The next war among smartphone makers will most likely be around health measurement, and the Wello is an iPhone accessory that recognizes that and wants to capitalize early. It offers iPhone users a heart rate monitor on their device, just like Samsung has built into the Galaxy S5, but it also offers up a lot more besides, including sensors to measure your ECG, blood pressure, blood oxygen, temperature, and more.
It does this using a special chip embedded in the thin case, and two sensors that you touch with your fingers on the back of the case. This provides a “snapshot” of your health at any given time, which offers up the information above, as well as additional information around how stressed you are at any given time. The battery in the case itself is good for two months on a single charge, and the app supports multiple user profiles, so it can work for your whole family
Wello sees this as a whole-health solution, which is why it also works with a spirometer attachment that allows you to also measure lung capacity. The spirometer, like the other sensors on the device, are “medical grade” according to the Hamish Patel, CEO of Azoi, the company that built the Wello. It also works with external hardware, plugging into third-party fitness trackers and wireless scales that make their API available to outside devs like Fitbit to track activity as measured and monitored by those accessories.
One of the downsides of the Wello is that it uses a proprietary charging cable, but that was required to get it so slim. It’s not all that much larger than Apple’s own leather slim cases for the iPhone, and it comes in iPhone 4s and iPhone 5/5s variants to start. Since it uses Bluetooth LE, it can technically also connect to Android devices that support that standard, Wello notes, and the company is also in talks with case manufacturers to license use of its chip, as well as exploring options for its own Android case versions, too.
The Wello is up for pre-order now for $199 in the U.S. and is expected to ship this fall, though it needs to secure FDA approval first as it is being marketed as a medical device. Of all the health tracking gadgets out there, Wello looks to be the first that offers a more comprehensive look at your internal workings in a package that’s incredibly convenient and portable. If rumors are true and Apple is working on building its own Healthbook personal health tracking app into iOS 8, Wello could be about to become even more relevant, as that software would reportedly work with third-party accessories to populate its stored records about a user’s health and fitness
Creating mhealth solutions is challenging, but what are some startups mistakes to avoid?
Mobile health technologies are increasingly becoming widely embraced by physicians, healthcare organizations, and hospitals. Insurance companies – looking to improve patient engagement for ACOs – are promoting mHealth applications. The marketplace is presently teeming with over 40,000 mHealth applications with many more being created as I write. Not surprisingly, the number of mHealth start-ups is also on the upswing. It’s not all rosy for start-ups though – most have enjoyed only limited success, which indicates that their offerings may be lacking substance or their strategies lacking the necessary punch, or a bit of both.
Creating an engaging mHealth app is a challenging task where healthcare apps must – above all – change behavior. This is one part of the big picture; what other mistakes are being overlooked by mHealth startups that are keeping them from enjoying greater, sustained success?
Here are six mHealth startup blunders to avoid:
1. Not keeping it simple
The job of mHealth apps is to inform, educate and tell users what positive action to take. This process should be a simple and intuitive one. What’s the point of an app that has the potential to deliver a healthy outcome but offers a difficult and frustrating user experience?
Keep in mind that you are not just catering to tech-savvy Millenials or the Gen X crowd for whom using electronic devices is second nature. Think of the Baby Boomers who may not be as computer-savvy, and have a hard time understanding and navigating complex instructions.
As Healthy Statups Founder, Jason Berek-Lewis said in a post on his blog,
“Go for big clear buttons to hit, clean and simple displays of data, straight forward options for sharing data or images. Keep it simple, stupid works.”
At the very basic level you must develop apps with a simple and intuitive UI. To verify if you have achieved what you set out to do, put your app through a usability test (even as few as 5-6 users will do). It is the cheapest and quickest way for a start-up to get honest feedback about an app from the audience it is intended for.
2. Not Solving A REAL Pain Point in the Marketplace
With the global mobile health market expected to be worth $11.8B by 2018, opportunities for startups to create successful scalable mhealth solutions are promising. However, it is important to consider that your startup solves a real pain point and is not merely variations of an existing company or idea.
When asked about this, Sterling Lanier, CEO of iPad-based medical data collection platform Tonic Health said,
“Many people build apps that are “nice-to-have” rather than truly needed. As a result, adoption usually lags for these apps because prospects aren’t really convinced why they need to waste their time in even checking it out. “
Innovative solutions around big data, patient engagement, chronic disease management, home health, and smart health sensors are areas ripe for disruption.
