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Google Glass Shown Beneficial for Bedside Toxicology Consults

Google Glass Shown Beneficial for Bedside Toxicology Consults | Healthcare and Technology news |

Although Google Glass may have been pulled as a product for the masses, Alphabet plans on continuing to develop the device for professional applications. And it’s certainly proving itself useful in medicine, as a new study in Journal of Medical Toxicology has shown that it’s useful and effective for tele-toxicology consults. The project involved emergency medicine residents who wore Glass during evaluations of poisoned patients while toxicology fellows and attendings in a remote location participated in the consults via a video connection. They essentially set back and reviewed the findings of the emergency docs, offering advice as necessary.

The study looked at how everyone involved accepted the use of the communication medium, as well as how it affected the care provided. Interestingly, the toxicologists changed their opinions of how to treat the patients in 56% of cases after using Glass. In six cases the antidote that was prescribed was accurately selected only after using Glass. In 11 of cases the connection was too poor for usability, but that can probably be attributed to the network used.!

A Hospital Is Already Giving Apple Watch To Its Patients

A Hospital Is Already Giving Apple Watch To Its Patients | Healthcare and Technology news |

The Apple Watch began arriving in homes and businesses across America on Friday.

And in New Orleans, one doctor immediately strapped it to his patient’s wrist.

“We need to fundamentally change behavior,” says that doctor — Richard Milani. “And the Apple Watch has the potential to [do] it.”

Milani is the Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Ochsner Health System, and overseeing what the hospital calls a first-of-its-kind trial: Giving Apple Watch to patients who struggle with high blood pressure, and seeing if it prompts them to take their medication, to make positive changes in lifestyle, and simply, to just get up and move around.

And Milani believes that the potential opportunity is huge: More than 80% of U.S. health care spending goes toward chronic disease. And many of those diseases are exceedingly preventable.

Apple Watch part of Ochsner’s broader strategy

While it doesn’t have the national profile of some health systems, Ochsner has been working hard to be a leader in digital medicine.

  • More than a year ago, the hospital launched an “O Bar” — deliberately modeled on Apple’s Genius Bar — to help patients pick through the thousands of health and wellness apps available to them.
  • Six months ago, Ochsner became the first hospital to integrate its Epic electronic health record system with Apple’s HealthKit software.
  • And in February, Ochsner launched its “Hypertension Digital Medicine Program,” a pilot program where several hundred patients regularly measure their own blood pressure and heart rate ratings using wireless cuffs, which then send that data through Apple’s HealthKit (and collects it in their medical records). Based on the results, Ochsner staff then make real-time adjustments to the patients’ medication and lifestyle.

The new Apple Watch trial builds off the hospital’s existing digital medicine program, Milani says. And he began Friday’s pilot with his longtime patient Andres Rubiano, a 54-year-old who’s spent the past twenty years trying to manage his chronic hypertension.

Rubiano says that his two months participating in Ochsner’s digital medicine program have been “comforting” — he enjoys the constant monitoring — and have already led him to make changes in diet and exercise.

“It’s been a life-changer for me,” he says.

But the Apple Watch has the potential to go further. Its customized alerts and prompts encourage immediate interventions. When we spoke on Friday afternoon, just six hours or so after he began wearing the Apple Watch, Rubiano raved about the subtle taps on his wrist.

“It’s like I have Milani as my buddy right next to me,” Rubiano said, “just nudging me to get up off your [behind] and walk around, or saying, hey, take your meds.”

Milani acknowledges there’s limited evidence that wearable technologies can directly lead to the health improvements he’s hoping to see.

But he plans to quickly enroll about two dozen patients in his Apple Watch trial, in order to begin collecting data on whether the Watch is actually making a difference. (Other patients in the hypertension program will act as the control group.) And he’s optimistic that wearable technology will pay dividends in health.

“For whatever reason, health care doesn’t do a very good job of creating [the necessary] behavior change,” Milani says. “But many of these new technologies have that ability.”

No comment yet.!

Is it time we teach medical students about wearables?

Is it time we teach medical students about wearables? | Healthcare and Technology news |

The growing wearable sensor market is yielding ever-increasing amounts of consumer-derived digital data. These data can consistent of many different physiologic measures such as heart rate and rhythm, sleep quality, brain activity, and physical activity levels. As many consumers and commercial organizations look toward using wearables to monitor medical conditions, clinicians may begin to find themselves in the role of a digital data decoder.

This will be no easy task, as a number of factors will complicate the decoding and force the clinician to become a digital detective. First, medical settings largely rely on using technologies and equipment that have been tested and validated for medical use. In contrast, most wearables are consumer products, and while they produce digital data, this does not mean the data are reliable or valid for medical use.

Secondly, most clinicians have limited awareness and formal training in how to evaluate wearables and the data they produce. Therefore, from a knowledge perspective, clinicians are disempowered from assessing the data they are presented with.

Finally, even if we have impactful and valid consumer-derived data, we must integrate the presentation of this data into the clinician workflow. Without workflow integration, clinicians will be disempowered from using these data from a process perspective. Clinicians need a time-efficient method of storing and standardizing the data obtained from different devices.

Lagging far behind our ability to collect data is the value driver for all of our sensor-driven devices or apps: big data analytics. Powerful analytics turn “bad” data into data that can drive improvements in medical treatment, research and cost efficiency. Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to see the value of data from wearable devices and are increasingly incorporating them into clinical trials in order to better understand disease processes. Health and technology collaborations like the one between UCSF and Samsung, to create the Center for Digital Health Innovation, are important in helping to make sense of all the available digital data and devices, and in defining which are the most useful and relevant to health care.

Many questions remain unanswered: Is it time we teach medical students about wearables? How soon will we prescribe a sensor or an app with a pill? Will big data drive the next generation of medical discoveries? I believe we should be preparing for all of these now.

