Why NaviNet bought Prematics

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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Prematics Electronic OrganizerNaviNet’s acquisition of Prematics earlier this month was motivated by NaviNet’s desire to “extend itself beyond the desktop and into to the exam room via the physician’s smartphone,” according to Chilmark Research analyst Cora Sharma.

“With this acquisition, NaviNet is seeking to grow by 1) attracting more physicians, and 2) encouraging existing physician users to utilize the system in ways that are important to payers, i.e., in the exam room. These objectives make sense when considering how important mHealth is to the physicians’ workflow (based on research for [Chilmark's] report mHealth in the Enterprise, almost 90 percent of all physicians carry a smartphone),” Sharma wrote in a blog post.

Sharma argues that given American Medical Association comments surrounding low adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) among small physician practives, which remain uninspired by the HITECH Act, NaviNet recognized that the “only way to reach these doctors is through their mobile devices.”

Sharma also argues that NaviNet saw an opportunity to increase use of its services among physicians while they were in the exam room if they pursued mobile: “During the physician-patient office visit, the physician is much more willing to use a mobile device than a desktop because it doesn’t interfere nearly as much with the doctor-patient interaction. Patients do not experience the decrease in eye contact caused by their doctor seated in front of an unmovable desktop screen, and are even impressed with cutting edge mobile technology,” Sharma writes.

Pre-acquisition, Prematics’ e-prescribing offering boasted a paltry 4,000 physician users. Prematics offered the service for mobile platforms including iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Windows Mobile. While Sharma is confident this deal was motivated by NaviNet’s desire to increase its mobile expertise, her general enthusiasm around mobile health is still tempered:

“While the NaviNet Prematics acquisition is a reflection of the optimism surrounding mobile technology as a solution, I remain skeptical that physicians will dutifully act on these messages, and even if they do, if patients will turnaround their behavior on the basis of an office visit.”

For more of Sharma’s analysis read the full post over at Chilmark Research

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FDA clears Curvus wireless ECG monitor

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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CurvusThe US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted 510(k) regulatory clearance to the Curvus Arrhythmia Monitoring Device (C-AD), a wireless-enabled and continuous tracker of real-time ECG readings. Curvus is a subsidiary of WPR Medical, which is based in Norway. C-AD will enter the market where a handful of other wireless cardiac monitoring companies are already playing: CardioNet, LifeWatch and the (recently FDA approved) Corventis Nuvant system among others.

It’s worth highlighting Curvus’ Norwegian roots. Interestingly, other Norwegian companies and entities have made mHealth related news in recent months, most notably the The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad, announced a $1 million grant to the mHealth Alliance last month. Norwegian mobile operator Telenor has also been actively piloting aging in place initiatives in the country.

Curvus’ offering — like other wireless ECG systems — includes three components: The sensors, the receiving/transmitting device, and the backend analytics. Keep reading>>

Charity to subsidize physicians’ mobile apps

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 14, 2010        

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iPhone in the UKAn online survey conducted of 474 health professionals registered to practice in the United Kingdom, found that 80 percent rely on a mobile phone at work. The survey, which was conducted by non-profit d4, found that respondents used mobiles at work for a variety of reasons:

Some 82 percent of the healthcare professionals surveyed said they used mobiles to communicate with their colleagues. About 46 percent of the respondents said they used mobiles to access information on their corporate intranet or the Internet.

The survey also found that while a clear majority use their mobiles for work purposes, only 8 percent of respondents received some form of compensation for using their mobiles on the job.

The non-profit that conducted the survey, d4 seeks to support healthcare providers in the UK by equipping them with subsidized mobile phones and medical apps. The group estimates that poor communication costs the UK’s hospitals in England an excess of more than $1.5 billion in wasted doctor and nurse time. Keep reading>>

UCLA gifts nursing students iPod touch devices

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 14, 2010        

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UCLA School of NursingThis week the University of California, Los Angeles School of Nursing equipped its third year undergraduate students and first-year master’s entry clinical nursing students with iPod touch devices. Some 118 of the students received the devices during a robing ceremony where each student is given a white coat to “signify their journey from classroom to the clinical setting,” Courtney Lyder the dean of the school stated.

“We want to make sure that we provide them with the tools to be successful and prepare them for 21st-century health care,” Lyder said. “Taking care of patients is a tremendous responsibility,” Lyder said. “While we still encourage the traditional methods of diagnosis, there is an overwhelming amount of medical information available. Providing each student with new technology for use at the bedside can only improve patient safety and the delivery of care.”

The devices came preloaded with three medical apps: Keep reading>>

WellDoc integrates with Allscripts EHR

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 13, 2010        

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WellDoc ATTWellDoc announced that it had integrated its mobile-enabled diabetes coaching platform with a “leading electronic health records (EHR) system,” which MobiHealthNews has learned is Allscripts EHR. WellDoc has called this the “first integration of an mHealth solution into an EHR,” but it started with Allscripts because its partner, George Washington University Medical Center uses that records system. The US Air Force funded the integration project as part of its diabetes research.

