Wearables: it’s a journey, but is it really necessary?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/is-your-journey-neccessary_.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Increasingly, not in the opinion of many. We’ve covered earlier [TTA 21 Dec, 6 Feb] the wearables ‘bust’ and consumer disenchantment affecting fitness-oriented wearables. While projections are still $19 bn by 2018 (Juniper Research), Jawbone is nearly out of business with one last stab at the clinical segment, with Fitbit missing its 2016 earnings targets–and planning to target the same segment. So this Washington Post article on a glam presentation at SXSW of a Google/Levi’s smart jeans jacket for those who bicycle to work (‘bike’ and ‘bikers’ connote Leather ‘n’ Harleys). It will enable wearers to take phone calls, get directions and check the time by tapping and swiping their sleeves, with audio information delivered via headphone. As with every wearable blouse, muumuu, and toque she’s seen, this Editor’s skepticism is fueled by the fact that the cyclist depicted has to raise at least one hand to tap/swipe said sleeves and to wear headphones. He is also sans helmet on a street, not even a bike path or country lane. All are safety Bad Doo-Bees. Yes, the jacket is washable as the two-day power source is removable. But while it’s supposed to hit the market by Fall, the cost estimate is missing. A significant ‘who needs it?’ factor.

Remember the Quantified Selfer’s fascination with sleep tracking and all those sleep-specific devices that went away, taking their investors’ millions with them? Fitbit and many smartwatches work with apps to give the wearer feedback on their sleep hygiene, but the devices and apps themselves can deliver faulty information. This is according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine called “Orthosomnia: Are Some Patients Taking the Quantified Self Too Far?” (abstract) by Kelly Glazer Baron, MD with researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. “The patients’ inferred correlation between sleep tracker data and daytime fatigue may become a perfectionistic quest for the ideal sleep in order to optimize daytime function. To the patients, sleep tracker data often feels more consistent with their experience of sleep than validated techniques, such as polysomnography or actigraphy.” (more…)

Robot-assisted ‘smart homes’ and AI: the boundary between supportive and intrusive?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Robot-Belgique-1.png” thumb_width=”200″ /]Something that has been bothersome to Deep Thinkers (and Not Such Deep Thinkers like this Editor) is the almost-forced loss of control inherent in discussion of AI-powered technology. There is a elitist Wagging of Fingers that generally accompanies the Inevitable Questions and Qualms.

  • If you don’t think 100 percent self-driving cars are an Unalloyed Wonder, like Elon Musk and Google tells you, you’re a Luddite
  • If you have concerns about nanny tech or smart homes which can spy on you, you’re paranoid
  • If you are concerned that robots will take the ‘social’ out of ‘social care’, likely replace human carers for people, or lose your neighbor their job, you are not with the program

I have likely led with the reason why: loss of control. Control does not motivate just Control Freaks. Think about the decisions you like versus the ones you don’t. Think about how helpless you felt as a child or teenager when big decisions were made without any of your input. It goes that deep.

In the smart home, robotic/AI world then, who has the control? Someone unknown, faceless, well meaning but with their own rationale? (Yes, those metrics–quality, cost, savings) Recall ‘Uninvited Guests’, the video which demonstrated that Dad Ain’t Gonna Take Nannying and is good at sabotage.

Let’s stop and consider: what are we doing? Where are we going? What fills the need for assistance and care, yet retains that person’s human autonomy and that old term…dignity? Maybe they might even like it? For your consideration:

How a robot could be grandma’s new carer (plastic dogs to the contrary in The Guardian)

AI Is Not out to Get Us (Scientific American)

Hat tip on both to reader Malcolm Fisk, Senior Research Fellow (CCSR) at De Montfort University via LinkedIn

Google’s Verily rolls along. Bumpily? (updated)

