10 sensor-based telehealth companies

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/biostamp.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Our First 10 For Friday is what is termed a ‘sensor technology renaissance’ in telehealth, mostly tied to that sensor-equipped device called a smartphone. The ten companies profiled in Bionic.ly, including an ingestible, are:

Sano Intelligence–wearable patch sensor transmitting blood chemistry data such as glucose and potassium

Zephyr Technology–performance shirts in partnership with UnderArmour [TTA 25 Mar]

Cardiio–developed by the MIT Media Lab, it uses changes in skin tone read by an iPhone to measure resting heart rate [TTA 21 Mar]

MC10 (picture left/above)–the Biostamp elastic sensor and sensors used by combat soldiers to measure hydration, temperature, impact and other body indicators [TTA 22 Feb] (more…)

Top 10 technology hazards–what pertains to telehealth?

Our Second 10 For Friday comes from ECRI Institute, a non-profit which applies evidence-based research to improve patient care, has issued its annual Top 10 Healthcare Technology Hazards. Compiled from hospital reports, the FDA device experience database and ECRI’s proprietary database of incidents and testing, the most pertinent to telehealth out of the 10 are:

1. Alarm hazards–real alerts go unattended due to caregivers being overwhelmed, distracted or desensitized.

4. Data integrity failures in EHRs and other health IT systems–patient/data association errors, missing data or delayed data delivery, clock synchronization errors and more

7. Neglecting change management for network devices and systems–the “underappreciated consequence of updates, upgrades or modifications made to one device or system have on other connected devices or systems”

8. Risks to pediatric patients from “adult” technologies–mixups within EHRs, conversions from kilograms to pounds, even height and weight being recorded on different EHR screens.


‘Personalized medicine’ targets psychiatric drugs

A genetic test to help determine the efficacy of psychiatric medications for several diagnoses is under development by Cincinnati Ohio-based Assurex Health. Using a DNA analysis on a cheek swab sample, Assurex’s tests analyze a panel of genes in the cytochrome P450 family that are involved in drug metabolism. This information is then used to create a report that optimizes drugs for that diagnosis using a red/yellow/green code. Under development for seven years, the pharmacogenetic testing analyzes drugs for depression, anxiety, ADHD, chronic pain, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Assurex has also published a series of clinical trials conducted with the Mayo Clinic. It seems obvious that assessment beats the usual patient trial-and-error, but like most startups in the healthcare field, they are still trying to figure out the major reimbursement questions–who pays and how much. And somewhere there’s a digital health spin to this….MedCityNews

EU Accessibility Legislation: boring but very important

According to the EC Workplan for 2014, item 21 is the European Accessibility Act.

“The initiative will improve the market of goods and services that are accessible for persons with disabilities and elderly persons, based on a “design for all” approach. This business friendly initiative will include binding measures to promote procurement and harmonisation of accessibility standards. The initiative is currently in a consultation process with industry and stakeholders.”

One such consultation covers electronic equipment.  It is being managed by the organisation with the acronym BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications). A workshop was led on 15/10/13 – details are here. There has been word of a further more significant meeting involving the EC in early December. (Note that leading the consultation are DG Enterprise and DG Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (not DG Connect)).

Why are we flagging this up? Well there seems little evidence to date of much engagement from the eHealth and telemedicine-related activities in the UK, so this is a call to appropriate readers to get engaged with BEREC, before decisions are taken that without appropriate UK involvement.

TSA Crystal Awards shortlist announced

The Telecare Services Association announced its Crystal Awards nominees which recognize excellence across technology enabled services and creative technology development.

Most creative application of technology including telecare, telehealth, telecoaching
STAY (Sandwell Telecare Assisting You) and Red Embedded Systems Ltd
Contour Homes
The Medvivo Group

Enhancing lives through technology enabled services
The Medvivo Group
Peninsula Community Health
Stafford and Rural Homes

Professional of the Year
Bristol Careline
Stafford and Rural Homes
Contour Homes

This Editor notes that Medvivo, Contour Homes and Stafford and Rural Homes are nominated in two out of three categories, which if we were betting on the Academy Awards® would perhaps cancel each other out. Winners to be announced at the International Telecare and Telehealth Conference’s Gala Dinner on 12 November 2013. Release.

