Seven in ten doctors have a self-tracking patient

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 15, 2013        

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Microsoft HealthVault is one way patients can track health data.

Seventy percent of doctors report that at least one patient is sharing some form of health measurement data with them, according to Manhattan Research’s annual “Taking the Pulse” online survey of 2,950 practicing physicians.

Self-tracking is a budding area of research for pollsters — it was the headliner metric for the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s last health-focused report in January. Pew spoke to patients, not doctors, and found that 69 percent of people said they tracked at least one health metric, although half of those people were just tracking in their heads. More to the point, Pew’s research found that about a third of trackers share their data with someone else, and of those who share, about half share with a clinician. So if all the numbers are accurate, about one sixth of Americans are sharing health data with clinicians, but seven out of ten physicians have at least one patient in that group.

Another finding from Manhattan that lines up with Pew’s conclusions is that digital tools are not driving the tracking trend. Pew found that only one in five trackers used digital tools, while Manhattan Research found that the most common ways of sharing data with a doctor, according to the physicians, were writing it out by hand or giving the doctor a paper printout.

“Self-tracking is already a part of the care paradigm and its prevalence is going to accelerate rapidly as digital connection, payment reform, and outcome-focused delivery make advances,” James Avallone, Director of Physician Research at Manhattan Research, said in a statement. “We are seeing physician attitudes toward self-tracking aligning with policy, which is encouraging for all stakeholders involved.”

Manhattan Research also asked doctors what they thought of self-tracking, a topic MobiHealthNews explored in our February podcast. The firm found that 75 percent of doctors believed that self-tracking leads to better patient outcomes.


Healthbox measures its startups’ success in pilots

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 15, 2013        

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Healthbox CEO Nina Nashif

After bringing their incubator to Europe last year, Healthbox has announced that its next class will be based in Jacksonville, Florida, sponsored by Florida Blue. Like Healthbox’s previous locations in Chicago and Boston, companies will receive $50,000 in seed capital and participate in a 16-week program. Healthbox will receive 7 percent equity in the companies.

As health-based accelerators proliferate, location has emerged as a way to stand out from the crowd, while promoting mobile health entrepreneurship all over the country. But different regions still have different needs and advantages. When TigerLabs Health launched, for instance, they promoted their New Jersey location and their proximity to major pharmaceutical companies. Healthbox sees Florida as a ripe and supportive environment for health startups.

“As you might know, we’ve run three programs over the past year, and what we’ve figured out is it takes a really present ecosystem to allow companies to flourish and make the most progress,” Jill Seidman, director of the Florida program, told MobiHealthNews. She said the state is home to innovative hospitals, active payers, and large Fortune 500 companies with a lot of employees — all good opportunities to test new mobile health products and services. Both Scripps Health Center and Mayo Clinic have Florida campuses (Mayo’s is in Jacksonville), and Florida sports a number of University-based health centers like the University of Florida’s Shands Health Center.

“There are a lot of organizations already there and we can be complementary to their research and innovation efforts,” Seidman said.

Healthbox founder and CEO Nina Nashif told MobiHealthNews that Healthbox has a strong focus on supporting its companies by building relationships with local industry players. That emphasis encourages certain companies to apply.

“Our ability to create networks of organizations that are willing to pilot early solutions and become early customers is vital to companies success and to ours,” she said. “We tend to see, because of the organizations that partner with us, more B2B in general across all of our programs and that will probably be the case here as well.”

Florida has a large Medicare population, and its Medicaid population is likely to expand soon, in light of a recent policy shift from Governor Rick Scott. Seidman and Nashif both said they wouldn’t be surprised if a number of applicants focused on products and services for aging populations, but also services that increase hospital connectivity.

Nashif also talked to MobiHealthNews about some metrics from Healthbox’s existing programs. She said that one of the biggest things the accelerator has learned from past classes is how to best make use of strategic partners.

“When you look at the press around the broader accelerator model, the metric that is typically talked about is the number of companies funded post program,” she said. “That’s important for venture capitalists. But we also look at, immediately after the program, how many companies are able to get pilots going in the healthcare system. Healthcare organizations tend to be comfortable with what they’ve always done and who they’ve always worked with. So taking a risk and working with someone new is not always common.”

