Jitterbug offers reminders, Rx refills, check-in calls

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 25, 2010        

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Jitterbug Medication RemindersGreatCall, which offers the easy-to-use Jitterbug mobile phone service has added two more mobile health offerings to its Services Store: Medication Reminder and Check in Call.

Jitterbug subscribers who sign up for the new $10-a-month medication reminder service will receive an automated phone call that reminds them to take a particular medication at a given time. The automated call isn’t just one-way, however, it also asks users whether they took the medication and will record and track the user’s compliance. Users can log-in to their Jitterbug account online to see a chart of their medication compliance or they can call Jitterbug’s customer service department and have a printed out copy snail-mailed to them.

Medication Reminder enables users to “follow their medication schedule as prescribed by their doctor, track adherence to that schedule, and get prescription refill reminders—all from their easy-to-use Jitterbug J phone,” according to the company. The service joins Jitterbug’s other mobile health offerings: LiveNurse, Heart Healthy Tips, and Wellness Calls. A mobile personal emergency response (MPERS) service, called 5Star Emergency, which bulds on GreatCall’s acquisition of MobiWatch last year, is expected to launch this fall.

Jitterbug Med Reminder Online Compliance ReportGreatCall first piloted the Medication Reminder service with New Jersey-based healthcare provider Meridian Health during a six month period. In the pilot users self-report compliance rates between 63 percent and 90 percent when using the service. The reason most users in the pilot did not comply with their medication regimen? “Not needed.”

Medication Reminder can remind users to to take up to 16 different medications. The reminder system will call the customer when it is time to refill their prescription, according to GreatCall. It can also connect users to their pharmacy to order the refill.

Jitterbug also launched a new $5-a-month Check in Call service that sends users automated calls and gives them the option to send out a note to their list of contacts if they need help. The service aims to provide a “sense of security” and “peace of mind.”

For more read the Jitterbug press release

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Analyst: Heart monitoring now, DM tools later

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 25, 2010        

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LifeWatchJupiter Research analyst Anthony Cox divides wireless remote monitoring into two discrete buckets: Fundamental heart monitoring and on-going management of chronic diseases. While Jupiter’s current and near-term forecast for these two categories favors the CardioNets, LifeWatches and eCardios of the world, Cox believes that longterm the larger user base and bigger revenues will come from managing chronic conditions.

“Particularly in the area of chronic disease management, the companies involved are still at the start-up stage. Most are still venture-backed to the tune of under $10 million. That said, five years from now, remote monitoring of chronic diseases such as diabetes and COPD could be offering health insurance companies genuine cost savings, not only by notifying physicians on changes to patients readings such as glucose levels, but also by notifying the patients themselves of how they could (and should) change their behavior,” Cox writes over at Connected Planet.

Telcare Glucose MeterOn the Jupiter Research corporate blog Cox makes a similar but more succinct comment: “Asthma, COPD and diabetes, could eventually represent a much larger market in terms of numbers of monitored individuals and even revenues.” Dr. Eric Topol and others at the West Wireless Health Institute may agree: The WWHI’s Top Ten Targets for wireless health show each of these three conditions have many more potential users than hear failure patients alone (more here).

Cox is also quick to point out that CardioNet and similar heart monitoring companies in North America will make up the “bulk” of the global remote patient monitoring market’s estimated $1.9 billion in 2014 because of the companies’ ability to “charge significant amounts” for such services. (Wonder if CardioNet would agree that they have the ability to charge significant amounts?)

Cox explains that the charging model for on-going chronic disease management services is different and depends on a few factors, including “the scale of the project, the extent to which there is government funding and its perceived cost benefit in the long run.” Cox also predicts that the first companies to convince payers about their services’ “genuine cost savings” could see rapid uptake — mostly if their estimates prove to be true.

Read more from Cox over at Connected Planet and the Jupiter Research blog

Best Buy: 500 stores to get mHealth devices

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 24, 2010        

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Best Buy, health technology productsAfter a few months of testing, a Best Buy senior director, Kurt Hulander, said the big box electronics store will begin selling wireless-enabled health and fitness devices in more than half of its 1,089 stores in the US.