IET Annual Healthcare Awards and Lecture

The IET is kindly offering places at the above to all TTA readers.  The event is happening in London on the 21st November 2013. Mr Douglas Anderson OBE FRSE FRSA, Founder and VP of Global Advocacy, Optos Plc is the keynote speaker for the event, and his talk will focus on that company.  Optos’s ultra-widefield retinal imaging system products are apparently the world’s first capable of detecting a large range of sight and life threatening diseases. The talk will also discuss wider issues of technology development and the need to keep focused on the inherent value proposition.

Book here.

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…)

Engaging with aging tech

LeadingAge, the main association for non-profit ‘aging services’ providers, hosted a ‘hackathon’ of sorts called HackFest at its annual convention last week. Eight international teams of students were given a 24 hour challenge to come up with an idea and create a prototype application, device or website. The winner was Team Global EngAge who developed a platform for retirement communities to offer their activities–book clubs, religious services and clubs–online so that home-bound elderly can participate via video conferencing. The purpose of the hackathon was to focus on technology needs in senior services and was sponsored by investor Ziegler and Asbury Communities. Unfortunately neither McKnights or LeadingAge list or explore the seven other concepts, which would have been interesting as all these teams can look to further develop and fund their ideas.

Quick Tuesday takes on health tech

Long-term sensors, smart thermometers and the Scanadu Nirvana

The first study of long term use of carbon nanotubes as implanted sensors has been published in Nature Nanotechnology. The nanotubes were implanted for a year in animals to track nitrous oxide (NO), an indicator of inflammation which is important in and of itself, but the level of NO is also not understood long term in cancer. To detect NO, the tubes are wrapped in DNA with a particular sequence and wrapped in an alginate gel to stay in place for a recorded 400 days. The MIT team working on this is also working on nanotubes for real-time detection of glucose levels, towards an accurate insulin pump that would end the diabetic’s perpetual Battle of Stalingrad. MIT News and FierceHealthIT.

The Kinsa smart thermometer for iPhone and Android received a glowing article in Fast Company Design. (more…)

Evaluating your company’s potential investors

While this Xconomy article focuses on biotech, the pointers for health tech companies starting to engage with investors are equally applicable to developers and partners in any country. It’s also helpfully divided into ‘red’ and ‘green flags’–red flags being signs that the investor is not ‘aligned’ with the company’s interests. And disrespectful or an overly short-term focus also tells you to walk away, even if bags of money are in the balance. You ideally want engaged, respectful, successful and informed investors. The writer has been there, done that. Red (and Green) Flags To Look for With Biotech’s Buyside Investors

Due diligence: the importance of the internal IP audit

This is the fourth article of an occasional series on law and intellectual property (IP) as it affects software and systems used in health technology. The topic is the importance on implementing your own audit of your company’s IP and why you should enlist an outside company to do it. More than a list of your copyrights and patents, an independently conducted internal audit will prepare your company for the external due diligence expected when a bank wants to vet a loan or an investor knocks on the door–and it includes things like your website and IT. While Mr. Grossman is writing in the context of US law, our UK and international readers will find his pointers applicable both locally and in dealing with the US. What’s refreshing is his plain writing and lack of ‘legalese’. 

Mark Grossman, JD, has nearly 30 years’ experience in business law and began focusing his practice on technology over 20 years ago. He is an attorney with Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt in New York City and has for ten years been listed in Best Lawyers in America. Mr. Grossman has been Special Counsel for the X-Prize Foundation and SME (subject matter expert) for Florida’s Internet Task Force. More information on Mr. Grossman here and at his blog.


Intellectual property may be among the most valuable assets your company owns. The problem with intellectual property (IP) is that by its nature its intangible. You can’t touch it or see it. So how do you know what you have and own?