By that metric, Healthbox is doing pretty well, according to Nashif.

“Collectively, 27 of our companies [out of 37 total] secured more than 50 pilots,” she said. “It means that we’re actually penetrating the system in the right way.”

International regulators focus on medical software, including apps

By: admin | Apr 15, 2013        

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Bradley Merrill ThompsonBy Bradley Merrill Thompson, EpsteinBeckerGreen

I’ve always found the saying, “Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it” to be rather condescending. In a way it suggests that we are too stupid to manage our own affairs. But like any popular saying, it probably has a kernel of truth.

Frankly, I’m a little nervous about a request made by industry for international medical device regulators to focus on standalone software, including mobile medical apps. At the request of an international trade group, on March 21, 2013, the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) decided to pursue harmonization of the regulatory approach to standalone medical device software. Standalone software in healthcare, as most people use that term, would include mobile medical apps, clinical decision support software, electronic health records and any other software used in healthcare that does not drive a medical device (hence it stands alone.)

Many of the industrialized and developing nations around the world established IMDRF in 2011 to provide a forum to discuss future directions in medical device regulation, and harmonization at an international level. The IMDRF builds upon the work of the Global Harmonization Task Force.

IMDRF membership includes regulators from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, Japan and the United States, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). In the US, for example, FDA is the participant, and in the EU the representative is the European Commission Directorate — General Health and Consumers. The recent IMDRF meeting that examined software took place in Nice (France) from 19 to 21 March 2013. The next meeting will take place in Brussels on 12-14 November 2013.

The IMDRF manages its agenda by formally adopting so-called work items. These work items then become the focus of activities between the full, semi-annual gatherings of the Forum. In 2012, at the fall meeting in Sydney, the DITTA (Global Diagnostic Imaging, Healthcare IT and Radiation Therapy Trade Association) recommended the creation of a work item dedicated to medical software. In an October 29, 2012 letter to IMDRF, DITTA wrote:

DITTA greatly appreciates the Management Committee’s further consideration during their session on 27 September of our proposal for a possible future IMDRF work item on medical software. Reasons which justified our suggested work item to IMDRF are that medical software is playing an increasingly greater role in medical technology in product-embedded software applications or in stand-alone software solutions. This includes but is not limited to aspects of software vulnerability with potential impact on patient safety. Therefore global harmonization of regulations and standards governing medical software is critical for patient safety as well as to the future innovation and prosperity of our industry.

Selecting standalone software as a work item is a big step as the 2-year-old forum only maintains about a half-dozen work items. Indeed, the most recent meeting only produced two new ones.

This is either a tremendous opportunity or a tremendous threat depending on whether you are an optimist or pessimist. I frankly don’t know what it is. Subject to what region you’re from, international harmonization can either raise the tide or lower it. Some folks worry that when regulators get together to compare notes on an issue the hurdles typically go up, kind of a regulatory arms race, but the positive side is that harmonization can be very helpful to international businesses.

Certainly there is a lot going on in the US with regard to mHealth regulation, but most people in the space can’t afford to simply ignore the rest of the world. Indeed, even if you’re only involved in US, this Forum has the potential to influence US regulation. Industry needs to be actively involved in all of these discussions to ensure the resulting regulation is sensible, and accommodates the innovation which is the lifeblood of mHealth. I just hope we like what we asked for.

Cedars-Sinai enlists FaceTime for moms to see their babies in the NICU

By: Neil Versel | Apr 12, 2013        

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Cedars Sinai LA iPad maternity wardUnmodified iPads simply running Apple’s built-in FaceTime app are giving new mothers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles a chance to see their premature or sick babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) even if they are immobile while recovering from delivery or the infants are in isolation.

“When mom’s recovering, she can’t come up to the NICU and see her baby,” Yvonne Kidder, a clinical nurse in the NICU at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center tells MobiHealthNews in an interview. Kidder created BabyTime, so named because it uses FaceTime to let mothers see and virtually interact with their newborns within hours of birth.

“Moms sometimes take 2-3 days before they can see the baby,” Kidder says. “We want to cut that down to 2-3 hours.”

