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)


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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

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Philips publishes second annual Future Health Index on access, integration and tech adoption

The Future Health Index–a blockbuster 100-page annual study from Philips with research conducted by IPSOS, Schlesinger, and Braun–reflects findings of over 29,000 consumers and 3,300 healthcare professionals in 19 countries. The survey includes analysis by country and aggregate of perception versus reality (both difficult measures) in access to healthcare, integration between healthcare systems, and adoption of healthcare technology. It is, needless to say, complex and hard to parse into a headline and finding or two or four. The UK press release helpfully discusses particulars of the UK findings which are hard to find in the main report. Overall, it’s positive, but nowhere near a tipping point where connected care is expected and routine.  

  • About half (48%) of (UK) HCPs have seen an increase in the use of connected care technologies by primary care doctors in last 12 months
  • About a third of the (UK) general population (31%) have used connected care technologies to monitor a health indicator in the last 12 months
  • Over half of the (UK) general population (57%) who have used connected care technology to track health indicators have shared their data with an HCP in the last 12 months
  • Six-in-ten (62%) of the (UK) general population think that integration of the health system would make the quality of healthcare better

The appendix with the UK summary results is available online here and the US here. The full study is available for download here. (All countries are in the appendix)

Out of the global results, there’s a disconnect between having the data and making it useful: “Only 23% of the general population surveyed who used connected care technology within the last 12 months claim to completely understand when to share data from connected care technology with a healthcare professional, or the easiest way to do so.” 

A not surprising finding was that quick wins would be found in the home care area and in preventing avoidable readmissions:

  • Connected care was important to healthcare professionals in improving home care and for geriatric care–81 percent and 82 percent respectively  
  • 55 percent of professionals chose home care and related aspects in improving long-term management and tracking of medical issues

Looking forward into the future, the general population group was asked to speculate on artificial intelligence and on what AI technology would have the most impact on improving healthcare if available today. The two leaders were health tracking wearables/apps on smartphones and AI-assisted tools for guidance. Hologram doctors and robots cruised around 10 percent (!)

click to enlarge

Editor’s note: While incredibly comprehensive, this Editor will express a certain disappointment in the researchers’ selection of US and UK experts. This Editor could name five to ten experts and patient advocates in US and UK from personal contacts (including our UK-based Editors) without thinking particularly hard–and with a little homework UAE and Africa–who could have informed their study.

This Editor also had the pleasure to meet two of Philips’ connected health executives at this month’s Health 2.0 NYC/MedStartr meeting on population health and value-based care: Nick Padula, VP of Home Healthcare Monitoring, and Eduardo Da Silva, Strategic Sales Director of Philips Wellcentive. Mr. Padula was a panelist for the evening.

Health tech arrivals (Philips, Roche, VRI, PushDoctor)…and departures (Pact, Jawbone)

click to enlargeThis popular vacation week has been filled with ‘money under the wire’ news of acquisitions, investments…and one high-profile owner shuttering a pioneering activity app.

Acquisitions:

Philips Healthcare added London-based pregnancy app developer Health & Parenting for an undisclosed sum. Its most popular app is Pregnancy + (and ++), with 12 million downloads via the Apple Store and Google Play, but others are Baby + for all things baby-rearing, and Baby Name Genius to Find That Ideal Name. It will fold into and diversify Philips’ existing uGrow digital parenting platform which includes the Avent smart baby monitor and smart ear thermometer and leverages the open infrastructure of Philips’ Health Suite Digital Platform. One wonders at the flood of data flowing from these apps to these devices and what Philips will do with all these points. Release, MedCityNews

Roche acquired Austrian partner mySugr, a management tool that promises to ‘make diabetes suck less’. Last year they added Roche’s Accu-Chek Connect blood glucose monitor to its chosen device connect and sync list. mySugr features an app for users to log their meals, exercise, glucose levels, and mood. It also captures pictures of user snacks and unleashes “a diabetes monster” avatar when the food choices are poor based on their glucose levels. Terms were not disclosed. MedCityNews

Telecare/monitoring company VRI quietly acquired Healthcom from Woodbridge International. Healthcom’s primary area is care transition management using medical alerts, telehealth, and medication management for payers, government agencies and care partners. Originally positioned as a partnership June 30 on VRI’s website, Globe Newswire confirmed the sale a week later. Terms (again) were not disclosed.

