For iPad to succeed in medicine, significant software innovation needed

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 1, 2012        

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iPad medical appsA recent survey of more than 100 physicians conducted by Spyglass Consulting Group concluded that 80 percent of physicians believe the iPad has a “promising future in healthcare,” but they remain skeptical that the device is ready to transform patient care delivery. Gregg Malkary, Managing Director of Spyglass Consulting Group, noted that the iPad is just one component of the overall end-to-end clinical solution and that “significant software innovation” is needed to help the iPad and other tablets to realize their potential in healthcare.

Of the more than 100 physicians interviewed, 98 percent said that they had adopted mobile computing devices to support their personal and professional workflows. The physicians cited a number of reasons for mobile device adoption: ease of use, low costs, lightweight, widespread cellular connectivity, cloud-based Internet-connected apps, and location-based services.

Of the more than 100 physicians surveyed, 75 percent said that their hospital IT staff was hesitant or unwilling to support personal mobile devices on the corporate network because of security, reliability, and cost and maintenance concerns.

Interestingly, about 83 percent of the physicians said their desktop computers were still the primary devices that they used for accessing patient data when at home, in their office, or at the hospital. Physicians said they used mobiles to access clinical information when they were outside of these normal working environments.

In mid-2010, Spyglass published results from a similar survey that found of the (more than) 100 physicians surveyed, 94 percent said they were using smartphones to communicate, manage personal and business workflows, and access medical information. Spyglass conducted a similar study back in 2006 — back then only 59 percent of the physicians surveyed were using smartphones.

More details about the study in the press release below: Keep reading>>


Text4Baby helps employers promote maternal health tips

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 1, 2012        

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Text4babyPhoneText4Baby has partnered with Benz Communications to develop a maternal health “toolkit” for employers that aims to help them promote the Text4Baby service and other maternity benefits to employees.

Text4Baby is a free, SMS-based health information service for new and expectant mothers. It is available in both English and Spanish.

Here’s how the (former) White House CTO Aneesh Chopra described the Text4Baby service when he officially launched it two years ago: “The US government is formally announcing the launch of Text4Baby, [a free health service] designed to take advantage of the capabilities of cell phones, which have 90 percent penetration in the US. Starting today, women can text the word BABY or in spanish BEBE to 511411 and be automatically enrolled at no charge. The service provides at least three free text messages each week and [lasts during and shortly after the pregnancy]. The messages explain some of the experiences they may be going through and suggests ways for them to” keep themselves and their baby healthy.

Text4Baby launched in February of 2010, but we first mentioned it in a report back in 2009. 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.

A number of efficacy studies on the Text4Baby program are in the works, including one recently announced by HHS that will look at health outcomes from EHR data.

The Text4baby Toolkit offered by Benz and Text4Baby is free for employers to download and includes “ready-to-use templates that can be customized and integrated into existing benefits communication programs and channels,” according to the companies. The kits include program information sheets, benefits guide content, newsletter article template, wallet card, and even suggestions for messages employers can send out on Twitter to promote the service.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

2016: 3M patients monitored over cellular networks

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 1, 2012        

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AliveCor's iPhone ECGBy 2016 the number of patients monitored over mobile networks will hit 3 million, according to Juniper Research. The firm believes that increasing smartphone processing power along with new healthcare peripherals will cause an uptick in more patients using the smartphone as a home health hub. That shift will also lower the cost of remote patient monitoring since it will reduce the need for costly dedicated health devices.

The metric comes from the Juniper report we first mentioned last November, when the research group announced that it estimates about 44 million health apps will downloaded in 2012 and some 142 million health apps will be downloaded in 2016. At the time Juniper Research also stated that hardware peripherals that attach to smartphones will “greatly extend the capabilities” of health apps.

Juniper’s downloads prediction is considerably bearish when compared to Pyramid Research’s estimate, which we reported on back in 2010. Back then, Pyramid estimated that in 2012 some 600 million health apps would be downloaded.

A report from Berg Insight earlier this month estimated that at the end of 2011, approximately 2.2 million patients globally were using a home-based remote monitoring device. Notably, that metric only accounted for devices that use fixed wireless, embedded cellular, and fixed line connections. Unlike the trend that Juniper pointed to above, Berg did not count devices that connected via smartphones or PCs. However, Berg did not estimate that number of home health monitoring devices in use with embedded cellular connectivity increased from 420,000 in 2010 to about 570,000 in 2011, and is expected to hit 2.47 million in 2016.

