Obama seeks $10.7B for wireless public safety

By: Neil Versel | Feb 16, 2011        

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P031810PS-0013President Obama wants to spend $10.7 billion on a high-speed, wireless public-safety network that would allow first responders and healthcare professionals to transmit data, images and video during emergency situations as part of an $18 billion plan to bring wireless broadband access to 98 percent of America over the next five years.

This “Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative,” as the White House dubs it, encompasses the wireless-enabled video chats between patients and doctors that Obama referenced during his State of the Union address last month. The program also includes $3 billion to support development of strategies to harness the mobile Internet for health, education and energy-related applications.

The administration would fund the initiative by auctioning a portion of the wireless spectrum currently used by TV stations and government agencies. The White House says the auction would raise $27.8 billion, leaving a surplus of nearly $10 million to help reduce the federal deficit.

Speaking last week at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., part of the rather remote, mostly rural Upper Peninsula, Obama compared the effort to previous presidents’ large-scale connectivity plans. He cited Abraham Lincoln’s call for a transcontinental railroad, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s creation of the Rural Electrification Administration and President Dwight Eisenhower’s support for the Interstate Highway System.

“For our families and our businesses, high-speed wireless service, that’s the next train station; it’s the next off-ramp. It’s how we’ll spark new innovation, new investment, new jobs,” Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. He also lauded Northern Michigan University and Marquette for building a WiMax network to provide high-speed Internet service to students who could not get broadband in off-campus housing.

“Now, if you can do this in [the] snowy U.P.,” Obama said, “we can do it all across America. In fact, many places already are. So in Wagner, S.D., patients can receive high-quality, lifesaving medical care from a Sioux Falls specialist who can monitor their EKG and listen to their breathing—from 100 miles away.” Keep reading>>

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HIMSS11: Mobile takes its place on health IT scene

By: Neil Versel | Feb 16, 2011        

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Neil VerselSo many mobile healthcare events, so little time.

A week ago, I was in Washington, D.C., for the release of a pilot study of a mobile app meant to improve medication compliance among Medicaid patients with hypertension. Not a huge deal, perhaps, but I made the most of my trip.

For one thing, I heard Kerry McDermott, healthcare director in the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, say that the new HHS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation was exploring ways to create an m-health research program.

I also learned about a text-based women’s health service in the same vein as the well-publicized Text4Baby. The GW Cancer Institute at the George Washington University Medical Center has teamed up with the Avon Foundation for Women in a program called Text4BSE, offering text reminders for women to conduct monthly breast self-exams. Text “BSE” to 64274 to enroll. The program also provides free mammograms for women who qualify.

This week, the worldwide mobile communications industry is holding its annual confab over in Barcelona, Spain. Once again, there’s a healthcare track at the Mobile World Congress, and once again, my budget—remember, I’m an independent contractor—doesn’t allow me to jet off to Barcelona.

I will, however, be in Orlando, Fla., next week for the 2011 HIMSS conference. MobiHealthNews principals Brian Dolan and Joe Maillie also are going, and Brian is presenting on Monday morning. (Vendors, please no more meeting requests. My schedule is full. Thanks.)

As the largest health IT gathering of the year—attendance could top 30,000 this year for the first time—the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in many ways has to be all things to all people. And that includes accommodating the growing number of people interested in mobile and wireless healthcare technologies.

Last year in Atlanta, HIMSS10 kicked off with a keynote address from Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. HIMSS11 won’t feature anyone from the wireless industry so prominently. While the agenda suggests mobile is here to stay, you may have to cough up a few extra bucks to take part.

Among the pre-conference events on Sunday is a full-day (8 a.m.-4 p.m.) RFID symposium. Another Sunday happening is the Privacy and Security Workshop (9 a.m.-5 p.m.), that will include much discussion of how to safeguard data on portable devices.

There’s a separate registration fee for both of those, as there is for HIT X.0: Beyond the Edge, a series of sessions on cutting-edge healthcare technologies. In addition to Brian’s presentation, you may be interested in these X.0 topics:

  • The Future of Home Care Today (Wednesday, 1-2 p.m), featuring Chuck Parker, executive director of the Continua Health Alliance.
  • Coming to Your Life Tomorrow: Today’s Military Technology (Thursday, 10-11 a.m.). Jeanette Rausche, technical director of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, will discuss the Army’s use of mobile messaging for case management of wounded warriors.

The regular HIMSS conference isn’t all that heavy on mobile and wireless healthcare, but there are a couple of relevant sessions for no additional charge:

Most of the mobile action, so to speak, will be in the massive exhibit hall. Booth 7381 will house the RFID/RTLS Showcase, and more than 200 of the 900 or so vendors say they offer mobile applications. If that doesn’t say mobile healthcare has arrived on the health IT scene, I don’t know what does.

Understanding FDA’s new MDDS rule

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 15, 2011        

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FDABy Bradley Merrill Thompson, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

To many people, including especially those who are not familiar with FDA’s medical device regulations, reading the new MDDS rule is a bit difficult. We all like to read stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. They paint an entire picture. Unfortunately, reading the MDDS rule is like reading just the middle of the story — it leaves you unsure about what went on before and what will go on after.

