Telehealth makes front page in UK newspaper

Rather to many people’s surprise the popular Daily Express newspaper featured a telehealth story on its front page on Wednesday. It appears to be an extension of the UK’s media’s current interest in the woes of hospital emergency departments and the simplistic ‘blame the GPs’ theme that has been fuelled by recent comments from the Secretary of State for Health. However, the article is positive about telehealth blood pressure monitoring: DIY test will save your life: gadget sends blood pressure results direct to your GP (online version). Interestingly, the article contains no reference to the 3ML initiative. One wag Tweeted “Oh no! I’m rubbish at DIY. I’ll surely fail the test”. Here’s a link to a picture of the front page so that readers can gauge the weight that the item received.

Android app for dementia research and therapy (UK)

Steinkrug, a UK based research and development company has developed an Android app for tablet-based devices that monitors users’ responses to sound and images. The technology has been designed for use in dementia research but has potential for wider applications within and beyond the healthcare sector. Whereas Google Glass looks outwards into the wearer’s environment, Steinkrug’s application tracks the user’s response to media displayed on the device. Press release: Android App For Dementia Research and Therapy.

May Telecare LIN newsletter published (UK)

This edition concentrates on the changing telehealth and telecare context: the publication of the Care Bill in England along with plans to integrate health and social care services over the next five years and the NHS Mandate’s extensive programme of NHS changes until March 2015. Pressures continue on health and care services. These will all have an impact on telecare, telehealth and digital health implementation. In the meantime, Scotland is just getting on with its programme… May newsletter (PDF) News listings/links supplement (PDF).

FDA regulation of mobile health: a study in ambiguity

The signs are not good when FDA continues to delay on issuing its draft guidance on mHealth devices (now tagged for the close of FY 2013), yet sends a notice to India’s Biosense Technologies Pvt Ltd, developer of the uChek Urine analyzer app, that it immediately needs to seek 510(k) Class II clearance. Biosense claims Class I clearance; FDA claims that it has no record. Letters fly, yet the app remains in the iPhone AppStore. How can there be a crackdown on mobile health apps, as FierceMobileHealthcare’s Greg Slabodkin projects, when developers legitimately say there’s no rules of the road? Magic 8 Ball says: ‘In The Fog’.  Also Mobihealthnews.

Previously in TTA: FDA regulating medical apps–or not? The Hearings. If not FDA to regulate mHealth, then who? An ‘Office of mHealth’ a solution for FDA gridlock?

‘The new era of connected aging’

The Center for Technology and Aging’s latest white paper posits their vision on how online and mobile technologies will increasingly be used to support older adults in living independently longer and in better health, as well as assisting caregivers. Use of mobile phones, social networking and tablets have all been on a gradual growth curve, with phones well above 60 percent in the over-65 age bracket. The technology is also moving away from single-purpose devices to those that integrate with phones and tablets. The New Era of Connected Aging: A Framework for Understanding Technologies that Support Older Adults in Aging in Place

Curating consumer health apps 2.0

With Happtique apparently exiting the health app curation/vetting for consumers business [TTA 17 May], HealthTap, which has built up several doctor-related applications such as a provider directory, Q&A and referral service, is entering with AppRx. It takes a semi-crowdsourcing approach to curation, building up reviews and recommendations from its claimed 40,000 physician users which are then reviewed by a ‘medical review board’ of chosen physicians. For both doctors and patients, AppRx has its own interface for viewing the Apple and Android app stores and further breaks down types of apps into 30 categories. Prescribing is in the future. If this sounds more than a bit like Happtique’s mRx, it does–in the originally conceived version. HealthTap’s also been well-financed– $38 million by Khosla Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Eric Schmidt and various angels. HealthTap takes on app curation, prescribing (Mobihealthnews)

