Can tablets help nurses better screen for domestic abuse?

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 24, 2012        

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iPad 2Researchers at nursing schools at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University are set to begin a government funded study to determine whether surveys on tablets may be a better way to screen pregnant women for abuse over the existing method of a nurse verbally asking during a home visit, according to a report in Psych Central.

The study will oversee 4,000 screenings of women in Baltimore and rural areas of both Virginia and Missouri. Half of the women screened will be asked about abuse by a visiting nurse, while the other 2,000 women will be handed a mobile tablet, like an Android device or iPad, along with ear phones and then guided through a series of questions about domestic partner violence. Importantly, the mobile app will have a safety button that can be pressed to cover up the questions in case the abuser walks in.

Researchers predict that the number of women that will self-identify as being victims of domestic abuse will increase by as much as a third when using the tablets.

The results of the study could change how policymakers use money set aside for home visits under the Affordable Health Care Act, according to the Psych Central report.

While it wasn’t specifically focused on domestic abuse: Last year HHS sponsored an app developer challenge, called Apps Against Abuse, to encourage the creation of apps that helped prevent sexual assault and dating violence. Two apps won the competition: Circle of 6, a prototype of an iPhone app that aims to make it quick and easy for users to reach out to their circle of friends or family and let them know where they are and what they need. The other winning app, On Watch, also enables easy check-ins with friends, 911 or campus police. It also enables users to set count-down timers that send messages and GPS information automatically if events or activities don’t go according to plan.


Survey: 45 percent of doctors have iPads

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2012        

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JiffPad iPad appA recent survey of 971 physicians found that about 74 percent already own or plan to buy an iPad in the next six months. The survey, called the April 2012 Joint Survey of Physician Digital Behavior, was conducted by virtual event platform provider ON24 and MedData Group.

Of the physicians surveyed, some 45 percent currently owned an iPad and about 52 percent were already iPhone users. About 10 percent said they use a non-iPad tablet, while some 25 percent claimed to use some kind of smartphone other than an iPhone. The researchers asked respondents which type of device they planned to buy in the next six months: 29 percent said an iPad, 17 percent planned to buy an iPhone, 4 percent expected to purchase a non-iPad tablet, and nearly 6 percent said they planned to buy a non-iPhone smartphone.

The survey also found that while physicians are interested in attending online events and meetings for CME training, pharmaceutical education, or medical device training, less than 7 percent of the physicians surveyed said they participate in any kind of virtual training very often.

Read this InformationWeek article for more details.
Or read more in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Numera acquires mobile-enabled PERS device maker

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2012        

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BlueLibris Libri PERS deviceLast week Numera announced that it had acquired BlueLibris, maker of a wearable, cellular-enabled personal emergency response device. Numera plans to integrate the device, called the Libri, into its own suite of telehealth products and services, but it also intends to expand the device’s capabilities by adding new sensors.

The BlueLibris device enables two-way, hands-free voice communication via AT&T’s 3G cellular network, GPS-enabled location tracking, and fall detection. A couple of Freescale sensors power the fall detection and activity monitoring. The acquisition brings Numera new relationships with AT&T and Qualcomm, too. Numera plans to integrate the device with its telehealth gateway to enable users to upload biometric measurements from its health devices.

The Libri device is able to pick up on certain words like “I’ve fallen” or “Call for help” and automatically begin a two-way voice call without requiring the user to push the device’s button.

Last September USA Today reported that the BlueLibris device and service would soon be available from “various health care providers,” but the device and service never commercially launched.

“Very much like an OnStar for people,” BlueLibris founder and CEO Ram Fish told the newspaper: “The device lets the owner push a button to talk to someone on the other end, while simultaneously wirelessly transmitting a wealth of medical data such as heart rate and blood pressure (with the help of other Bluetooth medical body sensors).”

The company plans to start selling the device during the fourth quarter of the year.

More in the release below: Keep reading>>

Fitbit commercially launches Aria WiFi weight scale

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 23, 2012        

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fitbitariaConnected fitness device maker Fitbit announced this week the commercial launch of its Aria WiFi Smart Scale, which was originally unveiled at the CES event earlier this year. The company, whose flagship product is the Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker, is now selling the Aria scale on its website and it plans to bring the scale to brick and mortar stores, including Best Buy, at the end of April. Fitbit says some 6,000 stores in the US, Canada, and the EU now sell its devices.

Fitbit Aria recognizes up to eight different user profiles and automatically determines which user is on the scale based on previous usage. (The competing WiFi-enabled scale from Withings also recognizes up to eight users.) Once uploaded to Fitbit’s website, the weight data over time can be analyzed through graphs and charts. Users can also create weight loss goals and food logs, earn motivational badges, and interact with fellow Aria users.

“We’re eagerly anticipating the Aria in our stores. The Fitbit tracker is a strong seller in the health and fitness technology category. We’re eager to see Fitbit do to scales what they did for fitness devices,” Alan Smith, Senior Buyer, at Best Buy stated in a Fitbit statement.

