The first Continua-certified phone is water-proof

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 2, 2010        

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Fujitsu F-01CIn case you haven’t heard the mobile phones available in Japan are very different from what’s common in the US. That’s true for one of the newest phones unveiled by Fujitsu — the F-01C, which happens to be the very first mobile phone to receive certification from the Continua Health Alliance. The F-01C is waterproof, touch screen phone featuring a HD video camera, a 13.2 megapixel camera, an “augmented reality-enabled location radar”, a built-in humidity and temperature sensor and more. The Continua certification, in fact, is one of the last things listed on the phone’s product page.

Continua is a connected health industry organization with 236 member companies that are working together to create guidelines that ensure connected health devices are interoperable. Fujitsu also announced that the F-02C phone is Continua certified, calling it “one of the first mobile phones to ever receive certification from the Continua Health Alliance.”

Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait for phones with built-in humidity sensors to become the norm before the first Continua-certified phones hit the US market.

Fujitsu’s product page for the F-02C explains that the phone “can also connect to medical devices manufactured by TANITA.” Users of the phone can use a mobile app called i-appli to manage their blood pressure and body composition, according to the phonemaker. Both phones are only available to subscribers to Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo. The phones hit store shelves in Japan on November 19.

The F-01C phone also includes a walking and running app that features tips from former marathon runner and Olympic gold medalist, Naoko Takahashi. Keep reading>>

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FCC proposes to speed up mHealth device testing

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 1, 2010        

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FCC BadgeThis week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a proposal to create a new medical program experimental radio license that would help create “cutting-edge test-bed facilities, where manufacturers and developers could try out new wireless medical technologies and assess operational readiness.”

The FCC said that the idea for such a program arose during its meeting with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this past summer.

“Researchers, educators and practitioners could partner with Veterans Affairs facilities and leading research and teaching hospitals, for example, to speed the development of new ideas and innovations,” the FCC wrote in its proposal. “A medical experimental authorization would allow for the testing and operation of new medical devices that use wireless telecommunications technology for therapeutic, monitoring, or diagnostic purposes that have not yet been submitted for equipment certification, or for devices that use RF for ablation, so long as the equipment is designed to meet the FCC’s technical rules.”

The FCC said it would work with the FDA to implement such a program, especially when researchers seek to test new devices with patient participation. On that note, the FCC noted that “this program is not intended to replace the FDA’s existing oversight and review programs.”

“The proposals herein are intended to shorten the time it takes manufacturers to develop devices and systems by streamlining the approval process – in particular, the process by which medical equipment must be approved under the [FCC's] equipment authorization procedures,” the proposal reads. “Consequently, this arrangement could lead to quicker development of medical breakthroughs that will help all Americans, including the brave men and women who were wounded in defense of our Nation and who deserve our best efforts to facilitate the creation of tools and services that could ease their transition to civilian life.”

The FCC specifically describes two types of medical devices that the proposal focuses on: “Radio-frequency (RF) wireless medical devices which are medical devices that include at least one function that is implemented using RF wireless communications; examples of functions that may be implemented wirelessly include data transfer, device control, programming, power transmission, remote sensing and monitoring, and identification…. and 2) Medical devices that use RF for ablation (i.e., removal of a part of biological tissue usually by surgery. RF ablation can very precisely deliver RF energy to kill specific cells, such as cancer cells, without causing damage to nearby healthy cells).”

This proposal from the FCC calls to mind the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently launched Innovation Center, which will “act as testing grounds for new practices, yielding innovative ideas and lessons” that will (hopefully) lead to reimbursement for some wireless health services.

Read the FCC’s proposal in its entirety here (PDF)

Shorts: New tablet; How-to attract Baby Boomers

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 1, 2010        

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Apple AppStore iTunesWill AppStores really lose their influence? There’s been a lot of buzz about the latest mobile health apps trends from Research2Guidance’s developer survey — the idea that AppStore will lose their dominance as the distribution channel for mobile health apps and “traditional healthcare channels” will take over. The survey actually found that about half of the developers surveyed believe AppStores are the best channel today and about have believe AppStores will still be the best channel in five years. A larger percentage believes hospitals will be the best channel five years from now, but these healthcare channels may only be where consumers or patients learn about apps. Those channels might just be the biggest drivers of traffic to AppStores. Mobile Business Briefing

“Military grade” tablet PC for healthcare: GammaTech Computer unveiled a new military-grade rugged design tablet PC for the healthcare industry, called the MT10L clinical tablet PC. The tablet is based on Intel Health’s Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) solutions. GammaTech says the device can help healthcare providers “maintain accurate, timely and instantly accessible records.” Release

Cnossen steps down from Continua Health Alliance position: After two years, Rick Cnossen to step down as President and Chairman of Continua Health Alliance. Cnossen is taking on a bigger position at Intel Health that requires a slight downshift in his Continua activity: “It is hard to believe it has been almost 2 years that I have had the privilege to serve as Continua president and board chairman. I have learned immensely from working with the many excellent individuals from top companies in our industry,” Cnossen writes. “I recently accepted a new position at Intel as Director of Health Information Technology Worldwide which will necessitate that I resign as Continua president and board chairman. Intel remains fully committed to Continua as a Board Promoter and I plan to stay on as the Intel Board representative. I truly believe that Continua-enabled interoperable personal health solutions will empower people and increase the quality of life the world over by providing opportunities for innovations and solutions for improved care. I am passionate about this and will continue to endeavor with Continua to bring this to fruition.” Continua Health Alliance

