Wondering about the ‘Internet of Things’?

Feeling puzzled when the rhapsodized subject matter at your meeting or conference turns to The Internet of Things? Well, it’s what used to be called machine-to-machine, or M2M, which has been around for awhile. ZDNet has helpfully put together a ‘real-world’ information package ranging from a primer to how it affects development globally. There are multiple documents and links to content, plus a vendor guide. Here’s the introductory/index page: 2013’s hot topic: The Internet of Things (and our new way of covering it)

Why Athenahealth bought Epocrates

Normally Editor Donna would append this HIStalk Connect article [WARNING 31 Aug 2014: linked page may now be infected with malware] to our earlier one [TA 8 Jan] but it’s an extremely thorough external analysis of why Epocrates‘ core product–a mobile drug reference–would be worth nearly $300 million (a 22% premium to share value) to Athenahealth. While most have pointed out the mHealth aspects in improving the latter’s mobile offerings, the real reason, according to writer Travis Good, MD, is for Athenahealth to gain exposure to a hard-to-reach group via Epocrates’ ubiquity, and gain more physician users of its core services, practice management and EHR.

Call for papers for King’s Fund telehealth and telecare congress 2013 (UK)

Do you know of any innovative projects in telehealth and telecare? [Hmm!] The call for papers is open for the King’s Fund third annual International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare, 1-3 July 2013, London. Submissions are invited on latest research results and/or reports on the progress and effect of projects in telehealth and telecare. Submissions deadline February 15th.

Why do they talk to your mother like that?

“Are the best run care homes…the ones where, on the face of it, staff display the least respect.?” An interesting question posed on the Alphadaughters website to kick off research by Steinkrug, with Manchester Municipal University, on a project to develop technology that will help the family carer come to terms with the emotional aspects of dementia and which could possibly be used as a therapeutic aid for the people with dementia themselves. Why Do They Talk To Your Mother Like That?

What chefs are cooking in the kitchen: FCC adding $400 million to rural telemedicine

Something’s always cooking in the Federal Government kitchen…in this instance the chef is the FCC, and the dish being spiced is the Clinton-era rural broadband scheme for telemedicine. The Rural Healthcare Connect Fund of $400 million will be allocated to rural hospitals, clinics, mental health centers, local health departments and medical/dental schools to connect them with corresponding urban providers and networks, improving quality and immediacy of care. Presumably the money was found in the couch cushions as the debt ceiling is already reached…$400 million FCC fund to bolster rural telemedicine networks (FierceMobileHealthcare)

Ireland’s alarm budget for older people halved

Ireland’s Seniors Alert Scheme, which provides grants for over 65s to buy personal monitored alarms, has been cut by 53%. Last year €2.4m was allocated to the scheme run by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. But under changes contained in December’s Budget and just announced, the funding has been cut to €1.1m. There has been widespread criticism of the decision, not least given the recent spate of robberies on the elderly around the country. Links to news stories on TANN Ireland.

GE gives entrepreneurial startups a spin with StartUp Health

GE has generated much positive news with its creation, in partnership with accelerator StartUp Health, of a three-year program that will select 10 consumer health startups to become high-growth companies within three years. The announcement, timed during CES, makes much of GE’s contribution to a customized growth curriculum, access to GEs executives including a GE leadership mentor for each company and exposure to GE technology experts. Application is extremely qualified and selective (naturally); the deadline is also short, 8 February–information here. This program is also separate from the existing StartUp Health Academy, although companies in the Academy are eligible to apply. GE joins companies like Nike in a similar setup with TechStars; Qualcomm Ventures has the QPrize in addition to leading the way in funding and partnering with early-stage wireless health companies.

What is not in the release and the MedCityNews article is this, according to Upstart Business Journal: GE Ventures (GE’s investment arm) and the StartUp Health Innovation Fund will negotiate for a 2-10% equity stake in each company. To Editor Donna, what is also notable about GE’s latest foray into ’emerging health innovations’ is that it is Take 2…or perhaps 3. Take 1 was a sub-majority stake, then acquisition of Living Independently Group’s QuietCare in 2008-9, which was to herald an entire Home Health division. Its later relegation into the Care Innovations JV with Intel (Take 2, notably dominated by Intel) was seen by industry observers as a tacit admission of, if not precisely failure, GE’s lack of notable success or confidence in the sector. So we can fairly say that we are cheered that GE has changed its mind–and the accelerator route may be a kinder, gentler way of supporting innovators in consumer healthcare tech.