Several articles of late have reported on the Google Alphabet life sciences company Verily. By fall last year, they had developed partnerships with Novartis-Alcon on development of a smart contact lens (for measuring glucose), plus Dexcom, Abbvie and Biogen. STAT, a health/medicine news website owned by Boston Globe Media which is still in beta, has a well-researched article that details, seemingly with a lot of inside scoop, its current turmoil. 12 top engineering and science executives have taken a powder. Some of the execs date back to the Google X days; most have fled back to Mother Google, others to Amazon or to life sciences competitors. STAT: “No similar brain drain has occurred at Calico, another ambitious Google spinoff, which is focused on increasing the human lifespan.” The reasons are the apparently abrasive CEO Andrew Conrad, depicted as ambitious, fickle and moody–and the constant shifting of support from approved projects to short-term initiatives ‘that show little promise’. Google’s bold bid to transform medicine hits turbulence.

Update: STAT published today information on a possible conflict of interest in Verily awarding a short-term research contract to a luxury health clinic, California Health & Longevity Institute, where Dr Conrad holds a majority ownership. According to the publication, it has no documented experience with this kind of work. The clinic will gather, in a 200-person ‘feasibility study’ for the larger Baseline study, genetic, molecular, clinical, and other data. According to Dr Conrad, it was done “Because I think it’s cool. Because it’s super efficient to have everything in one spot.” What may not be cool to the participants is that Baseline is already planning to sell the data to pharmaceutical companies–with patient consent, of course, in a document not yet public. Google’s biotech venture hit by ethical concerns

‘Gear Blink’? Samsung patents an embedded camera in a contact lens (S. Korea)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/samsung-smart-contact-lens-1.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]A Samsung news tracking website, SamMobile, has tracked down publication of a Samsung patent filing for a smart contact lens. This concept would have a camera with a display that would project directly into the eye, a tiny antenna that transmits images to the smartphone, and motion sensors that trigger by movement and blinking. This is different than the Google/Alcon lens in their new Verily Life Sciences division (TTA 17 July 14 and 1 Sept 15, pictured in the Mashable article) which is for measuring blood glucose. Samsung apparently filed the patent in 2014, and filed the ‘Gear Blink’ name for a trade mark in the US and South Korea. No clue on how comfortable a lens with a camera, antenna and display would be on a normal eye. Hat tip to former TTA Ireland Editor Toni Bunting.

Three of the best – digital health events at the Royal Society of Medicine for 2016

The Royal Society of Medicine has two unbeatable benefits to offer conference attendees: virtually every world expert is keen to present there and, because it is a medical education charity, charges are heavily subsidised. As a result you get the most bang for your buck of any independent digital health event, anywhere!

And just now the offer is even more attractive as if you book for all three in the next 14 days (ie by 12th February) the RSM will give you a 10% discount on all three!

On February 25th, the RSM is holding their first 2016 conference: Recent developments in digital health. This is the fourth time they have run this popular event which aims to update attendees about particularly important new digital heath advances. For me the highlight will be Chris Elliott of Leman Micro who plans to demonstrate working smartphones that can measure all the key vital signs apart from weight without any peripheral – that includes systolic & diastolic blood pressure, as well as one-lead ECG, pulse, respiration rate and temperature. When these devices are widely available, they will dramatically affect health care delivery worldwide – particularly self-care – dramatically. See it first at the RSM!

I’d also highlight speakers such as Beverley Bryant, Director of Digital Technology NHS England, Mustafa Suleyman, Head of Applied Artificial Intelligence at Google DeepMind (who’ll hopefully tell us a bit about introducing deep learning in to Babylon), Prof Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation, NHS England and Dr Ameet Bakhai, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. It’s going to be a brilliant day!

Book here.