3. Allowing feature creep
Not only does scope creep/feature creep overwhelm, confuse or deliver precious little value to users, it wastes time and effort. For mHealth start-ups, this creep can occur from the developer’s team that keeps adding to its wish list as and when it sees more scope to add improvements to the app.
There are many examples of feature-laden mHealth apps that dilute functionality. A popular one that gets it right is iTriage, an online and mobile platform guides consumers through the healthcare process, from checking symptoms to choosing providers. iTriage also provides a hub to store and access personal health information. Aetna’s purchase of Healthagen, developer of iTriage back in late 2011 was considered one of the first successful exits for a mobile health startup.
The takeaway is – focus on achieving the ‘x’ number/type of requirements outlined in your ‘project objectives’. When you deviate from or add too much to what you initially foresaw for your app, you are essentially tweaking the originally-specified user requirements and unknowingly sabotaging your app project. Resist the temptation to ‘enhance further’ and stick firmly to the specifics. The IT sector measures requirements creep as (total number of requirements added/number of initial requirements) * 100. Ideally, the requirements creep should be zero. You certainly want to avoid a post-mortem analysis to understand why your app didn’t work, and take cognizance of the possibility of scope creep all through the app development process.
4. Unfamiliarity with the industry
At Informa’s second annual Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit, non-profit healthcare industry group Continua Alliance said that the long-term focus of the mobile health market should extend beyond chronic disease management to healthy people. This was back in 2010. Today, the market has seen an explosion of healthcare apps targeted at general physical well-being. The fact is the healthcare industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, from ‘disease management’ to ‘wellness’; from digitized health records and organizational efficiency to greater participation from stakeholders. It is both complex and competitive. Unless you have a keen understanding into just how agile and complicated the industry can be, you cannot make informed and ultimately successful strategic decisions.
You have to do your homework before setting up shop. Answer the ‘who’, ‘what’ and most importantly the ‘why’.Sam Stern, Founder of mHealth marketing firm, Modallic stated in his recent blog post,
“Iinspired businesses know WHY they do what they do. Inspired businesses think, act, and communicate from the inside out.”
Establishing your venture just because mobile healthcare is ‘hot’ at the moment or because you have some business experience is not a great idea. Keep in mind that experienced healthcare professionals are wary of businesses that have little or no industry background or experience. It is important to not just have a quality offering but also market it compellingly. Without proper industry insight, you won’t know where to start or what to do.
Invest energy and effort to understand the unique complexities of the industry. Attend local or national mHealth conferences and events, interact with healthcare providers and professionals, become a member of mHealth Alliance (its free), keep track of the buzz at key events like the mHealth Summit, stay on the pulse of the latest apps and industry developments, and read online resources like the MobiHealthNews for news, commentary, and more. Sounds like a tall order? Well it is, but worth every minute of your time.
5. Not understanding your target market
We just said how you must know ‘who’ your target audience is. An idea is marketable only if people want to buy it. Market research is an essential process to generate sales from a universal exercise, diet or educational mHealth app, you need to target it to a niche buyer pool. For instance, it is easier to market a ‘post-pregnancy’ app than an ‘exercise/diet’ app for women. Sell useful wellness apps targeted at men in their 40’s or a monitoring app aimed exclusively at the ’60 and above’ crowd.
Having said that, at the core of your marketing tactic, there should a product that solves a key pain point and delivers an effective solution. The best way to get a boots-on-the-ground understanding is to develop key relationships and/or partnerships with healthcare providers. You can learn about the real and emerging needs that can be addressed with mobile app solutions. You can validate if your app ideas will indeed make an impact and a meaningful contribution. You also can also leverage your relationships with healthcare providers to identify other business-related or partnership-related opportunities.
6. Not maintaining momentum
Congratulations, your mHealth app is the top app of the month. Can you sit back and relax? Not quite – you must establish a sustainable revenue model from your app, even as you keep developing new apps. Here are some tactics you can ponder over:
Establish partnerships with payers, healthcare providers, and professional associationsSeek app certification through Happtique’s medical app certification programAllow social sharing by building this functionality into your consumer based apps – happy users will do the advertising for youBuild relationships with publishers, bloggers and prominent media channels to have your app mentioned in blogs and publications.See if you can advertise your apps on mobile ad networks (remember to target correctly on the basis of platform, device, category and country).
For mHealth start-ups, the road to success and brand reputation is filled with challenges. The fact that the industry is inherently an evolving and complex one doesn’t help matters. Smart marketing strategies; needs-based, user-centric products; continued efforts at forging key relationships with healthcare providers/professionals; and a constant learning process can deliver the desired outcome. Are you ready to turn obstacles into opportunities for not just business profit but also a healthier citizenry and more accessible healthcare?
