Sno’ news is good news? Not here! (US/CA/BR)

As what is being termed a ‘historic blizzard’ descends upon Editor Donna’s city….a blizzard of news:

Nearly $15 million round for Sotera Wireless: Dr. Eric Topol-approved (on NBC Rock Center) Sotera Wireless, with the wrist-worn VisiMobile doctor monitor capable of tracking blood pressure, respiration etc. for multiple hospital patients, raised $14.8 million in its latest round from a combination of eight investors, including Qualcomm Life, Delphi Ventures and Safeguard Scientifics. Gigaom……Outbound IVR partially successful in identifying adverse drug reactions. A Canadian study published in JAMA Internal Medicine tested outbound automated interactive voice response (IVR) at 3 and 17 days after prescriptions were issued to check on adverse drug reactions with 629 patients at family health practices in Quebec. The automated calls identified 46% of adverse drug reactions, with the most frequent events being non-compliance after three days (but 2/3 of patients did not comply) and new adverse symptoms after 17. iHealthBeat, HealthLeadersMedia……EHRs ‘underwhelming’ in pediatric practices. Only 19% met basic EHR definitions, with only 6% ‘fully functional’. Reasons why: EHR systems don’t typically have weight-based medication dosing features, automatic growth chart plotters, immunization tracking and catch-up immunization calculations. No wonder. Study published in Pediatrics with researchers from Seattle Children’s Hospital, East Carolina University and the American Academy of Pediatrics. HealthcareITNews…..Finally some news from Brasil. Telefónica Digital announced Monday (4 Feb) the acquisition of a controlling stake in Axismed, a chronic care management and eHealth provider which currently monitors about 180,000 patients. According to TechCrunch, this is Telefónica’s first eHealth investment…..Teledental? A group of 11 California health care organizations are participating in a program to increase access to dental care for an estimated 2,000 children from low-income households, the disabled and older adults. Exams will be performed at schools, residences and nursing homes by hygienists and assistants; results will be transmitted by imaging equipment and online dental record systems to dentists for review and action. iHealthBeat

Open mHealth tackling mHealth integration in $100,000 developer challenge

Heritage Provider Network and UCLA are presenting a $100,000 challenge to developers using open software architecture designed by Open mHealth, a non-profit startup. The goal is to encourage integratable health apps on a standard, open architecture. This is reminiscent of Continua Alliance’s efforts in setting communications standards for networked sensors (ZigBee being one) and devices, and of course there will be questions on the quality and cross-device suitability of the architecture. Registration is due by 15 March, submission 1 May and the award will be made 3-4 June at the 2013 Health Datapalooza IV in Washington, D.C. InformationWeekHealthcare Heritage application

Blood pressure meta-analysis shows improvement (IT)

Some positive telehealth results from Italy. A meta-analysis of data from 23 home-based blood pressure telehealth (HBPT) monitoring studies demonstrated the effectiveness of using HBPT to improve BP control in hypertensive patients versus office-only monitoring. For the HBPT group, overall costs were higher and more medications were prescribed, but medical cost-only comparisons were similar as was risk of adverse events. Quality of life measurements were better. The analysis was performed by researchers from the Italian Institute of Telemedicine (IIT) in Varese with the collaboration of the Department of Cardiology, IRCCS Ospedale, San Luca, Istituto Auxologico Italiano and Department of Clinical Medicine and Prevention, University of Milano. Clinical usefulness and cost effectiveness of home blood pressure telemonitoring: meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies (Journal of Hypertension, March 2013; abstract only, subscription/access required)

Update 8 February: For a copy of the study, please email lead researcher Stefano Omboni of the IIT.

A telehealth investor’s POV (video)

This 36:52 video of Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., CEO of Vesalius Ventures, past president of the American Telemedicine Association and former astronaut who conducted the first telemedicine consult from space, discusses Vesalius’ investments in telehealth companies (secure communications, disease management), plus what they look for in companies and management (an A-level team with a B-level technology is better than a C-level team with an A-level technology). Nirav Desai has also usefully put in time markers against topics covered. HandsOnTelehealth

Major EHR puts a $25 million bet on mHealth

EHRs, a/k/a the Rodney Dangerfield of eHealth, may be hedging their bets by placing their chips on mHealth. eClinicalWorks, one of the estimated 600+ EHRs in the US market, but one of the few with any real market share due to its preference by many state regional extension centers (RECs), announced yesterday that they are developing a from-scratch 100-person division called ‘healow’ (Health & Online Wellness) to develop systems that drive online consumer engagement–according to the article, “to make appointments, check test results, or ask their doctor a question on the go”. CEO Girish Navani claims that they have already been approached by telehealth providers to platform their data into practices. Of course, practices will be able to easily incorporate all this into workflow, and there are no existing systems out there that already do this. Warning: the CEO has pronounced that they are “creating an ecosystem around patient engagement.” Westborough-based eClinicalWorks commits $25M to launch mobile health business (Boston Business Journal)

Telemedicine consults save money, time: two-year study

A two-year (2010-12) study published in Health Affairs of 40,000 online consults via Minnesota-based integrated delivery system/insurer HealthPartners found that they reduced billing by an average of $88.03 per case (average cost: $40) and saved about 2.5 hours per patient. Patients were seen through the system’s 24/7 Virtuwell online clinic for 40 different primary care conditions, with the three most frequent being sinusitis, urinary tract infections and conjunctivitis. However, Virtuwell does not use video practitioner-patient consults, instead walking patients through an online automated interview about symptoms, medical history, allergies and medications. Then a nurse practitioner reviews each patient’s information and sends a treatment plan in a secure message, a process taking about 30 minutes. A phone call with the nurse is optional. Other results: no real increase in visits, and an episode resolution (no face-to-face visit) rate equivalent to ‘minute clinics’ at 89% to 95%. This sounds like an attractive template and option for concierge medicine, IPAs, ACOs and insurers, but needs to work around cross-state regulations. Neil Versel in Information Week, iHealthBeat, link to study abstract (Health Affairs)

