MedStartr Momentum 2015 NYC happening Monday!

Monday, 30 November at Microsoft Technology Center, 11 Times Square (8th Avenue/42nd Street), NYC    #MedMo15   See below for Reader discount

click to enlargeBefore you tuck into your Thanksgiving turkey dinner, check this out. This full day conference has been organized by veteran startup crowdfunder MedStartr and Health 2.0 NYC, and packs a lot into only a few hours. Main speakers are Susannah Fox, the CTO of HHS; Dawn Bell, VP Global Programs at Novartis; digital health entrepreneur Peter Frishauf and artist Regina Holliday of The Walking Gallery. But it’s not just boring standup talks. There are four pitch sessions through the day featuring early-stage companies, and organized around Wearable Health Tech, Hospitals 2.0, Pharma Tech 2.0 and more. And the price for the full day at an impressive NYC venue is pretty reasonable, with the basic entry at $150, more or less depending on your category. Our Readers should use promotional code MedMo25 when registering for $25 off. TTA is proud to support this event. Hat tip to MedStartr founder Alex Fair.

Will telehealth catch on or stagnate, due to factors out of its control?

click to enlargeReviewing the Robert Graham Center study summarized by Editor Chrys last week, René Quashie of Epstein Becker Green, perhaps the leading law firm in the health tech area, opines that despite the great progress made by telehealth (telemedicine/virtual consults, but also remote patient monitoring), “state legal and regulatory issues, reimbursement, and provider training and education continue to be serious barriers to wider adoption of telehealth. And until the landscape evolves to address these barriers, telehealth adoption is likely to stagnate despite the great promise of telehealth holds as a tool to improve quality and access.” Yes, that old FBQ* (actually the top two) continues to be as true now as five years ago. While in closing Mr Quashie puts his trust in the ‘pull’ factor of consumers and patients “who will continue to demand better access and more innovative delivery models outside the conventional office visit,” this Editor is far less sanguine, despite having used a virtual consult app recently. It was turned to more out of sheer frustration–time pressure (work, travel), being unable to secure a timely visit with a specialist (no one seems to be taking new patients!) despite good (non-Obamacare) medical coverage, and a condition which was eminently photographable (plus $40). National Law Review  * The Five Big Questions (FBQs)–who pays, how much, who’s looking at the data, who’s actioning it, how data is integrated into patient records.

click to enlargeThen again, if you read Health Populi and believe Gallup’s poll, a majority of Americans aren’t thinking about delivery models at all. They’re unhappy, and would like to hand the whole hot mess over to the government when asked if “government is responsible for ensuring that people have health insurance.” Yet after (despite?) two years under the Affordable Care Act, which was supposed to do exactly that by forcing everyone to pay for a healthcare policy OR ELSE (except those who’d rather pay the tax, including those below 30 who were going to pony up premiums, use few services and generally prop up the system), they are shocked, shocked to find that out-of-pocket costs are way up and access is down. (more…)

A StartUp Finnish for health

StartUp Health expands to Finland in partnering with Finpro’s Team Finland Health. The initial StartUp Health Finland class will be five Finnish health tech startups that will be invited into the StartUp Health Academy in Helsinki, and be provided with entrepreneurial coaching and advisory services. The overall objective is to bridge the gap that Finnish companies experience to ongoing global access to investors, expertise and commercialization opportunities. Finpro is Finland´s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency. Release

‘All-in-one’ SensoSCAN medical sensor launches at HIMSS CHC

click to enlargeAnd it’s not Scanadu. Scanadu may be the ‘tricorder’ of the future, but telehealth companies are looking for a here-and-now medical monitoring device that can take the place of multiple health monitors and provide clinically accurate readings. This Editor noted Swiss-American company SensoGRAM‘s press release at last year’s mHealth Summit, but this year, in a large booth near the front of the now HIMSS Connected Health Conference expo floor, they were demonstrating production versions of SensoSCAN. The fingertip sensor, similar to a pulse oximeter, measures blood pressure, respiration rate, heart rate, and O2 saturation, plus activity levels and fall detection, and sends the information to your smartphone via app. It is being sold DTC on their website ‘for informational purposes only’ for $349.99. According to chief administrative officer Lisa D’Auria (her hand at left), they are also in clinical trials for FDA 510(k) clearance, hoping to have within less than a year, and are in progress with CE Marking. Unusually, it is manufactured in the US. Release.