Wearable health and fitness monitors are more than a trend in the connected-health space; they represent the future as more consumers become aware of the value realtime data can add to their lives. As the market for these devices and solutions broadens and diversifies, it’s up to devicemakers and technology providers to discover and deliver the experience and the formfactor consumers will respond to most.
In 2013, ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, says wearable devices that monitor heart rate and activity levels made up the largest share of wireless device shipments. In fact, ABI found the most “popular” device functionality in 2013 was heart rate monitoring, with 12 million devices shipped. Dedicated pedometers and activity trackers came in second and third place, combining to account for 16 million of the devices that shipped last year. ABI predicts heart-rate monitors, pedometers, and activity trackers will continue to dominate the wearable-device scene in the near future—even as more sophisticated devices such as smart watches and even smart glasses enter the market.
A new wearable device from ieWei, www.eiwei.net, the ieWei Wristband, aims to claim a piece of the marketshare with the help of some unique features. ieWei describes its device as an “alert system” capable of measuring the wearer’s exposure to harmful radiation, in addition to monitoring heart rate and body temperature.
According to the company, electromagnetic radiation is an emerging health problem in today’s society; a problem that must be monitored. The ieWei Wristband detects harmful radiation levels and alerts the wearer so she can make an informed decision about her body and her environment.
In addition, the wristband can give the wearer realtime information about her heart rate, which can be a key indicator about a person’s stress levels. If the heart rate exceeds a certain level, the device will vibrate a subtle warning. In conjunction with the ieWei app, the solution is one example of how companies are helping consumers monitor their own health and wellness. The device is scheduled to become available in the U.S., Europe, and Asia this spring.
The intersection between health monitoring and wearable devices will be an important reality moving forward. As wearable devices inch closer to mainstream adoption, consumers’ preferences and buying patterns will dictate which types of devices make it big in 2014 and beyond.
Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #wearable #connecteddevice
Sixty-nine percent of providers use a mobile device to view patient information and 36 percent use mobile technologies to collect data at the bedside, according to HIMSS survey of 170 individuals who held a wide variety of positions in healthcare organizations.
In order to participate in the survey, respondents were either responsible for developing the organization’s policy on mobile technology, a member of a committee that is responsible for developing the organization’s policy on mobile technology, or responsible for ensuring that the organization’s mobile technology was implemented and operational.
Clinicians use mobile devices most to view patient information (69.4 percent). After that, clinicians most use mobile devices to look up non patient health information (64.7 percent), educate and train others on the device (48.8 percent), and get clinical information (41.8 percent).
The least used features of mobile devices include management of chronic care diseases at 22.94 percent, analysis of patient data at 21.18 percent, and facilitation of remote patient monitoring at 20 percent.
Additionally, when respondents were asked to identify the extent to which organizations leveraged technology to impact patient care, they were most likely to indicate that mobile technology was leveraged for pharmacy management, which includes tasks such as medication reminders and medication reconciliation.
Sixty-nine percent of clinicians said their organizations supplied them with smartphones, 67 percent were supplied with pagers, 56 percent were supplied with cellular phones, and 43 percent were supplied with tablets designed for healthcare. When clinicians were asked to identify the areas in which they would either add to or expand the use of mobile devices at their organizations, a majority, 63 percent, wanted tablets designed for healthcare. Another 30 percent wanted smartphones, 14 percent identified cellular phones and 8 percent pointed to pagers.
According to the respondents, 77 percent of the apps they used were developed by third parties, 52 percent indicated that clinicians used apps developed by the organization’s HIT vendor and 32 percent of clinicians indicated they used apps that were developed internally.
Thirty five percent of people said their organization supplies at least one app for patient or consumer use.
With smartphones packing so much processing power these days, HTC reckons we can combine them all to do some meaningful number crunching à la SETI@home and Folding@home. We're talking about curing diseases (AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's and more) as well as searching for alien life. As such, the mobile company has teamed up with UC Berkeley's Dr. David Anderson, co-creator of SETI@home, for the HTC "Power To Give" initiative. To take part, you simply grab the app from Google Play, install it and it'll run in the background when your phone's being charged up plus connected to WiFi.
HTC claims that the combined power of 1 million Ones is almost just as good as a one-petaflop supercomputer, so the more the merrier -- including those from other brands. But for now, HTC will first offer its app's beta release to the HTC One family and the Butterfly series, and it'll gradually add more compatible Android devices over the next six months. Isn't it awesome that even Nokia phones can soon partake in this, too?
