Apply to pitch your older adult health solution at the SOMPO Digital Lab Pitch Event at Aging2.0

SOMPO Digital Lab Pitch Event, 14 November, Aging2.0 Optimize Conference, San Francisco

SOMPO Digital Lab, in partnership with California senior care communities Front Porch and Carlton Senior Living, will host a pitch event for high potential startups at the Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE Conference on 14 November in San Francisco. Startups focused on Brain Health, Caregiving and Daily Living and Lifestyle are invited to present. The grand prize is $5,000 and a pilot opportunity in the U.S. or Japan. Your startup must have raised a minimum of $100,000 up to a maximum of $5 million.

SOMPO Digital Lab is the innovation group of Sompo Holdings, one of the largest insurance and senior care conglomerates in Japan. Please view this document to see the eligibility requirements for this event: http://bit.ly/SOMPOapplication

Deadline is 28 September.

We should also mention Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE 14-15 November. For more information and to register, click here. For a list of their other local and international events (oddly, none in NYC for the foreseeable future), click here.

Can Best Buy have an effective older adult strategy when they can’t sell a TV?

We noted last month that the acquisition of GreatCall by big box retailer Best Buy was the next step in a strategy targeting an older adult market niche, with goods and services promoting digital health and wellness, ‘solving technology problems and addressing key human needs across a range of areas.’ GreatCall will be managed as a separate division because, as their CEO admitted, ‘it is a different business’, presumably continuing to do what they do best–direct marketing. Longer term, what GreatCall was purchased for is to enable what they have touted to investors as “Best Buy 2020 that includes Assured Living, a program aimed at using the mobile web, sensors and other digital or smart-home healthcare technology to help adult children or caregivers remotely check in on the health and safety of aging residents at home.” The acquisition is expected to close this fall.  Digital Commerce 360/Internet Health Management  

But will this strategy, which requires a bit of personal service and problem solving, work in the field? The result of a simple search and transaction for a common electronic product wasn’t a promising predictor. This Editor went to a Best Buy in search of a new TV set to replace her aged and fritzing Panasonic (the kind with a cathode ray tube). It was a rainy Saturday night in Paramus NJ, the kind of night on which only Those Determined To Buy brave the traffic to shop. After a sweep of the aisles looking for that senior-oriented healthcare technology, finding none, she hit the TV displays, adjacent to the laundry dryers.

With space measurements and a tape measure in hand, she looked at smaller TVs. Having already determined that a 28″ would likely be best, but with no 28″ on display, she measured 32″ sets which maybe, maybe could fit the TV spot in the wall unit. Smart? Roku? What do these mean, and do I need them? 720 px? 1080 px?  This went on for about 30-40 minutes. In that time, not one blue-shirted salesperson stopped to assist a willing buyer who just needed a little help. So she went in search of one, finding exactly…none. Other shoppers looking at larger sets? Also non-assisted. After a few more sweeps of the aisles, stopping to marvel at an QLED’s resolution, feeling a bit ghostly and ghosted, she tapped out and left, vowing to buy a Samsung online–anywhere other than Best Buy.

If this can happen with a straight-forward electronic product with a relatively willing buyer…what will happen to a more complex sale with a lower level of understanding? Without a better level of customer service, all the corporate strategy talk will simply…flop.

Oh yes, that live link to Assured Living? It goes to a page that says “We’re sorry, something went wrong.” 

CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts reportedly on road to merger approval; Athenahealth in hostile takeover–or not (updated)

CVS’ pickup of Aetna, and Cigna‘s acquisition of Express Scripts are reported to be clearing the Department of Justice anti-trust review within the next few weeks, just in time for pumpkin season. The DOJ may have concerns on some assets related to Medicare drug coverage and may require a sell-off to resolve them. One potential buyer is WellCare Health Plans, which this week completed its acquisition of Meridian Health Plans and entered the S&P 500 on Monday. The Cigna-Express Scripts combine may not require any asset selloff. Seeking Alpha (report is from the Wall Street Journal).