No comment yet.!

Tim Cook outlines Apple's role in health and wearables

“I think when you’re dealing with wellness, fitness and the proactive pieces of health. I don’t see Apple getting in to cancer research and this kind of stuff. That’s well beyond our expertise but I think in terms of things that you wear and things that you can know about your body and be able to proactively reach out to your doctor when certain things happen, I think that’s right up our alley and I think it’s something that the world needs. Apple is about making great products that enrich people’s lives.

“We wouldn’t build just a great product, we would only build it if it only enriched somebody. I think this is a fantastic example of something that enriches lives. So this is something that is highly interesting to us and you’ll notice that the watch has a health and fitness component. This is the area where we’re starting but where we go in the long term we’ll talk about later but it’s an area that I’m very excited about from multiple points of view. The opportunity and need for the world to have these types of products.”

No comment yet.!

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 |

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."

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.!

14 U.S. Hospitals Are Launching Pilots To Test Apple's HealthKit

14 U.S. Hospitals Are Launching Pilots To Test Apple's HealthKit | Healthcare and Technology news |

At least 14 major U.S. hospitals have launched or will launch pilot programs to test the use of Apple's HealthKit platform to manage chronic health conditions, Reuters reports.

Background on HealthKit

In June 2014, Apple introduced a new mobile application and platform that aims to consolidate health data tracked by various other health apps into one location.

Apple's product includes both the platform, called HealthKit, and a user-facing app called Health. It was bundled into Apple's iOS8 software, which powers iPhones and iPads.

In September 2014, Apple announced that Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford University's School of Medicine would be testing its products.

Details of Pilot Projects

The hospital pilot programs aim to help providers monitor patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, by tracking patient-generated data from tools that report several metrics, including:

  • Blood pressure;
  • Caloric intake;
  • Exercise levels;
  • Glucose levels;
  • Heart rate; and
  • Weight.

For example, New Orleans-based Ochsner Medical Center is working with Apple and Epic Systems on a pilot program that tracks several hundred high-risk patients in an effort to control blood pressure. The patients use devices that track their blood pressure and send the data to providers' iPhones and iPads.

No comment yet.!

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.

No comment yet.!

Dexcom teases Apple Watch for diabetes monitoring at CES

Dexcom teases Apple Watch for diabetes monitoring at CES | Healthcare and Technology news |

As digital health continues to extend into the mainstream, continuous glucose monitor (CGM) manufacturer Dexcom took advantage of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to unveil a simulated Apple Watch displaying live demo glucose readings from a Dexcom CGM.

As pictured on the right, the Apple Watch display is fairly similar to the current Dexcom receiver’s. It displays the current blood sugar reading, a graph of recent blood sugars, and  a trend arrow (telling the user whether their glucose trend is sharply upwards, upwards, flat, downwards, or sharply downwards). From the demo, there is no indication if the Apple Watch app will have any other features such as alarms, calibration, etc.

I believe this is the first time any diabetes device manufacturer has publicly shown any demonstration of continuous glucose data being transmitted wirelessly to a smartwatch.  The closest demonstration would be Medtronic live streaming glucose readings from their CGM to an iPhone display this past Fall.

Currently, there are no official solutions that stream glucose data to smart watches.  For the tech-savvy, a NightScout community exists that helps users “hack” their CGM’s into streaming glucose data to the cloud. In comparison, out-of-the-box synchronization to mobile devices would be a huge step for continuous glucose monitors, and the recent demos by Dexcom and Medtronic suggest that the FDA approval landscape for diabetes technology is loosening.

In a CES Digital Health session titled “Winning the War on Diabetes”, Dexcom’s Steve Pacelli (pictured second to left), Executive Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development, announced that “[Dexcom's] 5th generation system will transfer data from the sensor to the phone.”

This would represent a significant upgrade over current G4 solutions that require a separate product (the recently approved Dexcom Share) to serve as an intermediary device between the smartphone and Dexcom receiver. Dexcom’s 5th gen release would eliminate the need for a Share-like receiver and could potentially even eliminate the receiver.

With respect to the Dexcom booth’s Apple Watch demo, it was unclear if the Apple Watch integration is coming for the Dexcom Share (and therefore current G4 systems) or for the future G5 release. However, it’s worth noting that the demo was running inside Apple’s developer kit, which means that the display was running actual software code and not just a mockup.

Furthermore, unlike Medtronic which has officially gone on record stating that Apple HealthKit integration is not part of initial plans for their upcoming smartphone systems, Dexcom’s booth prominently featured Apple Watch and Apple HealthKit in their signage.

No comment yet.!

Why the Apple Watch Left Healthcare Enthusiasts Disappointed, Yet Hopeful

Why the Apple Watch Left Healthcare Enthusiasts Disappointed, Yet Hopeful | Healthcare and Technology news |

Rarely are we introduced to something so extraordinarily innovative and revolutionary that we’re incapable of fully comprehending it’s power, while still being left feeling somewhat unsatisfied. For healthcare enthusiasts, however, this was the case this past Tuesday during Apple’s September 2014 Keynote that introduced the world to the all-new Apple Watch.


Make no mistake; the Apple Watch is a groundbreaking trailblazer – a first-generation device with a level of functionality unlike anything we’ve seen before. So what’s the issue? It might not seem reasonable that something so unprecedented can leave us disappointed, and perhaps our initial expectations were unrealistic. Yet still, strictly from a healthcare standard, there is more to be desired.


