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Google health wristband is more than a "me too" wearable

Google health wristband is more than a "me too" wearable | Healthcare and Technology news |

Google announced last week that they’ve developed a clinical grade health tracking wristband for use in medical research and clinical trials. In other words, the Google health wristband won’t show up on Amazon or in Walgreens. And that’s one of the most interesting things about it.

News of the device has been widely reported, generally with enthusiasm. Details on the device, developed out of the Google X group, are still scant however and it seems to be in relatively early phases of validation. According to Bloomberg, the device will measure heart rate, heart rhythm and skin temperature. It will also capture environmental information like light exposure and noise levels.

Clinical trials testing the device’s accuracy are set to begin this year with as-yet unnamed academic partners. I imagine, though, that partners in Google’s Baseline project like Duke and Stanford will play prominent roles.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the device and Google’s plans here is their intent to (1) do validation studies and (2) seek regulatory approval from the FDA as well as European regulators. While the field of health tracking wearables has taken off in recent years, we’ve generally been left to speculate on the accuracy of devices like those from Fitbit based on small studies. Most skirt FDA oversight by marketing their devices as intended for general wellness rather than for the management of specific health conditions.

Google appears to be taking a completely different approach here. They are developing a multi-functional wearable that will not only capture all kinds of health data but will also have evidence supporting it’s accuracy. And with Google’s seemingly endless access to information, it would be interesting to see the information captured through this device combined with other data streams. For example, arrhythmia or pulse oximetry data captured by the device could be correlated to air quality or allergen information.

This approach contrasts and in some ways complements Apple’s approach to health. Through HealthKit, Apple created a common language for how health data captured by wearables is recorded by their connected apps and makes it shareable. And throughResearchKit, clinicians can more readily deploy clinical studies using these devices. However, when it came to Apple’s own wearable – the Apple Watch – the health sensors don’t have validation data and avoided regulatory oversight by sticking with “general wellness” as their intended use. Clinical research will rely more heavily on compatible validated sensors like iPhone connected blood pressure monitors.

It will be interesting to see what sensors Google ultimately packs in here. If theirglucose-tracking contact lens is any indication, we can expect some creative & novel additions to this device.

Baxter's curator insight, August 13, 2015 1:36 PM

Last year when Isabelle (my co-founder) and I attended the Samsung Digital Conference in San Francesco, 'wearables' like this watch and digital health were all the rage.

And they still are.

Our app will help not only users to manage their specific health conditions, but also give these devices more MEANINGFUL reasons to be worn than just collecting data after data after data (how many times do you need to see how far you walked today?).

When these devices pick up a rise in your heart rate/ rhythm and skin temp, they can send you a subtle warning and remind you to breathe. You can then queue up the breath most relevant to your situation (like the interview breath, or first date breath). Your vitals return to normal range, and you're more relaxed, and no doubt you'll perform better in the situation

Breath-Takingly simple practices for every occasion.!

Samsung and Fitbit currently leading wearables markets

Samsung and Fitbit currently leading wearables markets | Healthcare and Technology news |

With the Apple Watch launch, and its potential to upend the wearables market, a few months away, Canalys reports that the current market leader for “smart wearable bands” — any wristworn device that can run third-party applications — is Samsung. Meanwhile, the “basic wearable band” market, which Canalys defines as wearables that can’t run apps, is still led by Fitbit.

The up-and-comer in the non-smartwatch wearable market is Xiaomi, whose focus on the Chinese market and low price point have catapulted it into the spotlight. It has shipped more than a million Mi Bands, 103,000 of those on the first day. 

“Though the Mi Band is a lower-margin product than competing devices, Xiaomi entered the wearables market with a unique strategy, and its shipment volumes show how quickly a company can become a major force in a segment based solely on the size of the Chinese market,” analyst Jason Low said in a statement.

Canalys didn’t share the total shipment numbers for basic bands, but said 4.6 million smart bands shipped in 2014, only 720,000 of which were Android Wear. Of those, Motorola led the market with its Moto 360.  Samsung led the smart band segment overall, owing to the wide range of devices the company has available.

“‘Samsung has launched six devices in just 14 months, on different platforms and still leads the smart band market,” VP and principal analyst Chris Jones said in a statement. “But it has struggled to keep consumers engaged and must work hard to attract developers while it focuses on [operating system] Tizen for its wearables.”

Canalys predicts Apple’s entry into the market will blow up the category, and says the device’s battery life will be the main advantage over Android Wear to begin with.

