Drugs.com taps Healthline to monetize its 3.6M mobile users

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 5, 2012        

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Drugs.comHealthline Networks inked a deal with Drugs.com to become the exclusive provider of direct to consumer advertising for the popular site, which counted about 19.4 million unique visitors in the month of October. Drugs.com provides “free, independent, peer-reviewed, objective and up-to-date drug information” to both consumers and medical professionals. The deal is for consumer marketing on both the Drugs.com website and its mobile channels.

A key part of the deal sees Healthline monetizing Drugs.com substantial mobile user base. In October about 3.6 million unique mobile phone and tablet users visited the Drugs.com site. The group made up about 19 percent of the site’s overall user base for the month. The company said that its mobile user base is evenly divided between Android and Apple iOS users, which each account for about 9 percent of the site’s unique visitors.

Healthline will sell targeted consumer advertising campaigns on Drugs.com and create “relevant and engaging sponsored content centers” for the site’s visitors. Healthline’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Media David Kopp told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview that the mobile versions of the advertisements will be fairly similar to the web.

Kopp said that Healthline is a firm believer in mobile-optimized websites over mobile applications. Apps are important, too, but optimizing sites for mobile browsers should be health sites’ top priority. Keep reading>>

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How will the mobile health market evolve in 2012?

By: Neil Versel | Jan 5, 2012        

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Neil_Versel_LargeHappy new year, and welcome to 2012! As the year begins, I have some burning questions about mobile and wireless healthcare that I hope to see answered in the next 12 months.

Will consumers understand mobile technology in healthcare? When I checked into a San Diego hotel for the Healthcare Unbound conference last summer, the clerk asked me if I was in town for some big software show going on at the convention center. No, I said, I was there for this other, smaller meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt about wireless healthcare technologies.

She gave me a blank stare.

I then explained the concepts of connected health and aging in place with a simple question: What if you had an elderly parent faced with a decision to move into assisted living (or “assisted dying,” as my late grandfather once called it) or a nursing home? Would you rather spend thousands of dollars a month to institutionalize your loved one in a sterile, unfamiliar environment, or would you invest a few hundred dollars in monitoring technology that would allow mom or dad to stay safe at home?

Immediately, a light went on. The clerk got it.

Unfortunately, I have had to use this anecdote several times since then since people I encounter outside healthcare simply don’t understand. This shows me two things: that the general public hasn’t been introduced to new ways of thinking about healthcare; and that it really isn’t so hard to explain what we are talking about here. It’s just that nobody has taken the time to explain things in simple terms. Keep reading>>

Insurer: Apps may help unravel complexity of health insurance

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 5, 2012        

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UPMC ChildrensPgh iPhone appDavid Passavant, the senior director of consumer innovation at UPMC Health Plan, which is owned by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, sees the advent of mobile health apps as an important tool for unraveling the “incredibly complex and confusing” world of health insurance for consumers.

In an interview with Smart Business, Passavant noted that by the end of 2012 most health insurance companies will offer apps that enable members to search for healthcare providers and contact their insurer. Other features that basic apps from health plans will offer include personal health records access, location-aware provider search, and virtual member ID cards. The next generation of apps offered up by health plans will include real time updates on claims status, tools to understand “costs and quality of care”, personalized health tips, and various health trackers.

Passavant said that “the opportunities these devices provide are endless” and that health plans are only now “just scratching the surface”.

Passavant said that “soon it will be possible to include, for example, technology that could collect blood glucose level readings and send them directly to a member’s physician.” This service, of course, is already possible. WellDoc’s DiabetesManager enables it. Telcare’s recently FDA-cleared, wireless-enabled blood glucose meter also makes it possible. The even more recently FDA-cleared iPhone peripheral, the iBGStar from Sanofi and made by AgaMatrix, is another device that enables sharing of blood glucose data with physicians right from the patient’s mobile phone.

Perhaps the most promising quote from Passavant was this:

“Once the use of mobile technology is accepted and members are able to let us know how they want to use it and how it can best fit their needs, we will evolve.”

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which owns UPMC Health Plan, has developed a couple of iPhone apps already. ChildrensPgh is a free iPhone app developed by UPMC that offers a symptom navigator, medical advice, and more for parents. UPMC also created, UPMC EMS Navigator, an app to provide emergency medical services staff with an up to date set of clinical guidelines.

Be sure to check out Passavant’s insightful interview in Smart Business for more on UPMC Health Plan’s mobile health strategy.