Mobile health to emerge in developing markets first: At a recent industry event, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs seemed most passionate about opportunities in mobile health care, according to a report over at EE Times. Jacobs said mobile health would first emerge as rural services in emerging markets: “It will be a very efficient way to manage health care, and there are already projects underway to do it,” he said. More over at EE Times or watch this short video

AT&T and Sprint focusing on attracting Baby Boomers: A report from Bloomberg states that AT&T and Sprint are both focusing on attracting more subscribers in the 50+ age range. David Inns, CEO of GreatCall, which offers the Jitterbug mobile phone service, said he expects the rate of texting among those 55 and older to hit 80 percent in two years, up from about 30 percent today. The article doesn’t mention mobile health, but that is certainly one strategy both GreatCall, Verizon Wireless and AT&T are pursuing to attract the aging Baby Boomers. Bloomberg

This Sunday Verizon Wireless will turn on its 4G LTE network: “Verizon represents the first major step in providing truly nationwide 4G coverage that other competitors have not been able to offer,” Dan Hays, a partner at consulting firm PRTM, told Investor’s Business Daily. “That is tremendously significant for U.S. wireless users. Some areas where you might see significant innovation include applications that incorporate video for use in health care, gaming and other forms of entertainment.” Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C. are among the markets that will be covered by Verizon Wireless 4G immediately. IBD

Shorts: CNN interviews Mobisante; 3M-IQMax

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 1, 2010        

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3M Health Information Systems and IQMax expand deal: The companies plan to develop services that improve physician workflow, streamline revenue cycle processes, and provide instant access to critical information to support patient care. 3M branded mobile apps for charge capture and others that efficiently help physicians meet documentation requirements under ICD-10 will also come out of the newly expanded partnership. The apps will be for iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. More

Mobile ultrasound startup Mobisante was spotlighted on CNN this past week: Here’s the three-minute interview with Mobisante CEO and co-founder Sailesh Chultani:

7 NIH-funded studies for reducing young adult obesity rates: The National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has funded seven clinical trials that make use of behavioral weight management programs, SMS, social networking, and Bluetooth-enabled scales in an effort to reduce obesity in the 18 – 35 year old population. Over the next five years the trials will receive $36 million (some of which comes from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.) More

Wireless Body platform expands to include temp sensing: PositiveID announced a deal with Spain-based RFID Solutions that results in the addition of a bio sensor for temperature to the company’s Wireless Body platform: “The ability to continuously monitor a patient’s vital signs provides a real-time gauge of their health and wellness,” said Scott R. Silverman. “The addition of temperature-sensing capabilities to The Wireless Body platform is just one of many applications that we intend to provide for improved patient care.” More Keep reading>>

US Army tests iPhone, Android for EHR field apps

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 1, 2010        

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The US Army is conducting pilots to determine whether electronic medical records (EMR) applications running on  Apple iOS and Android devices can be used in the field. The Army’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) is testing the apps on the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, and Android powered devices like HTC’s EVO and Samsung’s Epic, according to a report in Federal Telemedicine News.

“Initial tests show promise but there is still a long way to go before we can consider fielding these technologies. They must clear a myriad of hurdles, including data-at-rest encryption requirements, clearance for wireless use in theater, and a bevy of DOD and local signal certifications,” LTC William E. Geesey, MC4 Product Manager reportedly told Beltway publication The Gateway.

MC4 is currently upgrading its EMR systems in Iraq and Afghanistan to include better methods for documenting mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) data. The MC4 is planning to test the apps in Southwest Asia before moving into 12 other countries.

The upgrades also include a mobile version of the Transportation Regulating and Command and Control Evacuation System (TRAC2ES) application, which track the movement of sick and injured soldiers in transit.

More details over at Federal Telemedicine News

60 percent interested in home medical devices

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 1, 2010        

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Ryan Howard, CEO, PracticeFusionAccording to a recent survey, 60 percent of Americans with chronic disease said a home medical device would improve their health. The interest was about the same among Americans who do not have chronic disease, the suvery conducted by GfK Roper and commissioned by EHR provider Practice Fusion found.

Some 62 percent of survey participants said communication with their physicians via home medical devices would improve their health. Upwards of 57 percent of respondents aged 25 to 49 were interested in home medical devices, while 35 percent of people aged 65 and older said they were interested in using the devices. As a group men were more interested in using home medical devices than those women surveyed: 52 percent vs. 41 percent.

Why is an EHR developer like Practice Fusion interested in home medical devices? It has an open invitation to home medical device makers to connect their wares through its free EHR offering. The company is leveraging its EHR’s API to encourage device makers to create connectivity to its SaaS EHR offering.

“Home medical devices can save the healthcare system money and also enable patients to live more independently while managing their chronic conditions,” Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion stated in a press release. “EHR systems are a key connection for linking these devices to patients and physicians.”

Practice Fusion said it now has 50,000 providers and 5 million patients using its EHR.

The survey took place between November 19 and 21, 2010. Participants included a nationally representative sample of 1,008 adults age 18 or older. Margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points, according to the companies.

More in the press release