A cornucopia of appy items!

Abilitynet’s top ten apps

When so many items that present themselves for publication are in one way or another pushing a commercial angle, it is so nice to be able to highlight a completely altruistic listing of apps aimed specifically at helping disabled people.

It would clearly be wrong to deprive Abilitynet’s website of the traffic, so rather than list the apps, we will merely comment that they seem very well chosen to cover as wide a range of disabilities as possible. The presence on the list of a number of widely used apps underlines the oft-made observation that if you design something with disabilities in mind, it is easier for everyone to use.

Distimo app analytics

For those wanting to explore the success of their apps and what works in terms of promotion, or who are interested in app download ranking, Distimo has a hugely impressive website, well worth exploring as everything is free.

The absence of much info on health and wellbeing apps is notable though, perhaps because (more…)

Medical Innovations Summit at the Royal Society of Medicine April 5 2014

The RSM held another of its innovation summits last Saturday. In addition to the 13 stimulating presentations, the morning was excellently hosted by past RSM President Robin Williamson whose stand-up comedy skills are surely a close match for his well-known surgical expertise.

The first presentation, from Big White Wall, an online provider of personalised mental health services, was begun by founder Jen Hyatt. She quoted hugely impressive statistics of how 95% of users report feeling better, 80% feel able to take control of their lives and 73% share their feelings for the first time when using the wall. She described how they use a ‘social media scraper’ and algorithms to assess people’s state of mind and suggest treatment plans. Dr Simon Wilson, Clinical director, said there was good evidence that online mental health therapy is as effective as face:face.  He went on to explain in more detail how the service was provided and what steps were taken when people posted genuinely concerning material. This is a superb innovation.

This was followed by Dr Farid Khan, CEO of PharmaKure, a company that looks for  (more…)

RSM apps conference – save over 90%…and a day! (UK)

I try not to abuse my position as a contributing editor to TTA by pushing the Royal Society of Medicine’s conferences too hard.  However, having just received an email encouraging me to attend a commercial health apps event in London at the end of April which would cost me £1698 to attend (on an earlybird rate!), I feel that loyal TTA readers should be reminded that the RSM is also running an event on the same topic – entitled Playing games, using apps, promoting wellbeing – on 10th April.

As the RSM is a charity dedicated to medical education and the advancement of medical care, we try to keep prices as low as possible whilst getting the most prestigious speakers. The charges therefore – starting at just £45 for the day – are not expected to cover the cost of running the event….and many of the speakers are the same. A further plus is that we have crammed everything into a single day.

Last year’s apps event sold out before the event, as did our recent digital health held in February, so I’m glad to be able to report that there are still just a few places left for those fast movers keen to save money, and time.

Recent Developments in Digital Health – RSM conference summary

Editor Charles summarises the one day conference at the Royal Society of Medicine on 27th February

This was the first  conference in 2014 organised by the Royal Society of Medicine’s Telemedicine & eHealth Section.  The day began with one of Dr Kevin Doughty’s excellent presentations on telecare. Kevin is Deputy Director of CUHTec. One key message was that the oldest people in society – those most in need of support to remain in the community – were best communicated with using televisions.  In response to this requirement he particularly picked out the Speakset set-top box as a low cost, easy-to-use add-on to make any television into a videoconferencing unit.

This was followed by an excellent summary by Julie Bretland, Director, OurMobileHealth, on the maturity of the use of mobile apps, in particular the need for good curation. (This subject will be explored in much greater detail in the RSM’s 10th April apps event, where there are still just a few places left.)

Next came (more…)

How much longer will ‘mobile’ be different from ‘living’?

The news that the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week broke all attendance records is hardly surprising, given the way mobile communications are inserting their way into almost every aspect of life. It does though make one wonder how much longer the MWC can retain it’s broad focus as communications mobility becomes indistinguishable from normal living (and additional accommodation in Catalonia becomes harder to find). Indeed, as mHealth News pointed out last week, mobile comms keeps people living, worldwide

Not all age groups have been able to gain the same level of benefit from mobile comms though, most notably older people. It is therefore great to see (more…)

Driving up medical app usage in the UK – part III: conclusions

This series of posts covers some work I have been doing over the past three months: attempting to answer the question of how best to improve the perception by clinicians and patients of the efficacy of health-related apps. This work has been done for the i-Focus project, part of the Technology Strategy Board’s dallas programme.

Part I briefly summarised the EU regulations covering health-related apps. The point was made that any health-related app must comply with data protection and consumer protection requirements, irrespective of whether the risk level is sufficient for it to be classified as a ‘medical device’. Where an app is classified as a ‘medical device’ it also has to be classified so that the appropriate adjudication work can be determined for it to receive a CE mark (Class I, lowest risk, requires least investigation; Class III, highest risk, requires greatest investigation).