“Apple made the right decisions with its WatchKit software development kit to maximize battery life for the platform, and the Apple Watch will offer leading energy efficiency,” analyst Daniel Matte said in a statement. “Android Wear will need to improve significantly in the future, and we believe it will do so.”

Cheryl Palmer's curator insight, February 19, 2015 7:06 PM

WEARABLES - Market report summary on the current (Feb 2015) state of the wearables market with link to data source.  Useful to get insight into where major players are focusing their development dollars.!

Google & Mayo collaborate to improve "googling" health info

Google & Mayo collaborate to improve "googling" health info | Healthcare and Technology news |

This week, Google announced plansto make those searches your patients are doing for health information more reliable by delivering information curated by its own physicians and others from the Mayo Clinic.

According to Google, one in twenty searches it gets are for health information. Now when someone searches for a common diagnosis, they’ll get information that’s been reviewed by health care professionals on the results page in the Knowledge Graph. That’s the part of the screen, separated from the results & links, that has information on your search topic.

Information will include symptoms, treatments, information on who is affected, whether its contagious, and more – all reviewed by healthcare professionals. As described by Google,

So starting in the next few days, when you ask Google about common health conditions, you’ll start getting relevant medical facts right up front from the Knowledge Graph. We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is—whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.

Google’s internal team is led by Dr. Kapil Parakh, a heart failure cardiologist who previously practiced at Johns Hopkins and went on to become a White House fellow before joining Google. They also worked with healthcare professionals from the Mayo Clinic, whose sites often pop up as the first or second result when you search for any number of specific health conditions.

Its unclear what breadth of health conditions will be covered and in what depth. And with all of the news articles about this starting with “Dr. Google,” you’d think Google’s new search function will be diagnosing most common conditions. But by the examples offered, it seems that searches would have to be for actual health terms – measles, tonsillitis, frostbite, and so on. For patients experiencing any of these things (without a diagnosis yet), I’d guess the searches would be more vague – sore throat, red rash, or blue foot.

On the other hand, for folks who see the news about the measles or hear a friend has been diagnosed with pink eye, they’d probably use specific enough terms to see this curated health information. And for patients who may not have understood everything their doctor told them about their child’s tonsillitis or how bursitis is causing their pain, this information could be a great starting point to learn more from a reliable source.

We’ve all had the experience of patient’s walking into clinic armed with information gleaned from Googling their condition. Hopefully, this new health-specific search will mean they show up with more information from the Mayo Clinic and less from Dr. Oz.

UpTempo Group's curator insight, February 17, 2015 9:16 PM

Google is improving their search results for health info.  Per Google's Team "We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is—whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor."!

Google to add medical details to health topic searches

Google to add medical details to health topic searches | Healthcare and Technology news |

Google Inc said it would add a feature wherein online searches on health-related topics would display relevant medical details on the search page.

If a user searches for a topic such as "conjunctivitis", the page will pull up details such as symptoms, treatments, age factor and whether the condition is contagious, Google said in a blog post. (

Google said it had worked with doctors to compile the data, which had been checked by its medical team and doctors at the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

The company, however, warned that the search results should not be considered medical advice.

One in 20 Google searches are on health-related topics, the company said.

No comment yet.!

Should Google Be Allowed to Mine Your Health Care Data?

Should Google Be Allowed to Mine Your Health Care Data? | Healthcare and Technology news |

On the heels of the I/O keynote on Thursday, Google cofounder Larry Page spilled his guts to Farhad Manjoo from The New York Times. "Right now we don't data-mine health care data," Page said. "If we did we'd probably save 100,000 lives next year." But is that actually a good idea?

Mining health care is a very slippery slope, whether it's done by Google or some government agency or anyone really. The privacy concerns alone have always kept prying eyes out of your health records. But now that technology has advanced to the point where we could anonymize the data and use the information to cure diseases, it's worth revisiting that topic.

The data store is only going to get bigger, too, as gadgets like fitness and health trackers become more ubiquitous. (Google, of course, is leading the charge on this front as well.) While Page's 100,000 figure is probably completely made up—and not even that many lives in the grander scheme of things—it seems pretty clear that a better understanding of health care data is a good thing.

So what do you think? Is it time to chill out about privacy so that Google algorithms can start saving some lives? Or would you rather keep your personal health care data personal?

No comment yet.!

30-Under-30er's Google Glass For Doctors Startup Raises $16 Million

30-Under-30er's Google Glass For Doctors Startup Raises $16 Million | Healthcare and Technology news |

Google Glass startup Augmedix announced today that it has closed a $16 million Series A funding round, bringing its total funding up to $23 million.

