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Videocast with ATA: Mobile health predictions for 2014

A couple of weeks ago while I was in Washington for the U.S. News & World Report Hospital of Tomorrow conference, I stopped by the headquarters of the American Telemedicine Association to record a videocast with ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous. We discussed some of my predictions for 2014 in the fields of mobile health and telehealth:

  1. Imperative to cut costs will drive demand.
  2. More mental health services will be delivered remotely.
  3. Clarity from the FDA means more diagnostic apps and smartphone add-on devices.
  4. Patient engagement in Stage 2 Meaningful Use might finally make untethered PHRs and consumer-facing apps viable.
  5. Home monitoring and video chats will help prevent hospital readmissions.
  6. State licensing issues persist but some states are looking to adapt their rules to facilitate telemedicine.

I’m going to try to embed the video here. If not, here’s the ATA’s link.

 

November 15, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Transcript from Leslie Saxon’s appearance on CNN’s ‘The Next List’

LOS ANGELES—Yesterday, I covered the seventh annual Body Computing Conference at the University of Southern California, hosted by Dr. Leslie Saxon, chief of cardiovascular medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. That got me thinking: Whatever happened to the video from Saxon’s appearance on CNN’s “The Next List” back in March?

I’m pretty sure CNN never actually posted the full video anywhere online, though the network did share a short teaser clip a couple days before the show, hosted by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, first aired. However, I did find a full, albeit unverified, transcript of the episode on CNN’s Web site if you care to imagine what the pictures might look like.

Several of the people who were on the show also appeared at USC yesterday, including AliveCor’s Dr. Dave Albert, Zephyr Technologies CEO Brian Russell, Misfit Wearables CEO Sonny Vu and product designer Stuart Karten, as, of course, did Saxon and her Oscar-winning film producer-brother, Ed. I’ll have more coverage Monday in MobiHealthNews.

In the meantime, here’s Friday’s news about AliveCor earning FDA 510(k) clearance for the universal, Android-compatible version of its smartphone ECG, the newly dubbed AliveCor Heart Monitor. I’ll see you next week at CHIME’s Fall CIO Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz.

October 5, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

DrChrono and Sermo, what are you thinking?

Free, mobile ambulatory EHR developer DrChrono made a minor ripple of news this week, claiming to be the first vendor to release an EHR for the new Apple iOS 7. But that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m calling out DrChrono co-founder and COO Daniel Kivatinos for this tweet:

I was quick to respond on Twitter.  


Indeed, the HITECH Act and Meaningful Use are about the Triple Aim of producing safer care, improving population health and lowering overall healthcare costs. The incentive money isn’t supposed to make physicians rich or even cover the cost of the typical EHR. (Yes, “free” EHRs have costs in terms of changing physician workflows and interfacing with practice management systems, and the advertising may cause patients to lose trust in their doctors, as John Lynn seems to have found with Practice Fusion.) Frankly, I don’t want to go to a doctor who views Meaningful Use as “cashing in.” That’s not “meaningful” in the spirit of the incentive program.

I’m making a big deal out of this because this is not the first time DrChrono has made misleading and hyperbolic statements. As I wrote a couple years ago, the company claimed its patient check-in app was “groundbreaking,” despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. The same post also had a video from DrChrono in which the vendor explained to physicians how they could qualify for Meaningful Use “tax breaks.” The incentive payments aren’t tax breaks. In fact, the money counts as taxable income.

The video is still up on YouTube, and it’s been viewed more than 57,000 times. That’s 57,000 times people have heard a patently false statement. DrChrono, stop misleading clients or you won’t have any clients left to mislead.

Also from the “what were they thinking?” department, physician social network Sermo marked the start of the NFL season this month with the launch of the “Pro Football Injury Challenge.” I know this because I received this e-mail:

Sermo injury challenge

Yes, I know I’m not a doctor. Sermo sent a follow-up a few days later saying that I received the invitation in error. But actual physicians still are competing against each other in kind of a fantasy football injury pool. Do you find this as tasteless as I do?

