Finally a curb on ‘patent trolls’? (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TROLLS-1992-008.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] Those nasty patent trolls–those (largely) non-practicing entities (NPEs) which buy up patents to license them. Yet most of their revenue stream comes from pouncing on startup and early-stage companies to challenge their patents and systems, extracting la mordida to avoid further legal action. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has moved to curb one egregious practice: deceptive demand letters. The FTC issued an order to MPHJ Technology Investments LLC (MPHJ) banning its allegedly deceptive letters to companies which MPHJ considered to be infringing on its scanning technology. MPHJ filed first a draft complaint, and now a legal action against the FTC in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleging violations of the First Amendment on free speech. Under US law, ‘deceptive’ may not be good enough–their letters threatening lawsuits must be shown to be ‘objectively baseless.’ The FTC requested dismissal of MPHJ’s suit this past Monday. Their rejoinder: the suit would disrupt its work.  National Law Review, Law360 (subscription/Lexis Nexis access required).

Previously in TTA on patent troll strategies and how companies defend themselves:  TTA 13 Sep 13, 10 Feb 13. (Also search on ‘patent troll’, ‘MMRGlobal’ and ‘patent infringement’.

A kudo for kiosks: HealthSpot Station adds $8 million funding

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/booth-Dr.-Jenkins-with-attendant-300dpi-website.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] In a week of small funding announcements, HealthSpot announced an add of $8 million to its 2013 $10 million round, totaling $18.3 million of a $20 million offering (SEC filing). Investors are not disclosed. In three years, HealthSpot has raised an impressive total funding of $23 million (CrunchBase), although the company is still in pilot in a handful of locations around their Ohio HQ and reports minimal revenue. The company’s hosted, fully enclosed kiosks with both telehealth monitoring and virtual consult capabilities debuted at the end of 2012 at International CES New York. According to their website, their markets are facility waiting rooms, pharmacies, schools, military bases and prisons. Their partnerships have been notable: EHR Netsmart, telemedicine network Teladoc and a co-location arrangement with Canadian pharmacy kiosk MedAvail [TTA 23 Jan]. They are also on the board of the Alliance for Connected Care lobbying advocacy group [TTA 13 Feb], which will certainly aid their cause by plumping for increased telehealth coverage by Medicaid beyond the present 20 states and Medicare beyond rural special programs. Yes, they will be at ATA 2014, if you are attending. Mobihealthnews

Countdown to ATA 2014

It’s nine days and counting to the start of ATA 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. For 25 companies, Sunday’s (18 May) highlight will be the Venture Summit held by the ATA and law firm Jones Day. The Summit will feature a morning of lessons from mentors and practice pitches from up-and-coming companies to gain tips and pointers. In the afternoon, selected companies will participate in meetings matching them with investors based on unique interests to provide one-on-one time to connect. Release (PDF). The full conference kicks off on 19 May. If you haven’t registered, here’s the place to do so. Disclosure: TTA is a media partner of ATA 2014.

Finding ‘The Way to Wellville’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Esther-Dyson-Road-to-Wellville.png” thumb_width=”170″ /]Here’s the challenge set up by tech angel investor (EDventure Holdings), philanthropist and astronaut-in-training Esther Dyson and her team at the interestingly named HICCup (Health Initiative Coordinating Council):  set up five communities of up to 100,000 people to see which one can achieve the greatest improvement in health and vitality over five years. The winner receives an award of up to $5 million. Like a startup, each community sets its own plans, pitches promising health initiatives to funders, negotiates with suppliers and measures impact; HICCup acts like a board of advisors. According to Ms Dyson, “The motivation is not to help these nice people in five cities to have better lives. It’s to prove a business model and to generate evidence and facts.” Some factors might be to start school later so children can have more sleep, or working with supermarkets to stock healthier foods and study shopping/buying patterns. But ‘The Way to Wellville’ starts ASAP; community applications deadline is 23 May and from the probable ten picked in June, a site visit to seven or eight to pick the Final Five . HICCup website, announcement on HICCup blogWall Street Journal article (PDF-subscription content), HIT Consultant article by Fard Johnmar of Enspektos/DHPV 2014.

Previously in TTA: an architect’s vision of ‘wellness districts’ in rural areas

digihealth pulse Virtual 2014

19-21 May 2013, Virtual

Can’t make ATA 2014? Possibly the first fully virtual conference in digital health, DHPV 2014 has 25+ speakers and is fully accessible online plus archived (helpful as all times are NY/Eastern). Speakers include Unity Stoakes of StartUp Health, Esther Tyson of HICCup (The Way to Wellville–more here), Bertalan Meskó, MD, PhD: medical futurist, Matthew Holt of Health 2.0, Ryan Beckland of Validic [TTA 27 Jan], Jim Lefevere of Roche digital marketing, and more. Register here: pre-event price is $195.97 which goes up on 10 May to $225.97.  Agenda  Hat tip to Fard Johnmar of the Enspektos digital health consultancy organizing the event.

