Forced to wear a fitness tracker for insurance? (US)

For those covered by corporate health policies, the day is not far away where employee health insurance programs will require wearing a fitness tracker and meeting certain metrics, such as walking a million steps or sleep quality. Already some programs have the employee log food, exercise, blood glucose, heart rate and other vital signs to qualify for a discount. The trajectory is much like BYOD–once unheard of, now it is expected to be the norm in 50 percent of US companies by 2017, with a concomitant loss of personal security and privacy. CVS Caremark and other companies have already made the stick, not the carrot, the norm of employee wellness programs [TTA 12 April 2013]. Writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes asks: “How much access do we want our employers to have to our medical data? How much access to our daily activities do we want our employers and insurers having?” And what about spoofing those Fitbits and Jawbones? His ZDNet article notes the interest that Apple (plus Samsung and Google, despite Sergey’s and Larry’s vapors–Ed.) has in health, then takes it out a few more yards with Wearables and health insurance: A health bar over everyone’s head (and do check out the comments.)

Telecare helping Alzheimer’s patients live in the ‘connected home’

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/140825141047-lively-pillbox-sensor-story-top.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]There’s life in telecare–it’s (finally) morphing into ‘connected home’. Is this ‘slope of enlightenment’ and ‘plateau of productivity’ time?  We haven’t had a spotlight on the part of telecare which is sensor-based behavioral monitoring, but here’s one that shines on not just one but four systems which indicates a big change in focus, long developing: SmartThings, Lively, BeClose and certified Grizzled Pioneer GrandCare Systems. CNN.com crafted an article out of a fairly obvious placement by the Alzheimer’s Association, but all to a good end.

Notably SmartThings by Physical Graph (just purchased by Samsung for a reported $200 million after raising $15.5 million through Series A, undoubtedly for their algorithms and in its health reach strategy versus Apple Health) pitches itself on its website as simple home automation, yet this article is all about older adult safety. Lively, which is depicted with an interesting connected pill dispenser (above) and BeClose carve their approaches close to caregivers.  All three are DIY systems. GrandCare remains the anomaly, with the highest (custom) home install price ($699 and up) but with a home tablet that engages the older person with virtual visits, music, pictures, daily updates and family/clinician connectivity. They were also first to move in this direction; this Editor recalls their pioneering in the home automation area with CEDIA, the home electronic design association.

After years, are we finally seeing a shift in consumer perception?  (more…)

The smartphone as great healthcare leveler: Eric Topol

Eric Topol MD, cardiologist, Chief Medical Advisor for the rebooted (but so far quiet) AT&T ForHealth and Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health, is no stranger to the ‘big statement’ and is well known as an advocate for all things mHealthy. For at least two years, he has been promoting the smartphone’s ‘equalizer’ capabilities in health not only via apps and ‘add ons’ but also as a storehouse or central repository for individual health information, including genetic screening, which can be transmitted onward to a practitioner, lab or PHR. Dr Topol’s ‘big statements’ were fully on display in his keynote at HealthLeaders’ CFO Exchange conference. A promoter of the ‘creative destruction of medicine’ (the title of his most recent book, WSJ article), he believes that everything from the office visit (virtualized) (more…)

All that Quantified Self data? Drowning doctors don’t want to see it.

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/reduce-documentation1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Our long-time readers will remember Questions # 3, 4 and 5 of The Five Big Questions (FBQ*). They have not lost their salience as doctors are rejecting the not-terribly-accurate ‘telehealth’ data [TTA 10 May] generated by popular fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Misfit Shine and Jawbone. We do note that Apple’s Health/HealthKit has trotted out alliances with Mayo Clinic and Epic Systems (EHR) on apps and integrating data into an PHR [TTA 3 June], as well as Samsung’s SAMI [2 June] funding a University of California (UCSF) research center and (of course) Google. But this article confirms (more…)

Tons of app health data, bound for…third parties?