The once blazingly hot Athenahealth is up for sale but can’t seem to get arrested by another healthcare company. Both Cerner and UnitedHealthcare passed on an acquisition. One of the larger shareholders, Elliot Management, initiated moves toward a hostile takeover in May, and in the process managed to oust founder and CEO Jonathan Bush on still-murky charges of past domestic abuse and workplace sexual harassment. Mr. Elliot is partnering with Bain Capital which owns Waystar, a revenue cycle management (RCM) company from the merged ZirMed and Navicure. Waystar could benefit from Athenahealth’s systems and IP. Mr. Bush would receive a relatively small sum in a sale –$4.8 million– with new executive chair and former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt earning $150,000 a month in salary and $150,000 in restricted stock perhaps looking for a new job. Elliot’s reputation is that of a corporate raider–taking over businesses to strip assets and sell off the remains. New York Post, POLITICO Morning eHealth.

UPDATED 19 Sept Reports from yesterday indicate that Mr. Elliot has ‘balked’ at the $160 per share price that Athenahealth is asking, and may be angling for a lower price, according to the NY Post report. Reportedly no one else–Cerner and UnitedHealthcare–is interested, though Athenahealth has extended the bid deadline to 27 September. There may be problems uncovered by the due diligence. It’s also a recognized hardball lowball strategy to get the share price way down. The industry is betting on the latter because the former is difficult to contemplate for customers and healthcare as a whole. Also HealthcareITNews.

The Theranos Story, ch. 56: Bye, bye Theranos…but the litigation continues (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Rock-1-crop-2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]No more blood in this rock. Really. Theranos, according to a report by John Carreyrou in the Wall Street Journal (unfortunately paywalled) is dissolving. An email to shareholders by (short-lived) Chief Executive David Taylor informed them that the company will cease to exist soon, and that whatever remaining cash will be distributed to unsecured creditors in coming months. The email also added that Theranos made overtures to more than 80 potential buyers through Jefferies Group, but despite 17 NDA’s signed, none succeeded. 

The dissolution process will start on Monday, pending approval by the board and shareholders. 

The shareholders’ letter is available here (PDF) including the rationale on dissolution versus bankruptcy.

Over $60 million was owed to unsecured creditors but there was evidently only $5 million (net of expenses and fees) left in the kitty to distribute, which may be enough to buy lunch or copies of ‘Bad Blood’ for most. That is because Fortress Investment Group now has full control of the assets and intellectual property. Part of Japan’s SoftBank Group, Fortress invested $65 million in Theranos in December 2017 of a possible $100 million, collateralized by the patent portfolio. [TTA 28 Dec 17] At the time of the Holmes/Balwani indictments by the DOJ in June (nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy), reports indicated that Theranos would shutter by the end of July.

The few remaining employees were reportedly given notice last Friday. The website is offline. No one from Theranos is speaking to media. This Editor wonders what the shareholders from the $600 million funding round [TTA 18 May 17] will do with their doubled shares–presumably, use the paper as firestarter in their fireplaces this winter along with their printed selfies with Ms. Holmes. (Fear not, they will be receiving a copy of the certificate of dissolution to give to their accountant and IRS.) 

At the time of the Fortress investment, this Editor wrote:

Our takeaway is that the IP is worth far more than the company and that is what has been bought. SoftBank would dearly like another entree into Silicon Valley for their tech portfolio and can use that IP, if not at Theranos, elsewhere. For Fortress, which has $36.1 billion in assets under management and now backed by SoftBank, $100 million is pocket change with a smidge of lint.

One wonders what SoftBank and Fortress will be doing with that IP.

Theranos will not be leaving the headlines soon, as the June indictment of Holmes and Balwani (who was pushed out by Holmes in 2016) and the sidelights produced by their ‘Tainted Love’ will provide schadenfreude for many months.

Reports: Reuters, CNBC (video-Squawk Box), USA Today, TechCrunch  Our 55 chapters chronicling the slow-motion crash of Theranos can be accessed here.

More events for your autumnal calendar, from Israel to Ireland to Santa Clara to NYC! (updated)

Startup of the Year, Mediterranean Towers, Ganei Tikva, Israel, Sunday 3 September, 6-8pm (Past–but there’s a winner!)

Mediterranean Towers Ventures, the investment subsidiary of the largest retirement living community in Israel, is sponsoring this competition featuring five finalists:

1. Facense – Facense Ltd. develops smartglasses with tiny thermal and CMOS sensors to measure vital signs unobtrusively and continuously, with one application being to detect a person having a stroke.
2. MyTView – My-TView’s proprietary technology enables dynamic modification and enhancement of real-time broadcasts, whilst numbing the “noise”.
3. Invisi.care – transforming existing non-medical data into an effective large-scale clinical prevention tool; a remote seamless population monitoring technology encourages independent and active lifestyle.
4. GaitBetter – A universal, VR based, expert system add-on transforming any treadmill to an operator independent motor cognitive training solution
5. TuneFork–a software audio personalization technology that gives you the optimal hearing experience anywhere you go. 

