It’s EPIC: Ehealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

The EPIC project’s aim is to improve the use of technology in both health and social care for the better health and well-being of people in Cornwall and–quite ambitiously–improve the Cornish economy through developing this sector. Its core is at the University of Plymouth with partners Creative England, Kernow Health CIC, Cornwall Partners in Care, and the Patients Association, with partial funding by the European Regional Development Fund.

Technologies can include: personal and clinical apps, activity/fitness trackers, telemedicine, therapy websites for cognitive behavior, sensor-based alarm and ADLs that can support people in hospital or with dementia. Robots like the humanoid Pepper from SoftBank are also within their scope.

Having started only in May, EPIC (not to be confused with the EHR) is still starting up for its three-year run. The website describes two ‘strands’ of work: the first organized around 10 working groups which are meeting through September (seven left) to identify problems and develop technology-based solutions. The second phase is to help the developers enter the market, when ready matching them with clinician and patient groups. The economic part is that these new Cornish companies supply not only Cornwall but also ‘export’ to the UK.  

More information is available on their website or by emailing Katie Edwards at University of Plymouth. Hat tip to Susanne Woodman of BRE Group.

Can technology meet increasing demand for social care? (N. Somerset UK)

click to enlargeNorth Somerset Council (west of Bristol in UK’s mid-southwest) provides care for more than 2,800 people. Their budget for adult social care this year is £65.3million. Yet even with this large budget, the trend is not its friend, according to Hayley Verrico, the council’s assistant director of adult support and safeguarding. In addition to the demand created by more older people and the ‘old-old’ growing frailer, there are special needs children who enter adult social care. The priority is to enable them to stay at home. Will this increased demand be met by technology? Ms. Verrico believes so, giving examples such as telecare and assistive technology for PERS, automatic tap (water) shutoffs, and door/wander sensors. The paradox is that carers also need to be trained in the meaningful monitoring and support management part of home care, transitional care, and encouraging that person to be more independent in activity, versus the traditional hands-on part of direct care.

This story is a chirping canary in the mine in UK, EU and the US. The last situation is in a way worse. Not only are we in the US not set up for community-wide maintaining of adults at home, but also most direct care workers are paid in the bottom quarter of US hourly wages with few perceived opportunities for advancement. Beyond monitoring, how do we handle the next meaningful step–telehealth and RPM?  North Somerset Times

‘Il Futuro’ of healthcare in Florence 29-30 Sept

Forum of Sustainability and Opportunities in the Health Sector, Stazione Leopolda, Florence Italy  29-30 September

“Futuro”, a two-day conference in Florence, is centered on innovation in the healthcare sector and the main trends in the industry: neuroscience, digital transformation, cybersecurity, future trends, and longevity. The separate technology and innovation track includes value-based care, data analytics, national digitization of health, and startups. Speakers include David Wood, President of London Futurist; Nicola Dragoni, Computer Engineering at Örebro University, Sweden; and LT Col. Marco Biagini, NATO Modeling and Simulation Center of Excellence. Participation in the Forum and to individual events is free with membership. More information, registration, and agenda are on their website (in Italian–registration doesn’t machine translate). Hat tip to Giuseppe Orzati, the forum director, of Koncept Communications.

Events: MEDICA App Competition 15 November (DE)–not too late to enter!

click to enlargeWednesday 15 November, Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre, Hall 15, 3-5pm

MEDICA 2017 (13-16 Nov) will be hosting the sixth annual MEDICA App Competition on the stage of the Connected Healthcare Forum. This is featured as the “the world’s largest live competition for the best App-based Medical Mobile Solution for use in the daily routine of a patient, a doctor or in the hospital.” 15 contestants will pitch on stage for three minutes each with an additional two minutes for the jury to submit questions. First place solution will be awarded €2,000, second €1,000 and third €500, along with the winner going to SXSW and the top three receiving Startupbootcamp (SBC) Digital Health awards.

Featured on the jury are Ashish Atreja from Mount Sinai in NYC and Ralf-Gordon Jahns of research2guidance.

Application submissions are being accepted through 30 September with notification early in October–scroll down the page for the link.

