iPhone app ties into 911 dispatch center and mobilizes citizen emergency rescues

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 26, 2011        

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CPR Fire DepartmentAn iPhone application created by interns at Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Applied Informatics has turned into something much bigger, according to a report over at TechCrunch this week. In San Ramon, California a press conference featuring Fire Chief Richard Price, International Association of Fire Chiefs President Jack Parow, Workday CEO Dave Duffield, and Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media announced an initiative to use the app, called Fire Department to enable users to help strangers in need of emergency CPR.

The app allows users who have been trained in CPR and who are willing to help strangers in need, to receive an alert if someone is located in their general area. When a 911 dispatch center receives a call for an emergency occurring near the user, a push notification is sent to the user with the victim’s location along with an alert about whether an automated external defibillator is located on the way or nearby.

We have reported before on augmented reality applications for locating AEDs, but this app takes that idea much further. The idea that a mobile health app could tie into the 911 dispatch system, alert CPR-trained citizens to others in need and provide the users with locations of AEDs is an inspiring concept.

It’s also fraught with potential issues — liability being top of mind. Still the Fire Department app is a sign that mobile health is maturing and securing real attention from the healthcare industry’s frontline care providers.

For more including a great discussion in the comments, check out the TechCrunch article


Four ways to improve mobile health for Latinos

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 26, 2011        

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FCCLate last year MobiHealthNews interviewed mHealth analyst Jody Ranck who pointed out that there are very few mobile health apps and services available for Spanish speakers in the US — the exceptions being Text4Baby and TuDiabetes. This week, Miguel Tirado, PhD, Professor of Health and Human services at California State University penned a must-read analysis of mobile health services for Latinos, African Americans and other “linguistically and culturally diverse” populations in the US.

Tirado concludes that there are four key steps necessary to help these populations better take advantage of mobile health services:

“Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies should be amended to permit health providers to bill for mobile-technology-enabled synchronous and asynchronous communication with their patients.

“The Federal Communication Commission should establish a pricing model for high-volume users of broadband cellular service to subsidize access to broadband-supported health applications by chronically ill lower-income patients unable to afford such services.

“The Department of Health and Human Services should introduce standards to protect confidentiality involving transmission via cell phones and should amplify the CLAS guidelines to ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate mobile-phone-supported communication between providers, health plans, and their patients.

“The Food and Drug Administration should consider questions of wide public accessibility to mobile health technology innovations based on costs and ease of adoption before certifying them as ‘medical devices.’”

Be sure to read Tirado’s entire article over at AHIMA’s Perspectives site

Mobile operator launches Baby Ultrasound MMS

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 26, 2011        

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Great Connection

GreatConnection may be powering Mobily's Baby Ultrasound MMS

Mobily, a mobile operator in Saudi Arabia has partnered with Qualcomm and the Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Group to launch a new service for expectant parents: Baby Ultrasound MMS service. The service provides parents with their baby’s ultra sound image and video via MMS after their visit to their doctor at Dr Suliman Al-Habib Hospital.

Sound familiar? Qualcomm has been working closely with a startup named GreatConnection for a few years now. While the Mobily makes no mention of the company, GreatConnection’s Mobile Baby offering matches the service that the mobile operator announced this week.

“This exclusive service allows expecting mothers to share their happiness using high quality images that can be passed around between family and friends through MMS, social networks or even email,” Sami Nashwan, Mobily’s senior vice president for Consumer Marketing, stated in the press release.

Last January MobiHealthNews met up with GreatConnection’s Co-Founder and CMO Åsa Nordgren at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to discuss Great Connection’s Mobile Baby offering. Nordgren said the service was first introduced in May 2009 at Mama Mia, Scandinavia’s largest private women’s and child health service provider. The clinic offered Mobile Baby as a service for expecting parents who often want to share their ultrasound images with friends and family. Currently this is typically done via a print out or a DVD of the video, but with Mobile Baby, Nordgren says clinicians can save time by just transmitting the video directly to the parents’ smartphones or email. Nordgren said it cost about $20 for the transmission. Nordgren said that every transmission includes a way for the company to track which phone numbers are receiving the images, which is one safeguard to ensure the data remains private and secure.

It’s no surprise that a Saudi Arabian mobile operator is the first to launch such a service — the Middle East is quickly becoming a hotbed of activity for mobile health. Last year we reported that the mobile app for a Bluetooth-enabled blood glucose meter had found one of its largest markets in Saudi Arabia. Another report indicated that Qualcomm was working with regional governments in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia to launch mobile health networks across the countries. Reports have also mentioned another tie up between Saudi Arabian operator Mobily, Ericsson and an as yet unnamed healthcare provider: The “proof of concept” service coming out of this trio leverages sensors to remotely monitor vital signs and provides healthcare providers with relevant data and alerts.

Last year Ken Seymens, a partner at Vesalious Ventures provided MobiHealthNews with one reason for the budding traction mobile health has begun to enjoy in the Middle East: “Yes, wireless is going to move it all forward, especially in the developing world because many of those markets don’t have existing infrastructure,” he said.

