Instant Heart Rate app passes 10M users

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 4, 2011        

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Azumio Instant Heart RateAzumio’s Instant Heart Rate app has passed the 10 million download mark, the company announced this week, making it one of the most popular health apps on the market.

The app claims to measure a user’s heart rate in only 10 seconds by using the smartphone’s camera and flash to track color changes in the light that passes through the index finger as new blood is delivered with each heartbeat. Users place a finger over the camera lens on their smartphone, hold it steady, and the app will display the current heart rate on the screen — no external sensors required.

The app is available in free and Pro versions, the latter of which costs $0.99 for iPhone, and $2.99 for Android.

Azumo received $2.5 million in funding this July from VC groups, an impressive number for a consumer app developer.

“Being able to use your smartphone to check your heart rate makes it easy to track your level of exertion before and after exercise, figure out if you are exercising in the optimal heart training zone, or even get an idea of your overall health if you’re not near a conventional monitor,” stated Azumio co-founder and CEO Bojan Bernard Bostjancic in a press release. “That’s why our Instant Heart Rate app has taken off so quickly. It’s a wellness tool that you can carry with you 24×7.”

Azumio has another of other apps in the works and already has two stress management apps, Stress Check and Stress Doctor, that builds on its heart rate sensor app and helps users to calm down.

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Read the press release after the jump. Keep reading>>

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iPhone 4S camera, speed will appeal to healthcare

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 4, 2011        

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“Over 80 percent of the top hospitals in the US are now testing or piloting iPad.” So said Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook at Tuesday’s “Let’s talk iPhone” event, according to tech bloggers. While this was the only healthcare specific statement made at the event, the new devices unveiled have plenty of implications for healthcare.

But first, some other interesting metrics from Cook’s presentation:

  • The iPhone 4 now makes up half of the overall iPhone market.
  • iPhone sales grew 125 percent year-over-year, while the overall smartphone market experienced 74 percent year-over-year growth.
  • The iPhone now accounts for five percent of the worldwide mobile phone market. (Cook said that Apple believes all phones will soon be smartphones.)

After 14 months of industry speculation, Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, this week. The 4S sports an identical look to the iPhone 4, despite months of rumors that a design makeover was forthcoming. A bevy of under-the-hood improvements, however, may keep the iPhone as a top choice for healthcare professionals and health-concious consumers alike.

Some new key features include:

Upgraded processor/memory: The iPhone 4S features Apple’s A5 processor, the same CPU that powers the iPad 2. It also has 1GB RAM, twice as much as the iPhone 4.

8MP Camera: The new camera sensor takes pictures at a max resolution of 3264 × 2448.

Siri: A voice-controlled personal assistant that Apple has fine-tuned with some help from the natural language processing experts at Nuance.

There have been persistent rumors of an iPhone 5 announcement at today’s event, with multiple phone case manufacturers producing prototypes for an iPhone with a larger screen and thinner width. Now that those rumors have proven false, some sites are speculating that those specifications are rumored to be for an iPhone 5 prototype that won’t see release until late next year — if ever.

Rumors aside, let’s focus on that 8MP camera and what it means for healthcare. Keep reading>>

New iPod nano offers easier Nike+ integration

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 4, 2011        

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iPod Nano FitnessApple just made it a little bit easier for people to use an iPod nano to track their walks and runs with Nike+.

This morning at the “Let’s Talk iPhone” event at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, company executives announced that the newest iPod nano, which, like the sixth generation model is a square-shaped screen about the size of a large wristwatch face, does not require users to have a Nike+ sensor in their shoes. The accelerometer in the device tracks the user’s workouts and users then upload the date to NikePlus.com for analysis. (CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the device now included an embedded receiver that synchs up to Nike+ shoe sensors, but Apple.com’s new description of the nano negates that.)

Back in 2009, MobiHealthNews reported that Apple had outfitted its iPod nano with an accelerometer so that people could use it to count steps through apps like Nike+; However, users needed an external receiver that plugged into their iPods in order to synch up with the Nike+ insert in their sneaker. The Nike+ system uses a 2.4GHz wireless radio and proprietary network protocol for short range wireless communications, similar to Bluetooth LE and ANT+.

According to Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook, the company sold 45 million iPods between July 2010 and June 2011. Half of those went to people who were buying their very first iPod, Cook said.

“We’ve improved the fitness experience as well,” said Phil Schiller, SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Apple. “Right out of the box, you can go on a walk or a run as well without adding sensors or devices,” according to a report from the event over at GDGT.com. The move toward easier integration with Nike+ certainly strengthens the sneaker maker’s position with Apple in the face of an emerging dedicated fitness device market. (It’s worth noting that Schiller’s presentation included a number of screenshots of Nike+’s platform.)

That said, MobiHealthNews’ recent analysis of Apple’s AppStore found that there are now more than 100 pedometer apps available for iPhone and iPod touch users to download.

Schiller also noted that people have begun wearing iPod nanos as watches thanks to a growing number of companies and independent artists creating wristbands for the tiny device.

“There’s a really cool use people have created all their own,” Schiller said. “Accessories like watch bands. We thought that was really fun, so with the updated nano we’ve added 16 new clock faces to make it fun for people who like to wear it as a watch,” he said. “Why not, right?”

The 7th generation iPod nano comes in seven different colors and is available now with the 8GB for $129, and 16GB for $149.

