Bridging ‘the neurologist gap’ in Parkinson’s via telemedicine

While Max Little’s ’30-second Parkinson’s diagnosis’ [TTA 13 Nov] is still in test, what about current patients and their treatment? Telemedicine (video consults) to the rescue! Neurologist Ray Dorsey, MD of the University of Rochester tested a ‘one free consult’ offer with a group of 55 recruited via networking site PatientsLikeMe, who were located in the five states where he is licensed to practice, using a free, secure conference platform from Vidyo. The single consult (which sounds extended or multi-part: history, neurologic examination, and recommendations) was with patients at various stages ranging from initial evaluation to third opinion. 33 of 35 consecutive patients completed the survey, reporting 90 percent satisfaction and 85 percent the same or better level of personal connection. (more…)

Motorola files patent for Emergency Alert – Neck Tattoo!

throat tattooAnother pointer to the future in the world of wearable tech is this patent filed by Google-owned Motorola, for a throat ‘tattoo’, with the capability to send automatic alerts with location information to a monitoring centre or the emergency services (though the patent filing is drafted much wider!).

The ‘tattoo’ idea isn’t as dramatic as it first appears, as the filing states it can be applied to the skin via an adhesive, or embedded in a collar or neck-band. The way it would work is by capturing the sound from a person’s throat and transmitting it to a nearby smartphone or other Mobile Communications Device (MDC). (more…)

Sony files SmartWig patent!

smartwigHere we have a patent filed by Sony for a sensor-laden hairpiece/wig. There are three prototypes; the Presentation Wig which has a laser pointer and allows you to change PowerPoint slides by simply pushing the sideburns – this would brighten up presentations no end ;-), the Navigation Wig which uses a GPS and vibration to direct the user, and the Sensing Wig which contains sensors to take physiological readings such as temperature and blood pressure. (more…)

mHealth Summit: the warmup

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”190″ /]Even if you are not attending the mHealth Summit starting Sunday near Washington, DC, we’ll be covering selected topics through our correspondents on the scene.

News and highlights:

  • Founding organizing partner mHealth Alliance is relocating from the UN Foundation in Washington, DC to Johannesburg, South Africa to be closer to its work in developing countries. Release.
  • If you follow David Doherty of mHealth Insight (3G Doctor) as we do (and he does us), his mHealth/LinkedIn group will have an informal meetup at their booth #917 on Monday, 6-7:30pm. More information. He will also be speaking.
  • FierceMobileHealthcare’s preview
  • A spotlight on Sunday’s activities

Official Tweetstream: @mhealthsummit   Hashtag: #mHealth13

Update 9 Dec: Bad weather in the area has delayed many participants or changed travel plans. MedCityNews has a timely listing of speakers’ Twitter usernames to follow here.

Telehealth & Telecare Aware is a media partner of the 2013 mHealth Summit.

Going Googly over Glass: reviews

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Glass has been out long enough and used widely enough in the health/medical area to have some meaningful reviews. The hot area seems to be surgery, and having previewed this at the end of a minimally invasive hernia surgery during Heather Evans, MD’s talk at the NYeC Digital Health Conference [TTA 16 Nov; also her AAS article], this Editor knew more were to come. University of California-San Francisco formally received the first approval from the Institutional Review Board to use Glass during surgeries (iHealthBeat 27 Nov). Pierre Theodore, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UCSF, prior to that point performed 10 to 15 surgeries with Glass assistance. From a longer article in Fast Company: “His conclusion so far: the technology is indeed useful in the operating room as an adjunct device in delivering necessary information, but it still has miles to go as a product.” Other drawbacks are its dependence on an optimal Wi-Fi signal which can be chancy in an OR, its weakness on voice commands, being able to easily scan X-rays during surgery, patient privacy and very importantly, sanitization. Completely hands-free operation is the surgeon’s goal. (Photo of Dr. Theodore courtesy of Fast Company)

Five for Friday: 3D printing

In addition to our five robots from EU Robotics Week, five medical 3D printing endeavors are spotlighted by MedCityNews: Princeton University’s artificial ear (more sensitive than human);  University of Nottingham’s 3D printed bone scaffold coated with 3D printed stem cells; University of Michigan’s tiny trachea splint of biopolymers [presented at the NYeC conference on Friday]; the UK’s Open Hand Project (similar to Editor Charles’ ‘Dad, can you print me a hand?’) and from the University of Glasgow, a vision of a 3D printer to manufacture medicines. Researchers, especially those in orthopedics, are far into investigating  the use of 3D printers for reconstruction and repair via the use of printed bone scaffolds. Your Editor this past week at NYC Medtech saw a short poster on a NYU School of Medicine/NYU Langone Medical Center 3D printing project involving scaffolding for bone grafts (not published); a NYU presentation on 3D scaffolding in the repair of craniofacial bone defects is here.