Augmedix – whose cofounder, Pelu Tran, was featured on this year’s 30 Under 30 list for healthcare — is a service for doctors that automates the tedious record-keeping process using Google's GOOGL +1.75% smart headgear. The idea is simple: doctors wearing Glass can use Augmedix to verbally enter data into or call up a patient’s electronic health record, drastically shortening the time it takes to do the paperwork that takes up a third of a physician’s day.

The service is already used at 35 sites in 10 different states, and the  nearly three-year-old company is angling for more. Tran hopes that the funding round, led by seed investors Emergence Capital and DCM Ventures, will help the company grow tenfold in the coming year. “We’re hoping to be able to grow even further thanks to our incredible customer demand,” he says.

But even with the new investments and substantial customer base, there’s reason for concern. Since its release to select members of the public in 2013, Glass has garnered plenty of criticism from all corners, from consumers who want more capabilities from the product to business owners concerned about violations of privacy.

Still, Tran isn’t all that concerned. “We focus on providing a service delivered via Google Glass and I think that right now Google Glass is doing quite well in enterprise,” he says. “If you look at Glass as a consumer and you look at what tablets are like and what smartphones are like, if you look at the early days, you see that they started in enterprise. For the next couple of years, that will be Glass.”

Augmedix is one of ten companies Google lists as certified Glass at Work partners, a group of companies focused on Glass-based enterprise services. More than half of them list healthcare as a major focus. Augmedix may not have a monopoly on doctors, but Tran is happy to be in on the ground floor of a technology he’s sure will soon be everywhere.

“If Glass was truly not doing well,” he points out after last weekend’s CES trade show, “I don’t think you’d see 30 competitors scattered throughout Las Vegas.”

No comment yet.!

5 digital trends to watch in 2015 | Healthcare IT News

5 digital trends to watch in 2015 | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news |

The year 2014 goes down in history as a breakout year for digital healthcare, according to a recent report from StartUp Health, whose stated mission is to help 1,000 health startups reimagine and transform healthcare over the next 10 years.

StartUp Health's calculations show that some $6.5 billion was invested in digital health in 2014, a 125 percent increase over the $2.9 billion invested in 2013.

"Signs of a maturing market continue as investors place larger bets on fewer companies," according to the report, which lists the market's top deals and investors.

StartUp Health executives also reveal the five trends they will be watching closely in 2015:

  • Healthcare reform continues to spur innovation: As incentive structures change and new penalties come into effect in 2015, providers and payors look to entrepreneurs to create effective solutions. The unmet need is evidenced as big data and analytics ($1.5 billion); population health ($1.1 billion); and healthcare system navigation ($975 million) net the largest amounts of private funding in 2014.
  • Acceleration of chronic disease & aging population leads to increased consumerism: Rising costs continue to be the second largest catalyst for innovation in healthcare. Patients are not only encouraged, but enabled through mobile technology, to manage their health through preventive measures. Consumer health companies raised $880M in 2014.
  • Clinical decision support & personalized medicine gain traction: With the advent of the $1,000 genome, truly personalized medicine is in our reach. Genomic companies raised $632 million and diagnostics $962 million this year. This data, coupled with $624 million that went into clinical research companies will revolutionize the way that diseases are treated.
  • Convergence of technology in clinical settings: Mobile and wireless technology has permeated not only our daily lives, but those of professionals in clinical settings. Practice management tools allowing physicians to focus on treatment, rather than admin tasks, raised $783 million, while those focusing on improving workflows raised $681 million. Payor-related toolkits raised $699 million.
  • Innovation globalization: More than 7,500 startups around the world are developing new solutions in digital health, based on data from the StartUp Health Network. Even within the U.S., areas outside of the Bay Area, New York and Boston are seeing an uptick in the number of companies obtaining funding.

No comment yet.!

Hype Around Healthcare Wearables Runs Into Reality

Hype Around Healthcare Wearables Runs Into Reality | Healthcare and Technology news |

Makers and boosters of wearable technology have had a few reality checks lately.

Late last month, while we Americans were enjoying the long Thanksgiving weekend and/or indulging in the Black Friday retail frenzy, Juniper Research over in the UK was putting out a report forecasting that fitness devices, not true health monitors would “dominate the wearables market” worldwide until at least 2018. Those likely will be of limited use in the wider picture beyond fitness.

“The key is making the devices provide meaning as well as data—counting steps is all very well, but will not keep consumers interested unless that information can be contextualized and made useful for them,” Juniper Research Analyst James Moar said in an interview with FierceMobileHealthcare.

