Vodafone, NantWorks partner on mobile health R&D

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 21, 2011        

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IPPLEX LookTel formerly SeeScan

LookTel powered by NantWorks

Earlier this month Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong announced the name of the company that he has been building through a series of acquisitions over the past few years: NantWorks. This week Vodafone announced that it had partnered with NantWorks on researching and developing remote patient care mobile health services over advanced wireless networks. Vodafone recently opened its Silicon Valley-based research center called Vodafone Xone and NantWorks participated during its launch event along with other likely Voda partners.

Following the sales of two companies Soon-Shiong founded — American Pharmaceutical Partners (sold 2008) and Abraxis BioScience (sold 2010) — he has invested more than $400 million dollars in acquisitions. In February Soon-Shiong acquired GlowCaps maker Vitality for an undisclosed sum thought to be in the low tens of millions. GlowCaps made an appearance at the Vodafone Xone event, which makes it likely the device is part of NantWorks.

NantWorks other portfolio of companies and offerings include: “state of the art semiconductor chips, switches and encryption technologies, augmented reality, novel object and voice recognition technologies, broadband telecommunications services and ultra-low power remote monitoring devices,” according to its launch press release.

“With Vodafone’s global mobile network, and its partner Verizon Wireless here in the United States, Vodafone is truly a global mobile powerhouse,” Soon-Shiong stated in a press release. “It is the ideal partner for NantWorks to work with as we develop the technologies that will bring the digital revolution to more aspects of people’s lives, including healthcare and education.”

For more on NantWorks deal with Vodafone, read the press release after the jump. Keep reading>>


Voalte taps AirWatch for device management

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 20, 2011        

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VoalteVoalte announced Voalte Connect this week, a new mobile device management (MDM) solution for hospital networks that utilizes the AirWatch platform’s technology. The new service allows the company to remotely secure, monitor, manage and support mobile devices deployed across a hospital.

Voalte is an iPhone application suite that combines voice, alarm and text features and is intended for use by staff in acute care hospitals in the US and Canada — especially nurses. The company also bundles in medical reference information via a partnership it has with Epocrates.

“Introducing updates, data and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices through Voalte Connect allows hospitals to better control and protect their data as well as greatly reduce cost and risk,” stated Voalte VP of innovation Trey Lauderdale in a press release. “This is essential for data and device security.”

“Providing a turn-key management solution allows the hospital to conserve their IT department resources, yet gives them the ability to monitor and control the hospital’s sensitive information that resides on these devices,” stated Lauderdale. For more background on Voalte, check out our  interview with Lauderdale at HIMSS 2009, which took place shortly after the company launched.

For more on the AirWatch deal, read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Lumoback patch and app to track posture

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 19, 2011        

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MedKenyaThe DEMO conference in California last week featured three mHealth startups, according to a report from PC World.

First off is Lumoback, a system that aims to correct poor posture using a wearable patch, which measures about two inches long and is powered by a lithium-ion battery. The user wears it on the lower back. The sensor transmits posture data via Bluetooth to a smartphone app on the user’s phone. The patch vibrates when the wearer has incorrect posture either sitting or standing, and the app can provide real-time feedback on the user’s posture via an on-screen model. That leads to corrective advice and a summary of the tracked data over time.

The company looking to work with health, fitness and sports-related companies and hopes for a commercial launch in the middle of next year.

The second startup that PC World highlighted, Poosh, uses SMS to send motivational workout reminders from “elite athletes” to users. Messages are divided into specific categories for men’s and women’s weight loss, men’s and women’s general health, marathon training and a category called In Your Face, for users who decide they need additional motivation. The free service is ad-supported. The company’s chief content development officer is Jaime Komer, who won a silver medal in women’s water polo at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

In its demonstration, Poosh showed an “In Your Face” message that read, “Get off your lazy butt and do 5 push ups right now!! Add 1 additional push up each day until you reach your max!” Users can sign up to receive as many as three messages per day, and along with those, they will get one advertising message, which is targeted at health and fitness topics.

The third company highlighted in the article is MedKenya, a reference service similar to WebMD, that won top prize recently at the Pivot25 entrepreneurial contest held in Nairobi. The app provides symptom checkers, first-aid information, medical alerts, and searchable doctor and hospital directories in an attempt to make healthcare more accessible for Kenyans. The service is available via Android and Symbian apps, as well as SMS and the web.

