Survey: 8 percent of MDs say patients use biometric monitors

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 10, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsEarlier this year Accenture published a report, Connected Health: The Drive to Integrated Care, that analyzed the results of a survey of 3,727 physicians in eight countries. Accenture interviewed 500 physicians from Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain and the US, and about 200 in Singapore. Within the report’s almost 300 pages are a number of findings, but most of the discussion around mobile health is focused on patient engagement.

“In terms of technologies that directly engage patients, the US is relatively well progressed compared with the other countries surveyed,” Accenture wrote.

The firm found that about 17 percent of US physicians said that their patients had electronic access to their medical information, while physicians in the other countries surveyed are “far behind in this area,” according to Accenture. About 25 percent of the US physicians said that their patients can see health-related information from their medical records during consultations and they can use online or mobile tools to communicate with them or refill prescriptions. About 17 percent of the US physicians also said their patients can electronically book, change, or cancel appointments. Some 19 percent said their patients receive electronic reminders for follow-up care. About 21 percent said their patients can access health information and education for chronic condition management.

Overall, however, digital health tools for chronic condition management are lacking, Accenture found.

“Progress toward remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions is relatively limited in the US (and indeed across all countries), with only 8 percent of physicians stating that their patients can use telemonitoring devices to monitor and record their own health indicators and remotely inform physicians of their conditions,” the firm wrote.

In February a small consumer survey conducted by HIMSS and sponsored by Qualcomm Life found that a majority of consumers in the US are familiar with the term remote monitoring device, but only a quarter of those surveyed reported using one before. What’s more: Only 16 percent had heard about such devices from their healthcare provider.

Accenture does predict more sophisticated mobile health apps in the future:

“Several developments already point the way. New, independently developed, mobile healthcare ‘apps’ are giving people the tools to eat well and live well, and to begin managing their own healthcare needs. Industry data suggests that this will be an area of huge expansion over the coming years, embracing the potential of more powerful smartphones, tablet PCs and cloud capability.”

A report over at RCRWireless quotes Health 2.0 founder Matthew Holt who points out that Accenture did not survey physicians in some of the more advanced health IT markets: Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands.

Access the full 275+ page report from Accenture here


UnitedHealth updates OptumizeMe for employers

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 10, 2012        

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OptumizeMe UnitedHealth GroupLast month UnitedHealth Group (UHG) updated its mobile health app, OptumizeMe, for its employer customers. The new version of the app, which is available for iPhone, Android, and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 users, enables employers to conduct drawings or prize giveaways for those employees that meet their goals, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal this week. The prizes could be as valuable as a car, according to the report.

The OptumizeMe app enables users to challenge friends to fitness competitions and trade “encouragement and digs” as they compete. Users can pick preloaded challenges like: “Who can walk the most steps? Who can be first to run 100 miles? or Who can eat 6 servings of vegetables a day?” OptumizeMe users (or their employers) can also create new challenges.

UHG made an unusual move when it launched OptumizeMe in late 2010: It was originally only available for Windows Phone 7 users. The app’s launch coincided with the launch of Microsoft’s new smartphone platform.

This week’s WSJ report focused on health gaming offerings from various payers — a trend we chronicled in our mobile health gaming report last year. The WSJ noted that WellPoint is developing an exercise program for kids that leverages Kinect. While the payer has begun piloting the program in California and has seen “promising results,” it would not disclose any specifics around a potential launch date.

More details on payer’s gaming initiatives over at the WSJ (sub. req.)

Have food education apps changed shopping behavior?

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 9, 2012        

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Are mobile health apps helping people become more aware about how healthy the food they at the grocery store is? A post over AdAge this week makes the case that this trend is on the up and up.

AdAge reports that there are about 60,000 items in the average grocery store, which supposedly makes it difficult for consumers to compare how healthy different foods are: “The new mobile tools are designed to bring a sense of transparency to store aisles, aiding in healthy purchase decisions. And they’re surprisingly well penetrated: Of U.S. smartphone owners — now about half the mobile-phone-toting population — 44 percent have a health-related app, according to a January comScore survey.”

That comScore survey has been in the news quite a bit lately. Last week a comScore rep told the New York Times that about 33 percent of people with smartphones in the US tracked their diet or their exercises with their mobile devices and about 35 percent used the devices to track their diet. Most of the health-related apps available for smartphone users are fitness and diet related, but most of the diet apps are intended for use to log meals and calories not shop for food. Another metric that has been well-received: 2011 Forrester survey found that 37 percent of mobile health app users had used an app to track their food intake at least once.

AdAge pointed to a few apps intended for use in the grocery store aisle: Fooducate, MyFoodWatch, AllergyEats and Don’t Eat That.

Fooducate enables users to scan product barcodes with their smartphone’s camera to look up a letter grade for that food item. The algorithm used to generate that letter grade was developed with the help of a team of dietitians, according to AdAge.

Fooducate has been downloaded “millions of times” since it launched for iPhone users in January 2011. Some 500,000 people use the app or its corresponding website each week. Since the smartphone user base in the US is now at about 100 million people, if all 500,000 regular Fooducate users were on smartphones, that makes for about half percent adoption. It’s hard to believe that more than a few percent of total US smartphone users are using or have even tried any one of these food education apps. Goes without saying the 44 percent adoption figure for health apps from comScore includes a wide variety of health-related apps.