Previously in TTA: A real, beneficial, current use for 3D printing in medicine (Belgium) and 3D bioprinting – you may already have benefited

Your Friday ‘robot fix’

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”175″ /]EU Robotics Week last week had over 300 separate events all over the region (including Macedonia and Malta!) to popularize robotics to the general public and to stimulate education in the STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math). eHealthNews picked five EU-funded projects as ‘cool’ across several assistive technologies: RoboHow (learning tasks from instructions or human example); the RADHAR intelligent wheelchair; Stiff-Flop (a surgical robot ‘arm’ modeled after an elephant trunk; ROBOFOOT (for use in footwear manufacture); and the STRANDS robot project which is being used during a challenge to patrol a populated environment. STRANDS robots (left) are designed to have cognitive/learning ability and are being tested on site, according to the article, in a care home for the elderly in Austria (assisting human carers), and in an office environment patrolled by a security firm in the UK (BBC News England 28 August). These all seem to be variations on AT themes, and we note that eHealthNews didn’t choose any clinical/telepresence ‘bots, but one wonders what happened to the MOBISERVE/Kompaï companion robot [TTA 23 Aug].

‘Blue Blazes’ indeed: wearables meet the lingerie counter

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]A sure sign that 1) wearables are truly on the ‘good side’ of the Gartner Hype Curve and that 2) Microsoft’s priorities are a little skewed is this item from Discovery News that Microsoft developed and tested a brassiere that measures wearer stress. It’s equipped with sensor pads measuring heart rate, respiration via an EKG sensor, skin conductance with an electrodermal activity sensor, and movement with an accelerometer and gyroscope, all sent to a smartphone app then to the researchers. The purpose: to alert to stress-related overeating. It also tweets when removed (ahem). Unfortunately the batteries powering the sensors only lasted for four hours and even the lead researcher admitted that she’s looking for another part of the body that accurately measures stress, but doesn’t require as much work. As some wag commenting on New York Magazine’s Grub Street‘s very funny take on it put it, it assumes that women wear their bras when stress overeating! Calling Sonny Vu…. Hat tip and a swirl of the cape to healthcare SME and reader Lois Drapin of The Drapin Group.

mHealth Summit: correspondents please

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]For our readers attending the mHealth Summit near Washington, DC next week, we are once again inviting you to contribute an article or a compilation of impressions. This can be filed within 72 hours of the close of event; alternatively, during or at day’s end/start. If you are interested, please email EIC Donna here ( It is a very large event so it’s expected that you can be selective and interesting rather than comprehensive. You will be credited of course but expenses and article will not be covered.

The inevitable: class action lawsuit against 23andMe

Breaking News (which is No Big Surprise)

Updated 6 December: 23andMe continues to sell kits, but will provide only minimal genomic information and has suspended advertising. The Washington Post reports that “In a statement Thursday night, the firm went a step further, announcing that it would only provide ancestry information and raw health data. A spokesperson for the company said that “interpreted results” would not be included.” 23andMe had earlier this week suspended advertising (Cnet/Reuters). Customers who had purchased kits prior to the FDA letter on 22 November will receive full reports. 23andMe statement on website. Matthew Herper in Forbes today on how both parties were in a ‘kind of detente’ until the bolder claims (and undoubtedly the adverts with those claims) started. And for weekend consideration, the CoreGenomics (UK) blog looks at the genomic truth-or-consequences.

