Coffee break articles

Here’s a selection of articles  if you have a few idle minutes this coffee break in which to soak up some interesting views.

Emerging Niche: Telehealth from the American Occupational Therapy Association tells the story of what Jana Cason did when she took over an OT caseload which involved a 4-hour round trip.

Telecare handling 100,000 calls every six months from the Times of Malta gives a brief insight into telecare growth in Malta.

Telehealth trend rings in changes to care in The Tennessean debates the pros and cons of telehealth in pediatric care in the US

Do we know enough about telehealth to know it’ll work? from Total Politics is a fascinating debate by two British MPs and a Research Fellow from Nuffield Trust

Free telehealth distance learning sessions in Georgia (US)

The Georgia Partnership for Telehealth is holding a series of distance learning sessions given by[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /] Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on the first Tuesday of every month and the next one entitiled  “Concussions: the facts and controversy” by David Popoli, M.D. will be on the 4th of February. Unfortunately you still have to attend one of the 5 centers in Georgia (more centers are promised if the demand grows) so this is really limited to Georgians!

To register visit the registration website.

The next two will be:

March 4 – Obesity Prevention/Raising Healthy Eaters, presented by Lisa Giles, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.D.E.

April 1 – Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes and Pre-diabetes in Children: Pearls and Pitfalls, presented by Nina Ham, M.D.

New diabetes telehealth trial in Mississippi (US)

A new telehealth trial for diabetes patients will be recruiting patients in Mississippi this spring. Known [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]as the Diabetes Telehealth Network, the trial is planned to provide a classic telehealth service for up to 200 patients for a period of 18 months.

This trial is a result of a collaboration between several public and private organizations: the Mississippi Governor’s office, University of Mississippi, North Sunflower Medical Center, GE Healthcare, Intel-GE Care Innovations and C Spire.

The recruited trialists will be provided with a broadband connected tablet PC which will have software to enable daily medical measurements to be transmitted to a specialist team at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. A press release states that the measurements will include weight, blood pressure, and glucose level and these will be monitored by the clinical staff at (more…)

Startup develops online telepsychiatry platform

A Chattanooga based startup has launched an online videoconferencing facility for providing remote counselling services.  WeCounsel ( claim their browser based application is “HIPPA compliant”, a key selling point for their product, although it  is not obvious from their website what specific aspcts of HIPPA they have addressed with their platform. WeCounsel claim to have around 75 clients using the platform to provide direct counselling services to patients.

The Chattanooga Times recently reported that WeCounsel has been signed up by a larger telepsychiatry facility provider InSight to resell the WeCounsel online platform as a lower cost alternative to the traditional videoconferencing facilities which requires relatively expensive equipment.

Database of telehealth and telecare projects in Scotland (UK)

A database of telehealth and telecare services and projects in Scotland has been developed and made [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]available as a public resource. For any given project included in the database it gives the organizations behind the project, a brief description, the type of users targetted and the technology used.

Developed by the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare (SCTT) the database can be searched online, say, to pick up all diabetes related projects in the database. One purpose of the database is to help the SCTT to review the uptake of technology used to deliver care.

SCTT is a part of NHS 24, which was established by the Scottish Government in 2001. NHS 24 is [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”100″ /]responsible for the delivery of clinical assessment and triage, health advice and information by telephone and online means in Scotland 24 hours a day all year round.

The database can be accessed here and further information on NHS 24 can be obtained here.

Terminology: do we need another contribution?

Although I suspect most readers have now got used to the variability in definitions in our field, to the point where it has, thankfully, dropped from being the regular debating point it used to be on TTA (eg here, here and here), valiant souls occasionally pop up to continue seeking to impose uniformity. The most recent is this paper from the European Connected Health Alliance and Wragge & Co, which has an excellent justification for its publication:

In our legal opinion, a more important distinction with these definitions is whether the products and/or services involved are regulated by telecommunication and technology laws and/or health laws. To answer these legal issues comprehensively you need clear legal definitions which do not exist either in the UK or on a pan European (EU) basis.

…which seems a very good point that I suspect many of us had missed. (Perhaps more important for many readers, I guess standardisation would make it easier for recruiters to find the best people to invite for interview from LinkedIn, too, now that that database has become the recognised database for professionals in many fields).

