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Indiana medical software company hack exposes protected information of unknown number of patients

Indiana medical software company hack exposes protected information of unknown number of patients | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Medical Informatics Engineering, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based maker of Web-based health information-technology software, said Wednesday it was the victim of a sophisticated cyber attack that exposed the protected health information of an unknown number of patients. 

MIE emphasized that patients of only some of its clients were affected, including the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Neurological Center, Franciscan St. Francis Health Indianapolis, the Gynecology Center in Fort Wayne, Rochester Medical Group in Rochester Hills, Mich. and Concentra, a national network of primary-care and specialty clinics. The company said in a statement that it is working with a third-party forensics firm to determine an “accurate number of affected patients.”

MIE's clients include about 100 small- to medium-sized physician offices.

The hack includes MIE's NoMoreClipBoard subsidiary, which produces a personal health-record management system. 

The servers that were hacked held protected health information including patient names, mailing and email addresses, birthdates, and for some patients, social security numbers, laboratory results, dictated reports and medical conditions. Financial records were not compromised because the company does not collect or store that information, but experts told Modern Healthcare that clinical data can often be even more valuable to identity thieves. 

The company said it learned about the hack after it discovered suspicious activity on one of its servers May 26, at which point it immediately launched an investigation to resolve any system vulnerabilities, in addition to reporting the security breach to law enforcement, including the FBI, company officials said. 

Eric Jones, MIE's chief operating officer, said it's clear that, big or small, healthcare companies must deal with the serious threat of cyber attacks.

“I certainly I think it's becoming obvious to most of us that this is becoming a more common occurrence," Jones said. "There are sophisticated entities out there that want to do harm and we need to be more vigilant, we need to do a better job to protect the information that we hold."

Jones said he doesn't believe that the Web-based nature of the company's software made it an easier target.

"I think everybody is vulnerable, whether your application is Web-based or if your client server is within four walls, I think there's still high risk that you could be impacted this way," Jones said.

MIE and NoMoreClipBoard began contacting clients and patients on June 2, and are offering free credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected patients for the next 24 months. The company also established a toll-free hotline to answer questions about the hack. 

Data breaches in healthcare are the most expensive to remediate and are growing more so, according to a May report from the Ponemon Institute.

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Beyond games, Oculus virtual reality headset finds medical uses

Beyond games, Oculus virtual reality headset finds medical uses | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

To help treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, Jennifer Patterson turned to a gadget typically associated with video games: the virtual reality headset from Oculus, a company Facebook Inc bought for $2 billion last year.


Patterson, an engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh, studied a software used on the prototype of the head-mounted display that creates virtual settings, such as a Middle Eastern-themed city or desert road, that soldiers would otherwise avoid, as a way to help them recover from their PTSD.


She hopes doctors and therapists around the country will better understand how the technology can be helpful to their own patients.


Patterson is one of a handful of researchers who have used the display for experimental treatments and studies that range from treating glaucoma patients to easing pain in burn victims.


While there are no estimates of the potential size of the market for virtual reality applications in the health care field, analysts say that success in this area would likely spur even broader adoption in a range of industries, such as education, fashion, media and telecommunications.


The potential size of those markets is quite large, possibly surpassing $5 billion over the next three years, according to some estimates, especially as the gadget's uses extend far beyond gaming.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he views virtual reality as the next major computing platform, and he is working hard to ensure that it is. While Oculus headsets will not be available to consumers until 2016, the company has made prototypes of the system available to developers since 2013, with the expectation that an array of applications will be available to those buying headsets after the formal launch.


The company plans to hold a news event Thursday in San Francisco but has not specified what it will announce. It declined to comment for this story.


Virtual reality is not new to medicine or therapy, but its affordability is. Doctors and researchers often shell out $30,000 to more than $300,000 for medical headsets and simulators while the Oculus is available to developers for $350 to $400.


The more expensive medical virtual reality sets will still be needed for certain studies, doctors and researchers said, because of their accuracy in detecting sensitive movements and because patients with severe facial burns cannot use a head-mounted Oculus device.


But they still expect the Oculus Rift and other cheaper virtual reality headsets to quickly replace the expensive ones.


"As more and more companies get involved in this, we will keep seeing inexpensive and very accurate systems," said Felipe Medeiros, a professor at the University of California San Diego who used the Oculus device to evaluate patients with glaucoma, a disease of the eye's optic nerve.


FLOOD VIRTUAL MARKET


Other companies, including Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Microsoft Corp, Google Inc and HTC Corp have either already released virtual reality headsets or plan to do so in the next year.


Oculus, however, has already distributed more than 100,000 units of its developer version. This is more than has been available in the history of virtual reality, giving it early brand recognition among medical researchers, analysts said.


"Oculus has basically jumped out in front," said Hunter Hoffman, a virtual reality researcher at the University of Washington Seattle who used the Oculus Rift to ease severe pain in an 11-year-old burn victim.


Some headsets, such as Sony's Morpheus, are built exclusively for video games. Oculus, however, allows researchers and developers to create their own software, whether for specialized applications like health care or for video games.


In Medeiros's study, for example, he evaluated patients with glaucoma. He created a simulated environment that made patients feel as though they were moving through a tunnel and then studied their bodies' responses.


That helped researchers predict the likelihood of a fall for glaucoma patients, allowing doctors to teach them how to avoid it.


Medeiros and other researchers said future studies will compare the inexpensive headsets against one another. But because of Oculus's early availability, it has already become the most popular headset.


"Oculus has done a great job of keeping themselves front and center and making themselves the product that everyone has to be compared against," said Brian Blau, Gartner research director.

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Evaluating what leads to positive user ratings in medical apps

Evaluating what leads to positive user ratings in medical apps | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With the growing number of mobile health related apps, there needs to be an objective understanding about what features of an app make the consumer, or user, more likely to use a particular app. There have been studies done in the past that have evaluated medical apps looking at characteristics that can help change a user’s behavior.


These are important for medical apps, as many are targeted to change the user’s behavior for a healthier outcome. However, the characteristics that will make a user more satisfied and more likely to continue using an app long-term, are not the same.


A recent study looked at which specific features within medical apps result in greater user ratings. The study looked at 234 apps and reviews that were found in the Apple iTunes store and Google Play store in the medical, health and fitness categories, and were also associated with reputable health organizations.


The apps that were found to meet the inclusion criteria were then analyzed to see if they included the following features and were rated on a binary scale:


  • Ability to export data
  • Gamification
  • General education
  • Plans and orders
  • Reminder
  • Community forum
  • Social media connection
  • Addresses symptoms
  • Tailored education
  • Tracker
  • Cost
  • Usability


The results of the data from this study showed that 9.3% of a user’s rating of a particular medical app can be explained by 5 features, including plans and orders, ability to export data, usability, cost, and having a tracker. All but one of these features resulted in a more positive user rating. Apps with a tracker, which allow the user to track specific data, such as daily compliance with medications, daily caloric intake, etc, correlated with a more negative rating. When the data was further analyzed, the results showed that the tracker feature has a positive influence on a user’s rating if the app also has the ability to export the data. This makes sense from a user interface aspect, as a tracker can be useful if the data can be shared with the user’s doctor or other healthcare provider. The tracker option, without the ability to export data, may result in too much information, which the user may not be able to properly interpret.


This shows that if you do include the ability to track information within an app, it’s important to makes sure that information can be exported.

The results of the study also show that users preferred a simple and intuitive app over a complicated one. These are apps that easily provide the user the ability to control their interaction with the app, such as saving and logging data, have a minimal design and not cluttered with extra information or multimedia, and easily allow the user to recover from errors. These all make sense since a user would want be using an app on a smartphone to help complete tasks faster and with ease.


Also as expected, the user is also more likely to rate an app more positively if the app provides a more efficient solution to current methods. Examples of these types of apps are those that provide information about a specific disease, which saves the user time from looking up and understanding that information themselves. Another example is an app with the exporting data feature mentioned above, as exporting existing data from an app is much faster than manually inputting the data in a notebook or emailing a healthcare provider from scratch.


The results of this study are important to consider when developing new medical apps. With over 10,000 apps in the marketplace, knowing what features are most important to the users of medical apps is crucial in creating a successful app that will lead to long-term use and as a result, have tangible positive outcomes in the user’s health.

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Will Patients Embrace Wearable Health Technology?

Will Patients Embrace Wearable Health Technology? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Technology hype in the medical industry has been well distributed and plentiful for the last several years. Predictive analytics, personal health records, and other medical software have all enjoyed copious amounts of analysis, but none has garnered the attention that wearables currently enjoy.

And it's easy to see why: gathering biometric data directly from the patient and using that information to create more accurate treatment plans, deliver alerts, and generally improve population and individual health is a compelling use case.


Unfortunately, the wearables revolution remains stuck to the wrists of a particular young, affluent population, while patients who could truly benefit from wearable technology have yet to gain access to these devices.


If that access becomes viable on a broad scale though, it could invoke meaningful change.


A recent study by the Pew Foundation revealed that about 19 percent of people without chronic conditions track their health (with or without software). This is arguably the main demographic that use wearable devices or fitness trackers right now.


In contrast, 40 percent of people who have one chronic condition track their health, and 62 percent of people with two or more chronic conditions track their health.


Logically, these numbers may not be surprising — these people must monitor their health to avoid staying out of the hospital. What is surprising is the lack of penetration health wearables have made in this market. Patients with chronic diseases make up a huge portion of total healthcare expenses, and theoretically, their health tracking could be made substantially easier with the help of wearables.


Yet wearables have not reached this demographic, although there are industry stakeholders trying to change that. Here's a look the most prominent forces at work.