“No one is laying cable in the desert, for example.”

Mobile Health News Roundup: Meaningfully useful and AirStrip’s new EHR Advisor

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 26, 2011        

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NoninPulseOxMeaningfully useful: PatientKeeper gets certification from ONC: The PatientKeeper 7.0 CPOE “module” has met the ONC’s requirements for hospital use to support the achievement of meaningful use for that objective, according to the company. PatientKeeper CEO Paul Brient gave MobiHealthNews readers a preview about this certification and explained what it would mean. Release

Co-marketing deal: WellAware Systems has inked a co-marketing and distribution deal with Philips Lifeline. The company offers an activity-based wellness monitoring service for senior care providers. Release

Strategic advisor on EHRs: AirStrip Technologies has appointed Alan Portela a member of its board of directors and senior strategic advisor to the company.  President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cameron Powell said: “Alan is a thought leader in the area of mobility and how it fits into meaningful use. As healthcare moves further along that road, Alan will work with us to develop AirStrip’s growing role in improving patient safety.” Portela helped oversee EHR adoption by the Military Health System and large portion of the Veterans Health Administration. More

Coming to America: Nonin Medical announced plans to bring a new Bluetooth-enabled pulse oximeter to the US and Canada. The WristOx2 Model 3150 pulse oximeter is Continua certified, too. MedGadget

Indian mHealth: Indian mobile operator Tata Docomo has just launched a new health educational service that uses IVR for mobile phone users. MediaNama

Universal translator? Google’s Android based translator app may be useful in some clinical settings to help translate conversations between patients and healthcare workers that speak different languages. Video at MedGadget

Interview: Roger Lee Heath’s LifeBot and Super Ambulances

By: Neil Versel | Jan 26, 2011        

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By Neil Versel

While many in mobile health look at ways to get personal monitoring devices into the home to help manage diseases, several figures with deep backgrounds in trauma care are trying to commercialize a system to prevent death from heart attacks and stroke.

Central to this effort is Roger Lee Heath, an inventor and entrepreneur who holds dozens of patents including for the technology that enabled the automatic external defibrillator. Widely known in emergency medicine but a relative newcomer to health IT, Heath now heads a Tempe, Ariz.-based company called LifeBot that could be on the verge of bringing advanced telemedicine mainstream.

In November, LifeBot signed an option to commercialize the Disaster Relief and Emergency Medical Services (DREAMS), a $35 million ambulance-based telemedicine and disaster-management system. DREAMS, developed by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Texas A&M University in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and the U.S. Army Materiel Command, powers what’s being touted as a “Super Ambulance.” The system, now in use in a handful of rural Texas counties, provides live transmissions of multiple remote-controlled cameras, telemetry data and patient records between ambulances and hospital emergency departments and trauma centers.

Principal Investigator Dr. S. Ward Casscells, a former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, led the DREAMS project and won several awards for his work. Trauma surgeon Dr. James H. “Red” Duke Jr., who treated Texas Gov. John Connally after the shooting that killed John F. Kennedy, created the Super Ambulance and tested DREAMS on Memorial Hermann Life Flight air ambulances. He used the system to remotely triage patients affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“People have known about it for years, but it’s never been commercialized,” Heath says. Keep reading>>

President Obama’s favorite mobile health use case

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 26, 2011        

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Apple FacetimeDuring his state of the union address last night, President Barack Obama covered a lot of ground, including healthcare reform, of course — no surprise there. The surprise came when the president mentioned mobile health while discussing the need to increase coverage of high speed wireless networks to 98 percent of all Americans within the next five years:

“This isn’t just about — (applause) — this isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls,” the president said. “It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

Health plans and insurance providers are among the first groups to embrace face-to-face video chats between patients and care providers. Last year a report claimed that both Humana and WellPoint were working to include more wireless video chat services for their members to better connect them to nurses.

In November 2009 Verizon mentioned that it was investigating the use of mobile phone based video consultations between physicians and specialists to help diagnose patients, particularly in the tele-stroke field.

Of course, no one beats the mobile video consultations drum louder than 3GDoctor founder David Doherty, who has been evangelizing mobile health and the use of mobile video for patient-physician visits for several years.

A number of payors have also teamed up with American Well for its Online Care service, which connects physicians with patients in online video sessions or on the phone. United Health Group’s OptumHealth division uses American Well’s technology to power its Now Clinic offering in Minnesota. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers it in Western New York. There are many more.

While American Well’s services are largely accessed via PCs, many rural areas’ only Internet access is through wireless broadband cellular services.

Mobile video calling — or making video calls from a mobile phone — is growing as a trend in its own right, however. Apple launched FaceTime for the iPhone 4 and a number of other video calling startups and incumbents have moved into the space in recent years. This month Skype acquired mobile video calling upstart Qik and other contenders like Damaka and Tango have attracted attention from the media.

As of last October, only 6 percent of American adults have made a video call from their mobile phone, according to Pew Internet Research.

Read the entire state of the union address over at NPR