Mobile Healthcare Communications: Case Studies and Roundtables

Presented by the Business Development Institute (BDI)

New York City, Wednesday 19 Jan 2011

Your reporter is Donna Cusano

The content of this semiannual half-day conference on mobile healthcare was oriented primarily for pharmaceutical marketers and communicators. Thus most of the case studies presented were from the pharmaceutical sector, with an emphasis on patient (primary) and physician information delivered via smartphones. Leavening this was a discussion of texting in an adolescent health program here in NYC. A lively tweetstream, projected on a small screen stage right, kept a running commentary and also outside links to videos and other source material.  It is available at #BDI with a transcript of the day’s activity provided by Bridge 6. (Ed. Donna is @deetelecare) 

 

Highlights:
Pfizer and health management.
No exception to the cautious approach pharmaceutical companies tend to (or must) take with social media and partnerships, the heart of Kate Bird’s (Director of Digital Communications Policy) presentation centered on four apps, two outside the US: the partnership with Epocrates enabling direct contact with medical professionals to report adverse events; Smidge in Canada, a behavioral modification app to encourage healthier habits; Protonix mobile co-pay and refills, using designated text codes; and in Hong Kong, Pfizer Nutrition and Yahoo!‘s educational app that lets parents create flash cards for children, using preloaded forms.  What’s surprising is that all these apps are for iPhone only, with no plans to add Android and (ex US) Symbian—but 70% of their searches are from Apple devices (one tweet: Android users don’t get sick)
Ms. Bird is forecasting that apps are becoming saturated anyway, with which many in the audience, including this editor, concurred.) Another surprise: despite quadrupling in traffic recently, Pfizer’s website has only just been redone for mobile, which will enable the current 1% of their website impressions to grow and to benefit on what they have found is a lower cost per click cost. (Memo to Pfizer: your patients are not only using Android phones, but many will be buying tablets (and not just iPads.)

 

Joe Grigsby (Director, Emerging Media) from agency VML presented the case history on Text4Baby, the nearly two year old prenatal health reminder SMS for mothers [TA 8 Nov] which is 6 million texts to date; with 100,000+ users T4B is projecting an eventual 1 million.  Among future professionals, 25% of nursing students use iPhones, 70% of medical students have iPhone/iPod. But his points were strategic, reminding the audience that even though mobile is the ‘new norm’ for a younger age group, it doesn’t change marketing fundamentals and the need to develop a marketing strategy.  If anything, mobile has enhanced consumer control (as long as their information is secure). Smart marketers have to think even more about the end user and their individual goals as shaping the value proposition, not what app to make; what they are doing and how to add value. (Slideshow available at Slideshare)

 

Helping ACCU-CHECK diabetes monitor users better understand their condition and how to manage it is Roche Diabetes Care’s ‘Glucose Buddies’ iPhone app (again, no mention of Android). This free app also gathers general demographic information for Roche which is a secondary business goal, in addition to patient education. This information sparked a Twitter commentary on tradeoffs on privacy for ‘value’ although the data is ‘de-identified’.  The lack of a Spanish-language version that would be targeted to Hispanics who have, as a population, an above-average incidence of diabetes, also prompted a few choice tweets. Presented by Todd Siesky, PR Manager, Roche Diabetes Care.

 

Monique Levy’s review of Manhattan Research’s recent mobile-related studies touched on some points already made on Telecare Aware. Key highlights:

Physicians and mobile
* Doctors are abandoning the mainstay BlackBerry for the iPhone, with Android down the list (for now)
* MR projects that currently 72% of physicians have smartphones, projecting that 81% of doctors will have a smartphone by end of year, accelerating their year-ago projection by a year. [TA 3 Mar]   25% will have iPads and/or tablets (note the Dell Streak is targeting healthcare enterprise: TA 15 Sept ).
* Health info outpoints health tools. Visiting websites is as common as using apps like Epocrates, Medscape Mobile and Skyscape—doctors are seeking information (note to pharma companies, publications and references—time to get mobile versions of your websites)
* 65% of physicians use smartphones to check e-mails, but 41% are using mobile Websites and 38% apps.
* The greatest uses of smartphones (@50% in descending order): drug reference databases, clinical/medical references, reading medical journals, treatment guidelines, prescription dosage calculator)
* Remote patient monitoring is underdeveloped at 10%–same as writing medical notes

Consumers and mobile
* Again, health info outpoints health ‘tools’ or apps
* And it won’t come from pharma companies: 71% of those age 35+ are “not interested” in mobile services from a pharma company. (What will pharma do to win them over?)

 

Leaving the lofty heights of pharma-land for the streets of the South Bronx and East Harlem, Dr. Katherine Malbon of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center (MSAHC) shared how her idea to connect young patients with their ‘health home’ at MSAHC via text messaging and social media turned into a six-month successful program, ‘Text in the City’.  Teens opt-in for information, individual answers to their questions (within 24 hours, birth control reminders (most requested) and weekly ‘HealthBytes’ of advice.  Texting and often unlimited plans are ubiquitous (95%) in this population and age group—an amusing example was a teenaged girl texting non-stop as she received a physical exam! But privacy is a concern—users are reminded to delete their perhaps sensitive texts. Dr. Malbon’s passion is clearly serving teens—trained as a paediatrician and working in several Central London hospitals, she moved to the US as adolescent medicine is not a recognized sub-specialty in the UK.

 

Rounding out the conference was more on marketing and communications from Porter Novelli’s EVP Social Media, John Havens.  One memorable quote:  “If you want to speak doctor – speak mobile.” With the PwC findings of 56% of Americans liking the idea of remote healthcare and 41% via mobile phone—he focused on the less conventional as ‘pointers to the future’, such as earplugs that gauge your eating and wirelessly report activity (U. of WA), the Kaiser WeightMate app acting like a Chinese mother after you brought home a B, Frontline SMS: Medic (now Medic Mobile) in developing countries and goggles that prompt with speech and images. “Why is mobile so important for healthcare? Because it saves lives.”  Just a reminder why we are in the field…and that mobile technology is changing so quickly that unless we are otherwise funded (non-profit) developers and marketers need to focus on business case, goals and usage/ROI.