Events: UK Telehealthcare’s autumn and 2018 MarketPlaces, UK Health Show

click to enlargeOur long-time supporter UK Telehealthcare has several upcoming MarketPlaces on their events page here–a quick guide below for putting on your calendar:

4 October London MarketPlace, Barnet and Southgate College, Southgate Campus, High St. London N14 6BS. 10am to 3pm

Speakers include
David Byrne – Principal and Chief Executive at Barnet and Southgate College
Alev Cazimoglu – Labour Cllr For Jubilee Ward, Enfield Council – Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Social Care
Doug Wilson – Head of Strategy & Service Development, Health, Housing and Adult Social Care

BSC is London’s newest centre of excellence for Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS). MarketPlace participants can visit the BSC CETEC Living Lab, a fully-furnished flat equipped with the latest technology.

23 NovemberBristol MarketPlace, Bristol City Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR

In 2018
13 MarchCambridge MarketPlace–more details to follow.
UK Telehealthcare is also planning MarketPlaces in Luton, Nottingham, and Dudley

Links to the MarketPlace pages aren’t up yet, so check the link above for more information.

Their page also reminds our Readers that the UK Health Show is on 27 September at the Olympia. With four shows featuring technology, cybersecurity, procurement, and commissioning, it is designed for senior healthcare professionals and decision makers to help the NHS promote and improve service delivery.

Tunstall Americas acquires Providence Lifeline Medical Alert Service

New Tunstall Americas CEO Oscar Meyer announced today (6 Sept) the acquisition of Providence Lifeline Medical Alert Service from parent Providence Health & Services, a division of Providence St. Joseph Health, a nonprofit Catholic health system with 50 hospitals and over 800 clinics in seven Western states. Terms were not disclosed. The sizing was also not disclosed beyond ‘thousands of customers’. Evidently from its statement, Providence Health will continue to contract with Tunstall and expand PERS health monitoring for its clients: “Providence looks forward to a collaboration that will help people stay safe and independent at home.” Another interesting affirmation is that Tunstall is resuming its collaborating or acquiring “highly regarded regional, state, and local providers of telecare, medical alarms, and medication management services.”  Release (PR Web)

HIMSS new CEO Hal Wolf acknowledges ‘silver tsunami’ healthcare effects, changes

HIMSS has a new CEO at the helm–Hal Wolf, succeeding Steve Lieber, who stepped down after 17 years as announced in December 2016. In this interview with Healthcare IT News (owned by HIMSS), Mr. Wolf finally acknowledges that HIMSS and healthcare IT leaders will have to adjust their approaches to HIT to support the world’s aging population and keep their organizations going financially. Using the term ‘silver tsunami’ (a tired term long since retired by writers), he posits that “We must recognize that healthcare systems are going to be financially strapped. We have a lot of people living longer and there are going to be fewer people producing GDP.” The odd order–first–of this financially-oriented statement in the article sets the stage for the rest, which is at once reassuring (he’s a big supporter of ‘patient-at-home’, connected devices, and predictive modeling with genomic data) and disconcerting (supply chain automation and purchasing). Perhaps his fiscal emphasis is based on his consulting, WHO, and Kaiser Permanente experience. At the end, the comments roll back to HIMSS education, networking, and their role in public policy including blockchain and FDA. Not addressed: whether this new CEO is as acquisition-minded as his predecessor, with Health 2.0 perhaps the cap to Mr. Lieber’s long reign. 

BATDOK monitor jumps into action on the battlefield medic arm (USAF)

click to enlargeUS Air Force researchers have developed software with the long handle Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK). It runs on a smartphone or other mobile devices, which (suitably ruggedized) can jump into action with medical pararescue and combat rescue Airmen. Equipped with medical sensors, “BATDOK is a multi-patient, point of injury, casualty tool that assists our human operators and improves care. It can be a real-time health status monitoring for multiple patients, a documentation tool, a user-definable medical library, a portal to integrate patient data into their electronic health records, and finally it is interoperable with battlefield digital situation awareness maps, which helps identify the exact location of casualties.” said the head manager, Dr. Gregory Burnett, of the Airman Systems Directorate in the Warfighter Interface Division of the 711th Human Performance Wing. Aside from the technology, the intriguing point of the story is how the development team literally jumped with USAF teams into hot landing zones, returned back to the lab, yet everything was validated through the design, integration and testing process by the Airmen in the field–a tip that our health tech software and hardware developers would be well advised to follow. This Editor hopes that this technology will quickly be commercialized for use by civilian paramedics. Armed With Science (DoD Science Blog)  (USAF photo)

Tender Alert: NHS England–IAPT, Arden & GEM, Yorkshire and The Humber

Susanne Woodman, our Eye on Tenders, has three that cover a major initiative of NHS England, plus two regional telecare projects.

