Top ten chronic condition management apps

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 16, 2010        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsBy many accounts the biggest opportunity for mobile health is to help people better self-manage their chronic conditions. It is puzzling then as to why so few apps available for smartphones today aim to help people manage these conditions. There is certainly a need for them.

According to the West Wireless Health Institute, more than 100 million people in the US are living with at least one chronic condition. Chronic diseases make up about 75 percent of our healthcare system’s $2.3 trillion in costs. Monitoring and management applications can play a crucial role in helping those with chronic diseases engage with tools that can help them to do an even better job of managing their own health condition.

The Centers for Disease Control predicts one third of American adults will develop diabetes by 2050. That’s an incredible metric. Such a large group of patients would certainly need to be able to self-manage.

In our most recent apps report: The Fastest Growing and Most Successful Health & Medical Apps, we defined chronic condition management apps as those that help users better manage persistent health issues, including everything from diabetes, hypertension and asthma to migraines, arthritis or chronic pain. These apps may include care plans, trackers and/or reference materials.

Of the more than 200 new apps chronic condition management apps that launched between February and September 2010 more than 53 percent were diabetes management related. Hypertension apps for blood pressure tracking and management made up the biggest group.

Apple maintains a running list of the top 1000 apps in each of its AppStore categories, which includes Health & Fitness as well as Medical. As part of our research, we subcategorized these lists of 1000 apps to better understand which types of apps were succeeding. The ten apps below were the chronic condition management apps with the highest ranking in Apple’s Top 1000 for Health & Fitness along with their original rankings.

77. GoMeals developed by Sanofi Aventis
164. GlucoseBuddy developed by oneAppOneCause
193. Allergy Alert developed by SDI Health
232. Livestrong developed by Demand Media
323. WaveSense Diabetes Manager developed by Agamatrix
331. Diabetes Log developed by Distal Thoughts
432. Diabetes Companion developed by dLife
441. Diabetes Health Mobile developed by Diabetes Health
471. hCG Diet app developed by CodeQ
537. BloodPressure+Pulse Grapher Lite developed by Michael Heinz

As the rankings illustrate, there are very few chronic condition management apps in the Top 1000 for Health & Fitness. There were only 10 such apps within the Top 537.

To learn more about the Fastest Growing and Most Successful Health & Medical Apps, be sure to check out our report here.

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The mobile opportunity for home health workers

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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CellTrak BlackBerryAbout 78 percent of home health care agency CEOs want their workforces to begin using mobile solutions, according to mobile-enabled home healthcare company Celltrak. Already about 10 percent of home care aids use some type of mobile device at work today. With more than 50,000 daily home health care users, Celltrak is seeing a lot of traction with its mobile offering. The company launched in 2006 and quickly secured 12 customers. In its second year that jumped to 17 contracts, which ticked up to 19 customers in its third year. This past year has seen the most growth for Celltrak, which now counts more than 50 customers. Celltrak users are spread across 48 states in the US and all 13 provinces of Canada, Celltrak’s CEO Mike Wons told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview. While the company has a strong presence in the US, perhaps surprisingly, about 40 percent of its business is in Canada today.

Wons has reason to remain optimistic. Home health care is one of the fastest growing opportunities for mobile workforce solutions providers over the next five years. With more than 9,500 homecare agencies in the US and Canada and more than 2.7 million home care workers, companies like Celltrak have only just begun to penetrate the market.

This past spring investment bank TripleTree presented Celltrak with its I Award for best operational effectiveness: “This is not as sexy as some of the other companies that are pure clinically focused,” TripleTree’s Managing Director Peter Erickson stated in the release. “But at the end of the day, it really solves a pain point in the industry, which is compliance and operational effectiveness in home healthcare.”

Sexiness aside, Celltrak’s solution has appealed to an impressive number of channel partners including electronic medical record (EMR) vendors, device makers, and mobile operators. Celltrak counts Verizon Wireles, Sprint, AT&T and Telus among its mobile operator partners. BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion and Motorola are among its device maker partners and healthcare vendors like Allscripts, Cerner, McKesson are also among Celltrak’s partners. Keep reading>>

Philips to push into wireless in-hospital monitoring

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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AirStrip Physio-ControlRoyal Philips Electronics’ medical arm is planning a push into wireless monitoring of patients in hospital wards, according to a report from the Associated Press. The report characterized the market as “largely untapped.”

