HHS, OrganizedWisdom launch StartUp Health

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 15, 2011        

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Federal CTO Aneesh ChopraStartUp Health, a new initiative focused on improving access to education, capital and resources for health and wellness entrepreneurs, was announced last week at the Health Data Intitative Forum, according to a report over at HealthCareITNews. HHS CTO Aneesh Chopra unveiled the initiative, which will be led by Steve Krein as CEO, and Jerry Levin,  former Time Warner Chairman/CEO and current Director of OrganizedWisdom.

StartUp Health is the second such effort to launch in 2011. Earlier this year a group of venture capitalists and recent Harvard Business School grads formed Rock Health, an incubator for mobile and online health startups.

“StartUp Health has a long-term vision of what needs to happen to help foster a vibrant health and wellness system in this country by energizing entrepreneurs,” said Levin. “By building a detailed roadmap for health and wellness entrepreneurs, we aim to provide access to everything and everyone they need to significantly increase their chances of creating a sustainable business.”

StartUp Health will be part of the Startup America Partnership, a private sector initative working with the White House to support high-growth entrepreneurship in America. Their first act will be producing a series of three StartUp Health Roundtables, working with the Startup America Partnership and HHS, which will bring together health and wellness entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges the industry faces in the future. The first roundtable will take place July 13th in New York City. It will be broadcast live on the web, where viewers can tweet and email questions for the participants. The second will be called ‘DC to VC’, and the third will take place in California in September.

“Driving American entrepreneurship is critical to creating jobs and sustaining our nation’s global leadership,” said Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership. “The health and wellness sector is full of entrepreneurs creating innovative new companies, and we are thrilled to host the StartUp Health Roundtable to encourage and support the growth of scalable companies in this industry.”

“There has never been a better time to be innovating in health and wellness,” Krein said.

Read the original report at HealthCareITNews.

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Will health apps save payors money?

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 14, 2011        

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BCBSFL AppSome of the largest health insurers are increasing their mobile healthcare presence with patient-focused smartphone applications, reports AmedNews, with apps for physicians soon to follow.

The mobile offerings provide a strong customer service tool, strengthen the physician/patient relationship, and save costs, according to insurers. Among the companies with currently available mobile offerings are Humana, UnitedHealthCare, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The applications’ features include: looking up claims history, researching drug prices, displaying an electronic medical ID card, viewing health savings account info, and access to a GPS-integrated physician network directory. Some, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield Florida’s offerings, allow users to buy coverage straight from the application.

(I wonder if these apps, which provide patients and soon physicians with billing information and insurance coverage details right at their fingertips, will change the way patients and physicians spend healthcare dollars.)

The upcoming physician-focused apps will be fulfilling a real demand for mobile assistance, as 81 percent of physicians now report that they use a smartphone, according to Manhattan Research’s latest survey.

“In an ideal world, the member/patient experience would be completely integrated, with no difference between provider practice and health insurance company, unless they were important to the experience. We would function as one entity,” Mark Brooks, CTO for Health Net told AmedNews. These apps allow physicians to consult with their patients outside of the office. “The feedback we’re getting from physicians is, ‘Keep going,” Brooks said.

Terrell Edwards, president and CEO of PerfectServe, reiterated concerns voiced from others in the industry that these apps need to increase efficiency and demonstrate workflow optimization.

“If it’s just a nifty little thing, a ‘this is sort of cool’ -type thing, it won’t go anywhere.” Edwards told AmedNews.

Adriana Murillo, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s director for strategic development, mentioned future technology like reporting blood glucose levels from smartphones via Bluetooth, which MobiHealthNews recently highlighted in a slideshow.

Check out the original article from AmedNews.com here.

