Fast takes for Friday

Changes at Center for Connected Health, DecaWave’s chip, Happy Hackers  Healthcare.gov

Center for Connected Health executives to head Portuguese ‘body dynamics’ company in US. Associate Director Joseph Ternullo, who over the years was one of the key organizers of the Connected Health Symposium, is leaving Partners HealthCare/CCH after 17 years to lead the US subsidiary of Kinematix (formerly Tomorrow Options) located in Boston. This was announced by email to CCH contacts today. Kinematix in October raised $2.6 million in Series B funding from Portugal Ventures. Heading the US board is another Partners HealthCare alumnus, Jay Pieper, formerly CEO of Partners International Medical Services. Kinematix’s two products focus on sensor-based monitoring for foot health assessment and to prevent pressure sores and falls.  Release. Boston Business Journal….ScenSor senses you to 10 centimeters. A 6 x 6 mm chip (more…)

Cancer patient app grant to Partners HealthCare

This may be the first app to assist with patient cancer management of symptoms, medication and side effects. The Center for Connected Health division of Partners HealthCare in Boston is developing an app targeted to oral chemotherapy patients to better monitor their symptoms, adverse treatment effects and improve medication adherence. The research is being funded by a grant from the McKesson Foundation’s Mobilizing for Health initiative. The smartphone app will be tested for three months with a group of 104 patients at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Features include self-care strategies for symptom management, a medication tracking device which also provides feedback on symptoms, strategies to prevent side effects, patient education and psychosocial support.  CCH release, iHealthBeat

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…)

Wellocracy launched to explain fitness tracking, apps

Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health has launched Wellocracy, to explain to consumers how you can get the most out of their fitness trackers, health apps and related devices. It won’t be a ‘Consumer Reports’ of devices or apps (though provides a comparison chart), ‘curate’ them as the now seemingly dormant Happtique once intended to do or screech at you on your ‘issues’ as Cigna’s Go You does, but offers sensible advice on how to get the most out of the kit you just bought and the information it provides. Also it addresses the ‘stickiness factor’–staying with a regimen–connects to outside news and adds a large dollop of social engagement with sharing ‘The New Fit Revolution.’ Coincidentally, The Center’s Joseph Kvedar, M.D. just co-authored a book, Wellocracy: Move to a Great Body, with Carol Colman and Justin Mager, MD. Release includes a useful Harris Interactive survey that indicates that fitness and sleep tracking are seen favorably and perceived as valuable but is still large on potential, short on customers.

Humana, Healthrageous and some object lessons

The acquisition of the assets of Partners HealthCare spinoff Healthrageous by insurance and health service giant Humana is reverberating in the field in the US, particularly those in the buzziest digital health sectors. Some may look away, but a hard look provides some object lessons at the sheer unpredictability of the field for those who are innovating and attempting to shape consumer behavior and health. (Not behavioral health)

  • Healthrageous had an impressive lineage and credibility. Developed over three years at Partners HealthCare, it was spun off in 2010, PHC members on the board, leadership from well-known/regarded figures such as Rick Lee and Mary Beth Chalk–and enjoyed abundant, rapid startup funding–$12.5 million in two rounds, the last exactly one year ago, from equally impressive investors, reportedly $15 million total. No raiding the credit cards here.
  • It occupied what everyone for the past few years thought of as a sweet spot–personal health management targeted to employers/benefit managers along with health plans to lower costs that combined sensor-based telehealth data with individualized coaching and feedback–and data from a broad base of 10,000 users. (more…)

Telemedicine in the TIME Swampland

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/blue-blazes.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]TIME’s ‘Swampland’ section may be referring to the original siting of Washington, DC on reclaimed swamp land off the Potomac River, but this swampy article ultimately struggles to solid land. You will have to meander through the UVA Center for Telehealth, the Center for Connected Health Policy, WellPoint, the Institute for e-Health Policy and of course Partners Healthcare’s cardiac program [TTA 27 Aug] before addressing the real problem: the desirability of broader telemedicine reimbursement and a consistent policy in US Federal programs such as Medicare and Federally-subsidized Medicaid administered through the states. Currently Medicare reimbursement is restricted to specific rural areas, Native American territories/Indian Health Service, and of course the often-mentioned mess of cross-state physician licensing. However, the Accountable Care Act is not going to be the savior as its implementation is hardly going smoothly. Earlier CMS policies on 30-day same cause readmissions have had far more impact. There is the to-be-expected muddling of telemedicine (virtual consults) and telehealth (monitoring)–and robotics gets a ‘say wot?’ mention. The kicker is the headline and accompanying picture:

“Saving U.S. Health Care With Skype”

Skype, while used in ‘telemental health’ [TTA 11 May], is not HIPAA-compliant for patient privacy.  Were TIME’s famed fact-checkers asleep? 

Hat tip (and thanks) to reader Bob Pyke.

Signs of a home monitoring bubble?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Ambio-health.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Suddenly home-based remote monitoring is very warm, if not hot. The news of investments at all levels–from Medtronic’s purchase of Cardiocom [TTA 12 Aug] to a $525,000 third angel round investment in AmbioHealth (which this Editor doubts would have been on MedCityNews’ radar a year ago)–sounds like home telehealth is finally, finally gaining traction with investors, which have been more attracted to hospital-based and fitness monitoring. But is it the right type of traction based on reasonable expectations? We were among the first to point out in 2010 in positing the FBQs* that where the data goes, how it’s being used and who’s taking action on it was critical. Now Robert Pearl MD in Forbes is also examining the new song of home RPM and finding a few off notes (or to mix metaphors, finding a pan of fool’s gold):

That’s because some promoters of home monitoring technology believe doctors will carefully scrutinize each EKG or blood sugar reading and use the information to tailor perfect regimens for their patients. This is not how medicine works.

and

Looking at thousands of EKG tracings won’t add much value either. In fact, putting all that information into an electronic medical record (EMR) only makes it more difficult for doctors to identify other, more vital pieces of information. Instead, doctors need to understand which of a few possible patterns are happening to determine the appropriate course of action.

Dr. Pearl’s prescription is for smartphones to embed telehealth monitoring capabilities at a price point slightly above the current cost, but less expensive than stand-alone devices (more…)

The data-EHR integration hurdle spanned?

The fifth of the Five Big Questions (FBQs)*–how data is integrated into patient records–may have finally been answered by Partners HealthCare. They have integrated patient remote monitoring data directly into their EHR, viewable by clinicians alongside patient charts–and also portaled to the patient. The integration was designed by Partners’ Center for Connected Health and includes data sent via Alere Connect (formerly MedApps) from various blood pressure, weight and blood glucose devices. CCH is also introducing mobile connectivity through Qualcomm Life’s 2net hub. Partners HealthCare’s EHR interestingly is an in-house system, but they are transitioning their records to Epic. Dr. Joseph Kvedar, director of the CCH, also discusses how the next step is how to make this data easier for clinicians to read and use in Mobihealthnews. It is about time. Also mHIMSS and Partners’ own press release.

* The Five Big Questions (FBQs)–who pays, how much, who’s looking at the data, who’s actioning it, how data is integrated into patient records.