Rise of the internet and telehealth in India

An interesting post in the British Medical Journal Blog (blogs.bmj.com) yesterday by a former president of the Telemedicine Society of India, K Ganapathy, suggests that India may be leap frogging the West in telehealth. (It is well accepted that many developing countries leap frogged in the telecommunications race when they skipped one or more steps in the process to catch up with the latest mobile telecoms technology.)

Ganapathy says that in a recent survey 48% of those responding in rural India and 72% in urban India had heard of mHealth and 55% overall intended to use mHealth if available. He says that the Indian Government is setting up 100,000 internet centres in rural India and suggests that extending these into remote telehealth access points is a reality. Read the whole posting here.

Telehealth in remote areas in NZ using videoconferencing

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/NZ-ITHB-logo.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]”When patient Whiti Fletcher went to Kaitaia Hospital’s renal unit for her regular dialysis, she had the complication of chest pains. Through a videoconferencing link, Mrs Fletcher was assessed by a renal specialist at Whangarei Hospital, who decided she was able to have dialysis at the unit in Kaitaia as planned, rather than face the four-hour return trip to Whangarei Hospital.” This is the example presented by the IT Health Board of the New Zealand Ministry of Health when describing the use of telehealth in the sparsely populated northern region of the New Zealand’s North Island. (more…)

1 in 6 over 65s may hide serious issues from their friends & family (UK survey)

After commissioning new research, Centra Pulse, formerly Invicta Telecare, found that one-in-six over 65s in the UK (around 1.5 million) may have hidden a serious injury, illness or accident from friends and family. Of these, 12% said they thought they would be seen as incapable of looking after themselves. More than two thirds didn’t want to worry friends and family.

Centra has therefore launched a new online “ten top tips” guide to help families tackle difficult conversations with their older relatives about their care.

The full results of the survey are now available online here.  Two statistics that particularly deserve a quote are:

“While 40% of over-65s Centra surveyed said they worry life may get more difficult as they age, two thirds (65%) haven’t seriously thought about the type of care they would prefer in the past five years. Less than one in three (28%) have had a conversation about what they would want to happen if they couldn’t look after themselves.

But nearly two thirds (62%) said their child would be someone they would turn to if they needed to talk about their care needs. More said they would turn to their son or daughter than go to their partner (59%), doctor (53%) or a friend (18%).”

The survey was carried out online by YouGov Plc for Centra.  Total sample size was 2,003 British adults aged 65 and over. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th July 2013 – 23rd July 2013.

“Dad, can you print me a hand”, and future 3D printing developments

Evidence that 3D printing is becoming increasing relevant in the world of healthcare comes from this story of a father who printed a new hand for his son who was born with the fingers missing on his left hand.  Whilst the article focuses on the DIY cost saving, there is no mention of the capital cost of the printer.

Earlier this month, the CEO of 3D Systems, Avi Reichental,  (more…)

3ml pivots, Lancashire telecare turns?

3millionlives goes sideways, again…

NHS England formally scrapped the planned seven ‘pathfinder sites’ projected to enroll 100,000 residents, in favor of a more limited scheme to gain adoption of telehealth in areas where ‘energy already exists’ in a new plan, ‘Integrated Care for 3millionlives’ to be delivered by March 2014. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in November 2012 set the 100,000 goal for 3ml; NHS England took over the program in April from the DH The totals tell the tale. An independent review by GP 8 Nov gave the total patient count as of September as just 2,368 patients in 20 active pathfinder CCGs (clinical commissioning groups). A spokesperson for NHS England quoted in GP stated that the goal of 3 million patients is still valid for 2017; Rachel Cashman, head of collaboration for excellence at NHS England, indicated at a conference that the plan would cover telehealth, telecare, telemedicine and telecoaching . If this were Silicon Valley, the word used would be the done-to-death ‘pivot.’  NHS England abandons health secretary’s pledge on telehealth (GP)3millionlives delivery plan by April (eHealthInsider)

As the world turns in Lancashire…

…it seems like a change in party control from Conservative to Labour has derailed the One Connect deal to provide telecare to county residents and possibly the career of the Conservative leader. The current Lancashire County councillors have charged that the deal, signed by the previous lead Councillor, would overcharge the county by £1.4million. One Connect is a 60/40 percent joint partnership between BT and the LCC. Muddying the waters is a personal dispute between the Conservative head and the Liberal Democratic leader. Tories turn on party leader (Lancashire Evening Post)

