TTA’s week: PHI risky business, VA’s Cerner award challenged, Microsoft closes digital divide, more

Can population health and data sharing put PHI at risk? Microsoft uses TV to close the digital divide in rural health. VA’s EHR award challenged. Philips indexes Future Health. Tenders and Scottish Challenges. Apple gets sensored for health. And who put the bark in telemedicine?

Last chance to book Connected Health Summit 2017 in San Diego–save 20%. See below.

User consent, security questioned in Higi and Interpreta’s data mix partnership (Risky business with your PHI)
VA EHR award to Cerner contested by CliniComp (They’ve done it before–and won)
Tender Alert: Tameside and Nottingham (East Midlands) (Preliminary info)
Can unused “TV white spaces” close the rural and urban broadband–and telehealth–gap? (The digital divide bridged by Microsoft)
Telemedicine for all creatures great and small? Veterinarians debate. (Consent not same as with humans)
More creepy monitoring: USAA collecting health information from patient portals (But with consent–for now)
Apple’s patent on camera plus sensors for health measurements (Another Apple feint?)
Philips publishes second annual Future Health Index on access, integration and tech adoption (You will need a pot of coffee and several breaks to digest this)
Tender Alert: Scotland CAN DO Challenge, Bootle needs assistive tech (Scotland’s 8 part challenge–and we will skip the Bootle jokes)

Will the doctor’s office go the way of the retail store, even in NJ (the home of the mall)? Can we improve population health through telephone call centers? Will the UK get its mojo back in digital health innovation? Blockchain fund startups? Can the VA implement Cerner by 2019? And will ATA appoint a new CEO before then?

Beyond crowdfunding–startup funding through blockchain cryptocurrency, smart contracts (The Next Big Funding Thing?)
Commonwealth Fund case study on Spanish-speaking telemedicine services (MX, PH, US) (Population health south–and north–of the border)
Tender Alert: Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust for TECS (Looking for innovative telehealth)
VA’s Shulkin: Cerner rollout start by mid-2019? (The decision was a relief)
Innovate UK’s £35m Digital Health Technology Catalyst competition opens–apply now! (Another opportunity in UK healthcare)
Weekend Big Read: will telemedicine do to retail healthcare what Amazon did to retail? (Except there’s regulation…)
Tender Alerts: NHS Wales, Southend-on-Sea (More for innovative companies in UK)
Analyses of New Jersey’s new telemedicine regulations (Not quite parity, but a forward leap)
Some reflections on ATA and a future CEO–your ‘nominations’ wanted! (Name that CEO!)

Winners and losers…VA implements more telehealth, Israel gets its first aging services venture fund. Charterhouse loses equity in Tunstall, ATA’s Linkous leaves, Siemens delays the Healthineers and Theranos plays for time.

VA unveils several ‘anywhere’ new telehealth services for veterans (VA tech moves fast under Dr. Shulkin)
First aging services tech investment fund debuts in Israel (3rd Age tech)
Change at the top at ATA: CEO Jon Linkous departs after 24 years (Didn’t give notice either)
Charterhouse lost half its equity in Tunstall debt refinancing–Sunday Times report (updated) (Not unexpected)
Siemens plans IPO of Healthineers during 2018, possibly in US: reports (Expectations delayed)
The Theranos Story, ch. 44: Walgreens settles lawsuit, cash box empties further (The spiral to Flat Brokedom continues)


Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers analyzes the roles of connected health technologies and innovations in driving changes in consumer behaviors and business models. Now in its fourth year in beautiful San Diego, this event is focused on data-driven, human-centric patient experience and engagement. Keynoters include executives from Aetna, UnitedHealth, ShareCare and Geisinger. Readers save 20 percent! For more information, click on the advert or here.


It’s an IoT Black Hat hackfest, Facebook bots learn argot, AI is debated after a fashion by ‘giants’, and Tunstall gets a partner that opens doors.