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/obey_1984.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] The law of unintended consequences also applies to Quantified Selfers. Health apps seem to be reaching beyond the QS early adopters and becoming a commonplace, whether on your wrist or built into your smartphone. Apple, Google, IBM and Samsung are all in.The DH3 set (Digital Health Hypester Horde) could not be more pleased. But where is that data going? According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it’s ending up where your online data goes–profitably sold by developers large and small to your friendly data broker and onward to marketers. You may think it’s private, but it isn’t. There is the famous case of an Target (store) app used to determine whether female customers were pregnant (purchases such as pregnancy tests) and then market related and baby products to them. Commissioner Julie Brill doesn’t like the possibility that health data could be part of the Spooky Monster Mash that is Big Data. “We don’t know where that information ultimately goes,” Brill told a recent Association for Competitive Technology panel. “It makes consumers uncomfortable.” (Ahem!) From the consumer protection standpoint, the FTC would like to do something about it, and they happen to be very good at that type of regulation. Compliance will not only be an added cost of doing business, it will cut into that ol’ business plan. And you thought that the only problem around apps and the Feds was gauging risk to users. Do you have that creepy ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ feeling?  Health IT Outcomes, FierceMobileHealthcare, VentureBeat.

Is consumer digital device engagement sticky? Or just the hype?

A wonderfully cranky essay by Laurie Orlov on her new blog Boomer Health Tech Watch might make you think The Gimlet Eye was her guest writer (see below). Ms Orlov observes the ratched-up noise level around wearables, fitness bands, smartwatches (in which your Editor will be drenched quadrophonically next Wednesday at CEWeek NYC, glutton for punishment as she is). Yes, we’re swooning around Apple Health [TTA 3 June] and having a minor swivet around Samsung’s Simband and SAMI [TTA 2 June]. The bucket of cold water in Ms Orlov’s grip is the high dropout rate among fitness band users (33-50 percent, cited from Endeavour Partners and NPD Group); this Editor will also add the devices’ relative inaccuracy, fragility and glitches [TTA 10 May]. But ‘the investor community (via the media) clearly IS being transformed, at least temporarily’ as well as outside the health industry, by a belief that these devices will push the world into Quantified Selfing for the Masses. Will wearables herald our arrival at the New Jerusalem of Health? Certainly it’s been trumpeted and tromboned by the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) badly needing a fresh fave rave. But can digital health survive another Hype Curve dive? Can weThe Consumerization of Health Care — is it working?

Further in this jugular vein, Business Investor, in a superficial swipe, dubs smartwatches uncool just because they trail fitness bands by six points. They did a better job in March delving into the real challenges that wearables face: smartwatches look and feel like a brick on your wrist (Ed. D’s term), Google Glass is socially unacceptable in many quarters (banned in Silicon Valley!) and wearables are still in Early Adopter-Ville.

Update: Ms Orlov just sent to this Editor a brief comment with a link to a thoughtful NY Times article not only on The Trouble with Apple’s Health App, but also how the barriers are more subtle–and more common-sensical–than the hype around how consumers are eager to register every burp on a PHR (they’re not), they don’t want to be nagged by technology (easier than your mom to be rid of) and the group that needs it most (the old, poor) has the least, for now, access to it. But largely ignored by the D3H.

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”75″ /]On assignment off Cape May, New Jersey inventorying readiness of coastal defense fortifications. Just between us. Shhhh!

More Samsung ‘we try harder’ telehealth moves

Is Samsung playing Avis “We try harder®” to Apple’s Hertz?

Samsung’s other, less noticed end-run in addition to the Simband reference hardware and SAMI ‘open ecosystem’  is an initiative creating a joint research center with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) called the Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI). It is being headed by Michael Blum, a medical doctor who is the UCSF assistant vice chancellor of informatics. From the statements made to The Atlantic, Dr Blum’s intent is to clinically validate the sensors and algorithms produced within the Samsung ecosystem. Already featured are four initial projects: CareWeb (a collaborative care platform built on Salesforce.com), Tidepool (infrastructure for diabetes apps), Health eHeart (clinical trial app on heart disease) and Trinity (‘precision team care’). On the frontier: ‘novel vital signs’ which he predicts will come out of the analysis of standard vital signs, “…new markers of health and wellness that come out of these large datasets.”  Is Samsung, rather than going head-to-head with Apple on Healthbook [TTA 22 Mar] is leapfrogging into something akin to Telehealth 2.0 or 3.0? Yet this Editor notes that we haven’t figured out, for the most part, the FBQs (Five Big Questions)* of 1.0….

* The Five Big Questions (FBQs)–who pays, how much, who’s looking at the data, who’s actioning it, how data is integrated into patient records.

