Delays in ‘game-changing’ PERS

Both Philips GoSafe and Lifecomm have apparently blown past at least two in-market dates.

Philips Lifeline GoSafe: Announced at CES in January [TTA 11 Jan], it is a mobile, souped-up PERS chunky neck-worn pendant with the fall detection features of Lifeline Auto-Alert plus GPS detection through multiple systems such as Skyhook, Wi-Fi and ‘intelligent bread crumbing’. The CES-announced debut was March, reconfirmed in February to Leading Age [TTA 14 Feb]. Then a small blog, The Senior List, confirmed with Philips in June that in-market would be delayed till fall. Now that fall is here, an industry insider tipped us to the further delay till December, confirmed by a later article in the The Senior List blog. Notably Philips is beefing up its website and video demo presence, apparently building up to an announcement near the end of the year. In the PERS category, one of the peak selling seasons is post-New Year’s, after holiday get-togethers bring the realization that a loved one is getting frailer and in need of some protection.

On the polar opposite, the Lifecomm PERS (from the Qualcomm/Hughes Telematics-now-Verizon/AMAC-now-Tunstall JV) seems to be hanging in limbo–again. (more…)

Hands-free telehealth-telemedicine crossover consult

A neuroscience research team at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in Augusta has developed a way to decipher a video image of a person to measure a person’s heart and breathing rates. Using any single-channel video camera, including a web or cell phone cam, in day, low-light or even at night using near-infrared images, they have developed algorithms to track how the body moves slightly from the way light is reflected off of it and recorded. This can determine within fair clinical accuracy of physical measurements, with false positives only 3 percent of the time and false negatives less than 1 percent. If produced to work with systems to scale, this could vastly assist telemedicine consults especially at distance and facilitate hands-free in-person examinations. Research published in PLOS ONE with a summary in Healthline News. Philips in July started marketing a ‘Vital Signs Camera’ app for $1.99 in the iTunes Store that also measures heart and breathing, but not to clinical quality.

First M&A roundup for 3rd quarter: more action, less value, whither digital health?

VC/research firm TripleTree is first out of the gate with its roundup of merger and acquisition activity in healthcare, July through September. The news and directions are mixed. Deals are up 28 percent from the two previous quarters but down 12 percent in total deal value. Most are in the healthcare facilities area with home care giant Gentiva acquiring Harden Healthcare and insurance giant Humana adding to its LTC, Medicaid/Medicare portfolio with American Eldercare. 19 healthcare companies had successful IPOs totaling ~$3 billion of transaction value. Two highlighted here are Envision Healthcare Holdings (ambulance and outsourced physician services) and Benefitfocus (benefit administration software and tracking). Given that they are the creator of the iAwards at the annual Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance in May which focuses on digital health, the decidedly non-buzzy companies getting the action here are perhaps another indicator of the funding cooling preceding M&A as projected by Rock Health back in July [TTA 9 July], with their 3rd Quarter report due out shortly.

Don’t worry, there’s a wristband for that…

tactiluNot one for my Christmas list, but check out this TechCrunch review if you want to find out more about the Tikker wristwatch (which is currently doing well on Kickstarter). Tikker will calculate when you’re likely to bite the dust, based on factors like age, activity level, BMI and location.

If you’re hesitating as to how you might feel about wearing such a thing, just place a mood wristband on your other arm. (more…)

Dogs and monkeys to monitor your health!

In the on-going quest to support people to live independently without the use of cameras, scientists at Newcastle University have developed a sensor to monitor a dog’s movements (no, not those sort of movements!). The premise is that changes in behaviour patterns of pet dogs, such as the amount of food they eat, or the length and regularity of their walks, could quickly signal variations in the well-being of their owners.   (more…)

‘Futuristic’ chair monitors vital signs

If you’re more excited than this editor, to read of Japanese multinational Sharp’s ‘futuristic’ chair (you can sit on it while your vital signs are measured and sent to a doctor!), then check out this link via Ubergizmo. I think I preferred it pre-makeover, when it was a luxury/techy chair with Bose headphones (though minus the $21,500 price tag). But on the bright side, we now get to wonder at its new clothes!

More color(s) on Calico

Fortune, rolling off sister TIME‘s announcement of ‘Can Google Solve Death?’ [TTA 19 Sep], provides more background on how Calico, Google‘s new company which will focus on aging and associated diseases, came to be. It is the brainchild of Google Ventures’ managing partner Bill Maris who was once in biotech, and saw that this area was missing the root cause of much disease–that we all keep on getting older and experience cellular failure. “Now that the entire genome had been coded, Maris wondered if it was possible to actually study the genetic causes of aging and then create drugs to address them (a question that was heavily influenced by talks with futurist and Googler Ray Kurzweil).” He initially attracted major non-Googly investors, (more…)

Non-functional Obamacare exchange websites? $500 million estimated to date. 2014? Priceless. (US)

Updated/Revised for breaking news and analysis, 12-14 October (US). Much new information noted in dark blue. (Grab your tea or coffee…this is a long one as this story rolls on.)

The mainstream reports continue to build that both the Federal site, which provides health exchange enrollment for 36 states, and many of the state-run health insurance exchanges (14 plus District of Columbia) are a nightmare of programming glitches and simply don’t work. It is not the demand–which has been high but not unanticipatedly so with an initial 8 million hits–but more disturbingly, the programming appears to be is unsound.  “Computer experts” quoted by CBS This Morning are making statements like “It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” going on to say ” It’s not even ready for beta testing for my book. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that.” A more technical dissection of the site’s multiple system architecture problems is provided by Reuters here, with the best quote “The site basically DDOS’d itself,” he said. (DDOS–distributed denial of service, a hacking technique but here, the website overwhelmed itself!) 

Counting the cost

A rough calculation of the cost has been made on a tech website, Digital Trends. Andrew Couts (who is pro-Obamacare) ran some public numbers on the IT cost of setting up the Federal part of the exchanges and add in associated 2012-13 costs, and arrives at $500 millionnot including the $2 billion to build out and operate the exchanges in 2014 (General Accounting Office). Larger numbers north of $600 million have been bandied about, but this Editor will go for now with Mr. Couts’ perhaps low estimate which has been supported by more mainstream reporting. (more…)

Wanted: Launch Event correspondent 19 Nov-Sheffield

TTA is asking for one (or two) of our readers to be a volunteer correspondent for the launch 19 November of the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield from 12.30pm until 4.00pm. CATCH is being established at the University of Sheffield as a strategic research centre and interdisciplinary research hub to study and develop new user-friendly technologies which enable independent living and improve healthcare for older and disabled people. Unfortunately none of the Editors will be in the area to take up their kind invitation to view their exhibition, presentations and demos. If you are willing to write up an article within 48 hours of the event, please email EIC Donna here ( as I must authorize this with the Sheffield group. You will be credited of course but expenses and article will not be covered.

Update 14 October: We have two volunteers! Thanks to Drs. Kenneth Law and Mutaz Aldawoud of the Hillside Bridge Health Centre in Bradford for offering to attend and write their observations.

Body computing, sensors and all that data

This past week’s Body Computing Conference at University of Southern California (USC) had three sessions focusing on wearable sensors and the big names such as the well-financed Fitbit, Jawbone, BodyMedia, the ingestible sensor Proteus and Zephyr. The panels were split between the medical-grade and the consumer oriented with this report indicating some friction between the two. The notion of the Quantified Self died hard, even with Basis Science’s Marco Della Torre noting that 80% of health app users abandon them within two weeks, so the discussion moved to form factor and the ‘holy grail’ of getting the 90% of never-ever QSers to pay some attention. Of course, it’s the flood of data that has to somehow be processed (one of the FBQs) even though the doctors appear to be unconvinced of the evidence…but the ‘big data’ may be proving it after the fact. The future of wearable sensors in healthcare (iMedicalApps)

