ATA: Telemedicine is proven already

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 11, 2011        

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Jon Linkous, CEO, American Telemedicine AssociationTelemedicine is no longer “turning the corner,” American Telemedicine Association (ATA) CEO Jon Linkous wrote in a recent blog post.

“For years we talked about reaching the point when telemedicine services became self-sustaining outside of temporary grants, going from promise to reality,” wrote Linkous. “We have long passed the point of telemedicine being a new application. After eighteen years the corner is turned and I promise to put that phrase away.” Linkous added that he is tired of having to “prove the case,” and that a variety of telemedicine is now reimbursed by Medicare.

In July, Linkous published an open letter to the FDA criticizing them for their inaction towards rural healthcare. He spoke to MobiHealthNews in 2009 about the emerging wireless health industry, and last year wrote a column on whether or not mHealth is revolutionary. (Hint: He doesn’t think so.)

Linkous provides multiple statistics to support his claim that telemedicine arrived long ago, including: At least half of the 5,000 U.S. hospitals are using teleradiology or other forms of remote imaging; The Ontario Telehealth Network manages over 100,000 live physician-patient video consults a year for a variety of specialty and primary care services; The MedTrix Group provides 10-12 thousand video-based pediatric consults per month for the largest HMO plan in the Israel; The VA is using remote health monitoring for 55,000 veterans; Revenue generated from telemedicine has resulted in profits for independent service providers and is a self-sustaining business within some healthcare delivery systems; A recent survey of Washington, DC hospitals found that every hospital in the metropolitan area was using one or more telemedicine applications as part of their normal delivery of health care for area residents.

Be sure to read the full blog post here.

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USC aims to become epicenter of wireless health

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 11, 2011        

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CBCThe USC Center for Body Computing (CBC), an initiative to study and create the future of wireless medicine, recently announced its 17 founding members. The members will support wireless health research and innovation, and help develop product prototypes.

The founding members of the CBC include Agamatrix, AirStrip Technologies, Apollo Health Resources, Avery Dennison Medical Solutions, Ayogo Games, Boston Scientific, eHow.com, Impact Sports Technologies, Independa, Karten Design, Massive Health, Medtronic, Proteus Biomedical, Sotera Wireless, St. Jude Medical,The Sexton Company, and Zephyr Technology.

CBC plans to conduct efficacy studies focused on how mobile phones can be used in the prevention of illnesses and epidemics. The center also studies social media’s role in healthcare, develops medical apps, and produces conferences.

“We are establishing the University of Southern California as the epicenter of wireless health,” stated Dr Leslie A. Saxon, the executive director of the CBC, in a press release. “Our founding members are a critical part of the Center for Body Computing. We are jointly creating product prototypes and economic models for wireless health. We believe wireless medicine has the potential to help millions, if not billions, of people. Wireless health solutions can democratize medicine by breaking down the barriers between health care providers and patients, leading to faster and more cost-effective cures, and increased access to health solutions for people worldwide.”

Read the full press release after the jump.

Vocera files for $80 million IPO

By: Neil Versel | Aug 10, 2011        

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Vocera SmartphoneVocera Communications, maker of wireless communications systems for healthcare, has filed for an initial public offering worth as much as $80 million. The filing is dated Aug. 1, before completion of the federal debt-reduction agreement that has sent the stock market into a tailspin.

The company, which expects to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol VCRA, has not indicated the timing of its IPO, nor has it specified a price range for its shares. “We expect to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, including repayment in full of outstanding borrowings under our credit facility and working capital. We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire or invest in complementary businesses, technologies or assets,” Vocera says.

According to the filing, San Jose, Calif., Vocera posted its first annual profit in 2010, earning a net $1.2 million on $56.8 million in revenues. Revenue was up 38.1 percent from $41.1 million in 2009. That year, Vocera lost $992,000.

Strong sales growth has continued in 2011, but expenses have piled up. For the first half of the year, the company reported revenues of $37.4 million, an increase of 45.9 percent from the $25.6 million in revenues during the same period a year earlier. However, Vocera lost more than $1.3 million in the first six months of 2011, after earning $2.2 million during the first half of last year.