It is certainly a good collation of views on many of the terms we often use. There is much good stuff in here too (more…)

Videolink telehealth continues expanding in Yorkshire (UK)

The video-link/ videoconferencing system used by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in Yorkshire, [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]England, to provide remote medical assistance is being rolled out to additoinal care home sites. The service is staffed by a specialist nurse at Airedale General Hospital who uses the system, known as the Telehealth Hub, to assess patients and support staff at the homes.

According to the Keighley News the service was installed in a Bradford nursing home with the first use on New Year’s Eve. Staff at Ashville Care Home are quoted as saying that the service allows their residents to receive medical care without having to call a GP out or take them into hospital. A hospital visit would mean having to get extra cover as a member of staff needs to go as well.

Meanwhile the Telegraph & Argus reports (more…)

South Korea to push Telehealth – good for Samsung

Returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she met with several company CEOs, [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]South Korean President Park Geun-hye has decided to promote telehealth as a new growth engine for South Korea according to the Shanghai Daily. The president wants to see the country become a global leader in telehealth with a strong domestic use of the technology.

This is particularly fortunate for Samsung, the country’s largest group of companies, which is also said to be planning biomedicine and medical equipment to be among its growth sectors with a reported 10-year total of $22 bn (US) of investment across all its growth sectors. Samsung already produces major hospital equipment such as ultrasound and digital radiography systems, currently operates a massive hospital and cancer center in Seoul and is, (more…)

An essential link to mHealth devices and apps?

Guest columnist Lois Drapin thinks so. She shares her insights on Validic, an emerging company in data integration for payers, providers, preventive wellness companies and pharma;how it evolved from its original concept in consumer health engagement, along with a few pointers its founders have for fellow entrepreneurs.

One of the keystone aspects of “ecosystems” is interoperability and this also applies to the data pipeline that flows from health apps and devices to the appropriate segment of the healthcare delivery system, and eventually, to the users—patients, consumers and/or medical professionals such as physicians and nurses or other clinicians. By now, we all know that the capture and analytics for both “big” and “small” health data are business imperatives for healthcare in the US. With data of this nature, we can embrace our understanding of behavioral change at the individual and population levels. The anticipated outcomes of behavioral change may power operational and cost efficiencies in the healthcare industry.

But data will no longer come from just inside the healthcare delivery system. In addition to the changing technology enablement within the health system, as we all know, data will flow from many things—in fact, The Internet of Things (IoT). This means that data that relates to our lifestyle, wellness and health will pour from the many types of wearable devices not now connected to the heath delivery system. In addition to our computers, tablets, phablets and smartphones, are the many sensors paired with tech innovations such as the wearables— from wristbands, smartwatches, clothing (from shoes to headbands), glasses, contacts, and pendants — to things such as refrigerators, clocks, mattresses, scales, coffee pots, cars, and even, toilets…all of which are predicted to become an important market in the coming years.

Validic, based in Durham, NC, has put itself smack in the middle of that market (more…)

Telepsychiatry: a new practitioner’s experience

Daniel W. Knoedler, MD in Psychiatric News chronicles his first week as a full-time telepsychiatrist, working for the Green Bay VA Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is definitely a bit stressed as he adjusts to working alone in a cold basement, his image in the video system and the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Psychiatrist who doesn’t have face-to-face contact with patients–and his own socialization. Yet he thinks telemedicine is useful in addressing the lack of access to care for patients and that the technology is not much of a barrier. He does worry about the consequences of not shaving, leading to some musings on Howard Hughes.  Telepsychiatry: First Week in the Trenches

Telepsychiatry pilot success in the Bronx

More on telepsychiatry: a pilot at Lincoln Hospital in The Bronx (borough of NYC) for adolescent telepsychiatry consultations reported success with only one in 10 patients being hospitalized after the telehealth consultation, according to Louis Capponi, M.D., chief medical informatics officer for New York Health & Hospitals Corporation, the parent of Lincoln Hospital. “The impact was very profound in terms of the number of patients that were able to (be) discharged safely.” HHC is considering expanding the pilot to patients who come in through the prison system. What is puzzling is that in the exclusive interview with Dr. Capponi in FierceHealthIT, there is no information on the duration of the pilot, the number of patients in the program, or details that would give our readers some framework beyond ‘engaging patients through technology’.

Telehealth counselling program expands in Texas

Following on from our article on the school telehealth scheme in Michigan  (Smaller scale telehealth and telecare sucesses, [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]TTA Jan 4), we report now how a remote counselling clinic started by Texas A&M to provide psychological counselling to rural population has expanded. The Telehealth Counselling Clinic in Centerville, Leon County, was started from a grant in 2007 to the Center of Community Health Development (Texas A&M) and Leon County, and provides counselling using Texas A&M faculty and graduate students in the counselling psychology program, supervised by licensed psychologists.