  • NHS England–IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies). NHS Shared Business Services is procuring ‘Digital Therapies for IAPT Assessment: Project Management Organisation’. The aim of the programme is to find good quality, evidence-based digital therapy packages for use in IAPT services. Up to 14 digital therapy products will be assessed for IAPT by 2020. This will help expand provision of psychological therapies, as well as improving access to digital services, both goals set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. Clarification questions are due by Wednesday 13 September at 10am. Bid deadline is Monday 18 September at noon. More information and contact here on Gov.UK Contracts Finder. Additional programme information on NICE and IAPT here.
  • Arden & Greater East Midlands: Bravo reference Project 851 is an Innovation and Technology Tariff. There are three parts (2-4): the closest related to health tech is #4, web-based applications for the self-management of COPD. Deadline is 2 October 2017 at 5pm. More information and application links on the Arden-GEM website here.
  • Yorkshire and The Humber: Kirklees Council is seeking a provider of assistive technology and telecare solutions aimed at supporting vulnerable people to live safely and independently in their own home. This also includes support for existing and future social care applications, lone workers, and building security. Value of the contract is £210,000. Deadline is 2 October 2017. There’s not a lot of information on the Gov.UK page and it directs questions to the Kirklees coordinator.

PillCam in Dublin hospital test for small bowel diagnosis (IE)

click to enlargeMedtronic’s PillCam is being tested by Bon Secours Hospital in Dublin, Ireland for small bowel and colon diseases. The test group is only 50 patients, which is striking as the PillCam is in wide use in the US for diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. The PillCam SB is 1.02″ wide and in an eight-hour test can take up to 55,000 pictures (two pictures per second). After the test, it is expelled naturally but in about 3 percent of cases, it is not, so a test capsule is used in many cases, according to their US website. Images from the camera are sent to a belt-worn data recorder, which from RTÉ Health Correspondent Fergal Bowers’ personal test, you’d want to avoid train stations and airports. Images are downloaded after the test. The prep is similar to that for colonoscopy, with one extra–that you have to wait at least eight hours after! It is also in use at Tallaght Hospital. The articles imply that it may be used instead of standard endoscopy, which in the US is a prerequisite. RTÉ on the Bon Secours test. Hat tip to our Northern Ireland correspondent and former TTA Ireland editor, Toni Bunting

Robot roundup: doctor cars, teleworkers, robogiggers, errant NAO robots

click to enlargeThis month your Editor’s been ‘overrun by robots’ in the news! Here’s the roundup for your end of August reading, with an emphasis on how humans interact with robot helpers, especially at work:

click to enlargeThe doctor’s car has been around since the 1904 Buick, but the Seattle firm Artefact takes it one step further by combining the self-driving car with a fully automated clinic on wheels that arrives at your home, minus the doctor. Step in and it takes your weight, BMI, posture, respiration, and other sensor-based measurements guided through augmented reality instructions. It has a telemedicine interface in case you need a live virtual doctor. Medication? It’s a dispensary on wheels. Treatments? It will take you to a real doctor or provides AI-driven comparative information on treatment options. Artefact’s concept is part of their endless health monitoring continuum of care, which far more than the Doc Car is a little…creepy. FastCompany Design

Many of us are remote workers, but what if you could be in the office via a telepresence robot? A writer for Wired adopted an EmBot from Double Robotics so she could ‘be in the office’ in San Francisco while living in Boston. Her adventures with human-robot office interactions, developing relationship protocols, self-identification with it, and its many foibles (technical and otherwise) are a hoot. Hat tip to TTA Founder Steve Hards

Clark Kent would activate a robot to take his place at the Daily Planet while dashing off as Superman. Could a robot be your cyberself, working to provide you with an income stream in retirement? Or could you invest in robots working in the short-term robo-gig economy? Joseph Coughlin of MIT’s AgeLab in Forbes is quite certain that we’ll be hiring robot helpers around the house (including serving drinks) and some of us will become robopreneurs, sending out our robots to work. Far fetched? Froyo franchise kiosks (already promoted on radio in the US) serve up robot-prepared and sold frozen yogurt.

click to enlargeFor your weekend reading (with coffee and a snack) is a study examining human reactions to a purposely programmed error-ridden NAO humanoid robot versus a behaving NAO in performing interactive tasks. The surprise is that people liked the faulty robot more than the perfect one. The study also gauged the human cues to errant behavior (sidelong gazes, laughter)–cues that could tell the robot it’s in error. To Err Is Robot: How Humans Assess and Act toward an Erroneous Social Robot (Frontiers in Robotics and AI) Second tipped hat to Steve More on SoftBank Robotics’ NAO here.