 

September 20, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Follow-up from ATA Fall Forum

Last week, I joined Steve Dean of Falls Church, Va.-based Inova Health System’s Inova Telemedicine Program on stage at the American Telemedicine Association’s Fall Forum in Toronto for what turned out to be a very well-received session on mobile apps and devices finding their way into clinical workflows. It was either a Letterman-style top 10, or, as Dean described it, a Siskel and Ebert-style discussion and review of 10 popular and/or interesting apps.

In one example, Dean noted that Aetna’s iTriage consumer app had been downloaded more than 9.5 million times. One audience member questioned the relevance of that number, suggesting that many people download an app, try it once and decide not to use it again. She asked if we had any actual usership statistics. I said I would contact Aetna and find out, then post the answer here on this blog.

An Aetna spokeswoman didn’t have data on the number of iTriage users, but told me that iTriage has nearly 60 million user sessions per year. (For what it’s worth, the app also passed 10 million downloads last week, she added.)

Here are our slides from that presentation. We alternated, with Dean presenting AirStrip OB, AliveCor, Asthmapolis (which changed its name last week to Propeller Health), iTriage and Welldoc. I opened discussion on DrawMD, mym3, Walgreens, Fitbit and various apps from the VA and CMS. Download ATA Fall 2013 v3.pdf

I realize context might be missing from just looking at these slides, but the ATA tells me video will soon be available online through the ATA Learning Center. (For now, access is restricted to ATA members, but the site promises non-member access “soon.”)

 

September 18, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Patient engagement: Check me out in ‘US News’

I’ve just had my first story published in a major national magazine, or at least the online version of one, namely US News and World Report. It’s about patient engagement strategies for hospitals and medical practices in the context of EHRs, for the magazine’s “Hospital of Tomorrow” feature, and I’m getting good feedback so far. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited. Check it out here.

Also, I’ll be presenting on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. EDT at the American Telemedicine Association’s Fall Forum in the non-American (but very North American) city of Toronto. It’s there because this year’s ATA president is Dr. Ed Brown, president of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, right there in the T.O.  Steve Dean of Falls Church, Va.-based Inova Health System’s Inova Telemedicine Program and I will be counting down a top 10 of mobile apps we deem to be prominent, successful or highly useful. (The description in the online program is wrong as of this writing.)

September 7, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Great news for Health eVillages

As a board member of Health eVillages, a program that provides mobile health tools to help extend the reach and knowledge of health workers in remote and underserved parts of the world, I am thrilled to hear that the organization has raised $58,000 this month.

Most of the money, $38,000, came from the first-ever “Apps Save Lives” golf tournament, held Aug. 16 at Royce Brook Golf Club in Hillsborough Township, N.J. The other $20,000 was in the form of a grant from the Vodafone Americas Foundation, announced Aug. 11.

From Physicians Interactive, which established and provides administrative support to Health eVillages:

Health eVillages Raises $58,000 for Global mHealth Program in August

Mission Benefits From First “Apps Save Lives” Golf Tournament, Vodafone Americas Foundation Grant

READING, MA–(Marketwired – Aug 27, 2013) – Health eVillages, which provides mobile health technology to rural healthcare providers around the globe, announced today that it raised $58,000 in August through its inaugural “Apps Save Lives” golf tournament in New Jersey and a grant from the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

The tournament, hosted by Physicians Interactive (PI), the leading provider of online and mobile clinical resources and solutions for healthcare professionals, and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, was held on August 16th at the Royce Brook Golf Club in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. It drew representatives from fifteen different life science organizations, including eight major pharmaceutical companies, and raised $38,000.

The Vodafone Americas Foundation, which strives to improve lives through wireless and mobile technology, also announced a $20,000 grant on August 11th to benefit Health eVillages programs. The grant will be used to help further the Health eVillages mission to empower healthcare providers in the most challenging clinical environments anywhere in the world through mHealth technology that helps them to save lives.

“I want to thank all of the Apps Save Lives tournament sponsors and the Vodafone Americas Foundation for their tremendous support of Health eVillages,” said Donato Tramuto, Founder of Health eVillages and Chairman of the Board and CEO of Physicians Interactive. “There was an electrifying sense of energy throughout the day at the tournament as everyone united in support of our mission to use mobile apps to help save lives and advance care delivery in underserved regions around the world.”

