Six hospitals deploy AT&T’s emergency care video app

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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Screen Shot 2011-10-19 at 1.06.47 PMAT&T and Washington Hospital Center unveiled CodeHeart this week, a platform that allows cardiologists to view video and test results (an ECG, for example) of a patient in transit during critical care situations. The app, which was conceptualized by doctors at Washington Hospital, is available for desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

According to the company, cardiologists can use the app to assess a patient’s physical condition via video link, talk with the patient’s first responder, review test results, and prepare for the patient’s arrival to the emergency room. Videos will be archived for later review.

The app will help the hospital more efficiently distribute its care team and resources since it will be able to determine a patient’s condition before their arrival.

Washington Hospital Center has already rolled out the CodeHeart app at six hospitals. The center serves patients who live as far as hundreds of miles away from Washington D.C., which means enabling physicians and first responders to communicate ahead of time could be a crucial element of the new service.

AT&T recently created a new executive position, Chief Medical Information Officer, and appointed Dr. Geeta Nayyar to it. AT&T has kept busy in the mHealth space, announcing partnerships over the last couple of years with a number of companies, including WellDoc, Vitality, and MedApps. It also recently entered the imaging space with a cloud-based service offering, AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management service, which launched this summer.

“Washington Hospital Center has been in the forefront in heart care for decades,” stated Lowell Satler, MD, director of Interventional Cardiology at the Hospital Center in a press release. “When it comes to treating a patient who appears to be suffering from chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, every second counts. CodeHeart delivered from AT&T’s network helps us provide optimal care as quickly as possible and effectively treat every heart patient that comes to our facility.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

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HHS: EHR data to be used in Text4Baby study

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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Text4babyPhoneAn upcoming efficacy study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the Text4Baby SMS service will make use of electronic health records (EHR) data, according to an announcement in the US Federal Register.

Text4Baby is a free, SMS-based health information service for new and expectant mothers. Text4Baby launched in February of 2010 and currently has more than 190,000 subscribers via a number of public and private sector partnerships. Voxiva, which powers the Text4Baby service, recently launched Text2Quit, a similar service for smoking cessation. Alere is offering the smoking cessation service thanks to a licensing agreement with Voxiva.

On a project proposal posted on the Federal Register, the HHS wrote that “the goal of this program evaluation is to examine the characteristics of women who utilize the Text4Baby mobile phone-based program, to assess their experience with the program, and to determine whether enrollment in Text4Baby is associated with healthy behaviors and timely access to health care during pregnancy and an infant’s first year of life.”

According to the Federal Register’s notice, respondents who consent to the release of their EHRs will have that data linked with responses to a mobile phone survey. The study survey women while they are pregnant and once again “approximately nine months later” some time after their baby is born. The study will also include focus groups, stakeholder interviews, and key informant interviews.

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Read more details over at iHealthBeat here and read the Federal Register release here.

GreatCall launches dedicated personal emergency device

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 19, 2011        

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greatcallresponderGreatCall announced this week the release of a mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) device 5Star Responder, as well as an accompanying Instant Response iPhone app that offers similar functionality. The device is available for $49.99 at GreatCall’s website and will also be available at Walmart and Sears locations. Both the device and app require their own $14.99 month subscription.

The Responder features a single button which connects users to Certified Response Agents; the button can also directly contact 9-1-1. The agents can then use the device’s GPS to locate the user or offer additional help, including access to a personal profile that functions as a HIPAA compliant brief medical history for cases of emergency.

GreatCall first launched the 5Star service this past summer. GreatCall subscribers who use a Jitterbug J phone can add the 24/7 emergency service to their rate plan for an additional $14.99 per month. GreatCall acquired mPERS startup MobiWatch in November 2009; the all-stock deal for MobiWatch was valued at around $100,000, according to a regulatory filing. In addition, GreatCall launched its first iPhone app, MedCoach, this summer. The app includes medication lists and pharmacy listings.

The 5Star iPhone app offering is an interesting approach. At least one of the major PERS providers, Life Alert, has an iPhone app already, called Life Alert Mobile. Philips Lifeline hinted to MobiHealthNews recently that they are looking seriously at opportunities for mobile phones, too. Beginning of a trend, maybe?

“The 5Star Responder will revolutionize public safety,” stated GreatCall CEO David Inns in a press release. “No matter how serious the situation – even if it’s just to have one of our Response Agents stay on the line with you as you walk to your car late at night – you can be assured that we are there with you until your situation is resolved.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Patient behavior tracking startup Ginger.io nabs $1.7 million

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 18, 2011        

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Ginger.ioSocial behavior analysis startup Ginger.io recently announced $1.7 million in its first round of funding. The start-up, which was born out of MIT’s Media Lab, is developing 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.

The round was led by Silicon Valley-based True Ventures and also included Kapor Capital, Romulus Capital, and angel investors Bill Warner, Walt Winshall, James Joaquin, and Ty Curry.