For more on the latest from Juniper, read this press release below: Keep reading>>

Startup converts massive medical text to interactive iPad form

By: Neil Versel | Jan 31, 2012        

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Harrisons iPad App TourSan Francisco-based startup Inkling has introduced an interactive, custom-built iPad version of a popular medical school textbook that could not be properly rendered on a typical e-reader.

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, published by McGraw-Hill, is a 4,400-page title in print. The iPad version adds interactive animations and other multimedia elements – enough digital content to fill 57 additional chapters – including more than five hours of instructional video.

Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis tells MobiHealthNews that’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Kobo and other popular e-readers really have no facility for handling tables and multimedia. For that matter, many e-reader apps are not well-suited for interactive medical content because the information has to be verified for accuracy.

Typically when a publisher prepares a novel for an e-reader, a computer merely dumps the text and formatting into a template, the process that takes a matter of seconds. But with medical texts, someone needs to curate the content to assure everything is correct. “If the dosage is wrong, I can’t blame it on Kindle,” MacInnis says.

Inkling has built a digital publishing platform for what MacInnis calls “difficult” topics, such as science and medicine, just for this purpose. “People on our team had to sit there and curate all of the content from the ground up,” MacInnis says.

But the payoff is rich content and fast information retrieval. “[People] can search all 4,400 pages in a second,” MacInnis says. Users can even search inside of video content and inside of animated guided tours, he adds.

Inkling also offers digital content for preclinical medical education, but MacInnis says that Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine is by far the largest project the company, which is a little more than two years old, has done to date.

Right now, the platform is only available for Apple’s iPad, though MacInnis says Inkling plans to expand to other operating systems.

View a demo of the iPad version of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine here.

Study: Diagnostic imaging on iPads twice as slow

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 31, 2012        

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OsiriX HD iOS

OsiriX HD App for iOS

A study from the University of Maryland found that radiologists using iPad 2s to evaluate patients for tuberculosis (TB) took twice as long to make a diagnosis as they did when using a 27-inch LCD monitor. Still, the study of 200 negative and 40 positive TB cases that included five radiologists, found the two displays to yield no significant differences when it came to diagnostic decisions.

Those diagnostic imaging applications that have secured FDA clearance, like Mobile MIM or Calgary Scientific’s ResolutionMD, are cleared to be used when a traditional, larger display is not immediately available.

This study used OsiriX HD viewing software for the iPad 2s and OsiriX viewing software on a 27-inch iMac monitor. Medical student Samir Abboud presented the research at the RSNA meeting in Chicago last year, according to the report in

The researchers randomly selected the 200 negative cases and 40 positive cases from a database of more than 500, which had been originally interpreted by a chest fellowship-trained attending radiologist. The DICOM images were loaded into a viewer in random order and two chest fellowship-trained attending physicians, two chest fellows, and on fourth year resident characterized the images as positive or negative.

Regardless of the display, the study found agreement among the five readers was statistically equal. Only two cases did not have agreement: One was called positive on iPad but negative on the larger display, and the second disagreement had it the other way around.

Be sure to read all the details in the report here (registration required)

Aetna’s dentists get iPads to help patients stop smoking

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 31, 2012        

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iPad 2Aetna is set to begin a trial program that equips New York City-area dentists with iPads to help them better educate their patients about tobacco use in an effort to curb smoking. The trial program includes a clinical decision support system (CDSS) that is built on a medical knowledge base, patient data, and decision support technology that provides dentists with personally targeted advice for each patient.

The trial is still in its earliest stages: Aetna is working with Columbia University to design and implement the program.

Dr. David Albert DDS, Director of the Division of Community Health at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York City, is the principal investigator for the study, which aims to determine how impactful such a CDSS system is on the patient population.

The study is called, “The Dental Tobacco Cessation iPad” and it still has undergo testing and modifications before it rolls out formally at five NYC dental offices.

“The program is designed as an innovative interface between patients and dentists and we anticipate that devices like the iPad can be used to break down barriers between clinicians’ and their patients,” said Dr. Albert. “We will evaluate if we are able to encourage and assist dentists to provide tobacco cessation advice and assistance for their patients who use tobacco products. Tobacco use poorly affects the mouth and teeth and the patient’s overall health. Helping patients to quit tobacco use is a goal that the US Public Health Service encourages all dentists to adopt.”

For more on Aetna’s iPad trial, read the press release below: Keep reading>>