Design guru takes on healthcare; Ultimate self-tracker?

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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Aza Raskin Massive HealthThe innovative mind behind Mozilla’s Firefox design, Aza Raskin, has left Mozilla to found a new healthcare startup: “With health-care costs rising faster than inflation, a crisis is on the horizon. We need to apply cognitive psychology, the principles of design, and tighter feedback loops to our own health. Health care needs to have its design Renaissance, where products and services are redesigned to be responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties. Massive Health, we think, can help make that happen,” he wrote in his farewell blog. Raskin is widely touted as a user experience “genius.” Healthcare could certainly use more of those. (Interestingly, Raskin’s father is a noted human-computer interface expert, too. Jef Raskin started the Macintosh project for Apple back in the 1970s.) Blog

Consider ambient information for mHealth: “One way that ambient information changes behavior is simply by presenting individuals with key information at key moments. One example is for asthma sufferers; an air quality sensor alerts them to critical pollution levels and reminds them to take the recommended dose of medication; currently a high proportion of sufferers don’t even take the minimum dose. Another way is when individuals share health information (e.g. weight lost, calories consumed, distance walked) with a select group of contacts through social media. Individuals who see others’ updates and, in turn, share their own updates, create the sort of peer effect that makes face-to-face groups such as Weight Watchers so effective.” EuroSCGLife

The ultimate quantified selfer: Nick Felton. Slate Video

Nuance expands its iPhone app: “With Dragon Medical Mobile Recorder, Nuance is introducing a new level of clinical documentation flexibility by enabling mobile point-of-care dictation that is connected to speech-enabled transcription platforms, eScription and Dictaphone Enterprise Speech System, and the fully-outsourced Nuance Transcription Services offering.” Release

Amcom Software updates its mobile offering: “The new version of Amcom Mobile Connect adds time-saving features and additional deployment options such as Wi-Fi coverage and BlackBerry Internet Service capabilities to ensure rapid and reliable message delivery. This is in addition to core functionality already in use by many hospitals, such as message encryption, delivery confirmations and full traceability for all messages sent and received.” Release

How mobile money intersects with mobile health: “Kenya is the leading country in the world when it comes to mobile money. The world looks at Kenya as the model country which is having not only the greatest uptake in usage (today over 60 percent of Kenyan adults now use mPesa), but has the potential to change the economic development of the country in an unprecedented manner. New research from Billy Jack and Tuneet Suri indicates that it may be reducing the income irregularity and risk that the poor face daily. This indicates that mPesa, combined with the ability to create new savings accounts, could potentially provide a safety net for unexpected events, such as illness of family members.” HealthUnbound

mHealth: When the doctor is on the phone. This piece profiles a half dozen high-profile organizations working on various mHealth pilots and platforms in developing markets. America.gov

Privacy issues are real in mobile health, case in point: “Mobistealth has just announced the launch of the most technologically advanced iPhone spy application ever developed. The Mobistealth iPhone application is the latest addition the professional grade monitoring software suite offered by the company. The application can be installed in minutes on any iPhone including 2G, 3G, 3GS, and iPhone 4 and runs completely in the background. Once installed, the application is virtually undetectable and the phone never needs to be touched again. All the setting can be adjusted anytime secretly from any Internet connection.” Release

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Medtech reps to help drive MD tablet adoption?

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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iPad Imaging AppsAbout 20 percent of US physicians have tablet devices now, according to Chilmark Research. Most of these are Apple iPads. Some 50 percent of US physicians are expected to have a tablet in the next two years, according to the research firm. One way that physicians are coming face-to-face with iPads increasingly is during meetings with representatives from medical device makers like Abbott, St. Jude, Medtronic, Boston Scientific and others.

Medtronic, which makes implantable heart devices and other products, recently purchased 4,500 iPads for its sales and marketing team, but that figure could climb to 6,000 iPads soon, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, heart-device maker Boston Scientific recently bought 2,000 for its sales team. Orthopedics company Zimmer Holdings plans to distribute 1,000 iPads to its team. Meanwhile, its competitor, Stryker has already distributed iPads and created “a number of applications” for a pilot. Heart-device company St. Jude Medical is piloting iPads and other tablets with its sales force. Abbott Labs, a pharmaceutical and medical device company has decided to deploy about 1,000 3G iPads following a successful pilot with its pharma sales teams.

As new tablets roll out and gain recognition in healthcare, it will be interesting to see how these early iPad adopters fare. Will the Fortune 500 companies stick with iPad? Is it too late for Android-powered devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab? After all, some big name enterprise vendors including Polycom are placing their bets on this platform over the iPad. Next year could provide a shake out for the enterprise tablet market. We’ll be watching closely.

More from the WSJ report here

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

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>>