Many thanks to Maria Feola and Steve Etzler of BDI and Mario Nacinovich of AXON plus the Journal of Communication in Healthcare.

Robotic roundup at CES 2011

Perhaps overshadowed by ten jillion tablets, 3D TVs and Motorola’s Atrix, robots were also at CES, many of course from Japan and in their own TechZone. Many had something to do with cleaning, but these had applicability to healthcare: Israeli company DreamBots with their WheeMe robotic masseur that won’t fall off your back–at $69 may be next Christmas’ hit item; iRobot’s AVA self-navigating, tablet-controlled droid; Pleo RB, the cuddly dinosaur with a personality that evolves with human interaction and even knows to shiver in a cold room; the Anybot telepresence droid with a laser pointer (keep away from airports); Soft Robots from Quality of Life Technology Center to assist with activities of daily living such as feeding, dressing and transfer; and Autom, the googly-eyed robot diet mentor who tells you if you’ve been dieting or splurging. PARO, our cuddly and vocal harp seal, was also there but wandered off from this roundup. TechRepublic rounds up the robots for you.

CES 2011 telehealth highlights

Rounding up the CES news on telehealth (updated 11 Jan):

  • Mobihealthnews has a preview slideshow of what they rated as the most interesting telehealth-related items at CES.  Our top picks from theirs:
    1. the long-awaited Lifecomm mPERS from Hughes Telematics with minority partners Qualcomm and AMAC. Available end of 2011. Release. Website.
    2. AliveCor’s iPhone ECG: a case for the iPhone 4 that pairs with an app to create a clinical-quality ECG. This is probably a 2012 Game Changer (see below) if it gains FDA and CE approvals–and keeps its pricing around the rumored sub-$100 price point. Check out MedGadget and the Dr. David Albert video.
    3. iHealth Lab’s Blood Pressure Monitoring system for the iPhone (iPad and iPod): a dock and cuff combination, in release shortly
    4. Withings’ latest: the Blood Pressure Monitor cuff with a transmitter at the end that connects to an iPhone, iPad or iPod and feeds information into respective apps. This also made CNN’s top CES devices .
    5. The Ideal Life Health Tablet:  a proprietary device that claims it is ‘the first tablet that automatically synchronizes with data systems used by providers, patients or caregivers.’  Photo not available. Release.
    6. Diabetes monitoring remains hot; perhaps because of this, the devices and apps are beginning to resemble others plus variations. Consumer Cellular, a wireless provider to AARP members, is adding lifestyle apps, including diabetes monitoring. along with a GPS tracker. Release. Telcare displayed its 3GM blood glucose meter, still in prototype and with no FDA approvals, at Qualcomm’s exhibit as it utilizes Qualcomm’s M2M ‘Internet of Everything Module.’ Release.
  • The Digital Health Summit wound up its Friday conference with a panel of ‘The Game Changers of 2011’: PhiloMetron (a biotech incubator most recently known for a smart patch for diet tracking), Proteus Biomedical (smart pills), Healthsense (sensor-based telecare and security) and RSLSteeper’s BeBionic amazing prosthetic hand [TA 24 June].  [Disclosure: Telecare Aware was a media partner of the 2011 Digital Health Summit]
  • Acknowledging that not all older people want or need a high perceived level of tech in the home, Independa launched its phone-based Smart Reminders system. The family member/caregiver calendars events, appointments, activities and medication reminders online–the older person receives telephone reminders that must be confirmed. Free trial offer for six weeks, $19.95/month thereafter. Release.
  • AgeTek–the Aging Technology Alliance–had its own booth in the SilversSummit/Digital Health Summit area, plus its first annual AgeTek member meeting. Peter Radsliff, Presto CEO and AgeTek Chair, reported to this editor [Donna] tremendous interest: AgeTek is up to 47 paid members, including new members AARP, Flipper Remote, Telekin and distribution players Home Controls and HealthTech Marketing Group; 10 additional probable from interested companies. Traffic in the area (North Hall) was high, based on a live video feed I saw on Thursday. Peter also reported ‘fantastic ideas from members for 2011 initiatives’ plus an all new website to launch in a few weeks–now designed as a portal for consumers to find products and services for aging in place from AgeTek members.
  • BBC video report (2min) on the Sonamba device. Previous ZDNet report. [Steve] This table-top ‘wellbeing monitor’ from pomdevices was displayed at the i-Stage TechZone. It is designed for an older person who needs some assistance and social connectivity. It is M2M cellular and combines basicsonamba motion/sound sensors (wellbeing monitoring), med reminders, a PERS, text messaging, games and a digital photo frame (!) with an iPhone app for caregiver monitoring and adjustment. Not inexpensive (‘pure’ unit cost is $549.99 direct from the manufacturer–no retail announced yet) but with plans moderating the actual cost including monthly data charges ranging from $39-$69, it becomes 1) comparable to PERS and other devices and 2) roughly comparable to a higher end cell phone. Company is based in North Carolina, founder ex-Intel and eFusion. [Donna] Updated 11 Jan: Popular Science included Sonamba in their ‘Best of CES 2011: Products of the Future.’ Also included was the Motorola Atrix 4G [TA 7 Jan]

Connected Healthcare: MIT Enterprise Forum 17 Nov 2010

MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Reporter/Attendee:  Donna Cusano–Editor, North America

Is this a perfect storm for healthcare IT and consumer health? Panel moderator Raymond Falci (Managing Director, Cain Brothers) set out a ‘storm map’—a hospital IT spaghetti chart that represented ‘streamlined process’.

