Sebelius: Let’s keep mobile health safe, secure, American

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 5, 2011        

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sebelius“We are talking about taking the biggest technology breakthrough of our time and using it to address our greatest national challenge,” Kathleen Sebelius U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said during her keynote presentation at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC this morning. Sebelius envisioned a “remarkable future” where control over a patient’s own health was always within their control. She listed off a number of potential use cases for mobile health, including remote diagnosis of skin conditions using smartphone cameras; scheduling lab tests without a physician or medical office staff “lifting one finger”; working with your doctor to manage your own health every day instead of just once a year, she said.

Sebelius said that few industries have grown as quickly as mobile health has in the past two years since the first mHealth Summit in 2009, which Sebelius also keynoted. Sebelius noted the rapid growth of smartphones – more than half of all phones sold in the US this past year were smartphones – and that we are “increasingly” using our phones to track and manage our health.

Recent survey data published by Pew might throw a little cold water on that last statement: Pew found statistically insignificant growth for health app adoption among those surveyed for its 2010 and 2011 reports.

Sebelius also noted that there are “nearly 12,000 apps related to health” currently available in app store, and that’s a number “that is probably going up as I speak this morning,” she said. (This is true – dozens of health-related apps launch each week.)

Mobile technology has improved the consumer experience for almost every part of our lives, Sebelius noted, but healthcare has been until recently a notable exception. Sebelius said that healthcare has “stubbornly held on” to its old ways while other service industries like banking have embraced mobile. Keep reading>>

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CareFusion releases wireless EEG amplifier

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 2, 2011        

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CareFusion Nicolet Wireless EEGCareFusion released its Nicolet EEG (electroencephalography) Wireless Amplifier this week, a device that captures high-resolution brain wave data and transmits it wirelessly to a monitoring computer. The device received FDA 510(K) clearance this past April.

The Nicolet (pronounced “nick-oh-lay”) EEG Wireless Amplifier is a portable unit, intended for hospitals, clinics, emergency vehicles and in-home ambulatory settings, which aids in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy, brain trauma, stroke, brain tumors, sleep dysfunction and clinical research. Data from the device can be transmitted wirelessly, in real-time, to a monitoring computer, or stored in the device’s memory  — if a monitoring computer isn’t nearby — for later upload.

Last summer, CareFusion joined the West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI) as a Technology and Education (T&E) partner (along with Cisco and Medtronic). The TE partners work closely with the Institute’s clinical and engineering teams on a variety of research, technology and educational initiatives focused on accelerating wireless health solutions.

While CareFusion didn’t mention an app component to its EEG system, mobile apps that display previously stored EEG waveforms are one of the types of medical apps included in the FDA proposed guidelines for mobile medical app regulation, according to its draft guidance released this summer.

“Wireless acquisition of EEG data gives patients admitted to the epilepsy monitoring unit greater freedom and comfort without risking loss of critical data due to disconnection of the amplifier,” stated Chad Carlson, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the New York University Langone Medical Center Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, in a press release. “The ability to record up to 64 channels of EEG data at up to 12 kHz should allow for further advances in clinical EEG analysis and interpretation.”

See a product video of the EEG below: Keep reading>>

iPad app enables real-time tracking of catheterization procedure

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 2, 2011        

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IPAD-צנתור-2An Israeli hospital has developed an app for iPads that provides staff, patients, and family members with real-time tracking of progress in catheterization and angioplasty procedures. The Invasive Cardiology Institute at Rabin Medical Center, located in the city Petech Tikvah in central Israel, will use iPads to enable the real-time tracking of the procedures.

The app, which was codeveloped with the McKesson company, is described by Israel National News, like so:

“The iPad app will collate the information collected during the procedure, from the process of monitoring and measuring pressure inside the heart and the insertion of material to gather information from the blood vessels, through the process of coronary artery expansion and implanting the stents. The information itself will also be visible on the iPad to both patients and family members, allowing them to immediately understand explanations or procedure plans suggested by doctors. The software also allows caregivers to present the patient with information about treatment plans and suggestions for how to deal with their condition, while the patient is still resting in bed.”

In a press release, the head of the institute and project lead Prof. Ran Kornowski stated that “this is only a small [step] in the age of new medical technologies. Instead of just explaining the catheterization procedure to the patient and his family through words, we can now use the iPad to show them visually, in a very clear and professional manner, the entire medical procedure. It is also a very high level professional way to discuss the catheterization with other cardiologists on line around the world. I believe that this application will pave the road for the initiation of many other [iPad] imaging applications.”

While the McKesson Foundation was not involved in this particular app’s development, the foundation in February did award $1.3 million in grants to the winners of its Mobilizing for Health initiative contest. The projects that the Foundation awarded make use of a range of mobile technologies and services, from text messaging (SMS) to “comprehensive” software programs.

