Healthsense monitoring for Verizon FiOS seniors

By: Brian Dolan | May 11, 2011        

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healthsenseTelecom services provider Verizon recently signed a deal with Healthsense to co-market the remote monitoring company’s services to senior living communities that have Verizon’s FiOS fiber optic network installed. Verizon FiOS offers telecom services including high-speed internet and television. Healthsense’s WiFi-based home health services include health care alerts to caregivers, medication reminders, and remote vital sign monitoring systems, according to the company.

Healthsense will install and maintain its systems and services. Verizon plans to begin marketing the home health services this month.

“We look forward to the opportunity to introduce Healthsense to our multihousing communities currently without a home health care solution or without cost-effective systems,” Eric Cevis, vice president for Verizon Enhanced Communities, a strategic unit of Verizon that delivers FiOS to multidwelling facilities and new developments stated in a press release. “Healthsense’s nationally recognized wellness-delivery programs and devices are an ideal match for those communities that also have chosen to enable Verizon’s FiOS network.”

Verizon Wireless, which is partly owned by Verizon, announced that it was partnering with BL Healthcare for home health services based on that company’s touchscreen monitor in April 2010. Verizon Investments even contributed a $2 million round of funding in BL Healthcare announced in February 2011.

“Verizon Wireless selected BL Healthcare as an ecosystem developer that best aligned with our vision of remote, patient-focused, next-generation healthcare,” John Maschenic, director of healthcare solutions for Verizon Wireless, said about BL last April. “The BL Healthcare platform, combined with the Verizon Wireless network, will help healthcare providers select various applications and services based on their patients’ conditions and needs, giving the provider an active role in defining and managing a patient healthcare and wellness program.”

For more on the Verizon FiOS marketing deal with Healthsense, read the release here

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Study: App as accurate as imaging workstation for stroke diagnoses

By: Neil Versel | May 11, 2011        

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resolution-mdIf mobile health hasn’t officially arrived in clinical settings yet, here’s another indication that it’s almost there: Physicians should be able to diagnose a stroke just as well with an iPhone app as they can with a fixed workstation. The medical literature now says so.

A study just published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that the Resolution MD app from Calgary Scientific is between 94 percent and 100 percent as accurate as medical workstations in helping physicians read CT angiograms to detecting abnormalities in blood vessels that signify acute ischemic stroke.

“We were pleasantly surprised at our ability to detect subtle findings on the CT scan, which are often very critical in patient management, using this software,” the study’s designer, Dr. Mayank Goyal, research director in the University of Calgary Department of Radiology, says in a news story released by the Canadian university. Goyal is a Calgary Scientific shareholder, and Calgary Scientific co-founder Ross Mitchell of the university’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute is the paper’s corresponding author.

Resolution MD, which gained Health Canada approval in April 2010 and is currently under FDA review in the U.S., addresses the problem of transmitting huge DICOM images—often hundreds of megabytes each—to smartphones by rendering the images on a server before transmitting files to mobile devices with “https” encryption. “Advanced visualization methods not possible on the remote device, such as three-dimensional volume rendering, may be used to generate frames for remote viewing,” the study says. “The smartphone client-server teleradiology system appears promising and may have the potential to allow urgent management decisions in acute stroke.” Keep reading>>

Mobile, wireless central to consumer-centric vision

By: Neil Versel | May 11, 2011        

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Neil Versel“The two biggest pain points in healthcare today are communication and coordination.”

That’s what Christine Bechtel, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, a group that, among other things, promotes access to healthcare, says. She believes mobile and wireless technologies can go a long way toward alleviating those problems.

The National Partnership last week led a coalition of 27 consumer, labor and patient advocacy groups called the Consumer Partnership for eHealth in releasing a potentially groundbreaking document that spells out a vision for a communication-centric healthcare system that makes patients the leaders and partners in their own wellness and care. “As active participants in a variety of roles, consumers can and will use health IT to help ensure the success of these collective efforts,” the Consumer Platform for Health IT, optimistically states.

Health IT means much more than EHRs. And IT really has to be ICT—information and communications technology—a term popular outside North America. Communication, of course, no longer is dependent on location.

“Consumers routinely search for health information online, and many information and communications technologies developed for other purposes could be used in a health context. In fact, some already are,” the report says. “For instance, the use of mobile devices, equipped with basic SMS text or more sophisticated smart phone applications to find, record and share information and to monitor, manage and improve health—along with the rapid growth in social communities such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and LinkedIn—indicate that individuals can integrate health more fully into their everyday lives.”

Patient-centered care means exactly that. The patient, not the physician, should be the hub. “Care is integrated into people’s lives. Instead of ‘going to the doctor’ for everything, we connect to the system on a regular basis whenever and wherever we need to,” the platform says.

When you talk about shifting care away from the doctor’s office or hospital, telehealth and wireless monitoring come into play. “Health data, which is securely collected by individuals and care team members outside of the care facility using mobile phones, remote medical devices or sensors, is accessible by all members of the care team,” according to the plan.

“Whether an individual’s health goals are primarily related to wellness and prevention or management of chronic illness, health IT can help individuals track, measure, understand and manage specific health needs. This is particularly important for individuals with multiple chronic conditions and their caregivers, who need to engage in ongoing disease management. Individuals who are empowered by information and emerging technologies, like remote monitoring devices and personal health records (PHRs), can more successfully maximize their health and the outcomes of clinical interventions they receive.”

Some of this is within reach, while other aspects are pie-in-the-sky. Yes, that’s my knee-jerk response whenever someone mentions PHRs. I have a similar reaction to statements such as this: “Consumers are enthusiastic about the benefits health IT will afford them.”

