Wearables and mHealth: a few observations

The Telegraph reports on the creation of Amazon UK’s wearables store, following on from their US launch that we covered on April 30th. Unlike in the original US launch, locating the store is not that challenging, however it is very much a jumble of products: if you know what you want then you probably don’t need a store to find it; if you don’t, there’s precious little to guide you to find the right product.

One of the wearables they’ll doubtless think carefully before stocking is the Pavlok, as reported by the Daily Mail, which gives its wearer a mild electric shock if they don’t exercise enough. (Feels more like something we should be featuring on April 1st.)

A nicer read is the fascinating, short, and very interesting item from RTT on smart watches. Apparently the trend started in 1541.

Clearly there remains significant interest in these – Mobihealthnews, for example, reports a forecast of 330m smart watches will be sold worldwide in 2018 (vs 4m in 2013). This editor hasn’t bought one yet, however having reached the state where not to have my activity tracker on my wrist feels very wrong, the appeal of a device that can do so much more is beginning to become evident. Maybe even before 2018, a well designed, intuitive-to-use watch would fit the bill…

…however if Apple has anything to do with it, as iMedicalApps pointed out last week, there are information privacy issues that need resolving first. In particular, even though the apps running on Healthkit may well have excellent information governance, there is a worry that as Apple has released very few details about Healthkit to date, Apple could still access and use your private health information.

Perhaps one solution is that offered by Powr of you, a company that seeks to monetise for you the information you currently give away. An intriguing potential response, that’s well worth considering.

Reports that the use of mHealth/remote monitoring is about to take off continue to abound – last week’s, in mHealthnews is one of the latest, referring to the US, though the parallels are strong. And Fierce Mobile Healthcare describes a survey in which four out of five smartphone owners worldwide would like to use their devices to interact with their healthcare provider. A coincidence of misunderstandings originally convinced this Editor that not everyone was as positive. However, Andrew Cowie, Medvivo’s Chief Executive, writes that “In response to changing market conditions and a shift in our marketing focus we have undertaken a minor re-structuring exercise”. Telehealth & Telecare Aware apologise for the previous misunderstanding. (Disclosure: this Editor once worked for Medvivo when they were Telehealth Solutions),

Evidence that not everyone is on-board with what technology can do for healthcare delivery comes from a recent BBC website item which questions whether the use of broadband to deliver remote patient monitoring “…sounds far-fetched”. Apparently:

Doctors could contact people if their readings showed any cause for concern. Consultations could happen via Skype with patients free to remain at home.

Oh dear; not one of the BBC’s finest moments.

One way of increasing the use of remote monitoring is to push the commissioners, which the ATA in the US has been actively pursuing of late, sending a letter to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommending changes to the NAIC’s network adequacy model to improve and better support telehealth efforts.

As one US TLA* seeks to promote telehealth though, another – the AMA – seeks to constrict its growth with insistence on doctors being licensed in the same state as the patient, as Information Week reports. (Note that the President of the AMA will be one of the keynote speakers at the RSM’s conference on Integrated Care on November 24the & 25th, which has now issued a call for papers and is open for registration).

Returning to the positive, from Australia comes a report of the successful use of telehealth to help manage those with motor neurone disease, which is the first time this editor has heard of this. Fierce Mobile Healthcare also reports on an AMA research piece that the increasing availability of mHealth worldwide is helping healthcare efforts relating to pregnant women and newborns by improving data collection and response systems. 

Hat tips to Prof Mike Short and to Drs Claudia Pagliari & Nicholas Robinson for pointing me to some of the above item.

*TLA=three letter abbreviate; ATA = American Telemedicine Association; AMA = American Medical Association


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