St. Louis sleep clinics to offer NovaSom wireless home sleep apnea test

By: Neil Versel | Sep 5, 2012        

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NovaSom Accusom DeliverNovaSom, maker of home tests for obstructive sleep apnea, has its first provider partnership for its AccuSom Deliver out-of-center sleep testing program, and it’s a big one. The Glen Burnie, Md.-based vendor announced Wednesday that it will offer the service through the SSM Center for Sleep Disorders, part of major Catholic integrated delivery network SSM Health Care – St. Louis.

The seven SSM Center for Sleep Disorders locations in the St. Louis area will offer AccuSom Deliver to its patients starting Oct. 1. This, according to NovaSom, will allow the center to expand its treatment capacity without sacrificing clinical control over patients. It also promises to make testing for sleep apnea more convenient and comfortable for patients, save money and, because of cellular transmission of data to the cloud, shorten the time to diagnosis.

AccuSom Deliver combines an FDA-cleared home testing kit linked to the Verizon Wireless network with a cloud-based portal for the company’s sleep specialists to access and interpret data. “That used to take weeks with a sleep lab,” Accusom marketing director Pete Celano told MobiHealthNews when AccuSom Deliver was unveiled in June.

Sleep specialists can order an out-of-center sleep test through the portal, prompting AccuSom to ship a testing kit to the patient’s home. The wireless component streamlines data collection. “The data flies through the air thanks to Verizon,” Celano said.

The portal also allows NovaSom clinicians to provide support to patients throughout the test, which requires overnight measurement of 12 physiological and neurological factors. Home testing, which AccuSom says is appropriate for 80 percent of people with undiagnosed OSA, replaces the need for an expensive and inconvenient inpatient stay in a hospital or sleep center.

The home test, according to Celano, is about $400. “The test can cost $2,000 in a sleep lab,” he said. Because AccuSom owns the testing devices, the sleep center does not need to buy its own.

“Previously we’ve considered offering out-of-center or home sleep testing to allow us to diagnosis more patients, faster. However, purchasing or renting home sleep testing devices in bulk would have required a significant operations and logistics burden in-house, from device delivery to validation of testing-in-progress to device retrieval,” Daniel Tirado, team leader for the SSM Center for Sleep Disorders, says in a press release.

Home testing got a boost in March when Aetna made the traditional in-clinic test subject to prior authorization, in part because of the cost, Celano noted. “That’s earth-shaking,” he said.


White House wants to clone iTriage

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 4, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAt the end of August the White House launched a new program, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which pairs the private sector, academia, and non-profits with people from the government to work on five innovation projects over the course of the next five months. One of those projects is one that is undoubtedly familiar to those working in healthcare today: The Open Data Initiative. Former HHS CTO Todd Park helped launched the ODI in healthcare during his tenure at HHS, and now that he has succeeded Aneesh Chopra as CTO of the federal government, he aims to bring Open Data Initiatives to other sectors as well.

To illustrate the success of ODI, Park invited Dr. Peter Hudson, co-founder and CEO of iTriage, the mobile health company that Aetna acquired last year, which makes use of some freely available government data sets to offer its symptom navigator and care facility locator service.

Hudson said that the iTriage app now has almost 7 million downloads and it is used about 3 million times each month. Close to 20 percent of the acute hospital marketplace now has tie-ins to the application, which can integrate with hospital information systems to provide ER wait times and appointment booking services. Hudson said that the app also has about 60,000 reviews across the various appstores that it is available through, and an average rating of about 4.5 out of 5 stars.

iTriage leverages at least two data sets that were made available thanks to the Open Data Initiative: A database of Federally Qualified Health Centers and a database for mental health and substance abuse centers. Hudson said that to date some 125,000 people have found Federally Qualified Health Centers through the iTriage app since it first launched and about 25,000 people have located mental health and substance abuse centers since the app went began including that data set.