Part II summarised the principal findings from discussions with a very wide range of potential stakeholders, from patients to consultants, and from individual app developers to chief executives of app curation companies.  The key findings were:

  • There is currently little academically-endorsed evidence of medical app efficacy, though much anecdotal evidence;
  • There are too many bogus apps around;
  • There are safety worries – for example where clinicians are using unregulated apps to manage medication dosage;
  • The process for obtaining certification is unclear;
  • Some app developers are ignoring data privacy legislation;
  • The business model for achieving sales via the NHS is not well understood.

In addition, a theme running through both posts is that there is an international dimension to this issue, with some countries, notably the US, well advanced in certain aspects.

From these findings, four key conclusions emerge: (more…)

Royal Society of Medicine events that should appeal

This year the RSM kicks off with Recent developments in digital health on 27th February, in association with the Royal Academy of Engineering. This event aims to update attendees on all the latest advances in the field of digital health that will affect care delivery. Perhaps the highlight of the day will be the demonstration of a smartphone that, on its own, can measure a person’s systolic and diastolic blood pressures, pulse, blood oxygen saturation, respiration and temperature – as this is a facility that will appear on the next generation of smartphones, the discussion on how app developers and the medical profession will respond will be particularly interesting. In addition there will be presentations by leading thinkers in the field on topics like big data, mHealth, medical apps, point-of-care-testing, genomic technology, evidence gathering and NHS England’s digital priorities.

Another event, that sold out early last year, is our medical apps day, this year on 10th April, entitled  (more…)

“Ageing Well – how can technology help?” – RSM conference report

The Royal Society of Medicine’s Telemedicine & eHealth Section held its annual conference at the end of November, on the topic of how technology can help people age well.  As the organiser I was not able to be in every session, so the following are the highlights of what I was present for.  Many people commented that the quality of presentations was extremely high; feedback was very good.

Baroness Masham of Ilton opened the conference describing loneliness as one of the challenges of ageing well.

Jon Rouse, Director General for Social Care, Local Government & Care Partnerships, Dept. of Health, continued the theme explaining that older people will increasingly want to continue earning money and play a full role in society: the antidote to loneliness.   (more…)

Ageing Well – how can technology help?

This year’s Telemedicine & eHealth conference, on 25th & 26th November, at the Royal Society of Medicine at 1 Wimpole St, London will focus on how technology can help people to age well. It will cover a wide palette of issues relating to technology and ageing, including both physical & mental conditions, and the importance of social & spiritual considerations too.

Keynote speakers include Jon Rouse (more…)

Calling all doctorpreneurs (and anyone else who wants to see a brilliant app and meet its creators)

Anyone who went to the Royal Society of Medicine’s sell-out event in April on medical apps will remember the brilliant presentation given by Andre Chow on TOUCHsurgery, the (iOS only) app that he and some colleagues created to help surgeons learn procedures, and practice before an operation.

Well Andre is now offering an evening of TOUCHsurgery, drinks and general merriment to anyone seriously interested in his app: ‘doctorpreneurs’ are especially welcome. The date is Friday 13th September, and you can book here.

PS the RSM is repeating the app event in 2014, on 10th April. Brief details are here so please put in your diaries. We are still very keen to include a UK-based health game presentation as none have yet been made known to me following our previous post.

Telehealth – the RSM guide

Some while back a suggestion was made that the Royal Society of Medicine produced a short guide to telehealth that gave an unbiased a view as possible of the topic.

Well it’s now been published on the website and will also be available in print at selected conferences and similar gatherings.  The intention is that it can be given to clinicians, patients and other interested parties that want to know more.  It is also unashamed publicity for the RSM’s (unbiased) telehealth-related events, for those that want to know even more – the website version will be refreshed as events come & go.

I should immediately declare an interest as one of the authors – the others are Prof Brian McKinstry, Dr Richard Williams and Helen Lyndon.

Special thanks to inHealthcare and medvivo for their kind sponsorship.

Hope you like it!

Report: RSM event ‘Using apps to transform healthcare delivery’

Many thanks to independent consultant Charles Lowe, President-elect of the Royal Society of Medicine’s (RSM) Telemedicine & eHealth Section for the following report on the one-day conference Using apps to transform healthcare delivery at the RSM, London, 18 April 2013.

Reflecting the importance of the topic, this one-day RSM conference sold out weeks in advance. The audience confirmed the growing trend for RSM Telemedicine Section-organised events to be attended principally by clinicians, in this case mainly hospital-based.

The general themes that emerged from the event included:

The need for greater connectedness among app overseers – the different players in the UK, notably NICE, MHRA, NHS Apps Library and NIHR each have different, often overlapping, concerns about apps before they are able to recommend or approve them for use. There emerged during the day a case to be made for tighter coordination among these bodies and, doubtless, others not represented at the meeting.

Big data doesn’t respond to professional users’ or patients’ needs well – apps are a great way to make big data acceptable to users. The Consent app (ascendinnovations.co.uk) demonstrated was quoted as an excellent example.

Not everyone has to produce apps – by opening up, publishing the APIs to your data, others with the appropriate skill might be able to do the job better than the data owner.

The day began with a presentation by (more…)