It’s all hackable by Black Hats: pacemakers, Amazon Echo, trains, heart monitors, prison cells! (Increasingly easy pickings)
AI good, AI bad (part 2): the Facebook bot dialect scare (Not all that…)
AI good, AI bad. Perhaps a little of both? (Top six effects) 
Tunstall pairing with Inhealthcare digital health for NHS remote monitoring (A shot of digital high-octane for the Big T?)

Recent articles of continued interest….

CTE found in 99% of former, deceased NFL players’ brains: JAMA study (News in both health and sports sections)
Shouldn’t we be concentrating on digital therapeutics rather than ‘health apps’? (A different look at the future of digital health)
The King’s Fund 2017 Digital Health Congress: videos, presentations now posted (Catch up!)
Fitbit’s smartwatch on track; Intel exits the game (Were they ever in?)
Can Google Glass’ enterprise iteration solve the patient documentation crisis? (Hands off help for hands-on workers)
Toyota’s $14 million bet on Intuition Robotics’ social companion robot (JP/IL/US) (ElliQ’s growing up)
TSA appoints new chair (Paul Shead takes the helm)

Creepy data mining on medical conditions run wild: where’s the privacy? (Ethically dubious practices)
“Crazy”: StartUp Health’s 2nd Q digital health funding breaks record (Another round of champs and roses! Can it last?)

‘Record-shattering’ Q2 for digital health deals: Rock Health’s volte-face (Suddenly it’s wine and roses!)
The Nightingale-H2020 project for wireless acute care (UK/EU) (Major initiative, get on it before tender)


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: http://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, HIMSS, MedStartr, HealthIMPACT, and Parks Associates.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. See our advert information here. 


Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Subscribe here to receive this Alert as an email on Wednesdays with occasional Weekend Updates. It’s free–and we don’t lend out or sell our list–no spam here!

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief, donna.cusano@telecareaware.com, @deetelecare

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TTA’s week: pop health en español, ATA’s choice, VA’s Cerner, de-retailing healthcare, more

Will the doctor’s office go the way of the retail store, even in NJ? Can we improve population health through telephone call centers? Will the UK get its mojo back in digital health innovation? Can the VA implement Cerner by 2019? And will ATA appoint a new CEO before then?

Only two weeks to go to Connected Health Summit 2017 in San Diego–save 20%. See below.

Beyond crowdfunding–startup funding through blockchain cryptocurrency, smart contracts (The Next Big Funding Thing?)
Commonwealth Fund case study on Spanish-speaking telemedicine services (MX, PH, US) (Population health south–and north–of the border)
Tender Alert: Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust for TECS (Looking for innovative telehealth)
VA’s Shulkin: Cerner rollout start by mid-2019? (The decision was a relief)
Innovate UK’s £35m Digital Health Technology Catalyst competition opens–apply now! (Another opportunity in UK healthcare)
Weekend Big Read: will telemedicine do to retail healthcare what Amazon did to retail? (Except there’s regulation…)
Tender Alerts: NHS Wales, Southend-on-Sea (More for innovative companies in UK)
Analyses of New Jersey’s new telemedicine regulations (Not quite parity, but a forward leap)
Some reflections on ATA and a future CEO–your ‘nominations’ wanted! (Name that CEO!)

Winners and losers…VA implements more telehealth, Israel gets its first aging services venture fund. Charterhouse loses equity in Tunstall, ATA’s Linkous leaves, Siemens delays the Healthineers and Theranos plays for time.

VA unveils several ‘anywhere’ new telehealth services for veterans (VA tech moves fast under Dr. Shulkin)
First aging services tech investment fund debuts in Israel (3rd Age tech)
Change at the top at ATA: CEO Jon Linkous departs after 24 years (Didn’t give notice either)
Charterhouse lost half its equity in Tunstall debt refinancing–Sunday Times report (updated) (Not unexpected)
Siemens plans IPO of Healthineers during 2018, possibly in US: reports (Expectations delayed)
The Theranos Story, ch. 44: Walgreens settles lawsuit, cash box empties further (The spiral to Flat Brokedom continues)

It’s an IoT Black Hat hackfest, Facebook bots learn argot, AI is debated after a fashion by ‘giants’, and Tunstall gets a partner that opens doors.

It’s all hackable by Black Hats: pacemakers, Amazon Echo, trains, heart monitors, prison cells! (Increasingly easy pickings)
AI good, AI bad (part 2): the Facebook bot dialect scare (Not all that…)
AI good, AI bad. Perhaps a little of both? (Top six effects) 
Tunstall pairing with Inhealthcare digital health for NHS remote monitoring (A shot of digital high-octane for the Big T?)


Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers analyzes the roles of connected health technologies and innovations in driving changes in consumer behaviors and business models. Now in its fourth year in beautiful San Diego, this event is focused on data-driven, human-centric patient experience and engagement. Keynoters include executives from Aetna, UnitedHealth, ShareCare and Geisinger. Readers save 20 percent! For more information, click on the advert or here.


Confirming football CTE, thinking ‘digital therapeutics’. Glass reboots, Fitbit and social robotics back up, TSA changes guard. Mindful (or mind your?) drinking, and catch up with The King’s Fund.

CTE found in 99% of former, deceased NFL players’ brains: JAMA study (News in both health and sports sections)
Shouldn’t we be concentrating on digital therapeutics rather than ‘health apps’? (A different look at the future of digital health)
The King’s Fund 2017 Digital Health Congress: videos, presentations now posted (Catch up!)
Fitbit’s smartwatch on track; Intel exits the game (Were they ever in?)
Can Google Glass’ enterprise iteration solve the patient documentation crisis? (Hands off help for hands-on workers)
Toyota’s $14 million bet on Intuition Robotics’ social companion robot (JP/IL/US) (ElliQ’s growing up)
Come along to London’s first mindful drinking festival! (Hic!)
TSA appoints new chair (Paul Shead takes the helm)

Recent articles of continued interest….

Creepy data mining on medical conditions run wild: where’s the privacy? (Ethically dubious practices)
UDG Healthcare buys American, adds Vynamic, Cambridge BioMarketing for up to $67 million (Acquisition trend for healthcare consultancies and marketing)
“Crazy”: StartUp Health’s 2nd Q digital health funding breaks record (Another round of champs and roses! Can it last?)

‘Record-shattering’ Q2 for digital health deals: Rock Health’s volte-face (Suddenly it’s wine and roses!)
Conference & Tender Alert: Perth & Kinross TEC event, Flintshire (Wales) tender (UK) (TEC event Sept 26, tender Aug 4)
‘Let me die at home’. The human and financial cost of ending telehealth (Cornwall UK) (A familiar, no less wrenching story to those who’ve worked in telehealth–the books don’t balance)

The Nightingale-H2020 project for wireless acute care (UK/EU) (Major initiative, get on it before tender)


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: http://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, HIMSS, MedStartr, HealthIMPACT, and Parks Associates.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. See our advert information here. 


Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Subscribe here to receive this Alert as an email on Wednesdays with occasional Weekend Updates. It’s free–and we don’t lend out or sell our list–no spam here!

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief, donna.cusano@telecareaware.com, @deetelecare

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Charterhouse lost half its equity in Tunstall debt refinancing–Sunday Times report (updated)

click to enlargeBreaking News, even though it happened in March! See updates below. The Sunday Times (UK–sign up for limited access) broke news over the weekend that Charterhouse Capital Partners, the main investor in Tunstall Healthcare, along with other shareholders, have been forced to relinquish nearly half the equity in the company to senior lenders and management. According to their annual report on page 65, section 31**, this happened on 17 March after the close of the FY, but only now has come to light through the Sunday Times report.

