MobiHealthNews curated some of our favorite tweets from this past week related to mobile health and digital health news and analysis below. Share some of your favorite tweets with us @MobiHealthNews or in our LinkedIn group and we might feature a few in our next Twitter round-up. Here’s our list in no particular order. Keep reading>>
Tags: digital health | mobile health | Twitter digital health | Twitter mHealth |
Tags: ABI Research | Asthmapolis | Bluetooth | Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth Smart | Bluetooth SIG | fitness trackers | IMS Research | SwissMed Mobile | wireless activity tracker | wireless consumer health devices |
Bluetooth 4.0. or Bluetooth Smart, is emerging as the leading connectivity protocol for fitness devices, and the medical market is likely to follow soon, according to industry analysts in statements released by the Bluetooth SIG. Bluetooth SIG announced that since 2008 it has qualified 142 medical products and 56 fitness products.
In addition, IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc., projected that by 2016 more consumer medical devices would use Bluetooth Smart for wireless than any other technology, covering more than 50 percent of the wireless-enabled consumer medical device market with 5.7 million shipments. As for sports and fitness devices, ABI Research projects 120 million annual shipments in 2017, over 75 percent of the total market.
According to Bluetooth SIG chief marketing officer Suke Jawanda, the original Bluetooth BDR/EDR technology was optimized for sending continuous streams of data — like audio. Bluetooth Smart sends data in very short bursts, so the radio only has to be on for about three milliseconds at a time. As a result, it has much lower power use. Classic Bluetooth technology was fairly widespread in medical and fitness devices, but the power requirements made it less practical for continuously worn tracking and monitoring devices.
“When we take a look at the innovation in the plumbing layer, now it makes more sense to why Bluetooth Smart is, frankly, the de facto standard in sports and fitness and its becoming the de facto standard in health and medical,” Jawanda told MobiHealthNews. “Polar created a Bluetooth heart rate monitor. Under normal use cases, the coin cell battery that was powering that heart rate monitor would only last a few months. That same chest rate strap now, with Bluetooth Smart, is going to last a couple of years.”
Bluetooth SIG highlighted smart inhaler Asthmapolis and back-end patient monitoring software Swissmed Mobile as examples of consumer medical devices leveraging the technology as well.
“Fitness has been fantastic for us,” Jawanda told MobiHealthNews. “For Bluetooth Smart, that’s the first vertical that’s really popped where scale has begun to shift. I think medical is even a bigger opportunity and over the next two years could shift also.” He said the uncertainty of FDA regulation is likely keeping medical developers away from Bluetooth, which has smartphone app integration as a major selling point.
Jawanda said that as well as the low power usage and near-instantaneous communication, the big advantage to companies using Bluetooth is its widespread penetration, which allows a range of peripheral devices to easily communicate with each other, as well as with consumer smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Tags: behavior change | gamification | Mango Health | medication adherence | mobile health behavior change | mobile health gaming | mobile medication adherence | Rock Health |
Mango Health, a Rock Health startup focused on using gamification principles to tackle medication adherence, launched its titular app after months of beta testing, a 16-week pilot, and not a small amount of hype. The company has raised $3 million so far.
Medication adherence is considered to be a $290 billion dollar per year problem, and it’s one that a number of mobile apps and connected devices have tried to tackle. Mango CEO and co-founder Jason Oberfest told MobiHealthNews that he thinks Mango is approaching the problem in an original way, owing to his and co-founder Gerald Cheong’s background at game company ngmoco.
“My sense of adherence initiatives in the industry is they’ve tended to focus on two primary areas: On the one side, better tracking of patient consumption of medication, and on the other side analysis of back-office patient data to identify at risk populations,” he said. “Our feeling is that the root cause of nonadherence is behavioral, and those approaches don’t address that.”
With Mango’s app, users enter their medications or supplements, timing, and doses. Like many existing adherence apps, Mango can remind patients when its time to take their medication. It also automatically alerts them to potentially dangerous interactions between medications, or with food and drink. The app also includes a personal health journal.
But it’s the game design principles that the founders hope will set the app apart. The app has an in-game currency users can earn by taking medications on time, and a leveling up system. By leveling and saving up, users can unlock real-world rewards with Mango’s partners, including donations to charities and rewards at stores like Target (which Mango just recently announced as a partner). The app also presents users with basic comparisons of their adherence against people with similar medication regiments or conditions.
