NYeC Digital Health Conference 2013: the trends

Updated 21 November

The third annual New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) Digital Health Conference in New York City attracted several hundred people from the worlds of hospitals, public health, academia, policy makers and health insurers–and the myriad related products and services which will enable these entities to improve their health IT, organization and engage patients in their own health. If there were three buzzword phrases setting the tone, they were interoperability, patient portals and technological innovation. All relate to data–data transfer of patient records between providers to be available regionally (RHIOs) and throughout the state via the SHIN-NY health information exchange (HIE); using data to help people visualize and improve their health;  putting data into ‘whole person’ context for providers, integrating it into workflows and to save lives; using data to serve process improvement and tougher standards. And finally there is that old devil cost: reducing the cost of care, reducing expensive readmissions plus co-morbidities and making those tools to do this job more affordable for providers and patients.

NYeC has developed considerably since its early days seven years ago (more…)

Telehealth saves $55 million in the Basque Country

Faced with an aging population (18 percent over 65) and a failing Spanish economy, the Basque Country Health System is testing telehealth systems to keep its older population healthier and out of the hospital (23 percent are readmitted to hospital). The Accenture-developed TEKI is based on a Microsoft Kinect and connects to a heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter and a spirometer, using the Kinect to evaluate their mobility and provide prescribed exercise therapy as part of rehabilitation. TEKI is part of an Accenture-developed ‘Multi-channel Health Service Center’ that provides a variety of counseling and education services to the local older adult population. The Kinect is also used as a telemedicine platform to communicate with the patients in the study. Results achieved by the program:$55 million saving in Year 1 through eliminating 52,000 hospital visits, a 7 percent cost reduction per patient. CNBC/Philips feature, MedCityNews, video of Osakidetza Hospital staff using TEKI with respiratory patients, Accenture paper.

Staples: a new market for health tech? (US)

Staples is following Amazon’s lead and getting into lines of business–including home health care and personal care–totally unrelated to its core merchandise of office supplies. E-commerce blog GetElastic takes a critical look at their business goals in driving towards over a million SKUs, bringing in third-party sellers (“marketplace”) and drop-shipping, plus sourcing and stocking an extended inventory. The news for us is that one of those marketplaces could be fitness tech/wearable items that employees use in wellness programs such as Fitbits, Jawbones and FuelBands, sensors for Samsung’s S Health program–or glucose meters and blood pressure cuffs. (Already Staples stocks DME, personal care, ostomy and respiratory supplies.) And since Staples already sells smartphones, the potential for cross-selling fitness add-ons and apps is excellent. Can Staples Succeed as an Everything Store?

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International CES unveils in NYC

The trends and items of note for next January’s show in Las Vegas

  • The ‘Internet of Things’ is the phrase-du-jour–embedding anything and everything with sensors (digital elements) and blending the physical and digital worlds
  • Consumer Digital Health Care was listed as #3 of CEA’s 2014 Technology Trends to Watch (PDF link). What is hot is self-tracking (1/3 of mobile users have tracked using a smartphone and tablet, and over half are now concerned about data security), integrating tech for seniors (touching on Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center [TTA 17 Mar 2010], remote monitoring (telehealth and telecare) including GrandCare Systems and kiosk HealthSpot Station, patient adherence, FDA approval of apps and the home as a healthcare hub.
  • Robots were the #4 trend: consumer robots such as home cleaners Roomba, Ecovacs; robots in eldercare; humanoid robots like NAO; robotic prosthetics and exoskeletons.

Digital health will again be showcased as a TechZone  (more…)

Fast takes for Friday

Changes at Center for Connected Health, DecaWave’s chip, Happy Hackers  Healthcare.gov

Center for Connected Health executives to head Portuguese ‘body dynamics’ company in US. Associate Director Joseph Ternullo, who over the years was one of the key organizers of the Connected Health Symposium, is leaving Partners HealthCare/CCH after 17 years to lead the US subsidiary of Kinematix (formerly Tomorrow Options) located in Boston. This was announced by email to CCH contacts today. Kinematix in October raised $2.6 million in Series B funding from Portugal Ventures. Heading the US board is another Partners HealthCare alumnus, Jay Pieper, formerly CEO of Partners International Medical Services. Kinematix’s two products focus on sensor-based monitoring for foot health assessment and to prevent pressure sores and falls.  Release. Boston Business Journal….ScenSor senses you to 10 centimeters. A 6 x 6 mm chip (more…)