Care Innovations partners with caregiver mental health app Happify

Intel-GE Care Innovations announced yesterday a partnership with NYC-based Happify to integrate their mental health for caregivers app into Health Harmony by 1st Quarter 2016. Happify is a game-based app targeted to caregivers of the chronically ill to support their mental health and wellbeing through cognitive behavioral therapy, ‘positive psychology’ and conquering negative thinking. Currently it is marketed to healthcare providers and corporate wellness programs. According to the release, “By adding on access to Happify’s innovative mobile app, Care Innovations will be able to leverage state-of-the-art programs to improve the well-being of family caregivers and offer additional programs to its clients.” This is certainly an interesting integration to the typical vital signs and qualitative information gathering of patient data in thinking about the caregiver. However, we note that a previously announced partnership, with UK’s buddi announced last December, is not to be found on the CI website. Release (Business Wire)

Turn down the noise! Is it possible in a hospital?

click to enlargeTry texting and more. One of the more unfairly overlooked mHealth tools is text or SMS. While simple, the back end and integration can be complex, especially when integrated within healthcare IT systems.

In the US, one of the key metrics that hospitals are rated on in their HCAHPS scores (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is quietness of the hospital environment. Hospital noise is more than annoying–it is at a level that blocks healing and deprives patients of needed sleep (see study). There are door slams, people walking and talking, TVs and incessant boops and beeps from equipment. This annual survey told Inspira Health Network, a three-location hospital system in southern New Jersey, that they had a noise pollution problem.

One noise IHN hospital management could control was overhead pages–over 150 daily at their Vineland hospital. In a Quiet Hospital initiative, they replaced the overhead page system largely with a secure texting system developed by Newark, NJ-based Practice Uniteimplemented by their reseller, Futura Mobility and consultant Pursuit Healthcare Advisors. Texts now go from nurses to physician smartphones, reducing overhead pages to perhaps two emergency ones daily. Scores for quietness satisfaction have improved drastically: at the Elmer hospital from 60 to nearly 100 percent, Woodbury from 45 to 56 percent, and Vineland from 55 to 62 percent.

Where the interesting integration–and workload reduction–happens is that those nurses can also make a stat consult request to a physician via Inspira’s EHR which is then sent to the physician’s phone. It also leaves an audit trail so that completion can be tracked. Lab results also can be sent to the EHR or phone, depending on physician preference, and patient round lists to residents’ phones. According to Healthcare IT News, these features have been adopted by affiliated medical practices; it has improved response times, patient consults and EHR updates, plus reduced patient stays. Health Data Management, HIT Consultant (Photo Cambridge Sound Management from their article on sound masking in hospitals.)

165,000 apps, 3 bn downloads and counting: global mHealth apps study

click to enlargeThe results of the fifth annual mHealth App Economics survey are out. Our Readers were invited to participate back in March when it was sponsored by German research firm research2guidance in collaboration with mHealth Summit Europe and HIMSS and kicked off at the Riga meeting in May.

Major apps stores reported more than 165,000 mHealth apps published by 45,000 companies, and projected 3 billion downloads by close of 2015.  Some other key findings from R2G do surprise:

  • The target for apps is DTC–chronically ill patients–with their hospitals as #2. Physicians are important, but less so than last year’s survey.
  • App publishers aims appear altruistic. 53 percent of mHealth publishers claim that their main motivation is to help people improve their medical conditions. However, 60 percent aren’t reaching their goals yet mainly due to low reach. The vast majority of apps (62 percent) mark up less than 5,000 annual downloads. (See the chart below for some possible reasons why)
  • Diagnostic apps lead in anticipated business potential until 2020. And app publishers have added medical professionals to their team.
  • What app publishers find works to change behavior is not gamification. What does: integration of provider feedback or dialogue.
  • Yet providers, such as doctors and nurses, are seen as the most threatened group by mHealth solutions.
  • A scant 3 percent of mHealth publishers generate more than $1 million–and they are far more focused on sales and brand awareness than their brethren which make little. (chart)