Mango Health’s brand partners benefit from the partnership, Oberfest said, both because they have a general interest in improving people’s health and because health-oriented consumers are generally good customers to have, and Mango serves as a channel to get them into partners’ stores.
While many medication adherence technologies target older people with their products, Mango’s target demographic is 35 to 55-year-olds who were recently diagnosed with a chronic disease, according to Oberfest, although the pilot included users as young as 24 and as old as their late 70s. He said the pilot was very promising.
“For me, the most important measure is unaided return rate,” the number of people who continue to come back and use the app without prompting, said Oberfest, “And the unaided return rate that we were seeing was spectacularly good from my perspective. It far exceeded our expectations and was orders of magnitude more successful than the most successful social games we know of.”
Oberfest says the company has big plans going forward. Ultimately, he said, they plan to move beyond medication adherence to become “a hub for personal health management.” The company hopes to work with app and device companies tackling other health areas, as well as employers, payers, and providers. Expansion into Android devices is planned eventually as well, he said, although the company isn’t ready to commit to a timetable.
Tags: flu vaccine | influenza | influenza vaccine | mobile health efficacy study | pregnancy | public health texting | Text4Baby | University of Pittsburgh |
A new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that text messaging was ineffective at changing the minds of pregnant women who were not intending to get the influenza vaccine. In their study of 158 urban, low-income pregnant women, researchers found that text messages had no effect on whether expectant mothers got the vaccine, a treatment doctors consider to be especially important for expectant mothers.
“We know that pregnant women have a really increased risk, and we know that the vaccine is very safe and very effective, and despite that it’s vastly underutilized,” study author Dr. Michelle Moniz told MobiHealthNews.
All participants in the study received health text messages regularly, containing tips and information about pregnancy. However, only the intervention group received text messages specifically educating and instructing them about the flu vaccine. In both groups, only 32 percent of women got the vaccine, according to the clinic’s records.
The participants in the study were overwhelmingly low-income, uninsured, and unmarried women with a high school education or less, the kind of underserved population often targeted in texting interventions. The study specifically excluded women who had already gotten the vaccine, or who stated their intent to get it at their initial appointment.
The women’s stated reasons for not receiving the vaccine might shed some light on why the text messages were ineffective. Twenty-three percent said they were afraid of vaccine side effects, 15 percent said they disliked shots, and another 15 percent said they had a previous bad experience with the flu vaccine.
With the exception of side effects, these aren’t reasons that can necessarily be fixed with education. Text messages can be effective at reminding people of things they already know they should do, or for educating people about things they don’t know. However, they might not be the best vehicle for persuading people to do something they have already decided against, for whatever reason.
“Despite these concerns, more than half [of the study participants] reported that they would get or consider getting the flu shot if it were recommended to them by their prenatal care provider,” Moniz wrote in the paper. “The text messaging program assessed in this investigation did not translate into higher maternal vaccination rates, suggesting that it was not an effective replacement for direct face-to-face recommendation of influenza vaccination.”
In actuality, Moniz told MobiHealthNews, the vaccine is considered very safe and effective and is recommended for pregnant women by both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. There’s even mounting evidence that the vaccine conveys neonatal benefits to the unborn child. Although the text messages in the intervention did include assurances about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, they didn’t delve deeply into specifics, nor did they include any tailored messaging. Moniz believes that adjusting the content could have a better effect.
“This has been documented again and again in studies looking at influenza vaccination in obstetric populations,” Moniz said. “The most powerful tool is clear, unequivocal support of a provider. … It might be this intervention would work if we sent messages more frequently, or if we stated specifically ‘your doctor (by name) wants you to get the flu shot.'”
Despite the lack of uptick in vaccination, the participants in both groups responded positively to the text messages, with 90 percent saying they liked the messages, 89 percent saying they found them helpful, and more than 70 percent saying the messages increased their satisfaction with their prenatal care.
“Although generally we’re very enthusiastic about the technology, I think it’s important that we continue to approach this in a rigorously scientific way and try to better understand the potential benefits and the potential limitations of this technology,” Moniz told MobiHealthNews.