Gait and balance detector Kinesis QTUG successful in MS assessment study

click to enlargeTRIL Centre (Dublin, Ireland) spinoff Kinesis, which developed the wearable sensor-based QTUG system for assessing fall risk through measuring gait and balance, was part of a recently presented study of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) patients presented at the IEEE International Conference. The QTUG test was used in assessing patient mobility and fall risk over time. The base test, Timed Up and Go (TUG), is manually performed with a timer and observer; the patient rises from a chair, walks three meters, turns around, walks back and then sits back down again. Using this test, the Kinesis sensors reliably assessed the state of patient MS in 21 patients, using 32 of the 52 sensor parameters. In October, according to Mobihealthnews, Kinesis inked a deal with Intel-GE Care Innovations to distribute the system in the US; Intel and GE also are major funders of TRIL. IEEE Xplore abstract (full access on paid site).

Another Xerox healthcare move: reducing readmissions

About two months ago [TTA 13 Nov 14], we noted Xerox’s interesting investment in telehealth/virtual consult kiosk HealthSpot Station. We thought at that time that Xerox was not active in healthcare services and thus found the HealthSpot Station investment unusual. Right on the diagnostics, wrong on the data crunching. Notably, their Midas+ subsidiary concentrates on healthcare quality management, analytics and benchmarking solutions. Midas+ has entered into the readmissions fray by combining its proprietary database, compiled over 1,900 Xerox hospital clients, with five years of Medicare and claims data to help hospitals better predict 30-day same-cause readmissions. The Midas+ Readmission Penalty Forecaster uses the data to project in “near real-time” both patient patterns and reimbursement rates. Commenting to MedCityNews, Justin Lanning, SVP and managing director of Xerox Healthcare Provider Solutions, said the Forecaster has a 1.5 percent margin of error within the predictive model, with quarterly updates provided to participating hospitals. Midas+ also offers, beyond the model, onsite consulting. HealthSpot Station theoretically could throw off a lot of data on outpatient disease and treatment. Midas+ Forecaster white paper, eWeek.

We also note that MedCityNews, one of the livelier publications that covers a wide swath of the US healthcare scene,  is being acquired by Breaking Media, a New York City-based digital publisher. CEO Chris Seper will remain with the publication. Article.

Health IT Entrepreneurial Connections Program (US)

The New Jersey Innovation Institute, a corporation part of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, NJ, is inviting healthcare technology and HIT entrepreneurs to be part of an acceleration/scaleup program for growth companies. The NJIT School of Management at the Enterprise Development Center runs a structured learning program in bi-weekly group sessions for qualifying innovative IT companies which are seeking to boost their annual revenue by 20 percent or more. It is free to participants, as funded partly by JPMorgan Chase’s ‘Small Business Forward’ initiative. Participants must have some market traction (the minimum is $250,000 or more in annual revenue).The deadline for application to be part of cohort #2 is early February; the program starts late February. Unlike other local programs, there is no requirement that the company operate in the state. For more information and to apply, see the form here. Hat tip to Michael Ehrlich, Associate Professor of the NJIT School of Management

Reassure no more: Telecare24 has ditched ReAssure24 (UK)

‘We call you’ services are those where people have to respond to a daily phone call. This may be from an automated system or even from a person, as still happens in some small communities. The idea is that the call provides reassurance.

However, some industry observers are concerned that such systems have inherent problems. These lie not in the technology, but in the frequency of response failures. The discontinuation of the ReAssure24 service in the UK appears to bear out this concern.

Unfortunately, Cardiff-based Telecare24 (tagline ‘The UK’s Leading Careline Service’) has not responded (more…)

A possible win for diabetics–a glucose monitoring ‘tattoo’ patch

click to enlargeA possible advance in the perpetual Battle of Stalingrad that diabetics face in their self-monitoring has been developed through research at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD)’s Center for Wearable Sensors. A flexible skin tattoo-like patch has been used to monitor pre- and post-meal blood glucose levels. It works by using a small electrical current directed to the two small electrodes in the clear patch which activate an enzyme that reacts with glucose, giving a reading to the researchers on the seven subjects which correlates to conventional needle-stick metering. It’s not so advanced yet that it delivers information to a smartphone or dedicated meter, but directionally it’s in the right direction. And think of the savings both in disposables and cost ($1 each). The Center for Wearable Sensors is further developing (more…)

Can the NHS be in crisis when they want to waste money like this?