On Tuesday, Dr. Joseph Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, opened the annual mHealth Summit in Oxon Hill, Md., with a caution about “irrational exuberance,” according to several published reports.

As mHealth news reported, Kvedar said that nobody has figured out how to make consumers — patients — care about mobile health technologies. “And if we don’t [figure that out], m-health will be another tech bubble,” Kvedar was quoted as saying.

That is not far off from what Dr. Matt Patterson, president of AirStrip Technologies, a San Antonio-based maker of mobile patient monitoring software, said last Thursday at the 11th annual (and likely final, due to declining interest) Healthcare Unbound conference in San Diego. ”I can tell you right now doctors do not care about your Fitbit data,” Patterson said.

Consumers eventually stop caring, too. ”Surveys have found that half who use mobile fitness trackers to keep tabs on their workouts or diets stop using the programs within six months,” said a recent Los Angeles Times story on smartphones in healthcare. (It would have been nice for the Times to cite its sources, but the point is taken.)

Patterson suggested that consumers and providers alike still do not see much value in such technologies, a common reason for apathy toward some technologies in healthcare. ”I think innovation in healthcare results from clinical transformation where the economics of value and incentives are aligned,” he said.

Data has to “take a lot of work out of the situation” and be actionable for physicians to care about it, and it has to be aligned with the incentives, Patterson said. At the moment, Fitbit data does not do that, he suggested.

All these wearable and mobile products, touted as “disruptive,” “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking” by so many vendors and Silicon Valley cheerleaders still haven’t proved value to healthcare providers or large number of consumers. Eventually, they will have to, or Kvedar will be right about a bubble.

No comment yet.!

Who Are The Emerging Leaders in Wearable Workflow?

Who Are The Emerging Leaders in Wearable Workflow? | Healthcare and Technology news |

Who Are The Emerging Leaders in Wearable Workflow?

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Samsung
  • Salesforce
  • Intel
  • Vandrico
  • Blackberry
  • Jawbone

I’ll not provide a detailed account of how I derived this list. I literally simply asked myself this question, and these are the companies that came to mind. In other words, it is an idiosyncratic list. I will, however, describe my general criteria for why a company interests me, from a wearable workflow perspective.

If you go back to my discussion of orchestrated versus choreographed wearable workflow in What’s The Connection Between Wearable Workflow Platforms and Health IT? you’ll recall the need for either a maestro directing the orchestra or distributed proactive cooperative behavior. In either case, app-to-app behavior is called for. The apps may be on different wearable devices, but it’s still app-to-app behavior. App-to-app behavior has been quite a bugaboo in the mobile health space. Everyone loves their tablet or smartphone, but many hate their EHR. So why not replace EHRs with collections of apps! The problem here is two-fold. First, mobile apps don’t share patient data and context. Second, app-to-app navigation and coordination is, in some ways, even worse than moving from screen-to-screen in a traditional EHR.

Regardless of whether wearable workflow relies on orchestration (workflow engine in the cloud) or choreography (local customizable rule-based interaction) apps on wearable devices will need to communicate, coordinate, etc. So the companies I’m most interested in are those that either have some kind of app-to-app tech, or the kind of sophisticated cloud infrastructure that could participate in a an ecosystem of wearable device to wearable device communication and coordination. Apple is heading down this path with recent iOS upgrades and Continuity. Blackberry has the Flow app-to-app system. Samsung also calls its nascent app-to-app system Flow. Android has had an app-to-app invocation system for some time. It’s likely that wearable device to device workflow tech will evolve out to, or at least leverage this kind of technology.

Then there’s the workflow engine in the cloud approach. Google and Amazon (not listed, maybe next year when they wade more fully into the wearable space) both have cloud-based workflow tech that could be adaptive to orchestrating wearable workflows. Vandrico is a small company in Vancouver, BC, specializing in cross-platform wearable notification management. Their server sits between legacy systems (say hospital EHRs) and wearable devices such as smartwatches. It can format and distribute and accept, in return, acknowledgements and inputs from wearable devices. Salesforce also uses workflow tech, and is bringing cross-platform cloud support to wearables. Jawbone has received enormous private investment, compared to all other wearables. With multiple devices and apps, Jawbone is a natural investigator of wearable healthcare workflow. Finally, Intel, whose chips are to be used in the next version of Glass, already has a partner, Symphony Teleca, working on auto/home automation integration. Wearables are a natural add-one.

Like I said, these are just the companies that pop in to mind, when I ask myself who are the emerging wearable workflow players. I see new potential participants almost every week. It’s really not about the hardware. The hardware are just analogues to desktop widgets. It’s the systems behind the systems that will determine who will dominate wearable tech for the next decade.

