Independa adds GreatCall’s mobile emergency service

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 18, 2012        

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greatcallresponderSan Diego-based aging in place technology platform provider Independa has inked a deal with GreatCall, which offers the Jitterbug mobile phone service for seniors, to bring the company’s 5Star Urgent Response mPERS offering to its Artemis wireless monitoring platform. Independa has previously announced health and activity-related sensors will be a part of the platform. 5Star will become a feature of Artemis this fall, according to the companies.

GreatCall launched the dedicated device version of 5Star in October 2011 following its acquisition of mPERS startup MobiWatch in 2009. The dedicated 5Star device leverages cellular wireless technology and GPS for its emergency response service, which works both inside the user’s home and while they are on the go. Many existing PERS offerings use a wireless hub that connects to the backend system via the home’s wireline connection. GreatCall also offers 5Star as an app available for iPhone and Android devices. It’s also available for users of its Jitterbug phones. The company says its 5Star Urgent Response system can help its users 24/7 and nationwide with one button connections to certified care agents based in the US.

GreatCall will inform professional care providers when users on Independa’s platform use 5Star to make emergency calls, and reports based on these calls will be included in Independa’s cloud-based Caregiver Web App, which is the dashboard care providers use to check up on their patients who use Artemis.

More about the partnership in the press release below: Keep reading>>

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Florida Atlantic students devote a semester to mobile health

By: Neil Versel | Jul 17, 2012        

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Students in a multidisciplinary Android app development course at Florida Atlantic University spend the spring semester focusing exclusively on creating health and safety apps.

The 80 students, representing the Boca Raton, Fla., school’s College of Business, College of Engineering and Computer Science as well as the electronic graphic design program and the anthropology department, produced seven prototype applications:

  • Croyza, a symptom tracker so patients can note all their aches, pains and other health problems as they occur, and then share the record with their physicians;
  • DocQuest, an app that helps people find, read reviews of and make appointments with doctors in their area;
  • ePrescription, a medication reminder system;
  • eScriptPlus, an e-prescribing app for physicians;
  • EvaculateNow!, an app for organizations that assist elderly and handicapped people during mass emergencies such as hurricanes and tornados;
  • Uninsured Solutions, to help uninsured people find coverage or emergency medical support; and
  • Quick Key Campus, an emergency call application that enables students to emergency alerts to campus authorities and first responders from their smartphones.

Health apps have been on the mind of Ravi Shankar, professor of computer and electrical engineering and computer science at FAU, since he started teaching Android app development in 2009 because he has a background in biomedical engineering. But it took until now to devote an entire semester to mobile health, in the form of a course entitled, “Android App Design and Project Management.”

“There were issues that took more time than we expected,” Shankar tells MobiHealthNews. Getting four departments to collaborate was one roadblock. The maturation of Web service-access technology was another. Plus, the “data liberación” movement, championed by now-White House CTO Todd Park, has made it easier for app developers to get their hands on vast stores of public records,” Shankar notes.

“Our goal is to provide dynamic, real-time, useful information in the area of personal healthcare,” according to Shankar. By this year, “we thought we had done enough groundwork to start,” he adds.

The apps are all considered prototypes, but student teams are being encouraged to market their ideas, Shankar says. Some have established offices at headquarters of the FAU Research Corp., a university-affiliated not-for-profit entity that encourages the commercialization of research conducted on campus.

“I have started a business with a couple members of the team and hope to bring this piece of technology to every campus nationwide, starting first with Florida Atlantic University,” Quick Key Campus team member Matthew Hudson, a student in international business major, says in a university press release.

Shankar says that some of the student developers have been working with another professor to create Apple iOs versions of their apps, but his focus is on Android. FAU Android enthusiasts do participate in the global Android open-source community, Shankar notes.

Just launched: Our 2012 Consumer Health Apps Report

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 17, 2012        

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Four years after the launch of the AppStore, growth in the number of available consumer health apps for iPhone users is still accelerating. It’s growing more quickly now than ever. There were more consumer health apps in April 2012 than we expected there to be: In July 2011 we predicted that the number of consumer health apps would top 13,000 in July of this year, but that happened at least three months ahead of schedule.