For months now, we’ve been hit with a barrage of rumors and predictions regarding the Apple Watch’s healthcare-related capabilities. In June, Apple officially stepped foot into the healthcare field when it introduced it’s “Health” app and cloud-based health-information platform called, “HealthKit.” There is no denying that Apple is fully committed to pioneering the correspondence between wearable’s and healthcare, they just might not be at stage we had hoped based on the information given in the Keynote – although it should be known that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, did make it point to emphasize that there will be additional features that were not discussed due to time restrictions.


As we now know, many of the rumors and predictions we hear about future Apple products are not exactly reliable - look at what people thought the first iPhone would look like. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that the watch cannot accurately predict heart attacks, and we shouldn’t be shocked that it cannot analyze our sweat. What was rather disappointing was that for the most part, Apple’s healthcare plans were not discussed at all.


During the program, Jay Blahnik, Apple’s Director of Fitness and Health Technologies described the watch as, “a comprehensive health and fitness device.” Judging strictly from what we saw during the Keynote, however, it seems that the fitness aspect is much more advanced than the health side of things. As a result, while many of us hoped the watch would be a more complete medical device, the reality is that it bears a much closer resemblance to nothing more than a high-powered fitness tracker.


Based on Apple’s track record from previous product releases, as well as their tight-lipped knack keeping information on unreleased products away from the public, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that the Health app and HealthKit are much more comprehensive than the keynote led on. That having been said, other than the fitness features, there were practically no other mentions of Apple’s long-awaited healthcare strategy. There were even rumors that Mayo Clinic, who has been working closely with Apple on these products for the past two years, was going to play a role in presenting the health features. Unfortunately, that presentation, along with most of the health-related information, was cut from the program.


While the initial presentation on the Apple Watch may have failed to live up to our expectations, one can certainly still see the potential impact that these devices can have on the healthcare industry. The inevitable emergence of wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, has long been considered to be the next major step in healthcare’s revolutionary migration towards an industry more dependent on technology. Well, here it comes.


The sensor-technology that was unveiled during the fitness potion of the presentation will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the Apple Watch’s ability to improve healthcare. One of the biggest problems in healthcare today is our inability to provide around-the-clock, continuous care. This is where the sensors ability to constantly monitor our vitals can transform the way we collect and share basic information with our doctors. It’s not unfathomable that these wearable devices are capable of detecting early warning signs of asthma attacks, epileptic seizures, and possibly even heart attacks. The technology of these devices doesn’t merely change the way we receive care from our doctors, but our ability to care for ourselves.


“The list of features is a mile long, and I’m certain that when developers get their hands on the developer kit, that list will get even longer, and there will be things that we couldn’t even imagine invented”

- Tim Cook, CEO of Apple


The future is certainly bright. Were we hoping for more? Yes. But it’s only a matter of time until the Apple Watch is an essential component of healthcare and a monumental influence on our ability to deliver the best care possible. We’re not unimpressed, just unsatisfied – for now.

No comment yet.!

Docs critical to wearables success | Healthcare IT News

Docs critical to wearables success | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news |

As the "race to the wrist" intensifies and more and more smartwatches and fitness bands enter the market, one has to wonder who stands a better chance for success: the device that caters to the user or one that caters to the doctor?

In all likelihood, the percentage of the population that is really, truly interested in collecting biometric data – the so-called quantified-selfers – isn't going to increase by any great margin. You'll always have the super-healthy fitness fanatics, but they won't outnumber the average consumer, no matter how stylish that watch or bracelet looks or how cool it displays your heart rate and blood sugar. 

There are sure to be wearables on display at the upcoming mHealth Summit 2014 in December and the data they collect is going to be much more valuable to the doctor, the nurse, the public health worker or the health and wellness advocate (whatever they'll be called in the future). After all, they're the ones who are going to know what to do with the information, and how to use it in such a way that it holds value to the consumer.

That's the plan, at least.

The one enduring fallacy in consumer-centered mHealth right now is that a device's success in the market comes down to the whims of the wearer. That's only half the battle. If that device isn't collecting information that a healthcare provider wants or needs, and if it isn't providing an easy means of connecting with that provider and sending that information, all it's going to end up being is a fancy – and expensive – watch or bracelet.

Too many of these devices flooding the market aren't taking that provider connection seriously. They're expecting the user to find a way to bring his or her doctor, nurse or health coach into the loop, and expecting the healthcare provider to be more than happy to go that extra mile to get this information. This is the workflow intrusion that we've all been warned about.

Most healthcare providers would agree – they don't want to be inundated with all that extra information coming in from wearables. If it's of value to the healthcare of the user – their patient – then yes, but it had better be coming into their EHR or in some fashion that is easy to see, work with and act on. It would then be up to them to turn that data around and, in so doing, make it of value to the user.

Take a look at the wearable devices on display or being discussed at this year's mHealth Summit. Chances are each one is closely tied to a clinician-friendly platform, or ready to prove their ease and value to clinicians.

That's the market they want to please.

No comment yet.!

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."

No comment yet.!

Apple Watch Changes the Health Wearables Game

Apple Watch Changes the Health Wearables Game | Healthcare and Technology news |

After months of speculation and hype, the Apple Watch has finally arrived. 

What are some first impressions? How does it compare with other watches, bands and wearables? How will it impact the digital health landscape? (By the way, if you are reading this review for information on how to deliver your one-way banner ads brand messages via Apple Watch, you're already missing the point.)

I have been an avid user of wearable fitness and health trackers for a few years. After losing several Nike FuelBands on the soccer field, I recently switched to the Microsoft Band. Although it's slightly bulky, I truly enjoy the simple interface for tracking my activities, instantly measuring my heart rate and even paying for my Starbucks coffee.

Then along comes the Apple Watch. Of course it's got a great design, but it's not going to be for everyone initially. The learning curve is steep, especially if you're like me and don't take advantage of the online or in-store training. It does have a limited battery life and seems to be missing some core health functions. It might not be ideal for people with poor vision, and it doesn't currently have independent GPS capability. I was particularly worried about whether I could wear it while playing soccer, but I simply placed a wristband over it. Voila! I didn't find a default sleep-measurement function, but I assume that there will be apps to do that. Maybe Apple would rather I charge my watch while I sleep.