Telecare: the cost of a failure (updated)

The value of a telecare service, typified by the familiar red-button alarms worn round the neck or click to enlargewrist and providing the less able to confidently live an independent life is, of course, well known. Telecare also provides a range of unobtrusive wireless sensors that detects possible problems around the home such as a gas hob or tap left on,  smoke from a smouldering sofa where a cigarette may have fallen and so on.

There are many companies around the world providing telecare services. But what if the service suffers an interruption? What needs to be done and what is the cost?

The UK’s NHS in Scotland had to face these questions recently when the telecare service it provides in the Highland Council area suffered a total failure last week. The system had failed for about four hours last Saturday and, although a  backup system existed, that failed to deploy. (more…)

Calling all those interested in the Internet of things: draft PAS 212 awaits your review

BSI is inviting comments on the draft for PAS 212 during its four week consultation period.

PAS 212 is entitled “Automatic resource discovery for the Internet of Things” so is clearly very relevant to the Telehealth & Telecare Aware community, particularly for those involved in deployment of sensors/wearables.

Go to the DHACA blog for more details; comments have to be in by January 8th.

Hat hit to Melvin Reynolds for drawing this to my attention.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee takes evidence on VETS Act (US)

Further to our report in October on the introduction of the Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine click to enlargeSupport Act (“Veterans eHealth & Telemedicine”, 10 October 2015), Sen. Joni Ernst’s website reports that Sen. Ernst was the first witness to testify in front of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday (19 November 2015) about the proposed legislation.

“The VA has been practicing telemedicine since 2001, and they are largely cited as leaders and innovators in the field. Their efforts in telemedicine have saved money and veterans’ time by eliminating often an hour or more long drives to the VA, and reducing bed days at the VA” Ernst is reported to have said.

“For example: According to the VA, in Fiscal Year 2014, telehealth reduced bed days of care by 54%, reduced hospital admissions by 32%, and saved $34 in travel savings per  consultation. (more…)

Is Theranos’ ‘blood testing for all’ a responsible selling proposition?

Theranos’ recent troubles on their blood testing (Walgreens halting expansion, FDA halting nanotainers as ‘uncleared medical devices’ and last week chain grocery/drugstore Safeway dropping their $350 million deal for 800 locations) have been well covered in media both here and elsewhere. But what if their Unique Selling Proposition–that people should have the ‘basic human right’ to order up their own inexpensive blood tests and then be responsible for their own interpretation–is counter-productive for many patients? After all, it’s what Theranos has been organized and raised $400 million+ on. Dr Robert Wachter of UCSF, who is no top-down Ezekiel-esque ‘nanny stater’, lends a caution: “There are a lot of companies, including Theranos, that have an interest in making you believe that more data will magically make you healthier. It won’t, at least not in the short-term.” When is ’empowerment’ confusing without recourse to interpretation? Some results are easier to read than others. Does having the data make the average person healthier for real? Personally, this Editor would welcome the ability to walk into her local Walgreens and order up a few to see what’s up–but then again she can do her own research and ask a doctor or nurse to help. Who can (inexpensively) close the interpretation gap? Theranos is wrapped in scandal but goes hard to change laws to its advantage (Mashable)