Update: The good folks at HTC have now published a couple of videos explaining this initiative. Check them out after the break.
Not satisfied with late 1950s concepts of Smell-O-Vision [Nimesha] has created something extraordinary: A digital taste sensor, capable of representing taste with a little bit of heat, electricity, and an Arduino
The device purportedly works by via thermal and electrical stimulation of the tongue using silver electrodes. According to this video, different tastes are created with different currents and temperatures. For example, a sour taste is produced on the electrodes by varying the current from 60uA to 180uA and increasing the temperature up to 30 degrees C. Mint is produced by simply decreasing the temperature from 22C to 19C.
The control electronics include an Arduino, a motor controller, and a heat sink attached to one of the silver electrodes. Communication is done through USB, and of coursethere’s a mobile app for it, more specifically a protocol called Taste Over IP. This allows anyone to send a taste to anyone with one of these devices.
Videos below, and before you laugh, we’d really like to try one of these out.
BARCELONA, SPAIN — We hear a lot of talk about wearable tech being the future, but most of the solutions are devices that require leaping into a new usage context, a learning curve that many are reluctant to take on.
However, the new smart hearing aid from Resound Linx is that rare piece of wearable tech that is not only practical, but immediately usable by anyone with a hearing impairment. Officially launched globally on Monday, the wireless Bluetooth device was developed by Denmark-based GN ReSound.
See also: Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch Arrives, Bringing a Friend
Created to work seamlessly with the iPhone and iPad, the ReSound Linx allows the wearer to adjust the sound settings from their smartphone, an important feature that allows anyone wearing a hearing aid to be less conspicuous while adjusting their device in public settings.
Image: GN ReSound
"What makes the hearing smarter than other hearing aids is the direct connection between Apple's devices and the hearing aid," Lasse Sorensen, GN ReSound brand management director, told Mashable. "Also, the hearing aid can exchange data with the iPhone using the ReSound smart app, which gives the user new ways to personalize their hearing experience."
One example of that functionality is the device's ability to remember specific sound experience settings from a particular location by tagging its GPS location and then offering the option to use that location-specific setting whenever you return to that location.
Another way the GPS function comes in handy is as a locator. If you lose one of the devices, you can search for it using the ReSound Linx app, which raises the volume level on the app's display as you get closer to the lost device.
Image: Mashable, Adario Strange
Sorensen gave us an "ears-on" walkthrough with the device, and it lived up to all of the company's claims. Nevertheless, laying your hands on this device won't come cheap. According to Sorensen, the general price range for advanced hearing aids is around $2,900 to $3,500, and the final price for the ReSound Linx will be about 10% higher.
The company is currently accepting inquiries via its website, but as of this writing no final price or release date had been announced.
Mobile World Congress 2014 Open Gallery Blackphone
The Blackphone, seen here in Barcelona, Spain, uses some of the most advanced privacy security on the consumer smartphone market, but it's not exactly NSA-proof as has been claimed.
A chance connection over the internet has spawned multiple efforts to provide 3D printed hands at an extremely low cost.
Around the world, there are people who have lost all or part of their hand, or were born without one. There are also people and institutions with 3D printers. Pair the two, and you can print a custom mechanical hand for $20-150 — thousands less than the typical prosthetic.
e-NABLE, which functions through a website, Facebook page and Google+ page, stepped up to connect the two after site founder Jon Schull came across work by American prop maker Ivan Owen, who made a metal mechanical hand for South African carpenter Richard Van As. Van As had lost four of his fingers in a carpentry accident.
Owen was then contacted by a mother whose 5-year-old son needed a hand. He again made a metal hand for the boy. But then he turned to 3D printing. MakerBot gave both Owen and Van As a 3D printer.
The pair developed a 3D printed hand for the boy and then posted the design to Thingiverse, where anyone could download and print it.
Van As and Owen’s efforts toward developing 3D printed hands live on via the Roboand project, which has created more than 200 hands and now branched into prosthetic fingers and arms. But Schull was interested in connecting people who needed hands with individual makers and institutions that had 3D printing skills, but potentially idle printers.
He started a Google+ page, and then a Facebook page and website. More than 300 makers make their services available to people who contact e-NABLE about a hand. Just a quick scroll through posts on the Facebook page reveals many, many people who have a use for a hand.