It's been only a few days, but I can already say that the Apple Watch experience is a great improvement over my other fitness bands. In addition to tracking my heart rate and how much I'm moving or sitting, the Apple Watch lets me do everyday things like receive texts and email, take phone calls and use Apple Pay. But I'm most excited about how it and other wearables will help me modify my behavior for better health. There's something very motivating about receiving visual and sensory cues from a device attached to your body. For instance, the Apple Watch gives you a nudge every hour to get up and move for a minute. It's very subtle and it may be a minuscule benefit, but it can be a great tool to combat the 21st century “disease of sitting” that so many of us are facing. 

We have been talking about big data, value beyond the pill and behavioral economics for some time. 

These wearable devices provide a great opportunity to do more than simply be shiny objects for early adopters. Wearables aren't just for fitness—they can make a big impact on adherence, compliance and cessation of unhealthy behaviors. 

Two hospital systems are currently conducting digital medicine trials using the Apple Watch to help manage hypertension and to determine how nurses and physicians can benefit from incorporating the Apple Watch into a medical home program. There are already a number of industry-related apps available for Apple Watch, including those from Drchrono, Lark, Doximity, WebMD, HealthTap and others.

The uptake has been rapid: Consider the fact more Apple Watches were sold in one day than Android Wear devices in an entire year. As a digital marketer, don't expect every demographic to immediately adopt the Apple Watch or other wearables. But ignore the Apple Watch effect at your own risk. The impact of this new technology and interface will manifest over time, just like our mobile phones did. 

Remember when they said social media was only a fad?

No comment yet.!

Why Wearable Technology is Good for your Health

Why Wearable Technology is Good for your Health | Healthcare and Technology news |

The Apple Watch and Adidas’s plans for including wearable technology in its shoe and clothing lines have been drawing attention recently, as the age of always-accessible information is upon us. In the era of the Internet of Things — when our homes are linked to our smartphones and everything else is linked to a network — it’s still somewhat surprising to realize that entire industries have yet to be transformed by increased connectivity. Until recently, one of those areas was arguably the health field. Yes, files have been switched to online servers for some time now. But it’s only been in the past year or so that the health industry has begun to be revolutionized by the possibilities technology offers.

With an increase in the number of apps and medical devices that patients can use on their own, the challenge becomes providing a way for that information to be shared seamlessly, said Liat Ben-Zur, senior vice president and digital technology leader at Philips. Ben-Zur spoke with The Next Web at SXSW about how the company is attempting to create a platform that could share numerous data points about a person’s health with their doctors.
Health solutions at your fingertips

“Right now, what we’re seeing is there’s a general health care problem on the horizon that we want to be focusing on,” she said in the interview. The aging population in America is seeing an uptick in chronic diseases, Ben-Zur said, and almost 70% of the health care costs in the industry right now are going toward managing those diseases. As patients seek to monitor those, they’re using more apps and devices that monitor diet, blood pressure, weight, and all sorts of data that can help doctors to determine the best course of treatment. And while that allows consumers to take their health into their own hands, much of that data is still scattered and fragmented, because of the framework of how the data is collected.

“All of these different wearables … they’re all sending their information to their own databases, and nothing’s being shared,” Ben-Zur said. Patients might track their biological data over time, but it’s not easily combined with x-rays taken by a specialist, a list of medications they’re currently taking, and the environmental factors like air quality that could also affect their prognosis.

The benefit of all sorts of “smart” technology is that doctors could start to get a better picture of what is actually affecting a patient’s health by looking at a myriad of factors. Some health devices are already HIPAA-compliant for medical use and regulated by the government, Ben-Zur said. Not only is there a potential to collect traditional health data, she added, but there’s a possibility that non-regulated home devices like HVAC systems, refrigerators, and coffee makers could be connected to an open-cloud platform that could provide a wealth of contextual information. If all the devices are truly “smart” and are able to connect to the Internet but also share information, “we can start to actually leverage the benefits of wearables devices, of home monitoring devices.”

So the company, in a partnership with, created HealthSuite, a secure cloud-based platform that aggregates all sorts of health data that is accessible for patients and health care providers. If a patient is wearing a device that transmits their vital sign information to the cloud, a doctor can view that data on an app and monitor the person’s health even when they’re not in the same room. The video above gives an overview of how HealthSuite works.

Philips isn’t the only brand to offer real-time medical collaboration, though the idea is still rather novel. Though perhaps not as comprehensive as Ben-Zur describes as the potential for Philips, offers one-stop health care services with its Electronic Health Record, or EHR, platform. Patients can upload health information, make appointments with their doctors, and receive electronic prescriptions through one website and app. Apple also began offering a Health app with its iOS8 launch in September 2014, which can track all sorts of data such as calories consumed, sleep data, vital signs, and more. Along with that launch, Apple also created HealthKit for app developers, which enables independent fitness apps to share their data with the Health app dashboard. All of that information can be shared with medical professionals, directly through the app.

Security’s role in connected health care

So what’s the catch with all of this seemingly great cooperation? According to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, it’s security. In her statements at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015, Ramirez said that addressing security issues is paramount to ensure that consumers truly benefit from the Internet of Things. “That data trove will contain a wealth of revealing information that, when patched together, will present a deeply personal and startlingly complete picture of each of us – one that includes details about our financial circumstances, our health, our religious preferences, and our family and friends,” she said. Later in the speech, she elaborated on the specific threat that data breaches have, the probability of which increases with the more connected devices people use. “Moreover, the risks that unauthorized access create intensify as we adopt more and more devices linked to our physical safety, such as our cars, medical care, and homes,” Ramirez said.

