OnPage: The newest nail in the pager’s coffin

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 20, 2011        

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OnPageOnset Technology released OnPage this week, a subscription-based mobile app for iOS and BlackBerry that acts as a pager-like priority messaging service. Onset is no newcomer to the mobile messaging space: The company was founded in 1997.

OnPage aims to attract doctors who still use pagers as a priority messaging system by eliminating the need to carry two devices, while still providing a higher urgency than email, SMS and phone calls. The OnPage service alerts recipients until the message is acknowledged and read, includes a log and audit trail, as well as group messaging. OnPage subscription pricing starts at $8.99 per month, per user.

In a press release, Adam C. Marks, Director of Business & Technical Operations at RSC New England, wrote that “the healthcare industry is still reliant on what most professionals view today as an outdated technology—the pager. Up until this point, our physicians have used a traditional pager to help them keep priority messages distinct from other, less urgent communications. Unfortunately, with a one-way communication system, reliability and responsiveness have always been a concern. OnPage has mitigated those issues for our organization by enabling our physicians to use their smartphones to send and receive priority messages instantly.”

Currently, Cisco partner Extension offers a similar service, called HealthAlert for Nurses, which is available on the Android platform as well as for iPhones. In January, the app was submitted for FDA clearance.

Early this year, Vocera acquired smartphone paging service Wallace Wireless, which offers WICPager, a service similar to OnPage. WICPager is available for Apple iPhones and BlackBerry devices. Wallace Wireless has strong partnerships with AT&T and BlackBerry-maker RIM.

Check out the full press release below.

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Affectiva raises $5.7 million in second round

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 20, 2011        

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qsensor-curve2Affectiva, a start-up that aims to quantifiably analyze emotions to improve consumer experiences, announced this week that it has received a $5.7 million second round of financing. The funding was led by WPP’s insight group Kantar and Myrian Capital, who will now have seats on Affectiva’s board of directors. Affectiva was founded in 2009 by two MIT scientists and started as a research project on autism at MIT’s Media Lab.

The financing will go towards Affectiva’s two main offerings: Affdex, an emotion recognition software, and the next generation of the Q Sensor, a wrist sensor which measures electrodermal activity (EDA), motion and temperature to quantify emotion. The Affdex software uses a computer’s webcam to read emotional states via non-verbal responses such as facial expressions.

“Marketers recognize that emotion drives brand loyalty and purchase decisions. Affdex addresses an enormously challenging problem, understanding how people really feel in order to create products or experiences that are engaging and drive the right response,” stated Dave Berman, CEO of Affectiva in a press release.

Check out the full press release after the jump. Keep reading>>

Silicon Valley often misses the point of healthcare

By: Neil Versel | Jul 20, 2011        

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Neil VerselThere are few places with such a high concentration of conceited, arrogant know-it-alls than Washington, D.C., but Silicon Valley may best even the Beltway gang. I’ve seen a lot of bluster, a lot of unearned publicity, plenty of buzzwords and, in many cases, little actual success in winning over customers or addressing a real problem in healthcare.

Sure, there are exceptions. With the iPad, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has captured the imagination—and the dollars—of perhaps a quarter of all physicians in the U.S. Practice Fusion, of San Francisco, has shaken up the ambulatory EMR market by offering a free, advertising-supported product that has successfully targeted a badly underserved segment, namely small physician practices. And Epocrates, based in San Mateo, Calif., claims 1.3 million users for its mobile and point-of-care medical reference and educational tools.

But there have been plenty of failures, too, some of the spectacular variety. Fitting into the latter category is Google Health, the personal health record that Google has decided to abandon after four uneven years of trying to figure out how to fix healthcare.

My hunch tells me Google never really had a plan to make anything out of Google Health. I’m thinking back to the 2007 World Health Care Congress in Washington, when Google was rumored to be developing some sort of PHR product. Adam Bosworth, then a Google vice president, gave a stirring speech about how his mother died due to a series of medical errors, exacerbated by multiple breakdowns in communication between her healthcare providers. He then asked attendees to tell him and other members of the “Google health team” problems they were looking to solve.

I took that to mean, “We want you to do our R&D for us, and do it for free. And we’ll fix everything because we’re Google.” Keep reading>>

White-label tablets tapped for home health

By: Neil Versel | Jul 20, 2011        

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Screenshot from Independa's Angela tablet

Welcome to the world of private-label and single-purpose tablet computers for healthcare. Less feature-packed and powerful than the segment-leading iPad, these lower-cost computers are being positioned by at least two companies as control panels for remote and home monitoring systems.