A report by Gregory Huang at Xconomy offers some good insight into the company’s business model and future potential. Ginger.io isn’t developing a consumer health and wellness app — instead, it’s a BtoB play:

“A mobile phone can provide crucial information about its owner’s activity level, location, and communication patterns—all in real time, more or less (assuming the person opts in),” Huang writes. “That information could be valuable to drug makers and hospitals looking to track the results of clinical trials, market medications to certain types of patients, or design new therapies for things like diabetes, obesity, or brain disorders.”

Insights gathered from noticing how a target population’s behavior varies due to a new drug or therapy could prove very valuable to companies. Ginger is currently working with healthcare providers and two of the “top five” pharma companies. The startup’s technology has also been used to study inflammatory bowel disease by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Ginger.io has a similar focus to other MIT Media Lab-born companies like Affectiva, which aims to quantifiably analyze emotions to improve consumer experiences. Affectiva offers Affdex, an emotion recognition software, and the Q Sensor, a wrist sensor which measures electrodermal activity (EDA), motion and temperature to quantify emotion.The Affdex software uses a computer’s webcam to read emotional states via non-verbal responses such as facial expressions.

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For more, read the Xconomy article here.

iHealth Bluetooth scale now on sale

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 18, 2011        

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ihealthscaleiHealth announced this week the US availability of its wireless connected Digital Scale. The scale allows users to transmit their weight information via Bluetooth to iOS devices, where they can use a free app to track weight data over time with charts and graphs. The suggested retail price for the scale is $69.95.

MobiHealthNews broke the news about the device in September, along with an iHealth wireless baby monitor. iHealth also announced today that the iBaby monitor is now available for purchase on ibabylabs.com as well as Apple.com, Amazon.com and select Babies”R”Us stores.

Both products stand as obvious competition to iHealth’s French competitor, Withings. Both companies announced blood pressure cuffs at last year’s CES. The iHealth blood pressure monitor received FDA clearance in early February, whereas the Withings BPM was not cleared until June.

Back to weight scales: There are some critical differences between the two scales’ offerings and strategies to date. Withings WiFi Body Scale, appropriately, uses WiFi to transmit data to the cloud, which is then accessed via an iOS app. The iHealth requires a user to have their smartphone or tablet to be close by to the scale since it transmits data via a Bluetooth connection. Withings has also pursued an aggressive partnership strategy by connecting with other companies’ wellness devices via open APIs, including RunKeeper’s Health Graph and Fitbit and Zeo. To date iHealth hasn’t made a move toward partnerships of that kind.

We speculated in September about whether the iHealth scale would be available in Apple’s retail stores alongside iHealth’s BP3 blood pressure cuff and Withings scale — shelf space which is notoriously difficult to obtain. While the press release makes no mention of distribution in Apple stores, iHealth will be available in Target and Best Buy stores nationwide.

“We are excited to now be able to offer our Bluetooth scale to the public,” stated Adam Lin, GM of iHealth Lab, in a press release. “The iHealth Digital Scale helps you manage your short and long-term health and fitness goals, while letting the app do the hard work for you with automatic data entry.”

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Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Google Body relaunches as Zygote Body app

By: Chris Gullo | Oct 17, 2011        

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zygote-body-thumbnailsGoogle Body Browser, a Google Earth-like explorer for the human anatomy that launched last December as part of the now-defunct Google Labs project, will be reborn as a free Android app and web application called Zygote Body, according to a report over at MedGadget.

Google Body Browser allowed users to explore human anatomy via a three dimensional browser that included layer options (such as skin, tissue, and bone). The Body Browser was part of Google’s Labs project, which showcased prototype experimental apps developed by Google engineers. Google Labs’ closure was announced in July and it officially ceased operations on October 14th.

The developer Zygote created the 3D models used in the Body Browser. While Zygote is releasing their own application that builds off the Body Browser, Google announced that it plans to open source the code for Body Browser and make it available for free to developers soon.

Here’s the full message from Google posted on Google Body’s site last month (the site is now redirecting to Zygote’s page):

“As Google Labs winds down, we will be retiring Google Body. However, you will soon be able to find its functionality elsewhere. We are working on open-sourcing the code that powers Google Body so that anyone will be able to create and run a searchable 3D viewer. We are also working with our partner, Zygote Media Group, on an application called Zygote Body. This application will be free, available on the web and on Android, and will enable students, teachers, and others using Google Body to continue to have access to a human anatomy browser.”

According to our recent report on professional medical apps, there were 242 anatomy apps available for download in Apple’s AppStore as of July 2011. MobiHealthNews expects that number to spike to more than 350 anatomy apps by next summer.

Google’s better known health-related offering, Google Health, was shuttered this past June due to an inability to scale up user adoption. Google announced the shutdown of Google Labs — and, in turn, Google Body — one month later.

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Read more about the Zygote transition over at MedGadget here.