Important: DHACA’s response to the RCP advice on medical apps

The Royal College of Physicians has just published app guidance that, according to EHI “doctors should only use medical apps with an official CE mark”. EHI goes on to clarify that the guidance “applies to medical apps that can be classed as medical devices, which are bound by EU law to carry the mark.”

The Digital Health & Care Alliance (DHACA), of which this reviewer is Managing Director, is extremely concerned that this advice may seriously impact on the beneficial use of medical apps in the UK as it places the onus of deciding whether an app is a medical device on individual clinicians, a decision that at times even experienced MHRA personnel can equivocate on.

As the original research done by this editor on the topic of medical app take-up demonstrated, clinicians (more…)

News highlights for Friday

AnthemHealth didn’t encrypt, Blueprint Health collects, HealthSpot funds again, Sense4Baby goes to Europe, Apple Health pilots in hospitals and buddi gets bigger still.

Another hack attack claimed major US health insurer AnthemHealth, the former WellPoint. It’s estimated that 80 million of its customers, former customers and employees had data breached: names, addresses, dates of birth, emails, employment information, income, medical IDs and SSIs. The Wall Street Journal reports that Anthem didn’t encrypt data for analytics reasons. It’s unconfirmed where the hackers originated but Bloomberg’s latest report tags the usual Chinese state-sponsored suspects. Unusually, it was reported within days of discovery; Anthem has called in Mandiant (FireEye) to beef up its cybersecurity. Other reports: WSJ, Modern Healthcare….The Blueprint Health accelerator has a new initiative, the Collective. It is designed to pair up major healthcare providers and payers with startups and early stage companies. So far signed up are Aetna, AstraZeneca, HP, Montefiore, North Shore LIJ, New York-Presbyterian, Samsung, EmblemHealth, Philips and Razorfish Healthware. More information here….The HealthSpot Station telehealth/telemedicine kiosk is readying a $11.6 million funding round from four investors soon, based on (more…)

Qualcomm (Second) Life: a conversation with Jim Mault

One of the surprises for this Editor, and for others attending the mHealth Summit, was to see the sizable presence of Qualcomm Life on both the exposition floor and during the sessions. From a near-nil presence at ATA 2014 and gone dark on news, the floodlights snapped on last week with new partners and a new emphasis: coordination of chronic and transitional (hospital to home) care management (CCM/TCM).

On the show floor, the spotlight was on the partner companies which mixed the established with (mostly) the early and mid-stage. Readers will recognize names such as AliveCor, Telcare, OMRON, Nonin and Airstrip; not so well known are Vaica, Orion Health, Monitored Therapeutics, IMPak Health, Vital Connect, Care Connectors, toSense (CoVa), Dexcom, InteliChart, TruClinic, ForaCare, VOXX, vitaphone (outside of Europe), Propeller Health and Noom Health (a NYeC Digital Health Accelerator 2014 graduate). The partners occupy different parts of the management continuum, integrating communications, record sharing, population health management, sensor-based monitoring, traditional and non-traditional vital signs monitoring, medication management, behavioral change methodologies and PHRs. The 2net Hub is still present for data transmission, sharing and storage, but more prominent is Qualcomm Life’s HealthyCircles platform which provides the clinical management ‘glue’: secure communications, record sharing and care team coordination. HealthyCircles was purchased in mid-2013. Founder James Mault, MD, FACS joined Qualcomm Life as VP/Chief Medical Officer.

We had some post-mHealth Summit reflection time by telephone this Wednesday while Dr Mault was in Boston. (more…)

US Army mCare app’s most-liked feature: appointment reminders

A two-year study on the mCare mobile messaging app used to support ‘Wounded Warriors’, published in the June issue of Telemedicine and e-Health, found that the most popular use of this US Army-implemented program was the appointment reminders (85 percent). 70 percent continued app usage for six months, with the same percentage using it multiple times per week, making the app very ‘sticky’. Other features were wellness tips, care team reminders, care team messaging and announcements. Average participation was 48 weeks. ‘My Appointments’ was created about halfway through the study (January 2010) and other rolling changes were made. The regional US Army Community-Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTU), which coordinate care for soldiers who receive outpatient care in civilian facilities due to distance from military facilities (and Guard/Reserve status), enrolled 497 veterans in five states who required at least six months of complex care. Satisfaction was high, with 78 percent of soldiers stating that mCare improved their experience in the transition unit, and half of the 75 care teams reporting that they saw an improvement in appointment attendance among patients using mCare.  The results are strong and mCare continues to be used by the Army. The study was headed by Col. Ronald K. Poropatich, MD, Deputy Director of the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).

Unlike most other research studies, this one had some unusual hurdles to overcome. There were significant changes in ownership of mCare’s contracting company during the main study period (May 2009-April 2011, with a follow on study completed December 2012). First developed by AllOne Mobile [TTA 20 Nov 2009] with security provided by partly-owned Diversinet, AllOne ‘zeroed out’ of business halfway through the study [TTA 20 April 2010], with Diversinet picking up the program after a legal wrangle. mCare was named one of the US Army’s ‘Greatest Inventions’ in September 2011. Diversinet itself, after a seemingly successful period having its MobiSecure platform adopted by AirStrip [TTA 24 Feb 2012], a five-year, $5 million Canadian distribution deal [TTA 14 Jan 2011] and continuing military contracts, could not pull itself into financial health and was acquired by ‘velocity of big’ IMS Health for a small $3.5 million last AugustAdditional study coverage in Mobihealthnews and iHealthBeat.

West Health busy on digital health investment, sale front

The West Health Investment Fund, the for-profit which is part of the West Health combine, has invested further in Reflexion Health‘s Kinect-based physical therapy system [TTA 15 Jan 13] and sold off the Sense4Baby prenatal (fetal) monitor [TTA 8 Nov 10]. Both devices were spun out of the non-profit West Health Institute in 2012. Reflexion’s total from West Health Investment is $11.8 million between seed ($4.25 million) and now $7.5 million in Series A rounds. Their Vera physical therapy system uses interactive, video game style full-body exercises and instruction. It was originally piloted with the Naval Medical Center of San Diego and now is in test with Partners HealthCare in Boston and San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital. The Sense4Baby sale (undisclosed amount) was to AirStrip Technologies and covers the Sense4Baby assets (more…)