Elinaz Mahdavy (Orange Healthcare) to chair Continua Alliance’s European Working Group

Elinaz Mahdavy, European Affairs and Strategic Partnerships Manager at Orange Healthcare, has been unanimously elected chair of its European Working Group. She will lead Continua’s outreach and relations with EU institutions and governments in Europe. Claus Nielsen, Business Development Manager, DELTA, was also confirmed as vice chair of the working group. Press release (PDF)

The revolt against Google Glass

click to enlargeThe Gimlet Eye’s meat-locker temperature gaze on Sergey Brin’s latest device for world domination.

Now I, the Gimlet, read with the appropriate horror Editor Donna’s version of March Madness, ‘Smart tech=dumber people‘, denying any fit in Eye Life for Google Glass. After all, one does not properly stroll down a boulevard rubbing featureless glass or mumbling Brando-like into the air, except when disdaining spectacularly bad taste in ornamentation (piercings, tattoos) and dress, or lack thereof. Thus Glass has no job to do, unless it has the ability to screen the collected works of Jean-Pierre Melville or the best roles of George Sanders on demand. However, Google does not ladle les billions into development without thoughts of further gathering the biggest of data to sell on all that is holy (or unholy) in our lives, eroding whatever privacy we have left, in order to keep Mr. Brin’s yacht in diesel and deck wax enroute to the next TEDx or remote island. Thus the Eye raises a glass to the new ‘refuseniks’ who cry ‘Stop the Cyborgs!’, rebelling against a world where “privacy is impossible and corporate control total”, cleverly inserting sharp-nailed fingers in Google’s spy-in-the-eye.  After all, WWBS? (What Would Brando Say?) Google Glass: The opposition grows (CNet)

Eye tracking to diagnose stroke: study

A simple, inexpensive way to diagnose life-threatening stroke has been developed by a team from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Their device–special goggles wired to a laptop with new software–is able to differentiate key eye movements that are indicative of stroke versus other conditions such as inner ear infections. The goggles (made by GN Otometrics for balance conditions) combine a USB-connected webcam and an accelerometer in the frame to track the eyeballs, while a clinician performs head impulse testing (rotating the patient’s head while he looks at a stationary object); the software interprets the subtle signs that “directly predict” stroke. The researchers dub the technique as “ECG for the eyes.” Now put this into a tablet or smartphone….  Medgadget   Johns Hopkins Medicine release

Fitting wearable, designed tech into your life

Design, with a few leading exceptions generally prefaced with ‘i’, is generally kludgy in the health tech area, because ‘better mousetrap’ and off-shelf components tend to subsume design imperatives. (Has anyone seen a remotely aesthetically pleasing mousetrap other than the MiceCube?) This design discussion in Co.design (part of Fast Company) is, without saying so, marketing oriented because it is oriented to getting tech into everyday life at an affordable price. Three ways to make wearable tech actually wearable: make it beautiful (Misfit), peripheral (Guide Me Home GPS shoes), meaningful (the Pulse ring prototype). Raymond Loewy would give a thumbs-up.

Samsung Galaxy S4’s S Health: fitness tracker disruptor?

The much-heralded second quarter intro of the Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phone is, according to multiple reviewers, a sustaining innovation (improvement). But embedded in it is a disruptive innovation to the fitness app sector dominated by Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand and a raft of low-cost/free tracking apps.  It’s S Health, which according to Gizmodo’s incredibly detailed review monitors key activities and sleep (Editor emphasis):

Holy crap, Samsung put a health tracker in its phone! Which is actually a great idea. S Health is an app that will track your steps, stairs climbed, and the ambient temperature and humidity, plus track your food intake and estimate calories consumed/burned. You can even track sleep with an optional accessory (see below). Fitbit and co. should be nervous, although I’m curious to see what kind of ding this puts on your battery life.

and

There are also a bevy of accessories that complement the S Health app. There’s a wristband you can wear independently of the phone (in case you prefer running without it), which will track your steps and monitor the quality of your sleep. It will then sync wirelessly with the app. There’s also a connected scale and heart rate monitor. Again, this isn’t good news for smaller fitness tracking companies.

The Verge has the S Health slide (grainy photo) presumably from the Samsung debut presentation. (Better photos over at CNet; photo here is courtesy of 3G Doctor–see below)

click to enlargeIf the implementation is high quality (and some commenters have issues with Samsung), Fitbit et al. could themselves be disrupted straight out of their (current) business model and consumer market, just like they did to Zeo.  S Health integrates–it’s already on your phone, it largely does what they do and gets the fitness tracking job done (‘Total Reports’) for most who are interested for free, even without the few available accessories. No downloading and going to Amazon or Best Buy to buy a raft of expensive accessories to make it work with your phone. No annual $49 membership so you can access your data.  Worst of all for the current crop of fitness trackers, not one–not even Nike–can beat the Samsung international distribution network and only Nike beats Samsung on brand recognition. Is it a deal-maker for consumers? Probably not, but it gets much much closer to the customer. Also a few things that Samsung has introduced–the Air View/Air Gesture eye tracking and gesture control–have great potential for app designers in other aspects of fitness and health.