The health care industry is particularly at risk in the current digital environment. The Global State of Information Security Survey for 2015, administered by PricewaterhouseCooper, shows that “information security incidents” (read: breaches) jumped 60% in 2014 compared to 2013, and the costs attributed to those incidents increased by 282%. A growing number of health providers are reporting that they are investing more in security, especially at an executive level, according to the study. However, there’s a disconnect in bringing those discussions to a board of directors level.

The potential for adding health care initiatives to the Internet of Things is a huge benefit, because it can allow consumers and doctors to become more proactive, instead of reactive to a current health need. Ben-Zur praised this, as did the Atlantic Council and Intel Security in a report titled, “The Healthcare Internet of Things: Rewards and Risks.” According to a separate Intel Security survey of more than 12,000 adults in 2013, a large majority of people are receptive to using this form of sharing information to improve their health. Of the respondents, 70% of adults said they would be willing to use swallowed monitors, prescription bottle sensors, and even toilet sensors to improve personal care.

How does the field move forward?

With that in mind, it’s likely that the biggest obstacle for widespread use is the potential for data theft. While that might always be a concern with online files, several of the companies are already addressing the issue. Apple’s information is encrypted and drchrono’s data is under HIPAA protections. Philips doesn’t discuss the security details of its HealthSuite, but in every announcement about it, including a press release to publicize the launch, the company emphasizes the platform has built-in security to create a secure cloud environment.

The risks are still present. “Since the IoT is still in its infancy, no one yet knows all the ways this information can be used for malicious purposes,” the Atlantic Council and Intel Security wrote. However, with companies continuing to try to improve their security measures, while also providing new tools to monitor health, it’s likely that the health field will become the next industry reshaped by the Internet of Things.

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Apple Watch Has A Simple Killer App - And It's A Lifesaver

Apple Watch Has A Simple Killer App - And It's A Lifesaver | Healthcare and Technology news |

Nearly 11.7 million people have either signed up or re-enrolled for insurance coverage under the U.S. healthcare reform law, more than the 9.1 million predicted by the Obama administration,health officials said on Tuesday.

As of Feb. 22, about 8.8 million signed up in one of the 37 states that use online exchanges operated by the federal government and 2.85 million were in the 14 states, and Washington, D.C., that operate their own exchanges, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

The Democratic-backed Affordable Care Act, narrowly passed by Congress in 2010 over unified Republican opposition, aimed to help millions of Americans without health insurance obtain coverage. Conservatives criticize the law, commonly called Obamacare, as government overreach.

The online exchanges, or marketplaces, are geared toward those who do not receive insurance through their employer and provide tax subsidies on a sliding scale to make health coverage affordable for low-income people.

In the states that use the federal exchange, called, 87 percent qualified for a tax credit averaging $263 per month, according to HHS. It said more than half of consumers in states using bought a plan that cost $100 or less after tax credits.

Enrollment across the board has largely exceeded expectations, health officials said. The enrollment period for 2015 coverage opened on Nov. 15 and closed on Feb. 15.

President Barack Obama's healthcare policy has been challenged in the courts since the outset. In the latest case, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 4 and is expected to decide this year whether or not to throw out tax subsidies in states that do not operate their own marketplaces.

If the court rules against the Obama administration, up to 7.5 million people in at least 34 states would lose the tax subsidies, according to consulting firm Avalere Health.

More than 4.1 million people under 35 years old have purchased health insurance through state and federal exchanges, the HHS said Tuesday, about a third of enrollees.

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Nicole Gillen's curator insight, March 16, 2015 7:58 AM

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How the Apple Watch Will Help You Take Charge of Your Health

How the Apple Watch Will Help You Take Charge of Your Health | Healthcare and Technology news |

Looking at its hardware, the Apple Watch might not seem all that different from other wearables: a touchscreen display, a heart rate sensor, haptic feedback for taps and notifications, a mic for voice controls. Even so, it is poised to have a major impact on connected health management. As with the iPhone, it’s the software that will move the needle.

“What excites me the most about the Apple Watch is its ability to build positive habits,” says Jeremy Olson, founder of Tapity. Tapity is an award-winning app maker with plans for Watch apps. “The killer apps will be the ones that make positive interactions so convenient and front-of-mind that users can’t help but live healthier, more productive lives.”

After revealing its watch to the world in late September, Apple gave developers access to the Apple Watch API (WatchKit) in November. Developers currently have only limited access, but it’s becoming clear that won’t keep it from becoming a powerful, popular consumer tool, particularly with regards to health management. Services focused on tracking health will be able to use the Watch interface to display relevant, up-to-the-minute statistics in a way that’s more convenient than on a smartphone, or on a monitoring device’s screen. It will do this using the processing power of your iPhone, rather than a mobile chip onboard the watch itself, and updates will be sent to the watch wirelessly.

The patient who only wants to track weight and steps can use the same platform to capture lung function and blood glucose.

DexCom Monitor will work this way. It will use the Apple Watch to show blood glucose levels for Type 1 diabetics by presenting an easy-to-read graph on the smartwatch’s display. The glucose information itself is tracked from DexCom’s monitor, a tiny Class III medical device positioned under the skin. It measures glucose levels every five minutes, transmits the data to a phone app, and then the app sends the graph images to the smartwatch.

Respiratory health tracking will also get a boost from the Watch’s platform. Cohero Health is working on an Apple Watch app so asthmatics can better track their medical adherence and lung function. The company currently makes an inhaler strap and mobile spirometer, a Class II medical device that captures important respiratory performance metrics like functional expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) levels. These sync with its AsthmaHero mobile app, which tracks this data for the user and relays it to their healthcare provider through HealthKit.