iAwards winners announced today at WLSA

TripleTree’s iAwards were announced this afternoon (US) at the finale of this year’s Wireless-Life Science Alliance’s (WLSA) annual Convergence Summit. From a field of 12–AgaMatrix, AliveCor,  Asthmapolis, Carenet Healthcare Services, CareTicker, Change Healthcare, Cyracom, Etransmedia, Evive Health, Healthsense, Qualcomm Life and Trice Imaging–the winners are in three areas plus one: Clinical Effectiveness —Healthsense (telecare, at long last!); Consumer Engagement–AgaMatrix (diabetes management technology); Operational Effectiveness–CyraCom (on-demand language services.) In addition, special recognition was given to Asthmapolis as the recipient of its 2013 Horizon Award, recognizing ‘their unique advancements in chronic disease management via connected health’. The annual iAwards at WLSA, sponsored by healthcare investment capital firm TripleTree, honor companies demonstrating, insight, innovation, and initiative in healthcare technology. TripleTree release.

mHIMSS Convergence Summit coverage starts with the interesting conundrum of the person who will be readmitted for his/her diabetes:

Three people who’ve been newly diagnosed with diabetes are discharged from the hospital on the same day. Who’s most likely to be re-admitted soonest? That would be the one with the worst credit rating. Someone who can’t keep track of his or her finances probably won’t be able to keep up with his post-discharge regimen.–Harry Greenspun MD of Deloitte

This Editor hears Big Data calling…After all, healthy people have more fun….Putting the “fun” back into healthcare

Plus…Live/podcasted coverage of the Convergence Summit:

  • HIBC.tv (Health Information Broadcasting Consortium). You will have to search through the lengthy menu of thumbnails below for later coverage (look for WLSA) but the first group of keynotes featuring Dirk Stanley MD, Rob McCray (WLSA), Joseph Kvedar MD (Center for Connected Health) and Chris Penrose (AT&T) is here (53:34). A second 3: 20 video with Bruno Leroy (Sanofi) is here.
  • mHealthZone Live on BlogTalkRadio: Ben Chodor has been continuing his radio podcasts on the mHealthZone now live from the WLSA: Day 1, Day 2 (today). All broadcasts approximately 35:00.

Appurify perhaps a solution for Misfit’s Android blues?

Appurify is a new, still in beta, service that states they are the first to fully automate the process of testing mobile apps across devices. It is competitive against two services–Perfecto Mobile and Device Anywhere–but claims the latter have manual aspects in their testing that Appurify does not. Their testing claims to be on real devices in real user conditions, with real devices hooked up to its servers so they can suss out performance on, for example, AT&T’s 3G compared to Verizon’s 4G. Appurify just received $4.5 million from Google Ventures to raise its funding kitty to $6.25 million. Perhaps they could help out Misfit with Android below? VentureBeat

Misfit Shine debut delayed, minus Android

click to enlargeAnnounced to Misfit Shiners on the Saturday of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, of all times, was the further delay of their wearable tracker-sensor to mid-July from early June. The five to six week delay due to waterproofing was less aggravating to many pledgers than the dropping of Android compatibility for iOS only.  To those early birds who enthusiastically pledged their money to buy 10,000 units as part of the $846,000 incredibly oversubscribed placement on Indiegogo, the squishily worded justification on their blog from founder Sonny Vu, ” iOS allows us to roll out the features we want and give you the best user experience out of the box” did not satisfy–and the date of Android’s debut was not addressed. Comments on Indiegogo are not complimentary. With not only the kickstarter funding but a healthy jolt of Series A funds ($7.6 million), it is a mystery to most why Android is not supported from the start. Refund requests are a-go-go. So Misfit is sleek, waterproof….and has to overcome bad word-of-mouth from its funders just before its official debut. And directly competitive Fitbit and Jawbone UP support Android.  Crowdfund Insider, Mobihealthnews

Robots go squishy, exoskeletons do not, and here’s your drink

Gizmag profiles another soft robot, this out of University of California Berkeley with a hydrogel/graphene layer that causes it to flex when exposed to light. A natural to combine with the Harvard/Wyss/DARPA chameleon [TTA 23 Aug 12] or, according to the article, drug delivery and tissue engineering. 0:36 video demos the gel in a ‘hand’ flipping its ‘fingers’ by laser light. Soft robots could benefit from new light-controlled hydrogel

