Aetna launches mHealth alert service

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 12, 2011        

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aetnaAetna released a new mobile service this week that allows doctors in Aetna’s Florida network to prescribe medication electronically via smartphone or tablet and receive care recommendations for their patients. The service is supported by NaviNet Mobile Connect and is free to Aetna subscribers.

NaviNet Mobile Connect subscribers will now receive “Care Considerations” alerts via email, phone and fax from a partner company called ActiveHealth Management. ActiveHealth Management’s system, called CareEngine, analyzes clinical data from patients and compares it to best practice guidelines. Doctors can view safety issues such as incompatible medications, view missed appointments, and simplify prescription orders.

“Access to patient and clinical information is critical for doctors to deliver high-quality, effective care. That’s why we’re putting integrated information into doctors’ hands when it’s most effective – when the doctor is in the exam room with the patient,” stated Bob Kropp, M.D., regional medical director for Aetna, in a press release.

Aetna launched an SMS service for diabetes management in May, and collaborated with Intel last year on a study examining remote monitoring of chronic heart failure patients.

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

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Vodafone India sells $640M share to Piramal Healthcare

By: Chris Gullo | Aug 12, 2011        

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VodafoneGlobal telecommunications provider Vodafone has sold 5.5 percent ($640m) of its Indian subsidiary Vodafone Essar to Indian pharmaceutical company Piramal Healthcare, reports LiveMint.

One of the reasons for the deal involves Vodafone’s July acquisition of Essar’s 33 percent stake in the Vodafone Essar corporation for $5.46 billion. In accordance with Indian law for foreign investment, Vodafone is required to own less than 74 percent of the company, which the Piramal deal allows for.

The deal is part of Vodafone’s increasing expansion into mHealth related areas, including a suite of health apps launched for healthcare professionals in the UK in July.

Read more from LiveMint’s article here.

Nine medical schools that support mobile learning

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 12, 2011        

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As smartphone and tablet usage by physicians continues to rise, medical schools are seeing the importance of incorporating these devices into their curriculum. Here’s a list of nine med schools that either require students to purchase mobile devices or equip them with these devices along with a brief explanation of how these students are using the devices to further their study of medicine.

Brown Med

Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University

Incoming students at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School will be required to purchase iPad 2s as part of their curriculum. They will also be required to purchase the Inkling e-book app to download medical textbooks. The three texts required for first year students include Essential Clinical Anatomy, Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, and Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking. The Inkling app allows for purchase of individual textbook chapters, a business model that aims to save students money on expensive textbooks. Brown will still require purchase of the print versions, however, and the per-chapter model was not a deciding factor in the college’s decision to go digital.

In Alpert Medical School’s orientation materials online the school tells students that they will “most likely want a case, a stylus and possibly a keyboard for your iPad.” The school encourages students to purchase any desired accessory, however, it also notes that “a team of students” is currently “testing different models” of devices and accessories as they create a manual for how medical students can best optimize their iPad use while in school.

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Wellcore officially unveils NewYu fitness device

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 11, 2011        

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newyuAt the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2010, a new startup named Wellcore launched a fall detection system for aging in place. This week Wellcore officially announced the launch of a new product called NewYu, a fitness monitor that can identify specific body movements and track fitness progress via an Android app. The device weighs less than an ounce.

Quite a pivot for a fall detection startup except the original Wellcore device included some activity monitoring services, too. The startup’s first device was designed by Frog Design founder Dr. Hartmut Esslinger.

NewYu’s sensor device, worn on the waist, shirtsleeve, or collar, distinguishes between running, cycling, an elliptical machine or everyday activities and tabulates the number of calories burned doing each. The device will retail for $99.99 and is expected to be available in September, according to the company.

“The NewYu team has developed groundbreaking motion detection technology that can distinguish a wide variety of physical movements in the human body… The more accurate the tracking, the more likely users are to reach their goals,” stated Van Krueger, President and CEO of Wellcore, in a press release.