“I see e-NABLE as a crowd-sourced pay-it-forward network for design, customization and fabrication of all sorts of assistive technologies,” Schull told Rochester Institute of Technology, where he is a researcher. “This is a scalable model that could go way beyond 3D printed prosthetic hands.”
Did you know that 95 million Americans use mobile devices as health tools? Did you know that 40,000 medical apps are available for tablets and smartphones? Did you know that 42 percent of U.S. hospitals use digital health technology?
Now you do. Check out Mobile Future’s new infographic, “Mobile Health – Just What the Doctor Ordered,” to get a fuller picture of just how mobile tools are transforming healthcare.
“The explosion in consumer demand for mobile health technologies is a testament to the transformative nature of our digital revolution,” says Mobile Future Chair Jonathan Spalter. “Mobile health is projected to be a $20 billion industry by 2018, and there’s clearly a lot of interest and opportunity in this space.”
The infographic captures how the virtuous cycle of wireless innovation is profoundly reshaping healthcare outcomes and upending the way Americans are interacting with the health care system. And the impacts of groundbreaking mobile innovations extend to our nation’s economy – mobile technologies have the potential to save the U.S. $36 billion by 2018.
Mobile Future sees wireless technology disrupting virtually every industry imaginable, and they’ve been generous enough to sponsor the Tech Cocktail & Mobile Future SXSW Lunch on Saturday, March 8. So swing by, meet up with fellow mobile enthusiasts, and learn more about what’s happening in the wireless space.
Current controversy surrounding health domains is rooted in the Internet’s growing importance as a health information source. In 2013, the International Telecommunication Union estimated that 38.8% (2.7 billion) of the world’s population used the Internet. Many of these users are seeking important health information online. In the United States, surveys report 72% of online adults accessed the Internet to find health information primarily on the subjects of diseases and treatments . Other regions, including the European Union and emerging markets, have also shown marked increases in online health information seeking and self-diagnosing behavior.
The importance of establishing an inclusive yet reliable presence for health information online is critical to future global health outcomes given the growing importance of the health Internet. However, .health and many other health-related gTLDs are now on sale to private sector entities that largely permit open and unrestricted use. Yet, the globalized nature of the Internet, the public health need for privacy, security, and quality health information, and the rapid expansion of online health technologies demonstrate a critical need to ensure proper governance of future health domains. Focusing on the public good can be a first and crucial step to ensure an accurate, reliable, and evidence-based online presence for health for this generation and the next.
Social media is becoming more and more of a data game in 2014. Those in the know can optimize and dominate those who aren't running their campaigns in a data-led way. Combine this with the ever increasing usage of social, the fragmentation of audience by platform, and the trend towards paid reach on some platforms and many social media managers will be at a loss as to how to manage their social presence in a sensible way. Fear not though, we've put together a handy guide on 5 of the tools that everyone in social media should be using to help you survive and thrive in an ever-expanding marketplace!
Socialbakers are a company providing a whole suite of tools, including listening, posting and ad analytics. However, their key tool is Socialbakers Analytics. This tool allows you to compare your social profiles to your key competitors, seeing all publicly available social metrics alongside each other. This allows you to benchmark your performance versus the competition & in the market, and see which parts of your content strategy are performing best, allowing you to optimise your content accordingly.
The ability to fully use data to optimise your content is really helpful, and allows you to consistently deliver better results from each Tweet & Facebook post based on your learnings.
This tool is a relatively new one that we've started using here at Datify. Kuhcoon is a tool that allows you to create, manage and monitor your ads, but the key point here is that you can do all of this from your iOS device. About 70% of social media usage from the social media manager perspective is on mobile, however the one element we have struggled to control when on the go is advertising management. Kuhcoon Ads solves this problem with a handy app that allows you to monitor campaigns on the go in terms of their performance, and pause and restart adverts and campaigns from your smartphone.
This means no more having to drag the laptop out at home to double-check how things are going and is a real time saver.
TweetDeck has been around for a number of years now, but is still one of the top 5 tools that I believe everyone should be using for their Twitter management. TweetDeck allows you to pull in all of your accounts, organise columns to track various keyword terms that are appearing in other Tweets and track competitors feeds.
Another advantage of TweetDeck is that you can schedule content for different dates and times for your profiles, to allow you to build out your content calendar quickly and easily.
For interacting with customers and people who may potentially be interested in your services, TweetDeck is an amazing free options that allows you multiple options.