Swiss capsule monitors blood fat

Without the hype of Airo, a Swiss research team at ETH-Zurich has designed and is testing on mice a blood fat-detecting capsule that releases a satiation hormone when excessively high fat levels are detected, suppressing appetite. The circuit in the capsule can measure several types of fat, including several saturated and unsaturated animal and vegetable fats. If further developed, this could have impact on weight loss for humans.  Gizmag, Daily Mail

FDA tells 23andMe genomic test to stop marketing (US)

Quantified Selfers and the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) are in a swivet. This past Friday, FDA slammed the door shut on the 23andMe Personal Genome Service (PGS) saliva test. This past summer, the company broadly marketed to US consumers, including a TV campaign [Charles Lowe, TTA 7 Aug]. The FDA cease-and-desist letter cites that 23andMe never provided requested data on their July and September 510(k) filings, which are now ‘considered withdrawn’, and cites that “after these many interactions with 23andMe, we still do not have any assurance that the firm has analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses, which have expanded from the uses that the firm identified in its submissions.” The danger is that people will make medical decisions based on the testing information and that the results produced may be faulty. It appears from FierceHealthcare that the kit has actually been marketed for five years. According to MedCityNews, it is backed by Google Ventures (the CEO/co-founder is the estranged wife of Google head Sergey Brin), New Enterprise Associates, MPM Capital and the Moscow billionaire Yuri Milner. A private citizen is petitioning the White House to overrule the FDA (as if that extra-legal move would be possible, but who knows with the influence of the Googlesphere?) and states that the agency ‘grossly overstates the risks’ (also MedCityNews). As of 2 Dec there are 3,306 signatures of the 100,000 needed; one suspects this administration has bigger slices of uncooked turkey on its plate such as Obamacare and a kind-of-achieved 30 Nov deadline on Healthcare.gov, which is now clearly seen as just one problem.

The 23andMe website is still fully up and still selling kits.

Editor Donna sorts through the noise for possible reasons why:  (more…)

Epocrates ‘Bugs + Drugs’ infectious disease app inaccurate, should be pulled: reviewer

For clinicians who increasingly rely on major reference apps via smartphone and tablet, this sounds a loud cautionary note. This pharmacist’s detailed analysis of the errors and misinterpretation contained in the recently released and best-selling Epocrates reference app on the highly sensitive topic of infectious disease (including those that plague hospitals such as MRSA) culminates in a call to pull it from the Apple App Store. In several instances, the app pointed to the wrong antibiotic for an organism. The other faults are in using Athenahealth information to create what is called an antibiogram, “to identify what organisms are susceptible to what antibiotics in that locale”. The iMedicalApps analysis by Timothy Aungst, Pharm.D., professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has created quite a stir in the usual places. FierceMobileHealthcare covers this but decides to further blow up the balloon (or move off the point) in citing the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics and Journal of Cancer Education on the plain ineffectiveness and non-validation of the vast majority of healthcare apps–mainly consumer.

A fully loaded telehealthy clinic-on-wheels for rural medicine

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/wellcar-graphic3-588×379.jpg” thumb_width=”275″ /]The WellCar concept vehicle is mobile health on wheels. Based on a Ford Transit Connect wagon, this ongoing design project from the University of Kansas (KU) Center for Design Research incorporates technology practically in every corner to create a compact clinic that goes to patients rather than vice versa. The WellCar can be used by a nurse-practitioner team who can treat onsite, using onboard mobile telehealth devices sending to an EHR and virtual consult connectivity. A prototype is being constructed for test in 2014 to obtain National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation funding by fall 2014.  Partners include Ford, Abbott Point of Care, HealthSTATS, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Kansas City Plant, Sprint (Wi-Fi), Voalté (telemedicine); KU Medical Center partners include the Diabetes Institute, Midwest Cancer Alliance and the Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth. According to MedCityNews, the WellCar is a reaction to ObamaCare in reducing readmissions, improving rural care and promoting telehealth/telemedicine–which is perhaps an overstatement. Also ‘Back to the Future’ (MedCityNews) and KU’s article. (Photo from MedCityNews)

Launches: MyHealthApps directory, mobile mental health app in Cambridgeshire

MyHealthApps launches; Sun Network launches Crisis Card app for Cambridgeshire residents

