A question for our readers: what does it take for health tech to cross borders well?

In considering the culture gap surrounding Telefónica’s stumble down the pit with O2–and other projects they had that didn’t cross borders well–this Editor thought it worthwhile to ask our readers, particularly our new ones, to kick off a conversation in Comments about this observation. There seem to be national barriers in health tech. Why?

What are the factors that enable health tech companies to cross borders and be successful?

This is not a comprehensive survey by any means, but in your Editor’s experience, it appears that most health tech innovation by smaller companies stays in the country of design. When it is purchased by a multi-national organization, cautiousness takes hold. Much of the liveliness of PERS market leader Lifeline has dimmed since Philips acquired it about 2008, (more…)

Apple’s tarnished luster predicted, interestingly

At the point where doctors and their children use iPhones routinely, iPad is the elite tablet and Apple’s balance sheet is deep in cash, University of Southern California business professor and management consultant Dave Logan is warning that the magic is waning. He uses a bit of communication analysis called ‘wordmapping’ that he’s developed to parse the remarks of Apple’s management, notably CEO Tim Cook, and concludes that Apple is losing its way. There is no longer a revolutionary-in-residence imagining something from nothing…none on the horizon, either. Apple-ologists have been tap dancing around this for awhile, but the protracted development of the Apple smartwatch is pinging all sorts of alarms, despite the flurry of activity in and around health ‘n’ fitness [TTA 20 July] We’ve been to this movie before when Blackberry was a must-have and dubbed ‘Crackberry.’ A rather cheeky headline that’s made a few AppleFans upset. Why Apple is a dead company walking (CBS MoneyWatch)

Related: Want to try wordmapping for yourself as a tool for ‘instant rapport’? Mr. Logan dishes on the fascinating pointers here.

Qualcomm Life, Palomar Health pair up to check out Glass-wear

The pairing up of Qualcomm Life and California health system Palomar Health in Glassomics is certainly a novel move. It’s termed an ‘incubator’ to explore wearable computing in medicine, but it is more like a test bed for the partners. Heading it are two recognized health tech honchos–Don Jones, VP of Qualcomm Life and Orlando Portale, Palomar’s Chief Innovation Officer. Innovation and development is not new for Palomar and Portale–they trialled AirStrip, Mr. Portale’s mobile platform for it (eventually sold to them), and were key in the three-year ramp-up of Sotera Wireless’ Visi Mobile patient vital sign monitor [TTA 23 Aug 12]. Much has been made of the Glass connection and testing its healthcare chops, but their mission is not limited to ‘glassware’ (and not for your weekend drinks party, either.) It’s also a home to test out Qualcomm’s 2net connection platform and Healthy Circles Care Orchestration tools and services. Glassomics website. Gigaom article

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/specs.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]And for your weekend drinks party, here’s a cooler, lighter and less geeky take on Glass: GlassUp. It reports incoming e-mails, text messages, tweets, Facebook updates and other messages. Italian design for Augmented Reality (the new cool term for the category) of course. Yours for $299-399 on crowdfunder Indiegogo, where they are less than halfway to their goal with 11 days left (better hustle!). The Indiegogo video here.

No more lying through your teeth?

A sensor embedded in your tooth could tell doctors if you have defied medical advice to give up smoking or to eat less!

Built into a tiny circuit board, the sensor includes an accelerometer that transmits data to a smartphone. So from each tell-tale jaw motion pattern, the software can work out how much chewing, teeth grinding, smoking, coughing, talking or (…okay I’ll stop there!) that you are doing.

The device can be fitted into dentures or a dental brace, and the team at the National Taiwan University in Taipei plan to miniaturise it further to fit into a cavity or crown. Results so far look promising, with the system having recognised ‘oral activities’ correctly 94 per cent of the time in tests to date. New Scientist and IEEE Spectrum have both covered the story.

It kind of takes ‘wearables’ into a whole new sphere! Don’t you think?

Pressure-sensitive electronic ‘skin’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/skin-monitor-130513.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]A thin pressure sensor under development by a team at Stanford University has the potential to impact robotics, health tech devices, smartwatches and prosthetics. A transistor made of a flexible polymer semiconductor is actually more sensitive than skin, detecting temperature, pressure and humidity, and works even when curved. At a pulse point, it not only detected pulse but also “a second, weaker wave of blood being bounced back from the extremities, and a third wave that can provide a measurement of the stiffness of the artery. Stiff arteries can be a sign of damage from diabetes, or cholesterol buildup.” LiveScience. Published in Nature Communications in May and somehow winding up in the NY Post this week.


  • the TakkTile sensor developed at Harvard which is also centered on a digital barometer [TTA 23 April].
  • another pressure-sensitive thin skin from researchers Martin Kaltenbrunner and Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo, oddly attractive on its own. Engadget

The doctor’s dilemma: I hate my EHR, but is it worth the ‘rip and replace’? (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/doctor_pulling_hair.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Will this doctor be able to replace his hair? Confirming EHR misery for doctors, this article in Healthcare Technology Online gives more details on the Black Book Rankings’ 2013 State of the Ambulatory EHR Market report that we presented back in February when early findings were released. Out of their 17,000 users from solo practitioners to 100+ doctor practices, 31 percent of respondents were dissatisfied enough with their EHR to consider making a change with 18% seeking to change systems within the next year. Poor usability led the reasons why. But there’s 84 percent plus queasiness about vendor viability, reasonable when there are 600+ vendors and a number have already gone out of business leaving their practices stranded. The basics aren’t enough–must-haves are support for mobile devices (80 percent), data sharing and integration (83 percent)  and patient portal (58 percent). And it has to be Web-based/SaaS  based (70 percent). One detail: confirmation of the anecdotal ‘we jumped too fast to get the Meaningful Use money’.  #EHRbacklash, indeed. 