CMS and meaningful use


With the new proposed rules for meaningful use Stage 3, CMS has eliminated the rigid view, transmit, and download requirement for patient engagement. Now, at least 25 percent of unique patients must engage in some way with their personal health information within the provider's EHR.


This can be accomplished in a couple of ways: view, transmit, and download, or syncing the EHR with a personal health record (PHR) or health wearable device. Both of the more complex data transfer scenarios bring health wearables directly into play. Even if the data is transferred from a personal health record to an EHR, it's still possible to use the PHR as a repository for wearable data, before it travels to the provider's system.


Insurers


Though the lines are not yet clearly drawn, insurers would surely like to begin using biometric data from wearable devices to make their risk profiles for patients more accurate, and more influential.

 

Data gathered from fitness trackers would provide a realistic picture of a patient's lifestyle, especially if more complex trackers are used to record glucose levels that indicate caloric intake.


The relationship between insurers could be critical, because wearables have a short track life in the consumer market. It turns out, most people stop using them after a few months. However, insurers can offer incentives that other stakeholders can't.


For example, UK-based Vitality Health has been encouraging patients to use wearable technology since 2006. In exchange for the data produced by these devices, Vitality offers life insurance customers points that can be spent on movie tickets and coffee, as well as reduced premiums.


Of course, the downside to insurers having this much information is that they could use the wearable data to increase premiums for patients who don't meet certain criteria (which may or may not actually indicate health risks).


Either way, this offer appeals to the people: 57 percent of respondents in a TechnologyAdvice survey said that the possibility of lower premiums would make them more likely to use a fitness tracking device.


Providers


The final group in the equation is stuck in an interesting position. Though 66 percent of physicians would prescribe an app to help patients manage chronic diseases like diabetes, it's well-documented that physicians worry about receiving too much (read: irrelevant) data from wearable health devices. Although physicians are likely excited by the possibilities of wearable devices, it will likely take some for them to decide on exactly how (or if at all) they want to incorporate such data into their diagnoses.


As it stands now, the industry is rapidly adopting new medical software to fix processes like information exchange and chronic disease management that have made for such obstinate opponents over the years. Of the proposed technology, wearables seem most likely to catch fire, in part because of their consumer appeal and obvious use cases. They certainly have the stakeholder support.

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The 22 Best Apple Watch Health And Fitness Apps

The 22 Best Apple Watch Health And Fitness Apps | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Apple Watch, Apple’s first step into the world of wearables, starts shipping to consumers today.


The Watch marks an interesting time in the wearable fitness space, in particular. Health and fitness trackers like Jawbone Up and Fitbit have dominated much of that space in the last few years. According to NDP, these wearable fitness devices sold close to 3.3 million units last year.

The Apple Watch is more of a comprehensive platform, but it has definitely taken the popularity of these fitness trackers into account, equipping the Watch with a built-in heart rate monitor, GPS tracker to measure distance and speed during workouts, an accelerometer to track body movement, and proprietary apps that show calories burned and overall fitness levels.


Not wanting to be left out of the action on this new platform, many health technology companies have started to repurpose their smartphone apps for the Apple Watch as well. While not all apps add much more to the Watch experience than they do to your phone, there are a few that make that subtle leap. Here are the 22 top health and fitness apps we’re looking forward to on the Watch:

Featured Apple Watch Health and Fitness Apps:


First, let’s go through the apps that Apple has chosen to feature on the Apple Watch section on its site.


Nike+ Running – Apple kicked both Jawbone Up and Nike+ Fuel Band out of the Apple store in anticipation of the Watch. But it looks like Apple through Nike some love by adding the Nike+ Watch app into the featured set of fitness apps on Apple’s website. The Nike+ Running app will allow owners of the Watch to connect with its global running community as well as log distance and run duration right on their wrist.

Green Kitchen – This app adds dozens of healthy recipes and the step-by-step instructions to make them with a tap on the screen. The app includes a timer within the Watch to notify you when to take certain items out of the oven.


Strava – Know how high you climbed, your average speed, distance and heart rate in real-time as well as segment by segment updates to keep you pushing forward in your workout.

Mayo Clinic Synthesis – This app is a bit more for the medical doctor side of management. It helps physicians manage their daily schedule and alerts them when a patient is waiting for them in the lobby or the exam room. It also provides basic patient information such as age, sex and weight.


LifeSum – Think of this one as a food journal on your wrist. This app provides a way to track what you are eating and drinking throughout the day and then look it up later to figure out how many calories you’ve consumed. It also provides the right portion size and which foods to avoid.


Runtastic – The Apple Watch will have three apps from the popular run tracking platform: The original Runtastic to track runs using GPS, Runtastic Six Pack and Runtastic Butt Trainer. The apps include a Glances feature to display an avatar that will demonstrate the right way to do each exercise. This helps the person working out follow along instead of having to look up or hold a phone while going through the movements.


The Health and Fitness Apps We Like:

There are many, many health and fitness apps that are either already on the Watch or will be on the Watch in the near future. The following is a collection of the top apps we believe have the best use case on your wrist.


Hello Heart – This is a blood pressure monitor and heart health companion app. This is a good one for the Watch as it can record and upload vital signs right from your wrist. More than 100 million Americans have some type of a heart condition. This app could make it easy for them to monitor those conditions in real-time, rather than having to go into a doctor’s office or pharmacy to get that information.

Fitstar Yoga – Instead of having to look up at the screen or instructor to make sure you have the pose right, this app helps the user see what the proper pose looks like right on their wrist. It also allows them to check on the time remaining for the chosen yoga session or manage the session by using the play, pause or use the back and forth controls.


WaterMinder – This is a pretty straightforward app that helps folks stay hydrated by reminding them to drink up. You can also visualize your daily water levels to figure out if you are drinking enough.

Map My Run – At this point you may be wondering why another running app, besides the native app in the Apple Watch and the Nike+ Running app are worth a try. Map My Run not only has a significant and dedicated community to encourage that running life. The new Watch app will also let enthusiasts log more than 600 different types of workouts, record GPS activities, sync and share activity on Apple Health and MyFitnessPal and socially share workouts with friends.


HealthTap – Tap on the app to ask questions and get answers to medical questions from 68,000 U.S. doctors while on the go. The app will also provide reminders for virtual sessions with your doctor, personal notifications and reminders to take your prescribed medications.


Medication Alarm – Reminds you to take any type of medication throughout the day, using an infinite amount of reminders, medication and times to take. Also lets you track how many pills you have left to give you a heads up on when you need to order more.


Human – This one tracks your activities throughout the day and pushes you to get up and move for 30 minutes every day. That’s important because while you may not be physically close to your phone all the time, you will be able to see that reminder on the watch to get up and move at least 30 minutes a day. The app automatically picks up your walks, bike rides, runs and other activities that go for a minute or more and then logs them on the app.

Misfit Minute – Misfit already has a popular wearable product worn on the wrist, but started venturing into other platforms with a fitness app on the Pebble watch last July. Continuing on the trend of being hardware agnostic, Misfit has created an app for the Watch that will give consumers a total body workout, using body weight training and circuit intervals.


Carrot Fit – Carrot, the zany artificial intelligence family of apps, will all be on the Apple Watch, including an app that shames you into working out. Carrot Fit both terrifies and inspires with seven minute workouts that will have you escaping from a squad of mean ostriches and punching Justin Bieber. This way you can receive judgement and pop references on your wrist instead of your phone.


Clue – This is a period tracking app that lets women figure out where they are in their cycle. Apple was criticized for not including a period tracker in HealthKit, but that’s a pretty important part of women’s health. This app prognosticates when a woman will next start her period, PMS and when she is most likely to get pregnant.


WebMD – The WebMD app will remind patients to take their meds as well as provide instructions on how to take certain medications and a daily schedule of when to take them.


BACtrack – There are a couple of smartphone breathalyzer test apps on the market, but this one lets you check your blood alcohol levels without fumbling around in a drunken state while looking for your phone. Of course, you’ll have to also have the BACtrack’s smart breathalyzer tool on you to start a BAC test, but it frees up one of your hands to hold the tool while taking the test.


drchrono – Physicians who use the iOS app can already pull up a patient’s medical information and use an iPad to send the bill. The Apple Watch app helps medical professionals see chat messages from their clinic colleagues reminding them to wrap up their visit and see their schedule without it looking like they are ignoring the patient and playing with their phone. They can also use the app to respond privately to patient text messages and view patient information on their wrist.


Doximity – The largest medical professional network in the U.S. comes to the wrist. According to company estimates, about half of all of America’s doctors are Doximity members. Physicians with an Apple Watch will be able to access Doximity’s free tools such as HIPPA-compliant messaging, electronic fax capabilities and reading up on curated medical news.
 
Skin – The skin is the body’s largest organ and can tell you a lot about your health. The Skin app requires the use of your phone’s camera to take pictures of your skin. The Watch app then helps you pull up those images quickly and monitor changes in your skin over time. It won’t diagnose you, but it does alert you if something has changed or should get checked out by a medical professional.


Spring – The music streaming service made specifically for exercise could be useful on those runs. This app allows you to leave your phone behind and still access high-energy tunes. While the Watch doesn’t have a way to plug in and listen to music while you run, you can still use this app with a wireless headset to bounce to the kind of music that gets your heart pumping and your body moving.


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Punch Digital 's curator insight, May 4, 2015 2:03 AM

From instructive Yoga to interactive run tracking apps, the apple watch and it's ability to be compatible with your fitness goals, is revolutionary.


if you have a few spare moments then this article will definitely have you marching down to the shops. the ability it has for not only fitness professionals but for the weekend warrior is mind blowing.


See for yourself what the new Apple watch has to offer, maybe it's time you took your fitness goals to the next level?