Once Hudson finished telling the iTriage story, Park explained the company’s significance for the ODI moving forward:

“So, what’s the play?” Park asked the audience. “What is the Open Data Initiative’s play exactly? Clone Pete Hudson. That is the play. Clone this story. And, very specifically, clone the actual use of the data — the application of the data by American entrepreneurs and innovators — to create real benefit in people’s lives. Help people to find the right doctor that could save their life. Help your daughter find the college that will provide the best value for her… Get transparency on the non-profit market place so you actually put your charitable contributions, your hard earned dollars, into the non-profits that will produce the best value socially for your money. Real tools, real services built by American entrepreneurs using free government data that can help make American lives easier, better, and create jobs and help grow the economy at the same time.”

More than 700 people applied to participate in the fellowship program, which accepted 18 to participate.

Interestingly, Ryan Panchadsaram, c0-founder of Pipette, is among those participating in the fellowship program on the Blue Button Initiative project. Pipette was a Rock Health startup that was developing mobile health offerings that enable hospitals and care teams to monitor and educate patients during recovery with an aim to “reduce complications and lower the cost of care by enabling early intervention of high-risk patients,” according to the company at the time. MIT Media Lab spin-out “acqui-hired” the Pipette team in March.

Panchadsaram will be working with two others to drive adoption of the Blue Button for America technology, which aims to help millions of Americans “easily and securely download their own health information electronically.”

Hello Health co-founder lands $1.85 million for new venture, Sherpaa

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 4, 2012        

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Money TreeDr. Jay Parkinson recently announced that his latest venture, Sherpaa, has raised $1.85 million from O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, First Round Capital, Collaborative Fund, and angels including, ex-president of Tumblr John Maloney, and OpenX and Jirafe founder Scott Switzer, TechCrunch reports. Parkinson is perhaps best known as a co-founder of Hello Health, a subsidiary of Myca Health, which offers a “patient management platform” to physicians that includes an EHR, personal health portals, and a suite of online communication tools.

With Sherpaa, Parkinson is mostly focused on helping startups and small companies navigate healthcare and health insurance for their employees. Parkinson tells Xconomy that Sherpaa will save employers between $1,000 and $4,000  year.

The service will provide employees with 24/7 access to doctors via email of phone. Parkinson says that about 70 percent of the time an email or phone call can solve the problem, but when people are in a panic and have no access, they might just go to the emergency room. Sherpaa aims to help “inexperienced employers make the right choices” when it comes to health plans.

“If you’re a company of 100 people, you don’t have the expertise to spend your money wisely,” Parkinson tells Xconomy. “So you go to an insurance broker, they fire back a list of 30 plans, and it’s eenie-meeny-miny-moe to pick the best one. Oftentimes employers over-insure their employees.”

The Sherpaa business model charges employers a monthly fee per employee.

While the startup only currently operates in New York City and has been working with Tumblr and nine other startups in the city, Parkinson has identified about 4,000 other potential customers in town. He aims to take Sherpaa to other cities, including possibly, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Chicago in about a year’s time, but not before it works well in New York.

More over at Xconomy

iSonea raises $1.05 million, announces plans for AirSonea

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 4, 2012        

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iSonea AsthmaSense App

iSonea's AsthmaSense App

Medical technology company iSonea has raised $1.05 million in funding from Australian businessman Bruce Mathieson, who now owns about 15 percent of the company.

iSonea’s CEO Michael Thomas explained that the funding would help the company build more of its medical devices’ functionality into the smartphone platform: “iSonea is committed to developing innovative, non-invasive devices and mobile health applications to improve the management of chronic and costly respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD. After the successful launch of our AsthmaSense mobile smartphone app this summer, the company is now focused on integrating our existing proprietary ARM sensors and analytical software with the AsthmaSense mobile smartphone app to develop an app based wheeze monitor known as AirSonea.”

