More on Happtique’s health app certification process

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 8, 2012        

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HapptiqueIn January Happtique, a healthcare-focused appstore, announced its plan to create a certification program for apps that would help the medical community determine which of the tens of thousands of health-related mobile apps were clinically appropriate and technically sound. The company has tapped a multi-disciplinary team to develop its certification program — a practicing physician, nurse, patient, technologist, and an expert in healthcare credentialing and certification are all onboard. The program, which is expected to be up and running within six months, will be open to all developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

This week Happtique’s certification process team published a letter to the mobile health industry that explained its initial thoughts on the project ahead. Here’s how the team has conceived its initial set of issues for the review process:

“For the app review process, we will be considering a range of issues, including how apps will be submitted for review; how apps will be assigned to reviewers, as well as reviewer credentials, recruitment, and compensation; length of certification and requirements (if any) for recertification; feedback on apps that don’t qualify for certification; and certification fees,” Happtiques panel wrote.

The panel will also review apps for performance — both whether the apps are clinically and technically sound. Here’s how the panel has describes that aspect:

“With respect to performance standards, we will be focusing on such issues as the source of the app’s content (e.g., clinical/evidence basis and/or sponsor); the extent to which the app does what it’s designed to do; how well the app functions from a technical perspective (e.g., reliability, usability, malware); if relevant, how well the app addresses security and privacy issues; and value from the end-user perspective (e.g., healthcare professionals, patients).”

More details on Happtique’s certification process in the open letter to the industry below: Keep reading>>


Norway grants $9.9M to mHealth Alliance for maternal health

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 7, 2012        

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Text4babyPhoneThe Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) has committed $9.9 million to the mHealth Alliance to help it create grant competitions for innovative mobile health services that aim to improve women and children’s health. Maternal health has been an area of focus for mHealth services: Text4Baby, a free, SMS-based health service for new and expectant mothers is perhaps one of the most well-known mobile health services to launch in the US.

The funds will help the mHealth Alliance run the program for three years during which the mHealth Alliance, which is hosted by the United Nations Foundation, will award grants to mobile health organizations that demonstrate a “capacity to scale up evidence-based mHealth interventions that improve health outcomes,” the organizations wrote in a press release.

“Some of the poorest countries are making significant reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality,” stated Tore Godal, co-chair of the Innovative Working Group and Special Advisor for Global Health to the Prime Minister of Norway. “But there is still much work to be done. The use of mobile technology demonstrates how innovation creates unprecedented potential for scale-up. With two out of three mobile users living in developing countries, these grants are critical to global health and development – important parts of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those related to women.”

“Mobile phones make participation possible for women to access the health care they need, including family planning, birth, child care, and survival,” Godal continued.

The mHealth Alliance competition is now “open to applications from public-private partnership-driven projects that have the potential to improve women’s and children’s health and reduce their risk of dying in developing countries,” according to the alliance. These projects must also “have evidence of positive outcomes from a pilot or early phase development” and “are ready for scale-up.”

Last year’s award winners are now launching their mobile health services in Ghana, India, and Uganda. More details in the press release below: Keep reading>>

AirStrip CEO looks to decentralize data with mobile platform

By: Neil Versel | Mar 7, 2012        

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AirStrip CardiologyIt might have been hard to stand out among the 1,123 exhibitors at the recent 2012 HIMSS conference two weeks ago, but AirStrip Technologies somehow did.

As MobiHealthNews Editor Brian Dolan reported, the San Antonio-based developer of remote monitoring apps recently landed separate investments from two heavyweights, namely the Qualcomm Life Fund and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Feb. 21, the first day of HIMSS started, AirStrip said that it would incorporate Diversinet authentication and encryption technology into its apps, likely allowing the company to sell its products to the Military Health System.

One day later, AirStrip expanded its existing partnership with GE Healthcare by announcing a collaboration on AirStrip Patient Monitoring, an app that sends data and waveform imaging from telemetry monitors to clinician iPads and iPhones in near real time. GE’s Carescape network, a connectivity platform that helps integrate biomedical devices into hospital information systems, serves as the hub.

The two companies are positioning AirStrip Patient Monitoring as a form of clinical decision support that helps critical care physicians keep closer tabs on more patients than they otherwise would be able to without the technology. It also will help nurses in critical care units of hospitals track down physicians much faster when a patient monitor sounds an alarm.

The new app builds on an earlier joint offering, AirStrip Cardiology, an app that delivers digitally enhanced electrocardiogram images and reports to smartphones and tablets. “We are capturing clinical data and putting it on a mobile device,” AirStrip CEO Alan Portela said in an interview at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas. “The concept is to decentralize data. Clinicians do not have to be tied to one location.” Keep reading>>

Telemonitoring, IVR cuts HF readmissions by 44 percent

By: Neil Versel | Mar 7, 2012        

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hosp-solutionsTelemonitoring technology paired with interactive voice response succeeded in cutting 30-day post-discharge readmissions by 44 percent for patients hospitalized for heart failure in a wide deployment at a large, integrated health system.

