Top 10 Mobile Health Stories of 2010

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 30, 2010        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsWhen it comes to popular MobiHealthNews stories in 2010, medical-related news about tablet devices dominated. Apps-related news continues to be a popular topic of discussion, but tablet news overtook apps news overall in 2010.

Four of our Top 10 Mobile Health Stories of 2010 are focused on tablets, including Apple’s iPad, the BlackBerry Playbook and Cisco’s Cius. Two apps related stories also made the list — Epic Systems iPhone EHR app, Haiku and Mobile MIM, the iPhone app that was denied 510(k). The launch of Epic’s Haiku app was our most widely read story of 2010.

Remember, these are the stories that appealed to the largest number of our readers during the course of the past year, but they aren’t necessarily the most important. The MobiHealthNews team will begin reflecting on the past year come January. For now, revisit the most popular stories of 2010:

1. Epic Systems launches iPhone EHR app, Haiku – January 13, 2010: After months of rumors, news that Epic Systems, which develops electronic health records systems announced that a partnership with Apple had led to the creation of Haiku, an iPhone app for EHR access. Haiku was by no means the first EHR app to come to the market, but at the time it launched it generated a lot of buzz. The Wall Street Journal had been teasing the partnership between Apple and Epic in a series of articles leading up to the Haiku launch. Article Keep reading>>

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Mobile Health Roundup: Ericsson; AstraZeneca

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 29, 2010        

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wireless201012_figureMobile only households continue to rise: Surprise, surprise! Mobile only households continue to rise as use of landline phones declines. Preliminary results from the January-June 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that more than one of every four American homes (26.6 percent) had only mobile phones. The survey includes data current as of the first half of 2010. It marks an increase of 2.1 percentage points since the second half of 2009. Even those homes with landlines don’t necessarily use them too often: Nearly one of every six American homes 15.9 percent received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite having a landline. NHIS

Another challenge for smartphones in clinical settings: Physicians and other healthcare providers using mobile phones are assumed to be “goofing off” even if they’re actually using them for medical apps. It’s been dubbed the “iPhone Attribution Error.” 33 Charts

Saudi Arabian mobile operator teams with Ericsson: Mobile operator Mobily has created a “proof of concept” mHealth service along with Ericsson and a “major” healthcare provider in Saudi Arabia. The service reportedly leverages sensors to remotely monitor vital signs and provides healthcare providers with relevant data and alerts. Details seem to be scant, but it’s also only a proof of concept. Arab News

AstraZeneca UK launched its first app for Apple devices: The app is an education resource for clinicians on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene-testing in lung cancer. “There is a clear appetite amongst patients and healthcare professionals for more information and opportunities to communicate with providers… we will continue to explore the opportunities that mobile technologies could bring to AstraZeneca,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson told Chemist + Druggist

Mobile health hype in review: CNET put together a post on the mobile health-related news it covered throughout 2010, including much-hyped headlines on remote diagnostics, remote eye exams, mobile phone-powered microscopes and more. CNET

European mobile health video: BBC News has a sprawling but short (about 4 minutes) video on a handful of mobile health and connected health tools in the market today, including a number of services being piloted by mobile operators in Europe. Video

Three key questions for FDA mHealth regulation

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 29, 2010        

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Bradley Merrill ThompsonBy Bradley Merrill Thompson, Partner, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

The mHealth Regulatory Coalition (MRC) recently released “A Call for Clarity: Open Questions on the Scope of FDA Regulation of mHealth,” which is a 60-page paper that focuses on two fundamental questions: (1) what mHealth hardware and software will FDA regulate and (2) if a product is regulated, to what degree? The Coalition tackles these questions because, quite simply, the answers are fundamental to the business planning process. Companies as well as investors need answers as soon as possible to continue innovation.

MRC is comprised of organizations representing most of the stakeholder categories in mHealth. The group includes for-profit companies in the medical device, IT infrastructure, telecommunication carrier, mHealth app developer, and mobile phone industries. Beyond those categories, the membership includes nonprofit representatives of the hospital and medical provider segment, as well as professional societies and trade associations with broad memberships impacted by mHealth regulation.

The coalition wrote the paper after spending nearly five months meeting internally and with others, including entrepreneurs and established companies alike, to learn about the future of mHealth and the challenges developers are facing. Through that process, the coalition identified the specific open questions needed to determine whether FDA would regulate a company’s products. MRC wanted to drive the analysis to a level of specificity that would be meaningful to FDA. Keep reading>>

FDA approves Zephyr’s remote patient monitor

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 23, 2010        

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Zephyr TechnologyThe US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that it had granted Zephyr Technology 510(k) clearance for its remote patient monitor system, which was the same technology used to monitor the Chilean miners who were trapped after a cave-in at the San José copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert this past August. Zephyr’s systems have also been used by “warfighters, first responders and academic researchers,” according to the company’s press release.

