Telecare Soapbox: Mobile Diagnosis

Livia Bellina, Specialist, General Pathology, works for the Italian National Health Service on Lampedusa Island, which lies between Sicily and Tunisia. In this Soapbox she tells how, with colleague Eduardo Missoni, they are making a reality of their vision of spreading an ethical and low cost health technology everywhere.

Ugandan students

Ugandan students

In April 2008, working as a pathologist on Lampedusa, I found myself in urgent need of confirming a diagnosis of malaria from a blood sample of an African immigrant. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox follow-up: Clarification of the BS framework three-year qualification requirement

What follows is editor Steve’s observation – BS has not commented – of the widespread perception, reflected in his recent Soapbox item and comments to it, that Buying Solutions (BS) initially required applicant companies to have at least three years’ track record and that it subsequently changed or ignored the requirement.

In the light of a private communication from a reader, I re-read the qualification requirements in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) document (PDF). In the sections relating to Lot 2, Telecare services; Lot 4, Telehealth services; Lot 5, Telecoaching Products and Services and Lot 6, Managed Services, the wording in each of them is essentially the same: (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Reflections on the UK’s telecare, telehealth and telecoaching framework agreement

There are some people (OK, a few, maybe, and not just my 85-year-old mother) who share my opinion that I [Ed. Steve] am a nice person. As a long time supporter of telecare and telehealth for everyone who needs it I do not relish the reputation I seem to be acquiring as the Grumpy Old Man of Telecare just because I call it as I see it, which frequently contrasts with the positive spin put out by other interested parties. Enough of me! I just wanted to put what follows into context.


First, a little history of telecare procurement to explain why the UK now has its second ‘national framework agreement’. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Android or iPhone: Your business. Your life. Your decision.

Jeff Brandt is one of the founders of Communication Software, Inc. He has extensive experience in mobile telecomm, online banking, and healthcare information technology. Jeff has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Oklahoma and is currently attending Oregon Health Sciences University’s school of Bio-Medical Informatics.

I wrote an article for several months ago discussing the benefits of Android for the healthcare market. I also compared Android with the iPhone. I listed the iPhone’s technical shortcomings and really angered the “believers of all things Apple”. That was not my intent. Apple’s latest release of iPhone 4.0 and their new operating system (OS) 4.0 corrects many of the problems that I mentioned. The shortcomings or benefits of a device are not the focus of this article. I am going to speak to the general philosophies of the two OS and let you make up your mind on which OS is better for your healthcare facility or personal/business use. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Equity capital. A cautionary tale

When I [Editor Steve] began looking at the role of equity capital in companies, I started out feeling sympathy for company directors, like those of Tunstall, which run businesses saddled with large debts. However, I have learned a few things along the way and my sympathy has evaporated somewhat.

I’ve also concluded that I understand very little about the magical world of company finance, but I’ll do my best to explain how I came to this conclusion after looking through two sets of Tunstall accounts for October 2008-September 2009 which recently become publicly available. [Note for US readers – although Tunstall is privately owned, its accounts are in the public domain.]

The first set of accounts, for Tunstall UK, gives a rosy picture. Profits of £28.7million before tax on turnover of £86.4million. However, Tunstall UK is just one part of the UK-based Tunstall Group, which made the astonishing — to me — loss of £84.1million on a worldwide turnover of £141.7million.

How was this loss achieved? And — this is where my accountancy friends tell me my lack of company finance understanding kicks in — how come a company in this position can still be a going concern? (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Value creation–wireless health companies at the fore

Paul Sonnier, founder of the Wireless Health group on LinkedIn and co-chair of the Healthcare Communications SIG at CommNexus San Diego, has thoughts on the new definition of ‘value creation’.

During the annual Wireless-Life Science Alliance’s (WLSA) annual Investor’s Meeting held in La Jolla, California last week, I had the good fortune to hear a keynote presentation by Terrance Gregg, CEO at San Diego-based DexCom, which produces wearable continuous glucose monitoring devices. Mr Gregg alluded to challenges the company has faced over the course of its history in terms of maintaining its independence while other, more established companies eyed its technology for acquisition.

After hearing this part of the DexCom story, it occurred to me that independence and durability are the eternal challenges faced by most successful technology companies and entrepreneurs… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: The Tina and Mick Test

Editor Steve Hards muses on matters of ageism in equipment and service design.

In another forum I recently gave some feedback to an internet-based service company that what they were producing, aimed at older people – both the images they were using and the words they were using – gave the impression to me that they were somewhat ageist. It got me thinking about the difficulty for companies of designing and marketing to people of an age that you, or your team members, are not.