And there’s a winner–TuneFork. Their award includes free participation at the Aging2.0 Optimize Conference in San Francisco (14-15 Nov), professional mentoring by Mediterranean Towers Ventures, and the opportunity to be evaluated for investment. 

Hat tip to Dov Sugarman, co-CEO of MTV.

Health 2.0’s 12th Annual Fall Conference, Santa Clara, California, 16-18 September

This year’s conference, despite the corporate hand of HIMSS, may be as breezy as ever with a continued concentration on early stage companies and speakers like Lisa Suennen, late of GE Ventures, Sarah Krug of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and Sean Lane of Olive talking about AI. Register here, and dig deep for the ticket.

UK Health Show, ExCel, London, 25-26 September

A major and mostly free event for providers, NHS, local authorities, independent sector, and primary care that addresses system transformation and integration through digital technology, commissioning, procurement and cybersecurity. More information on their website here. Registration here (free full passes for providers and public sector, floor passes for vendors and commercial organizations)

Brain Health, Aging 2.0 Los Angeles, Thursday 27 September, 6-8pm

Not many details on this other than it will be in West LA and the topic will be Brain Health and Artificial Intelligence. The keynote speaker will be Adam C. Lichtl, Ph.D., CEO of Delta Brain, Inc. More information to come and RSVP for now on Eventbrite.

Inspiring Innovation in Digital Health: The UK Telehealthcare Marketplace Northern Ireland. La Mon Hotel and Country Club, Castlereagh, Belfast, Wednesday 3 October 10am – 3pm

UK Telehealthcare is traveling to Northern Ireland for their first event in the beautiful Lisburn & Castlereagh area, one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing regions. It will be a showcase for digital technology to help people to stay safely and independently in their own homes for longer. A ‘don’t miss’. See the attached PDF for details including masterclass speakers and exhibitors. Free registration here. Hat tip to Gerry Allmark, UK Telehealthcare’s managing director.

Additional UK Telehealthcare events into December are listed on their main page which is linked through their advert on right or here. They are partnering with the UK Health Show (above) and exhibiting in the UK TECS Hub in the assistive technology area (blocks F98, F100, F92, F94).

MedStartr Momentum 2018, PwC Madison Avenue, NYC, Thursday-Friday 29-30 November

Put this on your calendars for after Thanksgiving. 20 startups, 9 Momentum Talks, 4 stakeholder panels, and Mainstream 2019. More here on Eventbrite and as in previous years, watch this website. TTA is a media partner and supporter of Momentum,  MedStartr and Health 2.0 NYC.

Two more events for the calendar: ATA’s EDGE18 (Austin TX), SEHTA/Brunel MedTech Connects (London)

EDGE18, American Telemedicine Association, 26-28 September, Fairmont Austin, Austin TX

The revamped fall meeting of the ATA is being held in Austin, Texas this year as EDGE18.  The conference will highlight emerging best practices in telemedicine and virtual care, which are accelerating delivery model innovation, program design, and technology implementation. Speakers will include industry thought-leaders from WalMart, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ascension Healthcare, Babylon Health, AHIP, and NY Presbyterian Hospital. There will also be interactive workshops and immersion tours (space limited) offering “hands-on” previews of new technologies and programs at the Austin offices of Fjord Austin, Dell Medical School, and others. For more information and registration, see their website 

MedTech Connects: SMEs to Universities – Brunel University Showcase, 10 October, Darwin Room, Hamilton Centre, Brunel University, London UB8 3PH, 09:30 – 15:00

Brunel University, SEHTA and the GLA are hosting a free conference to highlight research, teaching and commercial collaborations through the Co-Innovate programme, a Brunel initiative supported by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This major event is designed to start partnerships leading to collaborations with Brunel’s Design, Computer Science and Business schools, and collaborative research bids including current opportunities from InnovateUK, UKRI, SBRI and the Industry Challenge Fund. More information and registration is here.

