AirStrip, Sprint offer apps and coverage bundle

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 20, 2010        

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AirStripAirStrip Technologies has partnered with Sprint to offer hospitals a bundled solution comprising of Sprint’s “clinical grade” in-building coverage enhancement along with AirStrip’s remote monitoring applications. AirStrip’s AirStripOB and other applications will also be available for use on two new Sprint Android handsets running on the operator’s 3G and 4G networks.

“We… understand the financial challenges many hospitals face. This partnership enables hospitals to accelerate their adoption of AirStrip in a cost-effective manner, while also ensuring the robust in-building coverage to meet the growing data mobility demands of hospital staff and medical practitioners,” Dr. Cameron Powell, President and Chief Medical Officer, AirStrip, stated in the press release.

It’s been a busy month for mobile operators’ health groups. The AirStrip-Sprint deal follows news that AT&T had partnered with WellDoc for its mobile phone-based DiabetesManager service. This week Verizon Wireless also hosted its developer event to create home health applications for its partner, BL Healthcare’s home health platform.

AirStrip Technologies remote patient monitoring applications offer real-time vital waveform and other critical patient data directly from hospital monitoring systems to healthcare providers’ mobile devices. Sprint Android smartphones HTC EVO 4G and (soon) Samsung Epic 4G can run AirStrip’s apps.

AirStrip said that hospital administrators will not have to require physicians to switch to certain handsets or Sprint’s network if they sign up for the Sprint-AirStrip bundle. The FDA and HIPAA compliant AirStrip applications do not require devices to store data natively, all data remains in the cloud so lost devices do not compromise patient health information, according to the company.

AirStrip’s Dr. Cameron Powell noted in his statement that the increased bandwidth provided by Sprint’s 4G network will allow AirStrip to add features to its remote patient monitoring solutions, but did not provide specifics. Keep reading>>

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Medical app roundup: DonateLives, iTraycer, more

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 20, 2010        

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ER wait times apps — good for hospital revenue but may discourage patients from seeking care? American Medical News

Track inventory with an app: Medical Tracking Solutions released an iPhone/iPad app that helps hospitals and clinics track their medical devices. iTraycer, which is also in development for BlackBerry and Android devices, includes FDA product recalls and expiration dates and can alert staff to remove devices in the event of a recall or expiration. Inventory data can be entered manually or with the help of a barcode or RFID reader and the phone’s GPS technology can even enable the system to mark deliveries with location and time stamps. MedGadget Video Below:

iPad vs. the dedicated speech devices: The Wall Street Journal published a must-read feature story for anyone interested in assistive technologies: “Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in an interview that he hopes the easy-to-use design of the iPad has helped children with special needs take to the device more quickly, but that its use in therapy wasn’t something Apple engineers could have foreseen. ‘We take no credit for this, and that’s not our intention,’ Mr. Jobs said, adding that the emails he gets from parents resonate with him. ‘Our intention is to say something is going on here,’ and researchers should ‘take a look at this.’” It’s worth noting that Proloquo2Go was the only health or medical related app that made it into Apple’s best of the AppStore year-end review in 2009. Also, revisit the controversy over expensive, dedicated speech devices that payers are willing to reimburse for vs. devices like the iPhone or iPad that users prefer to use but for which they receive no reimbursement. Interestingly, DynaVox, maker of some of the more popular dedicated speech devices, recently launched a smaller handheld device called Maestro. WSJ

Advocate Health Care in Illinois has created a GPS-enabled physician finder app for the iPhone. Release

When good apps get lost in the sea that is the AppStore: In a recent column The New York Times highlighted an app that helps people more easily register as an organ donor: “DonateLives, which is free, was promptly lost in the sea of entertainment, sports and utility offerings that dominate Apple’s App Store. It has been downloaded fewer than 1,000 times — which is a shame for those who are interested in public health issues and those who are inclined to donate.” New York Times

Orthopaedic manipulative therapy how-to: Clinically Relevant Solutions has created an app for iPhone and iPad called The Mobile OMT that provides instructions for almost 150 different orthopaedic manipulative therapy techniques. According to the company, the techniques included were ones that have been “used in clinical trials and reported in the peer-reviewed medical literature.” The how-to material includes written instructions, high-quality video demonstration with audio overlay. The company’s press release also points to interesting future plans: “The high quality videos highly support the use of this app as a teaching tool, especially on the iPad, which will soon support video out capabilities to use with an overhead projector.” Press Release

Another reminder that mobile devices carry germs: PC World

Epocrates, Walgreens partner for drug reference

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 20, 2010        

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Epocrates iPhone medical appSmall deal but between two big companies: Walgreens has teamed up with Epocrates to help the physicians who use Epocrates mobile applications to find lower cost medications for their patients. Epocrates has integrated the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club (PSC) formulary list of more than 8,000 medications into its mobile and online drug reference applications, which more than 300,000 physicians reportedly use. More than 2 million patients are enrolled in Walgreens PSC discount club, which covers commonly prescribed medications as well as lifestyle drugs for weight management, smoking cessation and family planning.