Geisinger Health Plan, the insurance arm of Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa., also found an 85 percent patient compliance rate with its monitoring program, according to data released by the organization. Among Geisinger case managers, 96 percent said that telehealth makes them more efficient in monitoring patients with heart failure and 85 percent indicated that the combination of telehealth technology and vigilance by healthcare providers helps keep their patients out of the hospital.

“These patients are among the most challenging to manage,” Janet Tomcavage, vice president of health services for Geisinger Health Plan says in a statement. “The acuity of their condition requires constant surveillance to detect emerging exacerbations. If left unaddressed, this inevitably leads to increased emergency department utilization and costly hospital readmissions,” adds Tomcavage, a registered nurse.

While payers have always had motivation to reduce costly inpatient admissions, the onus has been shifting to providers as well. Starting in October, Medicare will no longer reimburse hospitals for certain preventable readmissions within 30 days of discharge, though the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will make payment decisions based on readmissions data it has been collecting from hospitals since October 2011. Keep reading>>

Medivo acquires mobile health startup WellApps

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 7, 2012        

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GI Monitor WellAppsNew York-based healthcare IT company Medivo has acquired WellApps, developer of mobile health app GI Monitor, that helps people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. No financial details of the deal were released. WellApps co-founder and CEO Brett Shamosh will join Medivo as VP of Product Development.

WellApps’ GI Monitor will be rebranded and become integrated into Medivo Monitor platform for patients and the Medivo PatientPath platform for physicians. GI Monitor aims to help patients more easily and accurately log symptoms and provide this data to their care providers. It also enables patients to see correlations between symptoms, meals and medications. Specifically, the GI Monitor app helps users track stool number, form, blood, and urgency in addition to pain levels and stress levels to determine a quality of life score on a scale of 1 to 10. Shamosh shared preliminary results with MobiHealthNews from an small study the company did last year. The app will retain its core feature set, according to the company’s press release.

Shamosh co-founded WellApps with Dr. Edward Shin and Paolo Teodorani. Shin and Teodorani will not be joining Medivo. Shamosh told MobiHealthNews in an email that Teodorani will likely continue his work developing the app on a consulting basis since he runs his own Italy-based development shop.

Medivo plans to leverage WellApps mobile health experience to move into other chronic condition management offerings:

“Medivo’s free services and tools are revolutionizing the way physicians and patients leverage lab testing to make better decisions leading to improved health,” Sundeep Bhan, CEO of Medivo stated in a press release. “WellApps complements Medivo’s growth strategy and offers us immediate access to the mobile health space. In addition, this acquisition will increase our ability to address a broader set of medical conditions, which will have a positive impact on our patients and physicians.”

More on the deal in the press release below: Keep reading>>

How mobile payments might drive health behavior change

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 6, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIt’s often said that the average person will never leave the house in the morning without three things: their mobile phone, their wallet, and their keys. If three of the top mobile operators in the United States have their way, this summer people will begin to seriously consider leaving one of those behind.

So long, wallet? That’s right, this summer may be remembered as the beginning of the era of mobile payments, services that let consumers pay for things in-person through their smartphone rather than with cash or a credit card. Isis, a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA, is the mobile operators’ answer to Google Wallet, a similar service launched by Google last year. Dozens of brick-and-mortar shops (many nationwide chains) have already begun to accept such payments. Google Wallet currently counts more than 25 big brand chains as partners: Gap, Macy’s, Toys R Us, Office Max, RadioShack, Sports Authority, Foot Locker, among them.

More relevant for this publication’s readers, however, are the restaurants, coffeeshops, and convenience stores that have signed up. Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Jamba Juice, Jack In the Box, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Walgreens, CVS, and more are onboard.

Once our wallets become “smart”, our eating habits could get smarter, too. While there are plenty of privacy and security issues to unravel first, it’s not too big of a leap to imagine health apps in the near future that help people on diets. Trying to stick to a low carb diet? Maybe your health app won’t allow purchases at the bagel shop. Figured out that late night eating is your biggest vice? A smart wallet could put the brakes on spending after 10 PM. Drinking too many sugary coffees each month? A health-conscious mobile payments app could enforce a monthly Starbucks budget.

While such rules may not be the keys for success for everyone — for some, the implications for health behavior change could be huge.

Walter Frick over at BostInno has a worthwhile post on the potential “good behavior” layer that the coming mobile payments era might enable. If successful, mobilizing payments could change many more behaviors than those that impact a user’s health.

Few would be as important, though.