Some of the largest health insurers are increasing their mobile healthcare presence with patient-focused smartphone applications, reports amednews.com, with apps for physicians soon to follow.
The mobile offerings provide a strong customer service tool, strengthen the physician/patient relationship, and save costs, according to insurers. Among the companies with currently available mobile offerings are Humana, UnitedHealthCare, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The applications features include: looking up ones claims history, researching drug prices, displaying an electronic medical ID card, viewing your health savings account, and a GPS-integrated physician network directory. Some, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield Florida’s offerings, allow users to buy coverage straight from the application.
The upcoming physician-focused apps will be fulfilling a real demand for mobile assistance, as 81% of physicians now report that they use a smartphone. “In an ideal world, the member/patient experience would be completely integrated, with no difference between provider practice and health insurance company, unless they were important to the experience. We would function as one entity,” said Mark Brooks, CTO for Health Net. These apps allow physicians to consult with their patients outside of the office. “The feedback we’re getting from physicians is, ‘Keep going,” Brooks said.
Terrell Edwards, president and CEO of PerfectServe, reiterated concerns voiced from others in the industry that the mobile applications must provide real efficiency and workflow optimization. “It comes down to whether this is the kind of application that’s going to save a doctor time,” Edwards said. “If yes, then it’s worth taking it to the next step. It it’s just a nifty little thing, a ‘this is sort of cool’ -type thing, it won’t go anywhere.” Edwards also stressed the need for secure transmission of medical records over wireless networks.
Adriana Murillo, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s director for strategic development, mentioned future technology like reporting blood glucose levels from smartphones via Bluetooth, which mobihealthnews recently highlighted in a slideshow.

Bluetooth 4.0 includes vital sign monitoring specs

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 13, 2011        

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Bluetooth Low Energy heart rate

Dayton Industrial's heart rate monitor

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) recently announced the finalization of two new developer specifications for connected vital sign monitoring devices looking to make use of the short range wireless technology. The specs called health thermometer profile and heart rate profile, are the first mobile health profiles to be part of the upcoming Bluetooth 4.0 release. The 4.0 update for the popular wireless technology will feature Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) as well as increased transfer speeds. In the press release, the SIG noted that Bluetooth could enable connectivity in medical device technology that provide vital sign monitoring and interaction with wireless devices.

An estimated forty million medical devices already feature Bluetooth technology, according to the SIG.

At least one medical device company has already announce plans to make use of the heart rate profile: Dayton Industrial unveiled a heart-rate monitor that will leverage Bluetooth 4.0. The low energy heart rate chest belt will feature energy efficiency technology that the company claims will enable it to run an average of 1.5 years on a single coin cell. The SIG says that connectivity to upcoming Bluetooth 4.0-enabled smartphones will allow for improved health and fitness monitoring apps. A blood pressure profile is expected to be released in July.

In June 2009, MobiHealthNews spoke with Bluetooth SIG’s Executive Director, Mike Foley, about the potential for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), the “hallmark feature” of Bluetooth 4.0. Foley discusses Bluetooth’s potential in fitness and medical devices, the SIG’s relationship with Continua and discusses other short range wireless technologies.

For more on the recent Bluetooth announcements, check out this MedGadget post

10 mobile health diabetes management companies

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 13, 2011        

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LifeScan iPhone

Mathew discusses LifeScan's prototype iPhone BGM app in 2009

In early 2009 at an iPhone 3.0 launch event, Apple demonstrated how a LifeScan blood glucose meter could connect to the iPhone.

Anita Mathew from LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson company, demonstrated the prototype iPhone application that would let users upload glucose readings from their connected blood glucose monitors direclty to their iPhone. The app would let users send their readings and a message about how they’re feeling to caregivers like their parents, children or physician. The app could even estimate, based on diet, how much insulin is needed after each meal.

“So imagine the possibilities,” Apple’s SVP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall said at the time. “We think this is profound.”

And it was. A profound prototype. Now, almost exactly two years later there is a growing number of companies working on mobile-enabled diabetes management devices, services and apps. For many working in mobile health, diabetes management represents the biggest opportunity for mobile technology.

While we have yet to see the LifeScan BGM iPhone companion app launch, a number of other companies have launched apps and devices like it. One of the other big names in the space, of course, is Medtronic, which most recently announced a research partnership with Ford to explore connecting continuous blood glucose meters to Ford vehicle’s onboard computer.

Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic — which are the companies working on mobile-enabled diabetes management service that you have yet to hear about? Many are working to bring next generation diabetes management devices and services to market.

Below, is our list of 10 companies working on diabetes management services with connected devices and mobile apps that you should know. Who did we miss?

Keep reading>>

US Army to begin testing 85 smartphone apps

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 10, 2011        

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T2 Mood Tracker

T2 Mood Tracker App

The U.S. Army will begin testing iPhones, Android smartphones, and tablets for use in war starting next week, reports The Wall Street Journal. Last December we reported on the military’s plans to test EMR applications on Apple and Android devices for use in the field, but this week’s announcement includes a handful of other specific applications.

