Back in 2013, we profiled Max Little of the UK-based Parkinson’s Voice Initiative, who was in the fairly early stages of voice testing and analysis to aid early diagnosis of this disease. By 2015, he had over 17,000 voice samples, was partnering with the Michael J Fox Foundation, and was seeking to develop a non-invasive, quick, accurate test based on acoustic markers. Dr Little is an Oxford University PhD, currently a Wellcome Trust/MIT fellow at the MIT Media Lab. The Voice Initiative has additional support from PatientsLikeMe, Twilio and Aculabcloud. But also developed at MIT, by Thomas Quatieri’s team at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, is a broader platform for voice diagnosis. This has been applied to mental health conditions such as depression, respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, and in pilots for TBI, cognitive impairment and…Parkinson’s. This has been licensed to Sonde Health, which hasn’t much on their website but is out of the Boston-based PureTech R&D/venture firm. The acoustic markers they cite are ‘dynamic changes in pitch and harmonics, articulation timing and hoarseness or breathiness that indicate and requires no analysis of words’. MedCityNews, MedTechBoston
Medical device giant (and inverted to Dublin) Medtronic announced today the launch of their Beacon Heart Failure Management Service in the US. It combines their implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices with post-acute patient monitoring from Medtronic Care Management Services (MCMS). The patients are checked both through their recorded cardiac device diagnostics and what they called ‘branching logic’ questions which collect daily qualitative, biometric and symptom information, plus provide patient education. Care managers then review the data along what they term ‘established clinical pathways’ check for growing risk factors and alert providers if needed.
What is interesting is that the in-home delivery and collection platform or hub is not specified. Medtronic happens to own one of the telehealth pioneers, a company which used to be called Cardiocom–which is now part of Medtronic Care Management Services in their Cardiac and Vascular Group (CVG).
In other Medtronic news, earlier this week they announced the acquisition of cardiac device company HeartWare for $1.1 billion. HeartWare has developed small implantable (more…)
“There are folks who have a life of going from emergency department to emergency department, and that’s how their day is spent,” said Sorrell, an emergency physician and administrator at Sutter Health. “It’s sad and tragic, but that’s what happens.”
Alameda County, just south of San Francisco, spans both wealth (Berkeley)- and poverty-stricken (Oakland) – parts of California. What it has a lot of as well are ER (ED) ‘frequent flyers’ a/k/a ‘super-users’. Some can’t manage their chronic conditions, while others are looking for a meal, a warm bed, safety or human contact. What is also true is that 1) this is an expensive and largely unnecessary form of medicine and social care, 2) there’s a lot of duplicated resources being utilized which are needed elsewhere and 3) the patients aren’t receiving the right sort of care for a better quality of life.
Since a data sharing program, PreManageED, was implemented on 31 March in four Sutter Health hospitals and two Alameda Health System hospitals, two hospitals found that they shared more than 2,000 patients, with over one-third having 6+ visits to the ER in the past year. But this is more than duplicate procedures, multiple EMS calls and badly coordinated care resulting in Medicare or Medicaid penalties. The Alameda hospitals are also integrating local community clinics and social services organizations into PreManageED so they receive alerts from the hospitals when their patients/clients arrive in the ER. It turns out that many patients are receiving social services from multiple agencies–also duplicated and uncoordinated. There is an example here of a mentally ill patient who visited ERs over 900 times in three years. Over 24 separate people had provided her with medical, emergency and social services–and none of them knew what the other was doing. The Alameda County program is a step to bring these ‘frequent flyers’ down to earth and improve their outcomes. Kaiser Health News
Nokia Technologies, wasting no time with deploying its latest acquisition Withings, announced a new partnership with Finland’s largest neurology and leading stroke center at HUS/Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki. Withings devices will be used to develop home-based remote monitoring platforms for HUS. This marks Nokia/Withings move into clinical-level monitoring from its present base in wellness devices. HUS is a five-hospital system centered on Helsinki University Hospital. Its Department of Neurology treats 14,000 patients each year at the Meilahti Hospital Neurological Outpatient Clinic, and specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of diseases of the nervous system or the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system and muscles. Nokia release mHealth Intelligence
Nokia is on a roll, closing on the Withings acquisition 31 May and opening up a headquarters in San Francisco for their Digital Health business unit led by Cédric Hutchings, the former Withings CEO. A week later, they announced the Withings Body Cardio which measures in seconds weight, BMI, body composition (fat, muscle, water and bone mass), standing heart rate and PWV — a measurement that is a key indicator of cardiac health and associated with hypertension and risks of cardiovascular incidents. It will be sold only on Withings.com and Apple Stores worldwide, priced at $179.95. In early June, Nokia announced the 4th annual Open Innovation Challenge focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) for public safety, connected automotive, industry 4.0, digital health, utilities, security and smart cities. Submissions close 15 August. The Nokia Growth Fund has a $350 million piggybank for IoT investment (and we hope secure IoT).