Lyfe Media's curator insight, June 17, 2015 4:19 PM

The Apple Watch may be the best thing that's happened to fitness lovers since the treadmill. With a wide variety of applications to monitor fitness levels, nutrition, and various other health concerns, an Apple Watch may quickly become a recommended gadget by health professionals everywhere. HealthyFitGuide

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Is it unprofessional for physicians to wear Apple Watch?

Is it unprofessional for physicians to wear Apple Watch? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

One of the trending themes of the Apple Watch reviews so far has been the gluttony of notifications the Apple Watch spews out in default mode.  The Verge highlighted this in their video review — around the 3 minute mark they show how many distractions the Apple Watch can provide when having a simple conversation with someone.

In his review, The Verge’s Nilay Patel mentions how the Apple Watch doesn’t enable you to control notifications in a very granular manner — it’s basically all or nothing.


Not only is this problematic for casual conversations, as Patel shows so well during his review, but it’s even more worrisome for physicians who want to wear the Apple Watch when caring for patients.

It’s easy to put your phone on silent and in your pocket during your clinical shift, but even if your Apple Watch is silent, it will still light up when you get a notification, similar to your iPhone. Imagine doing a physical exam on a patient and as you’re doing their abdominal exam, you get a text alert from a friend making an inside joke from the weekend — definitely not professional as your patient is in easy viewing distance of your wrist.


There is already evidence that shows smartphones themselves can create distractions during patient rounds, one can only imagine how much worse it could be with the Apple Watch.


As the study by Katz-Sidlow and colleagues showed for smartphones, I think having policies in place on how this new technology should be used in the hospital setting is something that should start being discussed.


There are definite ways the Apple Watch could be utilized for a clinical shift — I wrote an article on 10 ways the Apple Watch could be utilized in medicine recently — but its form factor makes it significantly less likely to provide anywhere close to the utility you have with your smartphone. The short of it is the Apple Watch isn’t going to have anywhere close to the same clinical utility that smartphones provided to physicians for patient care.


So then, is the Apple Watch unprofessional to wear during patient care?


Yes, especially with the lack of the ability to change notifications in a granular fashion currently.


But to get around this, Apple Watch does have an airplane mode feature, effectively turning off all notifications — but this arguably makes it worthless to wear the Apple Watch in the fist place. There is a “do not disturb” function as well, but it remains to be seen if that will prevent the backlight from turning on as well.


I do know one thing, if I see my medical students and residents wearing the Apple Watch when caring for our patients, I will definitely ask them about the notification setting they have on their Watch, as my own Apple Watch will be stuck in airplane mode for the time being.


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The 3 S’s of Smartphone Shopping.

The 3 S’s of Smartphone Shopping. | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

What a difference a few years makes. It wasn’t long ago that healthcare CIOs declared they would never use smartphones for caregiver communication. Now, with smartphones proliferating throughout the nation’s hospitals as an effective clinical communication solution, many vendors are adding smartphone options to their product lines. If you’re attending HIMSS15in Chicago next week, you will undoubtedly see traditional communication vendors touting the benefits of their brand-new smartphone offerings.


The good news: It’s fairly easy to build a smartphone app using current development technologies. The bad news: It’s not so easy to build a solid smartphone platform that’s reliable in the healthcare environment and scalable enterprise-wide.

While vendors may present their smartphone solutions as tried and true, many have only a portion of their advertised functionality deployed in a real healthcare environment. And many of those deployments are small, one-unit pilot projects that haven’t been tested site-wide. As you assess the mobile communication solutions presented at HIMSS, take the time to ask probing questions to determine which vendor, products and services are right for your facility.

When it comes to a smartphone solution, ask if it’s scalable, sustainable and substantiated:

Is it scalable? A simple texting application is easy to demonstrate and simple to sell with a nicely designed PowerPoint presentation, but if it can’t scale to your needs, it’s not worth your time or financial investment. Ask vendors to refer you to major healthcare organizations that are successfully using the solution enterprise-wide.


According to a Forbes article, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles implemented a mobile communication solution unit by unit over the course of about three years. Today, smartphones have scaled to cover the entire the facility, with more than 4,500 caregivers and other staff sending hundreds of thousands of text messages via Voalte One every month.

2. Is it sustainable? The healthcare industry changes quickly. A communication solution that only answers today’s challenges and doesn’t build a solid foundation for a complete mobile communication platform may soon become obsolete. As you explore your options at HIMSS, be careful you don’t bank on a vendor who can handle only one of your overall communication needs, with promises to tackle the others later.

When Boulder Community Health in Colorado replaced legacy phones with smartphones last year, CIO Linda Minghella said text messaging was a big benefit to the staff, but made clear the ability to integrate with other technologies was an even bigger advantage. The hospital tied in the new smartphone solution to the nurse call system, for example, and according to a recent article, hopes to make the electronic medical record available via smartphones in the future.

When meeting with mobile communication vendors, ask if their smartphones can integrate with alert notifications from nurse call, patient monitoring or electronic medical record systems. Be sure these alerts are being delivered successfully to smartphones, rather than tying in with traditional legacy phones.

Also ask how they plan to support their smartphone solutions before and after go-live. Deploying and maintaining applications is time-intensive, and mobile device management requires a precise process to ensure your solution is secure. Be sure you sign up with a partner that can commit to a long-term relationship rather than a “one go-live stand.”

  1. Is it substantiated? With new solutions entering the market quickly, watch out for “vaporware” that’s in development, but not yet ready for prime time. Before entering into an agreement, ask for five or ten reference sites, and check them out thoroughly to ensure the smartphone solution fits your specific needs.

Your hospital is unique, and you need a smartphone solution that can be customized accordingly. By investigating the process other healthcare organizations used to implement smartphones, you can get a sense of the vendor’s expertise in those various areas.

 

You have some difficult choices to make when exploring mobile healthcare technologies. While an influx of companies and solutions will push the mHealth industry forward, it will also make it more challenging to decide how and where to spend your technology dollars. Come to HIMSS15 next week armed with some tough questions, stay focused on your goals, and don’t get blinded by the bright lights and displays that may be more flash than substance.


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The Apple Watch will Bolster the iPhone’s Place in Medicine

The Apple Watch will Bolster the iPhone’s Place in Medicine | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

One of the single biggest complaints that we hear from Physicians when referring to their EHR system is how computers take away from the personal side of patient care. All too often docs are now forced to dig through various screens, and drop down menus while they type in copious amounts of data during patient encounters. Traditionally, doctors could easily maintain eye contact with their patient while they jotted notes into a medical record using a pen and paper, but EHR interfaces have complicated that process.

In the last couple of years we’ve seen mobile apps and smart phones bring many efficiencies to the medical exam room. For example, an app that we built on behalf of the American College of Physicians, ACP Immunization Advisor, helps clinicians get up-to-date vaccine information quickly and efficiently. The free iPhone app, which provides several ways to filter the CDC Immunization Schedule for specific patient needs, can help a physician save valuable time in a patient visit by providing a comprehensive, up-to-date list of vaccine recommendations in seconds. Not only is this far more efficient then trying to navigate through the paper-based CDC schedule, but it provides the clinician with piece-of-mind as the app is updated frequently to stay on top of changes in the guidelines that won’t be reflected in a paper copy unless they download, and reprint them frequently.

Apps like the ACP Immunization Advisor are great examples of ways we can bring new efficiencies to medicine, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. One of the great advantages that Apple Watch will bring to the table is the ability for a clinician to access all of that great functionality in their smart phone, without ever having to remove it from their pocket. With the release yesterday of iOS 8.2, newer iPhones (Apple Watch is compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus) will now have the capability to tether with Apple Watch. Developers can now build watch based interfaces to allow for easy access to information that’s literally at arm’s length. Bringing data to the physicians wrist will help to reduce the need to stare into a screen, and it helps free up both hands from having to physically hold a device.

Although the interface may be small, the Apple Watch is fully voice control enabled with Siri, meaning apps can be controlled hands free. From the looks of the interface, this watch seems to have reinvented usability for such a small screen (another forward-thinking move by Apple). When looked at as an extension of the iPhone, the Apple Watch has great potential to help clinicians have more face-to-face interaction with their patients while they are leveraging technology. It also opens the door for apps to enter other areas of medicine, like surgery, where a doctor is unable to physically interact with a smart phone due to the physical constraints of surgical gloves, and of course sanitary reasons. An Apple Watch would allow a surgeon to access powerful apps in their smartphone without ever having to touch it.

In 2013 AmericanEHR conducted a report titled “Mobile Usage in the Medical Space” which set out to better understand health practitioners usage of technology in the medical space. Some key findings included:

  • 77% of physicians who’s adopted an EHR use a smartphone
  • On average, physicians who have adopted an EHR conduct 11.2 activities per week on their smartphone in a clinical setting
  • 51% of doctors with smartphones use apps on a daily basis for clinical purposes
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of iPhone users are very likely to recommend their iPhone compared to just 26% of non-iPhone users


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Are you maximizing the value of IT?

Are you maximizing the value of IT? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Over the past few years, U.S. healthcare organizations have poured billions of dollars into information technology. But what kind of return are healthcare providers getting on these massive investments? And how can they maximize the value of IT to both improve patient care and streamline operations?

HIMSS15 attendees can explore the answers to these questions at the annual conference’s first Health IT Value Suite, which will feature patient and healthcare provider success stories that illustrate the ROI possible from health information technology during a time of huge change to the U.S. healthcare system.

“There’s a lot of pressure on health IT from the C-suite and boards of directors to deliver better care, improve patient outcomes and save money,” says Patricia Wise, HIMSS vice president of healthcare information systems. “Simultaneously, regulatory forces from the government are pushing organizations toward value, and the payment structure is being influenced by this.”

