A salmagundi of (mainly free) opportunities to learn more about health technology this autumn (UK)

UKTI Belgium is running an excellent webinar series on eHealth & the European Union. Dates/times are:

  1. Thu, Nov 13, 2014 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM GMT
  2. Tue, Dec 2, 2014 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM GMT

During these webinars they will discuss tools that will enable you and your organisation to react to EU opportunities and challenges. For more information and to register go here.

TechUK and the BCS are running another of their very successful Healthtech Startup Schools, starting on Monday 20 October, ending on Monday 08 December. It is at techUK London , 10 St Bride Street, London , EC4A 4AD. Registration is here.

The GSMA has announced a whole bunch of awards for 2015 - entries are now open. Don’t dismiss them without checking each one out first – for example the Best Connected Life Award has eight categories, each with an award, including Best Mobile Innovation for Health. (If you wonder why this is under opportunities to learn

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Smartphones, wearables are the future says NHS England

NHS England has sketched out the future of healthcare and it will be one using smartphones and wearable bio-sensors to monitor ourselves and alert clinicians. click to enlargeNHS National Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh has written to around 250 organisations across health, social care, industry and third sector asking them to support the Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) programme which he says will take the NHS into this new technological era.

The TECS programme, born out of the Three Million Lives (3ML) initiative (which didn’t quite go anywhere after all the song and dance, including from Prime Minister David Cameron), was reviewed last year resulting in the change of focus to “address the demand for support and practical tools to commission, procure, implement and evaluate technology enabled care services” according to Sir Bruce’s letter as reported on the NHS England website.

The TECS Stakeholder Forum‘s views and proposals now form the TECS Improvement Plan for 2014-17. This is a broader group following the failure of the 3ML Stakeholder Forum, which consisted mainly big industry organisations, to achieve anything of substance.

According to the NHS England website posting, Sir Bruce explains: “To ensure continued progress, we have brought together a TECS Implementation Group consisting of experts and leaders from across these sectors whose remit is to support the strategic development and delivery of the proposals within the Improvement Plan. In addition, we have formed the TECS Executive Steering Group which meets regularly to provide clinical, technological and strategic leadership for the programme at a director level in NHS England.”

This all sounds like a lot of bureaucracy and a drawn out attempt to rescue what remains of the 3ML programme. I started thinking of the Titanic and deck chairs.

MediSafe, Frame Health and ‘compliance’ winners in Health 2.0 competition

Compliance ruled at Health 2.0’s Traction: Startup Championship at their annual meeting in Santa Clara, California. Mobile med reminder app MediSafe won the consumer-facing company ‘bakeoff’ and Frame Health, a big data analytics company which uses psychology to predict non-compliance, the provider-facing competition. Both competed in their class against four other companies and were judged by big-money VCs and mentors from ED Ventures, HealthTech Capital, Merck, AARP, Ziegler and others. The action also seems to be moving away from startups, as this competition was for Series A level companies with clients and real business, positioned for next round funding in the $2-12 million range.

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What do 65+ really want? Travel the world.

For those of us who develop and implement technologies to assist–and marketers who appeal to–the 65+ market (and in reality those 55+), the aspirations spotlighted in this ‘bucket list’ illustrate this age group’s current mindset a lot better than the usual picture sketched in much of the consumer and healthcare press of the obese, bundle o’ chronic conditions and chronically ‘needy’ older adult. Centra Pulse, the telecare arm of non-profit Circle Housing with 125,000 customers, surveyed over 2,000 65+ UK adults and came up with a ‘top 40′ (just like the old radio hit lists) must-do list. Some are ambitious (#1, 3, 4) and others are prosaic (#2, 9, 11). Listing top 15 here:

  1. Travel the world
  2. See my family settled
  3. Live to 100
  4. Write a bestselling novel
  5. Win the lottery
  6. Buy a house
  7. Learn a language
  8. Be financially secure
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Medical informatics in dermatology course (NY)

Thursday 13 November (all day), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller Research Laboratories Auditorium, New York City

‘Envisioning the Future of Dermatology Through the Lens of Medical Informatics’  will enable the clinician to better understand:

  • the novel approaches to diagnose skin cancers with computer informatics
  • the benefits, limitations and integration of photography and electronic medical record in dermatology
  • the benefits, limitations and legal barriers in teledermatology
  • the factors related to privacy issues for images

6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. Early registration savings before 1 October: $50 MDs, PhDs and DOs; $25 Fellows, Residents, and RNs. After 1 October add $25. More information and registration. Hat tip to Peter Brodhead of MSKCC and Howard Reis of HealthePractices.

