Study: Twitter useful for food tracking

By: Aditi Pai | Aug 26, 2013        

Tags: | | | | | |  |

EatitTweetitA study published earlier this summer in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that Twitter can help people capture dietary intake and behavior.

The data from the study was integrated into Eat It Tweet It, an app in the Apple App store created to integrate with Twitter and offer users a portal to tweet exclusively about their diet. The app, created at New Mexico State University, includes preset hashtags categorized as behavior or food and a camera feature to take a picture of the meal.

The study acknowledges many software applications exist for tracking food data, but lack the “empirical evidence supporting their efficacy as health promotion tools”. Researcher Melanie Hingle’s objective was to test the feasibility of Twitter to capture young adults’ dietary behavior and visualize this data using Twitter’s analytic tool. Upon finishing the study, the participants completed a survey to determine if they found this method viable for regularly recording food data.

Hingle’s study ran for three consecutive days with 50 participants from the University of Arizona. All participants used the native Twitter app on study-specific accounts to report via tweet and hashtag every time they ate or drank. Hingle gave participants 24 hashtag options that either describe the food or reason for eating the food. After the study, a total of 773 tweets containing 2,862 hashtags were reported. Of the hashtags, about 60 percent were food-related and the rest were reasons for eating.

A majority of the participants used their mobile phones to access Twitter, 56 percent, while 8 percent used a desktop or laptop and 36 percent used a combination of the two.

After the study, users made various comments about the feasibility of the program. Overall, 38 of the 50 participants found Twitter easy to use while five thought the character limit presented a challenge to accurately reporting data. Participants also suggested creating their own hashtags to better describe food choice and reasons for eating. Eighteen participants wanted feedback on their diet habits and suggestions for how to improve their diet.

The study’s other objective was to create data visualizations of the tweets, which Hingle’s team was able to do with the information from hashtags and time of day of tweets. The study authors believe that future iterations of data visualizations could include heat maps that integrate phenotype of sociodemographic  data.


Cleveland Clinic extends iPad-based concussion detection to rural settings

By: Neil Versel | Aug 26, 2013        

Tags: | | | |  |

ClevelandClinicConcussionThe Cleveland Clinic developed the Cleveland Clinic Concussion Assessment System (C3), a two-year-old iPad app that measures concussion severity and recovery, to “bring continuity of assessment across a large healthcare organization,” according to biomedical engineer Jay Alberts. It now is showing promise as a way to maximize limited resources for treating head injuries in rural communities.

This month, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Concussion Center brought the C3 app to Rock Valley Community High School in Rock Valley, Iowa, population 3,400, to conduct baseline screenings on student-athletes. Should any of the young athletes suffer a blow to the head, a coach or athletic trainer can run the iPad assessment to detect and evaluate concussion symptoms, then get the injured teen into treatment.

The app later can help local health professionals and school officials determine if it is safe to clear the athlete to return to competition. “It provides us a great opportunity for us to improve outcomes and care for folks who are not in major metropolitan areas,” Alberts, director of the Cleveland Clinic Concussion Center, told MobiHealthNews.

Since Alberts, who grew up not far from Rock Valley, brought the app to the area, nearby communities have taken notice and want the app for their own high school athletes. “Other schools in Northwest Iowa have contacted us, and we’re moving forward with logistics,” Alberts said.

According to Alberts, the concussion center has tested C3 on more than 6,000 athletes at about 60 high schools and colleges in Northeast Ohio. To date, the app has helped physicians confirm about 500 actual concussions.

The C3 app captures data in four areas to quantify the extent of cognitive and motor impairment: information processing ability, attention/memory, balance and visual acuity. It also incorporates the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT2), a globally recognized protocol for evaluating concussions.

Athletes actually strap an iPad onto their backs for the C3 test so the iPad’s gyroscope and accelerometer can measure movements that might indicate concussion-related balance problems.

Alberts said C3 app evolved from another app he developed to help Cleveland Clinic physicians detect the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. The concussion app distinguishes between cognitive problems and motor problems, and does it fast.

“We can gather these data points very quickly,” Alberts said. “More people are being referred to physical therapy than before, and they’re getting treatment faster,” Alberts reported.

