Those readers for whom a hospital appointment is very much a rarity may find the recent experiences of this editor of interest. For the only previous hospital appointment experienced by me after Choose & Book (“C&B”) had begun in our area (North East London), a few years back, my GP assured me it was broken and said someone would call to fix an appointment irrespective of any ambitions I had to book online for the first time!
For this occasion – an appointment at Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith – the appointment date offered did not work. However the electronic access details to change to a later date came quickly; getting online was a doddle. As it happens, as this was the peak of the pre-Christmas conference season, none of the appointments offered over a six day spread worked for me. Frustratingly, there was no option to put me on hold awaiting a later release of appointments, or to look further ahead than a few days so it was time to call the C&B helpline.
The topline of Tunstall Healthcare Group’s
2014 results (through 30 Sept 14) is now (partly) public thanks to the Yorkshire Post
, Tunstall’s ‘hometown paper’. (We do note that it was published on 23 Dec, in the ‘dead of night’ rolling up to the Christmas holiday.) Notably, there is no report on the Tunstall website and it is too early to show on standard corporate reporting sites such as DueDil and CompanyCheck. The YP
article appears to be written partly in press release-speak, which we do not fault them for on limited news available. In summary:
- In the 2014 FY ended 30 September, revenues were £215 million. FY2013 was £221 million, a decrease of £6 million (2.7 percent).
- A corresponding but greater EBITDA (earnings before interest taxation depreciation and amortization) drop to £43.0 million. FY 2013 was £52.7 million, a decrease of £9.7 million (18.4 percent).
- The good news: revenues up 6.8 percent in the Nordics, Southern Europe, Central Europe, and Australasia; Spain’s Televida as a market leader also a bright spot [TTA 19 Dec].
- No such good news in UK and the US (more…)
This is a plea for any reader interested in the future success of medical apps in the UK to take a few minutes over Christmas to respond to a consultation request from the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE), which this editor has just been made aware of. The triennial consultation on the role of NICE opened in early December and closes on 2nd January – a very short time-frame as it covers the Christmas period!
Details are here. There is a form to download so it is not a challenging task to respond.
Many readers will be aware of this editor’s campaign following extensive research, to widen the remit of NICE to include reviewing the efficacy of medical apps. This is so that doctors can confidently recommend and indeed prescribe (NICE approved) medical apps without fear of liability, in the same way that they currently do for drugs. In addition, when discussing treatments with patients, doctors can then compare the efficacy of apps and of drugs for those conditions – such as depression, anxiety and pain relief – where apps can likely do the job better, at lower cost, with no side-effects. At a stroke this would reduce the cost of drugs to the NHS and take the UK to the forefront of the mobile health revolution.
If you can spare the time over Christmas you would give one person a very Happy Christmas; many thanks in anticipation.
One of the surprises for this Editor, and for others attending the mHealth Summit, was to see the sizable presence of Qualcomm Life on both the exposition floor and during the sessions. From a near-nil presence at ATA 2014 and gone dark on news, the floodlights snapped on last week with new partners and a new emphasis: coordination of chronic and transitional (hospital to home) care management (CCM/TCM).
On the show floor, the spotlight was on the partner companies which mixed the established with (mostly) the early and mid-stage. Readers will recognize names such as AliveCor, Telcare, OMRON, Nonin and Airstrip; not so well known are Vaica, Orion Health, Monitored Therapeutics, IMPak Health, Vital Connect, Care Connectors, toSense (CoVa), Dexcom, InteliChart, TruClinic, ForaCare, VOXX, vitaphone (outside of Europe), Propeller Health and Noom Health (a NYeC Digital Health Accelerator 2014 graduate). The partners occupy different parts of the management continuum, integrating communications, record sharing, population health management, sensor-based monitoring, traditional and non-traditional vital signs monitoring, medication management, behavioral change methodologies and PHRs. The 2net Hub is still present for data transmission, sharing and storage, but more prominent is Qualcomm Life’s HealthyCircles platform which provides the clinical management ‘glue’: secure communications, record sharing and care team coordination. HealthyCircles was purchased in mid-2013. Founder James Mault, MD, FACS joined Qualcomm Life as VP/Chief Medical Officer.