In April of this year there were already more than 13,600 relevant consumer health apps, and that number does not include the thousands of miscategorized and foreign language apps found in the Health & Fitness and Medical categories of of Apple’s AppStore. As we have done for almost three years now, the MobiHealthNews team sifted through Apple’s health-related categories and placed each consumer health app, one-by-one, into more than 80 subcategories of our own for our 2012 definitive, quantitative analysis of consumer health apps for Apple’s iPhone.

Consumer_Apps_Intro_PieThis unexpected acceleration in the number of consumer health apps does bring more meaningful app choices for patients, but it also exacerbates the discoverability issue. With so many health and fitness apps available, can the best ones really break out? Certification platforms like Happtique are tackling the issue and an increasing number of medical professional blogs, publications, and journals are popping up to serve up reviews from the provider perspective.

Over the long term we expect these top-down approaches to help drive provider awareness, and while “prescribing” apps will become more common, consumer health app adoption will be driven by patient communities and social networks. The best will bubble up because they work and because these app users will share their stories.

It’s clear from the still rudimentary – though increasingly creative – selection of consumer health tools that health apps still have to amp up their feature set before mass adoption occurs beyond novelty heart rate monitor apps and exercise trackers. As other have noted – including Chris Wasden from PwC – the regulatory environment is pushing some health app developers to pare back some features in an effort to remain unregulated or less regulated. Precious few consumer health apps offer coaching elements – similar to what Wasden calls “intelligence”. Additional regulatory guidance from the FDA may help more developers take their apps beyond reference and tracking and into the realm of coaching and personalized feedback.

Encouragingly, there are now hundreds of apps that focus on various chronic conditions, and many of them enable users to track symptoms or observations of daily living. Diabetes and heart disease-focused management apps are among the largest contingencies of chronic condition management apps, but cardio fitness, dieting, and stress relief apps continue to be the three biggest consumer health categories overall.

Another interesting trend: The price of consumer health apps continues to drop. As we reported in our August 2010 health apps report, the average price of all consumer health apps (including both paid and free apps) was $2.34 at the time. By July 2011 the price fell to $2.20, or by about 14 cents. Since July 2011 the price has dropped an additional 15 cents, making the average price for all consumer-facing health apps as of April 2012: $2.05.

While the price is falling for health-related apps, that still puts the category at the higher end of Apple’s AppStore for average pricepoints.

To learn more about the current state of consumer-facing health apps, join the thousands of others who have purchased MobiHealthNews’ apps reports or subscribe to all of our 2012 paid content reports. For more on MobiHealthNews’ latest research report: An Analysis of Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone, visit our online research store here.

PCORI grants SUNY researchers $500K for stroke apps

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 17, 2012        

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Money TreeThe federally funded Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has granted researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center a $500,000 award to conduct a two-year study that will determine the interest in and need for apps that help improve identification and management of risk factors for stroke.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center professor of neurology and emergency medicine Dr. Steven Levine, who is the principal investigator of the study, will lead a team of researchers that will survey stroke survivors and their caregivers to find out what features smartphone apps should have to better help them or other like them.

“Despite the saying, ‘There’s an app for that,’ progress has been limited in providing successful mobile technology to help patients manage cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and other illnesses,” Levine said in a written statement. “Nevertheless, there is enormous potential for patients and their caregivers to improve health outcomes through this technology, including among the elderly, minorities, and those of limited financial means, who are often most in need of better care. We are looking to develop a model program that will address stroke risk and disease management that will be applicable to other conditions as well.”

PCORI describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit organization whose establishment was authorized by Congress in 2010,” and its mandate is “to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.”

The grant that Levine’s team won is part of PCORI’s Pilot Projects Program. The researchers include investigators from Downstate’s College of Medicine and School of Public Health and the study will be developed with help from the National Stroke Association and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

More details in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Pharma company taps Healthrageous for mobile diabetes management

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 16, 2012        

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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterLast week German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim announced a deal with Boston-based digital health company Healthrageous, which spun out of Partners Healthcare a few years ago. The companies plan to launch a pilot study to evaluate a lifestyle behavior modification program that aims to help people better manage type II diabetes.