Though the iPad certainly supports video chats and the Cleveland Clinic has supplied the app to a school district several states away, C3 presently does not have a telemedicine element to call in a specialist if necessary. “But that’s one of the things we’re exploring,” Alberts said.

Another long-term goal for the app and the concussion center is to to determine if widely accepted concussion protocols actually work, Alberts added.

Roundup: Health tracking may pose risks, rise of period apps and new course for healthcare startups

By: Aditi Pai | Aug 24, 2013        

Tags: | | | | |  |

Levchin’s Glow app

This week, MobiHealthNews wrote about a survey from Flurry that indicated health and fitness users still prefer the iPhone to the iPad, Allscripts’ updated EHR iPad app and new company-branded app store, Samsung’s launch of a gamified health app in Korea, and Basis’ limited iPhone app. Here are some other stories we read this week that will add insight and scope to some mobile health trends we follow.

Can Health Tracking Apps Spur Risk-Taking? – LiveScience

Rachael Rettner’s post discusses the risks that can be associated with health tracking apps. Gamified apps focus on hard numbers, such as miles run, time spent working out, or steps taken. With a plethora of wearables and apps available, the distinguishing factor between them is generally which app or device best tracks these numbers and motivates users. The competition can be fierce; recently there was even a report that crowd-sourced complaints of each product to find a winner. This article asks whether that’s the best approach to helping people improve — or perhaps if it could lead those with competitive spirits to push their limits to an extreme.

Games prove to be winning fitness motivators – SF Gate

On the other side of the fence, Stanford behavioral scientist Abby King’s research attributed the success of fitness apps to game-based mechanisms. Instead of concentrating specifically on that, the post then goes into more depth discussing different behavioral strategies implemented in the games and competitions that motivate users to succeed. The story covers various health technologies that employ games to “inspire” users, and different motivators like incentives, teamwork and competition.

The Rise of the Period Apps: Where Big Data Meets Girlie Graphics – NY Mag’s The Cut

The author pits the female stereotypes within these apps against the progressive nature of self-tracking and big data in this article about fertility apps. The piece also delves into the history of period tracking, from Lauren Bacon’s pen and paper charting of her period to learn about ovulation and birth control to former CTO of PayPal Max Levchin’s new period app, Glow, which was heavily covered a few weeks ago when it launched.

Reinventing Life Science Startups – Medical Devices and Digital Health – Huffington Post

The second in the three part series, Steve Blank describes his upcoming class at UCSF, the Lean LaunchPad class for Life Sciences and Healthcare. In this post, Blank explains the process behind FDA 510(k) clearances for devices, issues with creating a business model, and VC funding. Blank’s aim in teaching the class is to test his hypothesis on whether familiarizing students with these theories could eventually help life science startups build companies more efficiently.

Two ways Medicare pays for digital health tools

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 22, 2013        

Tags: | | | | | | | |  |

JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTThis month, Medicare revealed the list of more than 2,000 hospitals losing up to 2 percent of their funding for failing to sufficiently reduce readmissions. Next year, those penalties can rise even higher.

As troubling as this can be for hospitals, it should be good news for mobile health entrepreneurs, as the wake up call may drive hospitals to explore technology like telehealth, remote patient monitoring, or apps or text message services for people living with chronic diseases. To reduce readmissions, doctors need to find ways to extend care outside the hospital — and those ways are being pioneered by mobile health companies.

Even as efficacy data for these methods builds through initiatives like the Scripps Wired for Health trial, hospitals still face a challenge in implementing the technology. Ironically, the challenge comes from the same source that’s brow-beating them into reducing readmissions: Medicare.

According to Jonathan Linkous, president of the American Telemedicine Association, Medicare still generally won’t reimburse hospitals or caregivers for home-based remote patient monitoring in most cases, or at least doesn’t provide codes that make that reimbursement easy to secure. He pointed out the seeming contradiction in the two policies. Even though reimbursing for more home care technology could lead to the reductions in readmissions, those two programs are handled by two different departments within CMS — departments which don’t appear to be communicating as well as they could.

Chris Bergstrom, chief commercial and strategy officer at WellDoc, maker of the BlueStar diabetes management technology that recently made headlines for being paid for by some private payers, says reimbursement does exist for mobile health, companies just have to use older, existing CPT codes. BlueStar, however, doesn’t yet have reimbursement from Medicare either.