The Guardian had a headline yesterday: “GPs to be offered £1bn in new funds if they improve access and elderly care” Upon reading further it transpires that £250m pa is to be offered for the next four years. A clue to the rationale and preferred direction of the monies is:

“NHS England believes using the £1bn to transform existing GP surgeries and build some new premises will help reduce the pressure on hospitals buckling under the strain of unprecedented demand.”

Telehealth & Telecare Aware believes that this is totally the wrong approach. Given the huge increases in the popularity of remote consultation as we covered in our review of our 2014 predictions, surely the right focus for additional funding is to provide substantial incentives to get GPs using existing technology to consult with patients remotely? This should be allied with an advertising campaign to point out the benefits to patients of not having to visit a surgery or exchange germs with others in the waiting room plus offer reassurance that face to face appointments will always be available if the doctor thinks one is necessary.

One way to start might be for the NHS to do deals with organisations like GP Access to offer technology like their askmygp to all GP surgeries for free and give large financial incentives to GPs conducting remote consultations with more than an agreed percentage of the patients on their books by year end…then raise that percentage every year for the next four years. That has got to be far cheaper than building works that will anyway become redundant soon because attitudes are changing and people will be preferring remote consultation shortly anyway! It would be much quicker to implement too.

In mitigation, the article also mentions that surgeries, apparently also “will also be expected to make much better use of technology to monitor patients’ health as a way of reducing their need to seek direct care from a doctor.” However that sounds more like a tepid endorsement of telehealth than encouragement to be radical.

Hat tip to Mike Clark

The demise of Google Glass

Well we predicted only a few days ago that there would be some major wearable casualties this year, little realising that the first was about to hit us: Google’s decision to stop selling Glass “in present form”.

Donning this editor’s retrospectacles, the campaign to embed Glass into the world’s technology infrastructure has always felt a bit forced: much more supplier push than customer pull, with wearers, except in circumstances like surgical operations, given a wide berth by many non-wearers. It was pricey too.

Clearly though, the ability to record video and to access information in hands-free mode will continue to be an important requirement for many health & care workers, and social attitudes will likely change too, so there can be little doubt that perhaps a less obviously intrusive version will return in due course. (more…)

Nominations wanted for our 10th year

click to enlargeYou may have noticed from our header above that it is the 10th year of Telehealth & Telecare Aware’s service to the industry. To mark our anniversary, we intend to invite leaders in the field to reflect on the past ten years and (if they dare!) to speculate on the next ten.

But first we would like you, dear Reader, to become involved in the process. Think for a moment…exactly who would you like to hear from? Whose views do you think best represent the last decade of changes taking place in healthcare and technology, improving (we hope!) care delivery, personal safety and well being?

Please post nominations as a comment or email Editor Donna.

Telemedicine’s boffo year? Some confirmation. (US)

Big bets were made on telemedicine (video doctor-patient consults) in 2014. This Editor closed her 18 December article with ‘telemedicine providers received a $200 million+ vote of confidence from tough-minded investors. We’ll see if 2015 results fulfill these whale-at-Monte-Carlo wagers.’ Here may be the start of a tipping point. New York State’s new law requiring insurer reimbursement for telehealth services went into effect 1 January, making NY the 22nd state to require payers to pay up for virtual visits. Permitted providers are physicians, dentists (!), physician assistants, psychologists and social workers. This provider list is considerably broader than Medicare’s new rules applying telehealth for patients with two or more chronic conditions, which is tied to physicians’ offices and contracted third parties. Also cheering the industry are that Indiana, Iowa and Tennessee are holding hearings on potential legislation, with Missouri at the legislative bill stage. (more…)

MALCOLM final results now online (UK/FR)

click to enlargeIf you are interested in the outcomes of SEHTA and Pôle-Tes‘ MALCOLM project, they are now published on the SEHTA website. The Anglo-Franco project analyzed remote care via ICT (information and communications technology) delivery (eHealth) and needs in the coastal Channel area: Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent in England, and Lower Normandy in France. The press release has more details on results, methodology and the funding.

NHS seeks pioneering healthcare innovators – yes really!

When this editor first read about the scheme, his thoughts went to headlines like “NHS seeks oxymorons”, as that organisation is not noted for its cherishing of innovators. (Indeed at a recent event in Manchester I was told by a speech & language therapist who was saving the NHS two orders of magnitude in lower costs in helping stroke victims to swallow again by using remote consultation vs in-patient hospital stays that her boss had told her there was no place for her in the NHS.)