Earlier this year, a report in FastCompany wondered if Apple would capitalize on the growing trend of wearing iPod nanos on the wrist: Keep reading>>

Sanofi, AMDA fund mobile health diabetes study

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 4, 2011        

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iglucosePositiveID announced this week that its iglucose diabetes management system will be used in a study sponsored by Sanofi and the American Medical Directors Association Foundation (AMDA).

PositiveID’s iglucose system pairs with compatible blood glucose meters to wirelessly submit readings to a diabetes management portal, which can then by viewed via electronic logbooks and aggregated into trend reports. Readings can be shared with caregivers and healthcare professionals via text message, email, or fax.

The study aims to determine the “the superior efficacy of basal/bolus insulin over sliding scale insulin in reducing mean fasting blood glucose concentration averaged over days 21-28 in nursing home patients with type 2 diabetes by use of an algorithmic conversion tool.” A nursing facility’s staff will use iglucose to collect the blood glucose data.

Sanofi is currently working with Agamatrix for a glucose meter plug-in for the iPhone, called iPhone BGM, and branded the Nugget. The Nugget will interact with a not yet Apple-approved iBGStar Diabetes Manager App that helps users track blood glucose, carbs intake and insulin dose. Agamatrix already offers such an app for iPhone users under its Wavesense brand, however, that application does not pair with the Nugget blood glucose meter.

“We are very pleased that the AMDA Foundation has selected iglucose to simplify their data collection processes for this important study to improve diabetes treatment methods,” stated William J. Caragol, Chief Executive Officer of PositiveID, in a press release.

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Read the PositiveID press release below. Keep reading>>

Mixed message from HHS Text4Health Task Force

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 3, 2011        

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Adam GreeneBy Adam H. Greene former Senior Health Information Technology and Privacy Specialist at the HHS Office for Civil Rights, where he was responsible for applying the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules to health IT, now a partner in the Health IT/HIPAA practice of Davis Wright Tremaine.

On Sept. 19, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced recommendations from an internal Text4Health Task Force on ways in which HHS can best utilize text messaging to improve population health. One of the issues raised by the Task Force is the need for further research and guidance on the privacy and security of health text messaging.

The Text4Health Task Force (of which the author was a member while at HHS) recommends that HHS:

Develop and host an evidence-based text message library for use in a variety of text messaging programs, such as smoking cessation, emergency response/preparedness, early childhood health, maternal/child health, heart disease, diabetes, mental health, oral health and obesity;

  • Research the effectiveness of health text messaging programs;
  • Develop partnerships across government and non-governmental organizations for health texting initiatives;
  • Improve coordination within HHS on texting initiatives;
  • Integrate health text messaging with other health information technology initiatives;
  • Conduct further research into the privacy and security risks associated with text messaging of health information and establish guidelines for managing such privacy and security issues; and
  • Develop regulatory guidelines for the use of text messaging to treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent diseases or conditions.

On the privacy and security front, the Task Force’s recommendations provide a mixed message. Clearly, the current administration is embracing texting technology and believes that it holds great potential in the area of health care. However, HHS recognizes that there is still a great deal of ambiguity with respect to the privacy and security issues surrounding text messaging and the application of laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules.

For health care providers and those involved in mobile health technology, these recommendations mean that they need not completely foreclose the idea of using text messages to assist patients, and HHS supports novel technological initiatives to improve health, but organizations need to tread carefully until HHS conducts research into and publishes guidance on the privacy and security issues. Until such guidance comes, organizations that wish to create text messaging programs may want to thoroughly document their analyses of the privacy and security risks and consider whether there are technologies available to mitigate those risks.

More from Greene: When HIPAA applies to mobile apps

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T-Mobile USA offers sleep tracker device

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 3, 2011        

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sleeptrakMeridian Health, T-Mobile, and iMPak Health jointly announced the launch this week of iMPak’s SleepTrack sleep monitor.

The system has three components: a SleepTrak card (which is a credit card-sized wireless device that is worn on the upper arm), a free app offered through Nokia’s Ovi store, and T-Mobile’s Astound smartphone, which is the only phone compatible with the SleepTrak device.

iMPak is a joint venture between Meridian Health and wireless technology firm Cypak that launched last year. iMPak aims to launch a number of reliable, low cost, easy to use solutions based on Near Field Communications (NFC), embedded sensors, and storage capabilities, for various health conditions. The SleepTrak was first announced in April. iMPak’s first offering was an NFC-enabled pain journal called Health Journal for Pain. iMPak also has similar NFC card-powered offerings for cholesterol management, chronic heart failure, diabetes management and weight management.

“T-Mobile sees NFC as one of the ways we can deliver value to our customers and help businesses evolve,” stated Matt Millen, Vice President of Small and Medium Business Sales at T-Mobile USA, in a press release. “Our NFC-capable smartphones on T-Mobile’s reliable nationwide 4G network are helping iMPak Health and Meridian Health to bring complex capabilities, like a professional sleep assessment session, to the consumer market for a fraction of the price. The opportunities for NFC technology appear limitless.”

“With this deployment, we successfully combined the expertise of a health care organization, a telemedicine technology company, and a wireless operator to deliver cost-effective, easy-to-use tools that allow users to take control of their own health and act on the information provided,” stated Sandra Elliott, Director, Consumer Technology and Service Development, Meridian Health in a press release.

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Read the press release below.

Keep reading>>