Health Recovery Solutions raises $1M for tablet-based patient engagement

By: Aditi Pai | Jan 21, 2015        

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Health Recovery SolutionsNew York City-based Health Recovery Solutions raised $1 million from undisclosed investors, the company’s COO Rohan Udeshi told MobiHealthNews. This brings the company’s total funding to $1.8 million.

The company’s product, PatientConnect, aims to help providers prevent costly patient readmissions by engaging them with a tablet-based program. The hospital provides patients with a cellular-enabled Samsung tablet, with PatientConnect preloaded. Providers pay Health Recovery Solutions a licensing fee for the package.

Patients can use the system to communicate with their physician via video chat. The tablet software also encourages patients to record medication, weight, activity, and symptoms. Clinicians and caregivers can monitor this data through their own apps, ClinicianConnect and CaregiverConnect. The patient tablet, which is equipped with a 4G data connection, will also offer educational materials about the conditions, which take the form of quizzes, pamphlets, and videos. The system can also collect data from A&D and Nonin home health devices.

When clinicians notice that a patients is not improving, they can reach out to those specific patients to help them stay on track and reduce readmissions.  Keep reading>>

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Wearable tech could more accurately predict falls, assess MS disease state

By: Jonah Comstock | Jan 21, 2015        

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QTUGA Dublin, Ireland-based company, Kinesis, has found that its QTUG system, which uses app-connected wearable sensors to assess fall risk, could be valuable for evaluating multiple sclerosis, too. Studies have found the technology to be 10 to 20 percent more accurate than existing methods for detecting falls.

Kinesis, a spin-off of Dublin’s TRIL Centre for aging technology research, launched last summer after collecting validation data for more than seven years. In October, they signed a distribution agreement with Intel-GE Care Innovations to bring the system, which is FDA registered as a Class 1 device, to the US. Intel and GE also help fund the TRIL Centre.

“It’s based on a standard clinical test call the Timed Up and Go which is used throughout the world to assess mobility and fall risk,” Dr. Barry Greene, Kinesis’s Chief Technology Officer, told MobiHealthNews. “What we do is instrument this test using body worn sensors placed on the legs. So the Timed Up and Go is a test where a subject gets out of a chair, walks three meters, turns around, walks back and then sits back down again. … We’ve come up with a statistical algorithm based on the thousands of assessments we’ve done to come up a probabilistic estimate of the risk of falls, but also identify what element of the patient’s mobility is creating the risk of falls. Then all that data is streamed via Bluetooth to an Android tablet, which then displays the information to a clinician.” Keep reading>>

Microsoft shows off smart scarf prototype, updates Band

By: Jonah Comstock | Jan 21, 2015        

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microsoft scarf swarmMicrosoft is increasingly moving into the world of wearables, both through conceptual moonshots like the smart scarf recently presented by Microsoft Research and through a hefty update, released last week, to the fitness tracking functionality of the Microsoft Band smartwatch.

According to MIT Technology Review, the scarf was the brainchild of University of Maryland graduate student Michelle Williams, who led the project while she was an intern at Microsoft Research. Officially called SWARM (Sensing Whether Affect Requires Mediation), the vision for the scarf would be a gadget to help people with disabilities obtain additional information about others’ emotional states as well as respond to the user’s own emotions.

A Bluetooth app can cause the scarf to vibrate or heat up by sending signals to modules within the wearable that can be configured depending on the user’s preferences. The final version would send these signals directly in response to the readouts from sensors detecting emotional biomarkers like heart rate. Keep reading>>

Survey: 64 percent of patients willing to have video visits with docs

By: Aditi Pai | Jan 21, 2015        

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AmWell Harris Poll surveySixty four percent of patients are willing to participate in a video visit with a doctor, according to an online Harris Poll survey of 2,019 adults aged 18 and up conducted in December 2014. Telehealth company American Well commissioned Harris Poll to conduct the survey.

Of those that were willing to visit with their doctor over video, 61 percent said convenience was a factor in this decision.

Seven percent of respondents who had been with their doctor for less than a year said they would switch doctors to get online video visits. And 10 percent of respondents who had been with their doctor for two to four years said they would switch. Younger people were more likely to switch to a physician that offered video visits. Eleven percent of patients between the ages of 18 and 34 said they would switch, while 8 percent of patients aged 35 to 44 said they would switch.  Keep reading>>

FTC goes after kids’ brain training game for unsubstantiated health claims

By: Jonah Comstock | Jan 20, 2015        

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Jungle RangersDays after the FDA issued new draft guidance that may be softer on devices making certain kinds of medical claims, the FTC has reminded companies that it also has regulatory power over health claims and might be stepping up to the plate.

The FTC announced an administrative complaint against Focus Education, a company that makes a brain training game for children called Jungle Rangers. The complaint charges that the company advertised permanent brain improvements in “focus, memory, attention, behavior, and/or school performance”, including for children with ADHD, and backed up the claims with what the FTC said were nonexistent scientific studies.

“This case is the most recent example of the FTC’s efforts to ensure that advertisements for cognitive products, especially those marketed for children, are true and supported by evidence,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Many parents are interested in products that can improve their children’s focus, behavior, and grades, but companies must back up their brain training claims with reliable science.”

For now, the FTC has issued an order prohibiting Focus Education from making the claims addressed in the complaint, making any further unsubstantiated claims, or misrepresenting the results of any study or test. Each violation of the order could result in a $16,000 penalty, which could add up very quickly if the company doesn’t comply. MobiHealthNews has reached out to Focus Education for comment and will update if they respond. Keep reading>>

Report: MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers, Lose It! are top apps recommended by docs

By: Jonah Comstock | Jan 20, 2015        

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HealthTap appsPalo Alto-based HealthTap has released a ranking of health, wellness, and medical apps based on the public endorsements of thousands of doctors who use the HealthTap AppRx platform. Although not every doctor in HealthTap’s network participated and those that did didn’t see all the apps, the system is designed to give each app equal exposure and to minimize bias on the part of physician reviewers.

The top three consumer-facing iOS apps recommended by doctors were MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers, and Lose It! (in that order), while the Android list had Weight Watchers in the number one spot, followed by White Noise Lite and Lose It! once again at number three. White Noise Lite came in 4th on the iOS list, and The American Red Cross First Aid app and RunKeeper rounded out the top six and top five, respectively.

While HealthTap did not disclose the total number of physicians who have endorsed an app yet, the top few consumer-facing apps each had a couple hundred endorsements from individual physicians.

“We took all the apps available in both app stores, iOS and Google Play, and brought it to the platform and we created a dashboard for [doctors] to review and preview the apps — see screenshots, the description from the developer,” HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman told MobiHealthNews. “If they’re interested, it’s very easy for them to download the app. Most importantly, the doctors had to actually come to the conclusion that the app is good enough for them to recommend in public. It’s not like a secret voting or something like a survey doctors answer anonymously. They need to actually publicly commit to their vote and not only that, but actually recommend it not only to their patients but to the entire public. Because we make the votes available to everyone.” Keep reading>>