A real, beneficial, current use for 3D printing in medicine (Belgium)

Following our recent Blue Blazes award, along now comes a practical use for 3D printing, to help surgeons reduce theatre time, which both reduces health risk when areas such as the brain are exposed and reduces theatre costs which apparently in round numbers are some $100/minute.   This interesting item from On 3D Printing explains how by making an exact model of a patient’s bone structure, surgeons can prepare beforehand precisely-shaped metal bone inserts that will fit perfectly, so avoiding time-consuming metal shaping when the patient is in theatre.

Patient groups most likely to use mobile phones for health: study

A new Manhattan Research study, which starts off rather pedestrian, contains a surprise. The trend of increased used of smartphones for health is not it, as it follows online use: 95 million Americans now use their mobile phones for health information or tools, up 27 percent from 75 million a year ago, and the Cybercitizen Health US 2013 study of over 8,600 Americans found that 38 percent of online smartphone users consider it “essential”. What sets the study apart from the usual enumeration and semi-puffery is the discovery of which patient groups find smartphones most useful and are most likely to use their phones for health reasons. It is closely linked to medical chronic conditions, but not the ones you think. (more…)

Wellocracy launched to explain fitness tracking, apps

Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health has launched Wellocracy, to explain to consumers how you can get the most out of their fitness trackers, health apps and related devices. It won’t be a ‘Consumer Reports’ of devices or apps (though provides a comparison chart), ‘curate’ them as the now seemingly dormant Happtique once intended to do or screech at you on your ‘issues’ as Cigna’s Go You does, but offers sensible advice on how to get the most out of the kit you just bought and the information it provides. Also it addresses the ‘stickiness factor’–staying with a regimen–connects to outside news and adds a large dollop of social engagement with sharing ‘The New Fit Revolution.’ Coincidentally, The Center’s Joseph Kvedar, M.D. just co-authored a book, Wellocracy: Move to a Great Body, with Carol Colman and Justin Mager, MD. Release includes a useful Harris Interactive survey that indicates that fitness and sleep tracking are seen favorably and perceived as valuable but is still large on potential, short on customers.

Luxe workchair becomes telehealth chair

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Sharp_Telehealth_Chair.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Sit down, relax and let Sharp Electronics‘ Health Care Support Chair do the telehealth work. It will, once you arrange yourself comfortably on the proper sensors, take your body temperature, heart rate, weight, and blood pressure, and put it up there on the big three-part screen to tell you if you’ve been good or bad. The cloud service behind it presumably will store and analyze your information, then send to your doctor if you choose.

Here’s the ‘wow’ view from the chair.[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/sharp-health-chair-6.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /] Telepresence Options noted that Ubergizmo tracked down the chair to the super-luxe MWE Labs‘ Emperor 1510 workstation–an interesting repurposing which demonstrates that health sensors can be incorporated into furniture. It was unveiled at the September CEATEC Japan show and is perhaps designed to address the needs of the rapidly aging but affluent populations of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea who do not want to mess with mobile devices or apps. Also SlashGear.

Fashion? Can wearables simply…work?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Apple’s hiring of Burberry’s CEO Angela Ahrendts as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores to start in spring 2014 may well be indicative of the importance that Apple is putting on 1) smartwatches (she was honcho of a Burberry watch intro) and 2) wearables (she refreshed and upscaled an iconic brand from stores to merchandise). Chris Matyszczyk in Cnet points out that she is the second hire from the fashion industry (the other’s from YSL). On one hand this seems to reinforce that Apple’s strong suit is design; on the other hand it implies that their retail and online stores need to evolve after some recent missteps–and that they may not feel as confident as in the past of their internal capabilities. However this all seems too haute for the simple everyday buyer who wants stuff that helps you live your life better and more conveniently, and who may find it much easier to go to Verizon or Vodaphone for their mobile needs and that Jawbone UP band to wear. And where are the other wearables, say in a Burberry scarf? The Gimlet Eye is blinking in impatience, and it had better be elegant, or Gloria and Babe’s ghosts will be haunting Cupertino. [TTA 25 Oct]  Apple and the emperor’s new wearable tech (Cnet) Hat tip to TANN Ireland Editor Toni BuntingNew Apple Retail Chief Hired Over SummerApple to Hire Burberry CEO (MacRumors).

Much ado about Airo

A flurry of publicity has descended like early snow in the Rockies promoting the AIRO fitness band. Developed by three graduates of Canada’s University of Waterloo, it is building pre-delivery excitement (and pre-orders) around the band’s claimed unique capability to analyze post-eating effects and make recommendations. A mini-spectrometer built into the band uses light wavelengths to look into a person’s blood stream and detect the metabolites released during and after eating. Their program then analyzes the information and makes nutritional recommendations on your smartphone without any separate input of foods or calories. As far as this Editor knows, this is a first, along with using heart rate and caloric burn to measure exercise intensity and recovery. The ‘only health tracker you’ll ever need’ cuff also measures and reports on stress and sleep. The company is taking pre-orders at $149 in advance of the full DTC price of $200 (not sure if in Canadian or US dollars), but according to the FAQs delivery will not be until Fall 2014. For iPhones and Android.