Samsung’s ‘shot over bow’ in health

Watched closely as part of Samsung’s various moves in health (here in the US heavily promoting the S5’s heart monitoring capabilities) is their unveiling of a reference hardware called the Simband, a wristband designed for interchangeable body sensor modules yet in fact to be developed. Its platform is dubbed Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (SAMI) and is part of an open ecosystem which invites developers “to design and integrate their own sensor technology and, through the SAMI platform, develop applications and algorithms for wearables.” The design was in partnership with the biosensing institution Imec and will be available before end of 2014.(Gizmag) Coming before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and the rumored announcement of the Healthbook iOS app [TTA 22 Mar]…the Samsung-Apple wars continue, and not in court. Also Gizmodo

Samsung’s mHealthy S5, Gear–and potential

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/gear-2-neo-620×554.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Is there an untapped mHealth business model here?

Samsung’s dual announcements in New York and at Barcelona’s annual GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) of the Galaxy S5 smartphone and the latest iterations of their smartwatch (left), the Gear 2/Neo, confirm what this Editor believes will be a major 2014 trend: the matter-of-fact integration of vital signs sensors into easy-to-adopt form factors. Reported by ZDNet:

  • Galaxy S5:It’s so small and unnoticeable, you would be forgiven for not giving it a second thought. Next to the flash is a heart-rate sensor that can — prepare yourself for a hearty dose of real-life sci-fi — see the blood pumping through your finger. It works when you gently push your finger over the flash on the rear of the handset. This ties in with the smartphone’s pre-installed health apps, such as the S Health, which includes a fitness tracker and pedometer.” The phone also connects to the Gear 2 software. (This is in addition to the fingerprint scanner.) Article
  • Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo specification: Bluetooth 4 low energy, Infrared, heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope  Article

Easy to use tools for health–and fall detection–baked into a mainstream phone and a fairly attractive smartwatch. There’s plenty of health and safety functionality for all ages built into both.  What’s the missing link? Here’s a thought. A manufacturer/wireless JV or subsidiary which targets the health monitoring potential of these devices to create a separate revenue stream. The ‘risk’ could be spread to resellers allowed to creatively adapt devices like the Gear for older adults in independent and assisted living environments, or for autistic/at-risk children. This is not an inconsistently supported AT&T ForHealth [TTA 5 Feb] or a failed Lifecomm [TTA 14 Oct 13], but an entirely different business model. Reader thoughts?  

More on MWC: Washington Post

Update 28 February: The Galaxy S5’s heart rate sensor may make it a medical device in the eyes of South Korea’s health agency, forcing the phone to be regulated and reviewed in the ROK before its 11 April worldwide release. FierceMedicalDevices. Hat tip to @DrDave01 (Dr. David Albert of AliveCor) and David Doherty of @mhealthinsight via Twitter.

South Korea to push Telehealth – good for Samsung

Returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she met with several company CEOs, [grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Park-Geun-hye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]South Korean President Park Geun-hye has decided to promote telehealth as a new growth engine for South Korea according to the Shanghai Daily. The president wants to see the country become a global leader in telehealth with a strong domestic use of the technology.

This is particularly fortunate for Samsung, the country’s largest group of companies, which is also said to be planning biomedicine and medical equipment to be among its growth sectors with a reported 10-year total of $22 bn (US) of investment across all its growth sectors. Samsung already produces major hospital equipment such as ultrasound and digital radiography systems, currently operates a massive hospital and cancer center in Seoul and is, (more…)

The CES of Health preview

International CES in Las Vegas will be the annual ten-ring circus it always is, but this year even the tech watchers are concentrating on health. There appears to be no blockbuster consumer electronics debuts this year, so what you will see in the rinse-and-repeat cycle are the connected categories of Wearables and The Internet of Things. Basically everything will be connected, automated…and gathering lots of data on you (what ZDNet’s Jason Hiner in his CES preview article has dubbed Contextual Computing, and he likes it). Lisa Suennen of Psilos Group, writing in MedCityNews, coins her own slightly dismissive term, ‘The Internet of Wearable Things’, and makes the entirely sensible point that sensing your fitness is one thing, doing something about it another. But the critical health app that soars over her goal posts is the Surf Life Saving WA Twitter account. If you’re in Western Australia and hitting the water, you want to know where the sharks are. This gives it to you. This Editor also sees that Samsung received FDA 510(k) approval for their heavily hyped S Health app built into the US-released Galaxy S4 smartphone. While the UK enjoyed third party device connectivity back to the S3, the US version of S Health, according to Mobihealthnews, only connected to three unreleased Samsung peripherals and relied on manual entries. This undoubtedly will change–expect there to be buzz about where Samsung will now take this at CES. And there’s always hay to be made with sleep analysis tracking–high-end multi-sensor fitness watch Basis Science has now added advanced sleep tracking to its BodyIQ analysis of running, walking and biking, as well as upgrading its looks (VentureBeat).