Turning an iPhone into an endoscope

The interestingly named ‘Endockscope’ is a docking device which connects an iPhone 4S to an endoscope.  The Endockscope acquired images of the same resolution and acceptable color resolution. An evaluation team of twelve expert endoscopists evaluated the image quality compared to the Storz HD camera standard, and concluded that they were equivalent for flexible ureteroscopy and somewhat inferior, but still acceptable for flexible cystoscopy. Savings? $46,469–$154 compared with $46,623 for the Storz HD. The device is yet to go to human trials. FierceMobileHealthcare. iMedicalApps (abstract) The Endockscope was also commented on by Dr. Eric Topol in his Medscape article on genomic medicine, decision support tools such as IBM Watson possibly replacing doctors, a robot administering anesthesia, the Theranos fast blood testing system possibly disrupting lab testing…Topol on ‘Taboo Genetics,’ a Frugal App, and Magic Supplements

Big data in heart failure detection gets $2 million grant

One part of the US government that hasn’t gone silent is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which announced yesterday a $2 million research grant to IBM, Sutter Health and Geisinger Health System to jointly develop data analytics tools to help primary care physicians detect heart failure sooner. This will analyze EHR data to determine the patterns that may be indicative of a person at high risk–and investigate more effective early intervention. Big data sets sights on heart disease (HealthcareITNews)

Health IT security gets a boost in Texas

Unlike the rampant data insecurity present in the state health insurance exchanges and the Federal, Texas is moving forward to secure data from providers within the state. The Texas Health Services Authority and the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) are developing and managing the Texas Covered Entity Privacy and Security Certification Program. Organizations must assess their compliance with privacy and security regulations, and if they do will receive a certification recommendation from HITRUST. According to iHealthBeat quoting a VP there, how this is implemented will have repercussions far beyond the state. A major goal, according to Health Data Management, is to reduce data breaches which are levied in Texas alone between $5,000 and $1.5 million–not including HHS.  Also Modern Healthcare, HITRUST process page.

HSJ Telehealth 2013

20 November 2013, London, UK (location to be confirmed)

The HSJ Telehealth summit will assess the progress made so far and the longer-term trajectory for the adoption of the technology in Britain and the NHS. Re-focused for 2013, the one-day conference will bring you practical, relevant debate, grounded in the present and tackle the challenges posed by the lack of a national overarching strategy and the many barriers that hinder adoption and development of services locally and nationally. Key issues examined include:

Achieving the impossible – real cost efficiencies from the outset
Introducing local services – what help and funding is out there?
Adoption of telehealth across the NHS – what must change?
Adding weight to the argument – the added value of big data
Patient empowerment and engagement – how technology is changing behaviour
Engaging commissioners and changing culture – breaking out of survival mode.

Programme. Registration.

Another change at Care Innovations

Louis Burns, CEO of Care Innovations since its founding in 2011, announced his retirement at the end of this year. His immediate successor starting 7 October as CEO (on his LinkedIn profile, but not on the CI website) is Sean Slovenski, formerly VP for Health and Productivity Solutions at Humana and founder of Hummingbird Coaching Services, a provider of online wellness coaching and behavior management services purchased by Humana in 2010. This follows the retirement earlier this year of Intel-er Doug Busch, formerly COO. Neil Versel interviews Mr. Slovenski for Mobihealthnews, but what strikes this Editor in the interview are three things: his background and demeanor could not be more different than Mr. Burns; his expertise in population health and consumer-directed wellness may indicate a significant directional change for long-term-care focused Care Innovations–certainly away from the Intel/GE mindset; and the outlook continues to be ‘mañana’ for telehealth and telecare. Care Innovations release.

The Future of Mental Health in the Workplace

Wednesday, 23 October, 11 The Strand, London, WC2N 5HR

The Workplace Health & Wellbeing Movement, in conjunction with Mind and Punter Southall, will be addressing the current and future landscape of mental health at work.


1730 – Welcome & networking
1800 – Introductions (John Dean, Managing Direct Punter Southall Health & Protection)
1830 – Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind) on Taking Care of Business Campaign
1900 – Q&A / Networking

More information on this Meetup here. Thanks to reader Stephen Haynes of Navigator Health.