Forbes also has a fairly long disquisition on why Nokia is moving into healthcare, citing PWC’s 2014 forecast of a $ 2.8 trillion US “new health economy” in the next ten years. But our Readers saw it here first in October and April!
31 Oct-3 Nov 2016, SKYCITY Convention Centre, Auckland New Zealand
Hurry if you want to submit your abstract! The 7th Annual Meeting of the Australasian Telehealth Society (SFT-16) is actually a 4-in-one conference, held concurrently with the Global Telehealth Conference (GT 2016), the Health Informatics New Zealand Conference (HiNZ 2016), and the NZ Nursing Informatics Conference (NZNIC-16). Delegates register for one, and can attend any session in the four conferences. Topics for SFT-16 include telehealth in Australia and New Zealand, the future of clinical telehealth, the telehealth business and the state of evidence. Abstracts in the categories of scientific papers and case studies are still being accepted through Monday 4 July midnight NZ time, and according to HiNZ’s Twitter feed, extensions are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . It’s also supported by organizations including American Telemedicine Association (ATA, a TTA media partner), the University of Queensland and the International Society for Telemedicine and e-Health (ISfTeH). Registration appears not to be up yet. Website
Telemedicine consults between doctors and with their patients are, at long last, progressing on the Long And Winding Road, according to this sizable recap in the Life and Health section of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. The focus is on virtual visit growth in the US, but it opens with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) connecting their doctors in Africa with their specialist network worldwide. Mercy Health provides 24/7 ICU/ER support for 38 local hospitals out of a Virtual Care Center outside St. Louis manned by ICU specialists. Their results? A 35 percent decrease in patients’ average length of stay and 30 percent fewer deaths than anticipated. The important statistics here are on acceptance: 72 percent of hospitals and 52 percent of practices are finally integrating some form of telemedicine into care; 74 percent of large employers are covering telemedicine cost–yet awareness is still lagging among prospective patients, with only 39 percent familiar with it according to a recent survey. Challenges remain in reimbursement (more…)
The world may have turned upside down (and around) with Brexit, but London Technology Week happened nevertheless. It’s exploded into 400 events and 43,000 attendees, with 300 attending an event at London City Hall on health tech within the NHS. (Attendees invited to contribute in Comments.) Designer Brooke Roberts, an ex-NHS radiographer who advocates the fusion of fashion and tech, debuted her brain scan-inspired knitwear, accomplished by translating scans into digital files capable of programming industrial knitting machines. According to GP Bullhound in their annual European Unicorns report, 18 of Europe’s 47 billion-dollar digital startups are now based in the UK. So who needs the EU? TechCityNews, CNN, Yahoo TechOn the other side of the Atlantic, there was a disappointing absence of wearables and health tech at the Consumer Electronics Association’s NYC summer event, CE Week. It’s been a major feature since 2009 at International CES in January; the NYC summer show and the November CES preview had always featured a mostly local exhibitor contingent and conference content. None this year–a representative cited a mystifying ‘change in direction’. There was one lone wearable way back in the exhibit hall–MonBaby, which came in from 16 blocks uptown. The snap-on button monitor works with any garment (unlike the Mimo onesie and the Owlet sock) (more…)
Threat hunting is also emphasized in a second Ponemon study sponsored by Raytheon, which recommended offensively hunting down threats to data security, and defensively setting up a security barrier to protect patient data and care systems. With nation-state attacks (think China and Russia), ransomware, compromises due to IoT (add outdated software), and physical data theft, the game is now complete control rather than plain ol’ disruption. After the attack, when most healthcare organizations finally get into gear on cyberthreats, is far too late. Ponemon/Raytheon ‘Don’t Wait’. Healthcare IT News
