Lessons learned from rural telehealth in Pennsylvania

Several years ago, CJ Rhoads, a business professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and CEO of consultancy HPL Consortium, asked Editor Steve and Donna for some background information on telehealth. According to her note last month to us, the results of her research were reported to the Pennsylvania legislature and The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (a legislative agency of the PA Assembly), in 2014 and now have been published in a more readable form by CRC Press-Taylor & Francis Group. An excerpt from their summary:

Improving the quality of healthcare, while increasing accessibility and lowering costs, is a complex dilemma facing rural communities around the world. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania believed that telehealth, the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare was a viable solution so it recently provided grants to conduct a thorough investigation into the factors involved.

Telehealth in Rural Hospitals: Lessons Learned from Pennsylvania reports the outcome of this year-long investigation. Illustrating telehealth implementations in rural settings, it supplies an overview of telehealth as well as an assessment of its economic impact.

The book skillfully intertwines the research and academic aspects of telehealth with helpful insights from the author.

From the table of contents, it appears to be an exhaustively researched book on telehealth and its impact in rural healthcare. It’s available to purchase on CRC’s website. Thanks to author CJ Rhoads for the heads up!

Tunstall acquires Hawaii monitoring service, tracks wandering in Australia

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Big-T-thumb-480×294-55535.gif” thumb_width=”120″ /]Tunstall Americas has made a second acquisition of a home monitoring service and distributor in Hawaii, Lifeline Hawaii Services. Based in Honolulu and providing monitoring throughout the Islands, it appears from a statement by CEO Casey Pittock that the 15-year-old company will be merged with an earlier acquisition, Kupuna Monitoring Systems. Monitoring services will be provided on the mainland in New York City and Rhode Island. This marks the eleventh acquisition of local monitoring services Tunstall has made since late 2014. A caution to Mr Pittock: Editor Donna having some experience with a mainland company managing a significant Hawaii presence, albeit in a different industry (Avis car rental), the kama’aina (local) market prefers on-island presence and service, the more personal the better. One of the biggest challenges will be when that Hawaii emergency call comes in, to understand local expressions and to know that on the Big Island, Hilo is not around the corner from Kona but nearly two hours away; even on Oahu outside of Honolulu, help can get far away quickly. Hawaii News Now (Tunstall release)

Down Under, Tunstall maintains a steady level of activity unlike their US brethren who are hard to find at industry events. They began distribution before Christmas of the latest version of the wander alerting Find-Me Carers Watch for the cognitively impaired which just received a AU $3 million investment from local VC OneVentures. Retirement community Living Choice has also contracted with Tunstall to update their emergency call systems for five villages. Since last July, they have transitioned  and customized 700 units across five villages. Residents now can access the National Home Doctors Service and 24/7 monitoring by Tunstall’s centers in Australia and New Zealand. Australian Ageing Agenda Technology Review

The King’s Fund Digital Health & Care Conference

5–6 Jul 2016; The King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN

Advance notice for The King’s Fund annual Digital Health Conference. The theme this year is exploring how the better use of technology and data can support and enable the key developments needed to reshape and improve the health and care system. Website information is just beginning to be posted here. Exhibiting opportunities are also available with information on the Exhibition tab.

Last year’s Congress is featured in video highlights and with links under the Presentations tab, including those in the T2D breakout session chaired by Editor Charles (Ms Murphy, Dr Smith, Ms Guthrie). TTA was a 2015 supporter.

Blood biomarkers to diagnose mild TBI; more studies on TBI, concussion

An abundance of studies pointing the way to digital health opportunity. A surprise on the early morning radio news in NYC was mention of a report on a blood biomarker that could confirm a diagnosis of concussion, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Once found, it wasn’t exactly as advertised but the research is worth reviewing. First, it applies to mild TBI. The biomarker is the extensively studied glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) versus another biomarker, S100β. The key finding by the central Florida-based team is that in a general trauma population, GFAP out-performed S100β in detecting intracranial lesions as diagnosed in CT scans. Scrolling down in the article is a link to the abstract of a meta-study of 11 biomarkers in concussion, by the same lead researcher and another team. The current featured articles in Neurotrauma are a stunning review of studies around concussion and TBI, including two very interesting articles on why air evacuation can do more harm than good (unless absolutely necessary) for TBI patients (altitude lowers oxygen levels) and how mild TBI suffered by retired NFL players has long-term negative metabolic and pituitary effects. All paywalled unless you have library access or a friend with subscription access; however some of the citation articles are open access. But for health tech developers looking for problems to solve better, cheaper and faster, here it is–a lot more promising than yet another me-too wearable. 

HealthSpot closes the doors, shuts kiosks in Rite Aid, Cleveland Clinic (updated)

As we reported last July, HealthSpot, the Dublin, Ohio, based telemedicine health kiosk business which was [grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/HealthSpot-logo-1.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]carrying out a retail trial with Rite Aid since November 2014, started commercial operations in 25 locations in three Ohio areas.

In October reports emerged of a patent infringement claim that has been ongoing since April 2014 against HealthSpot by Nevada-based Computerized Screening. (More on this ongoing series of lawsuits in Ohio and Nevada is here.)

According to reports in Columbus Business First, HealthSpot has now informed Rite Aid that it would cease operations as of 31 December last year and its telemedicine kiosks are reported to have shut down in Rite Aid pharmacies. HealthSpot has also notified Cleveland Clinic that it has discontinued operations, which shuts its pilot with Cleveland Clinic in northeast Ohio.