No comment yet.!

Google Builds a New Tablet for the Fight Against Ebola

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

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,, 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.”

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.!

Is it OK for doctors to 'google' patients?

Is it OK for doctors to 'google' patients? | Healthcare and Technology news |

It's something we do to job applicants, first dates, former lovers and the quiet co-worker in the next cubicle. The practice of “googling” others for professional reasons or out of personal curiosity is so ubiquitous that the name of the popular Internet search engine has turned into a verb. In healthcare, patients often head online for diagnoses, drug information and details about their doctors. But do professional standards prevent physicians from doing the same to patients?

The authors of a new paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine write that sometimes, the practice is acceptable. Most other times, in their opinion, it isn’t. They hope their paper sparks conversation among colleagues and the American Medical Association about the possibility of guidelines for providers in the digital age, one in which most medical students can't remember a world without search engines.

“The motivation is to protect patients and prevent harm,” said Maria Baker, a Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute genetics counselor.

Her paper lists 10 situations when physicians are justified in “googling” patients – for example, when they have a duty to warn of possible harm, if patient’s story seem improbable, if information from other professionals calls a patient’s story into question, if there are suspicions of abuse or concerns of suicide risk.

“There is something worth protecting in the physician-patient relationship,” said co-author Daniel George, an assistant professor in Medical Humanities at Penn State University College of Medicine. While the AMA has issued guidelines regarding physician professionalism and social media, George calls patient-targeted web searches a “blind spot” among providers.

The authors detail actual situations at Penn State when they felt “googling” was warranted. In one case, a 26-year-old requested that both of her breasts be removed to prevent breast cancer, although she hadn’t undergone genetic testing to see if she was at risk for the disease, and didn’t want to. She reported an “almost unbelievable” family history of breast, ovarian and esophageal cancer and had sought the same surgery at other hospitals.

The genetic counselor “googled” her and found that this patient “was presenting her cancer story at lay conferences, giving newspaper interviews, and blogging about her experience as a cancer survivor. Additionally, the patient was raising funds, perhaps fraudulently, to attend a national cancer conference.”

“Armed with this information,” the authors write, “the genetic counselor informed the surgeon, who subsequently told the patient he felt uncomfortable performing the surgery in the absence of formal genetic and psychological testing.”

Conversely, the authors argue, web searches can undermine trust among patients and providers. “You have a patient wanting to adopt healthy lifestyles, and the doctor helps him on a course of exercise and non-smoking,” Baker explained. “But the doctor ‘googles’ him and sees pictures he posted on Facebook smoking a cigar.”

Mildred Solomon, president of the Garrison, New York-based bioethics institute The Hastings Center, said she applauds the authors for raising such questions, but their “acceptable” reasons for “googling” patients are far too broad.

One scenario, “incongruent statements by the patient, or between a patient and family members,” occurs too frequently in clinical settings to justify Internet searches, Solomon said. “There’s too much wiggle room,” she explained, noting that “intention” is what should matter.

“Why is the physician motivated to do this? Is it going to bring benefit to the patient, or is it something self-serving or out of personal curiosity?” Solomon asked.

A spokesperson for the AMA declined to comment to Reuters Health, citing the issue as “unresolved” by the organization.

However, a 2013 policy statement from The Federation of State Medical Boards notes that physician use of digital tools must evolve as do technology and societal trends. It acknowledges the use of “patient-targeted googling” in medical crises, such as attempts to identify unconscious patients in emergency departments. But, according to the policy: “it instead can be linked to curiosity, voyeurism and habit. Although anecdotal reports highlight some benefit (for example, intervening when a patient is blogging about suicide), real potential exists for blurring professional and personal boundaries.”

Authors say they wish only for more dialogue about this digital practice.

“I think this is just a starting point,” George said. “Every conversation has to start with something. This is the raw clay that we hope the field sculpts into set guidelines.”

The paper, which first came online in September, appears in the journal’s January print issue.

No comment yet.!

2014 - A milestone year for digital health

2014 - A milestone year for digital health | Healthcare and Technology news |

Both Apple and Google have vested interests in digital health but who will win?

It’s an exciting time in digital health right now. The industry is going mainstream, becoming more consumer focused and large well-known multinational corporations are beginning to put the necessary infrastructure in place to capitalize on the oncoming digital health revolution.

These are the cash-rich forward-thinking companies that, over the last fifteen years, have changed the way we interact with technology and, perhaps more importantly, change the way we live our lives forever. They’re about to do the same all over again but in a deeper and more personal way.

