How guitar technology may help prevent SIDS

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 19, 2011        

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seymourSeymour Enterprises, a new start-up that is developing a vital sign monitoring wristband for infants, and its founder, Peter Seymour, are the subject of a profile article in Arizona State University’s State Press publication. Seymour was inspired to start the company after losing his daughter to positional asphyxia, a condition related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Seymour was a mechanical engineering student in 2010 when his daughter, Eleanore Hayden, was born three months premature, weighing only 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Despite being premature, Eleanore was doing well, living at home for over a month, when she suddenly passed away in her sleep.

At the time of her death, Seymour worked for Fender Guitars developing a movement and rhythm sensor, which he soon realized could have medical applications.

Seymour soon started his eponymous company, now grown to include five other employees, and began working on a smaller device that can be worn as a wristband and have the vitals monitored via a smartphone. While similar vital monitoring tech can cost in the thousands of dollars, Seymour aims to get the cost of the device down to less than $50.

A prototype device is expected to be finalized by December, with production of a few hundred devices this summer. The company hopes to begin working with the FDA soon after. Seymour has future plans to expand the device’s use from solely SIDS prevention to hospitals, athletics, and home care.

In early 2009, MobiHealthNews reported on a vital sign monitoring offering under development at GE Healthcare:

“Premature infants, for example, have very sensitive, fragile skin, which makes attaching sensors a painful experience. The research and development arm of the conglomerate announced that its scientists had transformed a common and widely available GE sensor, currently in-use for home security, into an “intelligent wireless medical sensing platform”. The new sensor is powered by processing algorithms that classify different types of movement and can also help caregivers closely monitor a patient’s breathing and heart rate even though it’s not in physical contact with the skin,” we wrote at the time.

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For more on Seymour, read the State Press article here.

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A podcast review of medical app regulations

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 19, 2011        

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MIM VueMe AppThis past July, the FDA issued a draft guidance on how it might regulate certain medical apps. The legal implications of the proposed guidelines is the subject of the most recent entry in the HIMSS/AMDIS Physician Community Podcast Series, hosted by Dr. Marlowe Schaeffer-Polk, an attorney, physician and co-founder of Medlawguard, and Mr. John Steinbach, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Medlawguard.

The discussion covers a lot of the background to mobile medical app regulations that we’ve reported on in the past few years, but it serves as a helpful review for those looking for a quick refresher.

“Law is like paper. It’s very static…restrictive, finite. Technology is very dynamic, innovative, and interoperable,” Schaeffer-Polk said during the podcast, noting that those differences cause friction when intersecting in the healthcare field. The FDA was created in the early 20th century, Schaeffer-Polk said, to create very rigid legal guidelines for medical practice that are slow to adapt to rapidly changing tech.

Their conversation also touches on the types of apps the FDA will regulate and those it will not, and the legal differences between the two.

“In order for it to be regulated under the law, that product must meet the statutory definition of a medical device, and only then does it become subject to FDA regulation,” Schaeffer-Polk said.

Why is it so important to be called a medical device? In the draft guidance, the FDA defined a mobile medical app as one that meets the definition of “device” according to the FD&C Act, and for this set of draft regulation it also must be “used as an accessory to a regulated medical device” or it must “transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device.”

Schaeffer-Polk notes that from a legal standpoint, the word “intended” is worthy of close scrutiny. “A scale that you step on to get your weight can either be a medical device or not a medical device, depending upon its intended use,” she said. A scale used to simply track weight is not a medical device, but a scale that wirelessly transmits the weight of someone with chronic heart failure, for example, could be reviewed by a physician and considered a medical device.

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You can access the podcast and hear the entire discussion here.

Consumer brands lead the week’s noteworthy apps

By: Chris Gullo | Nov 18, 2011        

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In the last week, 250 apps published to the health and medical categories of Apple’s AppStore. By our count, 134 belonged to the health & fitness category, while 116 were found in the medical category of the AppStore.

We found eight apps of those 250 that launched this week to be noteworthy. They include offerings from three big name consumer brands, one from a well-known medical association, an ECG viewer app, a marathon training app, and more.

Both apps for medical professionals and consumers will continue to grow in the coming year. MobiHealthnews’ Professional Apps Report predicts that more than 5,000 apps will arrive by next summer. Our Consumer Health Apps Report estimates that the number of consumer Apps will exceed 13,000 apps by next summer.

eptovulatione.p.t. Ovulation Calculator – Free

Pregnancy test manufacturer e.p.t has created an ovulation tracker, Our Ovulation Calculator, for pregnancy planning. Women can track their cycles by enter the start date of their last period, average cycle length, and a preferred due date if so desired. The app will show you, in calendar and list views, which days you will be menstruating and ovulating. There is also an email reminder feature that sends a message one day before you the beginning of ovulating so that you can take advantage of this fertile time. You can add an additional email address, such as that of your spouse or significant other, that will also receive the reminder. In addition to or instead of the email reminder, you can add an ovulation notification to your phone’s calendar.