  • Business models in consumer health are fractured—whether payors seeking the next gen in disease management; pharmaceutical companies trying to increase falling sales; healthcare providers attempting to measure and manage risk (and will accountable care really work?); and consumers reluctant to pay for anything.
  • Prospect areas:  Monitoring chronic diseases, other remote monitoring, acute care post-discharge management, member health status and wellness monitoring.

Panel question #1: What are the obstacles and enablers to connected healthcare adoption?

Nick van Terheyden, M.D. (Chief Medical Officer, Nuance):  Prior experiments in paperless hospitals in 1990s unworkable because inability to transfer records and information.  Current EMRs and tablets take too much time.

Rob Dhoble (President, Diversified Agency Services Healthcare):  WebMD in 1990s opened up torrent of information, not always correct.  Understanding it is a problem for average person.  Video e.g. YouTube the most persuasive (and often incorrect) medium—video is ‘surrogate’ for information needed.  People gravitate to ‘authorities’ who make health information simple (Dr. Oz, Dr. Sanjay Gupta)

Rachel Block (Deputy Commissioner for HIT, NY State Dept. of Health):  State Health Information Exchanges (HIE or HIX) have been useful in delivering health information; most are getting tools (e.g. EHRs) to doctors.  Now emphasis on programs—care coordination, public health, mHealth.  Two factors supporting adoption—systems that are patient-centered, policies in standards and payments.

Teo Dagi, M.D. (HLM Venture Partners): 
The big question:  Do we really know if prevention, monitoring and information (data synthesized) make a difference in outcomes?
Adapting to change:  Physicians find adapting to change like connected health very difficult because of the way they are trained: to take care of patients, provide good technical care, take responsibility for patients, not populations.  Comparison:  NHS short visit system versus longer consult and options in individual care (US).  Other questions:  current comfort level in technology and transferring skills to technology.

Gopal K. Chopra, M.D. (CEO, Dauphin Health):  The system is so broken we have to reconstruct it.  IT is colliding with care—‘we built it so that we could bill.’  For instance:  we have not figured out how to make data actionable in workflow; we have looming shortages of time (e.g. pediatricians where many doctors are not full time through careers), versus demand (birth rate). Can we succeed in taking healthcare out of the enterprise (hospital)?

Panel question #2:  What is the revenue model for advanced technology?

Mr. Dhoble:  Accelerant will be the CMS non-reimbursement for preventable readmissions in 30 days in October 2011.  ‘Expert patient’ key factor (and can patients be ‘experts’?)  Leveraging media to increase learning of healthy behaviors and increase understanding.
Ms. Block:  Disincentive in healthcare reform.  Health may well become a ‘regulated utility’ that is based on scale.  (This was a surprising answer)
Dr. Dagi:  Questioned ‘scale’ paradigm.  We may wind up with a two tier system like the UK or a ‘shadow system’ e.g. privately paid concierge medicine because ‘scale’ does not work.

Panel question #3:  Will EHR adoptions fulfill the ‘vision’ of better quality healthcare in the short term?  (Answers here were especially surprising)

Dr. Chopra:  There is NO WAY that the January 2011 start of adoption and qualifying for meaningful use works.  If he were in private practice, he would run away from it!
Dr. van Terheyden:  Systems can’t extract information from the EHR and put into patient records as needed.
Ms. Block:  System is in overload because of other demands, such as transition to new coding standard (ICD-10).  Meaningful use is a distraction (!)
Mr. Dhoble:  All the stakeholders (pharma, imaging companies, etc.) are lobbying for too much to be included.
Dr. Chopra:  Right now, we are not practicing ‘clean healthcare’ and EHRs aren’t going to change this.
Dr. Dagi:  What is the standard of care?  This is a population question not an individual care question.  (Not clear from his remarks or my notes where EHRs fit in this comparison, though.)

More on Dauphin Health:  After the panel concluded, I spoke with Dr. Gopal Chopra who is their CEO. The early-stage company has designed a system, currently in test, that allows a parent to transmit information on an ill child via phone or web to a ‘virtual resident’ which compiles it and connects to the family pediatrician.  Treatment instructions are returned in 10-15 minutes.  The call is essentially triaged but speeds response back to the parent.  It is in test: their two basic websites are at www.dauphinhealth.com and www.dauphinmd.com.

Not all the questions in the session notes were answered…are they ever?…but an excellent evening (and any event at 30 Rockefeller Plaza is a treat!)

 

TSA 2010: A request, and reflections on the conference

This report is brought to you with the support of the Telecare Services Association (accommodation) and Tynetec (travel)
By concentrating on reporting from the exhibition floor on Tuesday and Wednesday I [editor Steve Hards] had some interesting conversations in addition to the published snippets, and these will inform commentary on future developments – just as my observation about Bosch in the UK triggered further observations about Bosch in the US from N. Americas editor, Donna Cusano.

I hope that spending my time like that will turn out to be more useful to Telecare Aware readers than reporting from the plenary and workshop sessions that I was therefore unable to attend. However, to give a flavour of what those covered, there is a list below.

Request

My request is to any readers who attended any of the sessions listed and who thought that particular speakers or topics were significant. Please let me know by email and I will try to contact the speakers to ask if they will produce a short piece for Telecare Aware.

Alternatively, if you have notes you’d like to share, do send them over.

(I did attend one plenary session on Tuesday afternoon. It was the presentation given by ex-NHS North Yorkshire and Yorks and ex-strategic health authority Regional Telehealth Lead, Paul Rice. I went in the vain hope that as he holds a doctorate in law and medical ethics he might have addressed some of the matters raised on this site around the NHS NYY project commissioning. However, it was a totally predictable, totally bland presentation of the type that unfairly gets PowerPoint a bad name. If any readers have experienced one of those moments when you suddenly-focus-and-realise-that-you-had-drifted-off-with-your-thoughts-and-you-wonder-if-it-was-actually-the-sound-of-your-own-snoring-that-woke-you-up, then you will forgive me if I use this commentary to say ‘sorry’ if I disturbed people around me.)