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Read the press release below and the Israel National News article here. Keep reading>>

Esther Dyson-funded startup gets $400K

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 1, 2011        

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healthrally2HealthRally, a San Francisco-based startup that uses crowd-sourced financial incentives for fitness motivation, has raised $400,000 from prominent angel investors, according to a report at TechCrunch. Those investors include Esther Dyson, CEO of EDventure Holdings as well as Richard Sass, Ty Danco, Isy Goldwasser, and Jeff Thiel.

HealthRally combines financial incentives and social networking by creating a fundraising crowd platform similar to the website Kickstarter, which enables micro-investments for various causes and projects. Here’s how HealthRally works: Users post their health goals, called Rallys, which might include losing weight or quitting smoking, and friends, colleagues, family or others donate money to motivate users to complete them. A checkpoint system allows users to see incremental progress towards their goals, and checkpoint milestones can be shared with donators. The site will launch a public beta by the end of the year, but is currently in private, invitation-only testing.

Dyson wrote about her excitement at mHealth’s potential last year in a column for the Huffington Post: “A new industry is coming into being: one that makes money by selling what’s good for you,” she wrote, and hinted at why she chooses to invest in social-minded start-ups: “Self-tracking and the associated obsession with one’s own health may sound frivolous and inconsequential, but it is social [and] emotional factors, not rational risk assessment, that determine so much of our behavior.” In March, she was among the investors to contributed to the $2.35M in HealthTap, a startup that also leverages social and game dynamics. Dyson also helped to bring Voxiva’s Text4Baby to Russia.

HealthRally’s advisory panel includes Paul Zak, Director of The Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont University, Tom Valente of USC’s Keck School of Medicine, Healthiest You ex-president Denise Thomas, and SocialText Chairman and Co-founder Ross Mayfield.

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Read the TechCrunch article here.

Affectiva releases Bluetooth-enabled emotional arousal sensor

By: Chris Gullo | Dec 1, 2011        

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Q Sensor 2.0Affectiva released the second generation of its Q Sensor this week, a wearable wireless biosensor that measures emotional arousal (excitement, anxiety, and calm) via skin conductance, as well as temperature and movement. The Q Sensor 2.0 adds Bluetooth functionality and the ability for its real-time emotion data to integrate with third-party mobile apps.

The Q Sensor 2.0 lists for $2,000, including activity software for Mac and Windows, with bulk and educational discounts available. As an example of its potential applications, the company highlighted in a press release a Stanford University team that is using the Q Sensor 2.0 “to prototype responsive games that offer new challenges to keep people engaged based on their arousal level.”

Affectiva was founded in 2009 by two MIT scientists and started as a research project on autism at MIT’s Media Lab. The company received a $5.7 million second round of financing this summer, led by WPP’s insight group Kantar and Myrian Capital, who now have seats on Affectiva’s board of directors. At the time, the company said it intended to use the funding to develop the Q Sensor 2.0 as well as its Affdex emotion-tracking software. Another Media Lab start-up, Ginger.io, is developing similar software for mobile devices that aims to give pharma companies and providers detailed data on patient behavior to more effectively target new drugs and therapies.

“We brought research-quality EDA data together with the mobile, wearable features researchers love and real-time Bluetooth technology that opens up a whole new field of applications,” stated Dave Berman, CEO of Affectiva, in a press release. “The Q Sensor 2.0 makes it easy to add a real-time emotion measurement dimension to your research and clinical practice.”

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Read the press release after the jump. Keep reading>>

RSNA highlights potentially disruptive mobile technology for radiologists

By: Neil Versel | Dec 1, 2011        

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Neil_Versel_LargeIs it me, or is radiology outpacing pretty much every other specialty in the mobile arena?

There has been a lot of news about imaging apps this week, mostly because the Radiological Society of North America is holding its annual meeting right now. The massive event, one of the two biggest healthcare meetings in the world, regularly draws 60,000 people or more to Chicago’s McCormick Place the week after Thanksgiving—right about the time most sane people would be seeking warmer climes. (Why anyone would want to be anywhere near O’Hare International Airport on the Sunday after Thanksgiving also escapes me—and I live in Chicago.)

Work commitments prevented me from making the 8-mile trek down the lakefront to RSNA, but I still get plenty of the press releases coming out of the conference, which typically fills at least two of the cavernous halls of the largest convention center in the country with displays including mobile MRIs on semitrailers parked right on the exhibit floor. Seriously, you know it’s big when you have to consult the map to find Cerner’s booth.

But I digress. Even with the oversized vendor fortresses, small, mobile devices have been making their way into radiology for years. As early as 2004, I reported about viewing images on the since-discontinued iPod Photo, the first iPod model that could display digital pictures. Mobile medical image viewing has evolved as Apple technology has progressed, first to video-capable iPods, then to the iPhone and now, of course, to the iPad. Keep reading>>