Which means the time to demonstrate value is right now. 

“We’re moving from a period of implementing IT to one of deriving the value from the recently implemented IT,” Wise says. “Just by putting IT into healthcare doesn’t generate all the potential value.”

The Health IT Value Suite will highlight the proven benefits of health IT in six areas: clinical decision support, remote monitoring, clinical analytics, information exchange for care coordination, patient safety, and accountable care organizations.

These half-dozen themes are addressed within the HIMSS STEPS model, a framework for assessing and increasing the value of healthcare IT. The STEPS model will be front and center on a large LED screen in the value suite, Wise says.

“It’s interactive,” she adds, “so people at the Health IT Value Suite can demonstrate to attendees the STEPS model and framework.”

The STEPS model outlines five kinds of value that benefit patients, healthcare providers and communities: Satisfaction, Treatment/Clinical, Electronic Information/Data, Prevention and Patient Education, and Savings.

Wise says the informal nature of the Health IT Value Center will make it ideal for attendees to question other healthcare professionals about how they used IT to generate greater value.

“The area is configured in a big u-bar, kind of like barstool seats,” she says. “This gives attendees an opportunity in a relaxed environment to have a one-on-one dialog with folks who literally sweated cannonballs along the way before they got to the point where they were deriving value from their IT.”

The Health IT Value Center is ideal for clinicians and providers. “The quality struggle, the value struggle is kind of laid at their doorstep,” Wise says.


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Matthew M.'s curator insight, April 23, 2015 8:11 PM

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Health IT buckling under rules and regs

Health IT buckling under rules and regs | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Nearly 95 percent of health IT professionals say complying with regulations influences is the chief driver of their decision-making, according to a new poll. Worse, a majority saying too many government mandates are having an adverse effect on their work.

The survey, from Peak 10, an IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, also finds that  with "rare exception," respondents say they lack the right expertise to "navigate the maze" of federal rules, according to Peak 10 officials.

Three out of five respondents to the poll say too many rules are having a negative effect on healthcare IT, according to the Peak 10 National IT Trends in Healthcare Study.

These mandates mean providers must make non-revenue producing investments and divert resources away from innovation and new development, according to Peak 10, which finds that cost cutting is another big concern – made worse by the fact that many IT departments are under-staffed and under-funded.

Other survey findings:

  • A 77 percent majority of hospitals and other healthcare organizations are seeking partners to help them maintain high reliability; 70 percent of respondents said they need partners to assist with security and data privacy concerns.
  • About 50 percent of healthcare IT companies say they use a third-party integrator or partner to assist them with their IT strategy.
  • Among those, 70 percent cited depth of technical knowledge as the top reason; 60 percent, meanwhile, said third-party partners alleviate the time and resource constraints on internal IT staff.

The feelings of many IT staffers might be summed up by a quote, from an anonymous director of IT at a New York medical center, included in the report: "I wake up in a cold sweat, just wondering what (regulations) I missed. It’s up to me to keep up. Things that we had a year to plan before, now we have weeks."

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How Wearable Startups Can Win Big In The Medical Industry

How Wearable Startups Can Win Big In The Medical Industry | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As attention shines down on fitness trackers and smartwatches, one of the biggest opportunities for wearable devices remains shadowed in the corner — medical wearables. Medical wearables present colossal opportunities, but they tend to frighten entrepreneurs and elicit polarizing sentiments from investors. As a healthcare and digital health investor, I am often asked my opinion on the subject, and can unequivocally say that I love wearables.

However, that does not mean I pursue every wearable investment that comes my way. The startups that catch my eye meet specific criteria shaped by the years I spent developing novel medical products that the FDA approved and payers reimbursed. When it comes to saying yes to medical wearable startups, here are the key things I look for:

Clinical Endpoints

When considering a medical wearable startup for investment, I focus on what type of data the product collects and if it is an endpoint. A primary clinical endpoint is defined as “an event or outcome that can be measured objectively to determine whether the intervention being studied is beneficial to a patient.”

For example, how long a patient survives is the primary endpoint for most cancer products, and reducing blood pressure is the primary endpoint for hypertension. Endpoints demonstrate that the product delivers value, and most importantly, whether other companies’ products deliver value as well.

Endpoints are not only the source of truth in healthcare, they are also the gatekeepers. Improving a primary endpoint in a clinical trial can unlock FDA approval, reimbursement by payers, and market share when physicians recommend the product to their patients.

For these reasons, a wearable company that accurately tracks primary endpoints commands power in the medical market. For instance, Empatica’s wristband is designed to accurately measure the onset of seizures, which in the long run could determine if one anti-epileptic medication works better than another or when an ambulance should be sent to someone’s home. I’m betting that pharmaceutical, medical device companies and hospitals will pay wearable startups for that type of value.

Aspiring medical wearable entrepreneurs should start by figuring out the strongest endpoints for the disease they want to impact. One good strategy is to look up clinical trials for the last 3-4 medical devices or drugs approved for that disease. Also check out this resource on endpoints from the FDA.

Bulletproof Data Management

Accurate data can be the difference between life and death, which means your data collection methods have to be ironclad. Consumers need to know that they can trust the data from your product, as does the FDA, larger medical community and investors.

Preventice provides an always-on, remote-monitoring wearable that measures arrhythmias outside of the hospital, as well as a dashboard that lets physicians and caregivers know when to reach out to help an individual with cardiovascular risks. It is imperative that the company measures each heartbeat correctly and securely stores patient data in order to avoid creating false alarms or introducing security risks.

Targeting your product to the medical community requires a high bar for how you measure and manage your data. Wearable startups will need to integrate design and quality controls, hire a regulatory affairs employee or consultant, and spend money on legal fees. While these obstacles may seem high, overcoming them means you can sell your product at a premium to medical companies. You have also created a high barrier to entry for competitors. The opportunities are huge, so going through the FDA and selling to medical companies is not a barrier to investment for me.

Designed for Engagement

The reality is that customers won’t use a product for long unless it proves worthwhile. So how do you keep users engaged with their medical wearable? By creating a feedback loop that extends beyond medical benefits. The device needs to be convenient, save time, and improve self-image. Consumers do not like to think of themselves as patients and want to minimize the energy focused on their disease. As we saw with Google Health’s failure, active data entry is not viable.

Aspiring medical wearable entrepreneurs should start by figuring out the strongest endpoints for the disease they want to impact.

Passive data tracking, just-in-time nudges, and clean design are must-haves for medical wearables. Chrono Therapeutics’ SmartStop is a wearable nicotine replacement patch to help smokers quit. SmartStop delivers nicotine in programmable intervals to prevent cravings before they occur. Chrono takes design-centered thinking a step further by integrating consumers’ compliance and behavior data into a mobile-enabled cessation plan designed with guidance from the Mayo Clinic.

The Right Partner

Turning a product into a business is actually quite simple — get paid. The time is now for wearable companies to build corporate partnerships into their business model. Existing medical companies need to keep proving that their products offer reimbursable value even after they complete clinical trials and are FDA approved. Wearables enable them to collect “real world evidence” as people go about their daily lives.

Some companies are even expanding in population health management and healthcare services to ensure their products deliver on their promise. One case of this is Medtronic, which has expanded beyond cardiovascular devices into telehealth and remote patient monitoring services. Its Cardiocom business unit uses a number of wired products to provide telemedicine. Imagine what its platform would look like if it had 24/7 data from patients on key physiologic measures.

The right partner can also help startups by validating products in clinical trials, which is appealing to an investor. For example, pharma company UCB signed a deal with electronics company MC10 to test its “BioStamp” in clinical trials for new neurological therapies.

Selling to the medical community may seem like a daunting proposition, but I believe this is where the big opportunities lie for medical wearable startups. For one thing, consumer-focused wearables aren’t living up to their promise. Research from Endeavor Partners found that one-third of consumers abandon their wearables after just a few months. Clearly the appeal of tracking steps is not enough to keep people interested in these devices.

Furthermore, focusing wearable device development on the consumer market (specifically young, wealthy, and tech-savvy early adopters) means that, in the words of J.C. Herz, “wearables are totally failing the people who need them most” — the old, the chronically ill, and the poor. Medical wearables are one of the rare and exciting areas where technology can have a marked, positive impact on people’s lives while also making big money at the same time. I can’t wait to see more entrepreneurs taking on these challenges.


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jean marc mosselmans's curator insight, March 22, 2015 3:07 PM

a true potential and some nice insights with useful clickable links

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Apple's New Plan For Healthcare: The Doctor Will Track You Now

Apple's New Plan For Healthcare: The Doctor Will Track You Now | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

An Apple relay will keep your doctor’s fears allayed.

That’s the plan, at least, behind the company’s growing health care strategy: To use the Apple HealthKit platform to collect real-time data from iPhones, the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch, and other devices — and connect it to hospitals, doctors, and your electronic medical records.

More than a dozen top hospitals already are piloting Apple’s HealthKit software, Christina Farr reported Thursday in an exclusive for Reuters.

This isn’t a surprise. Five months ago, details leaked that Mayo Clinic had teamed up to test several health care applications for the iPhone, such as a service to alert patients when their Apple apps detected abnormal health results, and help schedule them for follow-up visits.


And at the September debut for the iPhone 6, Apple officials said that they’d struck partnerships with a number of other top hospitals, like Stanford University Hospital and Duke University.

The two medical centers last year began helping Apple test whether chronically ill patients could use HealthKit to remotely track and manage their symptoms.