Mobihealthnews rounded up 24 major acquisitions, including GreatCall (by GTCR) and Best Doctors (Teladoc)–all by June 30!

Investments:

Manchester’s PushDoctor telemedicine app raised $26.1 million in Series B financing from Accelerated Digital Ventures and Draper Esprit plus Oxford Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, and Seventure Partners. This added to their $10.1 million Series A raise in January 2016. PushDoctor connects UK patients with NHS-registered GPs for virtual visits costing only £20. Unlike US-based tele-docs, Push Doctor issues prescriptions, makes doctor-led referrals to other health providers and specialists, and helps manage repeat prescriptions. Their founder also has an eye on managing long-term conditions, short-term illnesses, fitness, and nutrition. Their major UK competitors are Babylon Health (which recently raised £50 million for its triage app), Ada Health, and Your.MD. Crunchbase, TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

And shutterings:

Pioneering fitness incentive app Pact (founded 2011) announced its closing by end of August. Originally a ‘get thee to the gym’ app, it branched out into healthy food (eat more vegetables!) and tracking meals with MyFitnessPal. Pact never truly emerged from seed funding. A rare stumble by Khosla Ventures, which led a 2014 bag-of-skittles round of $1.5 million. Mobihealthnews, Crunchbase

Jawbone closed out the week by liquidating and transubstantiating into Jawbone Health Hub. More on this here

HIMSS17 news flashes: Lenovo, Orbita, Tactio, Garmin, Parallax, Entra Health, Philips, IBM

Voice commands a new frontier in telehealth. Why not dispense with the pill dispenser, the smartphone, the tablet? Lenovo Health and Orbita have put together a solution that works via Amazon Alexa. The Orbita Voice is a voice-controlled speaker for the home that connects with the Lenovo Smart Assistant to “help patients with chronic and post-acute care needs be more fully engaged in their wellness at home. Enhancing a patient’s ability to access and share information with providers, caregivers, and family members contributes to improved care journey management, treatment adherence, and medication compliance.” The release isn’t informative as to how it will do this, but apparently it’s all in the programming. This is the second Lenovo Health initiative on view in the past few months. This Editor saw at NYeC Digital Health their Authoritative Identity Management Exchange establishing a universal, verifiable patient ID system [TTA 19 Jan video] and was impressed.

Canada’s Tactio telehealth platform is adding Garmin wearables to its compatible peripherals. TactioRPM is a mobile platform that combines mobile apps, hundreds of connected health integrations (Garmin, A&D, Fitbit, Roche, Nonin, Omron and Welch Allyn), patient questionnaires, digital coaching programs and HIPAA-compliant messaging. TactioRPM has FDA Class 1, CE and ANVISA (Brazil) clearances. Release via Yahoo Finance

Parallax Health Management (PHM) is presenting with Entra Health (mobile HIT) and Microsoft Cloud its remote patient monitoring systems. Based on the PHM website, they are tablet based with a raft of peripherals for the multiple-chronic condition patient. The release highlights their chief medical officer, Bob Arnot, MD who is well known in the US as an author and television presenter.

Philips announced US FDA 510(k) clearance of the IntelliVue Guardian software system, which pairs with the single-use, adhesive Philips Wearable Sensor for continuous clinical-grade monitoring of high-acuity patients. The software gained CE Mark certification last October. They also debuted a mobile app called Jovia Coach for healthcare systems to reach patients at risk for Type 2 diabetes. MedCityNews.  Philips’ ongoing Intensive Ambulatory Care (IAC) pilot program with Banner Health in Arizona so far has delivered impressive reductions in overall costs of care by 34.5 percent and hospitalizations by 49.5 percent. LeadingAge/CAST

IBM Watson heralds cognitive computing, or computers that learn, according to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and will profoundly change medicine as well as IBM, as they are betting the company on it. In the meantime, they have announced the Watson Platform for Health Cloud and a specialized Watson Health Consulting Services unit. Health Data Management. An elephant in the ointment is that the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas, has put their Watson program, the Oncology Expert Advisor, on indefinite hold as it checks out other contractors after sinking $62 million into OEA over three years without a measurable result. Forbes

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…)

Was 2016 a great or off year for digital health funding, M&A, IPOs? (updated)

It depends on the study you read and how jaundiced your view is. If you believe the StartUp Health Insights 2016 ‘Health Moonshots’ report, 2016 digital health funding has hit a zenith of $8.18 bn (up 38 percent from 2015), with 500 companies enjoying funding from over 900 individual investors. Yet over at fellow funder Rock Health, the forecast is far more circumspect. They tracked only half the funding–$4.2 bn in funding–with 296 deals and 451 investors, down from the $4.6 bn over 276 deals in 2015.