The Class Action Lawsuit:  Gigaom reports that a California plaintiff, Lisa Casey, filed on 27 November against 23andMe in the US District Court, Southern California citing false and misleading advertising of the Personal Genome Service (PGS) without “‘analytical or clinical validation” and that 23andMe “advertises and markets PGS as a reliable health aid”. Included in the class action complaint is (of course) every online and advertising claim regarding diseases and conditions that 23andMe’s genetic testing can assist a consumer, that (of course) FDA has not approved the marketing of the kits and that 23andMe markets the information to others even though “the test results are meaningless”. The lawsuit seeks damages extending well beyond the cost of the kit (of course), a jury trial and importantly to certify the class action and the attorney’s representation of same. Most interesting is the seemingly modest representation of Ms. Casey, Mark Ankcorn of his eponymous law firm (see his blog entry here). However, in tracing back his email domain, this Editor discovered that Mr. Ankcorn, a trial lawyer with a major-league track record of wins, recently joined the high-powered CaseyGerry firm of San Diego, which specializes in high-profile personal injury/death class action lawsuits including litigation against the NFL on TBI and CTE plus the 2011 Reno Air Races crash.

Our readers should not be surprised as our article last week was blunt on the red carpet 23andMe was figuratively rolling out for the lawyers: Get what your product does (your implied warrant of service) rock solid (23andMe is not at this point) and backed up by studies. Structure your claims as if a trial lawyer will come after you, because they come with the territory.

Well, they are here, and the mystery remains why 23andMe has chosen a path that for most early-stage companies would be corporate annihilation. 23andMe hit with class action over “misleading” genetic ads  Filing (PDF) Hat tip to David E. Albert, MD of AliveCor via Twitter (@DrDave01)

Related articles of interest: Dan Munro in Forbes, writing at the same time as this Editor on the kerfuffle, analyzes far more than here on the ‘test results are meaningless’ point. My comment is below his article (expand comments). See also Mr. Munro’s comment on Illumina (which 23andMe uses for its testing–and just gained premarket clearance for their MiSeqDx test) also confirming that 23andMe lost its Chief Legal Officer in July without a replacement, which would tend to cramp dealings with FDA.  See also Bernard Munos’ ‘fumbling gene’ takedown, from a scientific POV, of same. KPBS (San Diego) coverage.

Previously in TTA: FDA tells 23andMe genomic test to stop marketing

Misfit Shine goes ‘Droid, at last

Monday’s big news in the wearable sensor world was that the 10p/US quarter-sized Misfit Shine is out in an Android version, as promised back in their distant Indiegogo days before the Khosla and Founders Fund VCs discovered it. Delayed at the end of May, and reset for mid-July [TTA 30 May] then for early 2014, the Shine is now a bright spot at places like Best Buy and Target at prices from $99 to $120, though it only works on Android 4.3 or later devices and TechCrunch is reporting that early reviewers have found it crash-prone. VentureBeat raves that the Shine now has what Nike FuelBand does not–Android. It’s also far more wearable; it now comes online in the hot new ‘champagne’ and azure colors even if the initially touted jewelry-like concepts have yet to materialize.

Update 4 Dec (Breaking News): According to TechCrunch, Misfit just raised $15.2 million from Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures. Current investors participated in the round. This now leads to a total funding of $23 million according to CrunchBase. According to AllThingsD, founder/CEO SonnyVu claims they are on track to ship 200,000 units by end of 2013 and that the funding will go to other areas of wearable sensing such as wearable feedback, identity and payments technology as well as wearable controls and gaming. Also Mobihealthnews. Are we seeing here another hype curve?

For more on wearables, AllThingsD spotlights clothing: Athos’ workout gear, Notch’s snap-on sensors and clothing, Push’s strap for weightlifters, Heapsylon’s heart-rate monitoring t-shirts and sports bras. And HIT Consultant has a nifty infographic on the future of wearable technology in healthcare which includes the new Reebok Checklight (previewed at CES Unveiled last month) and Push. (hat tip to reader Luca Sergio via Twitter @lmsergio).

US telemedicine project trials in Ireland

Consultants and GPs in Ireland are to participate in three pilot care delivery projects based on a US telemedicine initiative called Project ECHO. It is estimated that replication of the project in Ireland could deliver an estimated €20 million in healthcare savings.

