Ivor Medical’s iPad app explains how to use AEDs

By: Neil Versel | Mar 21, 2012        

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Ivor-AED-TranerThe iPad can’t administer a lifesaving electrical jolt to the heart – yet – but a new app teaches people how to do so with the help of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Croatian emergency physician Ivor Kovic and his company, Ivor Medical, recently released the AED Trainer app, which simulates operation of an actual AED, the portable device that allows medical professionals, emergency responders and laypeople alike to shock the heart back into rhythm in case of cardiac arrhythmia.

The app, available through iTunes at an introductory price of $5.99, walks users through the processes of attaching electrical pads to the right spots on a patient’s chest, then, if necessary, delivering an electric shock from the machine to help restore normal heartbeat. The simulation mimics the display screen, buttons, sounds and voice prompts of a typical AED.

AED Trainer also allows instructors to generate custom training scenarios to help teach proper and appropriate AED usage, including how to administer CPR after delivering and electric shock. It is designed to work in concert with CPR mannequins and adhesive chest pads.

At press time, the product page on the Ivor Medical website was down, but the company has posted a video demonstration of AED Trainer here.

Kovic is a European champion of sorts for mobile technology in emergency care. Last year, he co-authored a paper in Resuscitation, the journal of the European Resuscitation Council, on the role of mobile phones in what he has dubbed the “chain of survival.” According to Kovic, phones obviously can be used to call for help at the first sign of an emergency and for post-CPR communications, but smartphones in particular also can assist in educating and refreshing the memory of rescuers about lifesaving actions people on the scene should take.

“[Mobile phones] have a potential to allow for a faster and superior emergency medical services contact, assure a higher quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and quicker retrieval of an automated external defibrillator and facilitate a finer post-resuscitation care through telemedical and clinical decision support systems,” Kovic and a colleague wrote. “Smartphones, mobile phones with advanced computing abilities and connectivity, should be considered as medical devices, and their use, among lay rescuers and medical professionals in cardiovascular emergencies, further investigated and strongly encouraged,” they added.

Kovic discusses the “chain of survival” here.

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Deloitte: Mobile views healthcare as biggest opportunity

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 21, 2012        

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According to a recent Deloitte survey, 78 percent of senior mobile industry executives view healthcare as the most promising new growth channel for 4G services. Deloitte conducted about 250 interviews with senior executives from mobile network operators, mobile device manufacturers, software applications developers and infrastructure component manufacturers and finished analyzing the results last August. After healthcare and the life sciences, those interviewed picked the retail industry and the financial industry as the second and third most promising industry verticals for mobile growth potential.

Deloitte’s report, which is freely available here, includes a discussion of the trends driving mHealth as well as a summary of the barriers holding it back:

“Before the real breakthroughs occur on a scale required to address escalating healthcare costs, mHealth adoption needs to build momentum by overcoming some important hurdles. To begin with, more trials are required to broaden the disease and population samples and align them with FDA recommendations. To date, trials have been carried out on a selective basis but need to broaden to end the uncertainty about the true extent of health benefits to the patient, and the subsequent effect of reducing hospital readmissions and caregiver visits. This should also help broaden commitment from the healthcare industry’s insurance sector, which so far has been reluctant to provide coverage for patients using these technologies. In parallel, pricing on RPM devices needs to align with current consumer electronics price points to stimulate consumer demand and ensure widespread adoption,” Deloitte wrote in the report.

Deloitte Survey Data

The report includes one head scratcher: “Analysts tracking the flow of activity in this area predict a threefold spike in apps available in 2012 from a baseline of 200 million available in 2010.” The reference is to a Pyramid Research report from December 2010 that proved confusing to many at the time, too. Pyramid’s 200 million figure treated downloaded apps as units referred to the number of apps in use at the time not the number of different kinds of health apps available. It was more of a figure for total number of downloads than total number of health app options available.