Yoritex demos BlackBerry medical device hub

By: Neil Versel | Jan 5, 2012        

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Yoritex YoriMed BlackBerry medical device hubApple’s iPhone has been widely praised for its elegant design. Similarly, the much-heralded iPhone ECG from Dr. David Albert’s AliveCor is simplistic in its form, easily bolting on to the back of the iconic smartphone.

A competing offering from Canadian mobile medical products developer Yoritex seems more diverse in its potential uses. But it appears to be clunkier when it comes to design, raising the question of whether consumers will go for form or function.

Toronto-based Yoritex last week released a video demonstration of YoriMed, a medical network hub that connects small, home-based medical devices to smartphones via the micro USB port on most Android and BlackBerry models. YoriMed can accept a range of devices, including plug-in ECG/EKG sensors, blood-pressure monitors, thermometers and blood analyzers. Software loaded on the smartphone collects and displays readings in real time, and the data can be forwarded to medical professionals for analysis.

The hub is powered by a rechargeable battery that is separate from the phone’s battery. It has a 36-pin medical connector on one side — following the ISO/IEEE 11073 communications protocol for personal health devices — and a micro USB port on the other. Keep reading>>

Small medical practices to spend $7K on tablets this year

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 4, 2012        

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iPad medicalAbout 76 percent of small- and medium-sized medical and dentals offices plan to purchase tablets in the next year, according to research firm NPD Group’s recently published Third Quarter SMB Technology Report. What’s more, these practices expect to spend about $6,800 on tablets, NPD told DOTmed news. NPD conducted the survey in September 2011.

NPD’s report has a much broader focus. The key finding was that 73 percent of small- to medium- businesses (SMBs), which have fewer than 1,000 employees, in the US plan to purchase tablets in the next year. However, the average SMB expects to spend about three times as much as medical and dental practices plan to spend on tablets in the coming year. The average SMB expects to spend $21,000 on tablets.

Just this week, we reported on the West Wireless Health Institute’s contention that less than 1 percent of hospitals in the US have a fully functioning tablet deployments. A June 2011 survey conducted my physician social network QuantiaMD found that more than 30 percent of US physicians used tablets and about 25 percent used both smartphones and tablets. At the end of 2010, before the iPad 2 had launched commercially, Chilmark Research estimated that about one in five US physicians had purchased iPads — not tablets — just iPads.

Of course, some of the larger providers are set to spend much more than $6,800 on tablets in the coming year. Last October the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced plans to buy as many as 100,000 tablets primarily for use by its medical staff. Ottawa Hospital has already deployed 3,000 iPads and may buy “a few thousand more”.

Of course, many of these devices are also being brought into healthcare facilities by the clinical staff themselves. NPD’s survey only takes into account those devices likely to find their way into clinical settings because they were bought specifically for that purpose. The BYOD trend portends a wider adoption for tablets among small- and medium-sized practices than NPD’s numbers let on.

More on the NPD report over at DOTmed
More stats on SMB plans for tablet purchasing from NPD’s release here.

Utah home health provider says app saves time, money

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 4, 2012        

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allscriptsA small healthcare provider in Utah has saved $500,000 over the past year and reduced employee travel time 70 percent using a mobile EMR app, according to a report in ZDNet. First Choice Home Health & Hospice of Utah, used the Allscripts EMR for Windows 7 smartphones and saved half a million dollars and hours of travel time for remote clinicians.

First Choice serves 400 patients in four counties, and has around 160 employees, the majority of which are remote clinicians. The provider realized that their workflow needed improvement; revenues were down 30 percent, and some remote caregivers totaled 2,500 miles per years in mileage solely in trips to update medical records at its main office.

When exploring ways to improve the efficiency of its EMR system, the healthcare provider originally considered laptops and tablets for the solution, but eventually chose smartphones. The organization said it tested laptops equipped with 3G wireless, but the speed of input was slow compared to when the providers were using smartphones.

“Computers felt like a barrier to the patient,” Beau Sorenson, CFO of First Choice Home Health & Hospice of Utah, told ZDNet. “It didn’t feel like a good patient/clinician connection. So we ended up working with Allscripts to find a device that supported the application.”

When it first launched its Mobile Homecare app at the National Association for Home Care’s (NAHC) in October 2010, Allscripts stated that “traditional laptop point-of-care platforms are not well suited to the mobility, flexibility and ease of use requirements demanded in the variety of post-acute care environments,” while existing PDA apps focus largely on admin or scheduling. Allscripts stated that its app was distinct because it focused on remote access to clinical information for home care workers. Keep reading>>