The biometric data is synced via Bluetooth to an online dashboard that can also be viewed via an Android app. The online portal includes ConnectYu, an online social community where users can connect with each other to find workout partners, get encouragement and more. There, users can get fitness information from experts, who can view clients’ fitness and diet progress everyday and then offer exercise and diet recommendations.

One of the notable features of Wellcore’s fall detection system was that the company offered a simple fitness tracking service as part of the offering. The seeds of NewYu were present in the startup’s first product offering, but NewYu is clearly meant for a broader user group than the aging in place market. More on the fall detection device and service here.

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

Why doctors’ pagers still trump smartphones

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 11, 2011        

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Doc_PagerMore than 80 percent of physicians in the US now have smartphones. About a third have tablets. Despite the aggressive adoption rates of these devices many physicians still carry pagers. Yes, plenty of healthcare-specific messaging services are now available for physicians with smartphones, and we cover the launch of these services at MobiHealthNews. Is it really time to move away from the pager? Ted McNaught, President of Critical Alert Systems, the third largest paging carrier in the United States, argues that smartphones aren’t up to snuff when it comes to critical messaging. I invited McNaught to make the case for pagers despite the rise of smartphones in healthcare settings — here’s his take:

By Ted McNaught, President, Critical Alert Systems

New smartphone paging apps are promising emergency medical personnel the same fast, reliable service as pagers. But before you retire your pager, remember that smartphone apps are only as reliable as the cellular or WiFi network they operate on. A comparison of cellular and paging networks and devices shows important differences that can dramatically impact the reliability and speed of critical messaging, as well as patient and public safety.

First and foremost, when using a smartphone paging app, your critical messages will be delivered on a cellular system. Those are the same networks that are notorious for dead zones, dropped calls and poor in-building coverage. Cellular systems were not designed for the delivery of critical messaging. In fact, most cellular carriers provide a disclaimer and caution users not to rely on their system for the delivery of critical messaging.

During many major disasters in the United States over the past 10 to 12 years, local cellular systems were quickly overloaded or disabled — proving virtually useless for emergency communications. Consider the aftermath of the tragic tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011. The cellular systems in that area were off line for up to four days.

However, even though the paging transmitter and antenna on top of St. John’s Regional Medical Center were blown off the building, Midwest Paging’s simulcast network delivered uninterrupted critical messaging when it was needed most. The surrounding transmitters continued broadcasting critical messaging to medical personnel inside the hospital, as well as first responders throughout the Joplin area.

Unlike a cellular network that sends a message from only one site at a time, a paging network sends the message over every transmitter in the network at exactly the same time. This is called simulcast technology, it’s unique to paging and is significantly more reliable than the cellular networks used by smartphones.

Paging systems also have the unique capability to set up a common group address in any pager so that the same message is sent and received at exactly the same time to as many people as needed in a group. Stemi and Code teams are generally set up this way. Smartphone apps can’t do that. Mass message delivery with cellular networks can result in different delivery times for each device, often measured in minutes that can be critical for emergency responders. Keep reading>>

More pharma reps toting iPads, but docs don’t always like it

By: Neil Versel | Aug 11, 2011        

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iPad medicalNot only are physicians picking up iPads in astounding numbers, so are pharmaceutical sales representatives. However, the presence of an iPad doesn’t always make for a better detailing session.

Among the 87 percent of U.S. physicians who interact with pharma companies online, 38 percent report being visited by a pharma or biotech sales rep with an iPad or other tablet-style device in the 12 months ended in June, Manhattan Research reports. However, only a third who have encountered tablet-toting sales reps believe that the experience is better than with a laptop or printed material.

The reason? Some drug companies seem to have developed iPad apps in a hurry to take advantage of the rapid uptake among doctors.

“iPads are all the rage for pharma at the moment, which makes sense given the potential of these devices to support intelligent, nimble sales conversations,” Manhattan Research VP Monique Levy says. “Unfortunately, some of the detailing programs that are being rushed out the door are sub-par—really really no better than something you’d see on tablet PCs six years ago. Doctors won’t waste their time with these.” Keep reading>>