Read the PC World article here

HHS launches SMS smoking cessation services

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 19, 2011        

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HHS SmokeFreeTXTThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this week two new SMS smoking cessation programs, QuitNowTXT and SmokeFreeTXT, as part of their Text4Health initiative. The programs, a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, are aimed separately at adults, and teens/young adults, respectively.

HHS formed the Text4Health Task Force in November 2010 to provide recommendations for HHS’ role in encouraging and developing health text messaging initiatives, and to report on the effectiveness of programs like Voxiva’s Text4Baby. The HHS has invested $5 million dollars since January to develop its mHealth smoking cessation resources. The backend technology for SmokeFreeTXT was built by Washington, D.C.’s Infield Health.

Voxiva’s own smoking cessation program, Text2Quit, launched in June. Earlier this month, it announced that the program would be offered exclusively through Alere Wellbeing.

“More than 70 percent of smokers want to quit, we are committed to providing evidence based information to smokers through emerging and innovative technology,” stated HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a press release.

Both of the cessation services offer tips, motivation, encouragement, and facts via SMS, based on information tailored to the user’s response and are an considered an extension of the SmokeFree.gov website.

HHS plans to make the QuitNowTXT program available globally, and has formed partnerships with the mHealth Alliance (hosted by the United Nations Foundation), World Medical Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Center for Global Health at the George Washington University and Johnson & Johnson.

“Mobile device texting initiatives, like this one, have the potential to be a powerful tool to support tobacco cessation globally. Text messaging is widely available, inexpensive, and allows for immediate delivery of cessation information,” stated HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park in a press release.

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>

Is FDA’s EHR Exemption Becoming Extinct?

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 19, 2011        

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Bradley Merrill ThompsonBy Bradley Merrill Thompson

FDA’s exemption for EHRs seems headed the way of the dodo bird.  Nobody planned it that way, but a combination of opposing trends– the trend toward greater and greater functionality for EHRs and the trend toward greater FDA regulation of any software functionality that can impact patients — means there may very well be little left of the traditional EHR exemption in the future. That second trend was really brought home this past week when FDA held a hearing on the scope of its planned oversight of clinical decision support software.  More on that later.

Industry needs to start planning its response now.  And when I say industry, I’m including not only traditional software vendors, but those users that potentially cross the line of FDA jurisdiction by modifying what they purchase.  Industry’s response can include a wide range of activities from advocacy to ensure the agency understands the importance of a light touch in some areas of software development where speed and agility are essential, to preparing for FDA regulation for those types of software that clearly and directly impact patient care.

Technology Trends

I’m a liberal arts guy, so I won’t even pretend I can offer great insight into the direction of IT in hospitals.  But here’s my 100,000 foot summary of what I hear is going on. Keep reading>>

CellTrak acquires Canada-based MedShare

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 16, 2011        

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CellTrakCellTrak Technologies announced that it had acquired Ontario, Canada-based MedShare. As a result of the acquisition, CellTrak has formed a new Canadian subsidiary, called CellTrak Canada.

CellTrak’s home-care software, available for GPS-equipped smartphones, offers tools for tracking visit compliance, error reporting, mileage and time reimbursements as well as schedule management. MedShare’s software, available for BlackBerry and Windows tablets, feature access to clinical information, decision support and care documentation tools at the point of care.

“The MedShare team has built a successful portfolio of innovative mobile solutions that complement an agency’s use of their back office and clinical applications,” stated Michael K. Wons, President and CEO of CellTrak, in a press release. “Our companies share similar values and technologies with a common goal of providing the best mobile solutions for the home and community care market and we are very excited to join forces with the employees, partners and clients of MedShare.”

Wons spoke to MobiHealthNews last December about the mobile opportunity for home health workers. At the time he said that “At Celltrak, we talk a lot about our mobile app and there is a lot of excitement around that. It’s easy to build mobile apps, though. It’s not easy to create a healthcare offering that has the ability to be directly integrated on the backend with most any system.”

Wons also said at the end of last year that the company is planning an iPhone launch in 2011, which has yet to be announced. “We want to be device and carrier agnostic,” Wons told MobiHealthNews last year. “It’s not hard to see there’s a lot of buzz about smartphones, but feedback from our customers has shown what helps to make us different is our ability to work on low-end handsets.”

Read the full press release below. Keep reading>>