Ileana Welte – more information

Following our note a week ago announcing the deeply distressing news about Ileana’s sudden death, we have received many tributes to her. We thought therefore that readers might also be interested in:

We are expecting a tribute shortly from Bosch to add to this, and also information on her memorial service, so please check back regularly.

In the meantime, in the words of Sylvia Christie of BWW, please do share if you feel able to – tributes to Ileana are proving a great comfort to her family.

The big show begins: HIMSS 2016

click to enlargeNow that Mobile World Congress, which increasingly features mobile healthcare tech like International CES, is wrapping, probably the world’s largest healthcare oriented conference, HIMSS, will be kicking off on Monday the 29th in Fabulous Las Vegas. ‘Connected health’ and security is a part of it, along with its traditional emphasis on HIT and traditional devices. If you are going, you’ve likely made your arrangements months ago. There’s a lot of guides out there on making the most of the conference, but this Editor recommends Roberta Mullins’ quick guide to HIMSS highlights in HIE Answers. For the fun parts of HIMSS and a link to the HIMSS16 mobile app, here’s Roberta again, plus HealthcareITNews’ roundup (though the chapter events are sold out).

We’ll be noting the news from our New York perch. If you have news, insights or comments you’d like to see here (objective and not promotional), please email this Editor. (These will be used at editorial discretion.) TTA has been for years a media partner of HIMSS Connected Health Conference/mHealth Summit (which, rumor has it, will happily be returning to December this year). 

Upcoming will be the other US ‘big show’ in telehealth and telemedicine, ATA 2016, 14-17 May in Minneapolis, where we again are media partners. More on ATA in coming weeks!

 

Bioidentical, dissolvable brain implants for monitoring injury

click to enlargeA pressure and temperature sensor which sits on the surface of the brain to monitor intracranial pressure and temperature changes has been developed by an international team from South Korea and the US. Currently, implantable sensors are used for monitoring victims of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), but these sensors carry risk of inflammation and infection. In initial testing, this new sensor has been found to be fully biocompatible (no inflammation or scarring) and dissolves in a few weeks. It can also be modified in other ways to monitor other brain functions, such as acidity and the motion of fluids, or deliver drugs. Published in Nature. Summary in the Guardian.

 

 

Telehealth in Brazil: a special JISfTeH issue

The Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (JISfTeH) turns to Latin America in its latest issue with a focus on the versatile ways that telehealth has been used in Brazil. Nine papers range from distance healthcare education to store-and-forward imaging to building rural telehealth networks. Brazil’s government has supported remote care initiatives with the development and implementation of projects at the national, state and municipal levels. The telehealth model primarily has been connecting universities to primary care in remote cities (of which there are many!) with an emphasis on education and assistance. Topics include the nine-year-old telehealth project in Minas Gerais between Rio de Janiero and Brasilia, and its declining use; distance learning in dentistry; usage in the Amazon region and legislation. Registration required, but the journal is open access. Hat tip to its lead editor, Prof. Maurice Mars of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

 

 

TSA appoints Paul Burstow as Senior Adviser (UK)

The former Minister of State for Care Services, Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Sutton and Cheam, Rt Hon Paul Burstow, has been appointed as Senior Advisor for the TSA to help drive forward strategy across the technology enabled care industry and shape the organisation’s future work programmes.

He said: “My role with the TSA is to bring my knowledge of the wider health and social care sector, the key players in the National Health Service and use that information to help connect the Association into conversations.

“TSA don’t operate in a vacuum, they have to be put into a context of people’s everyday lives, and also in the context of what other commissioners and service providers in the NHS and in social care and in housing need. What I bring is expertise and knowledge of that landscape and I can help TSA navigate it.”

There’s more here.

The Accelerated Access Review – a personal journey

click to enlargeThe Accelerated Access Review (AAR) aims to speed up access by NHS patients to innovative medicines, medtech and diagnostics, and digital health. Of these, digital health is the newest, and because it enables care to be delivered in a far more efficient and patient-centric way, offers great hope for the future of improved patient outcomes and controlled costs.

As someone outside government who was drawn into the digital health stream of the AAR, this blog aims to capture key learnings from the experience.

Challenges

The initial list of obstacles to innovation in the NHS was depressingly long, until carefully differentiated. Top of the pile were items like the NHS’s asymmetric attitude to risk – successful innovations are forgotten, unsuccessful innovations are a life sentence for those involved – which are soluble only by those at the very top.

Then there were the surmountable challenges – for example the fear, uncertainty and doubt over digital health regulation was overcome by (more…)

Ileana Welte

– Many readers will be deeply saddened to know that Ileana Welte died of a heart attack last Wednesday whilst travelling on the Tube in London.

