The Year of the Sensor, round 2: COVID contact tracing + sensor wearables in LTC facilities; Ireland’s long and pivoting road to a contact tracing app

Wearables + sensors being used in long-term/post-acute care facilities for COVID contact tracing, decontamination. Historically ‘unsexy’ to digital health techies, long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) came into sharp focus as the epicenter of COVID-19 deaths in the past four months. 45 percent of US COVID-19 deaths (over 54,000) occurred in nursing homes and assisted living residences, with the percentages being far higher in states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island (80%), Massachusetts and Connecticut (63%), Pennsylvania (68%), and New Jersey (48%). Freopp.org has a wealth of state-level information.

This created opportunities for companies that already had relationships with LTPAC to create systems to 1) contact trace individuals and residents, 2) trace locations not only of residents and staff but also contaminated areas, and 3) help focus ongoing decontamination and sanitization efforts. Featured in this surprising TechRepublic article is CarePredict, which back in March started to develop a response to COVID spread including what they dubbed the PinPoint Toolset. CarePredict already had in place a sensor-based system for residents that consolidated sensors into a wrist-worn resident ADL tracker with location and machine learning creating predictive health analytics that appear in a dashboard form. They expanded their analytics to staff and visitor contact plus locating frequently visited area by residents and staff so that decontamination efforts can be focused there. Also featured in the article are VIRI (website) and Quuppa, a real-time locating system (RTLS) repurposed from manufacturing and security. (Disclosure: Editor Donna consulted for CarePredict in 2017-18)

Ireland’s long and winding road to a national contact tracing app is the subject of an article in ZDNet. Waterford-based NearForm was called in by Ireland’s Health Services Executive (HSE) on week 1 of the lockdown and started work immediately. They had a prototype oapp running on a mobile phone by the end of the week, nonfunctioning but giving the HSE a look at the user interface. NearForm worked on a centralized model first, which was basically terminated by Apple’s insistence on blocking BTE, then in April pivoted to the decentralized Apple-Google (Gapple? AppGoo?) Exposure Notification system, once the HSE secured beta access to the new technology. By 7 July, Ireland launched and had over a million downloads in 48 hours. Germany had a similar saga and timing. Both Ireland, Germany, and other countries moved quickly to adopt Apple and Google’s APIs, when Apple blocked their original centralized app methodology. UK and NHSX did not pivot and are In The Lurch with Test and Trace [TTA 18 June, more deconstruction in VentureBeat]. Editor’s Note to Matt: go to your neighbor island, don’t be shy, and make a deal deal’ for the app. Solves that problem. 

Tender Alert: Shetland Islands, Ireland

Our Eye on Tenders, Susanne Woodman of BRE, takes us far afield to the islands for a pair of upcoming tenders:

  • Shetland Islands: A community alarm system is needed ‘way up North’ by their Social Work Service for sheltered housing and individual homes in mainland Shetland and its outer islands of Unst, Yell, Papa Stour, Foula, Fair Isle, and Skerries. Peripherals are also required such as smoke alarms, bed sensors, temperature extreme sensors, door exit sensors, fall detectors and passive infrared monitors. The tender is for a four-year renewable contract and due on July 10. Public Contracts Scotland
  • Ireland: The Health Service Executive (HSE) is seeking tenders for a telemedicine service to undertake home visits for North East Doctor on Call (NEDOC), a GP out of hours service. It will cover two treatment centres, Navan and Drogheda, for a period of six months and provide suitable means to cover home visit or treatment centre calls on the weekend and public holidays from 10am-8pm. Due date is July 26 at 1pm Irish time. EU Supply

Ireland telecare monitoring a relative price bargain

Our former Ireland editor Toni Bunting, in her business development capacity with TASK Community Care in County Meath and Belfast, notes that Irish pendant alarm (PERS) monitoring charges are on average considerably lower than charges in the UK and in Europe. At current advertised rates of approximately €65 – €80 annually, the rates are lower than the 2010 study of UK rates of £170-200 and £200 – £300 in Europe. (Of course with fluctuations in the pound, that may change!) Toni is asking if there are rates in Ireland which fall substantially outside this range, so please be in touch here or on Telecare.ie-Ireland’s Telecare Magazine, which provides information on emergency pendant alarms, telecare and 24/7 monitoring for Irish individuals, community workers and health professionals.

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.)

The 10th National Health Summit (Ireland)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014, Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland

Ireland’s most important annual healthcare management summit brings together the range of stakeholders in the management and delivery of Ireland’s health service to discuss and debate the ever-changing healthcare environment. In 2014, they will have three separate tracks: Health Insurance, Hospital Management & Digital Healthcare. The last will be chaired by David Doherty, CEO of 3G Doctor/mHealth Insight. “This track concerns itself with how technology can enable a radical improvement in the quality, productivity and accessibility of healthcare. It will, through the effective implementation and use of smart technologies, explore strategies to improve patient engagement, IT integration, process development and productivity. But, can it do all this against a background of budget cuts i.e. can better outcomes be achieved whilst still saving money?” Find out on the conference website and on Mr. Doherty’s brief article containing the speaker/panelist list. Editor Toni is scheduled to attend and report from the conference.

Three items from Ireland

Three noteworthy items of news from Ireland thanks to Toni Bunting, Editor, TANN Ireland:

  1. Launch of Northern Ireland’s first Electronic Care Record system “will improve the speed, quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery”.
  2. SilverCloud Health raises €1.5m to target global e-therapy market New e-therapy platform for people with depression or chronic illness.
  3. Fujitsu Launches Research Project to Provide Health Monitoring Technologies and Assisted Independent Living “monitoring services and assisted independent living for senior citizens and patients who live in smart houses”. [It will be interesting to see how what they produce compares with the outcome of this study. TTA 9 May]