“We expect our expenses to increase due to the hiring of additional personnel and the additional operational and reporting costs associated with being a public company,” Vocera says in the filing.

Vocera generates about 98 percent of its sales from its voice communications products, but recently added messaging with its December 2010 acquisition of Wallace Wireless and consulting services by purchasing ExperiaHealth last November. Similarly, 98 percent of the company’s business comes from healthcare, though there has been an effort of late to target mobile workers in the retail, library and hospitality industries.

Three simple ways to follow ZocDoc’s lead

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 10, 2011        

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ZocDocZocDoc announced $50 million in funding last week for its appointment scheduling app, and at least one commentator, Avado CEO Dave Chase (formerly of Microsoft Health), believes that healthtech startups could learn a thing or two from ZocDoc’s apparent success.

In a recent column for TechCrunch, Chase lays down three simple lessons gleaned from ZocDoc’s strategy to date:

Lead with the doctors. Chase repeated his belief about why Google Health failed, saying that leading with the consumer and expecting them to pull in physicians isn’t likely to be successful. ZocDoc focused on acquiring doctors as users, who then recommended patients to the service.

Focus pays off. Do one thing exceptionally well, Chase says. Offering a wide variety of features can lead to diversions and ineffectiveness. ZocDoc did one thing successfully — appointment scheduling — and built its services around that, instead of things like EHRs.

Technology-enabled services appeal to healthcare. Technology should be an enabler, not a centerpiece. Most doctors do not care much about the technology behind mHealth, just how it can improve their workflow.

Read the full post over at TechCrunch here.

Japan’s RFID-enabled PHR device

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 10, 2011        

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asahi-kaseiJapananese company Asahi Kasei has developed a portable device that gives users access to their health records from a computer or smartphone by connecting to these devices through short range, contactless RFID, according to a report in TechCrunch.

The device is a smart card, sized at just 3x3cm, and built on FeliCa technology, which is prominently used by Japan’s mobile operators.

The card would be useful during medical emergencies: Paramedics and emergency response doctors could instantly access vital medical information such as blood type, allergies, and medications on a smartphone or tablet in seconds by tapping the card to the mobile device.

Asahi Kasei stated that the entire medical history of patients can be accessed on the device. Large files, such as radiology images, would be accessed remotely via links on the smartphone or computer. Japanese business daily The Nikkei reports that Asahi Kasei is planning to release the device this year at a $25 price point.

Read the TechCrunch article here.

mPHR app switches from Google to HealthVault

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 9, 2011        

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mPHR app by CTISGoogle’s shuttering of Google Health in June also affected those mobile app developers that included Google Health integration in their offerings or even as a back-end solution. One such company is CTIS, which offers a personal health record (PHR) application, called mPHR, that requires users to have a Google Health account to access its features. Now, the company is collaborating with Microsoft to integrate HealthVault into its offering. Like HealthVault, it plans to encourage users to migrate from Google Health to HealthVault to continue using the mPHR app.

The mPHR app is currently available for iOS devices and an Android version is expected to be released soon. At the end of July, CTIS said it had surpasses 600 downloads for its mPHR iPhone app.

Interestingly, the application became available in the AppStore this past March, but Google did not give the company permission to issue a press release until July. That was approximately one month after Google announced plans to shutter its PHR platform Google Health.

Google said that Google Health will officially close shop on January 1, 2012, but data stored in Google Health will continue to be available for download until January 1, 2013. (For more information on Google Health’s demise, read 10 Reasons why Google Health failed.)

While Google Health is shuttering, CTIS told MobiHealthNews that it plans to develop its application for users on the HealthVault platform for years to come.

According to the description of mPHR in Apple’s AppStore, the app “syncs with Google health, Google calendar, MobileMe, Microsoft Outlook, major pharmacies and hospital systems. If it works with Google health, it works with mPHR!” No mention yet of Microsoft HealthVault integration in the app’s description. The app was last updated in May, according to the AppStore.

The mPHR app reminds users when to take medications, get directions to their next doctor appointment, and refill a prescription. The app also enables “real-time access” to medical records and enables users to send updates to doctors and other health care professionals.