Many will know her from her long time working in Bosch in the UK, where she was particularly associated with the NHS Direct telehealth service, and more recently her management of the UK side of Big White Wall where she was doing a brilliant job driving the uptake of digital health in the NHS to help treat people with mental health problems.

She will be very sorely missed; her untimely death has come as a huge shock to many.

We will shortly be publishing a larger article with contributions from Bosch, Big White Wall and from ex NHS Direct colleagues – other contributions will be gratefully received. We will also publish news of her funeral/memorial services when received.

 

If Silicon Valley were a rose, it would be wilting

Does this signal a new ‘trough of disillusionment’? The lead in this story is one of the major practice EHRs in the US–Practice Fusion. From a high valuation in 2013 of $635 million as a healthcare darling (free to doctors, ad supported), it burned through $4 million cash per month while revenue missed targets by 10 percent, chased after rainbows such as telemedicine, overhired, overperked and overpartied in the office. Now with a quarter of their staff pink-slipped, a new CEO is trying to bail them out. Most of the other examples aren’t healthcare, but huge deals by VCs are slowing, companies are discounting the price of their shares, taking on debt to not dilute shares, laying off employees and subletting their space. Adding to this is the glut in wearables and a slowdown in demand for single-purpose devices, leading to a 20 percent loss today in value in shares of Fitbit (MarketWatch). Like the ‘oil patch’ in the upper Midwest, the San Francisco area is feeling the chill that never really left the rest of the country. And ‘unicorns’ may become an endangered species. Wall Street Journal

The widening gyre of insurers covering telehealth (telemedicine?) (US)

Is a tipping point nearing? Soon? An article in Modern Healthcare that contains a heavy dollop of promotion headlines ‘telehealth’s’ adoption by insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Anthem and Highmark. When read through, it’s mainly about telemedicine (video consults) but does touch on the vital signs monitoring that’s the basis of telehealth. Video consults through Teladoc and other services such as Doctor on Demand and American Well are gradually being reimbursed by private insurers, despite the concern that it would actually drive up cost by being an ‘add-on’ to an in-person visits. Medicaid increasingly covers it, and states are enacting ‘parity’ regulations equalizing in-office and virtual visits including, in many cases, telehealth. Yet the move for coverage is hampered by lack of reimbursement to doctors, or the perception of limited or no payment. Even Medicare, a big advocate for alternative models of care, currently pays little out for telehealth–$17.6 million on a $630 million+ program. The Congressional Budget Office is skeptical, despite the savings claimed by CONNECT for Health Act in both the Senate and House [TTA 12 Feb]. Virtual reality: More insurers are embracing telehealth

A deserved goring of whiz-bang unicorns Theranos and Zenefits (updated)

click to enlargeA blog posting this Editor wish she had written. Fred Goldstein, who is a consultant to healthcare systems focused on building accountability and improving population health, has pressed a sharp point to the sparkly bubbles surrounding two Silicon Valley billion-dollar valuation darlings, Theranos and Zenefits, on their playing fast and loose with basic regulations.

Some background for our readers. It’s a pile-on with Theranos, which has been stepped on by FDA for their nanotainers [TTA 20 Nov 15], then whacked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last month for ‘deficient practices’ at their California testing lab (a remedial plan has been filed this week) and likely losing its lucrative Walgreens Boots deal if problems aren’t fixed in 30 days (having already lost its program with Capital Blue Cross in the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania). According to Bloomberg, its proprietary testing is now used in only 1 of every 200 tests. Zenefits claims to be the ‘first modern benefits broker’ with cloud-based software designed to simplify and automate such HR tasks as health insurance signups for small businesses, but its software that facilitated skating around required licensure requirements by its staff got its CEO forced out by a key investor, Andreessen Horowitz. (And it gets worse…read on….)

It’s so…whiz-bang! (Updated) Your Editors, past and present, have made hash (corned beef and otherwise) of companies promising revolutions in healthcare since our inception. ‘Whiz bang’ (more…)

A Hollywood ending? Medical center’s $17,000 ransom to recover systems from hack attack

click to enlarge‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan is getting a workout! (UPDATED)

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 (40 bitcoins) last night to hackers to regain control of its IT systems after last week’s ‘ransomware’ attack forced them offline. According to CEO Allen Stefanek, “The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key.” HealthcareITNews has the details and the full CEO letter/press release, including that no patient or employee information appears to have been compromised.