We’ll have to wait and see–not too long– if other smartphones (HTC, Apple, LG, even BlackBerry) add fitness tracking. If I were Fitbit or Nike, this Editor would be hopping like an Easter Bunny to cut a licensing/partnership deal with them. BlackBerry with Nike FuelBand….

Related articles: Dan Munro over at Forbes cheers Samsung on in Latest Samsung Smartphone Adds Health Functions, Sky News adds the international perspective. CNet reports accessory pricing: S Band and Body Scale at $99.99 each, Heart Rate Monitor at $69.99. Update 18 March: Lt. Dan opines at HISTalk on What it means for healthcare and mHealth [WARNING 31 Aug 2014: linked page may now be infected with malware] –the market pushing for bigger smartphones that blur the line between phones and tablets, the navigation capabilities of Air View for EMR. A cold-waterish review/comments at iMedicalApps doesn’t think much of the native temp/humidity feature (your Editor begs to disagree); again a commenter brings up Samsung’s track record of weak software, but agrees that Era of mobile health tracking definitively arrives. Hat tip on these two updates to the 3G Doctor, David Doherty, via LinkedIn’s mHealth group. ZDNet notes Samsung’s Knox software to separate personal and business use on one phone, along with SAFE for enterprises.

And do read David Doherty, the 3G Doctor for a further dissection and projection of the S4’s capabilities in features like its camera, the humidity/temperature sensor, the aforementioned Air View/Gesture, the dual video, Smart Scroll for eye testing and even the recharging pad as particularly friendly to healthcare use — and users. Samsung takes S Health centre stage at Galaxy S4 launch and Will Samsung’s Smart Scroll turn the world upside down for mHealth Regulators? (mHealth Insight)

 

Tracking February’s health tech funding (infographic)

GigaOm supplies the infographic outlining the $108 million spread over 32 deals. Informatics and analytics lead the way, far ahead of diagnostics and imaging. Analytics account for the two largest funding rounds backed by huge health systems Geisinger (which effectively started up xG Health Solutions) and Kaiser part of Series B funding for data warehouse Health Catalyst. Brain injury sensors have also attracted funding (Brain Sentry and x2 Biosystems) following on a trend both sports and military. M&A is also popping, with Samsung, UnitedHealth Group, Jawbone and Practice Fusion leading the deals.  Health tech’s monthly checkup

NYC health tech innovators: two awards programs

NYC health tech enterpreneurs, which have been overlooked by the city’s biotech and e-tailing bubbles–as well as feeling that the West Coast gets all the goodies–are now getting their just deserts (not desserts) in the form of two partnership/rewards programs:

Innovate Health Tech NYC, sponsored by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Health 2.0, accelerator StartUp Health, ChallengePost and Janssen Healthcare Innovation, is providing a total of $50,000 in three awards for innovative technologies that solve urgent healthcare problems. Key dates: application by 2 May, ten finalists to be selected by public voting and judging by 18 June, demo day and winner announcement 10 July. More information at the Innovate Health Tech website. Release.

Pilot HealthTech NYC, also sponsored by NYCEDC, Health 2.0, StartUpHealth and adding Blueprint Health, is more complex. It provides up to $100,000 for each of 10 pilot projects focused on improving healthcare. Companies have to be less than 50 employees and funded under $10 million. However, applicants must be matched with one of 11 ‘hosts’ listed or another prominent NYC healthcare institution. Companies can come from outside of NYC but must establish a local presence. Key dates: joint applications due 27 May, winners announced 26 June. Website

Friday’s mHealth reports roundup

The mHealth Alliance’s just-released study, The State of Standards and Interoperability for mHealth among Low- and Middle-Income Countries, focuses on the current state of standards and interoperability (mobile and EMR), identifies gaps and opportunities related to standards in low- and middle-income countries, and offers key recommendations for the mobile health community. The focus here is on developing countries and enabling for them continuity of care across provider, place, and time.  Release.

research2guidance has issued their latest Mobile Health Market Report 2013-2017, with Volume 3, The Commercialization of mHealth Apps. In their view, mHealth has exited consumer trials and entered the wider commercialization phase. The integrated phase is next for the market, but missing regulation, the insurer/payer side and integration into treatment plans will not happen. Key points from their summary: (more…)

Making Connections: A transatlantic exchange between the VA and NHS (Free report)

Thanks to “an unrestricted educational grant from NHS 3millionlives and Robert Bosch” the consultancy 2020health has produced a wide-ranging and freely available 90-page report comparing the US’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the UK’s NHS’s experience in introducing and using various forms of technology. I nearly missed flagging up this item for Telehealth and Telecare Aware readers because the 2020health press release about it only mentioned the desire to help NHS to become ‘paperless’! However, when a trusted reader drew my attention to it I took a second look and found that more than half the report concerns home telehealth, telemedicine and mobile health. From a UK perspective, the round-up of what the VHA has done on telehealth was useful and contains strong pointers to what the NHS needs to do to start adopting telehealth into its care pathways. Unfortunately, after reading the NHS section I came away with the impression that despite the small scale successes, really large scale adoption will remain something to which we will only ever aspire as long as the NHS remains so fragmented (and the Government’s Ministerial ‘leadership’ maintains its toxic reputation with the people who need to commission and implement telehealth – to be clear, that’s my interpretation, not the report’s). Read it yourself and tell us in the comments if you draw different conclusions. Making Connections: A transatlantic exchange to support the adoption of digital health between the US VHA and England’s NHS.