Soapbox: Big Genomics and DNA testing–why we need a Genomic Data Bill of Rights

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/DNA-do-not-access.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]This week, consumer genomics testing company 23andMe announced that outside app developers would no longer have access to raw genomic data, as they have had since 2012. They will continue to have access to data through reports generated by the company. 23andMe cited privacy concerns–wisely, in this Editor’s opinion, to safeguard this burgeoning area of digital health. Seeking Alpha

TimiHealth is an affected firm that seeks to move customer data, with consent, to an allegedly more secure blockchain platform, TimiDNA, citing 23andMe’s monetization of their data and CMS’ Blue Button initiative, a recent meeting in which 23andMe participated as a developer. Blasting away, TimiHealth stated that “It flies in the face of the mission of CMS, and the MyHealthEData initiative and the goal of putting patients first.” Release

However, the consumer marketing of DNA testers such as 23andMe, Ancestry.com, and smaller competitor Helix, has already led to multiple privacy questions on how the data of millions are being used and sold. 

This Editor would feel safe in assuming that most customers do not know nor particularly care that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as of July owns 50 percent of 23andMe via a $300 million investment. Both have announced a four-year partnership to use the 23andMe genetic database for drug research. For instance, the LRRK2 gene has been linked to some forms of Parkinson’s disease. GSK needs about 100 for a trial sample of one, but 23andMe has already provided 250 Parkinson’s patients who have agreed to be re-contacted for GlaxoSmithKline’s clinical trials. Scientific American

While most data is de-identified, you can agree to be contacted for further use in clinical trials, which is fine–but most users do not know how to opt out. It’s a surprisingly tricky process, as outlined in this useful Business Insider article, and you may not be able to withdraw all your data or have your saliva sample destroyed.

Data can be hacked and reprocessed. Three years ago, TTA explored reports on exactly how de-identified genomic data could be made identifiable through the ‘nefarious use’ of genomic data sets available through research networks [TTA 31 Oct 15].

Despite the trite, simplistic, and condescending commercials by Ancestry.com on how someone found they had ethnic or national roots they never dreamed of, or were related to royalty, both giving meaning to their presumably mundane life, genetic info has value beyond the feel-good. It’s long past time for a plain language Genomic Data Bill of Rights.

  • Individuals should know how their personal genomic data is being used and how it is being protected
  • They should be able to opt out of use, identified and de-identified, easily–and not have to jump through hoops
  • Reporting/interpretation should also have integrity, consideration, and respect that it may upset a person or that it may not be interpreted correctly, which is a fundamental problem 
  • A more radical view is that the same individuals should be compensated when their data is used

This Editor will settle for the first two bullets, for now. 

The Theranos Story, ch. 55: ‘Bad Blood’s’ altered reality on ‘Mad Money’; it was all Bad Blitzscaling

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Rock-1-crop-2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]

She lied and the lies got bigger and bigger and eventually the lies got so big relative to reality that it became a pretty massive fraud. 

The hyperbolic Jim Cramer of CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’ settled down for a chat with John Carreyrou, the author of ‘Bad Blood’, to dissect what Mr. Cramer touted as ‘the best business book since Phil Knight’s book about starting Nike, ‘Shoe Dog”. Mr. Carreyrou outlines Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani went ‘live’ with fingerstick tests far too prematurely, burned through money, lied to the board, and (schadenfreude alert!) lied to attack dog David Boies, her attorney. There was also a real lack of ‘due diligence’–real diligence–on the part of companies like Safeway and Walgreens. A reveal coming out of this interview is that Walgreens hired a lab consultant, Kevin Hunter, as early as 2010, who ‘smelled a rat’ even then–and Walgreens executives ignored him, frightened that Ms. Holmes would go to CVS. Wrapping Ms. Inexplicable Me up, Mr. Carreyrou attributes her mindset to ‘noble cause corruption’; she really did believe that her blood testing machine would do good because the outcome would be good for society. Thus every corner cut was justified….which explains a lot, but really excuses nothing. The ten-minute video is over at ValueWalk (the transcript is only partial).

LinkedIn’s hyperbolic co-founder Reid Hoffman, like him or not, does have a way with words, and this article in Fast Company is a decent discussion of a new term that he actually coined, ‘blitzscaling’ which is pursuing rapid growth by prioritizing speed over efficiency in the face of uncertainty. It’s quite a lure he sets out to his classes at Stanford, that the only way to have a successful business in winner-take-all (or most) markets is to do this, and if you do it right you’ll have the next Google, completely ignoring the fact that 99.99 percent of businesses don’t need to change the world, just to get to breakeven, get to profitability, and endure (or get bought out). He springboards off this to where Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani Went All Wrong. The answer? Product failure=Mortal Risk–to the patient. They needed to meet a Walgreens deadline thus went out prematurely with their nanotainer testing knowing it did not work. The best quote in the article?

