Six hospitals deploy West’s medical grade wireless

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 20, 2012        

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West Wireless Health InstituteLast year at the HIMSS event the West Wireless Health Institute CEO Don Casey told MobiHealthNews that the WWHI had added Ed Cantwell as a new senior vice president. His first project was to form a group of hospital CIOs to create a standard architecture for wireless networks inside hospitals.

“Assurance is the number one fear for new wireless sensor companies looking to work in the hospital environment,” Cantwell told MobiHealthNews in an interview on-site at the event in Orlando last February. Cantwell said that the four principles of assurance are coverage, signal strength, capacity, and certainty.

Now, six hospitals have rolled out the “medical grade wireless open framework” in their facilities, including, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA and HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, in Leominster, MA. Scripps Health in San Diego is in the process of deploying it, too.

The group that Cantwell formed to create this framework, which the WWHI says is freely available, is called the West Wireless Health Council. Here’s how the Council has distilled the aim of its reference architecture: “Using best practices across the industry, the Council developed a reference architecture that enables a wireless infrastructure to be incorporated into any hospital or health care system, much like electricity, plumbing, heating or air conditioning.”

The West Wireless Health Council’s Executive Committee includes: Harold Dupper, Vice President/Finance, Platte Valley Medical Center, Brighton, CO. Marty Miller, Chief Information Officer, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, CA. Bruce Rainey, Corporate Vice President, Facilities Design and Construction, Scripps Health, San Diego, CA. Chris Riha, Clinical Systems Engineering Technology Services Group, Carillion Health System, Roanoke, VA. Greg Walton, Chief Information Officer, El Camino Hospital, Mountain View, CA.

“We believe that creating some standards and architectures that guarantee those four things would allow anyone — from GE Healthcare to Carefusion to Sotera Wireless — to develop with confidence that there will be an environment that will guarantee their devices and applications will work,” Casey told MobiHealthNews last year.

For a full list of Council members and more details, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

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HCA invests in AirStrip, expands use of its mobile health apps

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 17, 2012        

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AirstripRPMHealth Insight Capital, a subsidiary of HCA, has invested an undisclosed amount into AirStrip Technologies, which offers a number of apps built on its AppPoint platform that securely send critical patient information from hospital monitoring systems, bedside devices, and electronic health records to a clinician’s smartphone. HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) has about 163 hospitals and 109 freestanding surgery centers. HCA has facilities throughout the US and some in England.

HCA was one of the first hospital groups to adopt AirStrip’s technology. It first began using the AirStripOB application in 2007. AirStripOB is widely considered the first iPhone medical app to secure FDA 510(k) clearance — the FDA cleared an earlier, pre-iPhone version of the software in 2004.

This week HCA announced an expanded rollout of AirStrip’s mobile monitoring apps. AirStrip’s most recently launched offering, AirStrip Cardiology, has already been deployed to a handful of HCA facilities, but the app will see wider use among HCA-affiliated physicians thanks to the expanded deal. AirStrip Cardiology enables physicians to view real-time electrocardiograms (ECGs) and access historical ECG data on smartphones.

“AirStrip is a leading innovator that we have worked with for several years,” R. Milton Johnson, HCA’s President and Chief Financial Officer stated in a company release. “Our collaboration with AirStrip promotes quality patient care by offering physicians the latest technology to access real-time patient data on mobile devices, while our investment facilitates the expansion of AirStrip’s platform and capability. We are pleased that Health Insight Capital’s investment activities continue to support demonstrated innovators in the healthcare sector.”

Last week Qualcomm Life Fund announced an investment in AirStrip, too. AirStrip and Qualcomm Life have also teamed up to create a new use case for AirStrip’s remote monitoring technology in home health care settings. Like the HCA investment the amount of the Qualcomm Life Fund investment amount was also undisclosed.

In November AirStrip announced a $4.3 million deal with another large hospital group Catholic Healthcare West.

More on the HCA deal in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Mobility forces rethinking of hospital-centric model

By: Neil Versel | Feb 16, 2012        

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Neil_Versel_LargeA few months back, Eric Dishman, chief healthcare strategist and director of health policy for the Intel-GE Care Innovations joint venture, spoke to me about how mobile and wireless healthcare technologies showed promise for what he called “virtual care coordination.”