We had some post-mHealth Summit reflection time by telephone this Wednesday while Dr Mault was in Boston. (more…)
The call for abstracts for Sensors in Medicine 2015 closes on 31st December. The event will be held at the Royal Geographic Society, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2AR on 24 – 26 March 2015. More details here.
There is an event entitled Are Telehealth and Telecare the Answer for Older People with Assisted Living Needs? on Tuesday January 13th 2015, 1 to 2.15pm. The venue is Room C143, Tait Building (Accessible through main University Building, Northampton Square, EC1V 0HB). The speaker is Joe Wherton, Senior Research Fellow, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. To book a place please email Doria Pilling: email@example.com
Entries for the IET’s Healthcare Technologies Student & Early Career Awards close on 16th January. The event takes place on 25th February. More details here.
The Digital Health & Care Alliance (DHACA) (of which this editor is Managing Director) is holding its third Members’ Day in London on 29th January. Members can attend for free. The day will be focused on developing the responses of the nine Special Interest Groups to the recent NHS paper on Personalised Health & Care to 2020 and on how best to avoid duplicating innovations in the health & care sector (otherwise know as ‘reinventing wheels’). More details and how to book on the new DHACA website (existing members may need to refresh their passwords).
Finally the Royal Society of Medicine’s annual Recent Development in Digital Health 2015 event takes place on February 26th. For the past two years this event, showcasing upcoming healthcare technologies, has been a sellout so early booking here is recommended!
Round 8 of the above was recently announced. The closing date is 28th January 2015.
In spite of what the name might suggest, these grants are available to fund innovative small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and researchers looking to work either individually or in collaboration to develop solutions to any healthcare challenges.
More details including how to apply are here.
Hat tip to Prof Mike Short.
If you are a UK-based SME health-app developer trying to get a presence in a competitive global market, there’s still time to apply for this competition, which will have three winners. Prizes are trips to MWC 2015 in Barcelona with two free entry passes each (Exhibition Visitor Pass worth €749 each).
Entries close 5 pm on 19th December. More details here.
We have to report the sad news that Saneth Wijayaratna died recently after a very short illness
Many readers will have encountered Saneth particularly in his roles leading TeleMedCare’s UK sales, as CEO of United Health in the UK and latterly as CEO, then Chief Scientific Officer, of InHealthcare. No-one can have failed to be struck by his dedication to improving the health & care of patients at home, or of his excellent understanding of the way his products worked. He will be greatly missed.
We are still awaiting news of his funeral arrangements which we will post here as soon as received.
(Boffo: extremely good or successful, sensational–Webster)
Adding to Monday’s news of ATA’s telemedicine accreditation program was American Well‘s near-simultaneous announcement of an $81 million Series C funding. This brings total funding for the eight year-old Boston-based company to over $128 million, though it is not yet profitable. According to Modern Healthcare, “The capital injection will be used to serve a number of big projects the firm has underway, company co-CEO Dr. Ido Schoenberg said in an interview. Among those are campaigning to ease regulatory constraints, scaling its provider networks and customer outreach, working with insurers to secure more favorable reimbursement and working on its technology, he said.” The institutional, private equity, and corporate investors alluded to in the company release were not disclosed. Its mobile app, Amwell, claims over 1 million downloads with a year-to-year 1,000 percent increase. Major partners include payers Anthem Health, EmblemHealth, the Blue Cross Blue Shields of Massachusetts and Louisiana, Optum Health as well as corporate clients. American Well press release, BostonInno, SEC filing. (Note to American Well: you’re telemedicine, not telehealth)
If this round of funding represents a substantial bet on American Well’s future, another is the new relationship between Walgreens‘ and rival MDLIVE. (more…)
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA)
has joined the gold rush of accreditation, in this case for online ‘virtual’ visits between doctor and patient only. US providers (only) can apply to ATA’s Accreditation Program for Online Patient Consultations through a multi-step process for vetting up to three years.