FDA regulating medical apps–or not? (US)

The long-drawn out drama on the FDA’s endlessly pending (July 2011) final regulations on the approval procedure of mobile health apps seems to be coming to a crescendo with next week’s US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee hearings. There are missed deadlines, unanswered questions, reports due, an apparent repositioning of mobile apps as ‘health IT’, the involvement of an alphabet soup of agencies–Health and Human Services (HHS), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and, most importantly the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONC) under HHS, which seems to be breaking away and asserting control in the FDA vacuum. Cheering on ONC for dominance are health IT companies such as McKesson and perhaps some members of the Committee. This apparent lassitude on FDA’s part is certainly odd, as according to Mobihealthnews, the FDA has already approved 75 mobile medical apps. Brian Dolan over there has done fine work on sorting out this ‘who’s on first?‘–and why–situation in two articles, Republicans, EHR vendors want ONC to take over medical app regulation (14 Mar) and Congress asks FDA if “actual use” is factor in medical app regulation (6 Mar).

Related TTA: The mHealth road map, as drawn by the FCC and Adding another chef to the government regulation kitchen 

Vitality GlowCaps go retail (again)

Vitality, with a rebranding and new graphics, is testing the retail waters again with direct sales of pill container-reminder GlowCaps through pharmacy giant CVS. GlowCaps are connected via AT&T’s mobile network for activation and reminders. In beta is the GlowPack–a zippered pouch for those medications such as liquids and blister packs that don’t fit into a pill container. CVS Caremark is also testing GlowCaps as part of a randomized control trial on medication adherence among CVS Caremark members with suboptimal control of their LDL cholesterol levels. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) database ClinicalTrials.gov, a series of three incentive programs plus GlowCaps will be measured versus GlowCaps use only. GlowCaps now sold through CVS, new randomized control trial launches (Mobihealthnews)

Bosch does something about a UK society under-prepared for ageing

On a day when ‘their lordships’ wake up to the lack of preparation for ageing that is rampant in the UK (BBC report) it is good to see Bosch doing something to raise awareness amongst children. This year’s Bosch Technology Horizons Award is a challenge to secondary school children to develop a video to explain how technology will help an ageing population. Peter Fouquet, President of Bosch in the UK said: “Bosch is committed to developing technologies that improve the quality of people’s lives and an ageing population is not only a big issue for the UK, but many countries around the world.” Entrants are invited to respond to the question: ‘In the future, how will technology help an ageing population?’ and they can upload their videos to YouTube and then onto the Bosch Technology Horizons Award app on the Bosch UK Facebook page. There will be a prize for the most popular video by votes received on Facebook and the top 20 most popular entries will be submitted to Bosch’s judging panel, which will award prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The closing date for entries is 26th June 2013 and the winners will be announced on the Bosch UK Facebook page on 15th July 2013.

CDDFT ‘Health Call’ digital healthcare service launched (UK)

Another launch at the NHS Innovation Expo and simultaneously in Durham: County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT), in partnership with InHealthcare Ltd, are launching the new CDDFT Health Call digital healthcare service.

CDDFT have designed and developed their own digital healthcare pathways using the InHealthcare N3-based platform that is interoperable with existing patient systems. As InHealthcare is a healthcare service company rather than a hub or medical device manufacturer, pathways can potentially use any telehealth hub or medical device and data from remote monitoring devices can be shared with clinicians through existing clinical systems. In the press release, Jane Haywood from CDDFT says: “We, like many other NHS organisations, carried out pilots on telehealth, using multiple hubs to evaluate benefits. We quickly realised that we needed to be more flexible but more importantly we needed standardisation across the whole health economy…simply put, we can pick and choose the right devices to deliver the right outcomes.”

O2: First Help at Hand, now Health at Home (UK)

Two major launches for O2 in two weeks… First Help at Hand and now, at the Healthcare Innovations Expo, Health at Home – no wonder there were no ‘health’ mentions at the earlier launch. According to the press release, Health at Home’s secure platform allows health care professionals to “monitor patients’ readings, set bespoke symptom surveys, provide educational materials and communicate with them directly. Patients are provided with a tablet computer connected to the mobile network and pre-loaded with the Health at Home software as well as relevant smart monitoring devices including pulse oximeters, weight scales and blood pressure monitors.” Data is uploaded to O2’s servers where it is accessible to the professionals and to the patients “to learn more about their condition and how to manage it”. The charge is per patient per month with no upfront cost. Press release (PDF). Health at Home website.

O2 being what it is, we assume that the in-tablet software is CE marked (as it sounds like it would be counted as a medical device) and that O2 has all patent issues covered with the likes of Bosch. It would be nice to have those points confirmed.