Telecare as entrepreneurial platform (US)

Telecare ‘grizzled pioneer’ GrandCare Systems, which extended some time ago into both telehealth and socialization, is profiled in this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article on local entrepreneurship and the relationship of intellectual capital to economic success. CEO Charles Hillman, COO Gaytha Traynor and VP Marketing Laura Mitchell are interviewed in the video (05:26).

click to enlargeBut telecare has attracted a new entrant, Lively (or Live!y). It’s an in-home behavioral monitoring system which uses neatly-designed motion sensors and M2M connectivity. It strongly resembles to this Editor QuietCare as originally positioned for older adult independence and safety in the home, but developed out in a version 2.0 or 3.0. Activity information feeds over to a web/smartphone platform which generates alerts when something is off the routine (again, like QuietCare). Pricing is right with an equipment cost of $149 (same as the original QuietCare) but with a far lower per month subscription of $19.99–lower than PERS which averages around $35-45–and unlike QuietCare, it is fully self-install. The connectedness overlay is (hold the presses!) direct mail–a ‘LivelyGram’ every two weeks which turns friends and family photos, news and updates into a booklet. The sticking point may be the usual–the older person finding this intrusive and ‘I don’t need this.’ Their Kickstarter appeal has unfortunately started off slowly even with initial discount pricing of $99 for the system; as of 23 April, $11,534 pledged of a $100,000 goal with 21 days left. Neil Versel reviews at Mobihealthnews.

FCC very quietly names Director of Health Care Initiatives (US)

With no official announcement, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has selected Matthew Quinn from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for its first-ever Director of Health Care Initiatives, as reported in FierceMobileHealthcare (via Mobihealthnews). His maiden appearance was at a recent Care Continuum Alliance Capitol Caucus in Washington, D.C. This contrasts with the relative fanfare back in December of the new position and its big scope–administering the Health Care Connect Fund, the health care part of the National Broadband Plan, developing spectrum policy for Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs) and other medical devices as well as expanding broadband to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). It’s all quite curious as it seems to be a muting of the FCC’s previous aggressive stance in cutting its slice of the pie in health care. FierceMobile’s editor Greg Slabodkin wonders what door the new Director will be using in Welcome, Mr. Quinn, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.

‘Virtual visits’ win Singapore innovation award (AUS)

Australia’s Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), which is testing a telehealth service (=telemedicine), won the Outstanding ICT Innovation award in the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards 2013, part of the 4th Ageing Asia Investment Forum in Singapore.  Nurse virtual visits were demonstrated between ‘patient’ Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Mr. Chan Chun Sing, and RDNS nurse Amanda Murray in Melbourne, checking his blood pressure and ‘medication’. The ‘Healthy, Happy and at Home’ project over the past two years was developed by the RDNS with the Victorian State Government under its Broadband Enabled Innovation Program (BEIP); participating partners are Telstra, Healthe Tech (using the original Intel Health Guide) and La Trobe UniversityRDNS telehealth wins international ICT award (ITWire),  Asia Today  Video (3:38) Hat tip to reader George Margelis of Care Innovations Australia.

Free whitepaper about the current smartphone app market

research2guidance is offering a free 27-page report on the current smartphone app market (the ninth edition). Entitled Building And Marketing A Mobile App Will Have Bigger Impact Than Commercialization Of Internet it highlights how:

  • App publishers and companies will be forced to keep track of at least the most important distribution channels for their most important target groups. Building and marketing an app is therefore becoming an important part of businesses. It will even have a bigger impact than the commercialization of the internet economy at the beginning of the century.
  • Diversity of mobile operating systems will increase, offering new opportunities, especially for 2nd tier device manufacturers.
  • App development will become more complex. For developers the pressure to reach out to new target groups who are demanding innovation is rising.

The Boston Marathon tragedy and health tech implications

The terrorist bombings at the end of Monday’s Boston Marathon has already stimulated some analysis on what tech did–and could have done–to save lives. MedCityNews’ article analyzes the handling of the casualties–well done in the coordination of multiple hospital ERs (EDs) in caring for over 100 moderately to severely wounded, but showing the present inability in Massachusetts for the state health information exchange (HIE) Mass HIway to exchange patient EHRs under emergency circumstances. “With HIEs that have this capability, emergency department personnel can search for a patient’s record immediately upon his arrival or even as he’s being transported to the hospital. In hospitals connected to the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE), for example, the system searches for a patient’s record automatically when he’s registered to the ED.” mHIMSS focuses on emergency response, triage, mobile data collection–and Boston’s Center for Connected Health on how health tech could assist in victims’ recoveries and mental support. But in the short term, the Greatist health and fitness website offers links to ways to help, including blood and financial donations, showing support, finding people and keeping up with news. Also there’s the official email for the FBI on where to send photos of the Boylston Street/finish line area.

