Telehealth in South Australia – Medicare Locals

In 2011 the Australian Government established new organisations called Medicare Locals to plan and fund [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]extra health services in communities across Australia. Country South South Australia Medicare Local (CSSAML), one such Medicare Local, has been very active in promoting telehealth/telemedicine in its region covering just over 7% of South Australia.

Health areas to which telehealth has been directed by CSSAML include psychiatry, psychology, gastroenterology and cardiology. Videophones in GP practices and non-hospital settings provide telepsychology, telepsychiatry and other specialist services to support GP’s in rural communities via the State Government’s Digital Telehealth Network; (more…)

One more step in changing the patient:doctor relationship

We have written extensively in recent months about how technology is changing the way patients are using doctors, yet some, notably the RCGP in their vision of GP practice in 2022, seem unprepared, or unwilling to accept this. Well if more evidence of the coming change were needed, AliveCor’s announcement that it now has FDA approval for sales of its (iOS & Android) smartphone-enabled heart monitor direct to the public will perhaps provide some.

In particular, the announcement includes a service – available in the US only at present – called AliveInsights, that will (more…)

TSA: opening up or losing the plot?

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /](Editor Donna is posting for The Gimlet Eye, who is filing from an undisclosed tropical location.)

Hats off to Alyson Bell, the TSA’s Managing director, for publishing the results of an independent review carried out in September 2013 in the Winter 2013-14 edition of TSA’s publication, The Link (sent to members, one of whom kindly passed it to The Gimlet Eye, although not currently accessible to non-members on their website). It makes interesting reading – there are compliments about the speakers and facilities at the annual conference, however there are many areas identified for improvement, such as the comment about TSA Forums that “London Telecare Market Place events are better”. (London Telecare has now of course become UK Telehealthcare). Of particular interest to The Gimlet Eye is the feedback on training which begins with the observation that “Current satisfaction rate was 50%” and goes on to explain that members wanted it delivered more ‘hands on’, with ‘how to’ topics and at lower cost.

It is then quite surprising that Lancashire Social Services, presumably still reeling from the abrupt cancellation of the pricey One Connect deal last November, are said to have awarded their recent tender for telecare awareness training for hundreds of staff (which presumably should be ‘hands on’ and ‘how to’ focused) to the TSA. Was the key factor in selecting the TSA raising the low satisfaction rate with training, or was the lead consideration a lower or lowest cost compared to other bidders? (In this respect, had Lancashire Social Services read the feedback in The Link’s review, The Eye wonders?)

Other factors: the TSA is not a large organization, so given the evident size of the training requirement, will this mean even fewer people available to deliver courses to members? Will it mean contracting in people to deliver courses who perhaps, as TSA members, were competing against the TSA for the Lancashire work?

Is this what member organizations should be doing? Comments please!

National Health Summit (Ireland)–reporter wanted

Unfortunately Editor Toni will not be able to cover this conference taking place 19 February in Dublin as originally planned, due to an overriding business commitment. If there is an interested reader who would like to attend in her stead, and who can prepare a timely report (within 72 hours) from this event, please contact Editor Donna ASAP as the event is next Wednesday. We will make arrangements with the organizers to provide free press admission and of course you will receive writing credit, but other expenses will not be covered. (For the article, our standard is that you can be selective and interesting rather than comprehensive.)

AliveCor ECG gains FDA over-the-counter approval

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]AliveCor Inc., the developer of the AliveCor mobile heart monitor, announced today the granting of over-the-counter (OTC) clearance for the device.  It is a single-channel ECG ‘case’ that snaps on to iPhones and Android phones to record, display, store and transfer data into the AliveCor application where it can be transmitted to doctors or in the US, to a US-based board-certified cardiologist or cardiac technician in a new analysis program called AliveInsights. US residents can pre-order now with shipments starting in March for $199. It is already available for the UK and Ireland through AmazonUK at £169. Release PDF

Three conferences coming up soon

There are three telehealth conferences coming up in March and April which are noteworthy.