“It’s a potential growth area for us,” Hulander told BusinessWeek. “A lot of things traditionally done in the doctor’s office might soon be done at home.”

Best Buy has not finalized its product lineup yet but according to the BusinessWeek report it may include blood-pressure monitors, pedometers, and fitness watches. Hulander also plugged the potential for these devices to wirelessly transmit data to websites like Microsoft’s HealthVault so they could be shared with medical professionals.

HealthVault is where much of Best Buy’s recent interest in wireless health began:

At the Microsoft Connected Health Conference last June, Best Buy teamed up with Microsoft’s HealthVault team to invite device makers to pitch the electronics store’s executives in a private meeting at the event: “If you believe that your product or solution can wow health-conscious shoppers at the largest consumer electronics retailer in the United States, this is your chance to make it happen,” stated the Microsoft-Best Buy invitation for “HealthVaultDevices@BestBuy”. The invitation also explained that “outstanding solutions providers” would have the opportunity to discuss collaboration opportunities with Best Buy. Qualifications for the device companies included the ability to “demonstrate how health data can be transferred from their device, via a wired or wireless connection, to a PC, phone or directly to the cloud.” HealthVault integration was considered a “plus” but not a requirement.

Since then New Jersey medical group Meridian Health announced (at MobiHealthNews’ Everywhere Healthcare event) last year that it was working with Best Buy to determine whether shoppers would be interested in purchasing wireless-enabled devices at the company’s stores: Keep reading>>

SMS reminders don’t work for birth control

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 24, 2010        

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The Pill BookThat is, at least, according to a new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology: Daily text message reminders did not help the 82 women in the study become more adherent to their birth control pill regimen. Both the text-receiving participants and the control group missed about 5 pills per month. (Worth noting perhaps that, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal about the study, none of the women got pregnant during the three-month study.)

The study tracked adherence based on when a pillbox was opened — not self reports. The patients in the study, however, were aware that their pill boxes had the tracking device installed. In the control group women were encouraged to use their own tricks to remember to take their pill, and these included taking it as the same time as a vitamin or using their mobile phone alarm. About 68 percent in the group used their own reminder system, which may account for why both groups showed similar rates of adherence, according to the study’s author who works at Boston University School of Medicine.

We have reported on a number of studies where text message reminders did have an effect on medication adherence: Last year, a study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that text message reminders increased adherence to medication regimens among new liver transplant patients at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. More importantly: It led to better outcomes.

Leap of Faith Technologies has studied whether text messages preloaded on patients’ mobile phones are more effective than those sent over wireless networks (they work on no-mobile-phone-zones like airplanes, after all.)

The new study on text message reminders and birth control regimens serves as yet another reminder that mobile technology is not a panacea for healthcare. As former Novartis CEO Dan Vasella said last year: “These solutions are all fine and good, but I do not believe these technical approaches will solve the equation. People are not just machines. People are human beings with social, biological and psychological aspects that need to be addressed” if these solutions are to be effective.

To Vasella’s point, there are a number of companies leveraging mobile beyond the text message in the medication adherence realm. A much wider spectrum for wireless-enabled medication adherence services already exists: Proteus Biomedical might be at one end, while GlowCaps is at the other. Vitality’s GlowCaps recently demonstrated 98 percent adherence in a study conducted at Partners Health Care in Boston.