- First round application clears a company for eligibility. Through 28 Feb 2015, it is also open to ATA members only: Institutional Members, Sustaining President’s Circle and President’s Circle. On 1 March it will open to all companies in the US. Canada accreditation will start at a date to be announced in 2015.
- Once eligible, the second round application contains ATA Administrative Rules & Terms, Standards and Guidance, Application Form, Program Overview and Fee Schedule. Fees are annual, based on the numbers of providers of online, real-time patient consults in all service lines, which presumably means areas such as primary care, behavioral, pediatric etc.
- The company provides an application and supporting documentation. ATA then conducts a survey to review the documentation, online resources and demonstration of online services. During the process, ATA says it will notify about areas which are not compliant and organizations will have the opportunity to “provide a plan of corrective action and present corrective materials to show compliance before a final decision regarding accreditation is rendered.”
- The accreditation is valid for three years, contingent on submitting an Annual Accreditation Report at the beginning of year 2 and 3 of its accreditation cycle.
Of interest to your Editors and readers is how this accreditation was developed. (more…)
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) area is working with IBM Watson to develop and pilot a Clinical Reasoning System to assist and accelerate decision making by primary care physicians. The $6.8 million, two-year project will concentrate on acquiring and analyzing the data generated by hundreds of thousands of VHA documents, medical records, EMRs and research papers. The second focus of the VA-Watson relationship will also include mental health–supporting veterans with PTSD who constitute 12-20 percent of US veterans from Vietnam to present. The pilot phase, interestingly, will use simulated, not real, patients.
buddi, a well-known UK personal tracker/tagger company, announced over the weekend that they have signed two contracts worth £20 million ($25.1 million). The first and most of interest is with Intel-GE Care Innovations for their new, quite attractive wrist-worn fall detector/two-way emergency alert/activity monitor. According to the Telegraph, it was designed by Sebastian Conran (left) and was ‘fully certified by the US government in recent weeks’ which may mean that it gained FDA clearance. The second was for their ‘Smart Tag’ used in criminal tracking with the New South Wales, Australia government. Care Innovations adds another consumer-facing device to the Lively activity tracker and iHealth fitness and telehealth devices. Timing for availability is not disclosed. (more…)
mHealth Summit this year had an abundance of digital health company news announcements, not only from the conference but also timed to coincide with the heightened interest around it. Your Editor looks over the most interesting of them, briefly. Thanks to Ashley Gold of Politico’s Morning eHealth (@ashleygold, daily reports archived here), Stephanie Baum of MedCityNews (@stephlbaum) and Anne Zieger of Healthcare Dive for their coverage and their company in the press room!
Partners HealthCare researches, Validic expands, AliveCor and Omron ally, Happtique sells out, Doctor on Demand is telemental, Orange goes dental, VA Innovation Rocks
- Partners HealthCare/Center for Connected Health’s cHealth Compass will use panel and other research to help companies, device manufacturers, startups and investors determine what end users–consumer and provider–want out of personal health tech. Focus groups, interviews and usability testing will help to determine product design, evaluation, assess applications and feasibility as well as interim/final product testing. Partners is already organizing in Massachusetts a 2,000-patient database which rewards participants $50 on registration and $110 annually to be in a monthly survey panel. cHealth Compass website, BetaBoston (Boston Globe)
- Health data connector/aggregator Validic demonstrates the attractiveness of Anything Big Data on with new clients including the Everyday Health consumer/professional website and the adidas Group’s sport and fitness apps. Recently they added WebMD, Pfizer, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), NexJ Health and MedHost to their client list. The company claims that their ‘ecosystem’–probably the most popular buzzword at this year’s conference–of healthcare companies and tech developers now reaches over 100 million people with devices such as Omron, Alere, Qardio, Telcare, Jawbone and Withings. Release
- AliveCor accentuates the retail with Omron. AliveCor, which developed the first FDA-cleared ECG for smartphones and gained clearance for an atrial fibrillation algorithm in August, is collaborating with Japanese device manufacturer Omron on developing its retail presence. Omron’s devices are available in major drugstores such as Walgreens, RiteAid and Walmart so certainly AliveCor is due to benefit. AliveCor is also part of a revived QualcommLife (more on this in an upcoming article) Release, Mobihealthnews (Your Editor had the pleasure of meeting at last AliveCor’s CMO and founder Dr. Dave Albert.)
