AliveCor introduces veterinary ECG for iPhone

By: Neil Versel | Aug 27, 2012        

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AliveCor Veterinary iPhone ECGAliveCor, originator of the widely praised iPhone ECG, is going to the dogs – and cats and horses.

San Francisco-based AliveCor, founded by Oklahoma City cardiologist and entrepreneur Dr. David Albert, as of this month is marketing an iPhone-based veterinary heart monitor to veterinary health professionals and pet owners. In fact, since the human product has not received Food and Drug Administration clearance, the veterinary version is the first to market.

The idea for a veterinary model came about six months ago, according to David McCaman, AliveCor’s director of marketing. “We received an incredible amount of interest from veterinary professionals,” McCaman tells MobiHealthNews.

Like the iPhone ECG, the AliveCor Veterinary Heart Monitor is a plastic case with two metal electrodes that snaps onto the back of an iPhone 4 or 4S. It takes single-lead ECG waveforms for canine, feline and equine patients, either in a clinic or at home.

The corresponding AliveECG Vet app, a free download from iTunes, displays the waveform and allows users to add notes to the graph, then automatically uploads the data to an AliveCor cloud server for storage, printing or e-mailing as a PDF file for exportation into the animal’s medical record.

In a video demonstration posted on YouTube, Dr. Mark Kraus, a senior lecturer in cardiology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, wet a dog’s fur with alcohol so he didn’t need to shave the animal, and applied conductive gel to the device’s contacts to obtain a more accurate reading. The test took all of 30 seconds, though there are options for 60-second and continuous strips.

AliveCor is selling the veterinary version for $199, about twice what Albert has said the iPhone ECG for humans will go for once that product gains FDA clearance. The veterinary ECG is not approved for use on humans.

McCaman says the company is working on an attachment for other Apple and Android devices, though he adds that a card-like attachment for Android smartphones that Albert showed last year is more of a prototype. With so many Android phone and tablet models out there, AliveCor will not be making cases for each one. “We’re not a case manufacturing company,” McCaman says. “We’d rather develop fantastic medical devices.”


Momentum for home monitoring of costly chronic diseases

By: Neil Versel | Aug 23, 2012        

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Neil_Versel_LargeThe U.S. spent $1.3 trillion in 2003 treating people with at least one chronic disease, according to a study in Health Affairs, and the price tag is projected to rise to $4.3 trillion by 2023. Chronic diseases account for about three-quarters of all healthcare spending in this country now, and that number won’t be going down anytime soon if we continue on the current trajectory.

You haven’t read a whole lot in MobiHealthNews lately about venture capitalists pouring money into more flashy, direct-to-consumer wellness and fitness apps with limited market potential (though MyTrak Health System scored a coup by landing coveted shelf space at Target for its SmartCoach mobile health tracker).

Instead, you’ve learned about Alere acquiring MedApps, maker of HealthPAL and other wireless home health devices for monitoring patients with chronic diseases. This comes just a week after Waltham, Mass.-based Alere announced plans to offer WellDoc’s DiabetesManager mobile health program to disease management programs, in conjunction with a little telecommunications company that goes by the name of AT&T.

WellDoc really is on a roll, actually. The New York Times reported this week that two unspecified health insurers have agreed to pay more than $100 a month per patient to supply DiabetesManager to help enrollees manage their conditions. WellDoc has it right: go where the customers are. And in healthcare, the customers usually aren’t the patients who use devices like DiabetesManager, but third parties such as insurance companies. Have you noticed how many DTC companies have failed?

WellDoc recently raised the first half-million of a new round of funding the company hopes is in the $10 million range, and I don’t see any reason why the rest of the money won’t follow in short order.

In more examples of VCs learning where the money is in healthcare, Telcare, the first company to get FDA clearance for a cellular-enabled glucose monitor, scored $25.5 million from Sequoia Capital, backed by the Qualcomm Life Fund. And San Francisco-based startup HealthLoop picked up an undisclosed private investment to advance its “micro medical visit” platform for physicians that automatically sends post-visit messages to patients as part of follow-up care. Think medication adherence and lifestyle changes to help prevent costly hospitalizations.

This week, we get news that a venture with deep-pocketed corporations behind it, namely Intel-GE Care Innovations, has decided to put all of its eggs in the aging-in-place basket. “We decided that it’s time to stop viewing the concepts of disease management and home monitoring as two separate entities,” CEO Louis Burns told MobiHealthNews in an exclusive interview.

Indeed, the focus is sharpening on home health monitoring of people with chronic diseases. The shift may be happening faster than expected, but it’s not a moment too soon. Look at how much money gets spent on chronic care, and tell me why someone needs to build another fitness app.

Survey: Physicians trust mobile content more than nurses do

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 23, 2012        

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Source: Enspektos

A recent survey conducted by digital health communications firm Enspektos found that physicians are more likely than nurses to find medical information in mobile apps credible. Of the more than 100 physicians surveyed, about 70 percent said that mobile apps were a very credible or highly credible, while only about 46 percent of the 100 nurses surveyed were as trusting. Interestingly, while a greater percentage (76 percent) of physicians said the same for medical websites, the gap was smaller for this channel, which 69 percent of nurses said was very credible or highly credible.

Pharmacists fell in the middle. Of the 100 pharmacists surveyed, 61 percent said mobile apps were very or highly credible sources of medical information, while 71 percent said the same for medical websites.