In general, consumers aren’t really engaged in healthcare right now, other than the financial and administrative aspects of the whole mess. That’s what happens when price transparency remains a myth, when public has been hoodwinked by politicians and media into believing that merely having health insurance gets you quality care and when the healthcare establishment refuses to consider the radical notion that patients, not institutions, own their medical records. Keep reading>>

Jitterbug users now have mPERS option

By: Brian Dolan | May 10, 2011        

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GreatCall 5Star Image with handThis week, GreatCall announced the nationwide availability of its mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS), called 5Star. GreatCall subscribers who use a Jitterbug J phone can add the 24/7 emergency service to their rate plan for an additional $14.99 per month. GreatCall acquired mPERS startup MobiWatch in November 2009, the all-stock deal for MobiWatch was valued at around $100,000, according to a regulatory filing.

“While at home or on the go, customers are immediately connected to a skilled response team of highly-trained, certified people who know where they are, can conference in family or friends, can dispatch 911 or get them any other assistance they may want to help them through uncertain or unsafe situations. The 5Star Response Agent will arrange for appropriate assistance and will stay on the line with customers until they are safe and secure.”

Users press the (5) button on their phone and the (*) to reach the emergency response center. The agent who answers knows who the caller is and where they are located thanks to GPS technology. The agent also receives access to a personal profile of the user that includes emergency contacts, most-frequented locations, vehicle information, health conditions, and medications. In the event of an emergency the agent can conference in a local 911 operator and also notify family members.

“Traditional vehicle-based or home emergency response services, while effective on the road or in and around the user’s home, are often limited or expensive. 5Star Personal Security provides the freedom to live an active lifestyle and have help immediately available, from anywhere, at a very affordable price,” GreatCall explains in its press release.

Of course, Philips Lifeline service is the big brand in PERS today — but it is in the camp of “home emergency response services” GreatCall describes as “limited” in the quote above. However, it appears the two companies are working together already in some capacity to market each others’ wares. This marketing page on Philips’ site includes a pitch for GreatCall’s Jitterbug phone service, but it makes no mention of the recently launched 5Star mPERS offering. Certainly lots of room for a more comprehensive partnership.

More details on 5Star from the GreatCall press release below: Keep reading>>

3M, IQMax launch suite of physician smartphone apps

By: Brian Dolan | May 10, 2011        

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3M Bluetooth stethoscope

3M Bluetooth stethoscope

3M recently announced a suite of mobile applications for physicians for iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. The offerings includes four apps: Mobile Patient Lists, Mobile Rounds, Mobile Dictation, and Mobile Charge Capture. 3M describes the charge capture app as comprehensive and intelligent coding advice for physicians since it notifies them of potential missing or lost charges.

The apps are the latest offerings to come out of 3M’s partnership with IQMax, which partnered with 3M to develop mobile health apps last December. Most of the mobile health activities coming out of 3M that we have tracked are centered on its 3M Littmann wireless-enabled stethoscope, which allows remote physicians to hear what the physician examining the patient hears through a connected stethoscope. 3M recently announced plans to send the connected stethoscope to space so that Japanese astronauts can benefit from the remote monitoring device.

The launch of this suite of mobile apps also follows on an app 3M announced for physician mobile dictation in December 2009. At the time we wrote that, “3M Mobile Dictation, does not require the user to synch his dictation software with the server since it provides always-on connectivity. The software also enables physicians to view patient lists, search patient IDs and display the most current patient information on their phone’s screen.” Sounds like it includes some of the functionality this recently app suite offers.

In its most recent press release, 3M reports that “American physicians spend nearly eight hours per week on paperwork and employ 1.66 clerical workers per doctor to manage administrative tasks.” The company cites the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) for more data: “An average 2.78 claims per full-time physician are denied each week due to insufficient information.”

Read on for a description from 3M of each of the four apps in the new physician mobile suite from 3M: Keep reading>>

Why wireless health matters

By: admin | May 9, 2011        

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WLSA Co-Founder Rob McCray

WLSA Co-Founder, President, CEO Robert McCray

By Robert B. McCray, Co-Founder, President and CEO of the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA)

The Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance convenes its 6th annual WLSA Convergence Summit in San Diego this week. In 2005 WLSA was the first organization to focus exclusively on the convergence of communications technology and healthcare, based on the founders’ belief that at this intersection we would find solutions for some of healthcare’s most difficult problems. We have remained true to that mission and have sharpened our message – there are not two points of convergence but three.

The potential of wireless health will be realized in the effective blending of three bodies of learning: high technology; life sciences; and human factors. The last point is critical — end users (including consumers, patients and clinicians) will ultimately determine the successes and failures in wireless health. There is also a fourth factor in the creation of any convergence sector such as internet commerce, mobile data or digital music. The fourth factor is the ecosystem of innovators, executives, investors, clinicians (for healthcare) and policy makers who are creating the sector. WLSA’s purpose is to bring those groups together for quality conversations that will shape the sector and accelerate useful innovation.

The following discussion is intended to level set the discussion about why wireless health is important, to provoke conversation, and undoubtedly to set myself up for some predictive failures.

What is wrong with healthcare and what does wireless health have to offer?

Societies have no choice but to change their healthcare systems in the face of exploding demand caused by aging and chronic disease. The U.S. healthcare system is already failing millions of its citizens. Wireless health offers the opportunity to satisfy this demand, thus improving life and creating shareholder value. Nonetheless, it is apparent that some institutions and professions will resist the demand for more personalized and efficient access to care. In the face of competition and digital information, however, they will ultimately be unable to resist disruptive change any better than the automobile, music or retail industries. Wireless health is powerful because it creates transparency in healthcare through measurable outcomes, and transparency creates accountability. Keep reading>>