According to a report from Greystone Research Associates released in November, wirelessly enabled in-hospital patient monitors will grow at a modest but steady annual growth rate of 13 percent between now and 2014. Hospitals that currently own wireless monitors will be the ones spending the most on them during the period.

Philips medical chief Steve Rusckowski told the AP that the company will soon introduce a system of sensors that transmit information wirelessly from the patient to a nearby monitor that could alert nurses if vital signs worsen. According to the AP report, about 40 percent of hospital beds currently use monitors and those are not in general wards — mostly surgery or intensive care settings.

“The benefits of wireless bedside and in-patient ambulatory monitors will prompt many current facilities to include additional wireless monitors to meet the need for new equipment,” says George Perros, Greystone Research Managing Director. “The flexibility of wireless becomes a bit addictive for caregivers who’ve experienced it, particularly where patient movement is common.”

GE Healthcare, Philips, Welch-Allyn, Draeger and startups like AirStrip Technologies are already in the wireless monitoring in-hospital market. Sotera Wireless is pre-FDA approval, but focused on this market, too.) Perhaps a more aggressive push into the market by Philips will drive more adoption among hospitals who have yet to deploy wireless monitoring in-house and that will tick up overall adoption past Greystone’s estimated 13 percent annual growth rate.

Read this article for more from the AP report

Design guru takes on healthcare; Ultimate self-tracker?

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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Aza Raskin Massive HealthThe innovative mind behind Mozilla’s Firefox design, Aza Raskin, has left Mozilla to found a new healthcare startup: “With health-care costs rising faster than inflation, a crisis is on the horizon. We need to apply cognitive psychology, the principles of design, and tighter feedback loops to our own health. Health care needs to have its design Renaissance, where products and services are redesigned to be responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties. Massive Health, we think, can help make that happen,” he wrote in his farewell blog. Raskin is widely touted as a user experience “genius.” Healthcare could certainly use more of those. (Interestingly, Raskin’s father is a noted human-computer interface expert, too. Jef Raskin started the Macintosh project for Apple back in the 1970s.) Blog

Consider ambient information for mHealth: “One way that ambient information changes behavior is simply by presenting individuals with key information at key moments. One example is for asthma sufferers; an air quality sensor alerts them to critical pollution levels and reminds them to take the recommended dose of medication; currently a high proportion of sufferers don’t even take the minimum dose. Another way is when individuals share health information (e.g. weight lost, calories consumed, distance walked) with a select group of contacts through social media. Individuals who see others’ updates and, in turn, share their own updates, create the sort of peer effect that makes face-to-face groups such as Weight Watchers so effective.” EuroSCGLife

The ultimate quantified selfer: Nick Felton. Slate Video

Nuance expands its iPhone app: “With Dragon Medical Mobile Recorder, Nuance is introducing a new level of clinical documentation flexibility by enabling mobile point-of-care dictation that is connected to speech-enabled transcription platforms, eScription and Dictaphone Enterprise Speech System, and the fully-outsourced Nuance Transcription Services offering.” Release

Amcom Software updates its mobile offering: “The new version of Amcom Mobile Connect adds time-saving features and additional deployment options such as Wi-Fi coverage and BlackBerry Internet Service capabilities to ensure rapid and reliable message delivery. This is in addition to core functionality already in use by many hospitals, such as message encryption, delivery confirmations and full traceability for all messages sent and received.” Release

How mobile money intersects with mobile health: “Kenya is the leading country in the world when it comes to mobile money. The world looks at Kenya as the model country which is having not only the greatest uptake in usage (today over 60 percent of Kenyan adults now use mPesa), but has the potential to change the economic development of the country in an unprecedented manner. New research from Billy Jack and Tuneet Suri indicates that it may be reducing the income irregularity and risk that the poor face daily. This indicates that mPesa, combined with the ability to create new savings accounts, could potentially provide a safety net for unexpected events, such as illness of family members.” HealthUnbound

mHealth: When the doctor is on the phone. This piece profiles a half dozen high-profile organizations working on various mHealth pilots and platforms in developing markets. America.gov