A similar trial is now underway at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, where providers are seeing if HealthKit can help several hundred patients control their blood pressure. The patients use sensors and other devices to remotely measure their blood pressure and other clinical indicators, and send the data to Apple phones and tablets through HealthKit.


Apple plans to use its new Watch as part of its strategy to move into the U.S. health care market.

Ochsner also has launched what it’s calling the “O Bar” — the hospital’s version of Apple’s Genius Bar — to help patients pick between different health and fitness apps for their iPhones, and teach them how to use them.

Are Apple’s Rivals Playing Catch-Up?

What is surprising is how far ahead Apple is compared to purported rivals, Google and Samsung.

According to Farr, Google has developers working on applications for its Google Fit service, but hasn’t appeared to make major inroads among the top hospitals yet. Samsung’s own health care platform also has lagged Apple HealthKit on both hype and deal-making.

The market potential for these companies is significant, to say the least: The U.S. spends about $3 trillion each year on health care, and all the incentives are pushing hospitals and doctors to get better at remotely managing patients’ symptoms.

Being able to see real-time data for chronically ill Americans could offer significant financial and clinical benefits. For instance, tracking their health and fitness could encourage positive behaviors that reduce the cost of doctor visits and other treatments. And doctors could use the data to be proactive when a person’s health appears to be taking a turn for the worse.

There are several major hurdles before realizing that vision, however.

For example, Apple appears to have pinned some of its health care-hopes on the Apple Watch, which launches in April. But early indications suggest that the device’s initial applications for health care may be limited; based on current reports, there’s very little chance that the Watch will come with a breakthrough technology, like a built-in glucose monitor.

(However, the Watch may display updates from a separate glucose monitor, per this demonstration last month.)

If Apple Watch can’t add much unique health care value, it may face a practical problem: Regardless of how cool the technology is, most Americans end up abandoning their wristbands and other smart-tech wearables.


And simply introducing new data streams isn’t so simple in health care. Hospitals already are juggling the pressure of protecting patients’ medical information, with hackers constantly trying to penetrate their systems, while trying to identify and organize the data that they do need.

“This is a whole new data source that we don’t understand the integrity of yet,” according to William Hanson, chief medical information officer at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

So unlike the launch of the iPad — where Apple essentially redefined the tablet computer market overnight — the company will almost certainly need months or years to fully realize its health care strategy.

“There are unrealistic expectations for when and how mobile health is going to come together,” Patty Mechael, former executive director of the mHealth Alliance, told the MIT Technology Review last summer. “We are somewhere between the peak of the hype cycle and the trough of disillusionment,” she added.

Of course, Apple may defy the odds. For one, it’s Apple — the company can create buzz by simply posting a job opening. More than 600 developers are already integrating HealthKit into their health and fitness apps, helping ensure that Apple’s new software is already becoming an industry standard.

That kind of scale and momentum is the key reason why Apple stands apart.

John Halamka, the chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an informal adviser to Apple, told Reuters that many patients at his hospital already use Jawbone trackers and other devices to collect personal health and fitness data.

“Can I interface to every possible device that every patient uses?” Halamka asked ruefully. “No.”

“But Apple can.”

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Obama's Precision Medicine Plan Sounds Great

Obama's Precision Medicine Plan Sounds Great | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

After teasing a "Precision Medicine Initiative" in his State of the Union address, President Obama today released the details of his $215 million plan: A massive database containing the genetic profiles and health records of at least a million volunteers. Genetics sequencing! Big data! These all sound like good things! But there is potential problem: Electronic heath records are a goddamn mess.

The big winner under Obama's plan is the National Institutes of Health, which gets $200 million to develop the million-large volunteer cohort and carry out cancer research. (To read more about the research, head on over to our sister site io9.) A tiny slice of the initiative's budget—$5 million—is also going to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. According to the White House's fact sheet, the ONC is going to "support the development of interoperability standards and requirements that address privacy and enable secure exchange of data across systems."

That sounds deathly boring, I know, but the ONC is building the scaffolding that makes this Precision Medicine Initiative possible. If it fails, the whole thing is not going to get off the ground. Here's why.

The NIH is not going to recruit a million volunteers anew; instead, it's going to pull data from a pool of over 200 existing cohort studies that could range from the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts to a database at Kaiser-Permanente in California. Each of these studies has been collecting data in their own way in their own systems. Smooshing all those individual databases together into one centralized one will be a gargantuan task.

"They're going to have severe problems because the federal government refused to demand data standards," says Ross Koppel, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in healthcare IT. He is referring to the lack of interoperability between EHR systems built by different companies. For example, says Koppel, a simple question about smoking can be asked in many different ways: Do you smoke? Have you ever smoked? How many times a day do you smoke? When did you quite smoking? How do you combine answers to all those questions into one coherent database?

The ONC currently has a 10-year road map for interoperability, which Koppel calls "nine and a half years too late." The $5 million is welcome boost to the ONC's $75 million budget, but it's a tiny droplet in the ocean for the $3 trillion that American hospitals and clinics are spending to implement EHR.

But there are reasons to be optimistic because, honestly, we do all want this to work out. The NIH's eMERGE Network successfully combined medical records from nine different healthcare centers. The Precision Medicine Initiative has the real potential to revolutionize medical research, so it'd be a grand shame for it to be hobbled by IT problems.

Correction: The post incorrectly said EHR cost $3 trillion per year. The $3 trillion number is the total cost for implementing EHR over seven years, starting in 2009 when the HITECH Act expanding healthcare IT was passed.

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Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Used to Fight Phobias

Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Used to Fight Phobias | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
While the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality immersion device, is slated for release only early next year, researchers are already trying to implement practical uses for it. At Santa Clara University a couple engineering and computer science students are working on using the Rift to fight phobias, initially focusing on a fear of heights and flying. With a background in video games, the pair teamed up with the chair of the university’s psychology department to study how phobias are treated and how to create a virtual reality experience that will progressively address patient fears.

The investigators came up with a system that pairs a Rift headset with a touchscreen tablet. The patient wears the Rift, while a therapist uses the tablet to guide the experience and tailor it to the patient’s unique needs. In their heights simulation, for example, the treatment starts with the patient virtually standing on top of a building. Initially it is not very tall, but the therapist can slowly increase the building’s height while watching the emotional response of the patient. By increasing the height without terrifying the patient, the therapy can gently nudge acrophobics to get used to being on tall objects and hopefully eventually lose their fear.

While the heights in the virtual world may frighten patients, the team noted that because wearers of the device know they can take it off at any time, they seem to more accepting of trying out the system. Of course an important step will be to actually test the system with real patients to see whether it is truly effective at allaying fears once and for all.
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Lyfe Media's curator insight, June 17, 2015 10:01 AM

The Oculus Rift virtual headset is going to create a world of opportunity for doctors, therapists, and counselors alike. Dealing with patients and their fears can be one of the most difficult topics to approach, especially since a lot of our fears are irrational or impossible. It's exciting to see the world of technology colliding with modern medicine in such an innovative, helpful way.

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Four new health features Apple is adding to Healthkit

Four new health features Apple is adding to Healthkit | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

At the 70 minute mark in their WWDC 2015 keynote Apple mentioned four new health metrics they will be adding to their Healthkit platform: Water, UV exposure, sedentary state, and menstruation.


Apple didn’t go into detail for these metrics, but the screenshot from their Keynote shows basic graphical representations of how each will work.


Water: Your Health app will be able to display how much water you are drinking. This is a metric that will most likely link data from a third party app. For example, when you track your water consumption with a fitness app, that information will automatically link to your native Health app on your iPhone (if you decide to enable that link).


UV exposure: Not sure right now if this will pull data from your location (location based UV information is publicly available), or data from a device that is actually measuring UV index. As I wrote prior, devices that measure UV index are not useful.


Sedentary State: The Apple Watch tracks this feature meticulously, but your iPhone can as well, and I suspect this information will be populated using the Apple M7 and M8 motion processors that started with the iPhone 5S.

Menstruation: Finally Apple adds a feature focused on women. Women will now be able to track their menstrual cycles.

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Healthcare IT

Healthcare IT | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Information technology plays a vital role in healthcare

The next decade will mark a turning point for the healthcare industry. As healthcare reform and the economy continue to present challenges, innovative advancements in healthcare information technology (IT) will provide the key not only to ensuring compliance with new legal requirements but also to reducing costs and improving patient care. 

Healthcare facilities across the United States are racing to meet the increased security requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Data storage management systems are playing a fundamental role in keeping patient records in a timely, secure, and easily accessible manner. Advancements in picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), electronic medical records (EMR), and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) solutions are being implemented at a rapid pace. Physicians’ use of mobile computing is growing significantly, allowing healthcare providers to share electronic patient records and other information without delay. Almost all clinicians are using a software knowledge-based application or online reference tool each and every day. And hospitals are employing handheld mobile devices to access drug reference databases, reference manuals, and patient records. 

Advances in e-prescribing and healthcare information systems are reducing medical errors and improving health outcomes for patients. Practice management solutions for physicians such as electronic scanning and storage of records are increasingly being used to enhance productivity of administration, facilitate insurance claim processing, and centralize electronic record keeping and management. 

As modern medicine grows in complexity and moves beyond the capacity of human retention—there are thousands of diagnoses, drugs, and medical and surgical procedures available today—these technologies provide the necessary tools to advance patient care and service to the next level.

