Keeping track of a multitude of Spring events–US, London, Scotland

It is less than eight weeks to ATA 2016 14-17 May and a reminder it’s time to register for this leading telemedicine and telehealth conference. Young professionals 35 and younger can save 37 percent on their registration, which they can promptly spend in Minneapolis. There are local delicacies like the Juicy Lucy (cheese-stuffed burger), which can be washed down with a drink at the Art Deco bar in the W Foshay. There’s always retail therapy at the Mall of America, which is a bit of a drive out of town. More local is walking off the calories in a visit to the Mill City Museum or Minnehaha Park. TTA is a media partner of #ATA2016. See sidebar for our link to information and registration.

On the European calendar, a reminder for Med-e-Tel Luxembourg on 6-8 April sponsored by ISfTeH (International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth). Online registration is still available through 1 April. Back in the US, at the same time is HX Refactored in Boston, a Health 2.0 conference on 5-6 April; this Editor attended when it was in Brooklyn. HealthImpact East in NYC, a tightly organized one day conference organized by Purpose Events, is on 17 May.

Last Wednesday in London, City University London opened their City TECS (Technology Enabled Care Studio) Smart Home Facility. According to the article, it’s one of the first ‘smart homes’ opened by a UK university, though this Editor must note that in the US, it was a phenomenon of the mid-2000s that popped up and endures today at universities like Florida, George Mason, Rochester, Iowa State and Washington State. It encompasses telehealth, telecare and complements the existing Clinical Skills Suite for healthcare education. A small disappointment is the apparent lack of diversity in the kit, as Tunstall and Philips are the only companies mentioned. News-Medical.net

A note to this Editor had details on an event a little outside our usual frame; the 2 June conference in Edinburgh organized by Scotland Policy Conferences, ‘Next steps for palliative and end of life care: access, delivery and integration’. “The recently published Strategic Framework for Action outlines standards and commitments for the palliative and end of life care people in Scotland can expect…including service improvement, early identification of needs and staff education.” Information and registration.

Add 4,500 miles and have breakfast in Dallas hosted by the always-interesting Hubert Zajicek at the Health Wildcatters seed accelerator. The monthly ‘Pulse’ event features education from a guest speaker, a local health startup’s pitch their company and networking. Next one up is 14 April. More information and subscription here.

Applications invited for the DigitalHealth.London accelerator by 25th April

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, is part of DigitalHealth.London. It will work with 30 small digital health businesses each year over an initial three-­year period. It will provide help with engagement with clinicians and healthcare experts, so companies can refine their products. It will provide advice on topics such as such as navigating the intricacies of the NHS, understanding how to work with sensitive data, and opportunities to showcase new technologies in hospitals.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman launched DigitalHealth.London at City Hall in February with the aim of speeding up the use of new digital health technologies by bringing together clinicians, healthcare providers, research institutes, entrepreneurs and industry to give companies a clearer route to market based on the needs of patients, the NHS and wider health sector.

Speaking at an Accelerator information day held recently, Dr Tony Newman-­Sanders, Consultant Radiologist and Chief Clinical Information Officer, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said (more…)

Ransom! (ware) strikes more hospitals and Apple (update)–Healthcare.gov’s plus trouble

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Hackermania.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Get out the Ransom! California hospitals appear to be Top of the Pops for ransomware attacks, which lock down and encrypt information after someone opens a malicious link in email, making it inaccessible. After the well-publicized attack on Hollywood Presbyterian in February, this week two hospitals in the Inland Empire, Chino Valley Medical Center in Chino and Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, both owned by Prime Healthcare Management, received demands. While hacked, neither hospital paid the ransom and no patient data was compromised according to hospital spokesmen. Additional hospitals earlier this month: Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky and Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada. In Ottawa, four computers were hacked but isolated and wiped. It is not known if ‘Locky’, the moniker for a new ransomware, was the Canadian culprit. FBI on the case in the US. HealthcareITNews, National Post

Update: Locky is the suspected culprit in the Prime, Hollywood Presbyterian and Kentucky ransomware attacks. On Monday, Maryland-based MedStar Health reported malware had caused a shutdown of some systems at its hospitals in Baltimore. Separately, Cisco Talos Research is claiming that a number of the attacks are exploiting a vulnerability in a network server called JBoss using a ransomware dubbed SamSam. Perhaps both are creating mischief? Ars Technica, Cisco Talos blog, BBC News, ThreatPost