Using a different metaphor, FDA has published just one piece to a puzzle, only the rabbit’s nose, and we have to use our imagination and some logical inferences to see the rest of the rabbit. We will only know for sure what the rest looks like as FDA continues to publish new classifications that cover software. Eventually, all of these classifications taken together will show us the agency’s approach to regulating software.

Falling outside the MDDS classification has two potentially opposite consequences. On the one hand, falling outside might mean that the product is not regulated by FDA at all. On the other hand, falling outside the MDDS classification might mean that the product is a class II or III medical device, a very different outcome. So every time FDA says in the preamble to the final rule that something might fall outside of the classification, it could be for either reason. Sometimes you might actually prefer to be in MDDS to avoid class II status.

So the good news, at least for those companies that already knew their products were regulated, is that FDA maintained its proposal to place MDDS in class I, exempt from premarket notification (510(k)). The bad news for those who were on the edge and thought they might not be regulated is that being in the MDDS classification means they need to adopt a quality system, register and list with FDA, and report adverse events associated with their product to the agency. Keep reading>>

Video interviews with ChildCount, Zephyr, Mobisante, and WWHI

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 15, 2011        

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At last year’s mHealth Summit in Washington DC, mHealth Alliance executive director gave ABC News Good Morning America co-anchor Juju Chang a tour of the exhibit hall showfloor and highlighted a number of startups and organizations working in global health. The video below includes a few brief interviews with Matt Berg from ChildCount+, Clint McClellan from Qualcomm (discussing Zephyr Technology), Dr. Sailesh Chutani from Mobisante, and Dr. Joe Smith from the West Wireless Health Institute (discussing the institute’s Sense4Baby device.)

Smith told Chang that Sense4Baby, which leverages wireless health technology to measure fetal heart rate and uterine contractions, could end up costing about $25. More in the short video segment from Good Morning America, which aired this morning, after the jump: Keep reading>>

Dr. Soon-Shiong invests $2M in Toumaz

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 14, 2011        

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Toumaz Sensium Life PebbleDr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the executive director of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute and recent acquirer of GlowCaps maker Vitality, has made a strategic investment in Toumaz, which is developing low cost, ultra-low power wireless technologies for a number of verticals including medical monitoring and internet-connected consumer devices. The wireless technology that Toumaz is building is called Sensium.

Dr. Soon-Shiong’s investment in Toumaz comes to a little more than $2 million. Toumaz issued 14,563,142 shares to Soon-Shiong’s California Capital Equity (CCE) group at 8.83 pence per share. (That comes to 1,285,925 GBP or about $2,057,610.) CCE will hold a 2.46 percent stake in Toumaz.

“Mobile, wireless monitoring devices are the future of healthcare,” Dr. Soon-Shiong stated in the press release. “The challenge is to make these devices affordable and reliable, with good ergonomics and very low energy needs. Toumaz has all these bases covered, so I am very bullish about the company’s prospects, and am excited to participate with Toumaz’s strong development team.”

CCE and Toumaz will together to bring Sensiu to market for use in sports, while the two will assess the market for using the technology in wireless healthcare applications and others. According to the press release, CCE and Toumaz will “focus on chargeable multi-use devices for the North American market.” Toumaz already has commercialization underway for its disposable wireless sensor for continuous vital sign monitoring in hospital. Toumaz announced the trial’s launch in late 2009. The trial is taking place at St. Mary’s Hospital in London and is in partnership with Toumaz’s American partner CareFusion.

Toumaz’s CE-marked Life Pebble device includes a single lead ECG, skin thermometer, and an accelerometer, which enables it to track physical activity. The device works for up to five days on a single hearing aid-sized battery. The data collected by the system is intended for use by clinicians for analysis. The Life Pebble streams data over a short range wireless link to a Sensium USB Network Adapter.

Last year the company said it was working on a version of the Life Pebble device to be used in professional sports, which seems to be the same area around which CCE is collaborating with Toumaz.

Toumaz launched its Life Pebble late in 2009, and announced plans last year to submit an end-to-end wireless vital signs monitoring system for FDA clearance and a CE mark later in 2011.

Dr. Soon-Shiong’s UCLA Wireless Health Institute has a number of interesting wireless health technologies under development, including MediSens, which is working in the area of peripheral neuropathy, which causes some people with diabetes to lose sensation in their feet, and other health issues related to balance. When Dr. Soon-Shiong first joined the institute in 2009, MobiHealthNews interviewed him (read that article here).

For more on the strategic investment, read the entire press release after the jump: Keep reading>>

Video: Mobile health is global

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 11, 2011        

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mHealthGlobalOne of the core themes at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC last year was the conversation around developed markets and developing markets — also known as emerging markets, resource-constrainted markets and so on. Mobile health services and technologies are already in use in many emerging markets and many people working in mobile health today argue that these pilots can be (and have been) instructive for mobile health service providers looking to offer similar programs in the developed world.

Others argue that testing mobile health services in other markets where regulators are less influential or nonexistent is morally reprehensible.

There is plenty of conflict surrounding the idea of the global opportunity for mHealth. Whether or not mHealth has a global opportunity, however, is not up for debate. It certainly does.

MobiHealthNews along with our good friends at ListenIn Pictures, pieced together this video collage of thoughts and soundbites about mHealth’s global opportunity, the developed vs. developing market discussion, remote diagnostics, science fiction and much, much more from the mHealth Summit: