Driverless cars will cut insurance costs – is there a parallel with mHealth?

This article in the Telegraph last week has stimulated Prof Mike Short to ask whether if driverless cars can eliminate bad driving and so reduce insurance costs, mHealth can do the same for those with either or both life assurance and health insurance.

There’s little doubt in the mHealth community that technology will cut costs, and already there are (at least a few) solid examples. The big question is, can the insurance world – both life assurers & health insurers – be convinced? We know in the UK for example that BUPA is working hard on mHealth solutions, and that Aviva has tied up with Babylon (who recently won the recent AXA ‘Most Innovative Provider’ award)…and doubtless there is much more too. Obviously the situation is much further ahead in countries such as the US where health insurance is the norm.

Mike suggests that we run an insurance led event to look at techniques of prevention as well as cure/care. This could have an interesting policy dimension if the health insurers were willing to think about new measurement policies and indicate where they wish to go with data driven policies – eHealth as an opener for new policies and forms of funding? As he says, apps/wearables/connectivity are just enablers to this wider story, for which the insurance systems and their objectives need to be understood too.

DHACA is happy to participate, broker or organise such an event – we’d really welcome view from readers though first – would you be interested in taking an active part in what might just change the face of health insurance in the UK, and promote mHealth at the same time?

More evidence of confusion among clinicians over medical apps (UK) + MAUDE

A paper just published in the Annals of Medicine & Surgery entitled A UK perspective on smartphone use amongst doctors within the surgical profession also sheds some interesting light on the use of mobile apps by surgeons.

Given the recent advice to members by the RCP against the use of apps that are medical devices though not CE certified, the following finding is of especial interest, as it is widely considered that many clinical calculators meet the EU legal definition of a medical device:

…when looking specifically at senior doctors, the most common type of app utilised was clinical calculators followed by reference guides/handbooks and then drug reference guides.

The paper also confirms findings by this editor and others that clinicians are confused by the wide range of apps available and lack guidance on the effectiveness & efficacy of individual apps.

The majority of participants did not have any relevant suggestions for app development, which may suggest that there is an uncertainty over the catalogue available. Given concerns voiced in both our study and the work of others questioning the reliability of available resources, a possible solution would be the creation of a UK based app directory to outline availability with verification of performance and validity. However given the complexity of this regulation, peer review specific to the UK may have to suffice.

A short & interesting read that very much supports the need for a reference source for clinician-facing apps, and an objective measure of the benefits they deliver: recommended.

Whilst writing, Prof Mike Short has also drawn my attention to a related, very short, article entitled To Be or not to Be a Medical Device: Is the Regulatory Framework a Safety Rope or a Fetter? which thankfully concludes that:

Certainly, adhering to the standards listed <in the article> massively increase administrative overhead in research and development, extend the “time to market” and causes increased costs. However, this is the price to pay for success to reach the goal: Impact on patient care. Therefore, the answer to the question in the title of this article is: Software can be a medical device and from this point of view, we have to accept administrative overheads – and the regulatory framework can be a useful guide-line.

Perhaps more interestingly though it includes reference to the FDA’s ‘Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) which records product problems (obviously in the US), including those for medical software. Wouldn’t it be great if the EU had such a database for medical apps?

A collation of recent items received – something for everyone

Thanks to Professor Mike Short, Mike Clark and Dr Nicholas Robinson, the following are items that have been drawn to the attention of this editor, plus a few he spotted himself:

We begin with a post from Dr Richard Windsor, aka Radio Free Mobile, a person whose opinions I greatly respect, arguing that Fitbit has chosen the perfect moment to float.

Next is an invitation to a Healthcare App – Peer to Peer Session at Swansea University on 20th May at The Institute of Life Science 2 – attendance is free, booking is here. Hours are stated  as 10.45 am – 12.00pm (ie noon).

Then we have a gentle reminder for the Royal Society of Medicine’s event on the 4th June entitled “Should patients manage their own care records?” As the RSM is a charity, our charges for a whole day of excellent speakers are a tiny fraction of what a commercial event would charge, and there’s no hustling.

After that we have the latest Morgan Stanley North American Insight, summarised as saying (more…)

What can the US learn from the UK’s approach to healthcare?

The Guardian article recently published an article entitled “What the NHS can learn from the US Obamacare system” which disappointingly spends almost all of its text talking about the challenges of implementing Obamacare, and just a few sentences espousing three very weak lessons, the first of which  is:

…Obamacare had a clear overarching goal: reduce the number of uninsured. Who can stand up and make such a clear case for the Health and Social Care Act 2012?

The rest are (go to DHACA website to read more)

mHealth vs Ebola – more

Following on from our previous item that included links on how mHealth is helping in the fight against the Ebola virus, and our subsequent item on a virus-killing robot, Prof Mike Short has kindly shared some  more links with a GSMA healthcare focus.

The first of these items explains how the GSMA, the ITU and the Internet Society are joining forces to fight against Ebola. The three organizations will bring together the global telecommunications and Internet communities, to leverage their extensive reach, capacity and respective memberships to increase the effectiveness of information and communications technologies (ICTs), especially mobile communications and the Internet, for better preparedness, early warning and response.

The sharing of mobile phone data is particularly important as (more…)

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…)

mHealth: a salmagundi of items

Overloaded with Horizon2020 proposal adjudication and conference management (including the first DHACA members’ day on 11th July), this editor has been unable to do much Telehealth & Telecare Aware blogging. However the interesting items have continued to attract my attention and Prof Mike short (especially), Alex Wyke and Nicholas Robinson have continued to add further to the pile (huge thanks to all). So much seems worth highlighting: where to start? Perhaps with the 18 factors to make telemedicine a success, enumerated by the EU-funded Momentum project. Telecare Aware readers will be unsurprised by all 18, which look pretty basic. However many will notice obvious absences, such as the need to adduce evidence of the success of the intervention. Gluttons for punishment will find much more (more…)

Telecare – time to lose the last “e”?

Many years ago when I co-founded eForum to promote what was then called “eGovernment”, it was common for smart speakers to begin their conference presentations by saying that it’d soon be plain “government”, which indeed it has been now for many years; around the world, government sector workers have embraced technology to offer huge improvements in quality of service to citizens at reduced cost. Sadly health services have proved far more resistant to the beneficial use of technology, so eHealth & mHealth seem likely to take rather longer to lose their prefixes, in spite of pleas from the VA. If any support for this view was needed, the telehealth news from the flat earth society of a recent survey of GPs (more…)