Tramuto and Physicians Interactive founded Health eVillages in October 2011 in partnership with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights to address the knowledge gap faced by healthcare providers around the world. Since then, Health eVillages has provided support to clinicians who have conducted more than 50,000 patient interactions in underserved areas.

Health eVillages provides iPods and iPads loaded with medical reference and clinical decision support apps through six pilot programs to medical professionals in Uganda, Kenya, China, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Pacific Island nations and rural Louisiana. Physicians Interactive supplies the medical content for the mobile devices through its Skyscape platform.

Anyone interested in contributing money or devices to Health eVillages can do so through its website. Corporate sponsorships of Health eVillages are also available. For more information about corporate sponsorships, contact Merrill Press at merrill.press@healthevillages.org.

Also, Health eVillages founder Donato Trumato is a finalist for the 2013 Modern Healthcare Community Leadership Award. I encourage you to vote for him here. Voting is open through Sept. 20.

 

August 29, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Things change pretty fast in health IT, don’t they?

Yes, things do change pretty fast in health IT. I realized this over the past couple of weeks when I updated my database of contacts by scanning and categorizing about 300 business cards I’ve collected over the past 2½ years. (I really let things pile up this time. Now that my desk is reasonably clean, I hope I never do that again. I can claim extraordinary circumstances in 2012, but that only accounts for one year.)

What really struck me, in addition to the amount of time I let this slide, is the number of new categories I had to create in the database and the number I had to modify. My contacts go back to when I started covering healthcare in October 2000, and I’ve had a card scanner for at least 10 years. I had “PDA” and “ASP” as two of the choices until I changed them to “smartphone” and “SaaS” within the last couple of years.

Here are a few terms that are new in my database since I last did a thorough update, probably early in 2011:

  • accountable care
  • analytics (as opposed to data mining)
  • business incubator
  • remote monitoring

I also can’t believe I didn’t have CIO as a category until this month.

Some of the changes reflect a shift in what I’ve covered, but some terms are pretty new. Did you know what accountable care was prior to 2010? Were there many business incubators or accelerators in healthcare before Rock Health started up in 2011? I don’t know of any.

By the same token, when was the last time anyone talked about a PDA, an ASP or RHIO? Perhaps it’s just been a change in semantics, but the real change has been in the technology and the focus of healthcare executives. (Come to think of it, some of the tags on this blog are a bit out of date. I’ve been blogging since 2004. You get the picture.)

On another note, thanks to Healthcare Scene guru John Lynn, who hosts this blog for me, for, without my prompting, promoting the fact that I’m cycling 100 miles in an event called the Wrigley Field Road Tour on Sunday, Aug. 25, for the third year in a row. The ride supports an organization called World Bicycle Relief, which provides specially made bikes to remote villages in Africa so people who are otherwise without transportation can get to school and jobs. It also benefits Chicago Cubs Charities, which funds a number of youth programs in the Chicago area. (The ride’s co-founders are World Bicycle Relief founder F.K. Day, whose family owns bike component maker Sram, and Todd Ricketts, whose family controls the Cubs.)

Within the last two weeks, I suddenly got a surge of donations from people within the health IT community, and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know. If you’d like to help, here’s my fundraising page.

One unexpected donor was Todd Stein of healthcare PR firm Amendola Communications. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that he is fundraising to help offset medical expenses of a colleague whose 3-year-old son faces surgery for a brain tumor. From that page:

Kathy C., a friend and colleague (who has always been the first to help but the last to ask for help and so wants to remain anonymous) is a single mother of three children all under the age of 7. Her 3-year-old son “James” was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The surgery will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, Kathy has a $10,000 deductible on her health insurance plan and stands to pay out of pocket costs that are estimated at three times that amount. James is going in for the first of a series of surgeries this week and paying tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses is a hardship for anyone, especially a hard working single mother of three young children.

