Is there a need for another mHealth association?

By: Neil Versel | Jun 29, 2011        

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Neil Interviews Wendy

Click to watch the video of MobiHealthNews Contributing Editor Neil Versel interviewing Wendy Thomas

Last week, we reported that the organizers of the Mobile Health Expo, one of many fledgling conferences focused on m-Health, was going to start up a not-for-profit trade organization called the Mobile Health Association.

Depending on how you look at it, the new entity is either providing much-needed leadership, or joining an already crowded arena that includes advocacy groups such as the American Telemedicine Association, the mHealth Initiative, the mHealth Alliance, the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance, the Continua Health Alliance, the West Wireless Health Institute and, to a lesser extent, CTIA – The Wireless Association and the GSM Association. Mobile Health Expo (and Mobile Health Association founder) Wendy Thomas prefers the former characterization.

“The idea is that there is a need for an association that is an umbrella organization over all the special-interest groups and associations that actually make up the mobile health ecosystem,” Thomas said at the conclusion of last week’s second Mobile Health Expo in New York. Plenty of groups represent wireless healthcare, telecommunications, telehealth and mobile money, which is an up-and-coming segment that Thomas believes will be important in healthcare, she said.

“There are many different special-interest groups, and even though there are associations that have some similarities, they are also very specific to their own special-interest areas.” Thomas envisions the role of the new association as analogous to a photographer’s association, with subgroups for wedding, sports and press photographers. “There is some overlap and some shared interest and some specific interest, and that’s what we’re doing, putting the umbrella organization over all the others,” Thomas said.

The nascent organization still does not know what direction it will go, but is soliciting interest from individuals, companies and associations. “We put out a call for interest here at the Mobile Health Expo,” Thomas said at the conference. “We’ve already received enough interest that we know it’s worthwhile to move forward with it.” Keep reading>>

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MobiHealthNews: Now on Facebook

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 28, 2011        

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facebookpageRumor has it that Facebook is a pretty popular site these days. With that in mind, MobiHealthNews is excited to announce today the launch of our official Facebook Page.

Click here to “Like” our Page, which is Facebook’s way of recognizing you as a fan of our publication.

Over at the new MobiHealthNews Facebook Page, you’ll find our site’s content as soon as it’s published, along with a growing collection of photos from the many mobile health conferences we have attended over the years. Who knows, maybe there’s a photo of you in there? Of course, Facebook isn’t the only other way to keep up with MobiHealthNews: There’s also our RSS feed, free weekly newsletter, and Twitter: @mobilehealth and @mobihealthnews.

It’s no secret that more and more people are getting their news from their Facebook News feed. Facebook is still “the” social networking site, and so we’d love to add Facebook to the ways we connect with our readers in the industry. That said, if your company has a Facebook page, we’d like to list it on our Page, so post a link here in the comments or send me an email.

We’re cooking up other ways to differentiate the Facebook version of MobiHealthNews, so stay tuned.

Even more: Five must-read mobile health reports

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 28, 2011        

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WHO reportEarlier this year we updated our growing list of must read free mobile health reports from five must read mobile health reports to nine must read free mHealth reports. In the span of just three months, five additional must reads have hit the interwebs and are deserving of your attention. Together these fourteen reports would provide an impressively thorough introduction to the mobile health space. Reading (or even skimming — some are lengthy) these five new reports should be of interest to any MobiHealthNews reader.

Of course, there are a number of worthwhile paid research reports out there — including our own reports on smartphone health apps, tablets, quarterly reviews, etc. — but these five free reports are a great start.

Here’s five freely downloadable reports you must read: Keep reading>>

Pfizer taps Exco InTouch for mobile-enabled clinical trial

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 28, 2011        

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Exco InTouch PfizerPfizer has tapped Exco InTouch to use its eDiary technology for the mobile-enabled Participatory Patient-Centered (PPC) clinical trial that we first reported on earlier this month. At the time Pfizer called the trial the first FDA-approved clinical drug trial involving all-electronic home-based reporting. Trial participants will receive medication via the mail and use the mobile application to participate in the study. The drug being “tested”, Detrol, is intended for use by patients with overactive bladders and has already been FDA-cleared. The study is officially and acronymically called the Research on Electronic Monitoring of OAB Treatment Experience (REMOTE) Phase 4.