Healthbox Accelerator: applications open (US/UK)

New to Editor Donna is healthcare technology accelerator Healthbox. Perhaps uniquely, they are based in US and UK–Boston, Chicago and London–with partners in all three cities; a partial list is (US) Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts, Express Scripts, Ascension Health (US largest Catholic health system), California HealthCare Foundation, Walgreens and (UK) Bayer, Bupa, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity, and Serco Health. In its first year, Healthbox has fostered 27 companies to refine their offerings and gain market traction including investment (portfolio companies). According to Healthbox spokesperson Abbie Ginther, the highlights of what participants receive in the 16 week program is:

  • $50,000 in seed capital
  • Strategic guidance and mentorship from leading industry experts as well as business veterans
  • Participation in Innovation Day, an event bringing together hundreds of investors, healthcare leaders and entrepreneurs to hear from the companies and how they are bringing innovative solutions to healthcare needs
  • Collaborative, open workspace for companies to use for the duration of the program

They are currently accepting applications for its 2013 programs starting with their second Boston program starting in March. Application deadline is very tight here (10 February), but applicants for London/Europe (start date TBD in spring) can register on the same link. Applications

Organizing the ‘quantified self’

gimlet-eyeThe Gimlet Eye and Editor Donna were just chatting about organizing the tidal wave of email we receive every day, when over the transom floated startup Tictrac (a takeoff on TicTac breath mints?), a ‘lifestyle monitor’ that will organize All That Data for the Determined Quant. It synchs with over 45 services, including Fitbit, Facebook, Runkeeper and Withings, to not only aggregate and correlate data (e.g. to high email use) but also manage goals such as losing weight. Not only that, it will connect the dedicated quant to outside sources such as coaches (who undoubtedly will pay per connection.) But will it organize email, mitigating our (unmeasured but very real) stress? This Startup Measures How Much Stress Email Gives You, And Helps You Reduce It (Business Insider)

Nurturing a startup culture in healthcare

Healthcare accelerators (Blueprint Health, StartUp Health, RockHealth) have lately gained most of the buzz, but incubators and ‘labs’ have been where many companies have gained their start. Phoenix, Arizona has entered the fray with SEED SPOT, featuring three healthcare-related startups among 16. While they may be able to serve up their companies ‘piping hot’ into a lower cost, supportive environment, chilly New York City has the opposite situation. Even with the advantages of world-class academic and healthcare resources, it’s been a forbidding setting for startups for years with money and attention going to e-commerce and financial businesses. The Bio & Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab, backed by the New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), intends to change this with a first class of 20 startups. Their technologies are along a broad spectrum including wound healing, genetic testing, imaging, diabetes treatment, big data for genomics and mHealth for high-risk patients. SEED SPOT incubates health startups in Phoenix (Forbes) NYC-backed health startup lab wants to turn academics into entrepreneurs (GigaOM) Bio & Health Tech website

Scaling telehealth programs: lessons from early adopters

The Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that supports health care research and makes grants to support practices and policy, has just published a compilation of three telehealth case studies from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Partners HealthCare/Center for Connected Health and Centura Health at Home dating back to 2004. These concentrated on reducing preventable rehospitalizations and used various aspects of telehealth/remote patient monitoring (RPM). The VHA’s was the most comprehensive (with best results in depression and mental health), Partners focused on cardiac and Centura on congestive heart failure, pulmonary and diabetes. While Commonwealth’s main point is the lessons to be learned (disruption of the status quo, the changes in processes and the time to scale), this early data is interestingly not well known–and should be. Overview, compilation PDF (note the overview has links to the full individual case studies)

Geonovo’s high performance digital telecare platform (UK)

Back in November 2011 Geonovo won the ‘Best Innovation 2011’ prize at the Telecare Services Association’s Crystal Awards ceremony at the conference for their RSP-100 Personal Safety Phone. [TA Nov 2011] Now they have announced the launch of Home Health Hub, a “groundbreaking [and futureproofed] telecommunications package specifically designed to ensure highly resilient connectivity for telecare users.” The Home Health Hub system includes:

  • A low cost telecoms and telecare package with free broadband
  • Telecare alarm phone and wireless router
  • A network management system that constantly monitors the line and router
  • A 6-hour service level agreement and engineer response

And it is available to partners/service providers. More information in the press release but you might also want to read TANN England Editor Chrys Meewella’s take on it.

Med ePad: Healthcare Unwired (UK)

This is one to watch…in June last year we noted that UK start-up Med ePad was on the scene. It has an interactive 7-inch tablet that is loaned to patients and is linked to a variety of services and reminders to enhance the ability of healthcare professionals to deliver cost-effective care and to empower patients also. Having just received additional funding from the North West Fund for Digital and Creative (managed by AXM Venture Capital) – press release – Med ePad is expected to launch some new developments soon.

COESI: Accessible website done well (UK)

Readers may be interested to see an example of a website that has gone to great lengths to make itself as accessible as possible without compromising an eye for a workable design. It’s the Centre of Excellence for Sensory Impairment (COESI). The Croydon (UK) based Centre “develops and provides integrated direct services for people with sensory and physical impairments”. Heads-up thanks to Pam Bennett. If readers know of other good examples, please post links in the comments.