However it seems they seek innovators outside the NHS to enable it to adopt innovations at scale and pace: “NHS England is inviting healthcare pioneers from around the world to apply to develop and scale their tried and tested innovations across parts of the NHS.”

“Applicants should be experienced innovators in healthcare who are currently leading or working on new technologies, services and processes that have the potential to make a real difference to patient outcomes.”

Details of the NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme are here, and the Digital by Default news item, here.

Something for (almost) everyone – a digital health gallymaufry

The Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI) is looking for companies to share the British Pavilion at the CMEF trade show from 15th – 18th May 2015 in Shanghai, China. It is apparently the the leading Healthcare trade show in China and is now the largest Medical Equipment exhibition in the Asia Pacific region attracting over 60,000 visitors. Details here.

Still need to see some more predictions for 2015? – try these 12 for telecoms, which does include the odd interesting nod towards subjects we cover, including interconnection of wearables and connected homes.

Prompted by our mention of V-Connect in our review of our 2014 predictions, MD Adam Hoare has pointed out that his company also won the Medilink ‘partnership with the NHS’ award for their renal project with The Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Congratulations!

Accenture has produced an interesting (more…)

Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) Online Resource for Commissioners published (UK)

Long in development, the NHS Commissioning Assembly’s Technology Enabled Care Services (“TECS”) Online Resource for Commissioners has just been launched.

It was developed by NHS commissioners, with input from a wide number of organisations including DHACA and the TSA, to help maximise the value of technology enabled care services for patients, carers, commissioners and the whole health economy. Its purpose is to help raise awareness of how the wide range of TECS can support commissioning intentions and benefit patients, commissioners, families, health and social care professionals and provider managers. It also addresses the demand from commissioners for information on how to commission, procure, implement and evaluate these types of solutions effectively.  For more information visit the NHS Commissioning Assembly home page.

In view of its importance, this editor has elected to post this document without subjecting it to a full review – that will come in due course – however first impressions are positive: the style is short and to the point, and the pages very informative. The one additional thing this editor wanted to see, ideally in 72 font or bigger, is a clear statement at the beginning that, as the WSD proved beyond doubt, the benefits of TECS are only fully realised by changing the model of care: whilst there are comments that together make that point, my one concern is that it is not stressed sufficiently so we risk repeating history…or did I miss it in my haste?

Hat tip to Clive Flashman.

Dr Topol’s prescription for The Future of Medicine, analyzed

The Future of Medicine Is in Your Smartphone sounds like a preface to his latest book, ‘The Patient Will See You Now’, but it is quite consistent with Dr Topol’s talks of late [TTA 5 Dec]. The article is at once optimistic–yes, we love the picture–yet somewhat unreal. When we walk around and kick the tires…

First, it flies in the face of the increasing control of healthcare providers by government as to outcomes and the shift for good or ill to ‘outcomes-based medicine’. Second, ‘doctorless patients’ may need fewer services, not more, and why should these individuals, who represent the high-info elite at least initially, be penalized by having to pay the extremely high premiums dictated by government-approved health insurance (in the US, ACA-compliant insurance a/k/a Obamacare)–or face the US tax penalties for not enrolling in same? Third, those liberating mass market smartwatches and fitness trackers aren’t clinical quality yet–fine directionally, but real clinical diagnosis (more…)

An interesting COPD telehealth pilot, mangled in the reporting

click to enlargeOur first ‘Blue Blazes’ of 2015 is the kind of press coverage that makes a PR pro or marketing director cringe.

Intel-GE Care Innovations along with OSF (Order of St. Francis) HealthCare and the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine at Peoria, the latter which have an interestingly named collaborative called Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, are using the home telecare activity tracker Lively in a COPD patient tracking pilot. Reading the two articles found to date, one can eventually glean that vital signs like weight, blood pressure, O2 levels, lung capacity and qualitative feedback questions, as well as activity, is being tracked. The combination of activity + vital signs is interesting and different, but it takes detective work–viewing the video on the website (which charmingly turns sensors into senors in the headline)–to discover that the activity tracker is Lively, a CI partner. Lively does not report vital signs. How they are being collected remains a mystery as the Peoria Public Radio website article doesn’t furnish details other than a picture with an unidentified desktop hub/display (Health Harmony? It doesn’t look like it). Lack of detail + abundance of typos = bad reportage. In any case, the pilot of 30 patients continues into March, when it will be expanded to 200. Related: OSF/Care Innovations announcement from June 2014.