Shorts: AHRQ; HC 2020; Meru and St. Josephs

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 12, 2010        

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AHRQ says EHR makers need to remember consumers, too: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has set forth a list of suggestions for health IT vendors that include a recommendation to focus more on the needs of consumers when creating EHR systems. More

Healthcare in 2020: Forbes guest columnist Arna Ionescu from IDEO, imagines a US healthcare system where most of the future technologies we write about today become implemented and succeed. Key quote: “New technologies can relieve the enormous administrative burden on our clinicians.” More

Meru equips St. Joseph Health System with wireless: Bryan, Texas-based St. Joseph Health System has deployed Meru Networks wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions for implementing a Healthcare Information System (HCIS), including Meditech bedside patient registration, medication administration carts (BMV), voice applications for nurse call systems and asset tracking throughout its network of hospitals and healthcare clinics. Next up: According to Meru, St. Joseph may deploy mobile imaging carts for bedside access to x-ray and CAT scan images at the emergency room. More Keep reading>>

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Bayer, Nintendo bring meter integration to US

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 12, 2010        

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Bayer Didget for Nintendo DSBayer is bringing the Nintendo DS enabled blood glucose meter, Didget, to the US next month, according to a report in BusinessWeek.

Inventor and entrepreneur Paul Wessel wanted his diabetic 4-year-old son, Luke, to stop hiding his glucose meter, so he found a way to pair one of Luke’s treasured possessions, his Nintendo DS, with his least favorite. German healthcare company Bayer purchased Wessel’s idea for a Nintendo DS game paired with a glucose meter and branded it Didget last year. BusinessWeek calls Didget “the first glucose meter that plugs directly into a game console.”

“While Bayer says it’s too early to gauge its success, the company plans to roll it out in the U.S. in May,” BusinessWeek reports. “Keeping things simple is crucial to Didget’s formula. Once the meter has taken a reading, the user syncs it with a Nintendo DS handheld—the successor to the Game Boy—and boots up an adventure game called Knock ‘em Downs World’s Fair. The program rewards players for performing a prescribed number of tests each day by bestowing points that speed the player through the game. Additional points are earned for staying within target blood-sugar ranges, which parents can program in.”

For more, read this BusinessWeek article

Verizon Wireless health platform: BL Healthcare

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 12, 2010        

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BL Healthcare TCx-I SystemHere’s a deal that Steve Linke, Associate Director Open Development at Verizon Wireless hinted at last month at MobiHealthNews Presents, Everywhere Healthcare: Verizon Wireless announced an “initiative” with BL Healthcare, a number of customers and third-party providers to jointly trial next-generation solutions for the delivery of remote healthcare applications and services to patients.

According to the press release circulated by Verizon Wireless, the trial aims to provide a unique approach for addressing issues associated with access to quality healthcare and rising healthcare costs. The wireless carrier notes that BL Healthcare will become an “ecosystem developer” for Verizon Wireless:

“Verizon Wireless selected BL Healthcare as an ecosystem developer that best aligned with our vision of remote, patient-focused, next-generation healthcare,” said John Maschenic, director of healthcare solutions for Verizon Wireless. “The BL Healthcare platform, combined with the Verizon Wireless network, will help healthcare providers select various applications and services based on their patients’ conditions and needs, giving the provider an active role in defining and managing a patient healthcare and wellness program.” Keep reading>>

HHS: $15 million for health IT “iTunes” project

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 9, 2010        

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Apple AppStore iTunes“Maybe with all that ARRA money floating about in the HITECH Act, ONC should just go ahead and build such an ‘open’ platform that supports modular apps to meet specific needs wihin this highly fragmented market. Seriously, this needs some consideration,” Chilmark Research Principal John Moore wrote last year after reading about a proposal by Boston researchers to create an “iPhone-like” platform for health IT.

“Are you listening, Washington?” Moore wrote last June. Yes, apparently they were.

Yesterday, HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have awarded Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital a $15 million grant for a four year research project to “investigate, evaluate, and prototype approaches to achieving an ‘iPhone-like’ health information technology platform model.” The grant monies came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as part of the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program, which was set up to address “key challenges in adoption and meaningful use of health IT.” The Boston researchers were one of four groups to receive a $15 million grant from SHARP.

We have been tracking this concept of an “iTunes platform” for health IT since last year when Isaac Kohane, MD, PhD, and Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, the awardees of the $15 million grant, proposed it in a March 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article: “No small change for the health information economy.”

Following what the authors called a positive reception for their proposal, the two researchers held a working group at the Harvard Medical School Center for Biomedical Informatics to determine next steps toward the creation of the platform. Among the half dozen participants was Dr. David Kibbe from The Kibbe Group. A few weeks later Kibbe presented the proposal to attendees at the Healthcare Unbound conference in Seattle, Washington, which MobiHealthNews covered live: Keep reading>>

mHealth: The mass customization of healthcare

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 8, 2010        

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AsthmaMD iPhone medical appA new feature story in the Economist takes the pulse of wireless healthcare with an article titled: “Wireless health care: When your carpet calls your doctor.” The reference is to the sensors-laced “magic carpet” that Intel has invested in for fall prevention among the elderly population. The article launches into the subject with an interesting lead:

“Pundits have long predicted that advances in genetics will usher in a golden age of individually tailored therapies. But in fact it is much lower-tech wireless devices and internet-based health software that are precipitating the mass customization of health care, and creating entirely new business models in the process.”

It closes with another jab at personal genetics:

“Doctors and nurses are not always on hand to encourage healthy behaviour, but mobile phones and other wireless gadgets can be. That is something that even personalized genetic therapies could not offer.”

It’s an interesting hook to pit personalized genetic therapies up again wireless health services, especially since some of the biggest proponents of wireless health also have a sincere and sustained interest in genetic therapies, too. As we have noted a number of times in the past, the two could work very well together: Keep reading>>

NJ hospital, Best Buy pilot retail mHealth devices

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 8, 2010        

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bestbuyNew Jersey healthcare facility Meridian Health is working together with their local Best Buy store to assess whether consumers are comfortable buying connected health devices at a big box electronics store, Sandra Elliott, Director of Consumer Technology at Meridian Health told attendees at our event, MobiHealthNews Presents: Everywhere Healthcare in Las Vegas last month.

“We have spent a significant amount of time over the last few months working with Best Buy,” Elliott announced. “Meridian is very comfortable in the understanding that as health system we know a lot about care, but not a lot about retail. Most people will or do feel very comfortable about going to Best Buy and looking at consumer electronics. Given the fact that a number of consumer medical devices are available through other retail stores, we wondered whether Best Buy was a potential opportunity.”

Elliott said that Best Buy and Meridian conducted mystery shopping runs and focus groups to gauge interest.

“It has been an interesting journey,” Elliott said. “With the initial focus groups and mystery shopping, people felt very comfortable that they could get devices commonly found at CVS, Walgreens and even WalMart at a Best Buy, too. These are devices like blood pressure cuffs, glucometers and similar ones.”

While it’s a common refrain in the connected health industry that technology is not the issue for adoption of these devices, Elliott contends that for selling consumer health devices the technology, namely interoperability and usability are key issues. Keep reading>>