The article is light on details, but our Readers who’ve followed Tunstall’s history since the Charterhouse purchase in 2008 for £530 million will not be surprised, only that this development took so long. The cold facts are that the company has been wrestling with a stunning debt burden that grew from £1.2bn in 2015 [TTA 15 Apr 16] to the Times report of £1.7bn at the end of last September, with £300m owed to lenders and £1.2bn to investors. Debt service drove their financials to a £391m pre-tax loss last year. 

The highlights of the deal as reported in the Sunday Times:

  • Senior lenders (not disclosed) received 24.9 percent of Tunstall’s shares. Management received 25 percent.
  • Charterhouse with other shareholders now have a razor-thin controlling balance of 50.1 percent. Prior to this, Charterhouse alone had 61 percent of Tunstall’s shares.
  • In return, the lenders agreed to relax covenants on their debt, termed a ‘covenant reset’.
  • Tunstall also spent £18.5m last year on an abortive attempt to sell itself for up to £700m. We noted reports in April 2016 that they rejected a £300 million (US$425 million at the time) buyout offer from private equity investment firm Triton Partners.

**For those who wish to dig deeper, Tunstall’s hard-to-find annual report through last September (but not filed until 29 March 2017)  is available through Companies House. Go to their index here and select the “Group of companies’ accounts made up to 30 September 2016” which currently is the first listing.

This will be updated as other sourced reports come in, if they do–for now, it appears that the Sunday Times has the exclusive ‘dig’. It is unfortunate since Tunstall is responsible for millions of customers and employs thousands worldwide, and has been aggressively investing in the company and technology while having a fair amount of churn in executive and director positions. Regrettably, they never capitalized on a established position in a big market when they bought AMAC in 2011, then estimated as the US’ third largest PERS company. But as this Editor closed her 2016 article, the whole category of healthcare tech, while becoming more accepted and with a few exceptions, regrettably is still mired in ‘too many players, too many segments with too many names, all chasing not enough money whether private or government.’ I will add to that equation ‘too few users’–still true among older adults and the disabled–and ‘technology that moves too fast’ to make it even more confusing and unsettled for potential buyers (obsolescence on steroids!). And ‘gadgets’, to use the Times’ wording, are among the worst culprits and victims of these factors.

Updated: Equity capital. A cautionary tale was Editor Emeritus and Founder Steve Hards’ prescient analysis of the risks that Tunstall and Charterhouse undertook in acquiring so much debt. After you read it, note the year it was published. More recent commentary on Tunstall’s financial deteriorata dating back to 2013 can be found here.

Tunstall pairing with Inhealthcare digital health for NHS remote monitoring

click to enlargeA digital link of hope for Tunstall’s future? Announced at The King’s Fund Digital Health & Care Conference but oddly not receiving much notice was the UK collaboration of Tunstall Healthcare and Inhealthcare. Inhealthcare builds infrastructure for digital health services, and currently works extensively with multiple NHS regions and programs, such as the North of England Regional Back Pain Programme, NHS England’s Sheffield City Region Test Bed and the Darlington Healthy New Town project. Their services include telehealth monitoring for INR, COPD, medication reminders, a smartphone app platform, chronic pain management, and a surprising one that addresses undernutrition in older adults. The Tunstall-Inhealthcare objective is to integrate health and social care with clinical care systems in six areas: LTC home monitoring, identifying vulnerable patients, involving family members, 24/7 clinical care coordination centers, post-discharge management, and digital health at home innovation. Also noted is that Inhealthcare has programming technology that can reduce the time to build out services and apps.

Inhealthcare Ltd is part of Intechnology plc, owned by Peter Wilkinson, who has developed several UK internet and technology companies at scale–Planet Online, Freeserve, and Sports Internet (now Sky Betting and Gaming). Tunstall release

The King’s Fund 2017 Digital Health Congress: videos, presentations now posted

click to enlargeThe King’s Fund’s annual two-day Digital Health and Care Congress now has videos and presentation decks posted on the event page.  If you missed it, or want to see the sessions you could not attend, here’s your opportunity to review and share with staff. All the plenaries and keynotes have both video and presentations. Selected workshops/breakouts have video along with PowerPoints on nearly all, including posters. Attendance this year was between 400 and 500. On Twitter: #kfdigital17, @TheKingsFund TTA was pleased to be a marketing supporter of the 2017 conference as we have for several years. Many thanks to events coordinator Claire Taylor.