For Cohero Health CEO Melissa Manice, the beauty of the Apple Watch is that it doesn’t make health tracking burdensome anymore. It de-stigmatizes chronic illness.

“The patient who only wants to track weight and steps can use the same platform that can also capture lung function and blood glucose,” Manice says. “It levels the playing field.”

But managing a chronic disease often requires long-term changes to a person’s lifestyle. Malay Gandhi, managing director at Rock Health, says that giving people continuous feedback, prompting and reminding them at the right times, is key to inducing those sorts of lifestyle changes. Wrist-based notifications are perfect for this.

Take Propeller Health, another tool for those with respiratory conditions. In addition to monitoring inhaler usage with the company’s Bluetooth sensor, its location-sensing mobile app tracks weather, pollen count, and air quality (along with other personal trigger factors) to notify a patient when conditions arise that might initiate an asthma attack. The notifications are personalized and contextually relevant, and since they’re on the wrist, they could be even less obtrusive than they are on a smartphone. Current users of the app see a significant reduction in rescue inhaler use—and more asthma free days. Propeller Health plans to begin work on an Apple Watch app after it begins shipping.

The Apple Watch could lure in new users who never previously thought about tracking their fitness activities because now they’ll get the functionality and convenience for “free.”

Gandhi, whose company Rock Health wants “to fund the first iconic company” to take advantage of the wrist interface for health monitoring, also sees the Apple Watch being useful in supporting good mental health.

“I use an anxiety coaching app, and it would be helpful to get prompts throughout the day rather than whenever I have an opportunity to open the app,” Gandhi says.

And of course, the Apple Watch has the potential to make fitness and activity tracking more accessible, especially to new users. Runtastic CEO and co-founder Florian Gschwandtner thinks the Watch will intrigue people new to fitness-tracking by letting them play with types of data they’ve never seen before. He first saw this when his company’s app debuted on the iPhone.

“People weren’t previously aware of the ability to track their runs and soon, they were nearly addicted to doing so,” Gschwandtner says. The Apple Watch could lure in new users who never previously thought about tracking their activities because now they’ll get the functionality and convenience for “free.”

The watch could even potentially help you make better decisions when you’re having a night on the town. Breathalyzer maker BACtrack is working on an Apple Watch app that will work with its Mobile and Vio smartphone breathalyzers. It adds a bit of convenience: users will be able to test their blood alcohol content by tapping the Apple Watch and then blowing into the BACtrack, leaving their phone in their pocket. Sure, it’s mostly a novelty. But sometimes, that little bit of convenience is all it takes for people to increase their engagement with a product.

Apple is reportedly assisting developers at its Cupertino headquarters so their WatchKit apps are primed for launch day. Take this as evidence that the Apple Watch apps we are learning about now are only a fraction of what we’ll see in the days and months following its April launch. But if what we see on launch day is anywhere near as impressive as the tidbits we’re learning about during this lead up, we can expect big steps toward better health management.

Melanie Ferreira's curator insight, February 24, 2015 2:29 AM

Think this will be a change in the fitness history!

David Greene's curator insight, February 24, 2015 8:20 PM

Good for Apple - innovation leading the way to better health...

Little Moose's curator insight, February 25, 2015 11:57 AM

I can't wait to try one of these!!

Is Apple HealthKit Headed For Hospital Dominance? | Hospital EMR and EHR

Is Apple HealthKit Headed For Hospital Dominance? | Hospital EMR and EHR | Healthcare and Technology news |

Even for a company with the cash and reach of Apple, crashing the healthcare party is quite an undertaking.  Not only does healthcare come with unique technical challenges, it’s quite the conservative business, in many cases clinging to old technologies and approaches longer than other data-driven industries.

Of late, however, Apple’s HealthKit has attracted the attention of some high-profile healthcare institutions, such as New Orleans-based Ochsner Medical Center and Stanford Healthcare. All told, a total of fourteen major U.S. hospitals are running trials of HealthKit. What’s more, more than 600 developers are integrating HealthKit tech into their own health and fitness apps.

What’s particularly interesting is that some of these healthcare organizations are integrating Apple’s new patient-facing, iOS HealthKit app with Epic EMRs and the HealthKit enterprise platform.  If this works out, it could vault Apple into a much more lucrative position in the industry, as bringing together health app, platform and EMR accomplishes one of the major steps in leveraging mobile health.

According to MobiHealthNews, the new app allows patients to check out test results, manage prescriptions, set appointments, hold video visits with Stanford doctors, review medical bills — and perhaps most significantly, upload their vital signs remotely and have the data added to their Epic chart. This is a big step forward for hospitals, but even more so for doctors, many of whom have warned that they have no time to manage a separate stream of mobile patient data as part of patient care.

For Apple leaders, the next step will be to roll out the upcoming Apple Watch and integrate it into its expanding Internet of Apple Healthcare Things. CEO Tim Cook is pitching the Apple Watch as a key component in promoting consumer health. While the iPhone gathers data, the smart watch will proactively remind consumers to move. “If I sit for too long, it will actually tap me on the wrist to remind me to get up and move, because a lot of doctors think sitting is the new cancer,” Cook told an audience at an investor conference recently.

All that being said, it’s not as though Apple is marching through healthcare corridor’s unopposed. For example, Samsung is very focused on becoming the mobile healthcare  technology provider of choice. For example, in November, Samsung announced relationships with 24 health IT partners, including Aetna, the Cleveland Clinic and Cigna.

At its second annual developer conference last December, Samsung introduced an array of software tools designed to support the buildout of a digital health ecosystem, including the Samsung Digital Health SDK and Gear S SDK, which lets app makers create software compatible with Samsung’s smart watches. Also, Samsung is already on the second generation of its Simband reference design for wearable device design, as well as the cloud-based Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions, which collects sensor data.