Perhaps the most interesting metric about Fooducate’s user base: 75 percent is female and some 35 percent have a child at home, according to the AdAge report.

DC Medicaid plan launches diabetes texting pilot

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 9, 2012        

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WellDoc_iPhone_splashWashington, DC-based Medicaid managed care organization, D.C. Chartered Health Plan, is rolling out a pilot text messaging program for members with diabetes. The Medicaid plan is providing 50 of its members with the free messages, which will include tips about living with diabetes, as part of a broader program that includes in-person visits.

The texts aim to encourage patients to schedule annual appointments and get annual eye and foot exams in an effort to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room. The texts also include tips for taking medication “appropriately” and other tips for lifestyle changes that would benefit their health. The texts are not all one-way, however, some are interactive quizzes and others are announcements for community events.

In the future, Chartered hopes to expand the program if it proves successful. The plan expects to develop support groups for various diseases, send disease-specific messages, and personalized messages like appointment reminders.

“Mobile health is the wave of the future for improved management of chronic disease,” Dr Richard Katz, director of the division of cardiology at the George Washington University Hospital, stated in a press release. “It can be extremely popular with diabetes patients and result in reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations.”

Last year George Washington University Hospital partnered with Chartered Health Plan on a pilot of WellDoc’s DiabetesManager. In December 2011 MobiHealthNews reported that Dr Katz had presented findings of a demonstration program called DC HealthConnect at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC. The program tested WellDoc’s mobile health program DiabetesManager during a 12-month period. The results: DiabetesManager reduced ER visits and hospital stays by 58 percent on average compared to the previous year — when they weren’t using the program.

“Our goal is to leverage mobile technologies and smart networks to improve the well-being of our community,” Chartered executive Karen Dale stated. “We’ve been committed to improving the quality of care, reducing costs and creating a healthier community for the past 25 years, and will continue to take advantage of new opportunities to solve Washington’s most critical health and social challenges.”

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Allscripts launches native iPad EHR app, Wand

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 5, 2012        

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Allscripts Wand iPad EHRThis week EHR vendor Allscripts launched a native iPad application, called Allscripts Wand (formerly code-named “Project Wombat”), which adds a handful of new features. Allscripts was one of the first EHR vendors to offer an iPhone-accessible EHR when it introduced Allscripts Remote at the HIMSS conference in 2009. That was one of the only mobile related announcements that came out of the event, which is in stark contrast to the smartphone and tablet filled booths lining the exhibit hall in the years since.

This week the Allscripts Wand iPad app will be used by about 120 healthcare providers and the app will likely touch about 1,000 patients, Allscripts’ Chief Innovation Officer Stanley Crane told MobiHealthNews in an interview.

(Correction: This article originally stated that Wand was Allscripts’ first native iPad app, which is not the case. More background below.)

In 2010, Allscripts offered up Sunrise Mobile MD II, a natively integrated app designed for iPad users. The iPhone version, Sunrise Mobile MD, had similar features and launched shortly beforehand. The company also launched a home care EHR app in 2010. It was also the first EHR to integrate with WellDoc’s DiabetesManager mobile and web-based program.

Allscripts points to data from Physicians Consulting Network which polled 5,000 physicians last year and found that about 27 percent owned an iPad or a similar device, which was about five times higher than the adoption rate among the general population at the time.

Allscripts expects Wand will help clinicians to more easily and quickly review a chart before entering the exam room; input real-time information like vitals and medications from the exam room; and access EHR information after hours. The native iPad interface brings new features too: Users can now view a timeline of key patient information such as lab results, medications, vitals, and more; review appointment lists and current patient status; retrieve patient data quickly, with drill-down access to details; ePrescribe with electronic transmission to pharmacies; and resolve tasks and respond to messages with a quick swipe of the screen, according to the company.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Mobile tracking helps researchers understand addiction

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 5, 2012        

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Smoking Cessation

Data from MobiHealthNews' Consumer Apps Report, September 2011

Researchers at Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh are leveraging smartphones to help them figure out why some people are able to quit smoking on their first try while others try to quit again and again

At Penn State researchers found that participants in a four week study who successfully quit during the study had a weaker association between their urge to smoke and their ability to quit, while those who were not able to quit smoking did not show any association between their self confidence and their urge to smoke.

“One thing that really stood out among the relapsers is how their urge to smoke just never dropped, in contrast to those who were successful in quitting for a month — their urge dropped quickly and systematically — almost immediately upon quitting,” Stephanie Lanza, scientific director of The Methodology Center at Penn State said. “That was surprising to see.”

Saul Shiffman, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, tracked 304 longterm smokers (pack a day for 23 years, on average) as they attempted to quit.  followed 304 long-term cigarette smokers as they tried to quit. Shiffman reported that 40 participants quit smoking for the first 24 hours, but ended up relapsing, while 207 participants managed to remain “relatively” tobacco free for two weeks after quitting. That meant, if smokers relapsed but only smoked five or less times per day, they were considered successful quitters. The other 57 participants could not quit for even one full day.

Here’s where the smartphones came in: “Five times randomly throughout the day, mobile devices prompted participants to answer questions. These questions asked the smokers about their emotional state, their urge to smoke and if they were smoking. They rated their urge to smoke at that moment on a scale of zero to 10. Using this data collection method, the researchers collected data from subjects in their natural environments.”

The study results were published online in the journal: Prevention Science. More in the press release below: Keep reading>>