New telecare and telehealth purchasing framework to stitch up the UK market for four years

As flagged up in TTA last October, [start here and follow the links back] The Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) has now issued a tender for a telehealth and telecare systems framework agreement. It will run for four years and comprises three ‘lots’:

  1. A single online shop for products (and possibly services): “products included in the catalogue can be updated, increased or revised at any time in response to innovations in the market place and evolving client needs”
  2. Managed service provision: “a list of proven, specialist suppliers who are able to undertake this for [service commissioners]. This may include some or all of: service user assessment, equipment supply, service monitoring, and response…we intend to restrict the number of suppliers…to approximately 6[Emphasis ours]
  3. Consultancy services: “a list of suitably experienced consultants who are able to provide specialist advice to commissioners on the topics of telecare and telehealth”

Editorial comment

The EU and UK laws on tendering for supplies and services are extremely burdensome on suppliers and commissioners alike but (more…)

Tunstall: Growth continues

According to an article in its local newspaper, The Yorkshire Post, Tunstall continued to grow last year, mostly due to a number of acquisitions outside of the UK. However, it also grew its UK revenues by 9.7% in 2012 which probably demonstrates the value of being the most known brand in the market in very uncertain times. Financial details, and short video interview with UK & Ireland managing director Simon Arnold: Tunstall reaping rewards of NHS shake-up.

1/3 of Americans want smartphones for health; 13 percent very confident of data privacy

These findings from a survey of over 2,000 US adults conducted by Harris Interactive for Health Day News included a significant sample (unspecified) of smartphone and tablet owners.  In general, it reflected a growing comfort with using mobile communication for health–and a very real concern with online privacy. Interest in the former exceeded 40 percent when it came to booking appointments, asking the doctor questions, finding out test results and checking medication side effects. The highest interest in using smartphones/tablets clustered in the four segments between 18 and 49, with actually little difference between the older quadrants. High interest in tools for self-measurement are nearing the 50 percent tipping point, but weakest in real disease measurement (blood glucose, lung function). Where there’s major concern is the security of this information. The mushy middle of ‘somewhat confident’ is a high 47 percent, with 40 percent clustering on the negative side. How much of this affects adoption of mobile health is not determined. Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll 

Happtique testing app ‘prescriptions’ via doctors

Surprisingly, given the directional and management changes at health app curator Happtique [TTA 17 May], the company has just sent out a call for physicians to test their platform for electronically prescribing apps to patients. Your Editor received an email mid-afternoon EDT with this content (PDF). In the ‘beta’, they are seeking a small group of primary care physicians to access their catalogue, formularies and mRx prescribing tool, with a consumer overlay of driving the message to their doctor via the Happtique website to encourage them to sign up. This differs from the mid-May report via Mobihealthnews that Happtique would concentrate on hospital customers only, and not practitioners nor patients. To be determined?

June Telecare LIN newsletter published (UK)

In a content-packed edition of this newsletter one 6-page item stands out for special attention. It’s Mike Clark’s ‘summary’ of telehealth, called Telehealth, how are we doing? which begins on page 17. Mike turns his laser-like attention on the UK’s telehealth issues including those arising from the WSD programme results and orders them into an easy-to-read logical sequence and draws some measured conclusions. It’s a pity it is not available as a standalone report for wider circulation. June Telecare LIN newsletter (PDF) plus separate news item list supplement (PDF)

One of the links in the newsletter is to the Department of Health’s 2013-14 Corporate Plan which includes a list of its achievements for 2012-13. Search it as much as you like for any telehealth-related keywords, you will not find any. It looks like DH has brushed it off its hands and moved on. Which, given its recent toxic-touch history may not be a bad thing.

NHS Managers Network: new website (UK)

We don’t usually do ‘new website’ items, but in view of the importance of the NHS Managers Network newsletter (that Roy Lilley sends out several times a week) for anyone who wants to keep an eye on what’s happening in the politics of the NHS, then it seems appropriate to flag up that the Network now has a new website “Management can be a lonely task and this is the place to compare, contrast and calibrate your views.” NHS Managers Network.

Useful 3D printer patterns?