More robots than people, VR visits to the GP and 3D printed human organs were among the predictions in a survey of over 2,000 British adults. Also in their collective vision in the next 20 years (2036) were communications devices being embedded inside the human body (37 percent), a cloned human born by that year (50 percent), clothing connected to the internet (50 percent) and more driverless cars than conventional models. The study was conducted by SMG Insight and YouGov, commissioned by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company, in the runup to London Technology Week through 26 June, highlighting London as a global technology hub. According to their release, an EY report ranked London as second only to Silicon Valley as the most likely place to produce the world’s next tech giant. The event also promotes Imperial College London’s Foresight team and their Tech Foresight 2036 on 24 June. Also ITPro.
On Tuesday, the Federal District Court of Massachusetts not only dismissed the American Well patent infringement lawsuit against Teladoc, but also invalidated American Well‘s patent, held by co-founder Dr. Roy Schoenberg since 2009. It was invalidated on the grounds that the claims in the patent were “too abstract” to be patentable and do not “amount to an inventive concept.” American Well is appealing the court decision.
This author is wondering who thought this was such a novel technology as to warrant a patent? What were they thinking? Having worked on developing unified messaging systems for a mobile phone operator at the turn of the century (now that’s a scary 15 years ago) I am just picking myself off the floor after reading this.
Surely all these functions are no more than what is in every instant messaging program, dating back to 1990s? Replace the words “medical service provider” by “friends” or “contacts” and “consultation” by “chat” or “call” it seems to me you get … Skype and Face Time and more! [TTA 9 June 15]
Nosocomial hospital infections may also get a good zapping by disinfecting robots. In an 18 month test at Lowell (Massachusetts) General Hospital, robots with pulsing xenon high-dose ultraviolet light from Xenex Disinfection Services disinfected the Lowell Hospital ORs nightly in addition to routine chemical disinfection. The study estimated that they avoided an estimated 23 infections at a cost savings of one life and $478,000. MedCityNews.
Robotics in healthcare will also be part of the five tracks centered on informatics available to attendees of HEALTHINFO 2016, August 21 – 25, 2016 in Rome’s H10 ROMA CITTA, organized by IARIA (International Academy, Research, and Industry Association). More information here.
And if you wonder if humans will be able to find work when robots take over everything (maybe we just go to conferences and have a guaranteed income?), take comfort (or not) in this interview with one of the two authors of Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines, a new book by Thomas Hayes Davenport and Julia Kirby. “One is to work alongside smart machines, and complement their activity. The other is to dip into what smart machines are unlikely to be able to do any time soon.” The emphasis on STEM education may be misplaced as many of these jobs will be replaced by AI. In healthcare, they predict that automation will displace specialists and empower GPs, leaving room for ultra specialization in combinations not thought of today. Robots beware: Humans will still be bosses of machines (TechRepublic)
Our Editors have always tried to cleanly define the differences between telemedicine, telehealth and telecare, even as they blur in industry use. (See our Definitions sidebar for the latter two.) But telemedicine, at least on this side of the Atlantic, has lost linguistic ground to telehealth, which has become the umbrella term that eHealth wanted to be only two or three years ago. Similarly, digital health, connected health and mHealth have lost ground to health tech, since most devices now connect and incorporate mobility. And there are sub-genres, such as wearables, fitness trackers and aging tech.