The Australian Telehealth Conference 2014 is on the 19th and 20th March in Melbourne. It is brought together by a set of key organisations in the field: the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA), the Allied Health Professions Australia, the Australasian Telehealth Society, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Australian Medicare Local Alliance, the Health Information Management Association of Australia and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Keynote presentations cover mHealth, Integreated Care, Rural Medicine, Law and others. More info is on the ATC 2014 website.

Next up, from 30 March to 1 April the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Summit 2014, in Fredericksburg, VA (USA) will examine ways in which telehealth adds value to patients, practitioners, hospitals etc. Participants will explore the concept of value-add through an interactive program. More on this is on the MATRC 2014 website.

Finally we have the California Telehealth Network 2014 Summit on April 28 and 29 in Newport, CA. Subtitled Growing California’s Connections, this is the second annual event and will build upon information, ideas and practice with even more presentations, educational sessions and networking opportunities. More on CTN 2014 Summit website.

School telehealth in Louisiana

Hot on the heels of the Texas school telehealth expansion reported earlier (Telehealth counselling program expands in Texas TTA, Jan 27) comes news  of a school telehealth system in neighbouring Louisiana. The Advocate, a Baton Rouge newspaper, reports that from next month students at Ossun Elementary with earaches, sore throats or other common sick-at-school ailments will be seen on the elementary school campus by a doctor in an exam room about five miles away at Carencro Middle School’s school-based health centre.

Louisiana has several school-based health centres (see Louisiana Adolescent School Health Program) and Carencro’s centre opened in 2010. As the School Boards look into cost-effective ways of expanding these services, Lafayette has decided to use the Carencro facility via telehealth technologies at the nearby Elementary.

School based health centres are said to help students  achieve better academically as a majority of students (Lafayette claim 90-95%) with minor ailments  will be able to rejoin their classes following a consultation at the school rather than having to miss school to visit the family physician.  Then there’s the obvious advantage for the parents too!

Nursing home telemedicine reduces hospitalizations: study

A controlled two-year study in a chain of eleven Massachusetts for-profit nursing homes significantly reduced readmissions through the use of telemedicine (remote consults) with patients during off-hours and weekends. Those homes which used the (unidentified) telemedicine provider the most frequently–four–had the greatest reductions in rates of hospitalization: 11.3 percent, versus 9.7 percent for the six facilities which adopted the system first. A control group of five which presumably did not use telemedicine had a reduction of 5.3 percent. Calculating the savings to Medicare, the researchers estimated $150,000 per nursing home per year. With a telemedicine cost of $30,000 per nursing home, the net savings would be roughly $120,000 for each home using the services most frequently. The researchers are David C. Grabowski of Harvard Medical School and A. James O’Malley of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine. Abstract (full text in Health Affairs paywalled), Medical News Today. Hat tip to Editor Toni Bunting.

TTA’s Editors are highlighting several of the articles in this month’s Health Affairs ‘Connected Health’ issue: Study shows telehealth increases new healthcare usersState policies, size influence hospital telehealth adoptionHealth Affairs review of telehealth/telemedicine studies. Health Affairs provides a helpful overview of this month’s articles ( full text) in Connected Health: Emerging Disruptive Technologies

Legrand “joint venture” with Neat

A press release on Legrand’s website and (in Spanish) on Neat’s website, both just published, confirm the forming of a joint venture between the two.  This of course is the Legrand that took over Tynetec last year and Intervox in 2011, making it, they claim, now the  “second-largest player in the promising assisted living market.”

Neat’s products, distributed through Possum, have been finding favour across the UK because of their attractive prices. How, one wonders will the tie-up with Tynetec’s organisation now work, and will Possum now lose this attractive distribution arrangement, particularly in the major rollout in Cornwall where Neat are preferred suppliers?

All comments, anonymous or otherwise, will be gratefully received.

Finally, just to be clear, there is no connection between Neat, the Spanish supplier of assisted living equipment and Newham’s NeAT programme  (which originally stood for Newham Advanced Telecare and it so happens at one time I managed).

A mine of app data – free!