On April 7th the RSM is holding Medical apps: mainstreaming innovation, also in its fourth year. Last year the election caused last minute cancellations by both NICE & the MHRA, who are making up for that with two high-level presentations. Among a panoply of other excellent speakers, I’m personally looking forward especially to (more…)

RSM hosts digital health event 25 February

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/RSM.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Recent developments in digital health 2016
Thursday 25 February 2016
Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE

Presented by the Royal Society of Medicine’s Telemedicine and eHealth Section (presided by our Editor Charles), this full day conference is open to the public and provides a global perspective from leaders within digital health. Keynoters are Mustafa Suleyman from Google’s Artificial Intelligence branch, DeepMind, and Dr Euan Ashley from Stanford University in California who leads Apple’s MyHeartCounts. Rates are reasonable: £50-115 for RSM members and £60-175 for non-members, plus 6 CPD credits. More information and registration on the RSM website here and download the flyer here.

Upcoming RSM Telemedicine events into early June:
Medical apps: Mainstreaming innovation–Thursday 7 April 2016

The future of medicine – the role of doctors in 2025–Thursday 19 May 2016

Big data 2016–Thursday 2 June 2016

Is digital health going to add to Digital Big Brother Watching You?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Doctor-Big-Brother.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]“They’re watching me on my phone. They’re watching me on Facebook. They’re even watching me when I want to hide. Machines are a form of intelligence, and they’re being built into everything.”–Dr Zeynep Tufekci

The world of digital health is largely based on tracking–via smartphones, wearables, watches–and analytics taking and modeling All That Data we generate. Are we in compliance with our meds? Are we exercising enough? How’s our A1c trending? Drinking our water? All this monitoring–online and offline–is increasingly of concern to Deep Thinkers like Dr Tufekci, a reformed computer programmer, now University of North Carolina assistant professor and self-proclaimed “techno-sociologist.” At IdeaFestival 2015, she took particular aim at Facebook (surprisingly, not at Google) for knowing a tremendous amount about us by our behavior, of course using it to anticipate and sell us on what we might want. The ethics of machine learning are still hazy and machines are prone to error, different than human error, and we haven’t accounted for machine error in our systems yet. Like that big health data that mistakes a daughter for her mother and drops critical health information from a patient’s EHR [TTA 29 Sep]. A thought-provoker to kick off your week. TechRepublic 

Related: The Gimlet Eye took a squint at Big Brother Gathering and Monetizing Your Big Blinking Data–data mining, privacy and employer wellness programs–back in 2013, which means the Eye and Dr Tufekci should get together for coffee, smartphones off of course. While Glass is gone, the revolt against relentless monitoring is well-dramatized in the well-watched video, ‘Uninvited Guests’. And we can get equally scared about AI–artificial intelligence–like Steve Wozniak. 

Accessibility arriving at the Top Table (guest blog)

Chris Lewis, a world-renowned telecoms expert and regular presenter on disability issues has kindly offered to share some thoughts with readers prior to his presentation at the Royal Society of Medicine event on the Medical Benefits of Wearables on 23rd November. This is the first of two he has written specially for TTA.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona accessibility I took to one of the main stages for the first time. IBM, Microsoft, Google and the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) joined me to present perspectives on how accessibility is going mainstream.

I introduced the session with some of the key findings from the second Telefonica accessibility report “Digitising the Billion Disabled: Accessibility Gets Personal“. In summary, the billion disabled people represent a major spending group, combining earnings of some $2.3 Trillion and state support of $1.3 Trillion. Disabled people on average earn only 60% of their able-bodied peers and, of course, many disabled people don’t get the opportunity to work at all. 4% of children and 10% of the working population are disabled, but perhaps most striking, over three quarters of the elderly. Combine this dynamic with Douglas Adams’s theory of adopting technology getting harder as we get older and you can see the ticking time bomb of disability and age. (more…)

Google testing telemedicine program via Helpouts

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/google-doctor-video-chat1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]If Sergey and Larry don’t get your data one way…they will another. Google has quietly devised another use for Helpouts, its languishing live video help service. In given (but not disclosed) markets, you may be searching for information on a medical condition, and get the option to connect to a live doctor for a virtual visit. It was enough under the radar that it was stumbled upon; a developer searched via Google for ‘knee pain’ and found this (left), posted it to Reddit and it was later confirmed by Engadget. The cost is free (for now). According to iHealthBeat, via Modern Healthcare (subscription required), Scripps Health and One Medical Group are the reported participants. The Washington Post adds that not every medical-related query (more…)

Facebooking health: good for communities, not for privacy?

