Wireless/mobile health tech in and out of the hospital is profiled in this special report from iHealthBeat (California Health Care Foundation): Sotera Wireless’ ViSi Mobile Systems (a wristlet which uses chest and thumb sensors to track multiple vitals including heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature, and sends the data to Palomar Medical Center’s EHR); startup MedSensation’s robotic Glove Tricorder with temperature sensors and ultrasound pads for diagnosing breast cancer; and the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize to push reliable health diagnostics into the home for 15 diseases. Another reason is the Deloitte estimate of all wireless health devices generating $22 billion in the US by 2015 (not cited by iHealthBeat but we do here–Neil Versel’s January roundup of inexact forecasts). When It Comes to the Future of Wireless Sensors in Health Care: The Sky’s the Limit: article/audio, transcript PDF.
Wearable tech’s own blog, FashioningTech takes the measure of four new arrivals and puts them into the ‘Fail’ bucket. Some are obvious: Hi-Call Bluetooth Talking Glove is ridiculous. Others are clonky bracelets which don’t do much (Embrace+ got kicked to the curb on Kickstarter) or are good only for bar conversation starters (LinkMe–and who wants people to see your messages?). One’s an ‘almost’–charging/smartphone storage purse Everpurse. This Editor thinks they should target energy-hogging tablets, not smartphones which have a longer life. (And $250 would not seem quite as bad for a larger case.) Wearable Tech Fails
Sproxil, the anti-counterfeiting mobile drug authentication system in use in India, Kenya (for East Africa), Nigeria and Ghana (West Africa), was one of ten recipients of the ‘Patents for Humanity’ award given annually by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Most of the nine other recipients were pharmaceutical (medicines and vaccines), food and nutrition, clean tech (water and solar bulbs) and information tech (Sproxil and Microsoft). Congratulations to Sproxil, which is up to 3.8 million products verified. We’ve followed them for the past three years for its fine work in developing countries, combating one particularly evil business; drug counterfeiting is a $200 billion global fraud that sickens and kills the vulnerable. USPTO, Sproxil releases.
Not only drugs are counterfeited (see article on Sproxil) but increasingly there is a world trade in counterfeit electronics–old, substandard components are remanufactured to appear new and brand-name. For mission-critical functions–or in health tech–this can mean bad readings, hazard or failure. Initial research from the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Army Research Office (ARO) on a DNA tag was developed with a private company, ChromoLogic LLC, which first developed a tag with a biomimetic barcode that can be aligned in the proper order and decoded by an optical reader–and the technology was extended to optical mapping of electronic components’ intrinsic surface or ‘fingerprinting’ by their DTEK system. The rather circuitous story is here in this strangely titled Armed With Science article, Sneaky Discovery Can Identify Counterfeits, Track Materiel
The AllAfrica website picks up on a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) India report report launched at the annual Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, 25-28 February. It highlights the life-saving potential of SMS services (such as the Bangladeshi Aponjon service) but also points out that so far take up has been slow in Africa. Africa: Mhealth ‘Could Save a Million African Lives By 2017’
“The mhealth program is being run through the Aponjon (dear one) initiative run by the Bangladesh government. It sends weekly text messages to expectant mothers, providing them with advice and reminders that they might find highly useful. Each text comes with a fee of $0.03 (Tk 2). For individuals who cannot read, recorded voicemail messages are used, instead.” Over 24,000 pregnant women have already subscribed for the service since the launch of the program in December 2012. Mhealth technology used to help mothers in Bangladesh QRCodePress item.
Peter Wilkinson, the self-effacing tech entrepreneur who launched, built and sold technology businesses including Planet Online, Freeserve and Sports Internet has given an inteview to his local newspaper, the Yorkshire Post, about his belief in the digital nature of future healthcare provision. He is an investor in telehealth company inHealthcare. Future’s digital for healthcare, says tech tycoon. The InTechnology company’s profile of Peter Wilkinson.