For planning ahead, The King’s Fund Annual Conference will be two days this year, 29-30 November. Early bird registration is available until 1 September and sponsorships/exhibit opportunities are open.

‘We carry on’ this Memorial Day

As our Readers and Editors make our getaways for this holiday weekend (on Monday, in the UK the Spring Bank Holiday, in the US Memorial Day), it cannot help be on our minds the terrorist bombing this week killing concertgoers in Manchester and the extreme likelihood of further terror attacks. NHS trauma centers are already on highest alert specifically for this weekend, and there are reports that there may be another or even more devices in the hands of terrorists, ready for further slaughter, based on the remains of the home bomb factory. Here in New York, it is also Fleet Week, where many of our Navy’s and Coast Guard’s ships, along with sailors and Marines, visit the city. There are multiple, well-publicized events all over the metropolitan area. Evidence of increased security is everywhere.

On this US Memorial Day, where we remember and honor our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and civilians in military service, we also include in our thoughts and prayers the innocent Manchester children and adults killed for simply enjoying themselves at a concert. We also remember that there are 18 adults and 14 children still in hospital, and that NHS emergency and trauma staff, under extreme pressure, performed magnificently.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives are forever changed. What really hits the heart, more so than at Bataclan, are that most of the dead and survivors, are children and adults waiting to take them home. Innocent lives snapped out in a few seconds. Holes in the heart that will never close.

What also hit the heart was Roy Lilley’s Friday newsletter, which says it better and more than this Editor can express. We carry on because we have to, until we can do better. We are pleased to link to it here.

Dry the tears: WannaCry stymied, North Korea hackers suspect. Is this a poke for a worse attack?

Breaking News This morning’s (Tuesday 16 May) news is about reputable security organizations–Kaspersky Lab and Symantec–connecting the dots that lead for now to a North Korea-linked hacking organization, the Lazarus Group. This group has been identified in previous hack attacks and is based upon WannaCry code appearing in Lazarus programs. US Homeland Security has admitted seeing the same similarities, but all are working to gain more information.

Lazarus has been previously identified as the source of the 2014 Sony attack and the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank, again linked to fundraising for North Korea for its missiles, army, EMP and nuclear arming while its terrorized people starve. However, this attack was a flop; according to US Homeland Security, about $70,000 was raised in ransom. The Homeland Security spokesman also distanced the NSA from the original information which targeted weaknesses in Microsoft’s systems.

According to reports, WannaCry disproportionately affected Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, according to Czech security firm Avast. No US Federal government systems were affected. China on Monday reported that it attacked traffic police and school systems.

The Telegraph has posted a speculative list of 34 NHS organizations which suffered IT failure during the WannaCry attack. The article includes a map produced by MalwareTech that geographically spots the infection locations; the Boston to Washington corridor is a sea of blue dots. And…Marcus Hutchins has been identified as the young UK tech working for Kryptos Logic who redirected the attacks by buying a domain embedded in the WannaCry code. How it worked, according to PC World, is that if the malware can’t connect to the unregistered domain, it infects the system. By registering the domain and creating a page for the malware to connect to, he stopped the malware spread. (Video in Telegraph article)  Also FoxNews