In a Reuters exclusive, Facebook is reportedly considering creating online communities which will support those with various medical conditions, as well as ‘preventative care’ applications for those minding their healthy lifestyle. According to Reuters’ sources, Facebook representatives have been meeting with medical industry experts and entrepreneurs. They are also starting a research and development unit to test new health apps. It is not a far reach to assume that Facebook, which is always seeking to maximize its profitability dependent on digital ad revenues (second only to Google), yet finding its younger audience on the decline, is attempting to grapple with the concerns of its older-skewing audience–and also seeking a way to monetize another slice of data. Yet the 55+ audience is wary of Facebook given (more…)

Forced to wear a fitness tracker for insurance? (US)

For those covered by corporate health policies, the day is not far away where employee health insurance programs will require wearing a fitness tracker and meeting certain metrics, such as walking a million steps or sleep quality. Already some programs have the employee log food, exercise, blood glucose, heart rate and other vital signs to qualify for a discount. The trajectory is much like BYOD–once unheard of, now it is expected to be the norm in 50 percent of US companies by 2017, with a concomitant loss of personal security and privacy. CVS Caremark and other companies have already made the stick, not the carrot, the norm of employee wellness programs [TTA 12 April 2013]. Writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes asks: “How much access do we want our employers to have to our medical data? How much access to our daily activities do we want our employers and insurers having?” And what about spoofing those Fitbits and Jawbones? His ZDNet article notes the interest that Apple (plus Samsung and Google, despite Sergey’s and Larry’s vapors–Ed.) has in health, then takes it out a few more yards with Wearables and health insurance: A health bar over everyone’s head (and do check out the comments.)

All that Quantified Self data? Drowning doctors don’t want to see it.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/reduce-documentation1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Our long-time readers will remember Questions # 3, 4 and 5 of The Five Big Questions (FBQ*). They have not lost their salience as doctors are rejecting the not-terribly-accurate ‘telehealth’ data [TTA 10 May] generated by popular fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Misfit Shine and Jawbone. We do note that Apple’s Health/HealthKit has trotted out alliances with Mayo Clinic and Epic Systems (EHR) on apps and integrating data into an PHR [TTA 3 June], as well as Samsung’s SAMI [2 June] funding a University of California (UCSF) research center and (of course) Google. But this article confirms (more…)

Tons of app health data, bound for…third parties?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/obey_1984.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] The law of unintended consequences also applies to Quantified Selfers. Health apps seem to be reaching beyond the QS early adopters and becoming a commonplace, whether on your wrist or built into your smartphone. Apple, Google, IBM and Samsung are all in.The DH3 set (Digital Health Hypester Horde) could not be more pleased. But where is that data going? According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it’s ending up where your online data goes–profitably sold by developers large and small to your friendly data broker and onward to marketers. You may think it’s private, but it isn’t. There is the famous case of an Target (store) app used to determine whether female customers were pregnant (purchases such as pregnancy tests) and then market related and baby products to them. Commissioner Julie Brill doesn’t like the possibility that health data could be part of the Spooky Monster Mash that is Big Data. “We don’t know where that information ultimately goes,” Brill told a recent Association for Competitive Technology panel. “It makes consumers uncomfortable.” (Ahem!) From the consumer protection standpoint, the FTC would like to do something about it, and they happen to be very good at that type of regulation. Compliance will not only be an added cost of doing business, it will cut into that ol’ business plan. And you thought that the only problem around apps and the Feds was gauging risk to users. Do you have that creepy ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ feeling?  Health IT Outcomes, FierceMobileHealthcare, VentureBeat.