The partnership will likely lead to some physicians recommend that their patients join Walgreens PSC to save on medications, but it will also help care providers help patients stay adherent to medication regimens, according to the companies’ press release:

“When I prescribe a medication for a patient, I’m not always confident they will get it filled. By identifying the best option for them before they even leave the exam room, I feel I’m doing everything I can to help ensure compliance. Now with access to the Walgreens PSC formulary, I can give them an affordable option and definitive location to pick up the prescription,” Dr. Robert Dudley, a family practice physician, stated in the press release. “I’m hopeful this will make it easier for patients to comply with their drug regimen and be easier on their wallets.”

Epocrates apps are available on a number of mobile device platforms including iPhone’s iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Palm.

For more, read the press release here

New hand hygiene startup spins out of CIMIT

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 20, 2010        

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HanGenixCIMIT, a consortium of hospitals and engineering schools in the Boston area, has spun out its first startup: Hand hygiene monitoring company HanGenix. The startup’s technology automatically detects when a care provider uses a soap or alcohol gel dispenser and if they approach a patient’s bed without washing or sanitizing their hands. If a care provider fails to wash their hands before a patient interaction, the system emits an audible beep as a reminder.

The system was developed and built at Mass General Hospital in Boston.

The CIMIT consortium includes participation from Mass General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, MIT, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston University, Boston University Medical Campus, Childrens Hospital Boston, Newton Wellesley Hospital, Northeastern University, Partners HealthCare, and VA Boston Healthcare System — many of which could make use of HanGenix’s system.

CIMIT and HanGenix have already begun two “large scale” trials of the system and have verbal commitments from two other facilities. Keep reading>>

Phrazer: Universal communicator with vital sign monitoring

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 20, 2010        

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phrazerMinnesota-based GeaCom has created a “universal communicator” device for medical professionals that helps them communicate with patients who speak a different language. More than 100 languages can be supported in one device. The handheld device, called Phrazer, offers a touch screen interface that collects a patient’s information, including medical history, symptoms and complaints. That information is collected through interactive, pre-recorded videos of a doctor speaking the patient’s preferred language. Interestingly, GeaCom says that the device also monitors the patient’s vital signs during this process to determine whether they need attention immediately. GeaCom says the device can also send the information via Bluetooth or USB into most “major” electronic medical records system.

Do physicians really need another mobile device? Wouldn’t a hosted service running off a tablet like the iPad would be easier and less expensive? GeaCom just recently unveiled the device and is only beginning to pilot it with some of its core customers. No word yet on pricing or business model, but leveraging existing devices like a tablet or smartphone has to be less costly.

Here’s a video demo of the Phrazer device: Keep reading>>

Survey: Who is more likely to use a mobile health app?

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 19, 2010        

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Pew TableAccording to the latest survey conducted by the Pew Internet Project, of the 85 percent of American adults who use a mobile phone today 17 percent have used their phone to look up health or medical information. Perhaps not surprisingly, mobile phone users aged 18 to 29-years-old are much more likely to have searched for health information from their phones: 29 percent of this age group has conducted such a search.

The survey shows that using a mobile browser to search for health or medical information is nearly twice as popular as having a health-related app: Only 9 percent of mobile phone users have a software app on their phone that helps them track or manage their health. The percentage goes up to 15 percent for mobile phone users aged 18 to 29-years-old. Only 8 percent of mobile phone users aged 30 to 49-years-old use health apps. African American mobile phone owners are more likely than other groups to use health apps: 15 percent do so compared to 7 percent of white and 11 percent of Latino mobile phone users, the survey found. Urban mobile phone users are more likely than those in suburban or rural areas to have a health app on their phones, but there is no significant differences between usage among men and women nor among income groups, the survey found.

“This means that health‐information searches and communications have joined the growing array of non‐voice data applications that are being bundled into cell phones,” Pew’s Susannah Fox writes in the report. “Fully 76 percent of cell phone owners (age 18+) use their phones to take pictures, for example, up from 66 percent in April 2009. Seven in ten cell phone owners send or receive text messages; four in ten access the internet on their phones. In addition, 35 percent of U.S. adults have software applications or “apps” on their phones (but only one in four adults actually use them).”

Of course, most Americans turn to health professionals, friends, or family when they have a health question. Pew notes that the Internet plays a “growing but still supplemental role” and mobile connectivity has not changed that.

Urban cell phone owners are more likely than those who live in suburban or rural areas to have a mobile health app on their phone. There are no significant differences between men and women, nor among income groups.

For the table at the right, the numbers represent the percentage of mobile phone users who have a health app on their phones — the asterisks indicate a statistically significant difference.

For more on the Pew survey, head over to the health section of the organization’s site for more data