Reflections

There are a few things I’d like to say after a day’s reflection. First, the very small TSA team that put this together are to be congratulated on another large but, as far as I could see, smoothly run event. Second, the choice of Roy Lilley as Conference Chair (moderator for all the plenary sessions) hit just the right note. His style is not to everyone’s taste, but he was approachable and you could never ignore what he was saying. In a year when one could have expected the attendees to lapse into a state of collective doom and gloom – and have forgiven them for it – he was surely part of the reason the event stayed so upbeat.

Last year, the TSA was signalling that telehealth is going to be a significant topic for its members. This year the content, which should be giving telecare services much to think about, was almost all telehealth oriented. Next year, if it wants to keep up the exhibitor numbers, the TSA needs to bring in an audience that has a much higher proportion of NHS staff of all kinds, to get the message across to them.

Did the event tell us something about the state of telecare and telehealth in the UK? Clearly, the supplier companies are ready and waiting for the anticipated boom in demand, but the timing of that depends on many factors – political, cultural and informational – that are outside their control. There were pleas from a number of quarters, including the conference chair, for suppliers to be more active in marketing directly to the public. However, companies that have tried it find it extremely difficult. The message is not the problem but the cost of acquiring a customer is so high that it kills the business model, whereas having health and social care professionals doing the ‘selling’ to clients is cost effective despite the other problems it brings.

It was great to see a number of newly designed pieces of equipment breaking out of the forms we have become used to. Chief amongst those was Tynetec’s Reach and Touch hub devices of which one frequently heard “I wouldn’t mind that in my own home!” One could write an essay on that response, which is significant on many levels. (See comment, too.) Smaller, lighter, sleeker, easier is clearly the way to go, but suppliers and customers are, of course, looking over their shoulder at the fast-approaching rise in the numbers of smartphones that will soon be in the hands of the end users and are considering how long a future standalone devices have.

The big companies with deep pockets can afford to play a waiting game until the market and the technology trends clarify, perhaps in a year or two. Will the smaller companies be able to survive? Or will we look back later and say they played a role of softening up the market and getting the learning done before they disappeared? That would be a pity, but their boards are surely thinking about merger or other exit strategies. Aren’t they?

List of presentations I missed (see ‘Request’ above)

  • Key issues driving change: Trevor Single
  • Fiona Philips talking about her family’s experience of dementia
  • Making change happen [in dementia care, presumably]: Prof. June Andrews
  • Strategic health authority plans for a telehealth service to support the QIPP agenda: Dr Paul Rice [See above]
  • Interoperability – the driver for consumer health in Europe: Dr Petra Wilson
  • The ethics of telecare: Jennifer Francis
  • Prevention is better than cure – a security perspective: Mick Reynolds
  • Guest motivational speaker: Dame Stella Rimington

List of workshops I missed (see ‘Request’ above)

  • Managing EU funded projects – Soprano Project
  • Lighting at home to help older people and others with sight loss
  • Supporting dignity, independence and well being through telecare technology
  • Can telecare predict recurrent urinary tract infection?
  • Multi award winning low cost telehealth innovation by the NHS for the NHS
  • How can a sceptical, busy GP be convinced?
  • What if? [Disaster recovery plans]
  • Pathway to TSA accreditation
  • Delivering on telehealth
  • Digital connectivity with IP technology
  • Sustainability and bringing healthcare closer to home
  • Telecare and the personalisation agenda
  • Listening to people with dementia getting out and about
  • Usability is not an option
  • Integrated working: Patients and partnerships in telehealth
  • Me’n’Him Teleheath
  • Developing and implementing a telehealth project – learning the lessons
  • Healthy Outlook health forecasting service for COPD
  • Telehealth services for patients with long term conditions
  • When the inspector calls!
  • Tone of voice: saying it like it is
  • Supporting independence – telecare for people with a learning disability
  • Ethics and telecare
  • Set them free – Impact m-Care

Telecare Services Association 2010 Tuesday 16 Nov

This report is brought to you with the support of the Telecare Services Association (accommodation) and Tynetec (travel)

09.00: Today, in the hope of discovering something new, I will be concentrating on the exhibitor’s offerings.

13:20 Exhibitors; First tranche

This morning, for want of a better strategy, I’ve made my way around the exhibitors located on the outer walls of the hall, for and this afternoon I’ll make my way around the rest. So in order there’s:

Intel/GE: The dead hand of corporate bureaucracy says I’m only allowed to give you their press release (and an old one at that)…but here’s what I picked up…Intel is exhibiting its Health Guide, and GE a screen-based demo of QuietCare. The latter is in the process of UK medical device approval so that the new joint company (still unnamed, it seems) will have a product range that covers all the bases. The launch of the new legal entity is scheduled for the New Year.

Supra UK: Once again the Supra UK team have pulled out the stops to entertain with an attention-grabbing stand based on a US SWAT squad… but it’s the SWAP squad. Back in the summer they had a two-month opportunity for services with stocks of the old KeySafes to swap them for the new police approved C500 key safe, for only the cost difference, and they have reactivated the offer for the duration of the conference only.

Tynetec: The Tynetec stand has two new features. First, the Innovation Centre, which will be a feature at all future events they attend, where people will be able to see what developments are in the pipeline and give feedback. (A web-based version is due out in a few months.) The second is a working display of pre-production versions (in black and in white) of their yet-to-be-launched hub called ‘Reach’ and alert trigger called ‘Touch’. Production quantities are expected in early Spring. Both designs are the result of in-depth consultation with potential users. I stood by the stand for a while and people who saw them were genuinely taken aback by the good looks of the items which have the consumer wow factor that people have been asking for for so long. (Pictures on TA soon here now – Friday update.)