As Dishman explained, “In a world in which there’s not going to be enough doctors and nurses and hospital beds to take care of an increasingly older and sicker population, Intel’s really focused on how do we use disruptive technologies to enable care of people in the home and in the community.”

This might not have been all that groundbreaking for his audience at the time, attendees at the Medical Group Management Association annual conference. However, it apparently was eye-opening information for a group of technology and development ministers from about 80 countries, including many from what many have euphemistically called “low-resource” parts of the world.

Dishman spoke in Palo Alto, Calif., earlier this month about how mobile and home-based technologies could help stretch limited funds and create “sustainable healthcare for all.” He was there for a meeting called USRio+2.0, the official U.S. State Department event before Rio+20—officially known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development—this June in Rio de Janeiro, commemorating the 20th anniversary of a conference in the Brazilian city that effectively started the international movement toward sustainability.

Dishman challenged the notion that nations, regions and cities needed to build more hospitals to meet the needs of aging populations and address both the types of chronic ailments that plague Western countries and communicable diseases that poorer areas still struggle with. “The notion of a hospital as a symbol of ‘having arrived’—of economic and technological progress—is not surprising, but also not very healthy in the long run,” he said. “In the midst of Global Aging, a hospital-centric model must somehow begin to give way to a home-centric model for the future.”

In other words, developing countries don’t need to “copy the Western model,” as Dishman later told me. A lot of places that never had landline telephones now are blanketed with cellular coverage. Dishman reported that he’s heard about villages in Mozambique that don’t have constant, reliable electricity but do have broadband Internet service thanks to WiMAX technology. Keep reading>>

Health apps in the news this week

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 16, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsOver the past few weeks I’ve noticed an increasing number of stories in the main stream media focused on various types of health apps. Dieting apps, sexual health apps, sleep apnea apps, fitness apps, emergency care apps, psychiatry apps and more have received ink — in some cases — from big name publications and media outlets recently.

It’s clear that mobile health apps have quickly become a go-to topic of discussion for health reporters around the country.

Here’s a quick redux of health apps in the news for those that missed them:

NYC Health Department launches controversial free condom finding app: This was perhaps the most high-profile of stories since it received coverage virtually everywhere, including a sensational headline over at The Drudge Report. As CBS News reported, it wasn’t just Valentine’s Day this week: “February 14 is also National Condom Day and the Health Department is launching a NYC Condom mobile-enabled website so more New Yorkers can use their phones to find free condoms and access information about sexual health.” The app version of the offering had been downloaded 25,000 times before the most recent report went viral. CBS

Purdue developing calorie counting app from food images: This research reminds me of MealSnap. Researchers at Purdue are developing technology that aims to accurately judge and quantify the calorific information of foods captures by smartphone cameras: “The application counts more than calories. It also provides information on the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates in food through the Technology Assisted Dietary Assessment system, or TADA, being developed by Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. ‘Our goal is to allow people to record their food intake and help individuals with health challenges like diabetes understand what they’re eating and make healthier choices,’ said Carol Boushey, who led the development team while a professor in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences.” Purdue

Boston Globe reports on diet apps that work: The Globe had a short piece on dieting apps and presented a testimonial for one local startup: “Friends had been successful tracking their food consumption and exercise using a website and free mobile application called MyFitnessPal. Noonan, 24, of Cambridge, signed up, too. It helped her understand what that butter meant for her calorie count, and see the benefit of a few extra minutes on the elliptical machine. And, she said, it kept her focused.” Boston Globe

NPR rounds up sleep health apps and devices: NPR had a short piece on health apps and companion devices worth knowing. Here’s there list with prices: Sleep Cycle for iOS: $1. Sleep Bot Tracker for Android: Free. Wakemate app: $60. Lark: $99. Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile: $99. SleepTracker Elite: $149. NPR

Accelerometer-based fitness device technology advances: Expect the next crop of fitness tracking devices to have more accurate accelerometer technologies embedded: “The MotionFit SDK from InvenSense addresses key accuracy and performance issues by providing a complete 10-axis MotionTracking solution to developers encompassing a 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis compass and a pressure sensor to support a wider range of motions to accurately identify and track a broad range of activities including running, swimming, hiking, and tennis.” More

A kidney transplant patient developed a health tracker app: A kidney transplant patient of ten years with nine years of dialysis experience has developed a new app called My Blood Works that is a multi-functional health tracker app. The app helps patients track blood pressure, blood tests and more. More