Google, Novartis team on ‘smart contact lens’ for diabetics

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/116-fam_1a.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Despite Sergey and Larry’s vapors over healthcare [TTA 10 July], Google is joining with the Alcon eyewear/eyecare division of Novartis to further develop the smart contact lens. With a licensing deal between them, the initial Google X-Novartis project is the smart contact lens that contains a low power microchip and a hair-thin electronic circuit. It would initially measure blood glucose for diabetics, but also in Novartis’ president’s words, would meet additional “unmet medical needs” within the next five years. Our profile of the lens exactly six months ago [TTA 17 July] has additional detail, including the practicality (and injury potential) of contact lenses for diabetics, especially thicker ones with ‘circuitry’. (Also see the comment below the article.) Another area (and a much-needed, thus profitable one) is age-related farsightedness and creating an ‘autofocusing’ lens much like a zoom lens. Certainly a partner like Alcon will help work through the questions and also steer the X-Marks-The-Spot lens through the usual FDA review that marks the muddy spot before the rainbow. Google Smart Contact Lens Focuses On Healthcare Billions (Forbes)

Eye feels the pain of Google’s Brin and Page

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] Oh, the discomfort that Sergey and Larry must be feeling being grilled interviewed by “billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla” (grudgingly respected in TTA 30 May) at one of his eponymous Summits. Here they are with Google Glass in all sorts of adaptations from Parkinson’s to gait improvement to surgery [see multiple TTA articles here], a ‘moonshot on aging and longevity’ dubbed Calico [TTA 19 Sept 13] and even a contact lens to measure blood glucose in tears [TTA 17 Jan]. All good stuff with Big Change potential. Instead they whinge on about how the health field is so regulated, and all the cool stuff you could do with the data but for that privacy thingy (those darn EU, UK regulations and in US, HIPAA). Page to Khosla: “I do worry that we regulate ourselves out of some really great possibilities that are certainly on the data-mining end.” Brin to Khosla: “Generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It’s just a painful business to be in. It’s just not necessarily how I want to spend my time.” Gee. Whiz. What is apparent here is a lack of personal respect for us ‘little folks’ privacy and our everyday, humdrum lives.

Advice straight from The Gimlet Eye: My dear boys, you’ll just have to get people’s data with that old-fashioned thing, permission. (And you’d be surprised that many would be happy to give it to you.) Or if it’s all too painful, Sergey can play with his superyacht, latest girlfriend and follow his estranged wife Anne Wojcicki’s 23andme‘s ongoing dealings with the FDA. At least she’s in the arena. Google leaders think health is ‘a painful business to be in’ (SFGate) Mobihealthnews covers their true confessions, with an interesting veer off in the final third of the article to Mr Khosla’s view of Ginger.io’s surprising pilot with Kaiser and then to WellDoc’s Bluestar diabetes therapy app–the only one that is 510(k)Class II and registered as a pharmaceutical product [TTA 10 Jan].  Also interesting re the Googlers’ mindset is a SFGate blog piece on Larry Page’s attitudes towards leisure and work in a Keynes-redux ‘vision of the future‘. < work + > people may= >leisure, but certainly<<<$£€¥ for even the well-educated and managerial!

mHealth: too much to blog, too little time

As always the question is where to start? Perhaps with the FT headline ‘Powerhouse’ UK leads Europe app development, says research, a piece by Daniel Thomas on some research sponsored by Google & Tech City UK. A full version of the report is here. Key findings are that the UK:

  • Has become the largest tech hub in Europe for app development;
  • Received a third of revenues generated from mobile software in Europe last year;
  • Is the base for almost a fifth of European developers of smartphone applications;
  • is believed to be the world’s second most important tech hub after the US;
  • Has about 8,000 companies involved in app development, employing close to 400,000 people.

Apparently almost half of app developers and designers in the UK generate most of their income from apps, although a fifth generate no income from apps at all but rather see them as a hobby.

Staying with the FT, Prof Mike Short has kindly also pointed this editor to another article entitled (more…)