And Microsoft, of course, is not going to sit and watch idly as a multibillion-dollar market goes to competitors. For example, late last year the tech giant launched a fitness tracking wristband and mobile health app. It’s also kicked off a HealthKit-like platform, imaginatively dubbed Microsoft Health, which among other things, allows fitness band users to store data and transfer it to the Microsoft Health app. Microsoft isn’t winning the PR war as of yet — Apple still has a gift for doing that — but have no doubt that it’s lurking in the swamps like an alligator, ready to close its powerful jaws on the next right opportunity to expand its healthcare presence.

Bottom line, Apple has captured some big-name pilot testers for its HealthKit platform and related products, but the game is just beginning. Having users in place is a good start, but Apple is miles away from being able to declare itself the leader in the emerging hospital mobile health market.

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The Apple Watch Will Bring Glucose Tracking to Your Wrist

The Apple Watch Will Bring Glucose Tracking to Your Wrist | Healthcare and Technology news |
With Apple Watch quickly approaching its April release month, app developers are giving us a better sense of the wearable's capabilities than the designers at Cupertino. For instance, we know how the watch will work with your car or draw up a to do list. Now its health merits are getting some attention.

With help from DexCom, a company that makes monitors for diabetics, the Apple Watch will be one of the first wearables to bring glucose tracking to your wrist. The Apple Watch itself will only act as a display for the information being pumped out every five minutes by DexCom's continuous glucose monitor or CGM, a hair-thin sensor embedded under the skin.

DexCom teased its intentions to bring glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch at CES 2015, as pictured below with the company's current iPhone app. Diatribe, who originally reported the CES news, also says that DexCom's new CGM will also integrate with Apple's Healthkit platform, which until now has largely been associated with fitness apps. Doctors may also benefit from the partnership as Apple's Healthkit adoption rate in hospitals is outpacing Google Fit and Samsung's S Health.

The Apple Watch Will Bring Glucose Tracking to Your Wrist

The Apple Watch isn't the first smartwatch to bring CGM monitoring to a wrist wearable. The Nightscout CGM system, which is an open source project that allows remote access to DexCom sensors, has already developed an app for Pebble. It's been hoped since the Apple Watch was announced that the wearable would follow in Pebble's footsteps, and that seems to be what's happening.

Last summer Reuters reported that Samsung, Apple, and Google are all investigating how to incorporate glucose monitoring into wearables. The one hurdle being that any device marketed for diabetics would fall under the Food and Drug Administrations stringent regulations on Class III medical devices. The CGM sensor in this case is still considered a Class III device, but because of a recent rule change, any apps or software associated with the wearable device only needs to be registered with the FDA, meaning DexCom's Apple Watch app can bypass the agency's tortoise-speed approval process and be ready to go when the wearable ships in April, according to The Wall Street Journal.

So it seems the FDA's relaxed regulations on diabetes software has given developers some room to work, and they're taking advantage.
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DIY Healthcare and Wearables, the next big thing?

DIY Healthcare and Wearables, the next big thing? | Healthcare and Technology news |

At this years’ Forbes Healthcare Summit presented at the Lincoln Center in NYC I had the chance to speak with Will Falk, Managing partner of PwC’s Healthcare Services group.  Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) sponsored the sold out event and released their Top Health Industry Issues of 2015 Report that same day.  The report was created by the Health Research Institute (HRI) at PwC, which focuses on the developing market economy of the $2.8 trillion US healthcare industry.   The HRI has been producing the report for the previous 9 years and therefore has a wealth of longitudinal data.  A group of 1,000 adults are surveyed each year to identify the top 10 concerns consumers have about the US healthcare economy.

One of the hot topics of the report is wearables and apps that allow patients to engage in do it yourself (DIY) healthcare. Mr. Falk communicated the need for a personal apps pharmacy. “There are fifty thousand apps available for mobile technology, a personal apps pharmacy could help patients make sense of the clutter, highlighting the patient’s specific needs”.  He also emphasized the importance of regulating apps.  It’s essential to distinguish between apps that are prescribed and need FDA approval and apps that are more recreational. The FDA will oversee apps and wearables that could put a patient’s safety at risk if the app or wearable were not working as intended.  The top four medical apps used by the respondents were healthy eating, dieting/weight loss, exercise and health information/education indicating that apps that need FDA approval are not as widely used.  In the UK, the National Health Service maintains a public database at the website with over two hundred “safe and trusted” healthcare apps, it could make sense for the US to follow this approach. The report stated that around half of providers are comfortable using patient data streamed from DIY patient devices to measure vital signs and to analyze urine.  However, three-fourths of providers were not comfortable using DIY devices to diagnose ailments such as ear infections that must be diagnosed using qualitative measures.

PwC works on most of the major healthcare information systems focusing on clinical transformation, provider analytics and physician adoption.  Mr. Falk talked about the requirement for a strong core underlying system, but admitted most of the major systems were built before tablets existed. Therefore, it is necessary to build add ons to integrate with newer technology, which can be a challenge. Hospitals could save money by integrating with apps and allowing for a bring your own device (BYOD) policy because many employees already own personal smartphones and tablets.

We are in the midst of one of the most disruptive eras in healthcare as we transition from an environment where patients are replacing payers as the consumers of healthcare.  Patients now have more “skin in the game” as deductibles get higher and patients have increasingly more information to make more informed health decisions.

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Healthcare and Health IT in 2015. What the world needs now is…….. simplicity - HealthBlog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Healthcare and Health IT in 2015. What the world needs now is…….. simplicity - HealthBlog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs | Healthcare and Technology news |

Happy New Year to my HealthBlog readers around the world. I’m back in the saddle after a 3 week hiatus for the holidays. I must say I’m feeling fully rested and looking forward to all that 2015 will deliver.