Tynetec Reach (white version – in black, see below)


Professor Heinz Wolff opening the Innovation Centre

Also: Be one of the first to see the Reach and Touch demo video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htly5du0oCQ (Gives you a good idea of why this was wowing the visitors.)

Tunstall: Today Tunstall has quietly (!) dropped something of a handgrenade into the marketplace – they have announced that they will make the specification of their radio receiver and transmitter devices available – for a license fee, of course. This is a smart market-share-preserving move, made in response to pressure from Tunstall system customers that want to be able to use other manufacturers’ sensor devices. Tunstall press release (PDF) listing its other conference launch items, including a preview of the new MyAmie and PNC 6.2.

STT Condigi: The second year exhibiting here for the Swedish company. Unfortunately, when I went past the bulk of their display material had not arrived.

Burnside Telecom: The message from Burnside is that no landline or wireless network is actually reliable enough for life-critical monitoring but they are specialists in retrofitting devices into existing systems to increase the reliability by providing automatic fall-back connections. This is likely to be more effective and cost effective than replacing an old system.

Fold Telecare and S3 Group: Nothing particularly new here, but they are reinforcing their presence as a major service provider in the Northern Ireland context.

Coventry University: Here to publicise the assistive technology courses they offer, including work-based learning for staff that cannot be released to study full time. They have a Foundation Degree in Assistive Technology; a Masters in Assistive Technology, and an online Assistive Technology Learning Tool. Visit http://www.coventry.ac.uk/at for more information.

Royal Society of Medicine (RSM): Making the point that it isn’t just for doctors but membership is open to other professionals individually or through their organisations. http://www.rsmmembership.org/

Carers UK: The carers’ charity – here to put in a plea to suppliers to remember that the majority of people who could benefit from telecare do not have contact with statutory services and that direct marketing to them ‘ought’ to be on their agenda.

CarelineUK: CarelineUK provided a sneak preview of the real time telehealth service that it is developing with partners CentriHealth, iMetrikus and Volt Delta. This will be a subscription-based service that brings together telecare and telehealth records for people with long term conditions and will enable multiple views of an individual’s health information for themselves, their carers, clinicians, primary care and social services, etc. Using this, CarelineUK aims to promote active involvement and personalisation of healthcare.

Cirrus: The telecare and life safety integration company’s focus for the conference is to network with customers, existing and new, and to promote its reactive and planned telecare and fire maintenance services.

Chubb: It is hoped that the just announced linkup between large Chubb and small, nimble Halliday James with its St Bernard GPS location system (first reported on TA from last year’s conference) will mean a more nimble Chubb. The system alerts carers by text message, email or through Chubb telecare, warden or nurse call systems using a new LocaLink remote trigger. Registered carers can ask for the user’s location via SMS and, where appropriate, it can be used as a simple emergency mobile phone enabling the carer to speak with the user. Chubb has also launched here a new ‘Secure Living Solution’ that combines telecare and fire monitoring and can work with a number of other suppliers’ systems. Press release (PDF) has details on both developments.

Vidyo: [To follow]

Tallon Monitoring: Tallon is showing its new telecare monitoring product range at the conference for the first time. The devices can be used to send data regularly for trend analysis and presentation to carers and relatives via a web page. The devices, such as one that counts the number of times a fridge door is opened, can also show the results to professionals while in the client’s home, thus minimising gateway and call centre expenditure.

Eldercare: Stealing the show with its stand, independent telecare monitoring service Eldercare has created a room which has several thousand pounds’ worth of telecare kit embedded. But it is not easy to spot. So they have come up with a ‘spot the telecare’ competition. It’s a great, fresh approach that makes a serious point.

 

Updated 23:30

Honeywell HomMed: Launching a couple of things at the show – a new version of the monitor, the key feature of which is messaging from the monitoring clinician. The back-end Lifescan software has also had a substantial update, with better customised reporting. The other ‘launch’ is that Honeywell HomMed in the UK is no longer being run out of the US, but has a UK base in Leicestershire, indicating a degree of confidence in its prospects here.

Questmark: A first time exhibitor at the TSA conference, videoconferencing specialists Questmark has a customer base of  NHS organisations and are now looking to expand into the market for connecting health providers with patients at home. They were demo-ing high quality internet-based conferencing that is as simple to set up as a phone call.

Telehealth Solutions: In addition to the CardioPod, which has had the greatest amount of publicity lately, Telehealth Solutions has been taking a slightly sideways look at the market and is displaying its kit for doctors’ waiting rooms, where people can have a pre-appointment assessment, and it has another setup aimed at occupational health departments of large companies which will help them reduce sickness-related absence.

BT/Intel Digital Health: BT is showing its telecare/telehealth management software that, like Tunstall’s icp, makes it easier to track and manage the workflows associated with installations – except that it is manufacturer agnostic.

Solon Security: Solon is new to the exhibition, but it is an established security device wholesaler with many council and housing sector clients. New on the market (and not yet on their website see this web page) is a digital replacement for optical door viewers. On the outside of the door, where the ‘spy hole’ usually is, is a lens with the bell push and a PIR and when someone approaches, the digital camera-sized screen on the inside of the door clearly shows who it is. The clever twist is that stills or video is recorded automatically onto a memory card and can be used as evidence of who visited when, whether they are welcome callers or otherwise.

Red Alert: Kent-based telecare installation and maintenance service provider, here to reinforce relationships with existing customers and expecting to attract new ones.