- Happtique sold to SocialWellth. Last year’s floor talk was about Happtique’s first class of certified apps and a security expert’s untimely discovery of major flaws (more…)
An impressive article written by a young doctor poses the problem of social sharing, data we don’t know we’re generating and how that data is being processed in ways such as tracking programs to predict and analyze our behavior. The example he gives of the Samaritans (a non-profit social services group in UK with a mission to prevent suicide) design of an app to be used with tweets of people we follow to alert you of worsening mood changes so that you could intervene. Some felt it was beneficial, most considered the possibilities for misuse or cyberstalking, and it was pulled. The other, rather chilling example was how a PHR could pick up EHR patient evaluation notes data not meant to be seen by the patient. Data insecurity with devastating consequences. Read the article for what UK family GPs are being asked to do by the Government. When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away (Guardian). Hat tip to reader Mike Clark.
The New York eHealth Collaborative’s fourth annual Digital Health Conference is increasingly notable for combining both local concerns (NYeC is one of the key coordinators of health IT for the state) and nationally significant content. A major focus of the individual sessions was data in all flavors: big, international, private, shared and ethically used. Another was using this data in coordinating care and empowering patients. Your Editor will focus on this as reflected in sessions she attended, along with thoughts by our two guest contributors, in Part 2 of this roundup.
The NYeC Conference was unique in presenting two divergent views of ‘Future IT’ and how it will affect healthcare delivery. One is a heady, optimistic one of powerful patients taking control of their healthcare, personalized ‘democratized medicine” and innovative, genetically-powered ‘on demand medicine’. The other is a future of top-down, regulated, cost-controlled, analyzed and constrained healthcare from top to bottom, with emphasis on standardizing procedures for doctors and hospitals, plus patient compliance.
First to Dr Topol in Monday’s keynote. The good side of people ‘wired’ to their phones is that it is symptomatic, not of Short Attention Span Theatre, but of Moore’s Law–the time technology is now taking for adoption by at least 25 percent of the US population is declining by about 50 percent. That means comfort with the eight drivers he itemizes for democratizing medicine and empowering the patient: sensors, labs, imaging, physical examination, records, costs, meds and ‘Uber Doc’.
Guest columnist Sarianne Gruber (@subtleimpact) also attended the NYeC Digital Health Conference and reflects on what to do with all that data patients and devices are generating–a natural for her as she is a consultant in data analytics for Encore Health Resources.
The New York eHealth Collaborative hosted its fourth annual Digital Health Conference at New York City’s Chelsea Piers on November 17 and 18. There I was joined by 850 health-related professionals to listen, engage and see how life science meets digital technology. No doubt we have become a digital culture. Even seated on an airplane, I noticed the gentleman next to me wearing a Fitbit, and we strike up a conversation on step and sleep data and our dislike of the new dashboard. At the conference, Keynote Speaker Dr. Eric Topol, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and a leading practitioner of digital medicine, shared with us his thoughts on what it means be a part of this digital revolution as a patient and a doctor. Technology changes the scope of individual care. Advances in genomics now gives us answers based on our DNA that will genetically determine the success of medications and treatments. Epigenomics, a molecular diagnostics company, can prescreen an unborn baby of a mother with cancer with a simple blood test, sequencing the DNA, to manage her therapy. I was fascinated to hear that a genomic signal sensor can detect heart attacks and warn you of this possibly fatal event, and that necklace for heart failure patients can monitor fluid status averting repeated readmissions for these patients. Dr. Topol believes that digitized 24/7 patient health data will shift the patient–doctor relationship. Bringing in your self-monitored data, eliminates “the how are you feeling questions” and instead the doctor can confirm diagnosis and start treating the patient. “Patient owning data is a foreign concept and the digital revolution ushered this in.“ (more…)