The way ECHO works is by providing primary care providers such as GPs with training in medical conditions that would otherwise be treatable only by specialists. This is done through a model of ‘guided practice’ and mentoring using video-conferencing technology. Read more… TANN Ireland

Patients’ records could be shared between NI and New York for clinical trials!

Patients’ records could be shared between Northern Ireland and New York as part of a proposal to improve healthcare and research. NI Health Minister, Edwin Poots was recently in the US for high-level talks about developing the collaboration with the New York State Health Department. Read more… TANN Ireland

Editor Donna note: Though not stated, this well could take advantage of the expansion of the SHIN-NY health information exchange (HIE) connecting hospitals, medical practices and nursing homes along with medication and management interfaces. See NYeC Digital Health Conference 2013, especially the link to the HITECH Answers article which has more information on SHIN-NY. 

Brain stimulation therapy explored by DARPA

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investigating the use of DBS (deep brain stimulation) implants for possible treatment of several chronic neuropsychological conditions. They are seeking to evaluate neural and behavioral processes in PTSD, TBI, major depression, borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, substance abuse/addiction and fibromyalgia/chronic pain through the SUBNETS program (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies). All these conditions are on the rise with service members and veterans. DBS is currently used in neurological diseases that impair motor function–Parkinson’s and dystonia–and is being researched for treatment of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s and epilepsy. SUBNETS is also linked to NIH’s BRAIN Initiative. Armed With Science article, the SUBNETS pre-solicitation (Photo courtesy of DARPA)

Happtique certifies 19 health apps

Happtique, which started in 2011 as a health app certifier and curator, then ‘pivoted’ to what they term a “virtual marketplace and distribution platform” (?) after a major management change this spring, has mystifyingly announced the ‘Inaugural Class of 2013’ of 19 certified health apps. These presumably passed certification guidelines finalized in September 2012. But the bare list of apps and links leads this Editor to more questions. Is this meant for the clinical market as part of their mRx program? Consumer market? And how will they find out? While the apps range from the obscure (Amazing Abs) to the expected (MyNetDiary’s Diabetes Tracker) to the well-known from major names (GreatCall’s UrgentCare, which counts as two on the list), it’s hard not to feel a certain sense of underwhelm at this news: 19 out of nearly 30,000 counted by iMedical Apps [TTA 23 July] and even against the 200 listed in MyHealthApps [TTA 26 Nov]. MedCityNews’ light and oddly edited article only adds to the mystery. And Mobihealthnews reveals that the 10 companies listed paid for certification of their apps, which is not surprising, but if more than a nominal amount (application fee) very well takes away from the impression of objective certification. 

Ed. Note: Over the past three days this Editor has contacted Happtique to confirm the application fee and to generally comment on the program. As of this writing (Thursday 8:30pm NY time), no reply has been received. However, a FierceMobileHealthcare interview with then-CEO Ben Chodor gave a range of $2500-3000 to certify an app for two years, with a 30 day turnaround time.

Legrand purchases Tynetec, enters telecare market

Breaking News

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”125″ /][grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”125″ /]The official announcement of telecare and nurse call system manufacturer Tynetec‘s acquisition by commercial and residential electrical company Legrand is here and attached (PDF). This follows on Editor Charles’ article of 24 September and the following comment by Stewart Smith. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. All signs (press announcement, website changes and reconfirmation with our contact at Tynetec) indicate that Tynetec will continue to be located in Blyth, Northumberland as a separate business unit within Legrand UK (HQ’d Birmingham) with its current line including the Advent XT Warden Call system, the Reach personal alarm system, the new Reach plus GSM system as well as the recently acquired Aid Call nurse call system as a separate brand.  Legrand UK’s stated aim is to enter the healthcare area to complement its existing areas in wiring devices and related areas. The parent, Legrand SA, is a French company with operations in 70 countries, marketing in 180 countries and €1.1 bn in annual sales, with an overall strategy of self-financed acquisitions of small to midsize companies of which Tynetec decidedly fits (see Bloomberg article). In the US, Legrand is best known for wireless lighting and home controls. Certainly this does provide Tynetec, after 34 years of ‘grizzled pioneering’ in the UK, a solid and VC-free parent in the UK–and access to worldwide markets.

Editor’s note: Tynetec has been a long-time supporter through advertising on this website, and Founder Steve and all the Editors appreciate their support.