More and worse attacks north of the 49th Parallel. Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe, Ontario had a ransomware attack this week that spread to computers of staff, patients and families via the external website through the outdated content management system. According to MalwareBytes, “The particular strain of ransomware dropped here is TeslaCrypt which demands $500 to recover your personal files it has encrypted. That payment doubles after a week.”  So if you are running old Joomla! or even old WordPress, update now! Neil Versel in MedCityNews

If you’re thinking Mac Prevents Attacks, the first ransomware targeting Apple OS X hit earlier this month. Mac users who  downloaded version 2.90 of Transmission, a data transfer program using BitTorrent, were infected. KeRanger appears after three days to demand one bitcoin (about $400) to a specific address to retrieve their files. HealthcareITNews

Finally, there is the Hackermania gift that keeps on giving: Healthcare.gov. (more…)

The mixed picture of health tech investment: a potpourri

One picture is generally positive–plenty of opportunity in the aging and ill population, particularly in data integration from various sources, and value-based care. Everyone loves the excitement that a startup with a novel technology or way it can make knowledge more useful brings to the field.  Another picture is one of pitfalls aplenty, from overhyping technology (poster child, Theranos) to overestimating growth, overspending and especially picking the wrong (nervous, impatient) investors at the wrong time, which have left a general patina of mistrust around digital health. There’s also the fact that healthcare is a highly, confusingly regulated, long-cycle business that’s challenged money-wise, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Asia. Some advice to startups contained in these two articles, including from the principals of StartUp Health accelerator (who’ve seen it all), has to do with building trust, finding the right investors, the right advice/advisors, collaboration (though that is difficult with IP), finding proven (affordable) management and a sustainable (and resilient) culture. Underpromise, overdeliver.  TechCrunch, Healthcare Dive

No wonder that investment was flat in 2015, and that much of the news is around acquisitions that rearrange companies and/or offerings. The latest today is Allscripts‘ and GI Partners’ acquisition of behavioral EHR/care coordination company Netsmart for $950 million; Allscripts is moving its homecare business into Netsmart’s CareFabric suite. Kansas City Business Journal, Healthcare Dive  In addition we’ll cite our earlier Mo’ Money article on the $600 million in various digital health investments. UPMC, which had invested in Vivify Health’s telehealth/RPM platform, is spreading $3 million around partly in-house to six health tech projects developed under the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. And in an example of Wearables Confusion, investors put $16 million into LifeBeam to develop another DTC ‘holistic’ health wearable (LifeBeam’s origins are sensors for aerospace and defense) while early wrist fitness entrant Pebble has laid off 40 staff in an attempt to refocus on…fitness.

Early-stage companies are also alliancing and merging. Fresh out of Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s NJ Innovation Institute, the merger of Practice Unite (which knits together secure mobile clinician/patient communications into a customized platform) and Uniphy Health (physician engagement), is an example of complimentary enlargement. This expands care collaboration offerings and shades over into patient engagement if you look at the PHM quadrant here. According to Director/Chief Medical Officer Stuart Hochron, MD (who was a Practice Unite founder), “We’re really pleased with the outcome of this merger. It’s given us the capital and resources that we need to scale.” It’s also good to see that both the founders and the CTO are moving into the new Uniphy Health–and staying in Newark.  Release

Wearables for diabetes, more get thinner on a ‘smart skin’ diet

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/BG-cuff.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]A team from the Seoul (South Korea) National University, University of Texas-Austin and wearable health sensor developer MC10 [TTA previous articles] have developed a translucent, thin graphene ‘cuff’ with sensors for blood glucose and a not-quite-complete metformin delivery mechanism for those with Type 2 diabetes. The graphene is ‘doped’ with gold to have it transmit blood glucose readings inferred on mechanical strain, skin temperature, and chemical composition of sweat. The mobile app calculates the metformin medication dose needed and the wristband administers it through an array of microneedles. This would not be a semi closed-loop system (dubbed here a ‘robopancreas’) which Type 1 diabetics now can use for insulin delivery, as there’s a delay in sensing and delivery. It also cannot in present form correct for excessively low blood glucose. IEEE Spectrum, Nature (abstract) Hat tip to former TTA Ireland Editor Toni Bunting