Network Communications Systems (NCS): Door entry systems for housing providers and care homes, and a reseller of Tunstall call alarm systems.

buddi: the buddi company is doing its tracking thing even more slickly these days and its trial helping the Maudsley locate absconding people with mental health problems has been an even better success than previously reported. UK readers can look out for a ramping up of its publicity efforts after Christmas.

Alvolution: The product comparison site funded by the West Midlands Regional Development body. Previously mentioned in TA when launched, but interesting enough to have a closer look and an additional report when I’m back from the conference.

Centre for Housing and Support: Training provider to housing provider organisations.

Caretech: Swedish company Caretech AB, here reminding people of its CareIP digital care alarm system first shown here last year, but also showing off its new, small fall sensor.

Age UK: Here to show that it’s business as usual despite the organisational upheavals it has been through lately.

Pivotell: Have I grown, or have Pivotell’s medication dispensers shrunk in the past few years? I hope it is the latter and not that little white pill…Well, the main Pivotell news is that the company has become the UK distributor for the ‘Minifone’ phone. This is a wrist-worn DECT phone with a sensitive microphone and speakerphone facility. What this means is that an older person who is slow on their feet can answer their landline phone without rushing to answer it (as you do), and risking a fall. It also has a dialout emergency call function which can go to carers or to a monitoring centre. See this webpage

Bosch: Today I discovered the answer to something that had puzzled me for a while, which is why Bosch hasn’t taken a more aggressive sales position in the UK. It seems that, recognising that there are significant changes in the technology due to bite in the next couple of years they are taking a long view and concentrating on helping services that already have their kit to make more, and more effective, use of it. And the reason they can afford to take that position is that Bosch is 90% owned by the charitable Robert Bosch Foundation, and investing in long term good is in its genes. (Which is why Bosch whitegoods have built the reputation they have for user- and environmental-friendliness.) I suspect that such a strategy might just pay off well in the long term.

Just Checking: Has introduced here a more compact version of its kit – lighter for staff to take around, and less intrusive, but just as easy to install. It has also taken a step forward in extending to multi-user monitoring which is gaining particular interest in independent living facilities for people with learning disabilities owing to its ability to reduce the need for stay-over night staff which, in turn, is provoking further service redesign. (New website with more facilities coming next week, too.)

Jontek: The message from Jontek is that it is pleased to see that services are starting, at last, to catch up with the idea that monitoring by mobile phone is a sensible and low-cost option for some people and they will be pleased to talk to any service that wants to extend its offerings in that direction.

Novalarm: Novalarm, with its oddly named Umo monitoring system is the UK arm of Verklizan, which is big in this market in The Netherlands, Germany and other parts of Europe. It may be the novelty factor, but in the year since it first appeared at this conference Novalarm’s agnostic approach to sensor suppliers and flexible, cost-effective monitoring service arrangements has clearly won it a number of fans, including some big players. (Keep a look out on TA.)

Possum: Has just started to become the UK supplier for the Swedish NEAT telecare kit. As one might expect from a company that works with many severely disabled people, it has chosen to promote a system with many fail-safe features.

Philips: Still demo-ing its Motiva system and, like some of the other big companies, appears to be content to play for the long term, slowly extending its customer base and learning with them how best to introduce and implement telehealth monitoring while they develop new devices and systems behind the scenes.

Grosvenor Telecom: Long established independent telecare kit installation and maintenence company covering Wales, West Midlands and North West England.

Air Products: A first time exhibitor at this conference, and new to the telehealth field, Air Products main related business is the supply of gasses to patients at home. They have engineers and nurses and could work collaboratively with staff in the field, such as community matrons, because in many cases they are already in contact with them. A key feature is that the commissioner only pays for the service delivered – no capital outlay required.  

Tribal: Not a new name to many parts of the NHS where Tribal provides services in a number of fields, but it’s a newcomer on the telehealth scene. However, expect to see more about them in the future as they are partnering with Intel/GE to provide one of the main ‘missing ingedients’ in the latter new company’s offering – help and guidance to the system users, both end users and professionals.

‘Economist’ on mHealth Summit

The Economist summarizes the mHealth Summit in a brief but meaty article that summarizes the massive detail presented.  Gates:  beyond the pilots, technology has to be replicable and scale up. Anta (Inter-American Development Bank): ‘We know little about impact and nothing about business models’.  Business interest is stimulated by 1) cloud computing applications, 2) US adoption of EHRs, 3) developing countries’ mHealth ideas and business models (such as mobile banking), 4) substituting technology for medical labor (Healthpoint Services and P&G support).  M-powered:  the convergence of mobile telephony and health care is underway.

Telecare Services Association 2010 Monday 15 Nov

This report is brought to you with the support of the Telecare Services Association (accommodation) and Tynetec (travel)

12.00: The conference is just opening – check back in a couple of hours!

22:00 The aim of my reports is to give people who are unable to attend a flavor of the conference. Well, for context, with 800 people attending during the three days and over 40 companies exhibiting it is still big by UK standards. It is notable that the numbers are up despite these difficult financial times.

The opening afternoon’s plenary sessions sent a clear message that telecare call monitoring services should be looking towards telehealth monitoring as a future business opportunity. The TSA is looking to appoint someone to focus on it, and Trevor Single, TSA CEO, announced that they are aiming to produce a Telehealth Code of Practice in 2011.

Kevin McSorley from Fold Telecare in Northern Ireland gave an overview of developments during the past 15-years of the TSA and its preceding organisation. His conclusion was that 15 years is a long time for a quiet revolution…so now is the time to turn up the volume.