Last year at this time, the PatientView patient research firm published The European Directory of Health Apps 2012-2013 with about 200 entries. Alex Wyke from PatientView has been kind enough to follow up and let us know as a comment on the original article [TTA 15 Nov 2012] that it has been expanded and relaunched as MyHealthApps. The site has grown to 307 apps selected by over 450 patient groups and with ‘heart’ ratings on a five-point system. While not comprehensive yet, notably it is now a truly international website with mirror sites in 48 languages from Albanian to Welsh, including four varieties of English (!) There are also submission links for patient groups and developers. PatientView developed this with support from: GSK, Janssen, Novo Nordisk, O2/Telefonica Europe, Vodafone Foundation, NHS England’s Library of Health Apps, UK government body KTN CONNECT and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). The patient group review and backing (more…)

‘Green Houses’ for older adults receive $2.77 million backing (US)

Our July profile on the innovative ‘Green Houses’ model for older adults as a designed-from-ground-up alternative to nursing homes mentioned the considerable support that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has given to the Green House Project with an initial 10-year, $10 million low-interest credit facility in 2011. RWJF has added a $2.77 million grant for a three-year acceleration of the model to include an updated financial model and a stronger marketing plan to create demand. All good things for this care model for high acuity residents. Grant on the RWJF website. MedCityNews.

Much ado about Airo: the denouement

Like the Maltese Falcon, ‘the stuff that dreams are made of’?

The madly touted Airo fitness band, with its claimed mini-spectrometer built into the band to detect nutritional blood metabolites for passive sensing of food consumption [TTA 30 Oct], has, after a firestorm in the industry press, conceded it lacked proof that it would ‘work as advertised’ and refunded money to its early backers. Very rarely have we seen mass disparagement in health tech, but the fact that the developers ginned up a lot of breathless publicity over a device without a working prototype and no studies to back a future design made it all too easy. (more…)

Another House bill supporting telehealth and telemedicine (US)

One of the two US House representatives behind the expansion of telehealth services for active duty and veteran military members [TTA 19 Nov], California Rep. Scott Peters (San Diego area), has just introduced a bill, HR 3577, the ‘Health Savings Through Technology Act,’ to “create a commission to inventory existing data, examine the cost-savings that can be achieved by increasing the use of wireless health technologies, and develop a comprehensive strategy for integrating these technologies into federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, which often serve the mobility-impaired and elderly.”  What is notable is the backing that the bill has from health tech ‘heavy hitters’ such as Qualcomm, American Telemedicine Association (ATA), CONNECT (a San Diego-based innovation catalyst and accelerator) and CHI-California Healthcare Institute, as well as life sciences industry groups BIOCOM (San Diego area) and BayBio (its Northern California counterpart). However, this commission will be studying a rapidly moving target and best get its skates on, fast. Not helping matters is that there is a long, long road between the introduction of a House bill and its joint passage by both House and Senate–if it ever passes. Release (Rep. Peters’ website) Hat tip to ATA (@AmericanTelemed) via Twitter.

Voice-enabled devices–pointer to the future?

LA billionaire and healthcare investor par excellence Patrick Soon-Shiong (his NantHealth raised $31 million earlier this year and owns Vitality, eviti, iSirona, iCOS) has just made a sizable $8 million investment in Fluential, which is developing a voice interface and speech-optimized recognition software for digital health, wellness, and weight management, to run on anything mobile including wearables, and to be released in the spring of 2014. If this works (and better than Siri), it has major implications across the board in the future shape of both consumer and clinical health tech, especially for older adults and those with mobility concerns. Mobihealthnews.

Sensors>>data>>what next?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/17L_2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Three of our FBQs concern data–who’s looking at it, who’s taking action with it and how it’s integrated into records. MedCityNews examines two sensor-based monitors in considering how to extract meaning from the data. In the hospital, bed pressure sensor plate EarlySense already has a pressure sensor algorithm that reminds a nurse or aid to turn the patient, but their main emphasis is highlighting vital signs trending in heart and respiratory rate, which can be predictive of a deteriorating condition based on a set range. For the mid-range of the healthy fit who want to be fitter, MIO (left) is the first and at present, only device in a watch form which tracks heart rate monitoring at performance levels without a chest strap and downloads data to an iPhone–which doesn’t quite support the premise of the article, but then there’s that hint (MIO is sold in Apple Stores for $199) that the technology will wind up in smartwatches….but still, Magic 8 Ball says ‘concentrate and ask again’.

CATCH Launch Event 19 November: report

Drs. Kenneth Law and Mutaz Aldawoud, GPs at the Hillside Bridge Health Centre in Bradford, attended the 19 November launch of the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH). Here is their report, with your Editors’ appreciation and thanks!

The Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) was officially launched on 19th November in Millennium Galleries in Sheffield. The launch offered an opportunity to explore the exciting research being undertaken at CATCH, based at the University of Sheffield, to help people live independently. (more…)