There’s a big difference between being embarrassed and being indicted.

Rounding up August’s end: ‘blended’ mental healthcare, Army’s telehealth innovation, Montefiore’s 300% ROI on social determinants, telehealth needs compliance

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”NaN” /]Our UK readers have the summer bank holiday in the rearview mirror, and our US readers are looking forward to a break over next Monday’s Labor Day holiday in the US. It’s sadly the end of the traditional summer season, though Summer, The Season lingers on for a few precious more weeks.

Here are some short takes on items of interest over the past month:

Blended care–eHealth and direct clinician care–for mental health. The NHS has been promoting online webcam and instant messaging appointments as an alternative to ease pressure and waiting times for mental health patients, but the evidence that they are effective on their own is scant. Blending digital health with F2F clinical care may be the way to go. This Digital Health News explores how the two could work together and still save time and money.

Army testing telemedicine and remote monitoring for triage. The US Army’s MEDHUB is designed to streamline communication flow between patients, medics and receiving field hospitals.  MEDHUB–Medical Hands-free Unified Broadcast–uses wearable sensors, accelerometers, and other FDA-cleared technology to collect, store, and transmit de-identified patient data from a device to a medical facility, allowing clinicians to better prepare for inbound patients and more promptly deliver appropriate treatment. The 44th Medical Brigade and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina have already volunteered to test the system. MEDHUB was developed by two subordinate organizations within the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Army release, Mobihealthnews 

Soldier, don’t take your health tracker to the front. Or even the rear. Deployed US Army soldiers have been told to leave at home their wearable trackers or smartphone apps, government issued or otherwise, that have geolocation capability. Turns out they are trackable and heat mappable–in other words, these trackers and apps can tell you where you are. (And don’t use Google either). Mobihealthnews

Social determinants of health part of Montefiore Health System’s approach to reducing emergency room visits and unnecessary hospitalizations.  Montefiore, based in the Bronx and lower Westchester, invested in housing for the homeless through their Housing at Risk Alert System. The system noticed through their analytics that the issue was housing. Many of their ‘frequent flyers’ cycled between shelters and the ER (ED). Oncology patients were at risk for eviction. Montefiore acquired respite housing (160 days) and housing units for up to a year through organizations such as Comunilife. They claim a 300 percent return on investment. Healthcare Finance

Telehealth needs compliance health. A study from Manatt Health, a division of law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, presents what readers already know–the inconsistent statutes, regulations and guidance various states are implementing around the provision of telehealth services points out the growing need for compliance assistance. Manatt Health Update (blog) 

Rounding up mid-August: PCORI funds 16 projects with $85 million, InTouch’s Rite Aid deal, Suennen leaves GE Ventures, NHS lost 10K patient records last year

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Rounding up August as we wind down our last weeks of summer holidays. 

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced earlier this week that they are funding 16 studies which compare two or more approaches to improve care and outcomes for a range of conditions. Included in the $85 million funding are studies incorporating technology. One is a $13.3 million grant for a West Virginia University study utilizing telehealth to monitor patients with major depressive disorders comparing medication, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and medication plus remote CBT. PCORI Release

InTouch Health, an enterprise telehealth provider which most recently partnered with RPM developer Vivify Health [TTA 19 Dec] to move into in-home and post-acute settings, is now moving into retail with Rite Aid. The letter of intent is to help Rite Aid build up the technology in their existing health kiosks in pharmacies and ‘alternative care sites’. Rite Aid has had a long standing interest in kiosks, including as one of the last customers of HealthSpot. With their Albertsons merger scuttled, Rite Aid is seeking other business and interest. One of InTouch’s executives is EVP of Marketing and Consumer Solutions Steve Cashman, who founded and headed HealthSpot. InTouch is also participating in the World Telehealth Initiative, a nonprofit organization which seeks to bring telehealth expertise into worldwide communities in need. InTouch will donate devices, access to its virtual network, and access to doctors donating their time. Mobihealthnews.