Zephyr describes its system as a real-time physiological and biomechanical monitoring system, which it has deployed in training and high stress operational environments. The company’s “Bio Harness” tracks critical vital signs (ECG, heart rate, breathing rate, skin temperature ) and “contextualizes the information” by mashing it up with the individual’s activity level and posture via an accelerometer. Zephyr has ongoing collaborations with fire departments, NASA Ames Research Center, National Guard Civil Support Teams and multiple US Special Forces.

“This 510(k) approval affirms Zephyr’s solution in the military market and opens significant opportunities with our partners in the burgeoning mHealth arena. Zephyr’s OmniSense Mobile SmartPhone based solution serves a broad array of applications from remote patient monitoring to employee safety. We can now deliver the same technology used to monitor Chilean Miners here in the US to support doctors, providers and concerned family members,” Brian Russell, Zephyr’s CEO stated in the release.

“The technology vetted within these communities can now be used by anyone for fitness and wellness as well as acute and chronic patient care. According to the Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group, 37% percent of the $2.3 Trillion spent on in-home, nursing home care; physician services and administration could be significantly reduced through the use of PSM [physiological status monitoring] technology,” John Molloy, Zephyr’s Senior Product Manager stated in the release.

Here’s a video of Russell being interviewed about the Chilean Miners: Keep reading>>

Home health monitoring was $10B market in 2010

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 21, 2010        

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Mobile Health ResearchThe worldwide market for home health monitoring of “welfare diseases” was worth about € 7.6 billion ($10 billion) in 2010, according to Berg Insight. The conditions most commonly treated via these remote monitoring services include diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, sleep apnea, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the report found. More than 200 million people in the EU and the US suffer from one or more chronic conditions where remote monitoring would be helpful.

Oddly, a similar report from Berg Insight released late last year estimated that the market for home health monitoring of chronic diseases was already an $11 billion market in 2008 and back then some 300 million people in the EU and the US were said to suffer from one or more chronic conditions that could benefit from remote monitoring services. At the time Berg said the market would grow about 10 percent annually, which if these numbers are correct, seems to have proven untrue?

Interestingly, consumer-oriented health and wellness monitoring will drive the mobile health segment of home health monitoring in the near-term, according to Berg, which pointed to a “growing number of wellness and medical monitors” that can connect to mobile phones via Bluetooth and other short-range technologies. The firm also noticed that “more and more” health and wellness smartphone apps are becoming available via app stores, but as we concluded in our own recent mobile health apps report, the number of apps that aim to help patients better self-manage chronic conditions is still a very small fraction of the health-related apps available for smartphones today.

“Progress is being made in the adoption of wireless technology among manufacturers of medical monitoring equipment, but there is still a long way to go before remote monitoring becomes a standard practise in the healthcare sector,” Senior Analyst André Malm of Berg Insight stated in a press release.

Report: 70 percent want access to mHealth

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 17, 2010        

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Survey ImageWorldwide about 70 percent of people are interested in having access to at least one mHealth application, according to a new research report from Pyramid Research. What’s more they are willing to pay for that access, the report found. Pyramid also estimates that about 200 million mHealth applications are in use today and that number will triple by 2012.

According to Pyramid, the biggest barrier for mHealth has been costs: The cost of developing the services, cost of educating healthcare stakeholders, and how to justify the costs to secure reimbursement.

Pyramid’s report concludes that telecom companies are best positioned to take advantage of the mHealth opportunity: “mHealth gives telecommunications and technology vendors a potential customer base that’s large, global and willing to spend money,” Pyramid’s press release states.

“Technology and telecommunications providers are well positioned for developing, extending, and marketing mHealth applications,” stated Denise Culver, analyst at large at Pyramid. “Many of these players already have established relationships with healthcare providers and payers, and many benefit from large, global scale.”

Pyramid’s finding that about 70 percent of people worldwide would like access to and are willing to pay for an mHealth app is much higher than the findings of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report in September where only 40 percent of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay for an mHealth service. The Wall Street Journal summed up that survey’s findings nicely: “Patients are willing to use remote or mobile monitoring devices to transmit health info right to their physicians — they just don’t want to pay much for them.”

The difference levels of interest are likely due to the Pyramid’s report global focus and PwC’s North American focus, but does interest and willingness to pay really shoot up to 70 percent when surveying worldwide?

For more on Pyramid’s report, read the press release here