Saga Homecare (UK) to offer GrandCare Systems

In what Editor Donna believes is its first foray outside the US, remote monitoring/socialization developer GrandCare Systems announced at CES their partnership with Saga Homecare, the largest private provider of domicilary (home) care services in the UK. GrandCare will be providing systems to Saga under the agreement to start in early 2013. The release seems to imply ‘Saga-ization’ as well. For those outside the UK who are unfamiliar with this company, think AARP but rather than growing out of an association and political lobbying group, expanding from travel and tourism to include publishing, financial services and healthcare delivery for 50+. Another move that points to technology integration. UK Home Care Provider, Saga at Home, Partners with GrandCare Systems to power home care services

Further sad confirmation of CTE

Further confirming the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the NFL is the recent examination by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) of linebacker Junior Seau’s brain. Seau, who retired from play after 20 years and was a well-liked, cheerful figure in San Diego, committed suicide unexpectedly at the young age of 43, and his family donated his brain to the NIH for study. It is just further sad confirmation of the Boston University study [TA 6 Dec] that this progressive disorder which occurs as a consequence of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury is the NFL’s scourge. Perhaps it is unavoidable in the game at present, as columnist George Will believes [TA 3 August]. There is now also increasing evidence that even without CTE, living NFL players are at high risk of other brain-related diseases, such as cognitive deficiencies and depression, based on a University of Texas at Dallas study. Seau Suffered From Brain Disease (NY Times) Retired NFL Players at Risk of Brain Deficits (MedPageToday)

For our readers: Do you believe that sensors in helmets and EHRs can mitigate this, which is where the NFL (and Army-NFL) funding is directed? Is this being found in other countries in contact sports such as rugby? Is there evidence, in other countries’ armed forces which have participated in Iraq and Afghanistan action, of suspected high frequencies of brain trauma?

Related: National Football League Readies New EHR System To Boost Care Quality for Players (includes Olympics and NBA) (iHealthBeat audio interview 06:13 and PDF transcript)  NEW: CTE, as cumulative, starts early  Institute of Medicine Studying Concussions in Young Athletes (NY Times)

Simple Telehealth (Florence) offer to UK GPs

Here’s a link UK readers may want to email to their GPs, or their practice managers. It might do more good for the cause of telehealth than Department of Health endorsement or even 3ML publicity.

In brief, NHS Stoke on Trent CCG has been running a clinical rollout of Simple Telehealth’s advice and interactive Florence SMS texting service and is now offering to fund a CCG’s licence for a year, including costs of at least 15,000 patient texts, and helping with implementing Florence across each participating CCG. See Telehealth no longer a remote possibility for general practice GP Online for details. Whether you pass it on or not, it is a good description of the system and the areas it covers, including a mapping of Florence to the NHS Outcomes Framework. Head-up thanks to Mike Clark.

More troubles in Australian telehealth

The latest news from the southeastern state of Victoria (Melbourne) features a blast from the state’s Health Minister on hundreds of millions in funding cuts, while the Federal minister claims that an additional AU$1 billion over four years is heading Victoria’s way. The debate continues (see TA 29 Dec for a lively reader discussion); is this reality or political blather? Telehealth rebate cut will hurt Vic: Davis Hat tip to reader Ellen ‘Ethical Lens’ Fink-Samnick.

Consolidation strikes: the Athenahealth-Epocrates acquisition

The much-rumored acquisition of major medical point-of-care reference database Epocrates by practice management/EHR leader Athenahealth has many good points for the latter, including the integration of drug interaction alerts into EHRs. Epocrates’ stumbles into mobile EHRs may also have, paradoxically, made it more attractive. But even with this, financial observers see Athenahealth as essentially sideways in terms of growth. But it may point to the major trends of 2013 your Editors have seen for awhile: a push for integration into easier-to-by ‘all in one’ packages; consolidation in order to stay in place in a muddling market. 4 observations about the $293 million athenahealth-Epocrates acquisition (MedCityNews) Editor Donna’s note: An interesting aside, for those who follow palace intrigues and the consolidation of the EHR market, is Allscripts’ ‘Christmas-surprise’ CEO dumping referred to at the end of the article, courtesy of financial analysis website Seeking Alpha.

Older people become what they think

“All of us have beliefs – many of them subconscious, dating back to childhood – about what it means to get older. Psychologists call these ‘age stereotypes.’ And, it turns out, they can have an important effect on seniors’ health. When stereotypes are negative – when seniors are convinced becoming old means becoming useless, helpless or devalued – they are less likely to seek preventive medical care and die earlier, and more likely to suffer memory loss and poor physical functioning…” (Judith Graham, NYT/Herald Tribune: Older people become what they think – an interesting read.) Has anyone done any research on the psychological effect on people of offering them a pendant alarm?

O2 Health appoints new managing director (UK)

O2 Health has announced the appointment of Nikki Flanders as its managing director. Nikki has previously led O2’s 4G LTE strategy, developing awareness and understanding of 4G LTE, which offers superfast connectivity. She has previously worked for Centrica, WHSmith and Marks & Spencer, and has co-founded two health related charities, having had first-hand experience of how technology can help support healthcare as a mother who has used technology in the management of her son’s care during his early months. Nikki plans to accelerate O2 Health’s growth in the UK as part of Telefónica Digital, a global business unit of O2’s parent company. She replaces Keith Nurcombe, who has left Telefónica. [Press release on O2 Health website.]