The starting point is to look to any registrations you may have with the government. For example, you may have registered a copyright or trademark and have paperwork to prove it. However, the registrations are just the starting point. It turns out that getting a handle on your company’s IP assets can be a complex process.  (more…)

Changes at the top at Tunstall


A reliable and informed source has told this Editor (1 Nov) that Gil Baldwin, Group CEO of Tunstall Healthcare Group Ltd. will be stepping down, to be replaced by Paul Stobart, the former CEO of CPPGroup plc. Mr. Baldwin joined Tunstall in March 2010 from major insurer Aviva, where he headed Aviva Health. Prior to CPP, Mr. Stobart held various positions over 15 years at global enterprise software giant Sage Group, concluding as their CEO for Northern Europe.

Charterhouse Capital Partners acquired Tunstall in 2008, with former owner Bridgepoint Capital retaining a minority share. However, a sale/VC exit has long been rumored. The company recently received some unflattering attention on its (fully legal) usage of the Quoted Eurobond Exemption in The Independent [TTA 25 Oct].

This Editor notes that Mr. Stobart became CPPGroup’s CEO to manage the fallout after it was revealed in March 2011 that the FSA (Financial Services Authority) was investigating the company for mis-selling their bank card protection and identity theft products. After two years of struggle and a record £10.5 million FSA fine, four major banks dramatically rescued the company in July with an eleventh-hour £38 million refinancing, but the consequence of restructuring was that Mr. Stobart and the CFO both stepped down in August. [Guardian, Sky News via Orange, CreditToday] This was certainly a trial by fire. It should also be noted that to this Editor’s knowledge, Mr. Stobart has no specific healthcare, telecare/telehealth or health insurance experience, which is unusual for a position of this type.

Update 4 November: Tunstall’s release at 2:20 PM UK time, making this official. Our source indicates that Mr. Stobart’s start date is today (Monday) and it transpired quickly with business staff only being notified internally last Wednesday, which makes this an exceedingly quick change.

Free Medical Apps Event

For the past few weeks I have been commissioned by the i3i project, part of the dallas programme, to examine what is necessary to improve clinical and patient confidence in the efficacy of medical apps.  I will shortly publicise my initial draft recommendations to seek reader feedback.

In the meantime, readers might be interested in a free event (more…)

Brief report on the European Telemedicine Conference, Edinburgh 29-30 October 2013

The European Telemedicine Conference held in Edinburgh’s historic Assembly Rooms this week exceeded my expectations in many ways.

A vital requirement of all such events is good networking, which Edinburgh promoted most effectively. There was plenty of break time and lots of opportunity to see and meet people. There was a goodly number of stands too, where like-minded people could coalesce. For some there were personalised itineraries that helped as well. Then on the second day, a very deliberate effort was made (more…)

Dick Cheney’s defibrillator and medical device hacking

The news this week that former US Vice President Dick Cheney and his cardiologist decided to turn off wireless access to his implanted defibrillator (ICD) in 2007 based on fears of radio-based attacks underlines the increased awareness of security threats to wireless interfacing or programmable devices. The fear of ‘death by malicious hacking’ could very well lessen the sales and acceptance of new wireless-dependent designs in pacemakers, diabetes management/artificial pancreas and even medication ingestion tracking (Proteus). One proposal outlined in medical device supplier blog Qmed is interesting: “Since most proposed attacks would take place from a distance, researchers believe that using a patient’s heartbeat signature as a password could offer an adequate level of security. Using a heartbeat signature password, pacemakers and other devices would only unlock when “fed back” an individual’s heartbeat in real time.”  Yet beyond that, an advanced ‘white hat’ hacker like the late Barnaby Jack envisioned bugs in programming which could negate this to create murdering pacemakers as well as killer insulin pumps. (A look back at Barnaby and his still mysterious death in the Daily MailDick Cheney: Heart implant attack was credible (BBC News) Hat tip to TANN Ireland’s Toni Bunting. Previously in TTA: A ‘mobilized’ artificial pancreas breakthrough included the increased awareness of hack attacks in the medical mainstream and Contributing Editor Charles on compromised smartphone apps.