But is this a prelude to more and worse? Is this testing our preparedness? If so, we’ve been found wanting on an enterprise level with vulnerable systems and administrators not updating their software and OS. George Avetisov, the CEO of HYPR, a biometric authentication company, in The Hill, summarized it neatly today: “We’ve also learned the hard way that, simply through a coordinated phishing attack on unsuspecting users, hackers can disrupt the day-to-day activities of enterprises that provide communications, travel, freight and healthcare administration simply by remotely deploying malware.” He then goes on to praise President Trump’s executive order (EO), “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure,” which he signed on Thursday–right before all this began. As if in confirmation…ShadowBrokers, the group that hacked the NSA files, today announced the availability of a subscription to a ‘members only data dump’ like a Wine of the Month Club. Watch out, banks and healthcare, it’s open season! NHS, better pay attention to another kind of hygiene–cyberhygiene. Without it, plans for patient apps and data sharing will go sideways–and deserved fodder for Dame Fiona [TTA 10 May]. The Hill  Earlier coverage here

Updated 15 May: 20% of NHS organizations hit by WannaCry, spread halted, hackers hunted

Updated 15 May: According to the Independent, 1 of 5 or 20 percent of NHS trusts, or ‘dozens’, have been hit by the WannaCry malware, with six still down 24 hours later. NHS is not referring to numbers, but here is their updated bulletin and if you are an NHS organization, yesterday’s guidance is a mandatory read. If you have been following this, over the weekend a British specialist known by his/her handle MalwareTech, tweeting as @malwaretechblog, registered a nonsensical domain name which he found was the stop button for the malware as designed into the program, with the help of Proofpoint’s Darien Huss.

It looks as if the Pac-Man march is over. Over the weekend, a British specialist known as MalwareTech, tweeting as @malwaretechblog, registered a nonsensical domain name which he found was the stop button for the malware, with the help of Proofpoint’s Darien Huss. It was a kill switch designed into the program. The Guardian tagged as MalwareTech a “22-year-old from southwest England who works for Kryptos logic, an LA-based threat intelligence company.”

Political fallout: The Home Secretary Amber Rudd is being scored for an apparent cluelessness and ‘wild complacency’ over cybersecurity. There are no reported statements from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. From the Independent: “Patrick French, a consultant physician and chairman of the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party in London, tweeted: “Amber Rudd is wildly complacent and there’s silence from Jeremy Hunt. Perhaps an NHS with no money can’t prioritise cyber security!” Pass the Panadol!

Previously: NHS Digital on its website reported (12 May) that 16 NHS organizations have been hacked and attacked by ransomware. Preliminary investigation indicates that it is Wanna Decryptor a/k/a WannaCry. In its statement, ‘NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure patient safety is protected.’ Healthcare IT News

According to cybersecurity site Krebs on Security, (more…)

The stop-start of health tech in the NHS continues (UK)

Continuing their critique of the state of technology within the NHS [TTA 17 Feb], The King’s Fund’s Harry Evans examines the current state of incipient ‘rigor mortis’ (his term). Due to the upcoming election, the Department of Health is delaying its response to Dame Fiona Caldicott, the National Data Guardian for Health and Care (NDG), on her review of data security, consent and opt-outs (Gov.UK publications).

People have significant trust and privacy concerns about their data, which led to NHS England suspending care.data over three years ago. But with safeguards in place, public polling supports the sharing of health data for uses such as research and direct care. But…there’s more. Now there is ‘algorithmic accountability’, which may single out individuals and influence their care, much as algorithms dictate what online ads we’re served. What of the patient data being served to Google DeepMind, IBM Watson Health, and Vitalpac for AI development? Have people adjusted their concerns, and have systems evolved to better store, secure, and share data? And how can this be implemented at the local NHS level? The NHS and technology: turn it off and on again Hat tip to Susanne Woodman of BRE.