Tender Alert: Luton, Coventry and Warwickshire, EU mHealth

Susanne Woodman, our Eye on Tenders, has three for September–one for a major EU initiative.

  • Luton: Luton Borough Council is seeking tender submissions for Call Monitoring & Response Services for Assistive Technology Solutions (Telecare). It is currently being operated 24/7 by Wellbeing staff using Tunstall systems and services. Over 25,800 of Luton residents are over the age of 65 in this highly multi-ethnic area. Bid applications for this five-year contract valued at £210k are due by 21 September. Start date is 9 October. More information at Gov.UK
  • Coventry and Warwickshire: The Innovative Coventry and Warwickshire Test Bed Project funded by ERDF is seeking quotations to form a framework agreement to provide consultancy services for workshops in community healthcare services, e-health sectors, and assistive technology. The value of this contract is £8,000. Closing is 10 September. More information at Gov.UK.
  • EU mHealth Hub: The joint WHO and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) initiative, ‘’Be Healthy, Be Mobile’’ is seeking a host for the EU mHealth Hub (‘’the Hub’’) as part of a Horizon 2020 funded project. They are pre-qualifying non-commercial EU institutions/organizations. Closing is 29 September at 1500 hours Geneva time. More information (including an eight-page solicitation guide) at the UN Global Marketplace. Requests for Expressions of Interest presentation (PDF)

‘Serving with heart’: two glimpses of innovation in Singapore and Thailand

Probably a first for this Editor is news from Singapore on the healthcare technology and innovation front. The first report comes from Today where Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean advocates for the interesting combination of embracing innovation and ‘serving patients with heart.’ Speaking at the opening of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine’s Clinical Sciences Building in Novena, Mr. Teo talked not only about pathogens and biomedical research but also about remote patient monitoring, tele-consulting, and home-care robots.

From Thailand but addressing the Asia-Pacific market is Caroline Clarke, CEO for Philips Asean Pacific, on the region’s aging population and the outlook to 2050. Asia is home to 60 percent of the world’s over-60 population which is expected to grow from 547 million in 2016 to nearly 1.3 billion by 2050. She noted that the Future Health Index noted that while the benefits of connected care technologies were known in Asia, there was a lack of understanding on how and why to use them to take better care of their health. Philips has opened a regional headquarters in Singapore with advanced innovation facilities, announcing a partnership with EDBI to co-invest in regional digital health companies. The Nation

September-Autumn Events: The King’s Fund, Aging2.0 London, Health 2.0 NYC, RSM, ATA

Summer is evaporating before our eyes. Fill your calendars to shake off the blues! Here are some events that depending on where you are, should go on it:

At The King’s Fund, London:

Monday 4 September, 5:30-8:30pm: HealthChat with Claire Murdoch and Roy Lilley. Ms. Murdoch is Chief Executive of Central & North West London NHS Trust and NHSE’s new National Mental Health Director. Tickets are £39.95 through Eventbrite here. (Note: this is a private event organized by UK HealthGateway, the publisher of the nhsManagers.net newsletter.)

We thank Roy Lilley for the top-of-the-letter mention of our recent article on telemedicine and retail healthcare. Until today, this Editor was not aware that the NHS was the largest purchaser in the UK of fax machines. Will Sarah Wilkinson’s appointment as the head of NHS Digital change that?)

Friday 6 October, 12.00pm-7.00pm: Ideas that change health care–a festival of ideas to inspire and challenge the future of health care. Free, but tickets are limited. Sponsorships available. More information here. #kfIdeas17

Wednesday 29 – Thursday 30 November, 8.30am – 5.15pm both days: The King’s Fund Annual Conference 2017. Day 1 concentrates on population health, Day 2 on modernizing the health and care system. More information here. #kfAnnual2017

Aging2.0 London at Innovation Warehouse

Thursday 7 September, 6-9pm: Aging2.0 London 2-Pint-0 presents Chris Sawyer from Innovate UK on the Digital Health Technology Catalyst 2017 – Round 1 [TTA 14 Aug]. More information here.