He was robust on the need for large scale deployments that are not driven by one-off funding, but by the strength of their business cases. People involved in telecare were, he said, reluctant revolutionaries, but he left the audience with the challenging questions: “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”

James Ferguson, professor of emergency medicine and clinical lead to the Scottish Centre for Telehealth (now part of NHS24) followed with wide-ranging examples of teleconferencing with patients in telemedicine, most of which have been covered in Telecare Aware. The main ‘takeaway’ was that in Scotland the aim is to have a national telehealth service that will focus on: people with strokes; COPD; paediatrics, and mental health. “The most difficult task” he said [speaking as a persuasive person who has experienced it], “is marketing to the organisation, not the patients.” He also added that in the future, healthcare professionals should start to feel nervous if first contact with a patient is not mediated by electronic triaging.

Chris Crockford opened the throttle on further telehealth thinking with a presentation that explained his interest in remote health monitoring as a pilot, a mountaineer and the ex-Business Development Director for McLaren F1 where the scale and complexity of real time remote sensor monitoring already exceeds anything envisaged for health purposes. He then developed the theme of the read-across to technology that people actually want to use and/or find intrusive.

He also provided the quote of the afternoon: “Age…appearing in a mirror near you soon”.

The fourth speaker was Keith Nurcombe, Head of Healthcare for O2, whose three new telehealth projects had publicity recently. (TA item) What was significant about his presentation was that the emphasis was not on the technology despite O2 being part of the Telefonica group which employs over 1,000 people across Europe who are concentrating on developing new technologies. His emphasis was, instead, on listening to the needs of the potential users (“because that’s how O2 got to be so big in the UK so quickly”) in order to make the technology into the enabler and not the driver of developments.

We learned an interesting snippet about O2’s three projects: the technology was apparently given to their NHS partners “before it was on the open market”, as a learning experience for the partners and for O2. He talked about the project in West Berkshire, where it was observed that people were staying in hospital after knee operations for days just so that they could be encouraged to do their exercises by a physiotherapist for about half an hour each day. Using technology to do the same checking and encouragement from home provides a much better outcome for everyone. [However, one can’t help but wonder whether, in the end, the need to sell services and products means that the ‘tell us what you need to do and we will work out how best to do it’ approach will turn out to be too vague to be marketable.]

Thanks to the playful and rather provocative style of the Conference Chair Roy Lilley, the afternoon was rounded off with a lively discussion between the panel and audience members, some of whom seemed slightly stunned by the emphasis on telehealth and several of whom noted that disquiet about the design of most currently available kit had been expressed by a number of speakers. Perhaps, at last, the spell of ‘it saves lives, therefore is must be good’ has been broken.

Tomorrow’s reports will concentrate on the exhibitors’ wares.

News from mHealth Summit: Wednesday

Check this space for updates and links. As this will be a short day ending at 3pm, most news will be summarized in the afternoon (ET).

Breaking news from mHealth Summit (Tuesday)

Running coverage of the mHealth Summit. Check this space for updates and links.

Tuesday

Insight on what’s next from Bill Gates: mHealth, mCommerce and robots. Excellent summary of the Bill Gates afternoon keynote (no live video feed). Tip of the hat to Alex Howard of Gov20.govfresh.

HIStalk for Day 2 (and last for him): the keynotes and supersession plus a small session that included Vitality GlowCaps, PhiloMetron’s PMTS sensor patch and UCLA’s Dr. Ozcan’s LUCAS microscope [TA 21 May]. A must read for a contrarian, witty POV. Hat tip to the (anonymous) author, whom we hope finally got something decent to eat. We will miss him tomorrow.

In other news:

  • Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) is providing $1 million in support for the mHealth Alliance’s Maternal mHealth Initiative. Release. Announced by the Alliance’s chairman Tom Wheeler during the morning keynote. [Unfortunately, the best part of a somewhat comical morning keynote by Ted Turner expounding on his notions of world peace policy, wandering over the plains like one of his buffalo, with Mr Wheeler politely trying to corral him back to the mHealth point and his support on the UN Foundation’s work on eradication of malaria, polio and measles. After the umpteenth blatant plug of CNN and Cartoon Network, I ‘turnered’ the audio off.–Ed. Donna]
  • Healthpoint Services Global, Inc. announced this morning a partnership with The Procter & Gamble Company aimed at advancing a scalable, self-sustaining model for delivery of water, healthcare, and other benefits to underserved rural communities in developing countries. Healthpoint is a for-profit active in India, provides in rural clinics safe drinking water, access to qualified doctors via telemedicine, advanced on-site diagnostics and an on-site licensed pharmacy. In addition they equip and deploy village health workers with mobile phones.  P&G’s FutureWorks will provide financial support, people and in-kind services.  PR Newswire release
  • MedApps and CardioNet are forming a strategic alliance ‘to advance their positions in the mobile wireless medical market’.  What they are doing together is not clear from the release except for this from CardioNet’s CEO Joseph Capper:  ‘We are looking to MedApps to help accelerate our entry into additional areas of monitoring, and to extend our platform utilizing MedApps’ CloudCare™ technology.’  Terms not disclosed. BusinessWire. Related news: CardioNet yesterday announced a definitive merger agreement with Biotel, to close by 31 Dec.  This had been postponed since last year.  BusinessWire
  • More Text4Baby news: a multi-million dollar commitment from Johnson & Johnson to the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) Coalition to expand the program both numerically and to add new features; Department of Defense and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) are evaluating the program for the underserved and military families.  PR Newswire.

Neil Versel’s roundup today on FierceMobileHealthcare themed as highlights from the ‘Lollapalooza’ (annual US rock festival) of mHealth. Inspiring but sober. Dr. Louis Hochheiser’s (Humana) hopes on learning patient behaviors via mHealth and as a means of changing behaviors.   Prof. David Gustavson (Univ. WI)  on shortening the long timelines of pharma clinical trials (average 5 years) and other health/science breakthroughs (17 years!).  At Fierce’s executive breakfast, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Medical Director Dr. Barry Straube on telehealth and HIT being ‘ripe for change’ and very important in the cultural change of bringing healthcare to the individual and away from ‘brick-and-mortar’.  Cell phones being used for maternal and child health and reducing mortality.  (Dr. Straube to retire 31 Jan 2011 after six years at CMS.  MassDevice)

Blog coverage of Day Two: Brannon Cullum in the Alliance for Youth Movements blog, Day Two highlights (including more on Mr Turner’s musings).  Do read down to Theresa Cullen of the Indian Health Service on how in health, our Native American citizens have attributes of both the developed and developing worlds, and Patricia Mechael’s ‘Top Ten Lessons for mHealth’.