The Aria scale follows the lead of Withings WiFi body scale and the Bluetooth-enabled iHealth Weight Scale. While the Withings scale operates almost identically to the Aria by using a WiFi connection, the iHealth requires a user to have their smartphone or tablet close by during weigh-ins since it transmits data via a Bluetooth connection. Tanita and A&D also offer connected weight scales that can send results to smartphones and tablets.

For more on the Aria’s launch read the press release below: Keep reading>>

SMS aids collaboration, reduces missed appointments, boosts mood

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 19, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsPsychologists at the University of California-Berkeley found that text messages help people feel more connected and cared for and help life a person’s mood when they send or receive an SMS. UC Berkeley professor Adrian Aguilera led the study, which was published in the journal, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

Aguilera told the UK’s Telegraph that the study originated back in 2010 when he began using text messages with patients who had depression. He sent them texts that prompted them to think about their moods and reply to positive and negative daily interactions. Aguilera said that the research provides new insights into the need for regular contact and check-ins from mental health professionals.

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week discussed how text messages between physicians and patients can help enable a more collaborative partnership. The report focuses on a new project, called the Collaborative Chronic Care Network, that currently includes participation from 6,800 patients and 33 healthcare centers.

According to the WSJ, “one of the participants is Emily Brandt, a 20-year-old student at the University of Michigan with ulcerative colitis. As part of one pilot, she gets four text messages every day asking her different questions, including whether she took her medicine and how many times she woke up in the middle of the night. Her doctor, [Dr. Jeremy Adler, a pediatric gastroenterologist], gets the results in graph form, which he and Ms. Brandt analyze together every two weeks.”

Since Dr. Adler can now see trends based on Emily’s tracking, they have been able to test out whether intravenous injections of a medication should be given more frequently or whether an improvement in symptoms during an unrelated antibiotics course might indication other means of treatment.

A study published in the Irish Medical Journal found that text messages significantly reduced non-attendance for appointments at an outpatient urology clinic in Dublin, Ireland. The study tracked missed appointments during a two year period before the introduction of text message appointment reminders and compared them to two years of data gathered while text message appointment reminders were used.

“The non-attendance rate in the two years prior to text message reminders was 17.6 percent (4,544 patients). Following the introduction of text message reminders, the overall non-attendance rate declined to 12.4 percent (3,423 patients), a reduction of 29.5 percent. The greatest improvement, a reduction in non-attendance rate of 63 percent, was seen in patients between 16 and 30 [years old].”

Verizon focuses healthcare efforts on chronic diseases, care coordination

By: Neil Versel | Apr 19, 2012        

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At the annual World Health Care Congress this week near Washington, D.C., Verizon Communications announced a partnership with Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks. As their first order of business, the two companies will build a system called the Cancer Action Knowledge Network to supply physicians with current cancer treatment protocols at the point of care.

This partnership fits into many of Verizon’s corporate goals and strategies. “In order to realize the full disruptive potential of technology, we need holistic approaches to solve these fundamental issues and deliver next-generation healthcare experiences to consumers,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said at the World Health Care Congress, according to remarks provided to MobiHealthNews.

With this in mind, the telecommunications behemoth a couple of years ago consolidated its $5 billion health IT practice into a unit dubbed Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions. At the beginning of 2012, the company created Verizon Enterprise Solutions to serve Fortune 500 and mid-size corporations, and installed former Verizon Wireless chief John Stratton as president.

Meantime, at the corporate level, Verizon is looking to rein in healthcare costs for the more than 900,000 employees, retirees and their families the self-insured company provides coverage for.

Kannan Sreedhar, managing director for healthcare in the new Verizon Enterprise Solutions division, sees huge potential for mobile technology to help Verizon and its customers manage costs related to what he calls the “big four” chronic diseases, namely diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension and obesity.

As people age, their ailments tend not to exist in isolation. “A significant portion of them have comorbities,” Sreedhar says in an interview with MobiHealthNews. Mobile technology helps involve patients as part of care teams to address complicated, expensive-to-treat conditions. “Make the patient the center of the care, along with their extended family,” he says.

Mobile health can help establish care management protocols for individual patients. “Having sensors is not sufficient,” Sreedhar says. The data need to be analyzed and acted upon. “This provides an opportunity for coordination of care,” he adds.

To Sreedhar, mobile health is but one component of what Verizon calls “virtual care,” itself a subset of telehealth. This can include video chats and even phone calls from health coaches and case managers, he explains.

Virtual care is a preferred option for sick employees and their children when they don’t necessarily have to go to a doctor or emergency room, according to Sreedhar. “If we can make it compliant and secure, it’s a breeze.”

It also saves the company a ton of money and makes employees more productive by keeping them on the job rather than having to take off half a day to go to the doctor.

Alas, Verizon still is a technology company, not a healthcare provider. “We are not getting into clinical services per se,” according to Sreedhar. “You will not see a Verizon m-health logo on a care management platform.”

Expect the company to focus on its historical strengths, including its ability to scale and deploy technology rapidly and to help keep information secure, even on mobile devices.

“Mobility is great, but in healthcare, the most important things are identity, security and compliance,” Sreedhar says.