“I never foresee a day where there’s ‘Part M’ and we just reimburse for mobile health,” he told MobiHealthNews. “It’s about fitting in to the existing structures. … If your product has been deemed by the FDA to be a medical device, there’s no real reason you can’t go through a traditional medical device reimbursement path.” Keep reading>>

Sponsored Post: FutureMed – Exploring and Helping Create the Future of Health and Medicine


FutureMed is a one of a kind program that educates, informs and prepares physicians, innovators, inventors, investors and senior healthcare executives to understand and recognize the opportunities and disruptive influences of exponentially growing technologies within medicine and healthcare.

Healthcare is ripe for disruption, and technology is breaking the traditional silos which have defined its practice. Join our world class faculty and participants and understand the cutting edge trajectory of low cost genomic sequencing, artificial intelligence, telemedicine, robotics, quantified health, regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, gene therapy, mobile crowd-sourced health data and more and how these will affect and allow us to re-invent the future of healthcare and medicine.

Apply now to participate this Nov 3-6th, being held at the historic and iconic Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.

Take a deep dive into the future of medicine through an integrated series of Core Curriculum, Workshops, Technology Demos, Site Visits, and a participant ‘Unconference’, plus mix it up in beachside networking with key thought leaders and innovators.

Core Tracks Include:

  • Intro to Exponential Technology (AI, Robotics, 3D Printing, IT, Synthetic Biology)
  • Data & Mobile Enabled Healthcare
  • ‘Omics & Personalized Medicine
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Neuromedicine
  • The Future of Intervention (Drugs, Devices, Robotics)
  • BioMedical Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • The Future of Medical Practice

Faculty for FutureMed at the Hotel Del include:

  • Eric Topol MD, Scripps Translational Science Institute, Editor of Medscape
  • Peter Diamandis MD, Founder and Chairman of the X-Prize & Singularity Univ
  • Dean Ornish MD, Preventative Medicine Research Institute
  • Catherine Mohr MD, Director of Medical Research, Intuitive Surgical
  • Marty Kohn MD, IBM-Watson, Chief Medical Scientist
  • Esther Dyson, HICCup, Investor, Board Member 23&Me
  • John Mattison MD, CMIO and Medical Director, Kaiser Permanente
  • Bill Crounse MD, Senior Director of Worldwide Health, Microsoft
  • Peter Fitzgerald MD, Director, Center for Cardiovascular Technology, Stanford Medical School
  • Walter De Brouwer, Founder and CEO of Scanadu
  • And many more…

Exclusive Discount

With only ten weeks to go we encourage you to apply now. Every FutureMed has been significantly oversubscribed and we anticipate that this one will sell out well in advance. Enter Referral Code Mobi when you apply and you’ll receive a special discount code good for $500 off registration.

Demo your Healthcare Innovation
Have an innovation you’d like to share/demo in our Exploratorium? Apply here.

Wireless breast self-exam device heads to Indiegogo

By: Neil Versel | Aug 22, 2013        

Tags: | | | | | |  |

Eclipse Breast Health TechnologiesA startup company is looking to raise $650,000 on Indiegogo to test and eventually bring to market a wireless sensor meant to aid in the early detection of breast cancer and the tracking of patients being treated for the disease that kills 40,000 U.S. women each year.

Eclipse Breast Health Technologies, of La Mesa, California, launched its crowdfunding campaign Monday and hopes to reach its goal by Oct. 3.

The system consists of a handheld imaging device paired with imaging software that tracks changes in breast density over time, and also incorporates an element of social networking. Eclipse says the device, which uses what the company calls “transphotonic” technology – combining low-energy photons and light sensors, without the need for radiation – is as much as five times as sensitive as the human hand. (In a video on the Indiegogo page, the company calls the light-based imaging “100 percent safe.”

“It mimics the breast self-exam for women,” said Eclipse founder and CEO Ken Wright, who helped develop similar technology for U.S Navy submarines to identify tiny objects in murky water.

The imaging device links wirelessly or by USB to a PC, smartphone or tablet, where a Web application creates a visual representation of the self-exam and helps quantify observations. Data is uploaded to patient accounts on a platform that calls Pink Cloud. From there, women can compare readings over time, share the information with their physicians or connect with others on Pink Cloud, which incorporates a social network of Eclipse users. Keep reading>>