There are significant differences in methodology. Rock Health tracks deals only over $2 million in value, while StartUp Health seems to have no minimum or maximum; the latter includes early stage deals at a lower value (their cross-section of ~$1 million deals has 15). StartUp Health gathers in international deals at all levels (pages 11-12),  whereas Rock Health only includes US-funded ventures. Another observation is that StartUp Health defines ‘digital health’ differently than Rock Health, most notably in ‘patient/consumer experience’, ‘wellness’ and ‘personalized health’. This can be seen by comparing their top 10 categories and total funding: (more…)

Using telehealth to improve night-time ICU care

Intensive Care Units treat the most sick people in a hospital and requires round-the-clock staffing by doctors and nurses. 24-hour staffing, however, means shift working and an inevitable night shift. To make it fair on all staff the shifts are usually rotated so any doctor or nurse would do a period on one shift and then move to the next shift.

It is not surprising that the more senior staff manage to have less night work than newer, less experienced ones. On the other hand night shifts may have attractions such as extra pay and this may be more important to the lower paid less experienced staff than to the higher paid senior ones. Also, the cost of staffing nights with less experienced staff may prove cheaper for the hospital. Nevertheless, the patients’ needs are no less important at night than during the day. Another aspect of night-time care is the possibility that a doctor or nurse may not be as alert at night as they would be in the day-time.

Looking at these downsides of night-time ICU care staffing, an hospital in the US has come up with a novel idea – move the doctors and nurses to a zone where it is day-time when it is night-time at the hospital and use telehealth to connect them. This is counter intuitive and has its own drawbacks.

Georgia’s largest healthcare provider Emory Healthcare is sending some ICU doctors and nurses to Sydney, Australia, for tours of six to nine weeks at a time, in a trial to staff ICU at night with health staff in a daylight zone using telehealth. The six month trial in collaboration with Philips and Australia’s Maquarie Health has been underway for 3 months.

The reason this is counter-intuitive is that telehealth was invented to overcome the problems associated with healthcare professionals and patients not being at the same location and here the two are being artificially removed to two ends of the world. While telehealth is a good solution to the diagnosis and treatment from afar, most professionals are likey to agree that it is inferior to being face to face with the patient. So it will be good to see the conclusions reached by this trial on how any drawbacks of distance balances out with having more alert doctors and nurses.

See also mHealth Intelligence article here.

A review of digital health patent slugfests and Unintended Consequences

Mobihealthnews provides a recap of the past four years of patent actions pitting company against company in the hushed but deadly rings of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the US International Trade Commission. On the fight card: the never-ending American Well-Teladoc bout (Teladoc winning every decision so far by a knockout [TTA 18 June]–a second American Well patent being invalidated on 25 August); CardioNet vs MedTel, which the former won but has had to chase the latter out of the arena and down the street to collect; Fitbit-Jawbone which has gone both ways [TTA 27 July]; and the long trail of blood, sweat and Unintended Consequences around Bosch Healthcare’s heavyweight IP pursuit against mainly flyweight early-stage companies (not noting, as we did, their apparent ‘draws’ vs Philips and Viterion, then owned by Bayer).

The Reader will note our tracking Bosch’s activities go back to 2012 (here, here and here). Moreover, with Mr Tim Rowan of Home Care Technology, we broke the news of Bosch’s demise in June 2015, drawing the conclusion that their offense versus Cardiocom’s patents (now in Medtronic’s cardiac division) directly led to the invalidation of their key patents, IP–and the very basis of the company’s existence. See the 19 June 2015 article and our recap one year later in reviewing AW-Teladoc. (Any similar phrasing or conclusions within the Mobihealthnews article, we will leave to our Readers to decide!)