Vision Mobile has just produced their 6th annual survey of the apps market, entitled “Developer Economics: Ecosystem wars drawing to a close” which is stuffed full of useful information on trends in app development, and is free.

There is so much in there that it is invidious to pick out a few quotes to whet your appetite, however needs must, so here are some, from the introduction:

“Six years on, the mobile ecosystem wars are drawing to a close with Android and iOS capturing over 94% of smartphone sales in Q4 2013. Android continues to dominate Developer Mindshare with 71% of developers that target mobile platforms, developing for Android.” (more…)

Study shows telehealth increases new healthcare users

Rand Corp has published the results of an analysis of telehealth consultations. “We analyzed claims data for a large California agency serving public employees that recently offered Teladoc as a covered service.” says the summary from Rand. “The 3,701 Teladoc ‘visits’ we studied were for a broad range of diagnostic categories, the most common of which were acute respiratory conditions, urinary tract infections, and skin problems. Compared to patients who visited a physician’s office for a similar condition, adult Teladoc users were younger and less likely to have used health care before the introduction of Teladoc. Patients who used Teladoc were less likely to have a follow-up visit to any setting, compared to those patients who visited a physician’s office or emergency department. Teladoc appears to be expanding access to patients who are not connected to other providers.”

The results have been published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Rand Press release Analysis of Teladoc Use Seems to Indicate Expanded Access to Care for Patients Without Prior Connection to a Provider. See also Health Affairs article.

US health data breaches hit record; backdoored?

Security firm Redspin reports a total of 7.1 million affected records in 2013, up from 3 million in 2012. The five largest breaches accounted for 85 percent of the total: Advocate Health, Horizon BCBSNJ, AHMC Healthcare, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and Indiana Family & Social Services Administration. Hardware theft of unencrypted devices accounted for the first three; Texas Health was perhaps the most unique because it disposed of over 277,000 microfiche patient records in a city park, making it the winner of last May’s ‘It’s Just Mulch’ award in ‘The exploding black market in healthcare data’.  Not included in the Redspin report (free download here) was a mid-December breach of 405,000 records at Bryan, Texas-based St. Joseph Health System which would have put it fourth on the list. This took place in a two-day data security attack on their servers traced to China and reported to the FBI. While Redspin attributes only six percent of breaches to hacking, this is an amount sure to increase as more information is digitized. Health Data Management, iHealthBeat, FierceHealthIT  Security breaches, natural disasters and outages are events that cost US hospitals over $1.6 billion annually, and 82 percent of health IT executives surveyed by MeriTalk said that their technology infrastructure is “not fully prepared for a disaster recovery incident.” The $1.6 billion seems low in light of the Ponemon Institute’s 2012 health data breach estimate of $7 billion annually–and the $12 billion in victim costs [TTA 14 Sept 13]. FierceHealthIT

.…and wait till security breaches start. This Editor stopped beating the dead and quartered horse of last year, finding that what was suspected and detailed from the start was simply borne out by subsequent revelations. Another example: the recent revelation that US intelligence agencies are highly concerned that code in the website was produced by programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied to that hotbed of hacking, Russia. That means that ‘backdoors’ are right in the code, waiting to be opened. This affects more than the website–but through the hub, states, HHS, IRS and DHS. How did our Washington types find out about it? When a top Belarusian official bragged on state radio about it! Ace intelligence writer Bill Gertz in the Washington Times broke the story. (Want more on the website’s security problems? See here for more on the Gertz story plus the David Kennedy/TrustedSec testimony and more. But bring your preferred headache remedy!)