Protecting investments in innovative technologies

Backed by more than 350 intellectual property lawyers, Finnegan has a distinct advantage in assisting clients with protecting and leveraging new healthcare IT technologies. Among our valued clients are industry leaders in the fields of software, document management, wireless technologies, and mobile solutions, as well as many companies in the medical device area. We counsel them on the full range of IP issues:

  • Drafting and prosecuting patent applications.
  • Writing opinions and providing ongoing counseling for new and evolving technologies.
  • Developing licensing programs.
  • Conducting due diligence investigations.
  • Developing portfolio management strategies.
  • Protecting against infringement through litigation or other dispute resolution options.
  • Providing trademark protection and counseling.
The depth of our legal and scientific expertise offers a unique advantage

Many solutions in healthcare IT require professionals who understand not only the nuances of the healthcare field, but also the technologies behind the innovations. Others will require a multidisciplinary approach involving a team of specialists with in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of healthcare IT. This is where Finnegan excels. The scope and depth of Finnegan’s technical experience spans electrical and computer technologies, software, biotechnology, industrial manufacturing, mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, and other related fields. Our extensive experience positions us to understand both the science at the foundation of our clients’ intellectual property assets and the relevant legal issues. More than 90 of our professionals have Ph.D.’s, and more than 100 have Masters of Science degrees. Our talent pool includes former in-house counsel, patent examiners, researchers, and engineers.

Understanding the software challenge

Many healthcare IT inventions involve a multidisciplinary approach with computer software. When evaluating our clients’ software for protection, we consider and balance many unique issues, such as development speed, ease of market entry, market fluidity, changing alliances, and ease of copying. We also evaluate current industry trends, pending legislation and case law, potential product and industry developments, and the effect of those developments on our clients’ software protection. We then advise our clients on how to best protect their software through patents, copyrights, and trade secrets, and we guide them around the intellectual property barriers created by others.

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Snap-n-Eat nutrition app calculates nutritional info from a picture of food

Snap-n-Eat nutrition app calculates nutritional info from a picture of food | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A group of researchers with the nonprofit SRI Internationalhave developed a nutrition app that can detect the caloric and nutritional content of food from a picture that you snap with your smartphone.

Obesity is a major problem in the United States – we’ve all seen the powerpoint slides showing CDC maps of obesity prevalence spreading over the past fifty years. Apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt let you track the food you eat in a very detailed way. We also recently reviewed Rise, a platform that lets you snap pictures of your meals and get feedback from certified nutritionists.


Researchers with the nonprofit SRI international recently published a paper describing Snap’n’Eat, an app that lets you snap a picture of your meal and calculates nutritional information like caloric content automatically for you.


Basically, the app figures out which segments of the picture contain food and then tries to figure out what type of food is in each segment. Based on that determination, it estimates the caloric content and other nutritional information.


They found that when dealing with a limited set of samples (fifteen in their tests), they were able to achieve 85% accuracy. But when expanding to a larger sample set, the app did not work as well.

They do note that it may be possible to improve the system by having users “train” the app early on; if the app can be taught about the users typical diet, then its accuracy could be improved.


In some ways, the ability to automatically detect nutritional information from a picture is the “holy grail” of diet apps. It would make diet tracking incredibly easy. However, this study highlights the current challenges and limitations of available technology. Further work is certainly needed but it’s a goal worth working towards given the scope of the problem it seeks to address.


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Qardio blood pressure monitor will support Apple Watch

Qardio blood pressure monitor will support Apple Watch | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Qardio announced Apple Watch support for their Bluetooh blood pressure monitor for the iPhone and Android devices.

We reviewed the QardioArm blood pressure monitor a few months ago. We were impressed by the elegant design of both the app and the device. The sharing functionality was also the best we found among any of the connected blood pressure monitors that we’ve reviewed. However, the lack of independent validation of the device and single cuff size kept the device from being our pick for the best connected (Bluetooth or WiFi) blood pressure monitor.


According to Qardio, the Apple Watch will let users both control the blood pressure monitor and also review data for themselves and their family,

QardioArm blood pressure monitors work seamlessly together with the Apple Watch, allowing users to take blood pressure measurements and monitor loved ones with the touch of a single button right off their wrist. Your blood pressure and heart rate data history are viewable at a glance, making heart monitoring even more effortless.

Qardio includes a really nice Family and Friends section in their app that lets you keep an eye on the blood pressure measurements of a loved one. The Apple Watch app will let users quickly check in on those loved ones. Hopefully, they’ll also include the ability to set notifications as well so that I could be alerted if, say, a parent checked their blood pressure and it fell outside of a certain range. For that to really work though, Apple will need to do a better job with letting users control notifications on the Apple Watch.


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Will the New Apple Product Accelerate Healthcare’s Shift to Consumerism?

Will the New Apple Product Accelerate Healthcare’s Shift to Consumerism? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Apple Watch market release on April 24 is not only a significant event for the consumer electronics industry, but it will be a significant event for healthcare as well. More than simply a version of the iPhone that fits on a wrist, the Apple Watch promises to be a tipping point for engaging consumers in their healthcare (a topic I wrote about here last year).

Certainly, this evolution will be gradual, and the health and fitness apps available for the smart watch are limited so far. But if sales of the Apple Watch are anything similar to iPhone, iPad and iTunes sales in the last 10 years, then this device will indeed influence how consumers capture, track and share personal health data with providers.

Why? Because the Apple Watch, unlike any of the countless consumer fitness-monitoring devices before it, isn’t just for counting steps or calories. It’s designed to be integrated into every moment of the wearer’s waking hours, offering a calendar, weather forecasts, emails, text messages, phone calls, music, and, of course, the ability to track steps walked, miles run, heart rate and total body movement throughout the day. It even tells the time!

This constant monitoring and integration into consumers’ daily lives—and the fact that they will wear the device on their wrists instead of stuffing it into a pocket—is why the Apple Watch will greatly influence health engagement where others have failed.

Apple changes things
Smart watches have been around since at least 2013, but Apple and its brand, reputation and devoted customer base ensure not only heavy sales, but also extensive coverage in the news media that other consumer technology companies would kill for.

However, the first generation of any transformative consumer technology—television, VCR, Internet modem or smart watch—is rarely the most purchased. Apple will certainly learn from this first version, refine it and add features that likely will include more health and fitness capabilities and integrations with healthcare organizations’ information systems.

This gradual acceptance means healthcare organizations have some time before consumers insist that providers capture data collected from the Apple Watch and combine it with their electronic health records (EHRs). Regardless of how fast this demand grows, numerous healthcare-centric Apple Watch apps already are in development due to the smart watch’s bio-sensing technologies.

Preparing for the demand
Also driving this shift, as I wrote about last year, is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which changed how millions of Americans acquire health insurance. Consumers now shop online for health coverage the same way they shop for airline tickets or clothing. Higher co-pays and deductibles mean that consumers are sharing more expenses with health plans and are inquiring more often about the cost of tests and services. Eventual Apple Watch interoperability is one of the many new expectations that consumers will have of providers.

Organizations can start preparing now for this change by exploring technology companies that offer effective strategies for capturing data from Apple Watches, or any health-monitoring devices, to deliver relevant notifications to providers—in context—to help support clinical decisions. For example, is the 50-year-old male patient who is transmitting a 135 beats-per-minute heart rate through his smart watch experiencing a cardiac event, or is he just training for a half-marathon? Technologies that can combine watch data with the patient’s EHR information and run an algorithm to determine if an intervention is necessary offer the kinds of analytics that providers will need to keep up with consumer expectations.

Providers, however, shouldn’t wait too long. While its evolution may be somewhat gradual, the Apple Watch’s ability to accelerate consumer health engagement is likely to be relatively swift. Perhaps the best example as to why comes from the technology reporter for The New York Times, who after spending three days wearing it wrote that “the [Apple] watch became something like a natural extension of my body—a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.”³

That direct link is what healthcare providers must leverage to better monitor and improve chronic-condition management, as well as consumer eating and exercise habits. The Apple Watch appears to be a significant tool that will help providers reach this goal.



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Google Builds a New Tablet for the Fight Against Ebola

Google Builds a New Tablet for the Fight Against Ebola | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Jay Achar was treating Ebola patients at a makeshift hospital in Sierra Leone, and he needed more time.

This was in September, near the height of the West African Ebola epidemic. Achar was part of a team that traveled to Sierra Leone under the aegis of a European organization called Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders. In a city called Magburaka, MSF had erected a treatment center that kept patients carefully quarantined, and inside the facility’s high-risk zone, doctors like Achar wore the usual polythene “moon suits,” gloves, face masks, and goggles to protect themselves from infection.

With temperatures rising to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Achar could stay inside for only about an hour at a time. “The suit doesn’t let your skin breathe. It can’t,” he says. “You get very, very hot.” And even while inside, so much of his time was spent not treating the patients, but merely recording their medical information—a tedious but necessary part of containing an epidemic that has now claimed an estimated 10,000 lives. Due to the risk of contamination, he would take notes on paper, walk the paper to the edge of the enclosure, shout the information to someone on the other side of a fence, and later destroy the paper. “The paper can’t come out of the high-risk zone,” he says.

Looking for a better way, he phoned Ivan Gayton, a colleague at the MSF home office in London. Gayton calls himself a logistician. He helps the organization get stuff done. In 2010, he tracked down someone at Google who could help him use its Google Earth service to map the locations of patients during a cholera epidemic in Haiti. As part of its charitable arm, Google.org, the tech giant runs a “crisis response team” that does stuff like this. So, after talking to Achar, Gayton phoned Google again, and the company responded with a new piece of tech: a computer tablet that could replace those paper notes and all that shouting over the fence.

The Tablet You Dunk in Chlorine

Over the next few months, drawing on employees from across the company, Google helped build a specialized Android tablet where Achar and other doctors could record medical info from inside the high-risk zone and then send it wirelessly to servers on the outside. Here in everyday America, a wireless tablet may seem like basic technology. But in the middle of an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which offers limited internet and other tech infrastructure, it’s not.