Perhaps this is more a wish than reality right now, but IBM’s Barry Mason, their VP in charge of global healthcare payers, sees the ‘Wal-Mart moment’ of transparency between insurance companies, hospitals, medical devices and pharma coming up shortly. The four are actually considering sharing data, restructuring their organizations to work more closely together and even going ‘joint’. This sentiment seems to be on display in this week’s World Health Care Congress. The aforementioned ‘Wal-Mart moment’ is when Wal-Mart opened its books on sales data and inventory levels to vendors, creating a superior level of transparency. The ambitious list he proposes includes supply chain data (claims data), complete sharing of clinical data from providers and all consumer data. Amazing potential here…but many rivers to cross, filled with rocks. Again. Healthcare convergence moves beyond the buzzword. But here’s what still needs to happen (MedCityNews)
This news could not be more timely, as Alzheimer’s Disease has become the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and one which has increased by 68 percent between 2000-2010 [TTA 25 March]. The National Institutes on Health (NIH) with the National Institute on Aging and 27 private sector companies and non-profits has started the second phase of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI II). It will continue to track the ADNI subjects from the study that ended in 2010, and enroll additional normal, mildly cognitively impaired, and Alzheimer’s disease patients. Additional plans for ADNI II include PET imaging scans on every new patient enrolled. Foundation for the National Institutes on Health.
The developing nations dubbed BRICS–Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa–have prosperity, uneven as it may be, but their public health is not keeping up. In addition to communicable diseases, obesity and diabetes are exploding. This Atlantic article is insistent on ‘infrastructure’–which is needed–but here are five countries which are wide open for mobile health. High rates of cell phone ownership and the huge job to be done in helping people towards awareness and self-management — means opportunity, as long as it is kept simple and inexpensive. Which health tech systems now at BluePrint Health or StartUp Health will help these people manage food consumption, tracking weight, exercise, blood glucose in a non-QS way? Brazil, China, and India Are Fat, And Getting Fatter
Shattering a few stereotypes on older adults and technology use is this profile of Las Colinas of Westover Rehabilitation, a short and long-term-care (LTC) residence near San Antonio, Texas Technology. Their short and long-term residents–largely in their 70s and 80s–use CogniFit brain training games, videos and Skype-ing on a Kindle Fire and Apple TV for brain stimulation, games, socialization and connectedness with families.The facility is also up to date with the specialized long-term-care EHR PointClickCare. Perhaps not typical in LTC now, but a pointer to where the near future should be. Senior care goes high-tech (San Antonio Express-News)
Our readers will note that most advances in telehealth, in smartphone-based support and TBI research have originated out of the US Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), the Army Research Laboratory, Medical Research & Materiel Command and the Research, Development and Engineering Command. The US Navy has jumped in with Kinect for rehab with the West Health Institute. Now the US Army Medical Information Technology Center at Fort Sam Houston (Texas), part of the Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), is the point of contact for the Navy for a pilot program using instant messaging hardware and software–Jabber–to be tested at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and planned to be rolled out through worldwide naval medical facilities. JBSA is the locus for medical training in the Army and much of the armed forces; the Army’s medical school AMEDDC&S is located there. Fort Sam Houston’s Video Network Center also handles telemedicine consults for the Army, Navy and VA. USAMITC helps telehealth become a reality for Navy medicine (JBSA release).
Nearly a month ago we posted links to GP Online two articles written by Professor Ruth Chambers for UK GPs about practical ways to use the NHS Simple Telehealth system–aka Florence or Flo. They covered hypertension and inhaler use. Now we discover two further articles, oddly, on a different part of the site. They follow the same useful pattern as the earlier ones. They are:
For a US nurse’s view of telehealth (remote monitoring), see a blog by Kavita Radhakrishnan, RN, PhD. Start with this article, which is positive in tone: Can Telehealth Improve Chronic Disease Outcomes in the Community? but make sure to follow up with this item which swings the other way: Unintended Consequences: How Telehealth Can Fail to Manage Chronic Diseases.