Lisa Suennen, a fixture at many health tech conferences and one of the few women with both presence and clout in the funding sphere, has departed GE Ventures, GE’s VC arm. She was senior managing director focusing on healthcare companies, successfully exiting several in her portfolio to UnitedHealth and Aetna. No reason was given for her exit after a stint of under two years, other than the anodyne “find a new adventure.” GE is planning to spin off its healthcare businesses as part of its restructuring. CNBC

And the week would not be complete without a report about NHS losing nearly 10,000 patient records–paper and electronic–last year, according to information released under UK freedom of information laws. Without this information, doctors have trouble finding patient history sources and prior diagnostic records. There is also abundant opportunity for fraud, as Everything Winds Up Somewhere, and that somewhere could be criminal. Last year, Members of Parliament said the NHS had “badly failed patients” after a scandal in which at least 708,000 pieces of correspondence–including blood tests, cancer screening appointments, medication changes, and child protection notes–piled up in storerooms. Sunday Times. If paywalled, see the attached PDF.

Yet another NHS cyber-vulnerability: fax machines

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/attackflow1.png” thumb_width=”250″ /]Now fax machines are hackable, say the white hats at Check Point Research. Your GP or doctor thinks they are safe, but their protocols haven’t been updated since the Big ’80s. Check Point found that all a hacker needs is the fax number to hack into one. 

The ‘how to’ is in the article. New ‘all in one’ printers which are connected to phone lines and wirelessly to networks can receive a malicious fax as an entry point into the network. Data is then exfiltrated through another fax as illustrated above left. Check Point’s study cited the HP OfficeJet Pro All-in-One fax printer but others would be vulnerable as well. Online electronic fax numbers may also have problems.

NHS’ census, released via a FOIA request, indicates it uses 9,000 fax machines. NHS has minimized the risk they present. HP has since issued security updates for its fax printers. Also Digital Health. 

Despite recruiting, Babylon Health’s GP at hand still on hold in Birmingham (UK); CEO steps down at rival Push Doctor

GP at hand, Babylon Health’s NHS app and service for scheduling patients with local GPs, was expected to roll out in Birmingham, but the Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, from which Babylon operates, continues to halt its the expansion since the beginning of this month on patient safety concerns.

The app, which schedules patients with GPs and requires registration that effectively changes what we in the US call ‘attribution’, was set to add GP surgeries in Birmingham starting this month and was setting up an HQ at Badger House, an out-of-hours GP services provider based in Birmingham’s inner city. GP recruitment had started, according to Pulse, in late July. Patients would register in Babylon’s host practice Dr. Jefferies and Partner in southwest London through NHS’ out-of-area registration scheme.

The objections to Babylon’s expansion came initially from Paul Jennings, the chief executive of Birmingham and Solihull CCG. According to Digital Health, “he wrote to Hammersmith and Fulham to lodge a formal objection to the expansion. He argued the digital service was “not yet robust or tested for a national service to be delivered from a single practice outside of Birmingham”. Hammersmith and Fulham then stated that “further information is required to provide assurance on the safety of patients” before the Birmingham roll-out could be approved. 

This is despite the release of a equality impact assessment by Verve Communications on behalf of Hammersmith and Fulham finding mainly positive results, such as GP at hand “more likely to address most barriers than traditional GP services” in 10 out of 11 protected groups” and that “carers may benefit from [the] use of GP at Hand as this will allow them to consult a primary care practitioner whilst continuing with their care responsibilities.” The new Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a major advocate of technology in care, is himself registered with Babylon. Mobihealthnews

(If you are in the UK, you can hear it straight from Babylon’s CEO Ali Parsa, interviewed by Roy Lilley of nhsmanagers.net, on 10 September at the RSM.)

Rival telemedicine service Push Doctor is also undergoing changes with CEO and co-founder Eren Ozagir’s departure. It appears that he and the board had a difference around company direction, with the board recommending a cut of 40 jobs (Sunday Times). Their COO, Wais Shaifta, became acting CEO in July. In June 2017, a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the service to be delivering unsafe care via antidepressant and blood thinner prescriptions being given without requisite blood tests and monitoring. Digital Health

France officially enters the telemedicine world

By ministerial decree for the 2018 social security financing law, France starts deploying telemedicine both for doctor-patient consults (teleconsultation) and ‘telexpertise’ (between health professionals) starting on 15 September. The latter will be defined in stages by 2020.  For instance, from 2019 it will be deployed for long-term conditions (ALD), rare disease patients in sub-dense areas or in long-term care homes or inmates. “In this context, they agree to define the scope of these acts and their rates as well as their methods of implementation and billing.”

The rest of the teleprofessional deployment calendar will be defined before the year 2020. The full bill is printed here (in French, of course) Agir-Telemedecine.org

Embedding microchips in workers–does this have potential in healthcare?

