Survey: Four years ago half of baby boomers were interested in texting, video conferencing for health

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 10, 2014        

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baby boomer surveyAs a group, about 35 percent of baby boomers were interested in using their smartphone to learn about and better manage their own health, according to results from a survey conducted by academic researchers in late 2010. The survey, which consisted of responses from 469 consumers, 258 of which are baby boomers, only published its findings this month.

Researchers from Saint Louis University, Northern Arizona University, and George Mason University conducted the survey to determine which technologies the aging baby boomers are most ready to use to manage their health. The researchers were also interested in the difference between baby boomers and the younger generation, consumers aged 18 to 45 as well as the older generation, consumers over 65. The survey was conducted at the time when the oldest baby boomers were just beginning to turn 65 years old.

In the report, the researchers noted that baby boomers now make up the largest segment of the US population and around 60 percent of baby boomers have already been diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition. Some of the more common conditions for this group include arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and hypertension.  Keep reading>>

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Survey: 65 percent of nurses use mobiles at work every day

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 10, 2014        

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NEC-Medical-41Sixty five percent of nurses use a mobile device at work for professional purposes and for at least 30 minutes every day, according to a survey of 2,498 nurses by Wolters Kluwer Health. The company recruited 1,921 practicing nurses, 386 nurse academics, 135 who are retired, and 56 other nurses.

“These findings largely mirror what we are seeing outside the hospital, that use of mobile devices to access online information, the internet and social sites are becoming part of the social fabric both personally and professionally,” Wolters Kluwer Health Chief Nurse Judith McCann said in a statement. “Although these findings may not reflect the actual policies of these institutions, what’s interesting are the perceptions of the nurses who work there, and what we learned is that nurses are frequently incorporating the use of mobile devices, online resources and, to some extent, social media into their daily workflow.”

The study also found that within the group of practicing nurses, 20 percent of nurses that use mobile devices every day for work use them two hours or more. Nurses who work in hospitals said that 95 percent of healthcare organizations let them visit websites and other online resources for clinical information while working.

Of those organizations that allow the use of online resources, 89 percent of healthcare organizations allow nurses to use search engines, 64 percent allow nurses to use Wikipedia, 37 percent allow nurses to use YouTube, and 32 percent allow nurses to use LinkedIn. Additionally, 48 percent of nurses in the healthcare field said their organizations even encouraged them to use websites and online resources to access clinical information during the workday.

Less than 30 percent of healthcare organizations allow nurses to use Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Nurse managers are more likely to use mobile devices at work than staff nurses. Seventy seven percent of nurse managers use mobile devices at work compared to 58 percent of staff nurses. Of these groups that use mobile devices, 47 percent of nurse managers use iPhones compared to 31 percent of staff nurses. Twenty nine percent of nurse managers use iPads compared to 12 percent of staff nurses.

eCardio, Preventice merge, Merck GHI Fund majority stakeholder

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 9, 2014        

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bodyguardianRemote cardiac monitoring company eCardio has agreed to merge with wearable, remote monitoring device maker Preventice. The new company, which is called Preventice, said the merger will allow it to “drive innovation and growth in remote monitoring systems and mobile health applications”.

Preventice’s co-founder Jon Otterstatter will be the president and global strategy officer of the new company, while eCardio’s founder and CEO, Larry Lawson, will take the role of CEO and chairman.

Just a few weeks before this merger, Merck acquired eCardio. The Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, which provided Preventice with funding when it was developing its peel-and-stick heart rate sensor, the BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System, is the primary stockholder in the new company.  Keep reading>>

Long-awaited Apple Watch tracks heart rate, activity, calories burned, but not sleep

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 9, 2014        

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Apple Watch 1Apple made its long-awaited wearable announcement today at a special event in Cupertino, as well as showing off the iPhone 6 and the new, larger iPhone 6 plus. As expected, Apple put a significant focus on fitness and wellness for the wristworn device, which is actually called Apple Watch not iWatch. The Apple Watch did not emerge as the advanced-sensing health device some envisioned. The device is set to launch in early 2015 starting at $349.