As MobiHealthNews reported earlier this year, while iSonea is currently a medical device company that makes its own hardware, it believes that at its core it is a smart algorithm and software company. It intends to become hardware agnostic and that smartphones will allow them to do that.

iSonea’s core offering today is a medical device called the Wheezometer, a point of care, handheld device that “analyzes 30 seconds of breath sounds using advanced signal processing algorithms to detect, quantify and objectively document the presence of wheeze and its extent,” according to iSonea’s website.

In February iSonea inked a deal with Qualcomm Life to bring the company’s devices to Qualcomm’s 2net platform for home health monitoring. The next month iSonea began recruiting for a pediatric asthma clinical trial that would make use of its Wheezometer device. Earlier this summer iSonea launched its first iPhone app, AsthmaSense, which offers journaling features, medication and testing alert reminders, emergency services contact information, and the ability to share data with caregivers and providers.

AirSonea, which Thomas announced for the first time in the Mathieson funding announcement, will be an Android or iPhone-based version of the Wheezometer that will likely make use of a peripheral device that attaches to the phone’s microphone.

More on the funding announcement here.

Stanford team demonstrates tiny, wireless powered pacemaker

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 4, 2012        

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Stanford wireless powered pacemaker

"A team of engineers at Stanford has shown that, contrary to earlier models, high-frequency wireless power transmission to a device in the human body is possible. These images show power delivery to the human heart from a 200MHz low-frequency transmitter (left) and a 1.7GHz high-frequency transmitter (right). Red indicates greatest power; blue is least. Note focusing of power on the heart in the right image." Image Credit: John Ho, Stanford Engineering.

Following a breakthrough in the application of wireless electricity for implantable devices, researchers at Stanford University have unveiled a new, tiny pacemaker that is so small it could fit on the head of a pin. The same team of Stanford researchers developed a tiny medical sensor, which MobiHealthNews reported on in February, that can float through a person’s blood vessels, powered by a person’s pulse. The new device is contained in a cube the size of eight tenths of a millimeter.

The Stanford team recently demonstrated the implantable cardiac device, which is powered by radio waves transmitted from outside the body.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the researchers believe that the technology has applications beyond pacemaker, to include other implantable devices including swallowable endoscopes known as pillcams that travel through digestive tract, permanent pacemakers, and precision brain stimulators.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Applied Physics Letters, demonstrated “wireless power transfer to a millimeter-sized device implanted five centimeters inside the chest on the surface of the heart—a depth once thought out of reach for wireless power transmission,” according to the Daily Mail report.

In February, the team’s lead researcher, electrical engineer and Stanford assistant professor Ada Poon, demonstrated a tiny, wireless powered, self propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through blood, which the school said could lead to an era of “swallow the surgeon” medical care. Poon showed off the device during a demo at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference earlier this year. Stanford predicts that those devices “could travel through the bloodstream to deliver drugs, perform analyses, and perhaps even zap blood clots or remove plaque from sclerotic arteries.”

More on Poon’s latest innovation over at the Daily Mail.

Vecna offers mobile, easy-to-use EHR with solar charger

By: Neil Versel | Sep 4, 2012        

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CliniPAK Vecna TechnologiesSome groups have criticized the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology for not building usability requirements into the national standards for “meaningful use” of electronic health records, suggesting that usability issues have hindered adoption.

Though it hasn’t been designed to help providers achieve meaningful use – or necessarily for the U.S. market – a new mobile records system takes usability to a whole new level.

Vecna Cares, the charitable arm of Cambridge, Mass.-based health IT and robotics firm Vecna Technologies, and their jointly run Global Health Initiative have designed an EHR interface for people with limited computer literacy, suitable for use in areas without reliable electrical service. The system, called Clinical Patient Administration Kit (CliniPAK), is a portable, wireless data collection and reporting kit in a suitcase-sized case.

Designed for community health workers, CliniPAK features a touch-screen tablet with software providing automated patient check-in, vitals capture, clinical decision support, case review and support for biometric and RFID devices. The box also includes an on-board server and solar-powered charger. Keep reading>>