UK to encourage doctors to prescribe health apps

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 22, 2012        

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NHSIn an effort to cut down on unnecessary doctor office visits, the UK’s Department of Health plans to ask general practitioners and physicians working at hospitals across the country to encourage their patients to use mobile health apps to track biometrics and symptoms. According to various reports in local newspapers, the Department of Health claims that some 15,000 NHS patients are already using mobile health apps that transmit such information to their physicians. The apps are used by pregnant women, and people with cancer, diabetes, heart problems, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The information transmitted from patients using the apps will be monitored by healthcare providers who will urge patients to visit their doctor or nurses immediately if an abnormal reading comes in, according to a report in the DailyMail. The Department of Health hopes to save the NHS “millions of pounds” assuming the apps help cut down on unnecessary visits. Health ministers also contend that more frequent monitoring will help providers keep tabs on patients so that their condition, which will make it less likely that their condition’s will suddenly deteriorate and require a trip to the emergency room.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the health minister claim that about 25 percent of the people who use the NHS Choices website and app visit their physicians less frequently as a result. In November the NHS Direct app announced more than 1 million downloads.

“So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch,” the UK Department of Health’s Secretary Andrew Lansley said in a statement. “I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm. With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat.”

Lansley assembled a list of 500 apps and tools that the NHS plans to recommend physicians prescribe to patients, but the NHS is looking to hear feedback from the UK public on which apps they think should be included. The government said the apps should be free or cheap to use, according to the Telegraph report. Keep reading>>

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HIMSS CEO: Mobile health to become much more significant

By: Neil Versel | Feb 21, 2012        

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Steve Lieber HIMSS

HIMSS CEO H. Steve Lieber

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is wholeheartedly embracing mobile. Last week, HIMSS announced that it has taken over the annual mHealth Summit from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. At the 2011 mHealth Summit just two months ago, the health IT advocacy group officially launched mHIMSS, a subgroup first reported by MobiHealthNews in November.

HIMSS created mHIMSS as a “separately branded” part of the organization because “we really wanted to highlight it,” HIMSS CEO H. Stephen Lieber said in an interview with MobiHealthNews ahead of the 2012 HIMSS conference, which takes place in Las Vegas this week.

Mobility is not just another piece of HIMSS like standards for privacy and security, according to Lieber. “It really needs to stand out because the tools are different, the technology is different, the applications are different and you bring the consumer into the discussion much more so than you do on some other types of technologies that are much more organizational-centered,” he explained.

For example, the transition to ICD-10 coding does not matter much to the public. Being handed a tablet instead of a clipboard when registering at the doctor’s office does. Getting a text reminder that it’s time to take medication does affect patients. Keep reading>>

HealthSpot adds Sprint 4G, e-stethoscope to kiosks

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 20, 2012        

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HealthSpot Care Station Sprint 4GDublin, Ohio-based HealthSpot inked a deal with Sprint to add wireless connectivity to its primary and specialty care kiosks, called HealthSpot Care4 Stations, that are designed for pharmacies, supermarkets, and workplaces. The kiosks are fully enclosed to provide a private setting for remote care. Patients using the kiosk can visit with doctors in real-time via high-definition videoconferencing running over Sprint’s 4G network. The kiosks come equipped with digital medical devices that allow doctors to collect health information during the remote visits.

This week HealthSpot announced a deal with 3M Littmann to include the company’s Electronic Stethoscope Model 3200 in HealthSpot’s kiosks. The stethoscope will enable clinicians to listen in real-time to critical body sounds during remote examinations of patients using the medical kiosks.

Last year 3M Littmann announced that it was working with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to equip its astronauts with the 3M Littmann Scope-to-Scope Tele-Auscultation System on-board at the International Space Station (ISS). The system would allow physicians on the ground to hear the actual heartbeat of astronauts in space in real-time. At the time, JAXA planned to use the system for coronary tone data collection in a series of autonomic nervous activity rhythm experiments set to be carried out onboard the ISS. The tests were to include linking Earth-based medical professionals with the astronauts inside Kibo, Japan’s first manned space lab.

More on the HealthSpot deal with Sprint in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Results from wireless, implantable drug delivery device study

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 20, 2012        

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MicroCHIPSThe medical journal Science Translational Medicine published the results of a small study that found that an implantable, wirelessly controlled microchip-based drug delivery device developed by MicroCHIPS demonstrated similar measures of safety and therapeutic levels in blood to what is observed from standard, recommended multiple subcutaneous injections of a marketed osteoporosis drug, called teriparatide.

The device can deliver the doses on a schedule or from a command it receives wirelessly. MIT researchers helped design some components of the device, which they licensed to MicoCHIPS, according to the company.