Harvard Business School + Harvard Medical School = Forum on Healthcare Innovation

Definitely for your weekend perusal, the report issued earlier this month from the first collaboration between HBS and HMS, the Forum on Healthcare Innovation, is derived from the five-panel, two-day conference, ‘Healing Ourselves: Addressing Healthcare’s Innovation Challenge’, held last November at HBS. It centered on ‘Five Imperatives’ :

1. Making Value The Central Objective
2. Promoting Novel Approaches to Process Improvement
3. Making Consumerism Really Work
4. Decentralizing Approaches to Problem Solving
5. Integrating New Approaches Into Established Organizations

Dan Munro’s Forbes article is an excellent summary of a 26 page report. Additional content and videos are available on the Forum’s website. The one certainly worth watching is Clayton Christensen’s as moderator of Panel 4 – Improving the Patient Experience (link) which focused on decentralizing care–pushing care out to consumers via clinics and decentralizing the innovation process. (The Innovator’s Prescription discusses this at length.) What is notable from the initial reading is that no one is discussing ‘technology’, HIT or mobile health specifically or as a panacea–but it is shadowing everything : effectively using patient data, the quality of that data, and ways patients can use information to guide their choices. This doesn’t seem like a single shot effort, so we’ll be watching for Round 2.

When mHealth and telehealth become ‘just healthcare’ (US)

GovernmentHealthIT reports that, speaking yesterday during the first day of the World Congress on mHealth and Telehealth in Boston, US, Jonah J. Czerwinski said Veterans Affairs (VA) had managed the health of some 500,000 people using telehealth in 2012.  He expects this to rise to over 600,000 this year.  He is senior advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where he leads the VA Center for Innovation.  That’s some endorsement for telehealth!

“It’s connected healthcare – no ‘tele-,’ no ‘m-,'” he is reported to have told the audience: “This is just healthcare.”

Picking up on the topic of automating telehealth monitoring, he also described how the VitaLink home monitoring system, one of the VA’s more promising telehealth projects, has been developed by the VA from algorithms used in the mining industry to detect when drill bits embedded deep in the earth were stressed out and ready to fail.

Soapbox: Further thoughts on CarelineUK, O2 & WSD

The many, excellent, comments on O2’s withdrawal of their current telecare & telehealth offerings in the UK market, most notably from my fellow editor Alasdair Morrison, have prompted further thoughts on the post about CarelineUK’s 25th anniversary earlier today: what will CarelineUK,  and other organisations like it, look like in 25 years’ time?

Perhaps the most significant change that appears to be coming in the area of telemonitoring is  (more…)

CarelineUK celebrates 25th Anniversary

Congratulations to CarelineUK on the 25th anniversary of the receipt of their first emergency call.  According to the announcement on their website they are now the largest monitoring centre in the UK, covering over 110,000 service users across the country.  Over 120 people work at their New Forest call centre which has the ability to integrate telecare & telehealth monitoring. and is compatible with digital networks.

Gestational Diabetes Telehealth trial at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford (UK)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/John-Radcliffe-Hospital.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Diabetes in pregnant women, known as gestational diabetes, is said to have significantly increased over the past 20 years and affects 1 in 20 pregnant women in the UK. This  is probably caused by an excess intake of carbohydrates, says Dr Lucy Mackillop of John Radcliffe Hospital, in an interview in Inside Health on BBC Radio 4, broadcast on 23 July 2013.

A foetus growing in a high sugar environment can lead to an overweight baby resulting in birth difficulties. Such babies may also develop problems such as diabetes in later life. Gestational diabetes also carries all the usual dangers of diabetes for mother.

If a pregnant woman has one of 5 risk factors she will be fully tested for diabetes and if she is diabetic, she will be monitored during preganancy. Monitoring typically may be a fortnightly hospital visit, but at the John Radcliffe there is a trial of 50 mothers who have been given special blood sugar meters which connect to smart phones via Bluetooth.

A daily blood sugar test result is transmitted to the hospital where software picks out patients that may need attention by a midwife, and changes to the treatment regime can be implemented if necessary. This saves many unnecessary hospital visits while giving a much more frequent review of the state of the patients.

Download the full programme from the BBC Radio 4 podcast page.

Telehealth – the RSM guide

Some while back a suggestion was made that the Royal Society of Medicine produced a short guide to telehealth that gave an unbiased a view as possible of the topic.

Well it’s now been published on the website and will also be available in print at selected conferences and similar gatherings.  The intention is that it can be given to clinicians, patients and other interested parties that want to know more.  It is also unashamed publicity for the RSM’s (unbiased) telehealth-related events, for those that want to know even more – the website version will be refreshed as events come & go.

I should immediately declare an interest as one of the authors – the others are Prof Brian McKinstry, Dr Richard Williams and Helen Lyndon.

Special thanks to inHealthcare and medvivo for their kind sponsorship.

Hope you like it!

Leicester City CCG sets impressive standard for COPD telehealth savings

EHI describes what looks to be a hugely impressive COPD project being run by NHS Leicester City CCG.  Using a “definition of saved admissions that identifies when a clinical intervention has been made that stops a patient being admitted to hospital within 14 days” they reckon they have prevented 107 hospital admissions over the past 30 weeks and they are currently up to only 47 patients.  As these 30 weeks referred to will have spanned the winter months (usually the worst time for COPD exacerbations) even if there are no avoided hospitalisations at all in the remaining 22 weeks to the first anniversary of the project, on these figures they are preventing upwards of (more…)