Which companies am I describing? Apple and Google of course.

Both tech giants have been on a hiring and acquiring spree in the last couple of years and both are bringing in the necessary talent, expertise and IP to take digital health in to the home and the body. Both Apple and Google and their iOS and Android mobile operating systems stand to benefit from digital health profoundly so it’s little wonder why both companies are investing in this space.

They aren’t the only tech companies investing in digital health of course but Apple and Google are investing in it in a much deeper way, particularly Google that has made a string of acquisitions in the last year. Before we look at these though, let’s take a look at the movements in digital health among other well-known consumer companies.

While it’s great to see the technology behemoths above looking at digital health seriously they fade in to comparison in terms of what Apple and Google are doing in the space. Let’s take a look at both companies.

Via Arcanus
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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 |

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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Google Glass Startups Claim: Not Dead Yet

Google Glass Startups Claim: Not Dead Yet | Healthcare and Technology news |

Last week, Google GOOGL -1.44% announced that it’s shuttering its consumer-end operation for Google Glass. As of this week, the product is no longer available for purchase by consumers. For startups using Google Glass to revolutionize healthcare, that poses a problem, right? You’d think.

Not so, insist the entrepreneurs. They claim it’s good news. There’s still a huge opportunity in the enterprise market – that is, selling these funny computerized spectacles to businesses. Google is still working with a select group of ten “Glass Certified Partners,” listed on the company’s Glass at Work page. Four of them (AMA, Augmedix, Pristine, and Wearable Intelligence) are focused at least partly on putting Glass on the faces of physicians or other healthcare workers.

“Glass at Work has been growing and we’re seeing incredible developments with Glass in the workplace,” Google said in a prepared statement. “As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we’ve outgrown the lab and so we’re officially ‘graduating’ from Google[x] to be our own team here at Google.” That team will be helmed by Tony Fadell, whose last major project was co-founding Nest, the smart-thermostat company acquired by Google last year.

“Our accelerating expansion plans continue,” says Ian Shakil, chief executive of Augmedix, a startup that aims to help doctors automate medical recordkeeping via Glass. “Our supply of Glass v1 remains unaffected. Google’s support is unaffected.”

Just the day before Google’s own announcement, Augmedix announced the completion of a $16 million Series A funding round. But Pelu Tran, the company’s chief product officer (and a member of this year’s 30 Under 30 list in healthcare) said in a previous interview that this was the same path that smartphones followed. “We focus on providing a service delivered via Google Glass and I think that right now Google Glass is doing quite well in enterprise. If you look at Glass as a consumer and you look at what tablets are like and what smartphones are like, if you look at the early days, you see that they started in enterprise. For the next couple of years, that will be Glass.”

Chase Feiger, founder and director of business development at Wearable Intelligence, goes so far as to say the announcement is actually improving business. “Google’s announcement has and will continue to be beneficial to our business,” he wrote in an email, describing his belief that the company’s telemedicine product will improve from Google’s apparent doubling down on Glass products for the workplace.

It’s been hard for these companies to explain to customers that the whole scene isn’t dead yet. “When that story came out, literally 200 people emailed me,” says Kyle Samani, founder and CEO of Pristine, which makes a product allowing doctors to share live video feeds through HIPAA-compliant channels. “It’s affected our business only in that people are like, ‘Kyle, is Pristine dead?’” It got so bad that the company soon put a large blue banner at the top of every page on its website to reassure both current and potential customers that everything will be fine.

Although not even enterprise-end companies know when the new version of Glass will be released, executives from Glass at Work companies say they’re still regularly making and receiving Glass orders from Google. Samani says his company buys the headsets from Glass’s enterprise arm “by the hundreds” on a regular basis. And if these companies’ – and Google’s – claims are to be believed, that trend should continue.

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FDA Shares Advice to Avoid Colds and Flu – WebMD

FDA Shares Advice to Avoid Colds and Flu – WebMD | Healthcare and Technology news |

Viral infectionscan happen at any time, but they're more common during winter when people spend more time in close contact with others indoors.

Although most respiratory viruses clear up within a few days, some can lead to dangerous complications, particularly for smokers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports. Signs of complications include: a cough that interrupts sleep; persistent, high fever; chest pain; or shortness of breath.

Unlike colds, the flu comes on suddenly and lasts more than a few days. Each year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu complications, and thousands die from flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States, flu season peaks between December and February.

Although colds and the flu share some signs, the flu can lead to more serious symptoms, including fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches and fatigue. Influenza can also cause nausea and vomiting among young children, the FDA said in a news release.