We are all familiar with the concept that ‘old’ is a movable feast and that old age starts at about 15 years older than you are, so it’s 50 for 35 year olds, 75 for 50 year olds and 100 for 85 year olds. However, the differences between people at 50 and 100 may or may not be significant. There is an expectation that… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: NHS procurement – bad news and good news for suppliers

By Steve Hards, Editor, Telecare Aware.

Back in November, Telecare Aware dug around a little in the procurement practices of (mostly) local councils in the UK. (Dirty tactics in the telecare/telehealth market) The bad news for companies wanting to sell into the NHS is that there is emerging evidence that NHS organisations are not highly competent in commissioning innovative services and may also frequently flout good procurement practices. The good news is that this is increasingly being challenged and there may be new opportunities not just to challenge tenders, but for the NHS itself to seek redress from companies that misrepresent their capabilities and what they will provide. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Thousands of telecare users potentially at risk

Fred Reardon, an independent consultant writes about a life-threatening issue.

At the end of last week I received a letter from my broadband provider Sky [UK entertainment and communications services provider] to inform me of the new and improved network for Sky broadband and that they would be upgrading my service on the 2/2/2010 and that there would be a loss of service for a short time approx 25 minutes. I read through the letter to see what this would mean for me. At the very end of the letter the last paragraph was headed:

Social Alarm and Telecare service
If you have a remotely monitored social alarm service or Telecare services which uses your telephone line, you should contact us straight away. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Keeping the care going in adverse weather

Over the past four weeks people in the UK have been experiencing the worst snow and cold winter weather for 30 years and we have had one, now two, press releases from telecare monitoring services praising the dedication of staff in keeping the service monitored and clients safe.

While adversity (especially adverse weather) undoubtedly brings out the best British characteristics of determination and pitting yourself against the odds to keep going – especially where people in care-related jobs are concerned – one wonders what responsibility the managers of services have to put measures in place to ensure that staff are safe and, even, not unduly inconvenienced. For example, have they made arrangements with nearby hotels so that on duty staff can avoid hazardous trips home? Or have they arranged dispersed (home-based) monitoring?

If you have an example of an employer going that extra mile to support his or her staff in these difficult conditions, we’d like to hear it – leave a comment.

Telecare Soapbox: Credit Crunch and Telehealth

Andrew Hall, a Telehealth Entrepreneur in the UK, reflects on the potential effect of the financial crisis on the future of the market for remote patient monitoring telehealth.

Even when the cash flowed, investment in this technology has been startlingly low and ineffective. It is difficult to see how the new financial environment will improve that track record… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Eight reasons why current telemedicine videoconferencing technology isn’t good enough

Skip Rodenbush, Founder and CEO of Interactive Multimedia Artists expounds on why current telemedicine videoconferencing has such high barriers to adoption. See end of the article for information on the new system his company has developed.

The new healthcare delivery system depends heavily on the wide deployment of scalable and manageable telemedicine. Traditional telemedicine technologies do not meet these requirements. Instead they offer expensive, unmanageable and overall impractical solutions. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Are Partnership Agreements Stifling Innovation?

Paul Mitchell, an experienced consultant and troubleshooter in social care in the UK argues that partnership agreements between councils and telecare providers may be anti-competitive, anti-choice, and not in the best interests of service users.

Many social care authorities who have signed up to so-called exclusive ‘partnership’ agreements may now regret having their hands tied.

All is not lost however because unless those providers can live up to the implicit and explicit terms of those agreements I would urge the customers to review the validity of the agreements. First let’s look at some of the frequently recurring terms in such agreements and their implications. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Can the ‘old old’ have best lives when the pressure is to isolate them?

Donna Cusano is currently a healthcare services, wellness and supportive technologies marketing consultant based in New York City. Previously she was Vice President, Marketing, for Living Independently Group (QuietCare Systems). The following Soapbox item was triggered by the How the ‘Old Old’ can have best lives item.

So much of our emphasis in the technology area has been to keep seniors active that we tend to ignore planning for and helping seniors (and their families) to manage their last and usually inevitable years of increasing frailty, and the role that technology in the service of care can play. I don’t know of many cultures that support the ‘old old’ and those that have (Asian Indian, Chinese, Japanese) are increasingly not. Here is a moral, right opportunity for both healthcare and technology. I will make a similar case for the disabled and the support telecare/telehealth can be for them as well.

Unfortunately I think the trend towards treating the ‘old old’ – or even the just old – INhumanely is on the rise, despite… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Honeywell HomMed’s response to ‘Responsibility of the market leader’

Adam Wragg, European Managing Director of Honeywell HomMed responds to the previous Telecare Soapbox item: ‘Responsibility of the market leader‘ and throws down a challenge to us all.

I read with interest the anonymous comments of the writer who sent in the July 14th article to which this is a response.

Growing the overall market is not the sole responsibility of any commercial market leader; building a viable business is. By building a viable business the products and services that are offered become less expensive and more effective. However… (more…)