Read more about the birth control adherence study over at the WSJ Health Blog

MetroWest Medical’s ER SMS, other mHealth news

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 23, 2010        

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MetroWest Medical Center ER Wait Times SMSBoston hospital launches SMS ER wait times: Boston’s MetroWest Medical Center launched a texting program last week that enables people to find out emergency room wait times. In the week since it launched 450 people have texted in, according to the report. Users need to text 63311 to 437-411 to get the wait times. That’s “Med11″ to “4ER411″ Boston Globe

Telecom Analyst: Time to splash around is now: Jeff Kagan is one of the biggest names among wireless and telecom industry analysts. Interesting to read his thoughts on wireless + healthcare, here’s his conclusion: “I am in the wireless and telecom business, not healthcare. However, it is very interesting how these two previously unrelated fields are now overlapping. This is just the beginning. No one wants to be left behind when the wave of change passes. That means now is the time to jump in and splash around, before the real heat of competition begins.” E-Commerce News

Smartphones + EMRs + New Security Measures = Some unhappy MDs: George Hickman, EVP and CIO at Albany Medical Center surveyed his colleagues at College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) on smartphone use and found that 18 of the 52 hospitals that responded to his informal survey said they allowed smartphones to access the hospitals’ EMRs or other clinical tools. Even those facilities that support smartphones have their limits. The survey found security was a key challenge and those hospitals that are already smartphone-friendly often lock down “idle” phones and require users to enter a password to begin using them again. These policies sometimes turn doctors off to using their smartphones at work, according to the report over at American Medical News. AMedNews has more on smartphone adoption among physicians with quotes from many of the usual suspects, including Spyglass, Manhattan and more. AMedNews

Connectivity + Scalability = Wireless health’s big challenge: A new survey and report conducted by Greystone Associates concluded that “integrating the flow of patient information on a facility-wide basis has been viewed as a critical first step in the evolution of patient care in the digital world” and “integration beyond the wired hospital LAN via wirelessly enabled devices is the next frontier.” The main challenge according to Greystone? Wireless devices “must overcome lingering connectivity and network scalability issues.” Read more of the (very high level / scant on specific findings) press release here: Press Release

RTLS + YouTube + Musically Gifted HCPS = Big RTLS Music Video Contest: Awarepoint just launched the Big RTLS Music Video Contest: Open to all hospital staff in the US. Create a music video based on experiences related to the challenge of locating medical equipment… Awarepoint’s contest was partially inspired by the company’s theme song endeavor, which parodies the Stone’s Can’t Get No Satisfaction (MP3 available here) The music video contest includes cash prices and the like. More here: Press Release

Revisiting wireless health by the numbers

By: Brian Dolan | Aug 19, 2010        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsRecent weeks have brought a new flurry of mobile health-related metrics from established research firms as well as from deployments of mobile health services and devices. Here’s the redux:

ABI Research reported this week that mobile data services for health care will grow to $7.7 billion worldwide by 2014. These services include non-voice and non-WiFi mobile services. The figure means that healthcare will account for 10 percent of all mobile data service revenues in 2014.

Kalorama Information has a similar stat: Healthcare accounts for about 5 percent of the smartphone market today. In 2009 sales of PDAs and smartphones for use in healthcare was worth about $2.6 billion, Kalorama estimated.

In the UK an NHS trust that deployed 600 Panasonic Toughbooks said it saved about £600,000 (or $940,000 USD) annually in travel costs because staff are no longer returning to their facilities–they can check-in remotely from their devices.

“I saw A1C levels drop from average 11% to 9% in the first 3 months,” endocrinologist Dr. Jennifer Dyer found after piloting a text message diabetes management program with a few of our teenage diabetic patients.

A comprehensive study of heart disease patients using remote monitoring services found that within the telemonitored group, 102 patients died per 1,000 compared with 154 deaths per 1,000 under standard care.

SpyGlass Consulting surveyed more than 100 physicians and found that 94 percent were using smartphones to communicate, manage personal and business workflows, and access medical information. Back in 2006 only 59 percent of the physicians surveyed were using smartphones.

Parks Associates surveyed 972 patients and found that of those who use medical devices like pulse oximeters or blood glucose meters only 4 percent actually transfer the data to their mobile phone.

Parks also found that 21 percent of smartphone owners polled had downloaded a fitness app or workout-related smartphone app.

Some mobile phones carry 18 times the bacteria than a public toilet.

Also, revisit our last “wireless health by the numbers” redux here