News roundup: Philips allies with Humana for pop health, Dexcom’s outage outrage, Halamka ankles Lahey for Mayo, Google and NHS Wales changes, Agfa’s health sale, Victrix/WhatsApp, more

Insurer Humana is identifying high-acuity and chronic CHF Medicare Advantage members and deploying two support programs utilizing Philips PERS and remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems. The first program identifies at-risk older people with chronic conditions and offering them Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert, Lifeline’s fall detection technology, and their CareSage predictive analytics. Philips Lifeline is already offered in select Humana Medicare Advantage plans. The second is a pilot with telehealth RPM to monitor a select group of CHF patients. This will use a Philips interactive tablet and connected measurement devices for care teams to actively monitor congestive heart failure patients. The rationale in the press release is centered on population health management, quality of care, and positively influencing patient outcomes, with “more efficient resource utilization” a/k/a lowering cost of care. Philips release.

Health tech is great, when it works–and Dexcom found out how serious it can get when it doesn’t. Dexcom, a continuous glucose monitoring system, experienced a server outage over the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend into Monday. It knocked out its updates in the Follow feature, frequently used by parents to monitor Type 1 diabetic children, and those with artificial pancreas devices that adjust insulin based on monitored BG levels. Dexcom was not only blasted by users on the server outage, which they attributed to ‘overload’, but also on its communications of the problem to users which depended on Facebook postings and not on real-time direct contacts or messaging. It was a ‘big surprise’ to their CEO, who also dismissed the possibility of a data breach, which seems a bit premature. Both Google and Microsoft provide cloud and tech services to Dexcom. CNBC 12/2, 12/3

Comings and goings: HIT pioneer, strategist, and general guru John Halamka is following the AI Star, leaving Boston’s Beth Israel Lahey Health to head up a machine learning/AI initiative at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. Mayo this fall announced a 10-year high-level partnership with Google Cloud to store patient data and analysis. Modern Healthcare  According to the Healthcare IT News article, he’ll be returning on weekends to the Bay State to his 250-acre working farm….Also moving on to Google Health is Facebook’s Hema Budaraju, a product management director. Business Insider has annoyingly hid the news behind its paywall, leading to speculation in Mobihealthnews that she will be engaged in Google’s “social and environmental impact” efforts as she was at FB…And speaking of Google, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down at long last from active management. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will now be running Google and its corporate parent, Alphabet. See their letter on the GoogleBlog.DigitalHealth reports on changes at the NHS Wales Informatics Service. Helen Thomas is now interim director as NWIS director Andrew Griffiths is departing this month. NWIS is also transitioning to a new Special Health Authority….Agfa’s Healthcare Information Solutions and Integrated Care, plus their imaging division, are definitely going to Italy’s Dedalus Holdings S.p.A. for €975 million. It awaits approval from various authorities, their employee groups, and the usual closing conditions. Release, DigitalHealth.

UK healthcare analytics company Victrix Socsan has signed a licensing agreement last month with WhatsApp. Victrix will use Whats App for communications with beneficiaries as part of their furnishing proactive preventive care services and provide secure information. Release.

Another Tunstall Americas distributor acquisition

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Big-T-thumb-480×294-55535.gif” thumb_width=”150″ /]Another press release from Tunstall Healthcare Group is also about Tunstall Americas, in this case the acquisition of Syracuse NY (Central NY State)-based Health Care Monitoring Systems (HMS). This continues this year’s strategy of purchasing or partnering with local home care providers. Like Mountain Home and Kupuna Monitoring (previously in TTA), HMS’ website prominently features a competitor–Philips Lifeline. Notable in the spare release is that the HMS founder notes “strong relationships with referral partners and government agencies.”  Release

The traditional PERS as ‘ancient history’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Fallen-woman.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Something to think about. How many families and older adults are aware that the traditional PERS emergency pendant, which has been around for at least 40 years, is sadly outdated and in fact inadequate for those at greatest risk? While major advertisers on US media such as Life Alert, Life Call, ADT and Philips Lifeline present crisis situations where the older person is on the floor and is rescued after pressing the pendant button, they barely advertise their other available products that incorporate passive fall detection and cellular, even if somewhat inadequate for soft falls or unconsciousness. Families unwisely feel ‘protected’ when paying for traditional PERS, not realizing that more advanced technology is readily available and not that much more expensive. Moreover, and only mentioned in the context of his grandmother’s fall while in senior housing, there is a distinct recalcitrance of senior housing executives to rid their apartments of the (cheap) old pendants and replace them with (pricier) passive/cellular assistance systems, much less more advanced wearables/RFID systems or mobile/watch combinations. This Editor also notes that the major drugstore chains also sell PERS; while they trumpet wellness in their advertising, they are as behind the curve in this area as senior housing. Neil Versel in MedCityNews.

For our Readers: can we compare/contrast how the UK, EU and US are still wedded to traditional PERS after 40 years, and if more advanced forms are starting to take hold? Click on the headline to see comments, including this Editor’s opining on traditional PERS as ‘cash cow’.

Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection

Tom Doris, KeepUs project founder and technical lead, responds to our recent post [TTA 28 Aug] critiquing Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert’s accelerometer and its possible failure to detect a fall which resulted in the death of a Massachusetts woman. His analysis concludes that accelerometers on their own are surprisingly inaccurate. The false positives/negatives may be minimal but they do exist, and they should not be the only indicator of a fall.

Mr Doris has a PhD in computer science and was formerly an R&D engineer at Intel. Earlier in TTA: 4 Oct 13, 22 July

Falling Down is a Surprisingly Hard Problem

More than 250,000 people suffer a hip fracture in the US every year. More than 20 percent will die within 12 months as a consequence of their fall. One in three who lived independently before the fracture will need at least a year of rehabilitation in a nursing home. While rehabilitation methods are improving, the single most important factor influencing the long-term outcome is the length of time between the fall and getting medical attention at a hospital. A few hours more or less makes the difference between life and death.

People are living longer, and current projections make it clear that elderly people will have to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. You just can’t provide residential care for 20 percent of the population. Smartphones and wearable technology have the potential to dramatically improve eldercare. A relatively cheap smartphone can track activity and location. Modern platforms analyze the data in real-time over the internet and can, in theory, immediately spot when something is wrong and raise an alert.

The theory doesn’t always work however. (more…)

Philips Lifeline introduces a mPERS app

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/philips-lifeline-app.jpg” thumb_width=”120″ /]Philips Lifeline has debuted in the US an unbranded mPERS-like app which allows the user from a smartphone (iPhone/Android only) to access the Philips Lifeline call center. The app is free but the service to voice connect to their call center, according to their customer center, is a (bargain compared to standard PERS) $13.95. The phone’s GPS geo-locates the person in need. The fact that the introduction is in the ‘dog days of August’ is one indicator that they are readying well ahead of the late fall (autumn) bump in demand. (Both this Editor and Mobihealthnews see a back and fill for the much-touted GoSafe introduction which 18 months later is still not in market.)

But walk with your Editor through this scenario:

  • Smartphone-equipped older person takes a fall, has an accident or is a crime victim
  • Despite the fact that all smartphones have accelerometers, the app does not tie in to this data, (more…)