Wearables – a neat graphic, some thoughts, and a question for readers

Thanks to Prof Mike Short for drawing our attention to a neat infographic on wearables. It’s quite something to see an area of personal electronics that is currently so hot that doesn’t yet feature an Apple logo – it cannot be long.

One aspect of wearables that might also make an interesting (though challenging to get right) infographic would be information privacy. Counting apps that turn smartphones into activity trackers as virtual wearables, Jonah Cornstock has an excellent piece just published on how the acquisition by Facebook (more…)

UK-centered review of mobile health tech

Perhaps it’s the focus of this US-based Editor, but other than the occasional feature in the Guardian, Times or Telegraph, there are few articles on digital health written as general audience overviews of problems to be solved and relative capabilities of devices, rather than whiz-bang gadget fests. Thus this Editor’s attention to one just published in TechAdvisor/PC Advisor. Springing off of Quantified Selfer Dr Larry Smarr’s early diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, and based on his principle of ‘devices can help us notice trends before they become serious’, the writer reviews enabling tech such as mobile ECG AliveCor; Azoi’s Wello iPhone case/Android peripheral measuring heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and lung capacity; the overabundance of unproven health apps leading to the NHS’ Choices HealthApps library [TTA 9 May 13, RSM meeting summary 22 Apr] and web-based Vitrucare from Dynamic Health Systems for long-term chronic condition management. Oddly the article mentions Qualcomm and the Tricorder X Prize without in the same (heavy) breath, Scanadu. (Ed. Note–a check of their blog indicates no update on their delayed shipments due to production problems, TTA 5 Apr) Medical apps and devices are placing the future of healthcare in the palm of our hands

65 years of health informatics

The surprising fact is that healthcare informatics, so associated with IT and computers, started well before computers in wide use*–65 years ago by Germany’s Dr. Gustav Wagner, founder of the German Society for Medical Documentation, Computer Science and Statistics which continues today as the GMDS. This infographic published in HealthWorks Collective presents other milestones on the timeline such as the influential paper published in 1959 by Ledney and Lusted on the use of computers in medical diagnosis and therapy. Unfortunately the UK and European advances of the period and forward are passed by in the graphic’s US focus. To fill in the historical gaps: Vanderbilt University Department of Biomedical Informatics backgrounder, Health Informatics/Wikipedia  Hat tip to reader William T. Oravecz of Saint Francis Care, Connecticut.

*Computers were developed for WWII war work: codebreaking Colossus [UK, which broke the German High Command’s codes on the Lorenz SZ-40] and the ENIAC [US Army 1946, for ballistic computation!]

They’re baaaaaack!

When this editor was running the Whole System Demonstrator in LB Newham, he watched as a firm of management consultants that were assisting the DH steadily became ‘experts’ in telecare and telehealth delivery as they watched us struggling to deliver a new technology to demanding academic trial requirements. It was almost a caricature of the “lend me your watch; show me how to use it; now I’ll charge you for telling you the time” joke.

A different firm allied with the leading provider of telehealth equipment at the time to offer a kit + redesign care package that shifted many boxes (more…)

Healthcare Apps 2014 – a few impressions

This event was held on April 28th-30th in Victoria in London. It was organised by Pharma IQ and clearly had a strong pharma focus (including the charge which at £1995 for industry attendees clearly discriminated in favour of those with big-pharma sized budgets). It was also held just a few days after the significantly lower-priced Royal Society of Medicine event, and in the middle of a London Tube strike, all of which doubtless contributed to the relatively modest attendance (26 paid). I am most grateful to the organisers for kindly inviting me as one of speaker Alex Wyke’s guests.

As mentioned in an earlier post, there was a similarity with the RSM agenda, so I won’t repeat comments made by the same speaker before. The first up was the 3G Doctor, David Doherty, who gave another of his excellent presentations, although the sound engineer sadly made some of it inaudible. After a review of how we had got to where we are, he suggested that the Internet is about to become a device-dominated network. He drew a parallel between (more…)

April Telecare LIN newsletter out (UK)

The Telecare Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) newsletter for April is out now to download and read at your leisure and as usual contains a host of items from the last month.

There is a good roundup of UK care news in the face of the creation of the Clinical Commissioning Groups as well as news from further afield.

The LIN comes from the Health Tech and Medicines Knowledge Transfer Network which was, until April, one of the many KTNs funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB). There has now been a major reorganisation of KTNs at the TSB and the various KTNs have been consolidated into one KTN with communities within this KTN specialising in different areas. There is no mention of what impact, if any, this will have on ALIP and the the Telecare LIN – perhaps something for next month?

Insomnia Apps: A replacement for sleeping pills?

sleepstation

For those of us suffering from insomnia there’s no denying it can be a real pain! For some it means wakening up a number of times throughout the night, while others are unable to get back to sleep after only a few hours rest. In my case it means drifting off into a peaceful slumber before inevitably waking just minutes later with a jolt, looking like Frankenstein’s monster and wondering if someone just hit me up the face with a bolt of lightning!