The tablet is encased in polycarbonate, so that it can be dipped in chlorine and removed from the facility, and the server runs on battery power. “There was a real need for this,” says Dr. Eric D. Perakslis, part of the department of biomedical informatics at the Harvard Medical School, who has closely followed the project. “It’s very impressive, and it’s unique.”

The system is now used by Achar and other doctors in West Africa, where patients are still being treated. During the testing phase, the server ran off a motorcycle battery, but now it includes its own lithium ion batteries, much like those in your cell phone, which can charge via a portable generator. Then, inside the high-risk zone, Achar can not only wirelessly send data over the fence, but also readily access information he didn’t have before, including a patient’s latest blood test results. Plus, after dipping the thing in chlorine for ten minutes, he can take it outside the zone and continue working with it after removing his moon suit.

Yes, the Ebola epidemic appears to be wane. But the system provides a blueprint for future. After catching wind of the project, Perakslis says, he’s working to help MSF “open source” the technology, freely sharing the software code and hardware designs with the world at large. The hope is that system could also be used to battle others epidemics, including cholera outbreaks, and perhaps help with medical research, including clinical trials for drug-resistant tuberculosis. “You can think of other highly toxic environments, even laboratory environments, where this could really be helpful,” Perakslis says.

Fighting Disease Like a Tech Company

But it could also provide a path to all sorts of other new technologies for fighting disease and illness in developing countries. If tech is open source, you see, you can not only use it for free, but modify it. This is actually what MSF and Google themselves did in creating their system for the Ebola wards. In fashioning the software that runs on the tablet and server, they built atop an existing open source medical records tool called OpenMRS. One technology is just a starting point for another.

What’s more, says Ivan Gayton, the project offers a lesson in how organizations like MSF should operate. In the past, they operated according to carefully organized hierarchies of employees. And they were forced to use what came down from the big software and hardware sellers. But the tablet project was an almost ad-hoc collaboration. Achar phoned Gayton. Gayton phoned Google. Soon, Google sent about a dozen employees to London, including Google Drive project manager Ganesh Shankar, who was living in Australia. Later, Gayton says, MSF roped in several other volunteer techies from outside the organization, including a 19-year-old gaming entrepreneur.

Finally, various parts of the team, spanning multiple organizations, flew down to Sierra Leone to test and deploy the system in the real world. Organizations like MSF don’t typically work in this way, Gayton explains. And they should.

“We’ve learned new ways of doing things,” he says. “In the past, we used the Roman-legion, hierarchical, triangle structure. But Google and the tech volunteers we work with organize in different ways—ways more like what you see with open source projects like Linux, with more or less one manager and then a bunch of equal peers. That can have profound implications for the humanitarian field.”


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Eduardo Vaz's curator insight, March 25, 2015 10:33 AM

#Google created a new #Tablet, but you won't be seeing it on store shelves. #ygk

Jared Stewart's curator insight, March 27, 2015 3:12 AM

A application of modern Tablet technology to help the fight against the Ebola Virus. It also shows the possibilities of this technology being used in future epidemics.

Louisa ROQUE's curator insight, April 23, 2015 5:59 AM

When technology is useful.

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Apple Research Kit is Open Source But Is It “Open”?

Apple Research Kit is Open Source But Is It “Open”? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For now, the answer is “we don’t know”.

But… the question is very important and worth tracking over the coming months. Let’s not assume that open source will equate to “open”.

What is ResearchKit?

Apple’s press release provided an overview of ResearchKit:

Apple® today announced ResearchKit™, an open source software framework designed for medical and health research, helping doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone® apps. World-class research institutions have already developed apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

…With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”

Many members of the research community have had high praise for ResearchKit. For more details and perspectives about ResearchKit, see the list of articles appended at the bottom of this post.


While it might be surprising to some, Apple has long-embraced open source software. A ZDNet article described Steve Jobs as an “open source pioneer”.

Lessons From Google Android and It’s Control Points

Google Android OS has provided a lesson in how software can be open source but not very open.

When Android was released in 2007, it received many kudos for being open source software. For a few years the collective consciousness of the tech industry described Apple iOS as a walled garden and typically described Android as being a much more open alternative.

However, over time it’s become apparent that BOTH Android and iOS are walled gardens, albeit with different types of walls, in different locations, and having different levels of permeability.

Andreas Constantinou of Vision Mobile wrote about Android “control points”:

You thought Android was open? The Android governance model consists of an elaborate set of control points that allows Google to bundle its own services and control the exact software and hardware make-up on every handset.

He goes on to list and describe eight specific Android control points:

  1. Private branches
  2. Closed review process
  3. Speed of evolution
  4. Incomplete software
  5. Gated developer community
  6. Anti-fragmentation agreement
  7. Private roadmap
  8. Android trademark

What Are ResearchKit’s Control Points?

At the start, one of the biggest control points is that ResearchKit will only be available to people with iPhones. Philip Jones, MD notes that this raises many issues for researchers: selection bias, attrition bias, observer bias, big data.

So for now, if you use an Android, Windows or Blackberry phone (i.e., about 80% of us) you’re out of luck.

It’s not possible at this time to answer fully the question about control points. ResearchKit won’t be released until next month, so we don’t know many details. We’ll also need to see how the ResearchKit toolkit/software is received and adopted in the researcher, developer, and app user communities. Finally,  we’ll need not simply  to look at how ResearchKit stands as independent, discrete software — we’ll need to understand how it fits into the broader Apple business ecosystem, including HealthKit and iOS 8. All this will take some time to discern.

However, simply asking the question is important…and the purpose of this post is to sensitize you to the issue and get it on your radar for the future. Let’s keep our eyes open.


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saturat van's curator insight, March 13, 2015 2:49 AM
Satta Matka 11, Matka Results, Satta King, Kalyan Matka, FASTEST SATTA MATKA http://sattamatka11.net/
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Why 2015 is the pivotal year for #digitalhealth

Why 2015 is the pivotal year for #digitalhealth | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

While we don’t truly know what the future holds, we all know that health is personal—and will need to be handled accordingly to optimize the progress that is possible with digital health.

The mainstream healthcare consumer in 2014 embraced the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and panicked (rightfully so) about the staggering wake-up call of the Ebola outbreak. While the politicians in US played the Obamacare ping pong game, and Brussels accepted its first applications for eHealth projects as part of Horizon 2020, there was also a major undercurrent in how digital health and health IT have penetrated our everyday lives.

In the US alone, digital health funding more than doubled from 2013, according to RockHealth, and even almost tripled according to StartupHealth. While the delta is not a rounding error, the key point is the exponential trajectory that showcases the fact that smart money believes this industry is ripe for significant disruption.

There are still many companies and investors that are sitting on the sidelines and watching the show from the balcony. As an example, there are many critics of wearable devices and even some hesitations on the value of big data. But, I want to remind everyone that Rome was not built in a day and the first generation or even second generation of devices, big data platforms, and decision support tools will improve care mainly driven by healthcare entrepreneurs, healthcare consumers and passionate scientists and clinicians – the “stormchasers”.

On February 2nd, I attended a local Singularity University lecture with a keynote from Gerd Leonhard, who is a thinker, futurist and a digital heretic. One of the statements he made really resonated with me: “Technology is exponential, humans are not”. The keynote was all about ethics in the age of exponential technology. But, leaving privacy and ethical issues aside, 2015 will be a pivotal year for digital health in an era of exponential technology:

1. Precision medicine

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the precision medicine initiative.  

"I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier."

Precision, or personalized medicine, (I use the term interchangeably) is an approach to using medical and genetics data, body-generated data, biotechnology, and science, to first and foremost understand the root causes of the disease—but also come up with personalized and individualized treatments and therapies.

Due to forthcoming government funding, but more importantly smart money and brilliant entrepreneurs, we will certainly see more activity this year. After all “Health IS Personal”.

2. Genomics

As DNADigest describes it:

"The techniques for researching and characterizing genomics diseases are available to both researchers (next generation DNA sequencing) and the general public (in the form of personal testing), so we should soon be able to diagnose any genetic disease by sequencing a patient’s DNA."

Indeed, this is the future but the future is almost here: Illumina with $1,000 per full genome sequencing, Tute Genomics which is now allowing researchers and clinicians to interpret the entire human genome, and a big announcement for 23andMe regarding their entrance into the UK market.

As an industry, there are still a lot of hurdles, but we will see some significant moves this year in this space—including ways to actually analyze 150 zetabytes (1021) of data per full genome, begin integrating this data into evolving and ancient EMR platforms, and provide genetic counseling to offset the lack of knowledge by the masses.

3. Smart Data and Data Science

Well actually, data itself is not smart, people are! And while there is huge promise in big data analysis, collecting and hoarding zetabytes (yes this term again) of data does not bring any value.

People need to ask the right questions of the data. We are at an age where collecting data is easy with body-generated data, environmental data, and traditional medical data—but it is the data scientist combined with sharp business and clinical skills that will empower the healthcare system to make all this data actionable, with the healthcare consumer at the center.

"If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything" - Ronald Coase
4. Next Generation EMR is personal

Let’s face it—and this is not news to anybody—core medical data is already becoming a small percentage of the overall personal health record. Existing EMR platforms are over two decades old and some are struggling to keep up with archaic architectures, millions of lines of code, and minimal-to-no differentiation to their client base today.

The smart ones are looking to open up their APIs, integrate body-generated and genomics data, and even combine that with environmental data at a personalized level to be able to provide that precision medicine at point of care.

5. Design and Aesthetics

Our bodies are complex, and therefore the medical profession is complex. Once again, an unprecedented amount of content is generated daily—and for both consumers and clinicians alike, dealing with this information overload is becoming yet another full time job.