HealthSpot’s website remains live but the last entry in the press releases section is from September 2015 and is on events at which HealthSpot was to participate in September and November. The blog page on its website is well out of date with the last update dated as far back as March 2015. (Links for locations and patient log in were inoperable–Ed. Donna)

One recent news report stated that attempts to contact CEO Steve Cashman went unanswered.

In November 2014, HealthSpot received a major investment from Xerox on top of a $18.3 million springtime round [TTA 13 Nov 14].

Updated 13 Jan (Editor Donna)

The Columbus Business First articles that Editor Chrys has linked to, as of this point, are the most informative. Neil Versel and Stephanie Baum also have related articles in MedCityNews. They also chewed it over with HealthcareScene network’s John Lynn last Friday on video (starts at 26:30) with a surprising revelation that Mr Cashman had been in touch with Mr Lynn, to be published in one of their blogs (but not yet as of this update.) Thus the mystery remains.

Xerox has issued a statement of their continued interest and support of the healthcare sector which is covered in MedCityNews above. We also noted their diverse interests in healthcare quality management, data and analytics through through their Midas+ division here last year.

According to CrunchBase, HealthSpot received $43.81 million in financing since 2011, not including the undisclosed support from Xerox, with the most recent raise debt financing of $11.56 million in January 2015. One year ago, HealthSpot looked so promising. (more…)

Rounding up best medtech in 2015

Medgadget’s 2015 roundup looks at nine innovative and in some cases life-saving medtech systems. These cover ground from diagnostics to robotic exoskeletons, from hearts to eyes and ears. Some are obviously early stage research projects, others are close to market. In eyewear news, a revamped Google Glass made the news with its FCC filing; we look at the Glass reboot and rival facial tech.

  • Evena Eyes-On ultrasound/infrared goggles that let the wearer visualize the peripheral and deeper vasculature for venipuncture procedures.
    • [grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/new-glass.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]And speaking of eyewear, Google Glass 2.0 made the end-of-year news with its leaked FCC filing detailing its changes in design, including a bigger screen, hardier build, improved camera and longer battery life. It also confirmed earlier rumors that Glass’ market was now medical and enterprise. Guardian, WSJ (video)
    • Other smart glasses from Vital Enterprises, Augmedix, Pristine.io, Aira.io and a beefed up Google Glass from ThirdEye for the ER recapped in MedCityNews.
  • A brain stent with pressure activated nanoparticles to break up vessel occlusions in the brain that cause ischemic strokes, developed by Harvard’s Wyss Institute and University of Massachusetts’ New England Center for Stroke Research.
  • A combination of EKSO Bionic‘s exoskeleton with UCLA‘s non-invasive spinal cord stimulation from NeuroRecovery Technologies which enabled paralyzed men to move their legs.
  • The XStat Rapid Hemostasis System, developed for the US military, now released for civilian use, which uses small sponges to stop bleeding.
  • Three pacemakers–one fetal, another powered by light and a third from EBR Systems’ WiSE technology that stimulates both sides of the heart
  • The PolyPhotonix Noctura 400 sleep mask for treating diabetic retinopathy
  • A two-part laser-based hearing aid from EarLens where one section is placed on the eardrum

Pitch@Palace 5.0 – a great opportunity for digital health entrepreneurs!

pitchaTPALACE logoPitch@Palace 5.0 will be held at St James’s Palace on Monday 7th March 2016.

The preliminary Pitch@Palace Boot Camp will take place on Monday 22nd February, 2016 at the University of Cambridge. To participate in Pitch@Palace 5.0 you must be available to attend the Pitch@Palace Boot Camp.

Pitch@Palace Boot Camp will provide 42 entrepreneurs with the opportunity to hear from leading industry experts and Pitch@Palace alumni, as well as receiving support and mentoring. All participants are asked to prepare a three minute Pitch for a panel of judges, who will select between 12 to 15 entrepreneurs to pitch at St. James’s Palace on the 7th March.

All entrepreneurs attending Pitch@Palace Boot Camp will be invited to attend Pitch@Palace 5.0 and will have the opportunity to meet guests at the event.

Entry is open to entrepreneurs in the following categories: Agriculture, Food Sciences, Plant Sciences, Research Technologies, Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Medical Devices and Big Data and Healthcare. Businesses must be UK-based.

In addition to the mandatory Boot Camp, there are two optional ‘on tour’ events in London (26th January) and Manchester (2nd February).

Entries close 15th January – for more details, and to apply, click here.

The Duke of York founded Pitch@Palace – more background information is here.

Ten years on from the WSD: is the future brighter for telehealth? Can wind farms help?

As Prof Mike Short pointed out recently, 2016 is the tenth anniversary of the start of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme that in retrospect, because of poor trial design, probably slowed the uptake of digital health in the UK more than any other single action. It seems appropriate therefore to look at how telehealth* has fared over that period, and perhaps even more importantly, is poised for the next ten years.

The mistakes of the WSD are well documented (eg here, here & here) – suffice it to say that it proved beyond all reasonable doubt, at least to this editor, that unlike medicine-based interventions, which seem less sensitive to their care pathway, digital health delivers most of its benefit through enabling a different, patient-centred care delivery, so every digital health intervention needs to be evaluated holistically, and in its own care pathway. Sadly over the ten years, much of the academic work looking at the benefits of telehealth has continued to evaluate the technology in the time-honoured way that medicines have been evaluated, with predictably largely equivocal results.

Those of us who have delivered telehealth projects though have a sense of disconnect as, time and again, a focused implementation – not a pilot – in which the staff delivering the service understand that it will be a permanent change for which they need radically to change the way they deliver care, yields huge returns on investments through savings typically in the 50-90% region. (more…)