Can mobile apps and devices curb obesity?

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 3, 2012        

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mObesity_Cover_260This week MobiHealthNews launched its latest paid research report, mObesity: How Mobile Tools Could Help Prevent Obesity Through Weight Management Apps and Connected Fitness Devices. The report focuses on the news, challenges, and missteps made by some of the highest profile companies offering connected fitness services today. In its 65 pages, mObesity includes a roundup of a couple dozen startups working in the sector; the announced investment activity surrounding connected fitness startups in the past three years; a discussion of mistakes made (and still being made) by the current crop of wellness startups; a review of some of the efficacy and effectiveness studies about connected fitness devices; and much more.

To purchase the full report head over to MobiHealthNews research here. Check out a sneak peek of the report’s intro below:

Your ever-smarter mobile phone can’t make you lose 10 pounds. No, mobile phones are not a cure for obesity, the most pressing public health issue facing the United States today. But mobile tools can help.

For many, they already have.

Big name brands, including Nike and Weight Watchers began offering mobile-enabled fitness and dieting tools years ago. Millions of people now use them. Keep reading>>

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Digitas: Pharma is missing mobile opportunity

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 3, 2012        

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Tomorrow NetworksMarty DeAngelo, vice president and director of interaction design at Digitas Health, believes that pharmaceutical companies are failing to capitalize on the rise of the mobile channel as a way to reach consumers and healthcare professionals. In a column over at MediaPost, DeAngelo claims that of the top 25 drug brands in 2010, only three had mobile websites as of December 2011.

“Plavix has a brand site for consumers, Lipitor Savings provides information to consumers about their savings program, and only Nexium has a mobile site specifically aimed at HCPs,” DeAngelo wrote. “In fact, based on recent research I’ve conducted, there are only a handful of mobile websites in all of the pharma space – 15 at my last count.”

DeAngelo chalks up pharma’s inaction to three major reasons: a lack of understanding of mobile use cases, a misunderstanding of how to convey information in a mobile context, and regulatory discomfort.

According to DeAngelo, healthcare providers look to the mobile channel to confirm what they think they already know and consumers are often looking for information about a drug brand that their physician has already prescribed them. In other words, mobile is not an acquisition channel.

While DeAngelo may be right about the lack of mobile specific websites for drug brands, there are a number of other ways that pharma companies can leverage mobile beyond mobile specific websites.

Last year, Physicians Interactive Holdings and Remedy Systems launched a mobile advertising network that serves ads specifically targeted to healthcare providers. The network is also testing health-related ads targeting consumers. The network places ads in smartphone medical apps and it launched with some 54 different apps already onboard. Pharma companies are also creating smartphone apps — we highlighted 10 such apps in a roundup we put together last January.

For more on DeAngelo’s tips for pharma companies looking to leverage mobile, check out his post here.

Former Apple exec invests in Misfit Wearables

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 2, 2012        

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Sonny VuToward the end of last year the Boston Globe’s technology columnist Scott Kirsner reported that former Apple CEO John Sculley had invested in Misfit Wearables, a new startup from the co-founder of AgaMatrix, Sonny Vu. Kirsner reported that Misfit Wearables’ first product would ship by the end of 2012 and that it had raised some $750,000 in funding so far. Investors include Sridhar Iyengar, Vu’s co-founder at AgaMatrix; John Sculley, former head of Apple from 1983 to 1993; and Vu.

As we noted in September, Sculley is already involved as an advisor at a handful of other medtech startups. He’s on the board of directors of Watermark Medical, developer of an in-home sleep apnea diagnostic device, and on the board of advisors at Audax Health Solutions, a consumer health startup which uses gamification and social networking for health management.

MobiHealthNews discussed the prospect of Vu’s next venture during an interview with him last summer, just after he announced his departure from AgaMatrix. Here’s more about Vu’s plans and perspectives from our interview: Keep reading>>

Less than 1 percent of hospitals fully use tablets

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 2, 2012        

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Female Doctor with TabletLess than one percent of US hospitals have fully functional tablet systems, according to Jonathan Mack, director of clinical research and development at the West Wireless Health Institute. Despite financial incentives from the government, US hospitals are still slow to adopt EMRs, Mack told Kaiser Health News in a recent interview. Those that do might not have access to a native tablet application from the EMR developer, and even then, the app might include only read-only functionality. To circumvent this, virtualization programs such as Citrix are used on EMRs designed for keyboard input, making for a slow and frustrating usage experience.