The flu virus is spread through droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. It can also infect surfaces.

The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated every year, the FDA said. Flu viruses are constantly changing so the vaccines must be updated annually. The flu vaccine is available as an injection or a nasal spray.

Although it's best to get the flu vaccine in October, getting it later can still help protect you from the virus, the agency said.

With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu, federal health officials say. Vaccination is especially important for those at greater risk for flu-related complications, including seniors, pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, people with chronic health conditions, health care providers and caregivers for young children and the elderly.

There is no vaccine for colds. But measures to prevent the spread of viruses include the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water when possible. If necessary, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help.
  • Avoid exposure to infected people.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Ease stress.

If you do get sick, the FDA recommends gargling with salt water to relieve a sore throat and using a cool-mist humidifier to relieve congestion. Call your doctor early on to get treatment advice, and use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can be dehydrating.

Before taking over-the-counter medications, read all drug labels and directions. If you have certain health issues, such as high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before taking cold or flu medications. Also, don't give over-the-counter medication to children without talking to a pediatrician, the FDA advises.

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Healthcare Predictions For 2015

Healthcare Predictions For 2015 | Healthcare and Technology news |

Next year will be big for healthcare. We felt small tremors in 2014 of the seismic changes underway. In 2015, I predict five changes to the core of the U.S. healthcare system: insurance, pharmaceuticals, supplies, medical services and payments. Let’s take a look at each of these trends, what they mean for the healthcare sector, and what they mean for you.

Walmart becomes your healthcare insurer

This October, Walmart tipped its hand by launching a healthcare insurance exchange online. However, the insurance products currently sold on its exchange do not have Walmart as the carrier, which will change in 2015.

Walmart’s public announcements thus far provide a clear preview of the insurance plan’s future design. Primary care through retail clinics and $4 generic drugs at the pharmacy will drive traffic into stores. For specialty care, the plan will leverage the Centers of Excellence program that Walmart already offers to its 1.2 million insured employees. In this program, consumers pay little to nothing out-of-pocket for knee, hip surgery, and cancer treatment if they go to a short list of high-quality medical centers like Mayo, the Cleveland Clinic, Mercy and Geisinger.

With a store within five miles of 95 percent of all Americans and retail transactional data from its consumers, Walmart can provided tailored population health services and incentivize healthier shopping decisions to prevent diabetes and heart disease.

Startups sell into big pharma and become profitable

Despite a 5x increase in venture investments, most digital health companies are not profitable.  Digital health CEOs should look at pharma as its paying customer. Despite their vast differences, pharmaceutical manufacturers are starting to pay tech startups to solve their complicated problems.

One major issue pharma wants your help with is accessing and selling to physicians. In person detailing by trained sales representatives has been the core of pharma’s sale strategy for decades.

Yet, one-fourth of all MD’s offices and two-fifths of all offices with 10 or more MDs refuse to see pharmaceutical sales reps in their offices. The Sunshine Act, which compelled every pharma company to disclose what it spends on each MD, accelerated the problem. The problem of customer awareness and engagement is ripe for tech companies, particularly those focused on social media, mobile advertising and video, to capitalize on.

Next year is going to be a tipping point, because spending and hiring within pharma’s commercial organizations are changing fast. Plus, the FDA published draft guidance on social media in July 2014. Suddenly, these corporations have large eMarketing teams and VPs of digital health. We are seeing CIOs from companies like Dell working at Merck. These indicators tell me that 2015 will be the year when pharma is willing to shop for best-in-breed companies that address their business problems.

Amazon undercuts the medical supply chain

Amazon sells a dizzying array of products. Catheters and surgical gloves are not on the market yet, but they will be soon. Doctors and practice managers are just like the rest of us — they love Amazon Prime for their homes, so why not for their practices?

Amazon will first target small practices and cutout group-purchasing organizations that take an undeserved cut of savings that could be passed on to physicians. If Amazon can ship you toilet paper in two hours, it can supply a small practice with gloves and gowns. The volume from these accounts will justify free shipping, especially when Amazon moves upstream into higher-margin products such as sutures, syringes and other commoditized supplies.

While medical professionals and business managers will be driven by price and convenience, Amazon’s motivations will be financial. General surgical supply company Owens & Minor generated $9 billion in annual revenue last year. Amazon isn’t known for letting glaring business opportunities go untouched, especially those that can move its stock price.