Philips dives into global consumer health tech with new wearables ‘ecosystem’

Philips has made another substantial, if traditionally risky, move into the direct to consumer (DTC) health monitoring segment with a limited wearables ‘ecosystem’ under a new Personal Health Solutions division. It contains five FDA-cleared products for monitoring vital signs. Four peripherals download via a watch to iPhone/Android phone apps which run on version 2.0 of the Philips HealthSuite (with Salesforce1) mobile app. Earlier the apps were marketed in NL and BE.

While the release states they are globally available, initially it appears they are being marketed direct to consumer for the US only. Purchase is direct on the site. All devices are Bluetooth LE and sync with the watch and smartphone app/dashboard (available on Google Play and the Apple Store). The watch/app also tracks exercise with activity recognition, calorie tracking and sleep patterning, with the app providing some education content.

  • Watch $249
  • Body Analysis Scale (weight, body fat, BMI) $100
  • BP/pulse (upper arm) $100, (wrist) $90
  • Ear Thermometer $60

Interestingly, their existing DTC PERS enterprise, Lifeline, is not linked to or mentioned.

Prices are mid-range to high, making this a prima facie tough sell. (more…)

Changing care models to connect better with care, age at home

While this Editor didn’t get to the second annual d.Health Summit in NYC this past May, the organizers Avi Seidmann, PhD & Ray Dorsey, MD [TTA 20 July] of the University of Rochester have conveniently distilled the day down to a 13-page policy paper on successful aging at home. The keynote speaker set the theme around the core needs of older people:

  • identity (“help me stay me”)
  • routine (“help me stay in control”)
  • sociability (“help me stay engaged”)
  • vitality (“help me stay physically and mentally fit”)

Innovation around healthcare delivery, mobility solutions, assistive technologies that adjust to a wide variety of needs, socialization outlets and home services can improve health and wellness while reducing costs for the healthcare system as a whole.  Impediments are regulatory, interoperability and that old devil, payments. It needs to move to ‘next generational care” where healthcare tech fully becomes an extension of the healthcare system. Can’t come soon enough. Download the PDF here. Also read contributor Sarianne Gruber’s perspectives on the conference in RCM Answers on 18 May and 24 May.

The State of the Connected Patient is a 21-page survey with plenty of bar charts of over 2,000 Americans taken in June by the Harris Poll sponsored by Salesforce, which we’ve noted here is partnering notably with Philips in the HealthSuite digital platform. Analysis is separated by boomers, millennials and Gen X.  62 percent of respondents would be open to some form of ‘virtual care’–and 52 percent of ‘millennials’ would prefer to choose a doctor who uses virtual care tools. Most are content with their primary care doctor, though that doctor may not recognize them in the street. Only a quarter actually keep track of their health records, digital and otherwise. Apps are used, but all age groups are split evenly in using a wearable if an insurance company or provider gave them to wear in exchange for (respectively) lower rates and health information access. Download PDF via EHR Intelligence.

Philips publishes new report on connected tech

click to enlargeA report published by Philips today claims that 78% of healthcare professionals believe their patients need to take a more active role in managing their health while 20% of UK patients admit to not managing their health, according to a press release. The report suggests that the result of people not paying attention to their health is increased illnesses (or “lifestyle related conditions” as the report calls them) such as heart failure and type 2 diabetes. The report then goes on to suggest that the use of “connected technology” to help manage their health should be made mandatory for some patients. Connected technology is defined as technology that enables sharing of information throughout all parts of the health system (e.g. doctors, nurses, community nurses, patients, hospitals, specialists, insurers and government) that can range from computer software that allows secure communication between doctors and hospitals, to a watch that tracks a person’s heartbeat. However, the connected technology in a case study highlighted in the press release is home based monitoring systems supplied by Philips for a classic UK telehealth trial for COPD, diabetes and heart failure.

Philips say they commissioned the Future Health Index (FHI) report to globally gauge (more…)

Philips ACT(s)@Scale with three-year research study (UK/EU)

Philips is expanding their just-concluded three-year ACT program with ACT@Scale, a three-year research study which will track up to 75,000 chronic disease patients on health outcomes and economic impact data. They are working with specific EU regions (Northern Ireland, Spain’s Catalonia and Basque Country, southern Denmark and northern Netherlands) which are already innovating care/coordination services and use of technology in specific areas. A major university consortium is also joining with Philips to conduct the study: University Medical Center Groningen (The Netherlands), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), City University London (UK), Universitätsklinikum Würzburg/Klinikum der Bayerischen Julius-Maximilians-Universität (Germany), University of Hull (UK), Kronikgune-Centre for Research Excellence in Chronicity (Basque Country, Spain) and Hospital Clinic of Barcelona (Spain). ACT@Scale is part of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA), an initiative from the European Commission under its Innovation Union strategy that aims to increase the average healthy lifespan by two years by 2020. More will be presented at eHealth Week, 8-10 June, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Philips release.