Obviously there will be more to follow including the usual opining, but in this resolution and spin, a bad precedent has been set in this Editor’s view. Labeling it a ‘low-tech’ attack shines a Klieg light (this is Hollywood after all) on the vulnerability of this hospital’s system. They now have the decryption key to the malware, but what other bad code and general mischief is buried in their systems to crop up later?  Another question: was the inflated bitcoin number floated to make the paid ransom seem ‘affordable’? Is this a Hollywood ending where all is happy, or is this an episode in the continuing soap opera of ‘Hospital as Cash Machine’?

Our original article follows: (more…)

Cybathlon: six ‘great races’ challenging assistive technologies

click to enlargeETH Zurich – The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland–is challenging developers to a one-day Olympic-style competition using assistive technologies to navigate athletic tasks. The races, staged with ‘pilot’ athletes, test the advanced abilities of powered exoskeletons, powered arm prostheses, powered leg prostheses, brain controlled computer games, powered wheelchairs and muscle-stimulated electrical bikes (left, from last year’s competition rehearsal). The end result is to promote and showcase technologies which will be useful for the daily lives of persons with motor disabilities. The event will take place on 8 October at the Swiss Arena in Kloten, Zurich; ETH is also planning a symposium for researchers two days before the competition. ETF website, Medical News Today, GeekWire. Hat tip to Toni Bunting, TTA’s former Northern Ireland/TANN Ireland Editor.

Broadcast news: an injectable radio

click to enlargeA possible breakthrough in implantables. How do you shrink a medical device radio enough to make it an injectable, but with a strong enough signal to reach a mobile phone? A team from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has developed a prototype injectable radio with a tiny (1 mm) antenna (left), with an overall volume of 10 cubic millimeters (1 mm x 1 mm x 10 mm). Its signal can go a distance of 50 centimeters, including through 3 centimeters of tissue. The power source is not continuous, but builds up power over time to send a burst; the power is drawn through a photovoltaic cell sensitive to the ambient infrared light passing through the body. If it can reach production, it can be revolutionary for medical devices like pacemakers in shrinking them, and open doors for more medical implantables. IEEE Spectrum.  Hat tip to Toni Bunting, TTA’s former Northern Ireland/TANN Ireland Editor.

London’s Health Technology Forum is looking for a patient treated by precision medicine

The Health Technology Forum needs your help.

For our upcoming panel session on Wednesday 24th February entitled Precision Medicine: From vision to reality, the organiser Mark Bartlett, Geneix’s CEO, is looking for a brave individual who has been treated using a precision medicine technique. This could be having had a test, genetic or otherwise, to understand the root cause of their disease or which medication/chemotherapy would be most appropriate. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your story and motivate an engaged audience, driven to solve healthcare’s most complex problems.

If you are interested please send Mark an email on mark@geneix.com with a short description of your treatment.

Even if you cannot help, do come and join us for what will be a brilliant (free) evening in the company of Mark and his co-host Elizabeth Hampson, Senior Manager (Healthcare Strategy) at Deloitte Consulting, and with Baker Botts’ legendary hospitality to follow.

Seeking input from mHealth stakeholders: 6th Global mHealth App Developer Economics Study

click to enlargeResearch2guidance is inviting stakeholders from across the industry to share their experiences of working with and in mHealth to find out what is proving successful today and what might prove successful in the near future. Last year, over 5,000 industry experts participated in this study for the largest study on the global mHealth market. (TTA was a media partner for last year’s study.)

For the 6th edition of the Global mHealth App Developer Economics study, they are keen to find out:

  • Which business models are most effective to succeed in mHealth today?
  • Which app categories are most successful in meeting the demands of both patients and investors?
  • What does the relationship between Health Insurers and mHealth look like in 2016?

In return they are offering participants:

  • The chance to view initial results immediately after completing the survey
  • A free copy of the mHealth App Developer Economics 2016 report

Take the survey here

For anyone who has not read it yet, the excellent 2015 survey is here. (Their key findings from last November are here.) R2G press release 

Weekend reading: 2nd WIN Conference papers

click to enlargePapers from last month’s WIN Conference (West Midlands Health Informatics Network) held at the University of Warwick have been released. These include keynotes and guest talks, oral presentations, posters and panels. There is a overflowing cup of research here and your interest will determine what papers are outstanding to you. For this Editor, what stood out were:

  • The telehealth study on monitoring cancer treatments on chemo and biological therapies using the Bosch Health Buddy; incomplete because Bosch not only terminated support for Health Buddy before the end of the study but also did not provide complete information prior to that (pages 16-17).
  • A survey of telehealth standards in North America, Australasia and Europe by Malcolm Fisk on increased flexibility, less top-down and service integration of care (healthcare-social care). (pages 18-19)
  • Using a combination of a camera and the Florence (Flo) text messaging service to enable those with mild cognitive impairment/dementia to assist their self-management of memory (page 54).

Link to PDF. Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk via LinkedIn.