The six-month study will leverage Healthrageous’ platform, which includes a coaching program and a wireless-enabled glucose meter. Since Healthrageous inked a deal with Telcare earlier this year, it is likely the device Boeringer will use for the study is the Telcare BGM.

Here’s how Telcare and Healthrageous described their combined offering when it was first announced in February: “The Healthrageous Personal Health Improvement Platform helps individuals modify their health habits and behaviors utilizing an evidence-based protocol (or ‘journey map’) for diabetes management. Individuals create an online assessment of health habits associated with managing diabetes and a personalized action plan to control their blood glucose. When an individual uses the Telcare BGM to take a blood glucose reading, that data will be seamlessly integrated into the Healthrageous ‘biometric scorecard’ to validate that their health habits and behavior changes are having a positive impact on their condition.” Healthrageous’ “digital coach” will then identify and push personalized messages, alerts and other relevant content to individual users. The platform offers incentive tracking, team and individual competitions, informational videos, medication reminders, and an online HIPAA-compliant community.

The Boehringer study will evaluate how well the intervention leads to changes in lifestyle behaviors and it will study how well the program enables glucose control and medication adherence, while taking into account other medical parameters.

Boehringer has stated that this will be the first of many “beyond the pill” digital health programs that the pharma company pursues.

“Boehringer Ingelheim is known for innovation in research and development and for bringing high quality medications quickly to the market. But we are also committed to a ‘beyond pill’ approach in health care. We have to pursue a new approach to see the patient with all his or her aspirations but also limitations. We need to find suitable answers that will benefit not only the patients and their family but also the whole society in so far that healthier patients lead a more satisfactory life and can contribute to society for longer.” Bert Tjeenk-Willink, Member of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim said in a written statement. “This first initiative offering a comprehensive digital platform for Type 2 diabetes will help us to better understand what motivates individuals to become and remain engaged in self-managing their health. We are delighted to be working with Healthrageous here. Boehringer Ingelheim will engage in many more initiatives of that kind.”

For more, read this press release below: Keep reading>>

Wireless shoe insert senses foot numbness that can lead to diabetic ulcers, amputation

By: Neil Versel | Jul 16, 2012        

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Orpyx Surrosense RxA Canadian startup company is developing a wireless shoe insert that will help people with diabetes manage peripheral nerve damage and hopefully prevent amputations that often stem from diabetic foot ulcers.

Orpyx Medical Technologies, based in Calgary, Alberta, will soon be seeking regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada to sell SurroSense Rx, an insole that that collects data of where wearers are putting pressure on their feet. The sensor wirelessly transmits data, following the ANT+ standard, to a wristwatch-type display or to a smartphone, alerting users that they might be putting too much pressure on their heels and risking numb feet that can lead to ulcers.

“Many cases [of diabetic peripheral neuropathy] are because people have no idea of the pressure they’re putting on their feet,” Amanda Hehr, VP of marketing at Orpyx, tells MobiHealthNews.

According to the company, more than 60 percent of diabetic patients will suffer from foot numbness, and the inability to feel pain is a leading cause of ulceration and eventually amputation. Prevention can reduce the risk of amputation by as much as 85 percent, Orpyx says in its marketing material.

Hehr says SurroSense Rx, should go on sale by November as a Class I medical device, pending, of course, clearance from the FDA in the U.S. and from Health Canada north of the border.

Orpyx, which was co-founded and is headed by Dr. Breanne Everett, a resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Calgary, also is working on a product called SurroGait Rx, which pairs the shoe insert with a sensor worn on the back. The insole wirelessly sends pressure information to the back sensor, which transposes sensation to the back that a numb foot cannot feel, based on the concept of neuroplasticity.

The idea, according to Hehr, is for users to learn to “feel” their feet via their backs and eventually train their brains to recognize signs of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Orpyx will start clinical trials on SurroGait Rx early next year in hopes of bringing the product to market by 2014.

Everett explained the technology – along with the “democratization of data” in healthcare and innovation in medicine – at TEDxYYC, a TED-affiliated event held in Calgary on May 25. Watch a video of that presentation here.