In our latest consumer apps report, MobiHealthNews found that ovulation calendar apps account for more than 4 percent of all women’s health apps with more than 30 apps. Keep reading>>

Epocrates added 40,000 physicians to its user base

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 18, 2011        

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epocrates ehrAt the end of September, Epocrates’ worldwide user base for its mobile drug reference tools topped 1.4 million healthcare professionals, of which 340,000 are US physicians, according to a recent SEC filing. The company says that figure makes up more than 50 percent of all physicians in the US. For its interactive services business, Epocrates has had the 20 top pharmaceutical companies as clients as well as 350 individual brands. Almost all of its customers are based in the US.

Epocrates said that the number of its users who are US physicians increased by about 13 percent: At the end of September 2010 the company boasted 300,000 US physician users, and that number climbed to 340,000 by the end of September 2011. Epocrates said that the substantial growth in physician users was because of physician adoption of iPhone and Android devices. While Epocrates expects its overall user base to increase, it will do so by a lower rate than was experienced this past year. In other words, it seems Epocrates believes that the rate of physician adoption of smartphones was unusually aggressive over the course of the last year and it may slow down over the course of the next 12 months.

Not surprisingly, the majority of Epocrates users have downloaded its free apps, while users who paid for a subscription to Epocrates premium offerings decreased from 15 percent at the end of September 2010 to 13 percent at the end of September 2011.

“We expect paid users to represent a decreasing percentage of total active users,” Epocrates stated in its filing. “As a result, we expect revenues from subscriptions to our premium products to decrease as a percentage of total revenue in the future.” Keep reading>>

Today’s health apps webinar

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 17, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsTwo important announcements this morning:

First up, we are busy this morning getting prepped for our webinar later today. We’ll be discussing health and medical apps and tracking efforts to determine health apps’ effectiveness. My presentation will include some exclusive metrics from our recent apps reports as well as some new data we’ve been collecting this past week. Kyle Dolbow, EVP, Preventice will also share his take on what makes a health app effective. Already 900 MobiHealthNews readers have signed up to attend the complimentary online event later today so we’re expecting lots of great questions in the Q&A that follows the presentations. We’ll kick things off at 2PM EST / 11AM PST today. Complimentary Registration

Second: Next week expect your MobiHealthNews newsletter to hit you inboxes a day early. Since Thanksgiving is next Thursday here in the US, we are moving our publishing schedule up so that you can read the week’s MobiHealthNews come Wednesday morning.

Catholic West inks $4.3M deal with AirStrip

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 17, 2011        

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AirstripOBThe fifth largest health system in the US, Catholic Healthcare West, has inked a $4.3 million 3-year deal with AirStrip Technologies to use the company’s AirStripOB application at 32 of its system’s hospitals. AirStripOB was the very first iPhone app to receive medical device clearance from the FDA.

AirStripOB gives physicians mobile access to data from fetal monitors, like fetal heartbeats, maternal contraction patterns and vital signs, as well as from the care facility’s labor and delivery documentation system. AirStripOB is available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android devices. The app enables doctors to remotely monitor patients and see up to four hours of data.

Out of CHW’s 40 hospitals, 32 will implement AirStripOB since those are the ones that have birthing facilities. CHW piloted AirStrip at two of its California hospitals, Mercy Medical Center and Sequoia Hospital.

The hospitals within CHW’s system are just 40 of the some 200 hospitals that AirStrip’s CEO Alan Portela said the company signed on as customers in the past year: “That’s more than we added in the first 5 years of the company,” Portela said at an industry event in Brussels this past September.

At the event Portela also offered up a compelling and simply analogy for how he views mobile clinical apps and EMRs:

“EMRs are platforms,” Portela said. “The same way that your computer has an [operating system] — EMRs are the OS. You benefit from the apps that you put on top of the OS, while you don’t benefit so much from the OS. I gave this talk at Microsoft recently — they didn’t like that line so much.” Not surprisingly, Portela believes that the value of health information systems will be realized on mobile devices: “Mobile will enhance every aspect of the EMR you deploy” and ”all physicians will have smartphones by 2013,” he said.

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For more on the CHW deal with AirStrip, check out the press release below: Keep reading>>