The tests, which include using the technology for surveillance, biometrics, mobile drone piloting and real-time updating of battlefield data, will take place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and in Fort Bliss, Texas. The six-week testing period is part of a wider $4.2 million dollar evaluation of smartphone technology and applications for military use. Apps on the devices could be used to more efficiently help wounded soldiers, with medics inputting soldier information and GPS location through the app. There are also apps that replace bulky instruction manuals for military equipment. In total, eighty-five applications are currently in development by the Army, both being created in-house or through outside developers.

The army is rigorous about evaluating devices that would add more weight to a soldier’s already-extensive load. Michael McCarthy, an Army project leader, was quoted saying that “we want to give people the right phones for the right reasons, not just give them another shiny thing to hang on their equipment carriers.”

The Army also wishes to see whether the consumer technology can support their heavy network bandwidth, and whether it is already durable enough for battlefield conditions. The military doesn’t want to “spend $2,500 to ruggedize a $200 phone,” McCarthy said in the article.

Last fall the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that one of its agencies, the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) had created a smartphone application, called the T2 Mood Tracker, to help members of the military who have been to deployed track their mood and stress levels. The Army has also made mobile health services available to some soldiers who have returned home: Last November the US Army inked a five-year deal with Diversinet to leverage its MobiSecure Health platform for “wounded warriors.” Wounded warriors without smartphones or a data plan can still use the services through a secure SMS version of the program also powered by Diversinet.

Read more about the Army’s most recent announcement over at DoD Buzz

Text2Quit launch follows Text4Baby’s lead

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 9, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsFrom the mobile health company that developed Text4Baby, arguably the best known mobile health service (and certainly the one with the most partners), comes Text2Quit, a smoking cessation program. Voxiva says the service makes use of text messages, emails and the web along with evidence-based best practices from the Surgeon General and peer-reviewed studies.

The service is personalized around the end user’s planned quit date and supports multiple quit attempts based on the users own feedback, Voxiva said. Text2Quit has a number of features that set it apart from the straightforward Text4Baby SMS service — Text2Quit even offers games to help users fight off cravings.

While there is no mention of it in the Voxiva announcement, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a Text4Health task force last fall, which aimed to apply the lessons of Text4Baby to other health issues including smoking cessation, obesity, and childhood health issues.

Dr. Lorien Abroms, lead designer and author of the Text2Quit program and an assistant professor at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services stated in the Voxiva press release that “studies have shown that text-based smoking cessation programs have resulted in an approximate doubling of abstinence rates.  Our initial tests have shown promising results, and we are now starting a larger study to examine further benefits of this program.”

One recent study that we covered showed that no smoking cessation apps available in the iPhone App Store followed established efficacy guidelines. Another study determined that text messages helped smokers quit. Just last week the state of Rhode Island launched an SMS-enabled smoking cessation program.

According to Voxiva, Text2Quit will go to market through health plans, employers and public health departments. The hundreds of partners that Text4Baby signed on certainly makes it likely that Voxiva will succeed in building out its distribution channel.

The Text2Quit program shows that Voxiva is continuing to tackle pressing health issues with simple mobile health services: According to the CDC and American Cancer Society, 46 million in the US still smoke. That’s more than 20 percent of the population. About 17 million smokers try to quit each year but only about 1.3 million succeed. About 443,000 people die as a result of smoking, accounting for one in five of all deaths in the US. Finally, tobacco use costs the US about $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in healthcare costs.

Voxiva CEO Justin Sims makes the business case for Text2Quit succinctly: “In addition to a huge impact on quality of life, there is a compelling return on investment in smoking cessation programs for employers, health plans, and government. By doubling abstinence rates, a business can expect to see a three to four fold return from Text2Quit in the first year alone.”

Voxiva expects to launch another service that bridges the gap between Text2Quit and Text4Baby soon: Quit4Baby will target pregnant women in the US who smoke. About 13 percent of pregnant women in the US smoke, according to Voxiva’s release.

“If we can reduce the prevalence of smoking in pregnant women, even by one percent, the benefits to women, babies, and society are enormous and immediate,” Abroms stated.