Poor telehealth grows ever fuzzier emanations and penumbra! Now bearing the burden of virtual visits between doctor and patient, doctor-to-doctor professional consults, video conferencing (synchronous and asynchronous), remote patient monitoring of vital signs and qualitative information (ditto), and distance health monitoring to treat patients, it also begins to embrace its data: outcome-based analytics, population health and care modeling. Eric Wicklund accumulates a pile of studies from initial-heavy organizations: WHO, HIMSS, HHS, Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), ATA, TRC Network. All of which shows, perhaps contrary to Mr Wicklund’s intentions, how confusing simple concepts have become. mHealth Intelligence
HealthSpot Station’s assets to Rite Aid, minus the ‘froth’. On Monday, drug store chain Rite Aid won the US Bankruptcy Court in Columbus, Ohio’s mandated auction for the inventory, most assets and IP for its entry bid of $1.15 million. According to Columbus Business First (subscription only), a touted second bid by a central Ohio investor group was $1 million–and stayed right there with no second bid. This group had invested $650,000 before HealthSpot entered Chapter 7. A dark horse third bidder, which came in at the last minute, never put money on the line.
The Ohio business group leader, local assisted living facility owner Paul Gross, interestingly maintained his faith in the kiosk concept to Columbus Business First in an earlier interview, rapping the prior management for squandering approximately $47 million (more, given Xerox‘s never-disclosed investment) on office furniture, lavish executive salaries and misbegotten marketing (quoted in MedCityNews). 25 of the kiosks were in Rite Aid locations in Ohio and others with Cleveland Clinic, but there are 137 still ‘in the box’. Perhaps ‘misbegotten’ should be applied to the concept (kiosks too big, expensive) and not the marketing communications, which in this Editor’s professional judgment were strong and appealing, but ran into the ‘lipstick on a pig’ wall.
One wonders what Rite Aid, in the throes of its own difficult merger with Walgreen Boots Alliance, will do with the assets. TTA’s earlier stories on HealthSpot.
Theranos the Movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence. Co-starring Walgreens? ‘Hunger Games’ star Jennifer Lawrence has reportedly agreed to star in ‘The Big Short’ director Adam McKay’s adaptation of the story. (Fortune) Certainly there is a resemblance to CEO Elizabeth Holmes Frogeyed Sprite (‘Bugeyed’ to us Yanks–Ed.) crossed with Steve Jobs. Ms Lawrence has already played a young, aggressive, come-from-nada inventor of household gadgets in ‘Joy’. The Theranos story is appearing to be the ‘Joy’ story in reverse. Suggested title: ‘The Royal Scam’? (credit Steely Dan, circa 1974). ‘Less Than Zero’ (Bret Easton Ellis) is taken, now describing Ms Holmes’ net worth according to Forbes.
Mr McKay will be ripping from the headlines in progress, should the movie actually be made. (more…)
Tunstall Healthcare Group’s release for 1 June’s Telecare Awareness Day was a virtual tour of their Innovation Centre physically located at their Whitley, Yorkshire head office. It’s divided into five TECS-related ‘zones’: integrated care, connected home, development room, app bar and workshop. There are explanatory comments below, which help because the virtual tour has a measure of clunkiness. The marketing purpose of the Innovation Centre? It “provides a unique, dedicated space to define the challenge and help accelerate the development and design process to evolve the next generation of digital connected healthcare, create new innovations and service models that genuinely meet the needs of commissioners and consumers.” (Whew!) It’s also kind of a cool space to get feedback from customers, users and partners, which this Editor suspects is the real reason why it was developed. But overall, both the Centre and the virtual tour are good ‘showcase’ ideas that demonstrate both product and thought leadership.