Privacy issues are real in mobile health, case in point: “Mobistealth has just announced the launch of the most technologically advanced iPhone spy application ever developed. The Mobistealth iPhone application is the latest addition the professional grade monitoring software suite offered by the company. The application can be installed in minutes on any iPhone including 2G, 3G, 3GS, and iPhone 4 and runs completely in the background. Once installed, the application is virtually undetectable and the phone never needs to be touched again. All the setting can be adjusted anytime secretly from any Internet connection.” Release

Medtech reps to help drive MD tablet adoption?

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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iPad Imaging AppsAbout 20 percent of US physicians have tablet devices now, according to Chilmark Research. Most of these are Apple iPads. Some 50 percent of US physicians are expected to have a tablet in the next two years, according to the research firm. One way that physicians are coming face-to-face with iPads increasingly is during meetings with representatives from medical device makers like Abbott, St. Jude, Medtronic, Boston Scientific and others.

Medtronic, which makes implantable heart devices and other products, recently purchased 4,500 iPads for its sales and marketing team, but that figure could climb to 6,000 iPads soon, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, heart-device maker Boston Scientific recently bought 2,000 for its sales team. Orthopedics company Zimmer Holdings plans to distribute 1,000 iPads to its team. Meanwhile, its competitor, Stryker has already distributed iPads and created “a number of applications” for a pilot. Heart-device company St. Jude Medical is piloting iPads and other tablets with its sales force. Abbott Labs, a pharmaceutical and medical device company has decided to deploy about 1,000 3G iPads following a successful pilot with its pharma sales teams.

As new tablets roll out and gain recognition in healthcare, it will be interesting to see how these early iPad adopters fare. Will the Fortune 500 companies stick with iPad? Is it too late for Android-powered devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab? After all, some big name enterprise vendors including Polycom are placing their bets on this platform over the iPad. Next year could provide a shake out for the enterprise tablet market. We’ll be watching closely.

More from the WSJ report here

Why NaviNet bought Prematics

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 15, 2010        

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Prematics Electronic OrganizerNaviNet’s acquisition of Prematics earlier this month was motivated by NaviNet’s desire to “extend itself beyond the desktop and into to the exam room via the physician’s smartphone,” according to Chilmark Research analyst Cora Sharma.

“With this acquisition, NaviNet is seeking to grow by 1) attracting more physicians, and 2) encouraging existing physician users to utilize the system in ways that are important to payers, i.e., in the exam room. These objectives make sense when considering how important mHealth is to the physicians’ workflow (based on research for [Chilmark's] report mHealth in the Enterprise, almost 90 percent of all physicians carry a smartphone),” Sharma wrote in a blog post.

Sharma argues that given American Medical Association comments surrounding low adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) among small physician practives, which remain uninspired by the HITECH Act, NaviNet recognized that the “only way to reach these doctors is through their mobile devices.”

Sharma also argues that NaviNet saw an opportunity to increase use of its services among physicians while they were in the exam room if they pursued mobile: “During the physician-patient office visit, the physician is much more willing to use a mobile device than a desktop because it doesn’t interfere nearly as much with the doctor-patient interaction. Patients do not experience the decrease in eye contact caused by their doctor seated in front of an unmovable desktop screen, and are even impressed with cutting edge mobile technology,” Sharma writes.

Pre-acquisition, Prematics’ e-prescribing offering boasted a paltry 4,000 physician users. Prematics offered the service for mobile platforms including iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Windows Mobile. While Sharma is confident this deal was motivated by NaviNet’s desire to increase its mobile expertise, her general enthusiasm around mobile health is still tempered:

“While the NaviNet Prematics acquisition is a reflection of the optimism surrounding mobile technology as a solution, I remain skeptical that physicians will dutifully act on these messages, and even if they do, if patients will turnaround their behavior on the basis of an office visit.”

For more of Sharma’s analysis read the full post over at Chilmark Research