But what of the long-term–the recovery from both the physical and mental wounds, and managing long term care issues? Four entrants in the MassChallenge accelerator 2013 startup class  to be announced in early May have medical therapies directly applicable to the survivors:  Advanced Amputee Solutions (shock absorption for the lower limb, Benevolent Technology for Health (adjustable fit for prosthetics), Keradermlab (alternative to skin grafts for burn healing) and Lucirix (connectivity platform for all health providers. MedCityNews

StartUp Health adds AARP education on 50+ tech

Health tech accelerator StartUp Health is wisely pointing their entrepreneurs towards ‘the jobs to be done’ of the 50+ age group via a new partnership with AARP. AARP is sponsoring the development of educational content for entrepreneurs in the StartUp Health Academy as part of their Innovation@50+ initiative. They are also sponsoring StartUp Health’s quarterly industry research reports as well as trend data and intelligence. This is StartUp Health’s second high level partnership, after their joint program with GE Ventures Healthymagination [TTA 4 April]. StartUp Health/AARP release.

It’s good business and societal benefit sense. Lather, rinse, repeat: The 50+ market will comprise 45 percent of the US population by 2015. Extended thoughts on differentiating the needs of the ‘young old’ versus the 70-80+ group–and how individual older people have different takeups on tech; Stephanie Baum gives the example of her 80 year-old mom who just upgraded her iPhone and downloads apps, but finds it difficult to do online search. What do seniors need? (MedCityNews)

Related: The Oxitone wrist-worn blood oxygen meter is one of the StartUp Health/GE ‘Lucky Thirteen’ and is profiled in this Times of Israel article. [TTA 7 Sept 2012, 24 Feb 2012] Notably it’s one of only two non-US companies in the group–the other is Ireland’s GetHealth.

Short takes for Thursday

Curious about the further adventures of the HAPIFork that debuted at CES 2013 and got a whole slew of awards? Spend a minute moment (audio 0:51) at lunch with two Health 2.0 writers and inventor Jacques Lépine. Don’t eat too fast or it will buzz–and you can see your eating patterns on HAPIFork’s online dashboard via Bluetooth to mobile or cable to PC. It finally made it to Kickstarter (20 percent to their goal) and $89 will get you one in September…..What is the Synergistic Physio-Neuro Platform (SynPhNe–pronounced ‘symphony’)? A new stroke rehabilitation system from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University for patients which have lost the use of an arm. The arm band monitors muscle movements through guided exercises, and if one can’t be completed, uses the sensor readings to determine why, and then explains it to the user so that they can improve. Gizmag….DARPA’s ARM (Autonomous Robotic Manipulation) is a heavyweight set of two robotic arms to perform coordinated actions and manipulate objects on task-level commands. Currently in test, potential is in heavy moving or dangerous situations including defusing unexploded IEDs. Have Two Arms, Will Work (Armed With Science)….Skype ‘n’ psych a no-no, according to Marlene M. Maheu, PhD, head of the TeleMental Health Institute, due to privacy concerns with the popular online video platform–and even secure telemedicine platforms may have liability problems for psychiatric use. Psychiatric Times.

Two major telehealth and telecare programmes officially launched in Scotland

Two major Telehealth and Telecare programmes worth £2.8 million were officially launched yesterday by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil MSP when he visited a local monitoring station within East Ayrshire Council. The Minister heard via video link from a patient who told the minister how the technology has made a difference to how she has been able to manage her COPD. More info: East Ayrshire pioneers new digital health system Cumnock Chronicle.

Telehealth/continuing education for hypertension adherence (BR)

Not quite what you might think from the FierceHealthIT article, but worth considering. The study of ‘telehealth’ is from a research team from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil (UFPE) who developed a continuing education program for clinical staff in the Family Health Teams in Pernambuco, and does not involve telehealth monitoring of patients. (Some background: the FHTs were established in 1994 to promote primary care in Brazil. Conventional on-site clinical education is difficult due to the dispersed nature of the care teams–and web connectivity is still an issue.) The CE was delivered to 21 professionals in 11 web conferences followed up with electronic patient evaluation forms. In the monitored patient group (N~500) with hypertension, compliance with antihypertensive drugs, low salt diet, and physical activity was increased moderately. A novel study on the effects of influencing professionals by education delivered online, in developing countries where this is not commonplace. Fortunately available online in full text: A Telehealth Strategy for Increasing Adherence in the Treatment of Hypertension in Primary Care (Telemedicine and e-Health, Mary Ann Liebert Publishing, April 2013)

Tablets for mental stimulation, concussion detection

Clevermind for dementia, cognitively disabled

The new Clevermind app/user interface for iPad is designed to simplify the internet for active use by those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementias or others who are cognitively impaired for a variety of reasons. According to founder Glenn Palumbo in an interview with Neil Versel, “The initial release, set for June will have limited functionality, serving as the front end for communication and social hubs like Skype, Facebook and Twitter, with a simplified display including a basic Web browser.” Depending on the stage that the dementia is in, it can be a boon in mental stimulation or as their website terms ‘neuroplasticity’, if presented appropriately–or, based on your Editor’s knowledge of working with dementia sufferers, potentially quite upsetting. The secondary markets that Mr. Palumbo mentioned, stroke patients and children with disabilities, may be more favorable. Clevermind is on Kickstarter with an initial goal of $10,000 but has raised a low $1,717 with 23 days to go. (Hint: try a healthcare- oriented crowdfunding site like Medstartr or Health Tech Hatch for your next round.)