It’s not just for pets anymore. Embedding microchips for various purposes subcutaneously in people is a bit of technology that appears to be gaining traction. The employees of Three Square Market, a company that provides self-service mini-markets in commercial settings such as hotels or company breakrooms (what in this Editor’s airline days we dubbed ‘the iron kitchen’ or Ick) are happily planting chips in their skin to ID themselves into the office, onto their computers, and buy lunch in the company café. About the size of long-grain rice, they have no power source other than that supplied by an external RFID reader. About 80 employees of Three Square Market now have it, having started with 30 a year ago. It also seems to have caught on in Sweden.

In the glowing MIT Technology Review article, there seems to be little concern that the chip might have a long-term health effect even as minor as a cyst or fibroma, being that it is a foreign object. Chips could also be ‘pinged’ to detect location or download information.

Of interest in the healthcare area are the following:

  • Three Square’s president, Patrick McMullan, stores some health information on his chip
  • Three Square is also investigating the hot area of hand hygiene in hospitals. During this month into September, they are testing RFID bracelets at two hospitals in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Hudson, Wisconsin that verifies when doctors and nurses wash their hands using the proxy of turning on a sink through the sink’s RFID reader. 
  • Embedding chips in hospital and LTC staffs could increase areas such as hand hygiene, enforce security in restricted areas, and provide data for task or time/motion studies.

Rutgers develops wristband wearable that uses biosensors to count blood cells, bacteria, and air particles

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/SmartWristbandFigure2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick (NJ) have developed a wristband with a biosensor that can count particles, including blood cells, bacteria and organic or inorganic particles in the air. The cuff-sized wristband has a circuit to process electrical signals, a micro-controller for digitizing data and a Bluetooth module to transmit data wirelessly to a smartphone app for further analysis. The blood count has to be done through pinpricks that funnel the cells through a channel thinner than a human hair to the biosensor.

From the articles, it appears the technology would be an add-on extending the capabilities of other sensor-based wearables. For instance, blood count monitoring could add another diagnostic parameter to traditional devices for chronic conditions and be used in diagnostic tools in remote or battlefield settings. Environmental analysis of air particles could be used for allergens or potentially toxic environments. Bacterial analysis could be used in potentially infectious settings or diagnosis. Rutgers Today,  Microsystems & Nanoengineering, Mobihealthnews

What Best Buy’s $800 million cash purchase of GreatCall connected health/PERS really means

Have health and connectedness services for older people finally made it out of the pumpkin and to the ball? GreatCall’s market doesn’t make for great cocktail party buzz or TEDMED talks. It’s emergency response with Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek presenting 5 Star emergency service bundled in a Jitterbug flip or smartphone (made by others). It’s made intelligent acquisitions. taking some of the tech developed by Lively to develop wearables that are quite presentable and by Healthsense for the senior living market. It’s been a leader in how to make both traditional direct marketing (DRTV, print) and digital work for an older market. Somehow, it’s managed to accumulate over 900,000 paying customers, which proved to be very attractive to first PE firm GTCR and now Minneapolis-based Best Buy, which with GreatCall has made its Biggest Buy.

GreatCall will remain a separate division with the same CEO (David Inns, with them since their 2006 founding) and remain HQ’d in San Diego. The transaction is expected to close by end of the third quarter of Best Buy’s fiscal 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

Best Buy in the US has remained the #1 electronics ‘big box’ store that, like most retail, has stumbled about and come back from the brink. Their purchase of GreatCall, a partner for many years, reinforces a strategy they’ve worked on for a while in featuring health and wellness-related products to what CNBC calls ‘an aging population’ as part of ‘solving technology problems and addressing key human needs across a range of areas.’ GreatCall, as noted above, has a superb track record in direct marketing to that group. (In this context, the former Healthsense B2B play is limited–some of the feedback that this Editor’s received is that GreatCall stumbled out of the gate with Healthsense customers with a lack of understanding of the LTC/senior housing market dynamics. Long term, it seems out of phase with Best Buy’s direction in a way that consumer-oriented Lively is not.)

Will that talent spill over to and influence the rest of Best Buy’s business? Will Best Buy successfully carve out a niche which is relatively resistant to the predations of Amazon (which also sells a lot of health tech) and other online retailers? Is this niche big enough to support this Big Box Retailer? Seeking Alpha, press release, Mobihealthnews