Healthcare IT News hosted live blogging of Tuesday only. CoverIt Live replay (direct link to page):  keynotes by Ted Turner, the AM supersession and the Bill Gates luncheon, concluding with Aneesh Chopra’s hyperbolic pep talk.  They also picked up the tweetstream from #mHS10 after midday.

Breaking news from mHealth Summit (Monday)

Running coverage of the mHealth Summit.  Check this space for updates and links.

Monday

HIStalk conference summary.  Observant–and not above poking fun. Compared to others’ (HIMSS) focus on population health; heavy on the academics, NGOs, global health people–‘serious people getting serious education mostly working for noble causes underwritten by government money.’  See his points about 75% down on the mHealth business model or lack thereof; the general supposition is that mHealth will never be profitable.  Too extensive to excerpt here–they deserve extensive discussion.

  • Diversinet awarded a five-year contract to support expansion of the U.S. Army’s mCare telehealth-outreach program for members of the military recovering from mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other wounds.  This follows the one-year pilot that started with the now-defunct AllOne Mobile that transitioned to Diversinet, the developer of the MobiSecure Health platform.  Release.   Diversinet booth #202-12, in the Qualcomm pavilion.  [Flashback to findings presented at ATA:  TA 21 May]
  • West Wireless Health Institute announced its first engineering prototype, Sense4Baby, a non-invasive fetal and maternal monitor that is portable and uploads data to the internet.  It incorporates cardiotocography, standard technology for measuring fetal heart rate and uterine contractions, which is typically administered in a clinical setting for 20-30 minutes per visit and is used in high-risk pregnancies.  Demo at their booth #205.  Release.
  • mHealth Alliance to receive a two-year, $1 million donation from HP.  This funding will assist the Health UnBound (HUB) online community and the Maternal mHealthInitiative.  Release.
  • Text4Baby has passed 100,000 subscribers–101,962–announced by Dr. Todd Park, CTO of Health & Human Services, which has also created a Text4Health taskforce on how to apply lessons learned from Text4Baby to smoking cessation, obesity and childhood health issues.  Mobihealthnews.  Park also announced ‘detailed plans for the government to launch a website featuring health data harvested from across HHS – a wealth of easily accessible, standardized, structured, downloadable data on health care at the national, state, and county levels, as well as by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and income.’ mHealth Alliance release  

Blog coverage of Day One:  Alliance for Youth Movements blog (Brannon Cullum) 1st day highlights

Mobihealthnews on morning keynote speaker Dr. Francis Collins:  increasing number of grants for mobile health research, highlights of NIH-funded applications and devices, the difference between developed and developing markets.

mHealth Summit coverage

While Telecare Aware will not attending the mHealth Summit, here is how you can follow it as it happens.  

UPDATED 9 NOV (PM)

mHealth Summit website streaming video (and Twitterstream) here .  Alternate live feed is on mHealth Alliance website here.   Live only for keynotes and ‘supersessions’. 

mHealth Summit’s YouTube channel here.  Posted interviews:  Microsoft (Kristing Tolle), McKesson Foundation (Carrie Varoquiers), Qualcomm (Clint McClellan).

Twitter:  #mHS10 (this feed is also on the streaming page)

Also on the mHealth Alliance website: 

  • Press briefing podcast (courtesy of 3G Doctor) focuses mainly on mHealth in the developing world and policy issues such as extending healthcare via mobile to compensate for physician shortages.  A key announcement here is that Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi economist, Nobel Laureate and founder of the microcredit pioneer Grameen Bank, has been appointed to the mHealth Alliance board. (3G Doctor will also be there (booth #221) with a demo of their 3G Mobile Video consultations.)
  • Interview with the head of Sproxil, Dr. Ashifi Gogo, on their Mobile Product Authentication system being tested in Nigeria to fight drug counterfeiting. [TA 5 Nov]

Telecare Aware is a media partner of the mHealth Summit.

Seminar report: Telehealth, telecare and new technologies in UK healthcare

When we gave some free publicity to the Telehealth, telecare and new technologies in UK healthcare seminar organised by the Westminster Health Forum (supported by Bosch, but costing £190 to attend) I noted that “the most relevant of the web links appear to be broken”. It seems that this standard of organisation continued into the event itself. Despite the gift of a press pass, I’m sorry to say that the reporter who went on behalf of Telecare Aware came away frustrated by the event. Here are some comments for the organisers or anyone else intending to run such an event:

  • 15 speakers in 4 hours (5 mins speaking, 5 mins questions) turns into a ‘death-by-PowerPoint-fest’ with presenters racing through their slides
  • targeting publicity to avoid a mis-match between the speakers and the audience would not go amiss. In this case many in the audience knew as much as the speakers
  • a 20 minute break (squeezed down to 15) is not long enough and small things – like not providing biscuits with the coffee (tough on people who skip breakfast to arrive in time for the start) – matter
  • a post-event networking opportunity should be fully publicised in advance so that people do not plan to run off straight after the event

In sum, it was a manic morning where the few speakers with something new to say did not get long enough to expand on it.

Readers can download our reporter’s notes on the presentations (PDF 4 pages) here. These unofficial notes come with a ‘health warning’. He said “Trying to listen, understand, type and read what was on the screen was not easy!”