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Screen-Shot-2016-03-11-at-11.12.41-AM.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Another wearable sensor bracelet with a distinctly ‘home-brewed’ feel is out of academia, from the Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s Integrated Nanotechnology Laboratory in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. The research team pulled together office supplies–no, you are not misreading this: (more…)

Population health management growing, segmenting; one investor’s helpful view

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TPHM-Blog-PHM.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]An interesting post-HIMSS 16 view is a helpful attempt to sort out the miasma around ‘population health management’ (PHM). There were about 125 vendors categorized under PHM there, a good sized chunk, and PHM was the subject of much of the presentation content. Many vendors contend that they have or ARE the solution, but down here in the trenches where most of our Readers slog, we realize that each have only a piece of it.

The writer skillfully divides PHM companies into four main categories of main offerings and further into sub-functions (see left above):

  1. Data integration and management
  2. Clinical analytics
  3. Care coordination
  4. Patient engagement where telehealth/RPM generally fits also includes patient communications, treatment plans, educational content and closing gaps in care.

Only lightly touched on (more…)

81 percent interested in tech for older adult fall detection: Carnegie-Mellon

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/fall.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Carnegie-Mellon University-College of Engineering recently conducted a survey of 1,900 US adults on care for their aging parents, as background for a project in fall prevention.

  • 81 percent are interested in sensor technology to prevent falls, particularly among their aging parents
  • 54 percent worry about an elderly parent falling
  • 70 percent of this group have this fear at least once a week, if not daily; regardless of whether the parent lives alone or not

Checking in with parents is a ‘top of mind’ anxiety for most of those surveyed, with most taking a team approach:

  • 44 percent personally or have a sibling check in on their parent daily;  33 percent check in weekly; 12 percent stop by as needed
  • 56 percent have neighbors or staff physically check on their parent daily

Not coincidentally, a team of engineers from Carnegie-Mellon are also researching active sensor technologies that gauge gait stability, dizziness and fatigue to predict and prevent falling–what at a former company we called the ‘Holy Grail’ of fall detection that can keep older adults active and well. No mention though of technology aids for ‘check in’ (see 3rings and also the original notion of QuietCare‘s behavioral telemonitoring.) MedCityNews, Carnegie-Mellon release

Could a wearable break a drug addict’s habit?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Empatica.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Two studies of addicts, recovering and otherwise, using the Empatica biosensor bracelet, have indicated that certain data could help track addicted patients’ behavior and possibly behavior leading to a recovering addict’s drug relapse.

The pilot tracked five supervised addicts (one cocaine, the remainder morphine) who wore the E4 Empatica before, during, and after a drug use event. When each drug was used, it created a unique ‘signature’ of vital signs. The second study of 15 recovering addicts also confirmed these results, with all participants keeping their bracelets on and interested in their results. According to the researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, their next study will examine drug ‘signatures’ of different types of users, from first time to tolerant user, and also to help gauge the effect of drug antidotes in an ER/ED setting. Eventually, the studies will gather information on predicting drug relapses.

The Empatica continuously measures heartbeat, motion in three dimensions, skin electrical conductance, and skin temperature, each up to 30 times per second, plus GPS.  IEEE Spectrum Hat tip to former TTA Ireland Editor Toni Bunting

A gallimaufry of short digital health items to start the day with

The WHO has produced an excellent report on the state of eHealth in the European region, including a review of telehealth readiness. Ericsson have produced a very interesting report confirming what I guess anyone will have realised if they’ve traveled by public transport or have children: young people downloading video content are driving a surge in data usage: there’s much detail here though. Both are well worth the read.

Mentioning Ericsson reminds that the Telegraph recently produced a summary of the 20 best-selling mobile phones of all time – takes you back, with the substantial number once produced by Nokia.

The Royal Society of Medicine has it’s fifth annual medical app conference on April 7th – numbers booked have already well exceeded last year’s sellout so they are expecting to fill this year’s much larger conference venue. The focus this year is on the many legislative, regulatory and voluntary measures being introduced that will impact medical apps – there’s still room for old favourites though, such as Richard Brady’s always-topical (more…)

Breaking news: AliveCor’s integration with Apple Watch – hugely impressive!