Philips, Validic partner on health data integration

click to enlargeEarlier today, Philips and health data ‘connector’ Validic announced a partnership where Philips’ multi-part HealthSuite digital health platform will expand with Validic’s access to third-party device data. The surprise is how much data Validic now can access: a claimed 223 million people in 47 countries, which was a surprise to this Editor. Philips’ HealthSuite includes Personal Health Programs, the Lifeline PERS line, eCareCoordinator and eCareCompanion eHealth applications. Exactly how Philips will use this access is not disclosed. Philips release

Telehealth in the ME – report from The Economist

It is rare to hear about telehealth from the Middle East, so it is refreshing to see a report dedicated to this subject. click to enlargeEnabling Telehealth: Lessons for the Gulf” is a new report from the Intelligence Unit of The Economist which identifies principles and practices relevant to the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) region. GCC is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states in the Persian Gulf except for Iraq – i.e. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The report has been commissioned by Philips and studies the environment in which telehealth operates – the policies, infrastructure, associated skills and institutional users. The Economist interviewed several experts for this report: the director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, associate Dean of the Mayo Clinic’s Center  for Connected Care, chief medical officer of the European Health Telematics Association, a senior lecturer in professional healthcare education at the Open University and CEO of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organisations.

As the report points out in its summary, “… access to telehealth depends not only on telehealth technology. Policy frameworks must be modernised, communications infrastructures such as broadband and mobile network coverage must be improved, and skillsets – both of clinicians and patients – need to be strengthened.

Five key findings in the report are

  • Ensuring access to telehealth depends not just on the technologies, but on the broader enabling environment, especially policy harmonisation, communications infrastructure, and skills.
  • Governments should consider more efficient licensing if telehealth is to enable patients to access medical expertise outside of their state, province or country. Here it cites the examples of USA and Europe. The state by state licensing in the US is a barrier to telehealth and the cross-state harmonisation in the EU helps telehealth.
  • Telehealth provision must go hand-in-hand with Internet infrastructure rollout, since vulnerable populations are the lowest users of the Internet.
  • Focus on systems integration: “… build usable systems with the requisite security and privacy” which “work seamlessly with those already in place”.
  • Health providers may need support in working with new technologiesThe full report is available to download here.

Two events of interest, especially to digital health entrepreneurs

Prof Mike Short has drawn my attention to two events taking place in October:

‘The cupboard is bare: how technology can address key unmet needs in mental health’ – Cambridge Wireless Healthcare SIG event – this half day Cambridge event om 13th October, hosted by Philips Research Laboratories and jointly sponsored by TTP and Plextek, will explore the needs from the perspective of the healthcare professional and patient. More details here; book here.

6th Discovering Start-Ups Competition – a brilliant opportunity to win some really valuable prizes to get your start-up really started up, pitching to an elite panel of business leaders from Deloitte, Google, BT, IBM, Cambridge Angels, London Business Angels, Qualcomm Ventures, Samsung and more. Finals will be held at Deloittes in London on 21st October. Note entries have to be submitted by 14th September at the latest.

 

Apps and wearables – developments over the summer

Trying at least temporarily to distract this editor’s attention from his recent unfortunate experience with Jawbone technology, here are some interesting app and wearables snippets received over the summer.

We begin with news of the first CE certified mole checking app, SkinVision which rates moles using a simple traffic light system (using a red, orange or green risk rating). The app lets users store photos in multiple folders so they can track different moles over time. It aims to detect changing moles (color, size, symmetry etc.) that are a clear sign that something is wrong and that the person should visit a doctor immediately.

This contrasts with the findings of a paper published in June examining 46 insulin calculator apps, 45 of which were found to contain material problems, resulting in the conclusion that :”The majority of insulin dose calculator apps provide no protection against, and may actively contribute to, incorrect or inappropriate dose recommendations that put current users at risk of both catastrophic overdose and more subtle harms resulting from suboptimal glucose control.”, which to say the least of matters is worrying. (more…)