Integrated care – how can technology help? Royal Society of Medicine 24 & 25 November

This year the Royal Society of Medicine’s Telemedicine & eHealth Section’s conference, on 24th & 25th November, is on how technology can support integrated care.

The conference will be opened by Cathy Hassell, Deputy Director, Quality Programmes, NHS England, who manages the NHS Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) programme

Other keynote speakers include:

Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, NHS

Dr Robert Wah, President, American Medical Association

Adam Darkins, Chief Consultant in Care Coordination Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, US

There is a superb line-up of speakers to inform you about the many aspects of using technology to support the effective and efficient delivery of care services. These range from practical integrated care implementations such as that underway in Bradford (presented by Cath Doman) and Airedale (presented by Anne Wagner), through the use of innovative technology such as

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Telecare Soapbox: Falling outside the box

[Editor Donna's note: Even if you have already read this great article by Steve, read on to the first comment as to 'what happened'.]

Before you read the rest of this item, read or re-read the following two popular recent falls-related articles:

Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection (Tom Doris)

A five-point rebuttal to ‘Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection’ (Andy Schoonover)

The acceptability of false positive fall alerts and the risk of false negatives has dogged fall detection ever since the first detector was invented. It is great to see this fundamental matter still being debated on this website by experienced practitioners!

However, given that calibration of devices has, as Tom Doris points out, inherent problems however sophisticated they become, I see no one putting their finger on what I consider to be the ‘real’ issue. That is: where in the system is the intelligence that judges whether a fall is problematic or not?

Current systems place the intelligence either with

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Another great free event – come to DHACA-day on 7th October in Liverpool! (UK)

DHACA, the Digital Health and Care Alliance, formed earlier this year and already past the 250 members level, is holding its second DHACA-day on 7th October, at Anfield Stadium (yes free tours will be available during the day for those interested).

DHACA, currently part of the TSB-funded dallas programme, was established to grow the use of digital technology in the delivery of health & social care through promoting interoperability and scale. DHACA will be the space where members collaborate on requirements and on solution development, resulting in things being done once, and shared. to achieve this, DHACA is developing a range of member-driven Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that will

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A trio of September meetings

AAL/Bucharest, The Guardian and Kings Fund

As previously highlighted on Telehealth & Telecare Aware, last week was indeed the week of connected health events. This editor made it to three:

AAL/Bucharest

As very much of a supporting act – presenting to researchers on how to do business with the different health organisations across Europe – my principal challenge was getting to the city after the ‘information’ kiosk in the airport told me the hotel I was booked into didn’t exist. Thankfully they were wrong. What I saw of the conference looked good, though there were some bizarre rules on who could have free WiFi.

The Guardian

Wednesday evening brought the Guardian information sharing event which proved especially interesting.

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A few observations from September’s Health Technology Forum London

On Wednesday 17th September, Health Technology Forum members gathered at Baker Botts’ office in London for a couple of key presentations on legal aspects of medical software.

The first, by Joe Hagan-Brown, Regulatory Affairs Specialist at the MHRA, covered the EU’s medical device-specific regulation. The second, by Alex Denoon of Lawford Davies Denoon, was a presentation on the EU’s data protection regulation.

Readers with long memories will recall that I summarised medical device-specific regulation a while back; much of what Joe said added colour to that summary. A few comments he made are perhaps worthy of repetition

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What’s the big thing behind the Cognizant acquisition of TriZetto?

The $2.7 billion acquisition of HIT payer-provider services company TriZetto by IT/BPO outsourcer Cognizant indicates the value that large, largely offshored companies are seeing in health data. According to Fortune, “The combined company has more than $3 billion in healthcare revenue, as well as about $1.5 billion of potential revenue synergies over the next five years from which Cognizant can cull further gains.” Cognizant’s healthcare and life sciences sector is about 26 percent of their $8.84 billion total annual revenue, but what they haven’t had is the provider-payer software and TriZetto’s IP.