Like you, I’m getting tired of reading prognostications about what’s hot and not for tech in the year ahead. However, I did enjoy a piece I came across today by my blogosphere colleague and Forbes contributor, Dr. John Nosta. Actually, I believe Dr. Nosta published the post not this week, but rather a full year ago. The post, Digital Heath In 2014: The Imperative of Connectivity, might as well have been written this week as it is just as true today as it was in January of 2014. In it, tech pundits from John Sculley to Steve Wozniak are quoted in musings about the tech revolution in health and healthcare and how everything you know is about to change. As has been true for the past several years, people are predicting massive disruption and transformation of health and healthcare delivery fueled by technology. And, as has been the case during the vast majority of my 14-year career at Microsoft and many years before that as a physician, tech and healthcare industry executive, I feel like I’m still waiting for the big bang.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have certainly seen transformation (albeit slow) of healthcare, and technology is definitely driving a lot of that change. Policy is also driving change, perhaps more so than technology. And, at least in America, no policy is causing more disruption right now than that of the Affordable Care Act. However, all of this begs the question--are things getting better or worse? People are paying more than ever before for the services they receive. Many of us are seeing our health insurance premiums rise while being asked to fork over more and more of our money toward copays and high deductibles (often $5000 to $12,000 per year per family). And even though I love technology, thus far I think it is failing to deliver on its promises or potential. Let me ask you, is it getting easier or harder to pay for and manage healthcare for your family? And if you are a healthcare provider, is it getting easier or harder to take care of your patients the way you’d like to care for them?

Technology should be making all of his easier and less expensive, but is it? Healthcare policy should be doing the same. Instead, we seem to be getting ever more complicated rules, regulations and business practices that confound both consumers and providers alike. Health insurance is more complicated than ever before, and don’t even get me started on Medicare.

If there is a theme I’d like policy makers, tech industry leaders, insurance chiefs, healthcare executives, and clinicians to focus on more on in 2015 it would quite simply be……. simplicity. We are making everything way too complicated. Without greater focus on technology that actually makes things more simple through seamless integration of services and information exchange, improved modalities for synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaboration in clinical workflow, and business models that truly support innovation and lower costs in healthcare, all the fancy new wearable smart devices, labs on a chip and augmented reality headsets won’t do much to save us from our misery.

I believe there are but a few global companies with the breadth, depth, and scale to really deliver on the kinds of information technology advances our health industry needs. Even then, it will take a carefully choreographed dance of enlightened public policy and innovation to deliver the goods. Otherwise, a year from now, and for many years yet to come, we’ll simply be singing more of Auld Lang Syne.

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A Turning Point? Wearables Could Save 1.3M Lives by 2020 | Hospital EMR and EHR

A Turning Point? Wearables Could Save 1.3M Lives by 2020 | Hospital EMR and EHR | Healthcare and Technology news |

For years, wearable health bands have been expensive toys useful almost exclusively to fit people who wanted to get fitter. On their own, wearables may be chic, sophisticated and even produce medically relevant information for the user, but they haven’t been integrated into practical care strategies for other populations.

And with good reason. For one thing, doctors don’t need to know whether an otherwise-healthy patient took 10,000 steps during a run, what their heart rate was on Thursdays in June or even what their pulse ox reading was if they’re not wheezy asthmatics. Just as importantly, today’s EMRs don’t allow for importing and analyzing this data even if it is important for that particular patient.

But as the banners at last week’s mHealth Summit pointed out, we’re headed for the era of the mHealth ecosystem, a world were all the various pieces needed to make patient generated data relevant are in place. That means good things for the future health of all patients, not just fitness nuts.  In fact, a Swiss analyst firm is predicting that smart wearable devices will save 1.3 million lives by 2020, largely through reductions in mortality to in-hospital use of such devices, according to mobihealthnews.

New research from Switzerland-based Soreon Research argues that smart wearables, connected directly with smart devices, projects that using wearables for in-hospital monitoring will probably save about 700,000 lives of the 1.3 million it expects to see preserved by 2020. Even better, wearables can then take the modern outside the hospital. “New wearable technology can easily extend monitoring functions beyond the intensive care unit and alert medical professionals to any follow on medical problems a patient may develop,” according to Soreon Research Director Pascal Koenig.

Not surprisingly, given their focus on monitoring aerobic activities, Soreon projects that wearables can be particularly helpful in avoiding cardiovascular disease and obesity. The firm believes that monitoring patients with wearables could prevent 230,000 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, and reduce obesity related deaths by 150,000.

And that’s just a taste of how omnipresent wearables use may be within a few years. In fact, Soreon believes that patients with chronic conditions will help push up the smart wearables market from $2 billion today to $41 billion, or more than 1000% growth. That’s a pretty staggering growth rate regardless of how you look at it, but particularly given that at the moment, clinical use of smart wearables is largely in the pilot stage.

What few if any pundits are discussing — notably, as I see it — is what software tools hospitals will use to crunch this flood of data that will wash it on top of the astonishing volume of data EMRs are already producing.

True, at the mHealth Summit there were vendors pitching dashboards for just this purpose, who argued that their tools would allow healthcare organizations to manage populations via wearable. And of course tools like Apple HealthKit and Microsoft Health hope to serve as middlemen who can get the job done.

These solutions will definitely offer some value to providers. Still, I’d argue that wearables will not make a huge impact on clinical outcomes until the day what they produce can be managed efficiently within the EMR environment a provider uses, and I don’t see players like Epic and Cerner making big moves in this direction. When the mHealth ecosystem comes together it’s likely to produce everything analysts predict and more, but bringing things together may take much longer than they expect.

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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.

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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.

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