The service has now been expanded to Madison and Washington counties based on the success seen in Leon County. Two more sites are planned for opening  in 2014. (more…)

US, UK agreement on HIT

Edited from the HHS releaseUS Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and UK Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt on Thursday 23 January signed a bi-lateral agreement for the use and sharing of health IT information and tools. The agreement strengthens efforts to cultivate and increase the use of health IT tools and information designed to help improve the quality and efficiency of the delivery of health care in both countries.  The two Secretaries signed the agreement at the Annual Meeting of the HHS Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. It concentrates on four key areas identified at the joint June 2013 summit:

  • Sharing Quality Indicators
  • Liberating Data and Putting It to Work
  • Adopting Digital Health Record Systems
  • Priming the Health IT Market

Collaboration efforts will be showcased at the Health Innovation Expo conference at Manchester Central 3-4 March (two weeks before HC2014) and the Health Datapalooza on 1-3 June in Washington, DC. A possible good sign for telehealth as there’s a great deal of mention of ‘preventive interventions’, ‘accessing and sharing data’ and the ‘health IT marketplace’.

Full memorandum of understanding text here. Also iHealthBeat.


19-20 March 2014, Manchester Central, Petersfield, UK

For over 30 years, HC has delivered thought leadership; informing and educating its audience on the how the latest innovations in technology support the increasing demands within healthcare. HC2014 will address all the current healthcare reforms with a number of themes referring to the call for paperless NHS by 2018. Key sessions will demonstrate technology to support Patient Engagement, Safer Hospitals and Integrated Care. Conference and exhibition presented by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in partnership with HIMSS. Conference keynoters include Tim Kelsey, NHS England; Andrea Sutcliffe, Care Quality Commission; Mike Pringle, Royal College of GPs; Kingsley Manning, HSCIC. Information and registration. Hat tip to reader Louise Sinclair. If there are TTA readers planning to attend, we are once again inviting you to contribute an article or a compilation of impressions. This can be filed within 72 hours of the close of event; alternatively, during or at day’s end/start. If you are interested, please email EIC Donna here ( It is expected that you can be selective and interesting rather than comprehensive. You will be credited of course but expenses and article will not be covered. 


Advanced haptics advancing behavioral mHealth

Haptics is the feedback you receive through a sense of touch–think of the slight vibration you receive on a mobile touchscreen when you touch a ‘button’. Marry haptics to behavioral health and remote monitoring, and you have some interesting devices from MIT’s Touch Lab (formally the Laboratory for Human and Machine Haptics) which have reached clinical testing stage. The four are Touch Me, Squeeze Me, Hurt Me, and Cool Me Down. Touch Me is an array of sensors that vibrate at the caregiver’s remote command to simulate touch. The related Squeeze Me is a vest that inflates, also remotely controlled, to simulate holding, similar to the T.Ware T-Jacket vest [TTA 22 Mar]. Both are for autistic children or those with sensory processing disorders. The touch is to calm and reassure them. Hurt Me is not for the local “dungeon” or Client #9–it’s to assist in the therapy of those who deliberately harm themselves such as ‘cutters’ by simulating the feeling of being bitten on the arm. The pins against the skin deliver controlled pain without breaking the skin. (more…)

HealthSpot Station kiosks add telepharmacy

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”180″ /]’Virtual consult’/staffed kiosk HealthSpot Station [TTA 29 Oct], most recently adding behavioral health EHR Netsmart and telemedicine provider Teladoc [TTA 5 Sept], as well as several health system providers, is expanding into telepharmacy through a strategic alliance with Canada-based MedAvail. MedAvail’s kiosks fill prescriptions in clinics, hospitals and office locations, including live assistance from a pharmacist, though the website video doesn’t explain how drugs not in stock in the kiosk are handled. What’s notable? Large kiosks are moving towards full-scope onsite clinics. HealthSpot in its three years of existence has quietly accumulated over $15 million in funding, $10 million in 2013 alone–a fact that is not included in Rock Health’s Digital Health 2013 report, unless this Editor overlooked it. Is this not digital health delivered? Correct me if I’m wrong. HealthSpot/MedAvail press release. Also see Editor Charles’ post on ‘The Future of Doctors’ below for more on this trend and its consequences.