Optimal Social is a really interesting tool that I'd definitely recommend everyone checking out. Optimal run an advertising optimisation platform, but the most interesting part of their tool is the Analytics section. This area allows you to start in depth audience analysis by searching for people who like and dislike certain topics, by location and by platform. Searching for those who like 'football' for instance shows you the total potential reach, the gender split, and what else those people are interested in.
Graphics like the above show the kind of insight it can pull out in terms of income of people who like different brands, and there is a real wealth of data in the platform to explore. Some elements are paid, but there is plenty of data in the tool that can be found for free that will come in handy for your planning and strategy.
Topsy is a massively useful tool for social listening purposes. Topsy is a relatively cheap tool to use the full social analytics section. This allows you to search for multiple keywords over specified date ranges. From this you can graph the Twitter mention data, and see sentiment scores.
Topsy is also great for link tracking when you have a blog post or other content that is being shared widely - the free version of Topsy allows you keep a track of this very easily so that you respond on Twitter as required.
There are literally thousands of social media tools that are worth investigating these days; however, the above five are all essentials that you must have in your locker ready to use when you need them. They make our job a lot easier here, and I'm sure they will for you too.
Key evidence suggests that as hospital systems in the US reach a crisis point – involving the transition to value-based purchasing and tying Medicare and Medicaid dollars to performance – quality of care must improve. In many ways hospital employees have become the most important piece of the puzzle to improve efficiency, lower costs and improve outcomes. Disengaged employees in the US who turnover, for example, are estimated to cost as much as $11 billion annually due to lost productivity and poor results. As hospital leadership faces a new domain of uncertainty and demands, and must use innovative technologies to better understand and improve engagement and performance of employees, two gamers think they have the answer: real-time evaluation, fun gaming interaction and a culture of positive reinforcement. The team at AMPT Health is gambling that their new SaaS solution will revolutionize performance evaluation. In the words of CEO Clint Carlos, “AMPT’s mission is to enrich the lives of patients by keeping health care workers happy and productive.” And they believe they can.
AMPT iPad Dashboard
An Unmet Need
As the Obama Administration is learning through implementation efforts of the Affordable Care Act, quantifying productivity, efficiency and satisfaction in a hospital setting is exceptionally difficult. Although the importance of doing so is validated by research indicating the contentment and commitment one feels for one’s work is directly related to the effort invested in fulfilling one’s duties.
Gallup argues that talent maximization for productivity within a company can be calculated as simply as:
Per-Person Productivity = Talent x (Relationship + Right Expectation + Recognition/Reward)
Reiterating that strategies such as positive reinforcement and trust building within an organization increase individual-level performance, which in a hospital translate directly to patient health outcomes.
The need for near real time performance evaluation exposes a significant void within current health care practices and technology. Presently, these evaluation systems fail to deliver timely feedback on the high and low performers within a system, usually giving only aggregated data with little granularity on actual nursing and physician performance.
Given that work performance is inherently a reflection of an employee’s competencies, efficiencies, cultural buy-in, accountability and personal habits, these key metrics need to be monitored on a frequent basis. The key items to be better understood and assessed are employee happiness, engagement and productivity. Further, these metrics should be collected using data directly from the employees – individuals and peers – via user-friendly platforms.
The ACA Drives Financial Fears
Hospitals are under financial constraints that challenge every previous strategic plan. Greater productivity, efficiency and safety are required; all while reimbursements and budgets are decreasing without an end in site. Moreover, the ACA has introduced a series of new penalties associated with patient length of stay, readmissions and potentially avoidable admissions that make growing hospital revenue difficult and physicians accountable in unprecedented ways. In the hospital setting, disengaged employees are more dangerous to patients, which in turn, could increase the likelihood of unnecessary length of stay and readmissions.
This is especially true given the newly determined three-year look back period the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has regulated to recoup previously overpaid funds.
Further, economists tracking a 10-year longitudinal cohort of nurses suggest that there is a potential 2% loss in reimbursements for hospitals that cannot meet specific patient satisfaction and quality outcomes beginning in 2015, meaning that the Administration’s focus on quality is growing.
Sadly, in today’s hospital systems, most leaders lack reliable performance insights to properly recognize individual performance in a timely and authentic way. Yet, in settings like a hospital, where nurses are the backbone of day-to-day operations, it is vital that their performance be evaluated in objective and individualized ways.
AMPT Founder Collin Caneva argues, “Nothing else interacts with more patients or has greater influence over desired outcomes than health care workers; yet most health innovation ignores the role of human nature.” He further contends that the best way to objectively measure real time human behavior is to get employee buy-in that is partnered with a user experience that allows for seamless integration of new cloud-based software with existing operating systems, and even fun.