The hospital’s pediatrics chair estimates that 20 percent to 30 percent of deliveries by Caesarean section leave the mother confined to a recovery room in labor and delivery a floor below the NICU for 24-48 hours after childbirth. Hospital guidelines call for mothers to have video time with their babies at least once per 12-hour nursing shift. They also can ask questions of clinicians in the NICU by mobile videoconference.

BabyTime started Feb. 11 for a small group of new mothers who had C-sections. Later it will expand to traditional deliveries if needed, according to Kidder. “It’s just awesome,” Kidder reports two months later. “We’ve been getting wonderful feedback from the moms and the families.”

Kidder says she first got the idea in August 2012, when she was working with a mother who was sick in a recovery ward while her baby was in the NICU, and the patient had no other family members around. Nurses and respiratory therapists at Cedars have iPhones running the Voalte communications system, but at the time, they only had iPhone 3 models, which did not support FaceTime.

Kidder says she presented the FaceTime idea to her nurse manager, who then brought the idea to the medical director for women’s and children’s services. The hospital had been looking at a NICU webcam service called NICView with cameras at each bedside. “It did not have the flexibility of the iPad,” Kidder says, since nurses can move iPads around to provide different views. Buying a handful of Apple tablets was a lot less expensive than installing a camera system, though she says an NICView is still on the table for the future.

The hospital’s informatics project team met in September and created guidelines and consent policies for BabyTime, then agreed to purchase one iPad for the NICU and one for the postpartum ward. Kidder says Cedars plans on getting another iPad for the NICU and one for labor and delivery that patients can carry with them if they are transferred. “Sometimes mom gets very sick and needs to get to the ICU herself,” Kidder explains.

She foresees expanding BabyTime with iPads or other videoconferencing links at home and for babies needing to be moved to other hospitals. “We haven’t established how we are going to do this yet,” Kidder says.

FCC picks Quinn as new director of health care initiatives

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 11, 2013        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsWithout any noticeable fanfare, the Federal Communications Commission has chosen its new director of health care initiatives: Matthew Quinn. The agency first published a job posting for the position in December.

Quinn has previously worked at a number of government agencies, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Before he switched to government work, Quinn was the healthcare industry program manager for Teradata, an enterprise analytic technologies and services provider. He also worked at NCR’s patient safety software division Quantros, GE Healthcare, and helped build an early PHR company after serving in the US military as an Army Engineer Officer.

According to the FCC’s job posting back in December, the Director of Health Care Initiatives will serve for a maximum of four years: “The incumbent will lead the agency’s efforts in facilitating and promoting communications technologies and services that improve the quality of health care for all citizens and help reduce health care costs; facilitating the availability of medical devices that use spectrum; and ensuring hospitals and other health care facilities have required connectivity,” the posting read.

The job description includes advising the FCC on health issues, providing guidance to the team overhauling the $400 million Rural Health Care program, working with other government bodies like the NIH and the FDA, and working with the private health care sector to develop effective FCC programs.

The West Health Institute’s director of public policy Kerry McDermott was the last person to head up health care initiatives for the FCC.  McDermott previously led the FCC’s healthcare efforts and helped Mo Kaushal and Spencer Hutchins write the healthcare chapter in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. Following the National Broadband Plan’s publication all three of them left the FCC to join the then-named West Wireless Health Institute. In 2011 the American Telemedicine Association published an open letter to the FCC criticizing the agency for going “silent” on healthcare since the publication of its National Broadband Plan in early 2010. In its letter the ATA also noted “the departure of every key professional staff from the Commission involved in healthcare policy.”

Last September the FCC held a public briefing this week with its mHealth Task Force, which formed in June 2012 to gather input from healthcare professionals and technologists to create a report full of “concrete” next steps that the FCC (and other agencies) can take to facilitate the adoption and acceleration of mHealth in the United States. One of the task force’s key suggestions was that the FCC hire a new healthcare director immediately.

Special thanks to Health 2.0’s Matthew Holt for mentioning Quinn’s appointment in a comment on a MobiHealthNews post this week. While the FCC itself has not confirmed the news, and we could not reach Quinn for comment, MobiHealthNews has confirmed the appointment with other sources. Also, Quinn is scheduled to speak at the Care Continuum Alliance’s upcoming event in Washington DC as the FCC’s Director of Health Care Initiatives.