Healthrageous counts 1,000 users

By: Brian Dolan | May 16, 2011        

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HealthrageousThe Boston Globe has a high-level overview of some recent (small scale) efficacy studies about mobile health as well as a few updates on Boston-area companies and individuals working in mobile health today.

“Often patients come in, and they sort of expect some magic cure,’’ Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dr. Kimberly Parks told the Globe. “The truth is, most chronic illness requires participation. I think this puts responsibility on the patients, and it improves the quality of their care.’’

One of the startups profiled in the article is Healthrageous, a spinout of Partners Healthcare’s Center for Connected Health. The Globe reports that more than 1,000 consumers are already using apps created by the company, which offers mobile health services for weight loss, diabetes, hypertension and more. This is how the Globe describes some of Healthrageous’ offerings:

“Imagine an app that connects directly to your blood-pressure monitor, scale, or glucometer, and not only shows you how you are doing, but also offers expert advice and alerts your doctor at the first sign of trouble, so he or she can adjust your medication.”

The company signed up EMC during one of its original pilots. The company also announced last December a new iPhone app available direct to consumer via the Apple App Store. The app, called h!GO, aims to help users shed unhealthy habits and embrace healthy lifestyles. The app also aims to aid in the effective self-management of blood pressure and blood sugar. This mobile app is currently available to Healthrageous customers on devices including as the iPhone, Droid and Blackberry.

The Boston Globe article also reported on the work Dr. John Moore, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, is doing in mobile health. Moore is building a system called CollaboRhythm, according to the report. Moore’s apps to date have focused on HIV, hypertension, and diabetes and each aim to redefine the doctor-patient relationship. Moore refers to those two players as “person and health coach,” the Globe reported. Here’s more:

“The system includes visual tools that show how medications work, for example, and what happens when you miss a pill. It offers multiple ways for patients to analyze their data and involves regular communication with the doctor, by text, voice, or video,” the Globe reported.

Read the full article over at the Boston Globe’s Boston.com website here

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How handheld devices will cannibalize existing medtech

By: Brian Dolan | May 12, 2011        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsImaging apps and mobile ultrasound devices are trending this year. Part of what is driving the trend are FDA clearances: MIM Software’s Mobile MIM app became the first diagnostic smartphone app to achieve FDA clearance in early 2011 and Mobisante’s handheld portable ultrasound device, MobiUS, received FDA clearance a few weeks later.

At the Wireless Life-Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit in San Diego this week, Dr Eric Topol, who is on the record as being an enthusiastic supporter of handheld ultrasound machines, especially GE’s Vscan device, explained his use of the device and the future he sees for it and devices like it.

“We have talked about the Vscan and other pocket ultrasound devices as being revolutionary,” Topol said during his time on stage. “These allow for understanding individual bodies in ways that are unprecedented and up until a few years ago — unimaginable.”

Topol said that “stethoscope” is a term that is outdated because it implies the ability to “look” or scope into the patient’s chest. Pocket ultrasound devices actually do that and Topol said he now has little reason to only listen to a patient’s heartbeat again.

These devices mean much more than just helping care providers look inside patients, however, Topol said. They help make the patient-physician relationship more intimate, he said. In order to have imaging scans done today, most patients leave the physician to have the scan done. Topol said while that is being carried out the patient cannot discuss what the tech is seeing. When a physician uses a pocket ultrasound device, however, they can explain what they are seeing in real-time so the patient can see what’s going on too.

What transcends that one-to-one relationship, Topol said is the ability to now send a short image loop of data directly to a specialist.

Topol said that lack of reimbursement for these devices is what’s stifling uptake of them. Topol believes these devices could create cannibalization of sales of larger and more expensive medical equipment. That cannibalization likely gives companies like GE Healthcare pause since it sells both the handheld ultrasound and the more expensive larger, fixed units.

It doesn’t give Mobisante pause. The new upstart’s CEO Sailesh Chutani, made it clear that he sees his company’s lack of legacy medical devices as a competitive advantage.

Teladoc to launch FaceTime consultation apps for physicians

By: Brian Dolan | May 12, 2011        

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iPad2FaceTimeThis summer telehealth services provider Teladoc plans to launch a group of iPhone and iPad medical apps for physicians that will enable them to collaborate using Apple’s FaceTime videocalling app. Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic announced the company’s plans during a presentation at the Wireless Life-Sciences Alliance (WLSA) Convergence Summit in San Diego this week.

Teladoc offers consumers consultations with licensed physicians for routine medical issues. The visits are on-demand and can be scheduled any time — day or night — and any day of the week. Currently the consultations can take place over the phone or via a video chat online.

Gorevic also said that half of Teladoc’s physician users are already performing consultations from their mobile devices.