“We hear all the time that physicians want a view into what’s going on with their patients outside the clinical setting,” WellDoc CEO Ryan Sysko said in an interview with MobiHealthNews. ”We have also heard that physicians won’t go to more than one system: If they have made an investment in an EMR, then they want to use that same platform to access that kind of data. Now we can do a study with GWU and see how much more effective [WellDoc's DiabetesManager] can be when we really integrate it into physicians’ workflow and make it a part of their daily practice. Before they would have to access this information via our portal or have it faxed to them, but now physicians have it right at their fingertips in their EMR.”

WellDoc describes its offering, DiabetesManager, like this: “Cleared by the FDA, [it] provides automated, real-time clinical and behavioral coaching based on patient data. The software-based system supports adult type 2 patients and enables their healthcare providers to configure specific parameters and extend their care beyond traditional office visits by utilizing mobile phones and the Internet,” according to the company’s press release.

“This is really less about a partnership with Allscripts and more about a partnership with George Washington University, which happens to use Allscripts EHR,” Sysko said. “It’s an example of  a provider saying ‘Here’s what I need to use the system.’ The Allscripts integration is just the first of many.”

Regulation, payment and integration are often cited as three of the big challenges facing mobile health solutions providers. WellDoc has now made strides on each front. In August the FDA cleared WellDoc’s DiabetesManager platform. In October AT&T announced that it would pilot WellDoc’s system in its own employee population and begin selling it to other self-insured employers it has relationships with. Today WellDoc has announced that its system is interoperable with an electronic medical records system.

WellDoc is planning a big announcement around the efficacy of its system soon.

“In August we announced the preliminary findings from our clinical study but now we are working on completing that manuscript and getting that journal accepted by a peer-reviewed publication to complete the story,” Sysko said.

Given WellDoc’s position as one of a handful of mobile health companies with FDA clearance, big name partners and now integration into the healthcare system, I asked Sysko what he believed made WellDoc different. Why has the company seemingly pulled ahead of much of the pack?

“The biggest difference has always been that we have approached this from a clinical vantage point,” Sysko said. “We were founded by physicians and have always asked ‘How do we use this to drive outcomes?’ Outcomes for patients and clinical outcomes for providers [have been our focus] versus coming at this from a technology angle. We haven’t said: ‘Look what we can do with data by using Bluetooth and connecting to a server.’ Without question the outcomes-focus has been our biggest differentiator. It certainly has opened the most doors for us.”

Epocrates kisses Palm webOS goodbye

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 9, 2010        

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Palm PreThis week popular medical app publisher Epocrates sent an email to users of Palm Pre native application to inform them that come February it would no longer support Palm’s webOS platform: “Due to the relatively low interest level among our user base, Epocrates has decided to discontinue support of the Palm webOS platform for smartphones,” the email reads.

Epocrates plans to offer one more clinical update to the application later this month, but users are encouraged to update or install the app by February 1, 2011 because Epocrates said it plans to pull the app from the Palm webOS App Catalog at that time. By May, Epocrates said the webOS version of Epocrates Rx will cease to open or function.

Epocrates suggests Palm webOS users access Epocrates through its mobile optimized website. “Also, if you are in the process of deciding on a new device, we encourage you to look at Epocrates products on iPhone and iPod touch and Android devices — with quick access to all you need at the point of care,” according to the email.

HP acquired Palm last April in a deal that had us wondering whether the new parent company could help revive Palm’s prospects in healthcare. With the Epocrates news, however, some healthcare industry Palm fans, seem to be considering the move to other platforms.

Online discussions forums for Palm fans have generated a number of interesting comments from physicians who claim to be longtime users of Palm devices for medical content and apps. One such self-described physician laments: “I cannot justify using a webOS device, in any form whether it be a smartphone or tablet, if it doesn’t have any medical apps — as much as I hate to say it…. No Epocrates in six month. No word of any medical apps… coming to webOS. This is a sad day for Palm and HP. You have not only lost the consumer market and not gained any traction in the enterprise market, now you have lost the physician and healthcare market.”

Last September Epocrates made a similar move by announcing it would no longer support a handful of older Palm devices like the Palm Zire since the devices’ operating systems did not have the memory or power to run future content or product enhancements Epocrates had cooking. At the time, which was just before Epocrates launched its Palm webOS app, the company asserted that:

“Palm continues to be a prominent platform for us, and we will continue to support the majority of Palm OS devices as well as work to develop a native application for the Palm Pre. We are proactively reaching out to customers on these older devices to help them migrate to new platforms over the next 4-6 months. Bottomline for your readers: Palm and Windows Mobile are platforms Epocrates continues to proudly support.”

For Palm, anyway, come February that will no longer be true.