In September, MobiHealthnews spoke to Michael Catrini, Director of Information Systems and Infrastructure at Rutland Medical, a 188-bed hospital located in Vermont, about tablet adoption. Catrini said that this “topic is a hot [one]. Physicians are coming in and saying, ‘We want iPads!’ The real challenge with an iPad isn’t a physical challenge; it’s the applications,” he said. “If an application isn’t designed to interact with that screen size or [multitouch] technology, then it raises all kinds of issues.” Catrini believed at the time that mobile EMR apps still have a ways to go: “I think we’re six months or a year from a really good native [iPad EMR app].” (March is fast approaching.)

While other CIO types have also predicted better native EMR apps are in the works at the big name EMR vendors like Cerner and Epic, smaller design-focused shops that have concentrated on the tablet form factor, including DrChrono and Clear Practice’s Nimble, have received a number of lauds over the past year.

The article also noted the potential distraction tablets provide as an issue worth watching closely. Dr John Halamka, CIO of CareGroup Healthcare System in Boston, recently wrote on the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality’s Web M&M online journal about the potential of mobile devices to improve care, but cautioned that healthcare organizations had better understand and act to mitigate the risks mobility can introduce.  “Some studies conclude that such communication improves the quality of the work environment, patient safety, and care without increasing bedside interruptions. Others, however, note a significant increase in interruptions and disruption of workflow because of the lowered barrier to instant communication,” Halamka wrote.

Read more from the Kaiser Health News report here.

Feds to spend $6.5B on health IT in 2016

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 2, 2012        

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iPad 3The US federal government’s healthcare IT spending is set to increase by $2 billion between 2011 and 2016, according to a recent report by the research arm of Deltek. The firm found that 2011 spending hit about $4.5 billion and it will grow to $6.5 billion by 2016, marking an increasing of 7.5 percent CAGR. The report also found that overall federal healthcare expenditures will almost double from $766 billion in 2011 to $1.4 trillion in 2020. Health IT investments are seen as one way to help curb those costs.

Deltek’s senior principal analyst Angie Petty told InformationWeek that the demand for mobile access to medical records has also increased along with a growing demand for mobile health applications.

The increased spending on health IT will largely focus on electronic health records systems, IT infrastructure modernization, new payment systems, and IT related to population health management. Much of the spend will go toward modernizing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) systems in a move toward new payment models as well as to reduce fraud.

“It is Deltek’s belief that implementation of health IT will ultimately lower healthcare costs and expenditures while at the same time, improving population health,” Petty told InformationWeek. “The federal government will continue to push health IT within its own agencies and to states, localities, and commercial providers.”

Berg: 2.2M patients remotely monitored globally

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 2, 2012        

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Qualcomm's 2net Hub

Qualcomm's 2net Hub

Approximately 2.2 million patients globally used a home-based remote monitoring device as of the end of 2011, according to a recent report from Berg Insight. The metric only accounts for devices that use fixed wireless, cellular, and fixed line connections. Devices that connected via smartphones or PCs were not included in the statistic. In addition, the number of home health monitoring devices in use with embedded cellular connectivity increased from 420,000 in 2010 to about 570,000 in 2011, and is expected to hit 2.47 million in 2016.

Berg also predicts that the number of remote home monitoring systems will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 percent between 2010 and 2016, reaching 4.9 million by 2016. Devices that leverage cellular connectivity will grow 34.6 percent to reach the 2.47 million expected in 2016.

The most common chronic diseases being monitored include cardiac arrhythmia, sleep apnea, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with momentum gaining in devices for glucose monitoring and medication adherence. More than 200 million people in the US and Europe suffer from one or several chronic diseases where home monitoring is a treatment option.

In 2010, Berg found the the worldwide market for home health monitoring of “welfare diseases” to be worth about € 7.6 billion ($10 billion). It did not release a monetary figure for this year’s market.

“Home monitoring solutions that can communicate over a cellular network, landline connection or the Internet have already reached significant volumes within cardiac rhythm management, integrated telehealth solutions, sleep therapy and cardiac event monitoring,” stated Lars Kurkinen, Telecom Analyst at Berg Insight, in a press release.

Read the press release below. Keep reading>>