The latest NHS approved sleep app is Sleepstation. It’s one of three listed on the NHS Choices Health Apps website, the others are Sleepio and Sleep Diary. (more…)

Wearables and Simple Telehealth – another step forward?

In addition to Managing Editor Donna’s items on the opening of the Amazon Wearables Store, and the use of wearables by older ‘quantified selfers’,  Prof Mike Short has kindly drawn our attention to the most recent BBC Click programme which features wearables. Of particular interest to me was the first item on how Formula 1 technology involving measuring drivers’ heart activity is now being developed for the mass market, at rather lower cost. That will overcome a serious limitation of existing activity trackers that rely on accelerometers – for example my Jawbone UP faithfully measures every step I take whether walking or on a cross-trainer. However sessions on the rowing machine – or indeed a recent row in the London Head of the River race (for me definitely the most physically exhausting event so far this year), record no activity.

Another intriguing way of measuring heart activity is (more…)

Phobic? There’s an app for that.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/phobia10.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Everyone has certain fears or things that have a high ‘eeewwww’ factor (see left). Phobious, a new app, uses virtual reality on a smartphone that after several sessions of gradual exposure, desensitizes the user to potentially disabling fears such as dentists, insects, flying and dogs. (Can it work in the backyard when you’re about to be attacked by bees and Godzilla-sized weeds?–The Gimlet Eye) It was developed by a group from Barcelona by way of Charm City a/k/a Baltimore, Maryland, participating in the prestigiously backed DreamIt Health Baltimore accelerator’s 2014 class. The app is currently available for $49 in the Apple App Store and Google Play, with a 3D goggle device VR system due in September at $149–$299 with two psychology sessions. According to MedCityNews, the founders are seeking $750,000 in funding, plan to develop a clinical quality version and obtain FDA clearance and CE Marking. The progress in VR therapy made in less than four years is startling when this Editor considers the price of the CAREN system (Motek and Polycom) which was tested on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans back in June 2010: $500,000. (Ed. note: if you have a phobia about typos, don’t look at the Phobious website!)

Concussion diagnostics a hot area

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Cerora-Simon.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Diagnosing concussive and sub-concussive head blows both in sports and on the battlefield have been challenging, and your Editors have chronicled several approaches. One of the 2014 graduates of NYCEDC’s ELabNYC was Oculogica; their EyeBox CNS records three key eye movements in a 4 1/2 minute test to determine whether they fit a normal box pattern, with subsequent exams determining rate of brain recovery [TTA 17 Apr]. (We’ll be seeing more of Oculogica at NYC MedTech 13 May, along with MC10 which helped to develop the Checklight impact indicating skullcap with Reebok, seen at last November’s CES preview [TTA 15 Nov 13] and winning CES’ 2014 Design & Engineering award.) Now out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is Cerora’s MindReader, developed out of Lehigh University, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NE Pennsylvania and in the first StartUp Health Academy/GE Entrepreneurship class. It is a wireless dry contact EEG reader which combined with other biosensor data and clinical observation aids speedy diagnosis. The reader is worn either on Google Glass or a headset (pictured above left on CEO Adam J. Simon, PhD). It’s in early days and still in testing; the baselines alone will need data from at minimum tens of thousands of subjects beyond the current testing on Lehigh U. athletes. Dr. Simon is also projecting use for sub-concussion injury, Alzheimer’s, PTSD and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Lehigh Valley Live, release on presentation at the American Academy of Neurology Annual meeting 30 April, WFMZ Ch. 69 News (video)

More UK older adults are now going online

Telehealth and telecare applications can often depend on the willingness of the users to use the [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Ofcom-logo.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]internet and that is not to be taken for granted with older users. On the other hand it is indeed the older people who can most benefit from these technologies. Recent research in the UK shows encouraging results in this respect.

Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, has a duty to promote media literacy and to carry out research to measure the usage of all forms media. The results of the most recent surveys commissioned by Ofcom were published on Tuesday. Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014 is an encouraging report showing that the use of the internet by over-65s has increased by over a quarter over the past 12 months.

“The proportion of people aged over 65 that are accessing the web reached 42% in 2013, up nine percentage points from 33% in 2012. One reason found for this is an increase in the use of tablet computers by older people aged 65-74 to go online, up from 5% in 2012 to 17% in 2013. This has helped to drive overall internet use up from 79% of all adults in 2012 to 83% in 2013” say Ofcom.

“However, older people spend significantly less time surfing the web than younger people (16-24 year olds), who on average spend more than a whole day (24 hours 12 minutes) each week online. This compares to an average 9 hours 12 minutes online per week among adults over 65.”

Although these results are for the UK, they probably broadly represent the trends in most developed countries.