A reminder that The King’s Fund’s Digital Health and Care Congress is on 11-12 July. Click on the sidebar to go directly to information and to register. Preview video; the Digital Health Congress fact sheet includes information on sponsoring or exhibiting. To make the event more accessible, there are new reduced rates for groups and students, plus bursary spots available for patients and carers. TTA is again a media partner of the Digital Health and Care Congress 2017. Updates on Twitter @kfdigital17

Fitbit reaching out to NHS–but new smartwatch ‘a giant mess’ (updated)

There have been sketchy reports of Fitbit’s CEO James Park meeting with the NHS last month to get Fitbits into the ‘big moves’ in wearables and apps promised by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Mr. Park’s interview with the Sunday Times (limited access) indicated that Fitbit’s NHS project, should it happen, would be for exercise and activity monitoring, similar to the partnership with UnitedHealthcare which reduces premiums based on policyholder exercise monitoring. This move towards payers is in line with reports starting last year of Fitbit’s seeking clinical markets and moving away from the fickle B2C market. City AM

click to enlargeGiven this week’s leak/reveal and scuttlebutt on the new Fitbit smartwatch, Mr. Park needs to gin up a big payer, quickly. The advance buzz is not positive nor kind. It’s delayed from spring to end of year–in competition with the latest iteration of the Apple Watch. This advance photo of codenamed ‘Higgs’ from Yahoo!Finance indicates a certain clunkiness (and derivation from the panned semi-smartwatch Blaze). It’s pricey, rumored to be priced at around $300. Features include a 1,000nit, built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, contactless payments, Pandora and four days of battery life along with connectivity to new Bluetooth headphones. Yet TechCrunch notes “complaints about design, production delays, antenna issues and software problems.” in what they dub “a giant mess”. Forbes notes problems in waterproofing and GPS signal. There are other Android-based smartwatches that do the same for the same price or less. Will this save Fitbit? To be determined….

Update: CEO Park denies delays in the new smartwatch, saying “all new product introductions are on track”, but then again–it hasn’t been officially announced! On the earnings call Thursday, Fitbit stated that new products are now accounting for 84 percent of 1stQ revenue. The company also reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of 2017, reporting an adjusted loss of 15 cents per share on revenue of $299 million. Full year projected at $1.5 – 1.7 bn. Marketwatch, The Verge

How to unblock that health data in your EHR? Blockchain. (UK)

The solution to that huge pile of patient-generated data, blocked and stymied in those non-interoperable EHRs [TTA 15 Mar], may be a system based on blockchain. DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI ‘skunk works’, is building a tool that it calls Verifiable Data Audit. It will be tested first in UK hospitals with which DeepMind is already working, including London’s Royal Free Hospital. What VDA will do is use cryptographic math to keep an accurate record of data used in the past to see exactly who is using health-care records, and for what purpose. When data is used, it generates a code based on all past activity. Any alteration to one part of the data alters the others and is quick to spot.

The UK test results will be interesting because, according to the MIT Technology Review article, patient records are considered to be highly fragmented. Another issue that DeepMind had in the UK was the NHS oversharing data with it for other projects, such as AI systems to diagnose eye disease, early warning signs of illness, and machine-learning approaches to guide cancer treatment. The VDA approach would, ironically, create an audit trail of that data. Another reason why we may be moving from Data Despare to Hope. Hat tip to contributor Sarianne Gruber of RCM Answers.

CHANGED DEADLINE Calling all diabetes prevention apps: may be your chance for greatness!

Our Mobile Health is seeking to identify the best digital behaviour change interventions aimed at helping people diagnosed as pre-diabetic to reduce their risk of onset of Type 2 Diabetes. They are working with NHS England and the Diabetes Prevention Programme to identify the best 4-5 of these that are suitable for deployment to around a total of 5000 people across England. The aim is to build up an evidence base for digital behaviour change interventions for people diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Organisations with suitable digital behaviour change interventions are invited to submit their solutions for inclusion. These should be either actually deployed or will be ready to be deployed within three months. They should be suitable to be, or have been, localised for the UK market, and they should not be dependent on any further integration with the UK health system for deployment.  Shortlisted digital behaviour change interventions will be invited to participate in Our Mobile Health’s assessment process; the final selection will be made based on the results of that assessment.

The deadline for submissions, which can be made directly online is midday on Wednesday 15th March.  NOTE THIS IS A CHANGE FROM THAT PREVIOUSLY ADVISED. There is more about the programme on the NHS website.