Kardia bandAliveCor have today announced the Kardia Band which replaces the ordinary strap on an Apple Watch. Touch the band with your other hand and it records a one-lead ECG (EKG=US) that communicates with the Watch app, Kardia by AliveCor. The Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Detector then uses an algorithm to instantly detect and inform the wearer of the presence of AF, the most common cardiac arrhythmia and a leading cause of stroke. Other ‘detectors’ look at the ECG to determine normal heart rate and rhythm or if you should retake an ECG so physicians receive only the highest quality recordings.

Users can also record voice memos on their Apple Watch to accompany each ECG that give doctors and caregivers a clearer picture of what was happening at the time of the recording — describing symptoms such as palpitations or external factors like caffeine intake. Kardia also integrates seamlessly with Apple’s Health app to include ECG data with steps and calorie intake to provide richer, personal analysis over time.

A short note at the end indicates that the FDA-cleared AliveCor Mobile ECG, best known for snapping on to an iPhone but works on Android smartphones as well, has been rebranded as Kardia Mobile to establish a product family.

Most impressive.

In the US, the Kardia Band is pending 510k clearance and is not currently for sale. Plans for the UK have not been formally announced but anticipated soon.  AliveCor release.

Digital health for pets – more

Our item on telehealth for pets has prompted Prof Mike Short to draw my attention to an article on digital health at Crufts over the weekend. Offerings include:

  • PitPat, a fully-fledged fitness tracker for dogs, particularly to help avoid obesity;
  • AnimAlarm, makers of a heat sensor for dogs in cars (similar perhaps to the heat sensor for babies in cars that won a previous Blue Blazes award), have now branched out to create what is claimed to be the world’s first auto-inflating life jacket (for dogs presumably – the technology’s been around for humans for a while). Described as a life-saving piece of equipment, it is aimed at “giving pooches everywhere a fighting chance should they be thrown overboard at sea”. (Is the logic that if dogs have to be protected from owners that leave them in hot cars, they’ll need protection from owners doing other crazy things too?)

 

The AAL Smart Ageing Prize: €50,000 could be yours!

The Active & Assisted Living (AAL) Programme has launched the AAL Smart Ageing Prize – a €50,000 challenge prize to find the best innovation in internet connected devices and technologies (Internet of Things) that will empower older adults to achieve the social & independent qualities of life they aspire to.

The prize aims to find innovations that improve connectivity between older adults, devices and technologies related to any aspect of their life (e.g. home, social, work, study, transport or services). The idea should present a business opportunity which has the potential to be commercially viable. Applications must involve older adults in the development and testing of the technology.

The AAL will help the most innovative ideas turn into real products that can be financially sustainable. Fifteen of the most promising applications will be chosen as finalists and will be invited to a social innovation mentoring academy in Brussels in July to progress their ideas. Each of the finalists will be awarded a €500 Euro grant to develop a prototype to demonstrate.

The winner will be awarded a prize of €50,000 at the AAL Forum in Switzerland in late September. The Prize is open to individuals, groups and organisations in the 28 member countries of the European Union, as well as Israel, Canada, Norway and Switzerland.

The deadline for applications is Friday 13 May 2016 at midday (12pm) Central European Time.

For full details and to apply please visit the AAL website.

Good luck!

HealthSpot winds out to Ch. 7 liquidation, assets for sale

The object lesson of HealthSpot continued its sad revelations in a Columbus, Ohio Federal bankruptcy court Thursday (10 March) with the confirmation of liquidation under Chapter 7 rather than reorganization under Chapter 11. According to the report in MedCityNews, the bankruptcy trustee is now accepting offers for the assets valued by HealthSpot at $5.1 million. The bulk of these assets–$3.5 million–consist of 191 telemedicine kiosks of which 54 had been deployed with customers such as Rite Aid and Cleveland Clinic. The trustee has been permitted by the court to list these assets on a website. Whether there is any market for the hardware, or the intellectual property of HealthSpot, is a very open question indeed.