A change of guard at GrandCare Systems

This Editor has often referred to her former competitor GrandCare Systems as one of the ‘grizzled pioneers’ on the Conestoga Wagons of Telecare–even more grizzled than QuietCare (circa 2003-4) since their ur-system dates back to 1995-6, when it kept track of founder and CEO Charlie Hillman’s mother Clara. In the years since, the closely-held company has broadened its original telecare and activity monitoring tech into telehealth, socialization and home automation/monitoring into the most fully featured system in telecare/telehealth for older adults. Without making huge splashes, being beholden to VCs or moving from bucolic West Bend, Wisconsin, the company has grown through multiple alliances, the most unusual being home automation association CEDIA. GrandCare has a residential base of customers but has also developed a solid footing in senior communities both in assisted and independent living. Earlier this year, they reached into UK to partner with Saga [TTA 24 Jan10 Jan] and received the CE Mark for approval of its telehealth features for EU distribution.

The news is that they have a new CEO–Daniel Maynard, who is joining from (more…)

Cancer patient app grant to Partners HealthCare

This may be the first app to assist with patient cancer management of symptoms, medication and side effects. The Center for Connected Health division of Partners HealthCare in Boston is developing an app targeted to oral chemotherapy patients to better monitor their symptoms, adverse treatment effects and improve medication adherence. The research is being funded by a grant from the McKesson Foundation’s Mobilizing for Health initiative. The smartphone app will be tested for three months with a group of 104 patients at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Features include self-care strategies for symptom management, a medication tracking device which also provides feedback on symptoms, strategies to prevent side effects, patient education and psychosocial support.  CCH release, iHealthBeat

Diagnosing Parkinson’s in a 30 second phone call

…and with 99 percent accuracy is the claim made in this TED video by Max Little, an applied mathematician who has devised a voice test/analysis explained in this video. The challenge is to enable early diagnosis as there is no blood test and other diseases can mimic Parkinson’s disease. Neurological tests must be done in a doctor’s office and cost $300. This is algorithmically based, non-invasive and uses precision voice analysis. Parkinson’s is one of the most widespread neurological diseases, affecting 6.3 million people worldwide (the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates 7-10 million) with at least 1 million in the US and 127,000 in the UK (Parkinson’s UK). He now is examining 10,000 voices gathered on his website, the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative with Aculab and PatientsLikeMe. Mr. Little is a TEDGlobal 2012 Fellow and a Wellcome Trust-MIT Postdoctoral Research Fellow. TED Talks page. Hat tip to readers Bob Pyke and Wen Dombrowski, MD.

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]

Mental health apps for veterans (US)

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has signed a 12 month contract with Chicago-based Prevail Health Solutions to further develop the Vets Prevail online supportive behavioral health program in 2014. In development for five years in various pilots, it has corporate support from Goldman Sachs Gives, the Robin Hood Foundation. the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and PepsiCo. Vets Prevail is an online program using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based e-learning lessons and peer-to-peer support, also routing into select established Veterans Health Administration resources. Mobihealthnews profiles the 10 apps Prevail is using plus others that the VA has developed such as PTSD Coach, smoking cessation app Stay Quit Coach and Care4Caregiver.

An incredible 34 teams for the Tricorder X Prize

The qualifying round of the Qualcomm Foundation-sponsored $10 million Tricorder X Prize has winnowed down the rumored 255 teams to a mere ($5-10,000 paying) handful. And not all of them are named Scanadu–they are included along with 33 others including Smart McCoy (named after ‘Bones’ on Star Trek), Phrazer and Photon Institute. Mobihealthnews has snap profiles of all 34 from Arkansas to South Korea and Aegle (from a Johns Hopkins University team) to Zensor (Intelesens) from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Counting the hits in a helmet with nano-enabled foam

Cushioning blows to the head, whether in football, soccer (football ex USA), hockey, cycling and in combat, is something that present helmets don’t do terribly well, if worn at all–thus the prevalence of concussions not being diagnosed properly, or the cumulative sub-concussive blows that may result in CTE. A Brigham Young University (Utah) team has developed a helmet with what they dub ‘ExoNanoFoam’ in contact with the player’s head. The foam is piezoelectric–when there is pressure on the foam, it produces an electrical voltage. (more…)

Depressed? A woman? There’s an app for that.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/T47screen-166×300.png” thumb_width=”130″ /]A new app still under development, Thrive 4-7 (the 7 is the seven dimensions of health) is meant to be used as a supplement to traditional therapy (and presumably medication). The app ‘thrives’ on constant interaction and uses gamification (!), behavioral psychology and influential design to modify the user’s behavior, for instance by sending special messages at times of daily stress. The developers want to connect the app with wearables and peer support groups as well. However, the time of their in-market–best case scenario is a debut at the end of 2014– is dependent on FDA clearance if it’s required–yet to be determined. The business plans, depending on this, may be direct to consumer or sold through health plans, hospitals and employer groups. The therapist you sleep with (MedCityNews) does seem like encouraging an unhealthy behavior, though.