The survey also found that about 85 percent of each group leveraged medical websites frequently or very frequently for health information. Only 55 percent of physicians said they used mobile frequently or very frequently, and that dropped to 34 percent of nurses. About half of those pharmacists polled said they frequently or very frequently use mobile apps for information.

Enspektos frames the poll as one that gets at the differences between perception and reality when it comes to digital sources for healthcare providers. It’s curious that the physicians view mobile medical content as less credible than websites, especially since most popular websites now have mobile versions or apps that provide medical reference information. Small survey but interesting fodder.

More metrics can be found in Enspektos’ infographic here.

FDA OKs Sotera’s full wireless patient monitoring system

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 22, 2012        

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visi-productsSan Diego-based Sotera Wireless announced this week that the FDA had given its 510(k) clearance for the full version of its WiFi-enabled ViSi Mobile patient monitoring system, a part of which received an FDA clearance this past March. The full system enables care providers to review near real-time transmissions of patients vital signs no matter if their patients are in their beds or walking around the ward.

This clearance enables the company to begin selling and marketing its full system to healthcare facilities in the United States.

Here’s how the company describes its continuous vital signs monitor: “The ViSi Mobile System is designed for use in ambulatory, non-ICU clinical settings and consists of a small device, slightly larger than a sports watch, and comfortable non-invasive sensors allowing for freedom of movement. The system accurately captures and wirelessly transmits all core vital signs (Blood Pressure, Heart Rate / Pulse Rate, 3-lead or 5-lead ECG, SpO2, Respiration Rate, Skin Temperature). Future versions of the ViSi Mobile System, currently in final stages of testing, will also incorporate novel sensing technologies, including Sotera’s patented continuous non-invasive blood pressure (cNIBP) as well as patient posture/activity.”

The March 510(k) clearance was for the company’s standalone device not its entire system.

Sotera Wireless argues that the majority of ambulatory patients in hospitals are not very well monitored today and continuous wireless monitoring will increase patient safety and potentially enable the early detection of patient deterioration.

Over the years Sotera has raised about $50 million in funding from various investors, including Singapore-based global fund EDBI, Cerner Capital, Sanderling Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Intel Capital and the West Health Investment Fund. The company also already has a commercial partnership with Cerner and it has also collaborated with San Diego-based Palomar Pomerado Health to integrate its vital signs monitoring devices with Palomar’s Medical Information Anytime Anywhere (MIAA) platform, which aims to provide clinicians with access to patient medical records and vital sign information in real time or near-real time. AirStrip Technologies recently acquired exclusive rights to the MIAA platform, which could signal an as yet unannounced partnership between Sotera and that company.

MobiHealthNews has been tracking Sotera for many years: Back in 2009 we noted that Sotera Wireless had changed its name from Triage Wireless as part of an agreement with Inverness Medical Innovations (now a part of Alere), which marketed products under the Triage brand.

More in the company’s press release below: Keep reading>>

Army grants WPI $1.9M for smartphone-enabled blood loss sensors

By: Neil Versel | Aug 22, 2012        

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ki chon WPIThe U.S. Army has awarded a three-year, $1.9 million grant to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts to develop miniaturized wireless sensors that can detect early signs of blood loss on the battlefield and potentially save soldiers’ lives.

The planned sensors will measure vital signs by shining infrared and visible light through the skin and measure how blood in the arteries absorb different frequencies of light, just like a pulse oximeter. Algorithms that will be developed as part of the same project will process signals from the sensors to measure seven different physiological signals, including what WPI calls “a novel way to detect bleeding.” The sensors will include accelerometers to record body movement and posture.

One of the lead researchers, Ki Chon, head of the Biomedical Engineering Department at WPI, previously created an algorithm to detect early signs of blood loss. According to a WPI news story, Chon and co-project leader Yitzhak Mendelson, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts school, believe that the same algorithm could pick up signs of dehydration in people who have not lost blood, and they will test that theory in this project. Keep reading>>

Report: Two insurers to pay $100 monthly fee for WellDoc

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 21, 2012        

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WellDoc DiabetesManagerAccording to a report in The New York Times this week, two as yet unnamed insurance companies have already agreed to pay more than $100 a month for patients who use WellDoc’s DiabetesManager. The reimbursement will not begin until some time early next year, according to the newspaper. The report cites an interview with WellDoc president Anand Iyer as its source.

MobiHealthNews reported late last year that WellDoc expected to secure CPT billing codes for its mobile-enabled diabetes management program this year.

Here’s how the New York Times reported the expected reimbursement:

“WellDoc says that in a clinical trial, DiabetesManager was shown to reduce significantly the blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. Those results persuaded the Food and Drug Administration to give the system clearance to operate as a medical device. At over $100 a month, the cost is more akin to diabetes drugs than to most smartphone apps. But two insurance companies have already agreed to pay the bill for patients whose doctors ask them to use the system when it is available early next year, said Anand K. Iyer, the company’s president. He declined to name the companies.”

WellDoc’s partner AT&T recently inked a deal with Alere to integrate the DiabetesManager program with Alere’s current offerings. Alere, in turn, quietly acquired MedApps (as MobiHealthNews exclusively reported), another home health monitoring company that has a focus on management services for a number of conditions, including diabetes.

WellDoc is also in the midst of raising its next round of funding — according to a recent SEC filing the company has raised $500,000 of a hoped for $10 million round.