Health 2.0 NYC/MedStartr, midtown NYC

Wednesday 27 September, 6-9pm: Mental Health Innovations 2017. The rising need for and increased scarcity of mental health care calls for new approaches in technology and innovation. The usual lively panel of speakers, company presenters, and engaged audience. More information on their Meetup page here. (more…)

Optum/UnitedHealth clinches $1.3 bn deal for Advisory Board’s healthcare practice

The Advisory Board consultancy group confirmed its splitup and sale, as originally reported by TTA in mid-July. The Optum data analytics/information/consultancy unit of UnitedHealth Group is acquiring the healthcare practice for $1.3 bn and the education consultancy will be purchased by Vista Equity Partners for $1.55 bn. 

According to Bloomberg, The Advisory Board has 3,800 employees and roughly $807 million in annual revenue. Reports indicate that it has served over 4,400 healthcare clients. According to the Washington Business Journal, regulatory filings show it will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Optum headed by Advisory Board Chairman and CEO Robert Musslewhite. As to relocation, Advisory Board spokespersons confirmed that they will still be moving into a new headquarters on New York Avenue NW, indicating that a move to Minnetonka is not imminent and that at least some of the management will stay. There is no word on relocation out of Washington for the education practice. At closing, outstanding shares of Advisory Board will convert at $52.65 per share, plus an additional amount per share based on the after-tax value of Advisory Board’s 7.6 percent stake in publicly traded Evolent Health. The deal is expected to close by early 2018.

This confirms an earlier trend of healthcare consultancies merging and cross-acquiring. In July, Dublin’s UDG Healthcare acquired Philadelphia-based healthcare consultancy Vynamic last week, gaining a US foothold, then added marketing/communications company Cambridge BioMarketing in Boston. Rumors still have publicly-traded Evolent Health as a likely acquirer or acquiree of a healthcare consultancy. WTOP, Reuters

 

Fitbit unveils Ionic smartwatch earlier than expected. Their ‘Hail Mary’ pass?

click to enlargeSurprisingly, Fitbit has formally unveiled today (28 August) its first smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic, on its 10th anniversary of its first tracker. It’s a slow news week in the US, being the week before the Labor Day holiday 4 Sept and in the UK this Monday with the summer bank holiday. The announcement also feels a bit like a soft reveal in a slow period. However, the industry expected an announcement later this year, so this is considered to be positive.

There’s plenty of functionality, though the watch itself from the photos (this is Engadget’s, as the press release did not supply close up pictures) is rather brick-like on the wrist. Balancing that out is a knockout of a 1.42-inch, 348 x 250 px display, the best and brightest yet in the reviewer’s estimation. It also curves a bit through nano-molding technology (NMT) to fit more comfortably on the wrist than the previous Alta tracker.

Engadget‘s test drive of an early version of the Ionic is thorough. It confirms that Fitbit went with its own proprietary OS, contactless payment and a subscription-based custom workout guide called Fitbit Coach, a rebranded Fitstar. More functions related to healthcare are:

  • Updated heart rate monitor
  • A new SpO2 blood oxygen sensor. There’s a bit of tease in the release which gives its potential in health use: “…a relative SpO2 sensor for estimating blood oxygen levels opens the potential for tracking important new indicators about your health, such as sleep apnea”
  • Sleep tracking through monitoring pulse and movement for stages of sleep (deep, REM, light, etc.). The Engadget reviewer noted the uncertain quality of tracking.
  • Integrated connection to the new edition of the Aria weight scale (release), also due in the fall

Pricing has been set at $300/£300 with the usual extra accouterments of dress and sport bands. If you can’t wait, pre-sale starts today on Fitbit.com with retail on-sale globally starting October 2017, without a specific date. For developers, the Fitbit app software development kit (SDK) will be open to developers in September 2017. 

Will this ‘Hail Mary Pass‘ save Fitbit? Like most smartwatches, it feels like a solution in search of a problem. It depends on how many true believers will upgrade from the Alta to the Ionic, or buy this rather than an Apple Watch, where first-half sales are up 50 percent versus last year to an estimated 2-3 million new units, partly on Fitbit’s faltering back. The big roll of the dice is going with a proprietary OS. Health and other apps are dependent on developers, who are going to have to make a business decision on the watch’s sales and acceptance to commit to a one-off app. 4th Quarter sales will tell….Our earlier coverage of Fitbit and related smartwatches is here.