Honda, one of the many companies developing exoskeletons to assist movement, is the first to lease 100 of them to 50 hospitals in Japan for testing. After 14 years of development, it’s about time. The current model is 2.6 kg (5.7 lbs.) and according to Honda, will “improve the symmetry of the timing of each leg lifting from the ground and extending forward, and to promote a longer stride for an easier walk.” Exoskeletons have been developed on three purposes. The first is assistance to the elderly and those in rehabilitation (Honda’s, Cyberdyne’s HAL, EKSO Bionics, Argo ReWalk TTA 29 June 11). The second is industrial (Honda as well.) The third is military, to support soldiers’ strength in the field and in combat conditions (RB3D, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; also DARPA/Harvard/Wyss TTA 27 July 12Honda begins leasing Walking Assist Exoskeleton (Gizmag)

And after all this, wouldn’t you like a drink? Coming right up…. Cornell University’s Personal Robotics Lab adapted a Willow Garage PR-2 to serve you a beer or your favorite beverage. For a robot, anticipating human actions is a real challenge. That simple top-up of a drink can, if actions are not correctly interpreted, mean a big spill. So the Cornellians programmed the robot with 120 3D videos of people in everyday tasks, broken down into subtasks that the robot then recompiles into models of different activities, and then equipped the PR-2 with a Microsoft Kinect scanner to build up a 3D map of the objects present, so that the robot can then ‘observe’ how they might be used. It gives you pause to realize that simple everyday activities are made up of a myriad of subactions. Robby, pour me a tall one….Cornell develops beer-pouring robot that anticipates people’s actions (Gizmag again)

UK North West Telecare Event: Call to suppliers

3 September 2013, Salford City Stadium

Being organised for the North West’s council and housing providers’ telecare services by Dawn Thornber of Contour Homes, this free-for-attendees event will be a low-cost opportunity for suppliers to showcase their latest products to people who do not normally attend national events. It is also likely to generate good local publicity. Hazel Blears (MP and all-party representative on dementia) will be the guest speaker and any surplus from the event will be donated to a dementia charity. Suppliers who would like to be involved please email Dawn.

Med ePad patient-centred care for prostate cancer patients (Wales)

We said that Med ePad was ‘one to watch’ for forthcoming developments back in February. Here’s the first: the Med ePad Prostate Clinic App is being tried at the prostate clinic of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board. The app is designed to inform, support and involve patients throughout the diagnosis and treatment for their prostate problems. By providing better information from the point of referral onwards, it is expected that patients will be better informed about their condition and about the treatment options available during their consultations. Other integral functions of the app include appointment and medications reminders; clinically driven and patient-specific visual representation of the care pathway; full graphical audio/visual animations; clinician/patient video interaction and configurable real time surveys. Med ePad website.

Ambivalence over end of life decisions (Europe)

Not telehealth or telecare directly, but relevant to many TTA readers, a new Europe-wide research findings from the King’s College London’s Cicely Saunders Institute and Project BuildCARE explores people’s preferences when it comes to decision-making at the end of life. Dr Daveson, lead author of the paper, said that when thinking about scenarios of lost capacity, for example, most people in Europe do not want to make decisions about their healthcare in advance. Some people decide not to make end of life decisions about their care before they absolutely have to because:

  1. They believe that they will not know what they will want to choose until they are in the situation
  2. It is easier not to think about it
  3. They think that avoiding making decisions beforehand will avoid burdening family members

However, 53% of survey respondents wanted their partner or spouse to be involved in helping them make their decision and 40% also wanted other relatives to be involved. This means that for many people these will be family decisions. Preferences for self-involvement in decision-making – new research findings from across Europe: What would you choose? KCL main site. Infographic (PDF download)