Some digging by this Editor has revealed a possible precipitating event to the company’s shutdown, and an obvious, non-recoupable drain on the time and funds of a teetering company. A District Court order issued 4 December on the patent infringement legal action by Nevada-based Computerized Screening [TTA 8 Jan] is now available online. It appears to have been conceded by Computerized Screening as “non-infringement on the basis of the absence of the limitation of “controller”” which is technically a win for HealthSpot. But HealthSpot then sought in September to collect attorney’s fees of a stunning $829,500 from Computerized Screening (more…)

3rings enters the Dragons’ Den, comes out with strategic investor

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/steve-purdham-3rings-david-capper-westfield-health-with-3rings-plug.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]About two years ago, we started following 3rings, a Stoke-on-Trent (UK) company that develope an appliance plug that automatically ‘checks in’ an older person based on their morning behavior of turning on a tea kettle, TV or other appliance. We’ve received word from their CEO Steve Purdham that they’ve announced today (Thursday) a substantial strategic investment from not-for-profit insurer Westfield Health. Mr Purdham (picture left) had appeared on the BBC program Dragons’ Den with mum Iris (prominently featured in their ads) to raise £300,000 for a 10 percent share in the company. (For our US readers, Dragons’ Den is similar to Shark Tank or Project Startup.) According to the website release, Westfield Health was attracted to the company through the show, has invested more than twice the funding requested by Mr Purdham from the Dragons, and will be offering the 3rings plug to their current and future customers.

David Capper, their Commercial Director (picture right), acknowledged the attraction of technology in their first major external investment in this type of health tech.  (more…)

Hyperbole, pets & apps: a brief romp around the digital health scene

In technology, over-use of the term “groundbreaking” is common. However it takes some nerve to use the term to describe “Home Assist”, a push-button pendant-based telecare service now being sold by Boots (provided by Tunstall). Whilst TTA can only applaud the arrival of another high street offering, we would counsel a more realistic service description for a telecare service already offered by many.

Research via Boots’ own website reveals that in addition to the advertised push-button pendant, a falls detector is available as well. This site gives price details too, which look quite competitive at the basic level with non-subsidised local authority telecare schemes, though of course without the linkages to local services, including response services in the event eg of a fall, that some of these schemes also offer. Downloading the in store leaflet gives yet further information, for example that the pricier ‘advanced’ package includes a smoke detector (surely for older people almost as important as a basic pendant, and ideally one/floor of your house?) and bogus call detector, as well as falls detector etc.

Meanwhile in a far off land (Los Angeles to be precise) Active4Pets are busy recruiting to accelerate the US rollout of their “innovative” telehealth communication platform for pets. The (admittedly far-fetched) thought of pets regularly reporting vital signs electronically conjures up all sorts of bad, (though unavoidable) puns such as: (more…)

Our wrapup of news and tart takes on HIMSS 16 (updated redux)

Lions Lie Down With Lambs, and Other Miracles!

HIMSS 16’s main ‘breaking news’ centered on HIT interoperability. The lead was US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell’s announcement on how Lions Will Lie Down With Lambs, Or Else. 17 EHRs that cover 90 percent of electronic health records used by U.S. hospitals–including the bitterest of rivals, Epic (the EHR everyone likes to hate) and Cerner, 16 providers including the nation’s five largest private healthcare systems, and more than a dozen leading professional associations and stakeholder groups (including HIMSS) pledged to implement three core commitments that allegedly will improve the flow of health information to consumers and healthcare providers. They are consumer access, no information blocking and standards. When? Where? How? Strictly TBD. HHS release, MedCityNews, Modern Healthcare, which dubbed it ‘another year, another promise’.

Innovate or Die. For companies and providers, it’s not about compliance anymore but about improving patient outcomes due to value-based care and incentives. Providers will increasingly be responsible for patient care throughout the community to make their numbers. Having made this sound point, Dr John Halamka then proposes they will need a ‘care traffic control’ system through data aggregation, with a laundry list of ‘enablers’, directories and connectors surrounding the EHR. How this all will work together, and who will buy in already challenged practices and ACOs, plus how those 17 notoriously territorial EHRs will work with said ‘enablers’ — or complicators — is a mystery to this Editor. Pass the Advil, please. MedCityNews

Read on for more Top 10s, roundups, DOD and VA EHR news, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback tackles the closing keynote, and 10 ways you can become a HIMSS speaker! (more…)