Please keep Kathy and James in your prayers and give whatever you can to support their urgent need. Just giving up a daily coffee for one week and giving that amount would make a world of difference.

And now, it’s just about 5 o’clock here in Chicago, so please enjoy your weekend.

 

 

August 16, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

‘Dilbert’ takes on wireless health

Perhaps I’m getting loopy, or just distracted, but I’ve been reading the funnies again. (Hey, we all need a laugh from time to time, right?) But here goes my second consecutive post involving  a comic strip, this time a certain one called “Dilbert.” Today, Scott Adams, who spoke at HIMSS in 2005, addresses digital health, specifically wearable sensors and how unscrupulous employers like Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss might exploit all the new health data being generated.

Dilbert, ©2013 Scott Adams

All of our bosses can’t be so intrusive, can they?

 

August 15, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

See you at Healthcare Unbound

Happy 5th of July! I hope you had a happy 4th, and that you don’t have to work today as I have to.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be on a panel next Thursday at the 10th annual Healthcare Unbound conference at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver:

TRACK C: PANEL DISCUSSION: WHAT’S NEXT FOR mHEALTH?

The market for mobile health (mHealth) products and services is an important area which can be a catalyst for healthcare’s evolution, dramatically altering healthcare delivery and the patient experience. In the health system of the future, patient care will be greatly enhanced by a connected and seamless information flow between patients and other stakeholders, with mobility being a core need for all users of health information. With a growing ocean of mHealth applications, scalability, sustainability, security, interoperability are some of many points which will continue to be vital for developers.

mHealth can provide new ways for patients to be engaged in their health, beyond those interested in the “quantified self”, to shift the focus in healthcare from treatment to wellness. The healthcare industry therefore has the unique chance to harness this opportunity to create positive change.

There is the argument that regulation and restrictions could impede innovation, as the freedom of the market has fostered the rapidity of modernization in mHealth technology. However, other hurdles exist for developers, such as achieving adoption and sustained use of mobile applications, where users from physicians, to patients need to better understand what apps can make a real difference and which are just noise.

The panel will explore some of the ways mHealth is transforming healthcare and also tackle some of the serious questions, offering insight and solutions for those facing mHealth’s distinct challenges.
Moderator:
Daniel Ruppar, Research Director, Connected Health, Frost & Sullivan

Panelists:
Proteus Duxbury, , Director of Technology Strategy – Virtual Health Services, Catholic Health Initiatives
Wayne Guerra, MD, MBA, Co-Founder & Chief Medical Officer, iTriage
Keith Toussaint, Executive Director, Business Development, Global Business Solutions, Mayo Clinic
Neil Versel, Contributing Editor, MobiHealthNews
Malinda Peeples, RN, VP Clinical Advocacy, WellDoc

This breakout session starts at 4:15 p.m. MDT. As the last thing standing between conference attendees and happy hour that day, we sure had better be engaging. Hopefully there will be video available after the fact. If there is, you can be sure I will post it here.

To register for the conference, click here.

July 5, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Apple highlights Skyscape, Health eVillages, other health apps

As you may know, I am on the advisory board of Health eVillages, The program got a huge honor Monday by being featured in a video shown at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference — you know, the annual meeting that’s always a hot ticket among Mac-heads and app developers because Apple usually unveils its latest products there. (Last week was no exception. Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced iOS 7, albeit to mixed reviews.)

In the video, called, “Making a difference. One app at a time,” Apple highlighted Skyscape, the company that makes the mobile medical reference software that Health eVillages, and sent a camera crew to a Health eVillages pilot site in rural Lwala, Uganda. A nurse from the clinic showed how he visits patients by motorcycle, using an iPad to help treat and educate the area’s residents. (Skyscape parent company Physicians Interactive provides operational support to Health eVillages, and CEO Donato Trumato, also featured in the video, co-founded the program with Kerry Kennedy.)

Two of the other three apps that Apple chose to include also are related to healthcare: Galileo, an app from Orthocare Innovations that helps amputees adjust prosthetic limbs; and Proloquo2Go, a product from AssistiveWare that in the video helped an apparently autistic child learn to speak.

June 13, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.