Hospitals become a channel for peer-to-peer lending

If you understand the flow of payments in healthcare, you can predict the trends. Consumers and employers are purchasing insurance plans with high deductibles. As a result, the first dollar that hospitals earn is now coming from consumers. Actually, the first $17,000 is coming from consumers. With an average income of $55,000, most American consumers simply can’t pay their medical bills.

When they don’t pay, it hurts providers financially. What consumers don’t pay shows up as accounts receivable on hospital balance sheets and eventually turns into bad debt. Since many hospitals are financed by debt and their credit worthiness is partially determined by the health of their balance sheet, the problem of getting patients to pay is urgent.

This raises the question — how can we find the money to help consumers finance their health care payments? Many consumers are able and willing to pay their medical bills, they just can’t do it all at once. Peer-to-peer lending companies have paved the way for unsecured structure notes, where an individual’s loan can be financed by others. These have shown impressive growth. Peer-to-peer lending is already being used to finance plastic surgery and other cash-pay procedures. Now it could be used for the majority of medical expenses in the U.S.

Latinos become the most desired healthcare segment in the U.S.

There are 54 million Latinos living in the United States, constituting 17 percent of the population. Politicians have taken notice and are paying attention to Latinos as an important voting demographic. Healthcare providers are beginning to do so, too.

Latinos have been disenfranchised by the U.S. healthcare system because of legal status, English language skills and financial constraints. Fewer than 4 percent of healthcare providers speak Spanish and most do not know how to approach the cultural and economic diversity within the Latino population. Even native English speakers can’t make sense of PPOs vs. HMOs.  As a result, Latinos are 1 out of every 5 uninsured individuals in the U.S. and leverage healthcare services differently than other demographic cohorts

As hospitals compete for volume, they cannot ignore 1 out of 5 Americans. In order to win the loyalty of this untapped customer segment, we will see Latino-branded services with evening and weekend hours to serve dual-income families. Since these services will be built from scratch to provide high-quality care at low prices, they might leap frog the care that the rest of the population currently receives.

Change has historically come slowly and reluctantly to the healthcare industry, but thanks to widespread demand from the government, payers, and consumers for improvement in coverage and care, it seems to be speeding up.

These five predictions represent a power shift in the world of healthcare, where new players emerge as forces to be reckoned with, and consumers gain greater control over their care. I predict, and hope, that 2015 will be the year when leaders across the healthcare spectrum will welcome innovation and embrace much-needed change.

Connected Digital Health & Life's curator insight, May 24, 2015 3:33 PM

This is the business insight for digital health in the years ahead. Solve business problems and make money! A tad beyond just keeping people well!!

For healthcare, Google Glass still has it | Healthcare IT News

For healthcare, Google Glass still has it | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news |

There's plenty of potential for Google Glass in healthcare, despite reports that have called into question the technology's value.   "Glass in the enterprise is certainly stronger than it's ever been. Google is investing very heavily," said Kyle Samani, CEO of Pristine, a company that develops software for the device, during a Monday afternoon session at the mHealth Summitoutside Washington, D.C.   Samani was part of a panel that included Paul Porter, MD, director of special projects and telemedicine for Brown University Emergency Medicine, and Sean Lunde, mHealth lead for Wipro's healthcare and life sciences consulting group. They noted several use cases where Google Glass is being tested:  

  • Helping specialists in ambulances to enable consultations while a patient is being transported to a hospital.
  • Performing consultations in the ER to bring in specialists faster and expedite waiting times.
  • Steaming video from the OR to the command center of a medical device company rather than have a device rep present with the surgeon.
  • Using Glass to quickly communicate information rather than sending a page.
  • Using Glass for telemedicine consults to alleviate the often-lengthy wait times for patients to see a dermatologist in person.

In a cited dermatology study at Brown's emergency department, about 90 percent of patients said they were satisfied with and would recommend the technology, according to Porter. 

Almost all study patients had confidence in the equipment and would recommend it to other patients, he reported.

The caveat, however, was that nearly 75 percent of patients would have preferred a face-to-face visit rather than a telemedicine consult.

"If we're going to move to a cheaper and more accessible form of medicine, it's going to have the feeling of using a call center," Porter acknowledged.

Lunde encouraged those interested in starting a Glass pilot to do so as a way to get in tune with future technology trends.

"Screens will get smaller and more contextual and you will learn how to make that work," he said, noting that Glass' screen size requires that only the most important, relevant information be displayed.

"For us, Glass was both better and worse than the hype," Porter said. "The truth is somewhere in the middle. For certain specialties … where your hands need to be free and your eyes need to be covered, it shows great promise. It's part of what I consider part of a really bright future for telemedicine in general."

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