In addition, a number of features of the iPhone 6 could have implications for healthcare in the future.

“Apple Watch gives us the ability to motivate people to be more active and healthy,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on-stage. “If you are someone who just wants to be a bit more active or someone who wants to track what you are doing during the day, or perhaps you exercise regularly, or even if you’re a very serious athlete, Apple Watch helps you live a better day.”  Keep reading>>

Other wearable makers vie for spotlight in lead-up to expected Apple launch

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 9, 2014        

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PhotoAs Apple gets ready for its long-awaited wearable device announcement later today, a couple of other wearables in the fitness tracking space are following the Apple model of vaguely hinting about upcoming releases. Intel teased the new Basis Band at the Intel Developer Forum this morning, Jawbone has been leaking hints to the press about a new, more open ecosystem, Misfit Wearables released a developer toolkit for its device, and Withings made a move beyond wearables into the environment sensing space.

Jawbone clarified the details of their upcoming announcement in a call with MobiHealthNews. In fact, what Jawbone is preparing to launch is a standalone UP app which will allow smartphone owners without Jawbone hardware to track their fitness, nutrition and sleep on Jawbone software. The app will track nutrition and sleep manually, while using technology like Apple’s M7 motion co-processor to passively track movement.

The move is not unprecedented: Fitbit quietly launched a standalone app in January.

But HealthKit changes the game a little, allowing Jawbone’s app to interact with competitor’s hardware in a way that wasn’t previously possible. If an iPhone user has a Fitbit that feeds data into Apple’s Health app, the Jawbone UP app will be able to take that data and display it in the Jawbone app. This will allow users of other devices, like Fitbit, to interact with each other and with Jawbone UP users on Jawbone’s social platform — allowing them to participate in challenges and social sharing together.

In addition to HealthKit, the new app will be compatible with the Pebble smartwatch, AndroidWear, and Windows Phone, although the iOS version will likely launch first. That’s due out later this month, according to Jawbone.  Keep reading>>

VA to launch several health apps after year-long pilot program

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 9, 2014        

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Launch PadThe Department of Veterans Affairs plans to launch several new mobile apps this fall, according to a report from Federal News Radio.

Many apps that the VA plan to launch were part of the organization’s Family Caregiver Pilot, which began in June 2013 and lasted a year. In addition to those apps, the VA has also converted desktop applications from its health portal into mobile apps.

As part of the year-long pilot, VA recruited 1,000 seriously injured post-9/11 Veterans and their caregivers to participate in the pilot. Each caregiver was given an iPad for the length of the pilot.

The apps in the pilot included HealthAdvocate, which allows a veteran to give a caregiver access to all of their personal health information; SummaryOfCare, an app that allows users to view their VA medical information like lab results, medications, and allergies; HealthAssessment, which lets veterans complete some self-assessments and make the results available to their caregiver; and Rx Refill, which helps veterans fill prescriptions. Two other apps in the pilot helped veterans coping with particular conditions: PainCoach and PTSD. PTSD is a modified version of the PTSDCoach app the VA released in 2011.

The VA also plans to convert a desktop applications available through a VA health portal, called MyHealtheVet, into mobile apps. In an interview with Federal News Radio, Veterans Health Affairs Connected Health co-director Neil Evans said the two apps they are converting from MyHealtheVet are SummaryOfCare, which was also one of the apps in the pilot, and Mobile Blue Button. (Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the Blue Button app was Humetrix’s iBlueButton, while Mobile Blue Button is actually an app developed in-house by the VA.)

All the new apps will be available in an app store that the VA plans to launch this fall. The VA inked a $9.3 million contract in 2012 with Longview International Technology Solutions to develop the app store and build a mobile device management system.

A few weeks ago, the VA made another announcement in the digital health space. The department said that they would soon begin reimbursing its doctors for activity trackers used for rehabilitating veterans with prosthetic limbs. The change the VA made is to introduce a new mandatory template for providers to use when negotiating contracts with the vendors that sell prosthetic limbs and custom orthotics for injured veterans.