GeriJoy’s ‘virtual pet’ to engage older adults

Another iPad and Android tablet app, GeriJoy, uses the interface of a virtual pet to respond to the user both by voice and touch to lessen isolation, loneliness and increase connectivity to loved ones and friends. Another asset of these tablets is that they have two-way capability, and that active monitoring can help an older person in a bad situation. From the release: (Co-founder Victor) “Wang describes how a customer adopted a GeriJoy Companion for her elderly father, who lives alone. One day, the companion woke up to a loud sound, and heard a paid caregiver screaming at the elder. GeriJoy reported the abuse to the customer, who was very grateful and replaced the caregiver that week.”

Sideline and ringside voice testing for concussion

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a tablet-based test that can detect injury through before-and-after voice analysis. For instance, an athlete recites a series of words before a game, recorded on a tablet. If there’s a suspected concussion or brain injury, the same words are used and software compares differences. Injury indicators can be pitch, hyper nasality, distorted vowels and imprecise consonants–and the tests are far more difficult to fake. In action in this video, the tests also appear to include spatial and balance. Associate Professor Christian Poellabauer describes the research below using Notre Dame’s boxing teams.

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]



Wearable alert: DARPA’s tinier-than-a-penny nav device

click to enlargeMisfit, UnderArmour, Fraunhofer Institute, Samsung, Apple, GuideMeHome and even Avery Dennison, listen up: the US Department of Defense via DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a/k/a the Internet’s real dad) researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a timing and inertial measurement unit (TIMU) that monitors motion, acceleration, time and positioning–without GPS. This navigation chip packs internal clocks, gyroscopes and accelerometers into 10 cubic millimeters fitting quite comfortably in the center of a US penny. Defense usage is backup for military devices in case of malfunctioning/unavailable GPS. In the civilian market, the easy one is wearables particularly for safety (e.g. gait detection, falling)–but the other is backup to in-car and cell phone systems dependent on GPS which, if knocked out, can present inconvenience to hazard. Extreme Miniaturization…. (  PopSci’s once-over-lightly.

Google Glass and healthcare: VCs agree

click to enlargeMuch to The Gimlet Eye’s consternation, Google Glass is getting the healthcare rush: big-time tech VCs Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures (of course). The group dubbed ‘Glass Collective’ (hmm) promote surgical use, assistance for the disabled and (of course) self-tracking. MobileWorldLive

TechCrunch reports that the first prototypes are starting to ship and are first going to 2,000 “Glass Explorers” who signed up at a major developer conference last year. The Eye observes that Google needs them badly–to start writing apps and debugging the prototypes. But were you one of those who signed up to pay $1,500 so you could Ultimate One-Up your friends? There will be a yet-to-be-determined delay. The Eye believes it cannot be long enough…because this next article contains one Big Blinking Concern After Another, including but not limited to the illicit acquisition of data and all sorts of things the appsters can do to really make Google Glass A Bad Thing in Google Glass and Surveillance Culture (Slashdot). Update 16 April pm: Gizmag reveals Google Glass specs, so to speak.

Proteus 2.0: more edible monitoring

From what only 2.5 years ago wags dubbed ‘creepy’ pills and now is the accepted Proteus Digital Health pill/transmitter/smartphone model, there had to be more in the same vein–or alimentary canal. Teams at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are working on digestible devices which have flexible polymer electrodes and are powered by a sodium ion electrochemical cell, to scrutinize for biomarkers or gastric problems. According to the CMU release, “The battery also could be used to stimulate damaged tissue or help in targeted drug delivery for certain types of cancer.” Health tech monitoring mavens may want to be in touch with… Carnegie Mellon’s Christopher Bettinger Develops Edible Electronics for Medical Device Industry

Wiltshire Medical Services rebrands as Medvivo (UK)

As anticipated in our item in January, the coming together of Wiltshire Medical Services (WMS) and Telehealth Solutions (THSL) has indeed created a new brand under which both sides of the company’s activities can grow. They have sidestepped both the local name and ‘solutions’ name traps and have cleverly found an unused ‘Med-‘ combination and have arrived at ‘Medvivo’. Of course, for the moment Google thinks you may have wanted US health monitoring company Medivo, but that will soon sort itself out. Medvivo press release.

Four reasons doctors worry about social media

David Shaywitz, in Forbes, synthesises his observations of doctors’ concerns about doctors and patients’ use of the internet and social media in particular. He focuses not just on the usual worries but puts them into a broader social and professional context. “Predictably, medicine seems to be reacting to change the way it often does…by issuing well-intentioned (albeit largely unreadable) guidelines”. However, he ends on a positive note: “Rather than isolating doctors, the new technology promises to be fundamentally enabling…The result: a new sense of connection and meaning. Medicine could be fun again.” Four Reasons Doctors Worry About Social Media – #GetOverIt (Forbes has an intrusive adverts business model.) Heads-up thanks to Charles Lowe.