The aforementioned smart data discussion is only one piece of the puzzle. User experience is another.

At the core of our health is human behavior. Hence, incentivizing healthcare consumers (patients), making their treatment pathways clear, and presenting stupid data in a smart and actionable way are all key to improving our healthcare system.

Global health care transformation is still in its infancy. While we don’t truly know what the future holds, we all know that health is personal—and will need to be handled accordingly to optimize the progress that is possible with digital health.


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A new wearable device could let you know you're stressed before you even realize it

A new wearable device could let you know you're stressed before you even realize it | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Ever arrived to work so flustered by your perilous commute that you just want to scream at someone?

What if you could go back in time to that stressful part of your morning, play it in slow motion, and press "pause" right at the beginning — when you first feel the blood rush to your cheeks and the thoughts in your brain start to blur? What if you could stop, take a deep breath, and ride it out — instead of letting your emotions get the best of you?

Tech startup Neumitra, one of billionaire Peter Thiel's newest Breakout Labs grantees, wants to give you that option. (The exact amount of funding Neumitra received from Thiel is undisclosed, but Breakout Labs typically invests between $100,000 and $350,000 on each of its selected companies.)

The new company, headed by former MIT neuroscientist Robert Goldberg, is designing a wearable device to measure our stress levels in real time — whether we're paying attention or not — and alert us to the first signs of stress via a gentle vibration.

The idea behind the technology is simple: Since stress triggers a physiological response in the body (quicker heart rate, faster breathing, sweating), measuring it could give us an opportunity to nip it in the bud.

Goldberg's device is a smartwatch with sensors embedded inside that use skin conductance, a century-old technique (still widely used for things like biofeedback therapy, in which patients learn to control body functions with specific thoughts) that measures the electrical conductivity of the fingers, palms, and feet. The more we sweat, the more electricity we conduct in these areas.

Since sweat is controlled by the same part of the nervous system that handles our stress response, our skin conductivity can serve as a potential indicator of whether or not we're stressed — though of course it's not quite that simple.

NeumitraScreenshot of the Neumitra app, which pairs with a smartphone. The color-coded squares are designed to show your stress levels during each activity: The darker orange a square is, the more stressful that activity; the darker blue a square is, the less stressful.

How it works

Users wear a smartwatch with the Neumitra hardware embedded inside. After a few days of wearing the device, it "learns" the user's typical levels and picks up on when those levels dramatically rise or fall — such as when someone is exercising or sleeping. If the device starts to vibrate and you're at the gym, for example, you could simply press a button to turn it off.

Which brings us to the purpose of the device: To alert people to places, situations, or events that they may never have identified as "stressful," but may nonetheless be triggering a physical stress response in their bodies.

Say you're in the middle of a meeting or driving on the freeway when suddenly your wrist starts to buzz.

This is your opportunity to change how you respond to the stressful incident. Rather than carrying on, business as usual, as your stress levels mount, you could ideally stop, take a breath, and calm yourself down.

"We often don't recognize a stressful situation until far after it's happened," Goldberg told Business Insider. "This allows you to know in the moment what's happening to you mentally and physically."

NeumitraScreenshot of the Neumitra app showing stressful periods of a user's commute. Blue-highlighted areas show places where stress levels were low; red areas show places where stress levels were high.

This could be especially useful at work, where stress can snowball throughout a long

day at the office until suddenly you feel emotionally overwhelmed or burned out. 

Even if we're completely unaware of it initially, stress over the long term can mess with our memory, make us more emotionally reactive, and decrease our ability to focus. When we're constantly under stress, we also become more prone to illness.

Neumitra could help show people what parts of their day might stress them out without their knowledge, so they can come up with solutions to avoid added anxiety. "If you find out the most stressful part of your day is your commute," Goldberg suggests as an example, "and you're coming to work already stressed out, you're not going to do your best work. Maybe it would be better for you to work from home."


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Cheryl Palmer's curator insight, February 19, 2015 6:53 PM

WEARABLES - Interesting Business Insider article detailing a new wearable in development in Australia to monitor stress by startup Neumitra.  Describes how the wearable will work and what research is still needed before it can be successful.  I was pleased to come across this article as so much tech development happens overseas,  yet Australia has such a great a history of innovation and I know many great things will be created here by startups like this one. 

Pacific Cove's curator insight, February 24, 2015 5:11 PM

Neumitra could help show people what parts of their day might stress them out without their knowledge, so they can come up with solutions to avoid added anxiety.  #Stress #Anxiety #Rest #Calm 


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A $34 Smartphone Gadget That Can Detect HIV in 15 Minutes

A $34 Smartphone Gadget That Can Detect HIV in 15 Minutes | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Tiffany Guo and Tassaneewan Laksanasopin are using smartphones to slow the spread of AIDS.

Together with other biomedical engineering researchers at Columbia University, Guo and Laksanasopin have built a tiny smartphone accessory that can detect HIV with a finger prick. It costs just $34 to make. It delivers results in 15 minutes. And according to the researchers, it’s on par with the most accurate of HIV tests.

Because it can so inexpensively and so quickly identify HIV, the researchers believe, the device can make a significant impact on AIDS in Africa and other parts of the developing world. Early detection helps stem the spread of HIV, and this can be particularly important among pregnant women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women who detect HIV early—and take antiretroviral medication as recommended—can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their offspring to less than 1 percent.

As revealed in a study published last week, Guo and Laksanasopin tested the device with a small clinical trial in Kigali, Rwanda, and the results were promising. Over the span of two weeks, 96 patients from three health clinics participated, and researchers say the device performed about as well as commercially available diagnostic tools now used to run tests in the field. The hope is that the device eventually will receive regulatory approval from the World Health Organization and be used in needy areas the world over.

The effort is part of a growing movement to reduce the cost of medicine and medical diagnosis using the latest in mobile technology. A wide range of startups and researchers are building portable devices that can screen for particular diseases, and in many cases, can screen for multiple diseases simultaneously. The device, which so far doesn’t have a name, developed by Guo and Laksanasopin can identify syphilis as well as HIV.

The smartphone difference

The project dates to 2007 but really took off in 2013, when the researchers realized they could significantly reduce the cost by piggy-backing on smartphones. If they handled power and data collection on the phone, they could whittle their device down to the basic equipment needed to perform the blood tests, or assays.

“We saw that the smartphone as this ubiquitous device that already had a lot of the components that we wanted,” Guo says. “So we stripped our dongle down to the essentials of what we needed for our assay—very simple optics and very simple fluid control.”

Their dongle, about the size of your palm, plugs into ordinary iPhones and Android phones through the audio jack, which it uses to draw power and transfer data. To use the device, you prick your finger and drop a small blood sample into a cassette holding what’s called a microfluidic chip, and then you insert the cassette into the device. By pressing a bulb on the device, you can push the blood through the chip, which can test the sample, and after about 15 minutes, the results will appear on an app loaded on the phone.

There are other inexpensive ways of testing for HIV and syphilis, including paper-based options similar to home pregnancy tests. But according to the researchers, these tests can be less reliable, and users don’t always know how to make sense of the faint strip of color on the paper.

By the millions

The question is whether they can get this device in people’s hands. According to Karen Lightman, executive director of MEMS Industry Group, a trade association that works to push microelectromechanical systems and sensors into the global market, it’s an unanswered question.

“They’ve demonstrated it, but can they deliver millions of these?” she asks. One of the main issues, she says, is ensuring that the data is keep secure, so that it can’t be readily lifted from phones. But she believes that reproducing such devices in larger numbers is easier than it once was.

“The industry is maturing, the technology is maturing, and the market is there,” she says. “As we get more standards into place and reduce testing costs, all that is going to mean faster time to market.”


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More hospitals are trying Apple HealthKit than Google Fit

More hospitals are trying Apple HealthKit than Google Fit | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Apple is moving its health care products into hospitals far faster than rivals Google and Samsung, claims a new report from Reuters. The news agency says that 14 of the 23 top hospitals it contacted were already trialling pilot programs with Apple’s HealthKit service to monitor chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Google and Samsung, meanwhile, were reportedly only beginning talks to secure partners for their own health-monitoring systems, Google Fit and S Health. Reuters added that doctors were especially "eager" to try Google Fit.

Apple has been more focused on medical data — google is looking at fitness

This disparity between the companies is significant but not unexpected. When Apple unveiled HealthKit in June last year it focused heavily on its emerging partnerships with hospitals and research groups like the Mayo Clinic. Google, meanwhile, has already tried its hand at creating a depositary for medical records accessible by patients and doctors alike: Google Health launched in 2008 and closed in 2013. By comparison, the company’s new Google Fit program is far more focused on nutrition and exercise — as is Samsung’s S Health.

All three of these companies are taking advantage of a number of trends, including the spread of powerful smartphones, the popularity of fitness trackers, and the inclusion of internet connections in even common household appliances such as scales. Apple, however, seems to be first out of the blocks in tackling the more difficult problem of getting data collected by these devices into doctors’ hands. At WWDC last year, the company announced a partnership with Epic Systems, the leading provider in the US of digital health records. Epic has already built apps to give doctors access to patients’ data and currently handles data for more than half of the US population. It's this sort of experience that could help Apple get ahead.

Apple has partnered with Epic, which handles half of America's medical data

However, there are still significant hurdles ahead for any tech company moving into the healthcare sector. Beyond simply building software that patients and doctors will use, there are issues of security and data selection: an iCloud-style data breach of medical records would be intolerable (and more than possible — hackers stole tens of millions of patient records from Anthem this week), and doctors won't want to be bombarded with potentially irrelevant or false data. Apple has made the first move, but there's still plenty of time for its rival to catch up.


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