The number of consumer health apps available is still between 10,000 and 20,000. Available professional medical apps are even fewer in number. There are far fewer than the hundreds of millions the Deloitte report seems to indicate.

Overall the Deloitte report is a worthwhile read for a refresher on overall drivers and barriers of mHealth as long as a collection of data points about the wider mobile data services market. Read it here (PDF)

FDA mulls the role of screening apps, devices

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 20, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsThis week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding a hearing about using innovative technologies and other mechanisms to expand the number of medications that can administered over the counter. A report in the San Diego Union Tribune recognizes that some of the innovations that the FDA has in mind are mobile health apps and devices.

“FDA is aware that industry is developing new technologies that consumers could use to self-screen for a particular disease or condition and determine whether a particular medication is appropriate for them,” the agency wrote in the Federal Register last month. “For example, kiosks or other technological aids in pharmacies or on the Internet could lead consumers through an algorithm for a particular drug product. Such an algorithm could consist of a series of questions that help consumers properly self-diagnose certain medical conditions, or determine whether specific medication warnings contraindicate their use of a drug product.”

Last year the FDA listed a number of example mobile medical apps that were diagnostic in intent, for example:

> Apps that connect to a home use diagnostic medical device such as a blood pressure meter, body composition analyzer, or blood glucose meter to collect historical data or to receive, transmit, store, analyze, and display measurements from connected devices.

> Apps that use the built-in accelerometer or other similar sensors in a mobile platform to monitor the user’s movement to determine conditions such as sleep apnea, sleep phase, fall detection, or detect motion related to other conditions or diseases or to measure heart rate.

> Apps that use a mobile platform to record response time and accuracy of patients completing a cognitive task and/or automatically score or interpret cognitive testing results.

> Apps that use a mobile platform to upload electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings and automatically detect seizures.

These are just a few of the mobile medical apps that the FDA outlined in its proposed guidelines for medical app regulation last year. There are many more examples of new diagnostic apps and devices.

According to the Federal Register posting, the FDA is considering OTC status under certain conditions for drugs that treat: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and migraines. Which apps might be used by pharmacists to make these OTC recommendations? Which mobile health screening apps might be safe for patients to use at home to determine a need for OTC meds or other treatments?

These questions should lead to an interesting discussion this Thursday and Friday at the FDA.

Importantly, here’s the core reason for this discussion, based on the FDA’s notice in the Federal Register: “Eliminating or reducing the number of routine visits could free up prescribers to spend time with more seriously ill patients, reduce the burdens on the already overburdened health care system, and reduce health care costs.”

ONC pilot uses tablets for HIE meaningful consent

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 20, 2012        

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Female Doctor with TabletThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to launch a pilot in September to determine whether patients can “meaningfully consent” to their data being shared with other health care providers using an application on a tablet in the waiting room. The pilot will take place at a hospital and three clinics in western New York that are all a part of the HEALTHeLINK health information exchange. If the pilot works, HHS and ONC plan to make the patient consent education app open source so that other facilities can use it, too.

“By ‘meaningful consent’, they meant that individuals would really understand what they were consenting to and would be informed about how their information would be shared,” Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer at ONC said, according to a report over at Healthcare Info Security.

The app will give patients a number of options for how they would like their information to be shared. It will also allow them to read as much or as little about HIEs as they’d like before making a decision. Consent options will be numerous too and include allowing records to be exchanged in all cases, not allowing any exchanges, allowing only in an emergency, or allowing all but certain organizations to access the data.

The patients in the pilot will also complete a survey to determine how helpful the app was for them. The app will automatically track how much information was read on average before a patient made their decision. In the future ONC plans to launch another pilot to determine whether it’s possible to help patients give consent to share only certain parts of their medical records.

More on the tablet-enabled “meaningful consent” pilot over at Healthcare Info Security

Independa adds Telcare’s cellular glucometer

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 19, 2012        

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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterSenior care company Independa has inked a deal with Telcare to add its cellular-enabled glucose meter to its remote management services for older people. Telcare’s meter received clearance from the FDA last August, making it the first meter with cellular embedded.