MicroCHIPS believes the study could pave the way to develop a multi-year drug delivery device that could help people with a number of different disease areas, including cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and chronic pain.

MicroCHIPS expects to get the device cleared by the FDA an in the market sometime in 2014.

MicroCHIPS is currently developing new designs of its implantable device that can deliver as many as 400 doses for one-year of daily doses or for multiple years for less frequent drug regimens.

Here’s how the trial was run, according to MicroCHIPS: “In the trial, post menopausal women diagnosed with osteoporosis received daily doses of the marketed osteoporosis drug teriparatide through microchip delivery rather than daily injection… In the study, seven osteoporotic postmenopausal patients between the ages of 65 and 70 received the microchip-based implant. The primary objective of the clinical trial was to assess the pharmacokinetics (PK) of the released drug teriparatide from the implanted devices. Safety measures included evaluation of the biological response to the implant and monitoring indicators of toxicity. Secondary objectives were to assess the bioactivity of the drug and to evaluate the reliability and reproducibility of releasing the drug from the device… Drug delivery and evaluation in patients occurred over a one month period and provided proof-of-concept measures of drug release and device durability that support implantable device viability for 12 months or more.”

The researchers found that the MicroCHIPS device and the drug were “biocompatible with no adverse immune reaction” and the results “were comparable to and had less variation than” the multiple subcutaneous injections of the drug did.

For more on the trial and MicroCHIPS trial, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

GoodRx launches drug comparison iPhone app

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 20, 2012        

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GoodRx iPhone appLast week Santa Monica-based GoodRx launched its drug price comparison iPhone app and website. The GoodRx app aims to help consumers compare drug prices at competing pharmacies and it also offers discounts, coupons and others tips on saving at pharmacies.

Here’s how the app works: Users enter in the name of the prescription they are shopping around for along with their zip code. The app then shows a list and map of prices for the brand name and generic versions of the drug the user is seeking — both from local brick-and-mortar pharmacies as well as mail order ones. GoodRx claims that it has more than 1 million prices for more than 6,000 brand name and generic drugs. The app also offers refill reminders and price alerts.

“The good news is that the price of many important prescription drugs has decreased over the last few years. The bad news is that prices vary wildly and health insurance covers less and less of those costs. We can instantly compare prices for home electronics, airline tickets and cars — so why not drugs?” stated Doug Hirsch, co-founder and chief executive officer of GoodRx.

Last month a similar app launched: LowestMed. The big difference between the two is that LowestMed is a discount prescription membership app that helps users save on prescription drugs, while GoodRx helps users find the most competitive retail prices.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Asthmapolis partners with Dignity Health

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 20, 2012        

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asthmapolis-sensorAsthmapolis is working with Dignity Health, formerly Catholic Healthcare West, to equip its Sacramento-based asthma patients with GPS-enabled inhalers that send real-time breathing data to physicians’ smartphones. Asthmapolis is ramping up production of its device, a sensor that sits atop most inhalers, at a Wisconsin-based device manufacturing plant. The device was expected to launch last year.

The Asthmapolis device is ”small and lightweight,” and “easy to mount securely on the end of most inhalers, and simple to transfer to a new canister,” according to the company. “Lights on the device let you know when it has detected use, and also show remaining battery level.”

Asthmapolis has also previously announced partnerships with organizations including the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch at the CDC as well as the California HealthCare Foundation.

At the end of last year, Asthmapolis announced plans to add connectivity to its device through the Qualcomm 2net platform.

Dignity Health, which is the fifth largest healthcare system in the US, recently ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal touting its deal with Asthmapolis. Here’s how it explained the deal in the ad: “For instance, in Sacramento we’re providing asthma patients with GPS-enabled inhalers. This cutting-edge technology sends real-time breathing data to the mobile devices of the treating physician. They can then use that data to better manage the disease, resulting in fewer serious, expensive attacks. That not only helps save lives, it helps save a portion of the $56 billion spent annually in the U.S. on asthma care; patients with uncontrolled asthma require $3,000-$4,000 more in health care per year than patients who control this chronic disease.”

Dignity concluded that the connected inhaler help it achieve “cost, quality, [and] access” objectives.

Back in April 2009 MobiHealthNews reported that Asthmapolis CEO David Van Sickle, then a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was developing a GPS add-on for asthmatics’ inhalers to map where and when environmental exposures cause asthma symptoms–as well as alert users and encourage them to puff on the “rescue inhaler.” The project was also aimed at mapping the unknown causes of asthma in the environment.

Asthmapolis also noted that it is also currently hiring an asthma educator, artist, and mobile app developer.