(Disclosure: this editor has been asked to assist with the assessment process referred to above)

Tender up: NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) (UK)

Susanne Woodman, our Reader who is our Eye on Tenders, has found this on the Gov.UK contracts finder site:

Lease of telehealth equipment and peripherals by NHS Shared Business Services. Tender # is RA212802. Location is listed as postal code M50 2UW which is Salford, Lancashire. No value assigned. The RFQ expires on Monday 20th February at 12pm. Questions accepted until Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 12:00 with responses returned by Friday the 17th. Quote procedure and more information is via Multiquote.

British Journal of Cardiology (BJC) Digital Healthcare Forum’s inaugural meeting

28 April, 9:30am-5pm, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London 

Henry Purcell of the BJC was kind enough to post us with information on the first-ever BJC Digital Healthcare Forum. Organized by the BJC in association with the NHS, the Digital Health and Care Alliance (DHACA), and the Telehealth Quality Group, it is a novel ‘hands on’ meeting to assess if digital medicine can fill gaps in healthcare provision throughout the NHS. It is also in response to the massive pressures which winter has wrought on NHS health and social services. The Forum was designed by clinicians and leaders in healthcare informatics for UK commissioners, doctors and other HCPs involved in the management of long-term conditions (cardiovascular, obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes etc.), as well as those engaged in health informatics, IT, and Trust CEOs. Speakers include Dr Malcolm Fisk of De Montfort University, our own Charles Lowe of DHACA, Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation (NHS England) and many more experts in digital health and care. For the latest information and to register, see the event website or the attached PDF.

Two tenders up in Scotland and Wales (UK)

Susanne Woodman, our Reader who keeps an eye on telecare procurement tenders, has alerted our UK readers to two current postings:

Telecare IT Platform for East Lothian Council (Scotland).  This is for the purchase an integrated call handling facility and telecare asset management system to respond to alerts from telecare equipment in the homes of vulnerable people. Contract duration 60 months. Deadline 1 March. (Public Contracts Scotland)

NHS Wales Informatics Service–Velindre NHS Trust. The NHS in Cardiff, Wales is looking to appoint partners to develop solutions to engage citizens digitally in the proactive management of their health. It is anticipated that this could encompass a wide range of services from existing applications (Apps) to innovative joint developments. Contract notice will be published 4 April, but the notice as published does not have a deadline. (Tenders Electronic Daily)  See the Sell2Wales website for documentation.

Babylon as AI diagnostician that is ’10 times more precise than a doctor’

The NHS announced at the top of this month that it would test Babylon Health‘s ‘chatbot’ app for the next six months to 1.2 million people in north London. During the call to the 111 medical hotline number, they will be prompted to try the app, which invites the user to text their symptoms. The app decides through the series of texts, through artificial intelligence, in minutes how urgent the situation is and will recommend action to the patient up to an appointment with their GP, or if acute to go to Accident & Emergency (US=emergency room or department) if the situation warrants. It will launch this month in NHS services covering Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, and Islington, London. TechCrunch.

The NHS’ reasons for “digitising” services through a pilot like Babylon’s app is to save money by reducing unnecessary doctor appointments and pressure on A&Es. It provides a quick diagnosis that usually directs the patient to self-care until the health situation resolves. If not resolved or obviously acute, it will direct to a GP or A&E. The numbers are fairly convincing: £45 for the visit to a GP, £13 to a nurse and £0 for the app use. According to The Telegraph, the trial is facing opposition by groups like Patient Concern, the British Medical Association’s GP committee, and Action Against Medical Accidents. There is little mention of wrong diagnoses here (see below). The NHS’ app track record, however, has not been good–the NHS Choices misstep on applying urgency classifications to a ‘symptom checker’ app–and there have been incidents on 111 response.

Babylon’s founder Ali Barsa, of course, is bullish on his app and what it can do. (more…)