NYeC honors four at annual gala

The NY eHealth Collaborative, which develops policies and standards supporting NY state-wide initiatives in healthcare information/data exchange, including the development of the SHIN-NY (Statewide Health Information Network -NY), Wednesday night honored four major NY-based forces in healthcare in New York City. Steven Safyer MD, CEO of Montefiore Health System, Jason Gorevic of telemedicine provider Teladoc, Thomas Mahoney MD of Finger Lakes Health System and Lisa Perry of Community Health Care Association, NYS. While award ceremonies usually don’t come bearing insights, Dr Safyer’s was succinct in what health systems face: that price is compressing over time and that it’s about managing that, not ‘managing care’ which is the usual shorthand. NYeC News.  This Editor missed the usual event in conjunction with the gala, NYeC’s Digital Health Conference, and hopes it makes a reappearance next year. NYeC also partners with the Partnership Fund for NYC in the three-year old New York Digital Health Accelerator (NYDHA) which has six companies in its 2015 five-month program.

Successful large-scale deployment of Telehealth: a “cookbook”

Following a two and a half year evaluation of data from different connected health programmes in five European regions, a report click to enlargewas released this week described as a “cookbook” for large-scale deployment of coordinated care and telehealth. The work was carried out by a consortium led by Philips Healthcare and included participants from The Netherlands, Greece, the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany.

After monitoring coordinated care and telehealth initiatives in five EU healthcare regions – Lombardy (IT), Basque Country (ES), Catalonia (ES), Northern Netherlands (NL), and Scotland (UK) – the EU-funded Advancing Care Coordination & Telehealth Deployment (ACT) Programme has produced this ‘cookbook’ of good practice to facilitate their deployment across Europe. (more…)

Telecare pioneer Alertacall receives National Business Awards-UK honor

click to enlargeAlertacall received the ‘Highly Commended’ distinction in the Market Gravity Innovation category at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards UK. The company was cited over eight other finalists for its ‘OKEachDay’ phone check-in service in a field of over 150 other competitors in various business areas. Founded in 2004, Alertacall was one of the Grizzled Pioneers of UK telecare and lately has expanded into housing management with its Housing Proactive system. The winner was DNAFit, which integrates genomics into nutrition and fitness. The National Business Awards were announced in a ceremony on 10 November keynoted by astronaut (and second man on the moon) Buzz Aldrin and addressed by Prime Minister David Cameron. Scotland’s Digital Health & Care Institute was the other digital health finalist; DHI is an incubator for 85 live projects also funding academic research with a combined level of over £3 million. Awards page (click on Market Gravity Innovation)Alertacall release

Care Innovations finds a home in Mississippi

The Intel-GE Healthcare joint venture, Care Innovations, last week inked a full five-year deal with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to use remote care management tools, such as their Health Harmony telehealth platform, in the home setting to reduce readmissions and ER/ED use. The chronic medical conditions they will be tracking are congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and hypertension. According to Healthcare Finance, the RPM, data analytics and application integration services they are developing may be offered outside the state. This follows on reported positive results produced by a statewide population health program, the Diabetes Telehealth Network, involving both CI and UMMC’s Center for Telehealth. The results for the six-month first phase of the remote care management program, which included 100 Mississippians with diabetes: a 1.7% average A1C reduction, zero hospitalizations and ER visits, and a savings of $339,184 over six months. The CI and UMMC goal is to enroll 1,000 patients per month through 2016, and to save $189 million in Medicaid cost among diabetics alone.  Care Innovations release. Health Data Management. This follows on GE Healthcare’s acquisition of healthcare consultancy Camden Group [TTA Nov 12]

Pilot Health Tech: call for applicants 18 December (NYC)

click to enlargeThe New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in partnership with Health 2.0 and now Blueprint Health, are calling for joint applicants for the third annual Pilot Health Tech NYC. The program invites innovative healthcare companies and “host” partners (mainly providers) to jointly apply by 18 December for $1 million in competitive commercialization awards. If chosen, these will pilot together to validate a technology solution for commercial use or investment.There are 10 awards across three categories: complex systems, scalable solutions and turnkey projects. Application is here; they also have a Q&A Webinar at noon on 1 Dec to ask questions about the funding program and details about the application process. Prior program winners include GeriJoy, QoL, Nonnatech, Flatiron Health, eCaring and Canopy Apps.