So why the big number (which exits the investors quite nicely) which nearly equals the value of the combined companies in healthcare? The trend this Editor has spotted

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A five-point rebuttal to ‘Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection’

One of our most popular articles ever on TTA has been Tom Doris’ analysis of accelerometers in fall detection. His point of view is as a developer in digital health technology. For your consideration, we are posting this extended response from an executive experienced in deployment of both traditional PERS and now PERS with accelerometer-based fall detection in older adult populations.

Andy Schoonover is President of VRI, a leading provider of PERS, MPERS, and telehealth monitoring services founded in 1989. VRI currently actively monitors approximately 110,000 clients in the US–and a long-time TTA reader.

Tom Doris wrote a post on September 17th, laying out the problems with the use of accelerometers and fall detection devices especially in regards to PERS. After reading Tom’s post I felt compelled to respond with the following five points on why it’s important to continue to promote fall detection within PERS and MPERS.

1) In the 1 out of 100 case that my grandma falls and can’t physically press a button (sudden fainting due to hypoglycemia for example) would I prefer she have a regular PERS, which definitely won’t indicate a fall, or a PERS with fall detector which will more than likely indicate a fall? If it were my grandma I’d go with the “more than likely” option.

2) If my grandma had too many false positives then I’d ask her: you can use regular PERS with no fall detection or you can use PERS with fall detection where you will get called a couple more times per month. Which would you prefer? Hint: she’ll say fall detection. About 5 percent of our customers are annoyed by the false positives.

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Dependability Telecare Assessment tool released

click to enlargeFrom gdewsbury, a joint endeavor of independent consultants Guy Dewsbury PhD and Debbie Ballard, both well-known figures in UK telecare circles, is their development of a unique tool to determine the best telecare support for a person. The Dependability Telecare Assessment (DTA) tool is available in manual form for practitioners and professionals who assess, provide or install telecare, including assistive technology. The DTA is also relevant to the academic sector as a learning resource; currently it is core reading for the postgraduate telecare course at University of Edinburgh. Dr Dewsbury states that it is the “culmination of many years of academic ethnographic research with older and disabled people in the design of telecare technology to support them.” It also advocates the right amount of telecare, and not more: “Only install sufficient telecare to enable a person. Excessive use of telecare could disable a person.” It’s available in spiral-bound form for what seems to be to this Editor a pittance at £19.99 (free shipping in the UK plus postage for international). Order link here; see PDF or Dr Dewsbury’s website above for additional information.

Change needed in ‘Keeping the NHS Great’

Technology enabled care services (TECS) are the key, according to this study headed by the Good Governance Institute (GGI) and supported by Tunstall Healthcare. Whatever your thoughts are about the latter, the problem pointed out in the study is valid; that TECS (another acronym to be added to the arsenal encompassing both telecare and telehealth; not a ‘telehealthcare’ in sight) is thought of as ‘too difficult’ and because the system has not changed, people are being denied life-changing support and technology. GGI surveyed healthcare professionals in its networks plus organized a workshop with the Tunstall Clinical Advisory Group for more qualitative information.

According to the report, 85 percent of respondents said that telehealth was “very important” (50 percent) or “important” (35 percent) in developing pathways for patients with long-term conditions and better management of their care in the community. The overwhelming majority (79 percent) responded by saying they would be prepared to contribute to some or all of the costs, or introducing telehealth from their own budgets.

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Lively telecare system adds smartwatch-flavored PERS

click to enlargeThe Lively home telecare system, which uses a series of passive activity sensors wirelessly connected to a cellular monitoring hub, announced a ‘safety watch’ addition to its system. The wristband has a watch form factor, is waterproof and contains an emergency button with analog/digital option on its time/date watch face. The smartwatch-ish features are medication reminders and a pedometer for step tracking. When out of home, the wristband tethers to an Android (only) smartphone. Battery is good for about six months. If the button is pushed, there is a ‘countdown’ during which a call center attempts to reach the user by phone (watch is not two-way voice) prior to dispatching emergency

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‘Soft’ exoskeleton gains $2.9 million in DARPA funding

click to enlargeThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering an additional $2.9 million in development funding for its Soft Exosuit currently in prototype. The Wyss exoskeleton concept uses sensors, fabric that mimics muscles and tendons in addition to intuitive controls and a power supply. DARPA has been supporting several levels of research for some years as part of Warrior Web and other initiatives, which your Editors have been following. Exoskeletons in use right now are designed to assist humans in heavy lifting, or

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