Have we arrived at another, multi-functioning generation of telecare?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Onkol.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] Profiled in Reuters in an article on home monitoring for older adults is a desktop-sized, sleekly telecare unit called OnKöl (that’s On Call for those who wonder what an umlaut is doing there) for the home market. Debuting back in January at International CES, it monitors activity in an area of the home (that green eye looks like a vintage radio DuMont Magic Eye tuner) and is extended through home monitoring sensors such as bed, door and window. Like Lively, it also has an in-home wrist/pendant emergency alert device and is self-installed. But what’s new about it is its telehealth side–connecting via Bluetooth and USB cable to typical medical monitors such as weight scales, blood glucose and pressure, as well as a med reminder setup. These seem to be brand-agnostic. A unique safety feature is a caller ID recorder for tracking calls. Activity and health information are stored, with alerts going to designated family members. According to the article, the founder designed it for monitoring his mother recovering from colon cancer. The Milwaukee-based company is financed through Series A (Capital Midwest Fund, $2.8 million), moving towards Series B, and OnKöl will be in market early next year. What is not apparent (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…)

Verizon adds Telcare, Genesis to monitoring platform

Verizon received a second FDA clearance for its health management software platform, and added blood glucose management monitors Telcare and Genesis Health as part of it. The first clearance, according to Mobihealthnews, covered five telehealth devices from Ideal Life. Verizon’s intentions are to ‘white label’ market the system to providers who plan to use personally gathered telehealth as part of a patient management program in integrated delivery networks (IDNs), where it is currently in trial–plus health plans and self-insured employers. Verizon’s platform also has ‘gamified’ educational and motivational functions, including its own virtual currency for rewards. If this is proven in the US, will this be marketable in the UK and EU–and will Verizon go it alone or seek partners? Hat tip again on the story to reader Mike Short via Editor Charles.  

Health tech enthusiasm ≠ implementation and scale

Laurie Orlov’s impressions of this year’s Connected Health Symposium, hosted as usual by Partners HealthCare in Boston, presents the conundrum that telehealth and health tech faces beyond the consumer segment, booming fitness trackers and the apps bought one day, discarded the next. How do you get telehealth beyond the pilot to a permanent program in a health system? Do these systems really want to move healthcare to the home? According to Ms. Orlov, there’s amazingly no change from last year on these questions. They are still testing, not broadly deploying (how do companies like Ideal Life and Care Innovations [ever-funded? really?] which aren’t near substantial adoption continue?); and health systems are moving care from brick-and-mortar to the home but slowly, still. Continuing too is the lack of focus on how technology can work best with older adults.  (more…)