3D printing is one of those technologies full of promise which has yet to prove that ubiquitous adoption is worthwhile. [Sound familiar?] The promise is that we will be able to download patterns for useful things and print them at home, saving the costs of mass production and distribution and, at the same time, enabling customisation for each user. One has the impression that most of the things produced so far have a toy-like quality but in the following item we see the green shoots of the promise becoming reality. Normal game controllers are too difficult for people with weak muscles to use and purpose-built light-touch ones are expensive, then along comes 3D printing and someone with the vision to use it to produce low cost controllers for people with muscle impairments. Building custom game controllers for the disabled ( Hat tip to Nicholas Robinson.

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.

DHS warning: now medical devices breached (US)

Adding to the US Federal Government’s breaching distress, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notice from ICS-CERT (Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team)  has warned of  “a hard-coded password vulnerability affecting roughly 300 medical devices across approximately 40 vendors. According to their (security vendor Cyclance-Ed.) report, the vulnerability could be exploited to potentially change critical settings and/or modify device firmware.” This unnerving development has not yet been exploited, according to DHS, but could affect patient monitors, surgical and anesthesia devices, ventilators, drug infusion pumps, external defibrillators, mammography equipment, and laboratory and analysis equipment. Not good news. Additional information in iHealthBeat and GovInfoSecurity. DHS/ICS-CERT notice.

Previously in TTA: VA networks breached from overseas; 20 million records affected (13 June)

Quantifying concussion and sub-concussion

A short and graphical article on the impact of concussions in contact sports. The HealthWorks Collective article unfortunately only focuses on concussion when there’s mounting evidence that cumulative sub-concussive blows at 15-20Gs are just as harmful as concussions at 100Gs [TTA 5 June] and a cause of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Hard hits in US football can go up to a stunning 150Gs.The main article is from Popular Mechanics which also describes how equipment, including shoulder pads, are being designed to distribute and detect impact. What’s also surprising is how many Gs normal activities such as hopping off a (high?) step (8.1G) and sneezing (2.9G) can be.

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Can self-tracking drive you crazy?

Fine weekend reading. It’s isn’t often that this Editor picks up an article headline ‘as is’ for our readers, but on this fine Saturday morning she does not want to mess with perfection! Carolyn Thomas, a previous Soapboxer and a leading Canadian women’s heart health/health ethics advocate, takes on the Quantified Selfers and, in the view of this Editor, the Digital Health Hypester Horde (D3H) with a bristling critique in The Ethical Nag. Yes, Virginia, there can be such a thing as too much chocolate and too much QSing. Do you really want to live in a heightened state of endless anxiety, with your day depending on minor result twitches? She presents an exchange between a leading heart patient/advocate, Hugo Campos, on Twitter, endlessly self-monitoring via AliveCor, who is having a PVC (skipped beat) episode that is best explained by…anxiety. One early QSer of 40 different health measurements daily abandoned her very public quest stating “Each day my self-worth was tied to the data…I won’t let it be an instrument of self-torture. Any. More.” And there is the time bomb of genetic testing–genomics, a source of endless wonder in the D3H world. A must read (any article that weaves in quotes from Deming and Serres has to be!) Also thank you Carolyn for the citation of The Gimlet Eye’s commentary on the Thomas Goetz ‘diabetic paradox’ (canary in the mine) article.

Got robot? And perhaps make $2 million. (US)

DARPA’s annual Robotics Challenge (DRC) is served up again for 2013. This round they are looking for the ‘next gen’ in disaster response and performance in hazardous areas. Entries will be field tested in three stages over this year and next at increasing levels of difficulty:  The Virtual Robotics Challenge, the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, and the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. And as the writer put it, “you get to build a robot, designed to help people, for money.” See more and application links at Armed With Science.

Hampshire hedges its bets on telecare providers (UK)

TTA flagged up last July that Hampshire County Council was tendering for a ‘strategic partner’ to deliver a telecare service on its behalf and that the result would be known in May, so this by way of an update. What we learn from a Tunstall press release is that Hampshire has staked it all on the ‘Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership’ – a consortium of providers led by PA Consulting (Wikipedia) and which comprises Tunstall, O2, CareCalls, Medvivo and Magna Careline. [Just when we thought the UK telecare scene was becoming boring – it will be interesting to hear how these rivals learn to pull together to deliver the comprehensive, efficient service for which the people of Hampshire have been waiting for many years.]