Telecare for monitoring temperature, power outage (UK/EU)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Envirotxt-plugging-in-1-small.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]With winter very near, and the UK already having a bout of wild weather, something necessary to know but often overlooked until there’s a problem for carers is if the heat or power is on in an older or disabled person’s home. Thus a press release sent to Founder Steve got this Editor’s attention. This simple plug-in device, Envirotxt, detects whether the temperature falls below a set low or high temperature, rises suddenly (possible fire) or the power is out. It then alerts via one of three pre-set text messages sent via GSM to a mobile phone of your choice (family member, local authority). The cost is a little high (£99) but there does not appear to be any additional monthly subscription cost. South Derbyshire-based Tekview has several similar devices for both UK and EU users (Envirotxt appears to be UK only at present; they do not have US-suitable versions). For larger installations they have management software with some enhanced features. Worth looking into for your local authority or simply for your personal use. Website page. Press release. Video. If you know of or have used similar notification devices, please add them in Comments.

The train, plane and car wreck that is Healthcare.gov and Obamacare

If the ACA and Healthcare.gov were Boeing or Airbus aircraft–they would have been grounded on 3 October.

Wherever you reside in the over 150 countries TTA is read in, if you need more convincing that the US Government is unable to be successful (and Editor Donna is being restrained and charitable) at 99 percent of everything contained in this misbegotten Act, all one needs to do is read our previous coverage and this latest update in the Daily Mail along with their links to their own previous coverage. Are you sure it’s going to be fixed within weeks, Mr. President? This is Obamacare website riddled with garbled messages today

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Except in the minds of White House and HHS planners, the obvious solution would be to STOP: halt the enrollment process, suspend the ACA implementation, restore the right to current coverage for the millions who have been blocked from renewing their current individual coverage and take the entire website down. Rethink all the elements including the coverage structure and the website, send it back to Congress for relegislating and implement a program that works sometime in 2015 IF a way can be found. But no, Americans get piecemeal fixes on a website and system that increase the vulnerability of personal information to hackers and identity theft–and coverage they cannot afford. (And this is only in the individual and small group market. Wait till it applies to large employers–other than unions which have been exempted.) (more…)

The lack of evidence in health IT and patient engagement

In health economist/consultant Jane Sarasohn-Kahn’s lengthy analysis of the IMS Research report, Patient Apps for Improved Healthcare: From Novelty to Mainstream, ‘mainstream’ does not necessarily mean that apps deliver value–in health outcomes, health support or behavior change–which is why doctors have largely ignored them. For the 43,000+ ‘health apps’ so categorized in the Apple iTunes store, only 23,000 met IMS’ criteria of a ‘genuine health app.’ Few apps manage chronic disease for the highest health spenders or assist seniors, amazingly 5 apps =15 percent of all downloads with most apps having less than 500 downloads. Most apps provide information only and only 20 percent capture/track user data. Not dissimilar to the Manhattan Research smartphone study [TTA 30 Oct], the bulk of apps address behavioral health, eyes and hearing, endocrine and nutrition, heart/circulatory, musculoskeletal, and cancer. In IMS’ view, (more…)

WebMD’s Avado acquisition and meaning (US)

Early-stage company Avado’s acquisition by content Goliath WebMD has rocked the small world of New York health tech, with both companies being located (or co-located) here. First is the acquisition price estimated by TechCrunch in the $20-30 million range. Co-founded by Dave Chase (whose Forbes articles we’ve occasionally commented on here), Avado developed its patient portal PRM (Patient Relationship Management) system, including direct messaging and the highly touted Blue Button, on relatively limited funding with a $1 million raise in March plus an earlier $300,000 from New York Digital Health Accelerator in addition to angel funding. Second, for WebMD, it is their first foray into anything that bridges from the patient to their physicians for messaging, reminders, and appointment scheduling. (more…)