Certainly more to come out of CES and conferences within CES this coming week!

Around the mHealth Summit in 70 pictures

Courtesy of mHealth Insight/3G Doctor, David Doherty takes the LIFE magazine approach and delightfully, you feel like you are there. He hosted a get-together at his booth on Monday (many pics), stops by AliveCor, Alere Connect (hello Kent Dicks), the Venture+ Forum (see Lois Drapin’s earlier article; hello Richard Scarfo, director of the Summit and Pat Salber of HealthTechHatch crowdfunder and the DoctorWeighsIn), VNA Health Group, investor in many things Esther Dyson, Google Glass Explorers, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the ‘panini generation’ courtesy of AT&T ForHealth. But you’ll have to page all the way down to see the last shot of an ‘wild, wooly and yo-ho-ho’ AliveCor demo in My thoughts on the 2013 mHealth Summit as it happens…

The 2014 smartwatch rush, deluge redux

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/fworkswithnote-v1.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]In the breathless coverage (watch that pulse and respiration!) surrounding the Galaxy Gear, Samsung’s entry into the smartwatch/wearable computing race yesterday at Berlin IFA, this Editor sensed a certain air of…deflation. The consensus so far is that it is a solid first try for Samsung that does not fulfill the hype. The design limitations are obvious: function (scrolling screens likened to Windows Phone for time, notifications, voice memos, S Voice commands, photo gallery, music player, a pedometer and a few more), chunkiness (73.8 grams, 3″ diagonal), a tiny weirdly positioned camera.

In the 70 apps it will initially have is where it intersects with health. (more…)

The Internet.org initiative and the real meaning for health tech

Internet.org — Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected.

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Much has been made of the Internet.org alliance (release). The mission is to bring internet access to the two-thirds of the world who supposedly have none. It is led, very clearly, by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. Judging from both the website and the release, partners Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia (handset sale to Microsoft, see below), Opera (browser), Qualcomm and Samsung, no minor players, clearly take a secondary role.  The reason given is that internet access is growing at only 9 percent/year. Immediately the D3H tea-leaf readers were all over one seemingly offhand remark made by Mr. Zuckerberg to CNN (Eye emphasis):

“Here, we use Facebook to share news and catch up with our friends but there they are going to use it to decide what kind of government they want, get access to healthcare for the first time ever, connect with family hundreds of miles away they haven’t seen for decades. Getting access to the internet is a really big deal. I think we are going to be able to do it”

Really? The Gimlet Eye thought that mobile phone connectivity and simple apps on inexpensive phones were already spreading healthcare, banking and simple communications to people all over the world. Gosh, was the Eye blind on this?

Looking inside the Gift Horse’s Mouth, and examining cui bono, what may be really behind this seemingly altruistic effort could be…only business. (more…)

So many apps, so little time

Over the past few days there seems to have been a particularly rich set of alerts related to mHealth apps (there’s even been an update to the mHealth Grand Tour website with a nice video to promote the tour that starts on 5th September). Adding to them a couple that others have kindly alerted me to, here are a few that might interest:

Let’s begin with an infographic on the rising popularity of mHealth apps that puts it all into context. However, in some countries mHealth is being held back by outdated privacy laws, and in the US lack of final FDA guidance is considered a check on progress.  If you ever wondered how much data your DNA, or your most recent scan contained, (more…)

Samsung gets jump on 2014 smartwatch rush

Breaking news

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/galaxy_gear_mockup.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Word via Mashable is that Samsung’s shot over the bow in the smartwatch wars comes on 4 September when it introduces its smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, just ahead of the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. Rumor has it that it will be in five colors (white, orange, gray, black and the newest trend, white gold). This couples with their recent introduction of the massive phablet, the Galaxy Mega. No word yet on health applications, but what comes in the smartwatch will be an indicator of Samsung’s seriousness about extending S Health.  (Photo is mockup) Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Coming Sept. 4Samsung’s Smart Watch Rumored to Come in Five Colors

Previously in TTA: Smartwatches as the 2014 tablet, redux; Apple-ologists discern ‘new’ interest in health tech and telehealth