Back at the beginning of the year, at the International CES show, Ideal Life, a Toronto-based vendor of remote monitoring technology for care management, announced Health Tablet, a control panel of sorts that syncs data between home-based patient monitoring devices and health information systems such as electronic health records. Last week at the eighth annual Healthcare Unbound conference in San Diego, Ideal Life Director of Business Development Steve Wheeler said that the tablet should hit the market by September.

The Android-based tablet will be a “dedicated, low-cost device,” specifically designed to work with Ideal Life monitors, said Wheeler, who is in the process of establishing a U.S. headquarters for the company in suburban Dallas. “We want it to be simple for our users,” he said.

That is similar to the strategy that Independa is adopting for its tablet-based system. The San Diego-based company is beta-testing an off-the-shelf Windows 7 tablet as a control panel for “Angela,” a recently introduced interface meant to be simple to use for elderly patients wearing wireless sensors and the family members and caregivers who monitor them remotely. Keep reading>>

ClearPractice parent co. picks up $61M investment

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 19, 2011        

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ClearPractice's Nimble EHR for iPad

ClearPractice's Nimble EHR for iPad

Accountable care organization EGHC (Essence Group Holdings Corporation) announced this week that it has received $61 million in venture capital funding. Investors include Camden Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. EGHC is the parent company of healthcare companies ClearPractice, Lumeris, and Essence Health Care.

ClearPractice is an EHR vendor that has created an EHR, called Nimble, specifically for the iPad. They recently announced a similar offering called Eden, which is a cloud-based EHR offering that works across Apple iOS devices and Mac computers — iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and Apple PCs. Lumeris offers health management software and Essence Health Care is a health plan.

EGHC CEO Mike Long, who was formerly CEO of WebMD, has estimated that “by 2019 $1 trillion of healthcare spending will transition to accountable delivery systems, and the market for enablers of this new form of health care will increase to $40-to- $100 billion.”

EGHC’s board of directors include John Doerr (who financially jumpstarted Google and Amazon) and Dr. Denis Cortese (Chairman Emeritus of the Mayo Clinic).

Read the full press release after the jump.

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Types of medical apps the FDA will regulate

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 19, 2011        

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AliveCor's iPhone ECGThe following examples represent mobile apps FDA considers “mobile medical apps” under the narrow definition it outlined in the draft regulatory guidelines it published this morning. The FDA is seeking comments and feedback from the public. Here are the types of apps the FDA plans to regulate:

Mobile apps that are an extension of one or more medical device(s) by connecting17 to such device(s) for purposes of controlling the device(s) or displaying, storing, analyzing, or transmitting patient-specific medical device data. Examples of displays of patient- specific medical device data include remote display of data from bedside monitors, display of previously stored EEG waveforms, and display of medical images directly from a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) server, or similar display functions that meet the definition of an MDDS. Examples of mobile apps that control medical devices include apps that provide the ability to control inflation and deflation of a blood pressure cuff through a mobile platform and mobile apps that control the delivery of insulin on an insulin pump by transmitting control signals to the pumps from the mobile platform.

Mobile apps that transform the mobile platform into a medical device by using attachments, display screens, or sensors or by including functionalities similar to those of currently regulated medical devices. Examples include a mobile app that uses a mobile platform for medical device functions, such as attachment of a transducer to a mobile platform to function as a stethoscope, attachment of a blood glucose strip reader to a mobile platform to function as a glucose meter, or attachment of electrocardiograph (ECG) electrodes to a mobile platform to measure, store, and display ECG signals; or, a mobile app that uses the built-in accelerometer on a mobile platform to collect motion information for monitoring sleep apnea.

Mobile apps that allow the user to input patient-specific information and – using formulae or processing algorithms – output a patient-specific result, diagnosis, or treatment recommendation to be used in clinical practice or to assist in making clinical decisions. Examples include mobile apps that provide a questionnaire for collecting patient-specific lab results and compute the prognosis of a particular condition or disease, perform calculations that result in an index or score, calculate dosage for a specific medication or radiation treatment, or provide recommendations that aid a clinician in making a diagnosis or selecting a specific treatment for a patient.

To further clarify, the following categories identify the types of mobile medical apps and their associated classifications. Keep reading>>