Could Fitbit and Jawbone Up be getting the treatment they meted out to Zeo within a year? Will the spectrometer and blood analysis mean that the device will need FDA and Health Canada clearance? Inquiring minds want to know. Website, video, Business Insider article, CBS-TV Cleveland. (Editor Donna note that the pre-sale over a year in advance is essentially a crowdfunding strategy, but standalone it feels ‘take the money and run’ dodgy.)  Hat tip to reader Lois Drapin of The Drapin Group, New York.

Update 31 October: The somewhat sketchy credibility of this device has increased exponentially, in this Editor’s opinion, since the revelation that there is not a working prototype (due in December, according to the founder) and the spectrometer’s capability and accuracy of detecting blood metabolites non-invasively at the wrist may resemble junk science (MedCityNews). Brian Dolan concludes that as of this point, Airo cannot be what it’s cracked up to be in Mobihealthnews.

In smartwatch 2014 deluge news, Google is also nearing its smartwatch launch within months, according to The Wall Street Journal. The watch will incorporate the Google Now personal assistant.

Healthcare.gov’s broken UX guidelines

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/now-panic-and-freak-out.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Given the broken Healthcare.gov website, perhaps a silver lining lesson some of us can take from it, as we (in the US) wait and wonder, is what user experience (UX) usability guidelines it broke. From UX research/consultancy Nielsen Norman group is a ‘count the ways’ to ten. (A difference–the pictures of real people have been removed and replaced with cartoons, with wags bemoaning the loss of the anonymous ‘Obamacare girl’ on the home page, not depicted here.) The contention here is that the account setup is unnecessarily complex and may be contributing to the backend technology failure. HealthCare.gov’s Account Setup: 10 Broken Usability Guidelines  Hat tip to former EIC Steve Hards. (more…)

UCLA telemedicine platform connecting Army medicine and wounded warriors

In a joint program instituted by UCLA Health, Brooke Army Medical Center (AMC), a burn and rehab hospital in San Antonio and the Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System over the past six years, wounded soldiers undergoing major facial or burn reconstruction at UCLA have had access to telemedicine consults between UCLA and Brooke AMC. This is now being expanded to include other major reconstructions, such as orthopedic reconstruction for severely damaged limbs, urologic treatment, otolaryngological care, examination and treatment of reproductive issues, repair of airways and design of new prosthetic ears. In including Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, the program is now including TBI and PTSD.  FierceHealthIT on Operation Mend.

Can telehealth kiosks fill the treatment gap?

Telemedicine’s virtual doctor-patient consults have usually been positioned as computer (and now tablet/smartphone over Wi-Fi–American Well’s announcement earlier this month) driven. Kiosks provide an alternate model for a more detailed visit. The relatively new HealthSpot Station has secured a CMS Healthcare Innovation grant of $12.7 million to place kiosks in partnership with three Cleveland, Ohio hospital systems, including University Hospital and for Cuyahoga County employees through a partnership with MetroHealth. One of the UH kiosks is at the Friendly Inn Settlement House, a social services provider in a high-poverty neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland; visits are free for the next three months for kids between 3-18 (accompanied by a parent). (more…)

A highlight from ATA 2013 Fall Meeting: Psychiatric appointments as a ‘data-file’

In a conversation at a recent Health 2.0 NYC event, this Editor asked Doug Naegele what was the most surprising topic at the recent American Telemedicine Association conference in Toronto. Doug has graciously contributed this short article. He is the founder of Infield Health, a firm dedicated to increasing health outcomes and reducing total cost of care by putting discharge instructions on mobile phones. 

At the ATA Fall Meeting in Toronto last month, Dr. Peter Yellowlees gave a presentation on his work at University of California-Davis around telepsychiatry. I was struck by a few of his discussion points:

1. It may be helpful to see psychiatric consults as ‘data files’ and not events that require mandatory real-time evaluation.
2. If we accept that these consults can be described as data files, then they can be forwarded to remote psychiatrists for viewing, evaluation, and treatment recommendations much in the same way radiological scans are remotely evaluated. (more…)

Is this Tunstall’s ‘taxgate’? Maybe not.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/taxman_logo.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]On Monday, The Independent, one of the UK’s major national papers, turned its attention in a ‘Tax Special Investigation’ to nine healthcare companies which are using a corporation tax reducing scheme, the ‘Quoted Eurobond Exemption’, where they pay loan interest at high rates to their parent companies through a mechanism via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, rather than their owners further investing by taking additional equity. (How it works–infographic from The Independent)

One of the companies the article focused on was Tunstall and its owners Charterhouse and Bridgepoint. Tunstall’s profits–like the other healthcare companies profiled, Partnerships In Care, Independent Clinical Services, Priory Group, Acorn Care, Lifeways, Healthcare At Home, Spire Healthcare and Care UK–come largely from the public sector and, by using this means to pay less tax, less money is recycled back to the Treasury. The article estimates the amount for each company which would have been paid had this tax exemption not been in place. This Editor notes that a number of the companies profiled have had significant inspection problems and numerous complaints–Tunstall is not one of them, but it is the second largest ‘tax avoider’ (after Spire) listed.