A method that is gaining popularity among those seeking to understand productivity and engagement is peer-to-peer feedback. Nursing schools have already embraced this method of colleague evaluation as a method to prepare future RNs for peer evaluation. The practice is also recognized and recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a method of more unbiased performance metrics.
One risk of peer-to-peer feedback and other performance evaluations is the breakdown of collaboration that occurs in situations where feedback is predominately negative. Circumventing this risk, AMPT catalyzes only positive feedback in the form of praise or recognition for activities that are proven to enhance health outcomes.
It’s one of the great questions of our times: if you have loads of interesting data that can be used for the benefit of all, how does that square up against people’s desire, or indeed right, to maintain control over their own information? I suspect there are many such debates on the horizon, but for now you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect case study than that of England’s National Health Service (NHS) and the data it holds on its patients.
This is a highly politicized mess, as the British government is gradually privatizing the NHS, but the key facts stand above that particular fray.
Let’s see what happens in the cloud…
Over the last 15 years or so, the NHS has become increasingly computerized, and it is now at the point where data about hospital and general practitioner visits will soon all be accessible from the same place, namely an archive for so-called Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) that used to be only for inpatient data.
With this centralization comes the enhanced ability to find patterns, track trends and generally improve the NHS’s ability to do what it does. The English NHS’s central data organization, the Information Center for Health and Social Care (HSCIC), sold the HES dataset to consulting firm PA Consulting, to see what magic could be squeezed out of people’s medical records.
A couple years back, PA produced a report in which it talked about how it experimented with handling all this data. Fast forward to yesterday, and someone pointed out certain details of this report to doctor and member of parliament Sarah Wollaston on Twitter. She wasn’t happy, and it became a big story.
Researchers and collaborators of the Soh lab at UC Santa Barbara have developed an implantable device to monitor real time concentrations of medications in the blood. The device, called the MEDIC (Microfluid Electrochemical Detector for In Vivo Concentrations), aims to address an increasingly identified problem in medicine – that people metabolize and respond to the same medication at the same dose in very different ways.
A great deal of focus has been on identifying genetic polymorphisms and other markers that can be used to identify patients who are either resistant to certain medications or at risk for adverse effects – think HLA typing prior to initiating Tegretol therapy.
The device itself consists of a chamber through which a constant stream of the patient’s blood runs. At the base of the chamber, small sensing molecules called aptamers bind the drug molecules. Once the drug molecule is bound to the aptamer, a tiny jolt of current is sent to an external device so the drug concentration can be calculated.
The researchers have overcome the problem of particles in natural blood sticking to and coating the sensor by adding a buffer layer to the chamber.
This device aims to open new opportunities into the personalization of medicine.
Undetermined impact of patient decision support interventions on healthcare costs and savings
There has been increasing interest in implementing patient decision support interventions. They definitely help inform decisions, and patients tend to opt for more conservative treatment choices.
Evidence from randomized trials shows that these interventions increase patients' knowledge, produce more accurate expectations, and lead to treatment choices that are more congruent with patients' informed preferences. There is, in short, an ethical imperative to support their use in practice.
There have also been claims that they have the capacity to generate healthcare savings, but these are less well substantiated, although prominent in many commentaries.
The researchers here set out to perform a systematic review of studies that assessed the potential of patient decision support interventions (decision aids) to generate savings.
Read the full open access research: Undetermined impact of patient decision support interventions on healthcare costs and savings: systematic review
Everyone knows that physicians are heavy users of mobile devices. But how do they use smartphones and tablets? Wolters Klowers Health attempted to answer with their 2013 Physician Outlook Survey. The resulting infographic shows that 72% use their smartphones to calculate drug dosage, research medication side effects and medication interactions while 55% use tablets to do the same thing.
mHealth is creating buzz. For those who want to know what it’s all about and find out the latest happenings in the mHeatlth world, the Mobile Health Knowledge Center at HIMSS14 is the place to be.
Situated at Booth 7745 in Hall E, the 100-square-foot center features some 20 exhibitors and an ongoing panel of guest speakers, all putting a mobile-specific spin on healthcare IT. Backstopped by mHIMSS, the exhibitors run the gamut from big players, like AT&T ForHealth and Intel, to the smaller companies making an impact in a specific location or population.
Among them is MeVisit, a Virginia-based developer of "house call by smartphone" services that debuted at last year's HIMSS conference in New Orleans and now operates in Lexington and Bowling Green, Ky., Crystal River, Fla., and San Diego.