State policies, size influence hospital telehealth adoption

A study published this month in Health Affairs examines the factors influencing adoption of telehealth (likely telemedicine/remote consults, though it’s difficult to tell from context). While 42 percent of US hospitals have telehealth capabilities, positive influences are inclusion in a hospital system, teaching hospital status, non-profit status and importantly, whether state regulations promote private payer reimbursement. Another apparent positive in adoption is small population and few hospitals: Alaska (71 percent), Arkansas (71 percent), South Dakota (70 percent), and Maine (69 percent). A major negative factor: restrictive licensure of out-of-state providers that prevent multi-state practice.  Authored by the busy Dr. Joseph Kvedar of the Center for Connected Health, Julia Adler-Milstein of the University of Michigan and David W. Bates of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. HA abstract (full text is paywalled), FierceHealthIT  Earlier this week in TTA: Ohio telehealth bill passed in Senate

USDA invests $16M in Distance Learning and telemedicine

The US Department of Agriculture is investing nearly $16 million expanding distance learning and [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]telemedicine, it was announced on Tuesday, 4th February. The Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, stated that the Obama Administration is investing in rural telecommunications equipment to help expand access to education, create jobs and improve health care in 25 states. This funding will help to support Obama Administration’s target declared last June to connect 99 percent of students to broadband in the next five years.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program. It provides funding to rural hospitals, clinics, schools and libraries for equipment and technical assistance for telemedicine and distance learning. Grant recipients must demonstrate that they serve rural America, prove there is an economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds.  (more…)

Health IT funding bubble seen by veteran investor

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”120″ /] How is health tech like the 1990s ‘dot-com’-ers? Veteran Silicon Valley investor (HealthTech Capital) and former entrepreneur Anne DeGheest projects a ‘Series B crunch‘ in funding health tech and IT in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch. The key factors: angels and ‘unsophisticated investors’ are pouring money into all sorts of devices, apps and related services in seed and Series A stages just to get on board in a hot sector. When the founders of these companies get to Series B and present to more demanding investors, the lack of a true value proposition and a detailed business plan that answers basic questions leave them standing on, as aptly put, ‘a pier to nowhere’ or as Joe Hage termed it last month, ‘insolvent with a great idea.’

Ms. DeGheest’s view that we are reprising the elements of the ‘dot-com’ bubble is confirmed by the numbers in Rock Health‘s and PwC‘s funding reports throughout 2013:   (more…)

Company debuts, news: 3rings, GrandCare Systems

3rings debuts (UK)

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]If you remember back in the landline-only days, a clever and toll-free way to let a family member or friend that you had arrived at your destination and you were fine, was to ring their number three times, then hang up. brings this idea back for older family members and their families in a slightly different form. The older person either calls 3rings or answers their call, and the system generates an ‘all’s well’ message sent to designated family, neighbors and friends via smartphone app (iOS and Android), call, text, email or web. Lack of contact generates a red alert. What is new is that if one person in the group clicks on the alert to indicate that they will check on the person, an amber alert is created to advise all others on the notification list. A green ‘all clear’ is sent once it’s confirmed that the older individual is fine. There is a free trial with two levels of subscription services (£5.99/month and £9.99/month). Founders Steve Purdham (Chairman) and Gareth Reakes (CEO) have a successful entrepreneurial track record, most recently with UK/Ireland music service WE7, sold to Tesco in 2012. They were inspired by Gareth’s nan, Vera, and Steve’s mum, Iris, who appears in this video on the 3rings YouTube playlist. ‘How it works’ video (YouTube), press release (PDF)

GrandCare Systems’ fund raising (US/UK)

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]One of telecare and telehealth’s true ‘grizzled pioneers’ in telecare remote monitoring and now socialization, Wisconsin-based GrandCare Systems, has announced a $2 million capital raise. New CEO and local investor Dan Maynard is leading the charge to pitch GrandCare to large family investment funds, institutional investors and strategic investors such as insurers. Like 3rings, family reasons were behind GrandCare’s development and it’s remained self-funded to date. Of note is that the company has reached 1,000 units in use, even at a premium $699 plus monthly subscription fee, and is projecting an increase to 10,000 units. New agreements have been inked with UnitedHealthcare, CenturyLink Home Security Services and’s 50 Plus section. Saga Group also distributes GrandCare in the UK (TTA 24 Jan 13, 10 Jan 13). This Editor, a former competitor, has to cheer the founder, Charles Hillman and his team, notably Laura Mitchell who is a relentless marketer in only the best sense of the term, for sticking with the vision and making it successful. Milwaukee Business Journal