there is a wall-mounted control unit, they are recognized and, upon the completion of a quality hand hygiene event, they can be given important, patient-specific information like whether they are at-risk for a fall as well as information that may be of personal interest to that particular provide, like stock market reports or baseball scores.

Last year, machine-to-machine wireless vendor Synapse Wireless added wireless connectivity to the nGage system.

Hygiene compliance is an increasing concern with the rising use of smartphones in hospitals — according to at least one study, mobile phones can carry 18 times more bacteria than a public toilet.

An nGage competitor that uses a video monitoring system, raised hygiene compliance rates from 6.5 percent three years ago to 80 percent in a New York hospital is the subject of a recent New York Times article.

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Aetna to launch international provider locator apps

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 29, 2011        

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aetna shangahiAetna plans to launch a handful of new apps within the next few weeks that allow members traveling internationally find nearby doctors, hospitals and other health care providers based on their GPS location, according to a company press release.

However, one app has already been released: Aetna Shanghai Provider Directory launched in October for iOS and Android. The free app uses the phone’s GPS to locate providers in Aetna’s Shanghai network. Similar apps for Hong Kong, the Middle East and Europe will launch over the next few weeks, according to the company. Each app will feature a listing of nearby health care providers, including address and contact information, a map view, appointment information, links to the relevant information and forms, and calendar integration.

Aetna also updated its international website for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry to recognize a user’s location and serve localized content in that region’s primary language.

“This new web functionality is a critical step in Aetna’s continued efforts to make it easier for people to access content that is relevant to them and accessible in a manner they prefer,” stated Sandip Patel, head of Aetna International, in a press release.

This past summer, Aetna launched a service that allows doctors in Aetna’s Florida network to prescribe medication electronically via smartphone or tablet and receive care recommendations for their patients. The service is supported by NaviNet Mobile Connect and is free to Aetna subscribers.

Aetna launched an SMS-powered diabetes management service this past May. At AHIP last year Aetna announced pilot results following a study of the Intel Health Guide’s efficacy as a platform for CHF patients.

Read the press release below.

Mobile risk management provider nabs $23M

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 29, 2011        

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fixmoMobile risk management (MRM) software provider Fixmo raised a total of $23 million in its third round of funding. Previous investor Paladin Capital Group led the round, which included participation from new investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Horizons Ventures.

MRM is emerging within healthcare, including the government, as physicians express their desire to use personally-bought tablets and smartphones in their practice. In October, The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to acquire as many as 100,000 tablets, primarily for use by their medical clinicians staff, marking one of the largest such deployments by a civilian agency. The VA sought MRM vendors to help them secure the devices, as Apple iOS and Android do not currently support the federal FIPS 140-2 security encryption.

As part of the investment, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minihan and Frank Meehan will join Fixmo’s Board of Directors. Minihan is the former director of both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently a managing director at Paladin Capital Group. Meehan is the founder of INQ Mobile and a former board member of the now Apple-owned, Siri (see “Siri: iPhone’s new personal health assistant?“). Fixmo’s MRM services use an NSA-developed technology transfer agreement and collaborative research and development agreement (CRADA).

According to the company, the funding will be used to expand its line of MRM products in 2012, including Fixmo Sentinel and Fixmo SafeZone, to carriers, consumers, government agencies, and enterprises. Mobile risk management allows multiple types of wireless devices to be used securely by users in organizations while still allowing the full range of mobile features.

“We are seeing rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets by the enterprise, and a large portion of this is driven by employee liable devices. Only 30.1 percent of US companies expressly ban the use of mobile devices not issued by IT,” stated Chris Hazelton, Research Director, Mobile & Wireless for 451 Research, in a press release. “Many of today’s device management tools focus on the physical risk devices that are lost or stolen. IT must also address the increasing risk of digital threats that are targeting both employee and corporate liable devices in the enterprise.” (One such device theft of an iPad occurred at the VA this summer before its deployment).

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Canadian health plan offers mobile claims app

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 28, 2011        

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ezclaim mobileEquitable Life of Canada announced the launch of its EZClaim app for BlackBerry devices. The mobile app enables users to submit health and dental claims and receipts electronically from their mobile device. An Apple iOS version of the free app is expected to launch soon, according to the company.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) is based in Canada, too, which may account for the unusual BlackBerry-first launch. Most apps start with an iPhone launch followed by Android.

Equitable Life health plan customers who have BlackBerry devices can use the EZClaim app today. The app officially hit the BlackBerry App World online store two weeks ago. Here’s how it works: Users enter their personal information (including that of their spouse or dependents) once and fill out the details of the specific claim. The user then can then take a picture of their claim-related receipts and upload them to the company’s servers — right from their smartphone. The company claims that 98 percent of the claims that users’ file electronically are processed within one day.

“We want to provide our plan members choice in how they submit their health and dental claims to us,” stated Karen Mason, Senior Vice President, Group – Equitable Life of Canada, in a press release. “More and more of our plan members are using smartphones and the introduction of EZClaim was in direct response to this trend.” The company cited a March 2011 survey conducted by Quorus Consulting, which found that one out of three Canadian mobile phone users own a smartphone.

In recent weeks, the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) of Australia’s released a similar SmartClaim app that allows physicians to file insurance claims from their iPhones. Users enter their HIF member details, then use the iPhone’s camera to take photos of invoices that are submitted with the digital claim.

MobiHealthNews covered the potential rise of automated paper-based processes in healthcare this summer, specifically of the rise of the phone’s camera to help automate claims processing. One mobile imaging CEO, Mitek’s James DeBello, said that “healthcare is a huge priority.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>