Teladoc has completed 80,000 consultations, which last about 12 minutes on average. Patients typically wait an average of 22 minutes before an appointment, Gorevic said. One unnamed employer customer of Teladoc’s reportedly reduced emergency room visits among its employee population by 6.4 percent, according to Gorevic.

Following a question from the audience, Gorevic said Teladoc is starting with iPhone and iPad apps because doctors love iOS devices, but a similar Android app — using a different video chat service, of course — will follow and be available this year. The company will decide at a later date which mobile platform will follow their Android launch.

FCC to launch emergency broadcast services for mobiles

By: Brian Dolan | May 12, 2011        

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FCCThe FCC announced plans this week to launch an emergency alert system for mobile phones. The system is called Personalized Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), which as the name implies, sends the alerts to only those mobile phone users in a certain area. PLAN is just an addition to the existing Emergency Broadcast Service, which is transmitted via radio and television currently.

PLAN will work for those consumers who currently own a smartphone that is supported by one of the four big mobile operators: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. These phones will receive the message in the form of a text message and PLAN will also make their phones vibrate. No word on whether mobile subscribers to some of the country’s smaller mobile operators will receive messages from PLAN.

PLAN begins testing in New York City and Washington DC and will send notices of warnings about natural disasters, terrorist attacks or AMBER Alerts.

More over at SmartPlanet

Nine questions for Tonic’s Rajiv Mehta

By: Brian Dolan | May 12, 2011        

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Tonic appAt the Mobile Health 2011: What Really Works? event at Stanford University last week, Rajiv Mehta’s new startup, Tonic, won the Stanford Health Behavior Aware for Best Mobile Health Solution for Behavior Change in the “Already in Market” category. MobiHealthNews caught up with Tonic founder Rajiv Mehta before the event to discuss the launch of his new app. Previously Mehta founded Zume Life, a San Jose-based start-up that had developed its own dedicated device that allows those with chronic illnesses, their caretakers, or anyone with a complex regimen to keep track of and manage their own care. The roots of Zume Life are still present in Mehta’s latest venture, but the old startup is no more, Mehta said.

MobiHealthNews: Is Tonic a clean break from the Zume Life project?

Mehta: It is very much a clean break. Unfortunately, our timing with the fundraising was about as dismal as one can get but you can’t count on it. Zume Life is completely no more. Obviously the learning from that was valuable, especially for the work I have been doing for the past couple of years applying and refining some of those ideas and that’s what eventually led to Tonic. In this effort I’ve focused even more on the person not the patient. More on health than healthcare because health is so much more than healthcare.

Another distinction is this time you are not creating a new device — hardware?

That’s right. Fortunately, these devices have evolved tremendously over the past five years. It now makes complete sense to do it there. Although, it’s ironic, there are some thing we cannot do on today’s smartphones that we could do with our little homegrown Zuri device. That’s because of decisions at the OEM level and those will all be addressed over time, but these are so much more powerful that it doesn’t make sense to create our own devices at the moment.

What is Tonic?

It’s an iPhone app. Later on it will be for other platforms as well. At the basic level it helps people remember and keep track of anything in their health regimen. The idea is to make today easier and take these things off your mind by having this tool that helps you keep track of things. One key is that it is completely focused on empowering the user. It starts with a blank slate — it doesn’t prescribe or say what your health regimen should be. You set the agenda whether your health activities were suggested by a care provider, a friend, family or something you made up. By design Tonic is very flexible. Any medications, therapies, biometrics, food, exercises, symptoms, observations or whatever — you’ll be able to use Tonic for. Keep reading>>

Panasonic TVs to show BodyMedia data

By: Brian Dolan | May 11, 2011        

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BodyMedia Fit ArmbandAt the Wireless Life-Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit this week, BodyMedia CEO Chris Robins told attendees that the company would soon announce a deal with Panasonic to bring real-time results from BodyMedia fitness devices to Panasonic televisions. Robins said the results would display as a picture-in-picture setup onscreen while BodyMedia users work out in front of the TV.

Robins did not offer additional details about the deal but the scenario she described makes sense especially for BodyMedia device users who workout in fitness centers. More details should emerge in the coming weeks.

In answer to a question from the audience: Robins also announced that the company has had 700,000 users over its 12 year history, which has allowed it to build up a “huge amount of data” for analytics. While the company has yet to explore the potential of mining its data for trends, Robins said that the company hopes to be at the forefront of that trend.

BodyMedia develops connected fitness devices and mobile applications that track users calorie burn, activity levels, sleep health and more. The devices connect to phones via Bluetooth or send data directly to the cloud thanks to a recent deal with Sprint. BodyMedia also lists 24 Hour Fitness, Jenny Craig and others as partners.

More over at the BodyMedia website here