The Telcare BGM device sends the glucose readings to the company’s central server, which then sends it to Independa’s cloud-based Caregiver Web App. Patients, caregivers and providers can access the readings via the dashboard and control panel on Indepenada’s Caregiver Web portal, which is accessible through PCs, laptops, and tablets, according to the company. Independa also will flag data that might indicate the user requires more attention.

Independa aims to begin offering Telcare’s glucose monitor to its customers starting May 1. Earlier this year Independa announced a deal with LG to pilot Independa’s Angela platform on the television maker’s flatscreens at senior living communities.

Last month Telcare launched a free, companion iPhone app, called MyTelcare Diabetes Pal that helps Telcare BGM users to track their glucose readings, medications, nutrition, activities and more. The app automatically receives glucose readings from the Telcare BGM device, which means no more manual logging of blood glucose readings. Other non-Telcare BGM device users can still use the Telcare app to manually log their readings.

In February Boston-based Healthrageous has inked a co-marketing deal with Telcare, to integrate blood glucose readings collected from Telcare’s device into Healthrageous’ “personal health improvement” platform. The companies plan to market the combined offering to health plans and self-insured employers.

At the end of January, a health plan that services self-funded employers in New York and New Jersey, MagnaCare, announced that it would offer Telcare’s cellular-enabled blood glucose meter to its members. MagnaCare said the device and its corresponding apps will help its members be more proactive in managing their own health conditions, while also helping physicians stay better informed.

For more on Telcare’s deal with Independa, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

West Wireless Health Institute CEO Don Casey steps down

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 19, 2012        

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Don CaseyLast week the West Wireless Health Institute’s CEO Don Casey announced his resignation. He plans to join an as yet unnamed “major health care company” where he plans to bring the institute’s mission of lowering the cost of healthcare. The WWHI has not yet named a replacement CEO.

Prior to joining the WWHI in March 2010, Casey was the worldwide chairman for Johnson & Johnson’s comprehensive care group, where he managed Johnson & Johnson’s cardiovascular, diagnostic, diabetes and vision care global franchises. Casey led J&J’s chronic disease management strategy, which included patient-centric solutions and innovations with medical device offerings for diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

The institute has been busy in recent months. Here’s a roundup of 2012 announcements about and mentions of the non-profit organization:

At the end of last year, a rep from the WWHI shared insights on tablet adoption at US hospitals: Less than one percent of US hospitals have fully functional tablet systems, according to Jonathan Mack, director of clinical research and development at the West Wireless Health Institute. Despite financial incentives from the government, US hospitals are still slow to adopt EMRs, Mack told Kaiser Health News in a recent interview. Those that do might not have access to a native tablet application from the EMR developer, and even then, the app might include only read-only functionality. To circumvent this, virtualization programs such as Citrix are used on EMRs designed for keyboard input, making for a slow and frustrating usage experience.

In January the WWHI kicked off a research study with its partner, the Carlos Slim Health Institute (CSHI), in Mexico that aims to track the impact mobile health and connected devices have on maternal health in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. The technologies used in the study are part of a “Wireless Pregnancy Remote Monitoring Kit,” developed by WWHI and CSHI.

In February the institute announced that six hospitals were in the process of deploying or had already deployed its “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.

At the beginning of this year, WWHI Vice Chairman Dr. Eric Topol also published his book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, which we reviewed along with an interview with Dr. Topol in a post earlier this month: How Medicine Will be Topol’d (few picked up on the “toppled” pun, unfortunately.)

Casey remains on the WWHI’s board and is also on the board of a small pharmaceutical company called Biodel. Given the characterization of his next gig as being at a “major” healthcare company, however, it is unlikely that Biodel is where he’s headed full-time.

For more details on Casey’s resignation, read the press release below: Keep reading>>