Company founder William "Chuck" Thornbury said the atmosphere for mHealth this year is better than last year, when no one seemed to have any funding for new ventures or the energy to tackle the then-nascent Affordable Care Act landscape.
Among the resources being highlighted at the Mobile Health Knowledge Center are the mHIMSS Roadmap, which was launched at the 2012 mHealth Summit and amended this year to include a focus on mHealth apps; and the 3rd Annual Mobile Health Survey, conducted by HIMSS Analytics, the results of which will be presented by Jennifer K. Horowitz, senior research manager at HIMSS, at a 10 a.m. session Wednesday.
Wayne Guerra, MD, co-founder and chief medical officer of iTriage – another of the exhibitors at the center – said mHealth innovators are starting to realize that they can target a small niche of the healthcare market with a very specific solution, then network with other vendors or providers to build out a more complete mHealth platform.
That type of thinking is necessary in this evolving patient-centric healthcare landscape, he said, because the patients are demanding answers to their questions and transparency in their healthcare transactions. If they aren't getting results from one provider, they'll find another provider who will.
It's not necessarily a "build it and they will come" landscape for entrepreneurs and providers, he said. But it is one that favors collaboration and communication.
Topics: Mobile/Wireless, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Affordable Care Act, , HIMSS Analytics
Via Sam Stern
3-D printing used to construct everything from art to toys to spare parts for the space station may one day produce human organs at a hospital near you.
The 20-year-old technology uses liquid materials that become hard as they print out three-dimensional objects in layers, based on a digital model. Current medical uses are in dentistry, for hard-material crowns, caps and bridges, as well as prosthetics. Last year, a 3-D printer was used to create a structure from moldable polymer that replaced more than 75 percent of a patient’s skull.
Now, Organovo Holdings Inc. is using 3-D printers to create living tissue that may one day look and act like a human liver, able to cleanse the body of toxins. Drugmakers and cosmetic companies already plan to use 3-D printed human tissue to test new products. Eventually, the technology may help reduce organ shortages and cut transplant rejections as patients receive new organs constructed from their own cells.
Numbers tell the story. A study jointly commissioned by Telenor and Boston Consulting Group titled “Socio-Economic Impact of mHealth,” reveals two interesting points:One, 30% of smartphone users is expected to use “wellness apps” by 2015 and secondly smartphone is the most popular device among doctors since the stethoscope.There are many such studies done by various groups with each underpinning the larger role played by mobile technology in patient care and healthcare administration.Healthcare Mobility is Getting PervasiveHealthcare mobile solutions have evolved a lot in the recent years. From self-help apps on fitness & wellness in the beginning, we now have serious and real medical solutions that are playing impactful roles in diagnosis, emergency care, treatment and are improving outcomes.Today healthcare organizations are making great use of smartphones, scanners, radars, two-way radios and other wireless solutions at every stage in healthcare:Patient care: Mobile apps and devices are enabling patient monitoring, medication administration, specimen collection & testing and transfusion verification etc.Community care: Mobile solutions are being used to collect and share data from the field to monitor and manage infectious diseases.Emergency care: Patients are always connected with emergency care teams through mobile apps and can call for help from anywhere and anytime. The care team can then co-ordinate, as they take patient to hospital, with the staff to provide quickest possible aid to patients.Clinical collaboration: Physicians and nurses can consult and share critical information at the time of need.Workforce management: Hospitals and other healthcare organizations are using mobile solutions for workforce scheduling, mobile dispatches and time logging etc.Hospital administration: Healthcare mobility is being used in areas like patient admission/discharge process, billing, insurance claim processing, asset and facility management etc.
Without a doubt patient engagement is one of the more important trends in healthcare and health IT right now. Over the past few years the tools that look to enable patient engagement between providers and patients have changed markedly. It is important to note, however, that the tools themselves are just a small part of the story — they can go a long way toward improving patient engagement, though. The drivers of the patient engagement buzz are varied, but one big one is the federal government’s Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC) Meaningful Use (MU) program, which is beginning to include requirements for very basic patient engagement services.
ONC’s MU Stage II requirements include at least three patient engagement related deliverables of providers. To meet Stage II, providers must give patients clinical summaries after each visit. They must use electronic secure messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information with a minimum of 5 percent of their patients during the review period. They must also provide patients with the ability to view online, download and transmit information about a hospital admission and give them access to any health information about that patient the providers receives — within four days of receiving it.