Fire department teamed up with El Camino Hospital for new emergency app: This new app PulsePoint reminds me of one that we covered last year — Fire Department. PulsePoint is offered as part of a partnership between the San Jose Fire Department and El Camino Hospital. The app’s users are people who have indicated that they are trained in CPR. The app then notifies them if someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency. It also helps users find the location of the nearest publicly available automated external defibrillator (AED). More

New York Times puts psychiatry apps on the couch: The New York Times asked a few psychiatrists what they thought about the potential of mental health apps — with the requisite mixed results, of course: “We are built as human beings to figure out our place in the world, to construct a narrative in the context of a relationship that gives meaning to our lives,” Dr. Andrew J. Gerber, a psychiatrist at Columbia University told the Times. “I would be wary of treatments that don’t allow for that.” The New York Times concludes, however, that “the upside is that well-designed apps could reach millions of people who lack the means or interest to engage in traditional therapy and need more than the pop mysticism, soothing thoughts or confidence boosters now in use.” New York Times

Cuffless blood pressure device startup nets $5.9M

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 16, 2012        

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Sense A/SDenmark-based medical device company Sense A/S just announced a €4.5 million ($5.9 million) round of funding from venture fund SEED Capital and Vaekstfonden to help it refine its cuffless blood pressure measurement device. The company expects to secure FDA 510(K) clearance for the device and have it launch commercially next year. (Last year SEED invested $2.3 million in another Danish startup, fitness app developer Endomondo.)

Sense A/S argues that measuring blood pressure at a physicians’ office via the cuff method is not the most efficient or effective way. “This solution has a number of challenges including discomfort with the measurement itself and nervousness during the consultation which both may contribute to erroneous measurements,” the company explained in a statement. “In addition, the realization is that a variety of cardiovascular diseases can be diagnosed much better by measuring blood pressure over a standard 24-hour circadian rhythm, and for this the cuff method is not very suitable.”

The Sense A/S device continuously measures the wearer’s blood pressure every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day and night. The company says the wearer doesn’t even notice that the device is taking the measurements. The sense A/S device, called ContiPress, includes an intelligent patch that the physician or nurse places on the patient’s upper arm. The device stores the blood pressure data for analysis later. While the current iteration of the device does not include wireless connectivity, it seems to be an obvious next step.

Another company, Sotera Wireless, is developing a wireless-enabled remote vital signs monitor called ViSi Mobile that also includes a cuffless blood pressure device.

Check out the MedGadget report here.
For more on the ContiPress device from Sense A/S, read the press release below:

Keep reading>>

Bluetooth toothbrush, app to track oral hygiene

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 15, 2012        

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Beam BrushAccording to a report over at GigaOm, one-year-old startup, Beam Technologies, plans to commercially launch a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush and companion app next month. Beam’s connected toothbrush leverages a sensor and Bluetooth to send brushing data to its companion smartphone app. The company sees an opportunity to build out a number of features and services based on the toothbrush tracking and also plans to add some gaming elements to the offering in the future.

Beam CEO Alex Frommeyer told GigaOm that the $50 Beam Brush will become available in early March. Replacements for the toothbrush head will cost $3. Frommeyer said that the Android companion app is already finished and the iOS version will launch around the time the toothbrush does. Beam is also expecting to land its first round of funding (less than $1 million) in the next few weeks.

MobiHealthNews first reported on a similar device we learned about in 2009 at the BodyNets conference in Los Angeles. Rice University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Lin Zhong told us that his team of Rice University researchers had developed an intelligent toothbrush that was able to determine how long a person brushed for, what type of movements the toothbrush was making and whether the user brushed comprehensively. Zhong noted that teaching kids to brush correctly is a difficult prospect.

Another high profile startup, GreenGoose, has mentioned plans to offer a very similar offering to the Beam Brush. Around this time last year GreenGoose demonstrated how its tiny sensors and accelerometers could be used to track usage of everyday items. The Brush Sensor that GreenGoose thought up appears to attach to pretty much any toothbrush, unlike the Beam Brush, which is a toothbrush itself. Beam Brush has a built-in business model, however, users have to reorder $3 toothbrush heads to keep using it.

More on the Beam Brush over at GigaOm here.