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>>

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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>>

Redux: Best Buy, iPad, mHealth in health reform

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 8, 2010        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsThe week that was in wireless health includes developments across a number of topics: business model (Best Buy again), devices (iPad, more), policy (mHealth in health reform), interoperability (WiThings?), innovation (Nokia made a big move), and much, much more. Here are some highlights from the week:

iPad, iPad, iPad. Let’s start with the iPad since that’s been struggling for some attention lately: The iFund, which provides funding for iPhone apps has a new $200 million fund for iPad apps and its directors are excited about the healthcare opportunity. HealthLeaders noted that a good number of people in line for iPads over the weekend were from healthcare: More on those here. An emergency room doctor posted a gushing review of the iPad for clinical use that included this gem: “The only problem was that the increase in efficiency was offset by the patients and family who wanted to gawk at it.” Dana Blankenhorn believes the iPad will take some time to get into the healthcare market — look for slow adoption and a push from EMR vendors in particular. The Huffington Post got cute this week with an April Fool’s (joke) article about Apple getting into the insurance business — funny thing is, some of what’s written about is actually happening in mHealth. Who’s the fool now, HuffPo? More on these here. Keep reading>>

21 ways health reform affects wireless health

By: admin | Apr 7, 2010        

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President Obama Health ReformWill the health reform law affect the emerging wireless health industry? Yes, of course. There are at least 21 specific provisions that will have an effect on the connected health and personal health industry.  With help from the policy wonks over at the Continua Health Alliance, we have assembled the following 21 provisions that are relevant to connected health.

(We broke them into separate pages to make the content more digestible, but if you’d rather read the bills themselves, they are thousands of pages long, you can locate them at: H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the H.R. 4872 Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.)

The provisions below do not include every health IT or EHR mention in the health bills, but only those that seemed most relevant to Continua’s members and others in the connected health industry. Here’s a list of the provisions to help you jump to particular ones: Keep reading>>

The promise of wireless, non-invasive CGM

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 7, 2010        

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Echo Therapeutics Symphony CGMScientific American recently published a feature on wireless enabled and needle-free, continuous blood glucose monitoring company Echo Therapeutics, which was one of the few startups in wireless health that announced venture capital investment last year. Echo is currently seeking NDA clearance from the FDA. According to Scientific American, Echo’s offering, Symphony tCGM, has three distinct components:

> Prelude SkinPrep System shaves away the dead outermost surface of the skin and creates a dime-sized spot for the biosensor. Prelude also passes tiny electric pulses into the skin to determine whether it has reached live skin cells.

> A glucose biosensor that is applied to that dime-sized spot, usually on the chest or back. The biosensor detects glucose as it diffuses out of the body’s capillaries. The sensor includes an enzyme that reacts with glucose and transmits a signal that passes to the wireless device. The sensor can be used for up to two days.

> A wireless handheld device that reads glucose levels from the biosensor, records the information and monitors the readings.

Of course, Symphony is not without precedent. As SA reports, the only FDA approved, non-invasive continuous blood glucose monitor is no longer on the market: GlucoWatch. Keep reading>>