The smartphone as great healthcare leveler: Eric Topol

Eric Topol MD, cardiologist, Chief Medical Advisor for the rebooted (but so far quiet) AT&T ForHealth and Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health, is no stranger to the ‘big statement’ and is well known as an advocate for all things mHealthy. For at least two years, he has been promoting the smartphone’s ‘equalizer’ capabilities in health not only via apps and ‘add ons’ but also as a storehouse or central repository for individual health information, including genetic screening, which can be transmitted onward to a practitioner, lab or PHR. Dr Topol’s ‘big statements’ were fully on display in his keynote at HealthLeaders’ CFO Exchange conference. A promoter of the ‘creative destruction of medicine’ (the title of his most recent book, WSJ article), he believes that everything from the office visit (virtualized) (more…)

A random walk through ATA 2014

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ATA_Button_color_filled.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] Editor Donna attended ATA 2014 on Monday only. This article is a set of impressions (mainly) of the exhibit floor and visits to a number of select booths.

Donna, it’s Baltimore. You’re not in NYC or Las Vegas.

Arriving after a long trip to a city you used to visit regularly, but haven’t been to in over 30 years, is disorienting, especially when you are heading on a fair spring day to a section that didn’t exist then. The Inner Harbor and Camden Yards resemble Atlanta, not necessarily a bad thing since the parts of ‘Charm City’ they replaced were largely past ‘gentrification’. The Baltimore Convention Center was unexpectedly huge, the distance to registration made longer by a taxi driver who dropped me off at another entrance two blocks away. Any resolve I had to drop in on the many educational sessions was dissuaded by the sheer length of the halls. The thick Exhibit Guide confirmed that the show floor filled two city blocks–a challenge to cover and spend time with my appointments before the close of the day.

Was it a hardware show, a software show or somewhere in between?

You could make a case for both views. One observer I walked with at the start compared it to a radiology trade show–all hardware. Yet a closer look indicated that the hardware–the PCs, tablets and smartphones–was there to show software that integrated: systems to track patients, distribute information, workflows, store and forward images and reports. It was about enabling secure consults, platforms, interoperability, two-way data flows, mitigating readmissions and putting telehealth, telemedicine and education into provider and patient hands. It was also about making the business case. It was most definitely NOT about gadgets and single purpose peripherals, though the latter were still quite visible. The old picture of telehealth closed systems, of proprietary monitoring devices feeding data onto a proprietary PC platform where it’s seen by a care manager, is so 2011.

Noteworthy: the growth in specialized services like telepsychiatry, teleneurology, teleradiology and teledermatology. Contrast: despite VGo‘s ubiquitous telepresence robots accosting you on the floor, a tablet-faced robot following a nurse down the hospital hall and ‘consulting’ with patients will likely still be a rarity.

Patient engagement on top

Traditional telehealth device makers are connecting their devices and opening up their reporting platforms to be accessible to patients. But there are bumps along the way in this transition. A&D Medical has gone ‘Wellness Connected’ with a mobile app (more…)

Samsung’s mHealthy S5, Gear–and potential

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/gear-2-neo-620×554.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Is there an untapped mHealth business model here?

Samsung’s dual announcements in New York and at Barcelona’s annual GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) of the Galaxy S5 smartphone and the latest iterations of their smartwatch (left), the Gear 2/Neo, confirm what this Editor believes will be a major 2014 trend: the matter-of-fact integration of vital signs sensors into easy-to-adopt form factors. Reported by ZDNet:

  • Galaxy S5:It’s so small and unnoticeable, you would be forgiven for not giving it a second thought. Next to the flash is a heart-rate sensor that can — prepare yourself for a hearty dose of real-life sci-fi — see the blood pumping through your finger. It works when you gently push your finger over the flash on the rear of the handset. This ties in with the smartphone’s pre-installed health apps, such as the S Health, which includes a fitness tracker and pedometer.” The phone also connects to the Gear 2 software. (This is in addition to the fingerprint scanner.) Article
  • Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo specification: Bluetooth 4 low energy, Infrared, heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope  Article

Easy to use tools for health–and fall detection–baked into a mainstream phone and a fairly attractive smartwatch. There’s plenty of health and safety functionality for all ages built into both.  What’s the missing link? Here’s a thought. A manufacturer/wireless JV or subsidiary which targets the health monitoring potential of these devices to create a separate revenue stream. The ‘risk’ could be spread to resellers allowed to creatively adapt devices like the Gear for older adults in independent and assisted living environments, or for autistic/at-risk children. This is not an inconsistently supported AT&T ForHealth [TTA 5 Feb] or a failed Lifecomm [TTA 14 Oct 13], but an entirely different business model. Reader thoughts?  

More on MWC: Washington Post

Update 28 February: The Galaxy S5’s heart rate sensor may make it a medical device in the eyes of South Korea’s health agency, forcing the phone to be regulated and reviewed in the ROK before its 11 April worldwide release. FierceMedicalDevices. Hat tip to @DrDave01 (Dr. David Albert of AliveCor) and David Doherty of @mhealthinsight via Twitter.

Dr. Topol in the AT&T house: a reboot of ForHealth?

HIMSS14 will tell. The big news that kicked off this snow-bound week in large parts of the US was Dr. Eric Topol joining Dallas, Texas-based AT&T ForHealth as Chief Medical Advisor. Well-known for his personality and evangelism of all things mHealthy, certainly Dr. Topol lends a certain star power to Big Blue’s efforts in this area–a shine that went completely dark in 2013 after a promising start in 2011 and strong partnering moves in 2012 (Alere and WellDoc diabetes management TTA 10 Aug 12VRI monitoring in May). The quietude of 2013 deserves a closer look. Dr. Geeta Nayyar joined with fanfare in September 2011 as Chief Medical Information Officer and departed exactly two years later to join engagement company PatientPoint with the same title. ForHealth made no waves at International CES save for being an example in the controversial ‘sponsored data’ plan announcement (GeekWire). Even finding ForHealth on the AT&T website is not easy. It is buried under ‘Business>>Enterprise Business‘ and then in a dogpile of footer links as ‘Healthcare Solutions‘–not ForHealth. In marketing, this is a state usually termed ‘dead in the water.’ The fact that Dr. Topol is remaining as Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health also indicates that he is no direct replacement for Dr. Nayyar, despite being cited by AT&T SVP Chris Hill as a “change agent” who will help “drive our competitive strategy”. We’ll see if HIMSS14 on 23-27 February where AT&T will be exhibiting and their subsequent activity marks a genuine reboot for ForHealth, putting Dr. Topol’s impressive abilities to work beyond a twinkle. AT&T press release, MedCityNews article

Around the mHealth Summit in 70 pictures

Courtesy of mHealth Insight/3G Doctor, David Doherty takes the LIFE magazine approach and delightfully, you feel like you are there. He hosted a get-together at his booth on Monday (many pics), stops by AliveCor, Alere Connect (hello Kent Dicks), the Venture+ Forum (see Lois Drapin’s earlier article; hello Richard Scarfo, director of the Summit and Pat Salber of HealthTechHatch crowdfunder and the DoctorWeighsIn), VNA Health Group, investor in many things Esther Dyson, Google Glass Explorers, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the ‘panini generation’ courtesy of AT&T ForHealth. But you’ll have to page all the way down to see the last shot of an ‘wild, wooly and yo-ho-ho’ AliveCor demo in My thoughts on the 2013 mHealth Summit as it happens…