Exco InTouch has been in the mobile-enabled clinical assessment business since 2004. As of June 2010, the company had supported more than 500,000 patients in more than 60 countries. Exco had facilitated more than 3 million text messages for its customers, which include 16 of the top 20 pharma companies. Exco’s offering allows participants to use their own mobile phones, but can provide handsets if necessary. The researchers need only enter the patients name and phone number to send the Exco mobile app to the participant’s mobile phone over the air (OTA). After granting permission, the participant then receives a text alert that the app is now installed.

Patients will report in via the internet using online portals and mobile phones. InTouch’s eDiary system includes questionnaires sent via a series of text messages. If the patient doesn’t respond within a certain timeframe, a text message reminder can be automatically sent in order to prompt a response. ePro spans three validated ePRO solutions, including simple diaries to the most complex clinical assessments, all of which can be customized to meet the requirements of individual trials, according to the company.

The REMOTE trial is expected to save researchers time, yield more accurate results, increase patient compliance and engagement, lower withdrawal rates, and enable real-time data. Perhaps most notably it will be less expensive than traditional clinical trials.

“The REMOTE virtual trial pilot brings great potential to transform how patients access and participate in clinical trials,” stated Miguel Orri MD, Senior Director and Clinical Lead of Pfizer in a press release. “The project brings the potential to accelerate clinical research while improving quality, measures vital to the future of drug development.”

More on Exco’s involvement in Pfizer’s REMOTE trial here

Jitterbug-maker GreatCall launches iPhone app MedCoach

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 28, 2011        

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GreatCall Jitterbug iPhone app MedCoachGreatCall, creators of the Jitterbug cell phone for seniors, announced its first iOS application for iPhone and iPad, called MedCoach. The free application marks a strategic departure for the company, which has been built on the premise that a faction of users were more interested in easy-to-use phones. The iOS app looks to help GreatCall reach a different customer base — one that uses smartphones and tablets.

The MedCoach app features similar features to the services offered in GreatCall’s Jitterbug Service Store — at its launch the company stressed the idea of “service” over “app”. MedCoach’s offerings include medication management, a contact list of doctors and pharmacies, as well as 24/7 email access to the company’s HIPAA compliant personal assistance service.

The app also includes a “Shake for Help” feature that leverages the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer: Users shake the phone and a help “bubble” specific to the content onscreen will appear. When it’s time to refill medications, the user’s pharmacy can be contacted directly from the app, too.

At the beginning of last year GreatCall’s Jitterbug service began offering its first health services: Wellness calls and health tips. In November 2009 the company had acquired a mobile personal emergency response service provider, MobiWatch, which led to the launch of GreatCall’s 5Star PERS offering earlier this year. By August 2010 the Jitterbug service offered medication reminders, medication refills and check-in calls and Live Nurse. In early 2009 we wrote about Jitterbug’s pilot with WellDoc and Meridian Health for a mobile-enabled diabetes management service, but GreatCall has yet to launch the service commercially to its users.

Can a smartphone’s camera detect melanoma?

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 28, 2011        

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skinscanmapA new iPhone medical app, Skin Scan, claims to detect melanoma on your skin using only the iPhone’s camera. The app also includes geolocation features which map trends in skin cancer rates across the globe. The startup has secured €50,000 Euro in seed funding from Seedmoney, according to a report over at TechCrunch.

Skin Scan works by first taking a picture of a mole using the iPhone camera; the app then uses a proprietary algorithm to analyze the fractal-like shapes which exist in human skin. The algorithm then decides if the shape of the mole is developing normally, or abnormally into a potentially cancerous melanoma. Abnormal growth is noted to the user, and there is a feature to search for nearby doctors within the app.

The developer team, based in Romania, includes two dermatology doctors, as well as two mathematicians working on the algorithm. Mapping the severity and locations of user self-diagnoses is a great publicity move, but if the app’s user base swells to a large enough group, the geo-specific data could also help public health officials map problem areas for skin cancer.

Check out the coverage from TechCrunch for more