There seem to be three ways to regard this:
1) it’s a commendably clever contrivance
2) it’s a suspiciously shady stratagem
3) it’s a non-story because it is something imposed on Tunstall by its owners

Whatever it may be, we are left wondering if Tunstall’s customers benefit in any way from this tax saving. We will be interested in our readers’ views.

Independent article: Tax Special Investigation: Firms running NHS care services avoiding millions in tax It is equally popular with well known high street (US=Main Street) retailers and restaurant chains: Eurobonds scandal: The high street giants avoiding millions in tax    (more…)

700+ cybersquatters on Healthcare.gov, state exchanges

The Washington Examiner estimates that there are 700 or more ‘cyber-squatters’–the dodgy websites that have URLs close to a well-known name–on the Obamacare Healthcare.gov and the 14 state (plus District of Columbia) sites. Identity theft moves to a new and obvious level when it’s no hacking required. All thieves need to is to put up a legitimate-appearing website with the appropriate language and forms that ask for your name, address, income, date of birth and Social Security number, which is apparently what Obama-care.us does. “[Obama-care.us] is so well deceptively designed that I had to research the owner to verify that it wasn’t a government site,” said a retired cybersecurity industry expert.” According to the article, 3,000 people have visited it. What is normal for major sites is to ‘buy around’ the name in multiple domains, alternate search terms and even misspellings and using them to redirect. This is another standard business practice that somehow they neglected to check off the list at HHS. Example: a long-established and legitimate site, Healthcare.com, is so close in name that it alone is capable of siphoning off 30 percent of normal traffic–and they never were approached to sell. Which considering that the real website doesn’t work….  Obamacare launch spawns 700+ cyber-squatters capitalizing on Healthcare.gov, state exchanges  And more on the Lucky Men ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ behind Healthcare.com from VentureBeatPreviously in TTA: The sea of security ‘red flags’ that is Healthcare.gov

The Gimlet Eye’s fashion update

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/heartbeatdress-260×300.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Enough of this talk of failing health insurance websites and dodgy taxes! Begone! The Babe Paley or Gloria Guinness that The Gimlet Eye aspires to be longs for a dress such as this. And accompanied with its built-in InflataCorset which will calm my excited heart and nervous system when reading the latest outrage, Eye am also assured of maintaining an unblinking countenance (though too much corseting may cause me to fall into a faint.) The Flutter dress is pretty enough to conceal its premise to assist the wearer with hearing loss to ‘feel’ loud sound and respond. And Dahea Sun’s color changing dress depending on the environment–perfection, though the microcontroller may scratch. Does it change to basic black? Rise of the Fashionable Machines (MedCityNews)

Telecare-assisted AL resident monitoring: study

Research on telecare in the US has been rare of late. Thus this qualitative analysis of focus groups with twelve housing managers from twelve different Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS) assisted living communities in the LivingWell@Home (LW@H) program should be looked at carefully for both benefits of and issues with sensor-based monitoring of residents’ significant activities of daily living (ADLs). On the ten most prevalent themes, the most positive were:

  • Benefits: marketing in bridging home to AL and enhanced quality of care; validation of information helping with resident medical status and overall safety; proactive detection of health events
  • Sleep patterns: quality of sleep was perceived as important, and disturbance as an advance indicator of a change in resident health
  • Family member assurance: family members understand the value of technology-assisted care in advanced alerting to potential health problems. In fact using the system at home was possibly more attractive to them than in AL.

However, issues with the LW@H program ranged from perceptual ones (resident privacy)  (more…)

‘Game changing’ healthcare robots

Healthcare service robots have definitely gone ‘mainstream’ if two are ‘Game Changer’ winners in the industry’s Robotics Business Review. The honors go to the Aethon TUG, a laser and infrared-guided robo-deliverer for medications, lab specimens, food, blood, linens–and remover of trash and waste; and the sumo-like Hstar Technologies RoNA – Robotic Nursing Assistant System to lift extremely heavy patients and minimize nurse/aide injury. Among the finalists were the iRobot Ava using the Cisco TelePresence EX telemedicine platform and (a new one on this Editor) a physician assistant for the delicate work of scalp hair transplantation, Restoration Robotics ARTAS Robotic System. But we could also see healthcare uses for Five Elements Robotics’ Budgee personal transport carrier to assist those who cannot carry heavy loads. RBR’s full list.

mHealth for Behaviour Change

4 December 2013, Holiday Inn Regent’s Park, Central London, UK

SMi’s masterclass hosted by David Doherty of 3G Doctor will cover the following:

• Introduction to how mobile is changing behaviour (positive & negative)
• Overview of available mHealth technologies
• Lessons from previous research efforts
• Ways Healthcare Providers are leveraging Mobile Technology to change behaviour
• Deep dive on world leading program that uses mHealth tech to manage Chronic Disease
• Insights into how to design for sustainable behaviour change

Information and registration.