I was recently involved in a workshop for a pharmaceutical product and one element we talked about was the emotional journey a patient goes on, and how digital tools played a role in that journey. This really resonated with me as a patient.
Great Call, Power 20 and eight other medical and healthcare application developers' apps are the first in the United States to meet new health certification standards.
The 19 medical and healthcare apps earned the Health App Certification Program — or HACP — seal, developed by Happtique, a mobile healthcare app aggregator. Happtique developed a certification process for medical and health apps with a goal of helping app developers ensure safety and effectiveness.
“One of the biggest challenges to app integration in healthcare is knowing which apps to select/offer," said Corey Ackerman, president and chief operating officer of Happtique, New York. "Happtique created its certification program as a first step toward addressing that issue."
Managing health While the number of mobile health-related apps continues to grow and use is climbing as well, a significant portion of the apps do not fall under regulatory oversight.
This presents potential issues for marketers and developers as well as consumers, in terms of apps' stated benefits and their effects on consumers' health and wellness.
The first apps to be certified include ones for monitoring diabetes, exercise and food intake. One of the Tactio Health Group apps tracks a user's weight, blood pressure and activity level. Others help users manage their weight and track their fitness levels.
Happtique estimates there are more than 40,000 medical and healthcare apps, and the numbers of apps and app users are growing.
According to industry estimates, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a health care app by 2015, and by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will have downloaded mobile health applications.
These users include health care professionals, consumers and patients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final rules covering the development of mobile medical apps in September, saying it would focus its oversight on those apps that have the potential to harm consumers if they do not function properly (see story).
The FDA also had cleared about 100 apps at that time, according to its Web site.
That leaves the majority of the mHealth apps unregulated and untested.
Happtique intends to help the healthcare market self-regulate. HACP is structured to complement the U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight.
Hulya Farinas is a senior principal data scientist at Pivotal where she is the lead for health care vertical. She holds a Ph.D. in Operations Research from the University of Florida.
I imagine every data scientist has experienced this at least once during her career: You start with an interesting question, a hunch, a hypothesis. You tame the data: engineer interesting features, identify anomalies and biases inherent in the data, make some scoping decisions, normalize it, and impute the missing values in some clever way.
After experimenting with many model forms, finally, you get to that “eureka moment” at two in the morning. There it is! You knew it all along. Your hypothesis was right and now you have the data to prove it. Or data may have surprised you and led you to a discovery that is unexpected and delightful. Now you put your “story telling” hat on and present your findings to the executives.
It is surprising how often the story ends there. Executives are impressed, the data scientist is patted on the back for the creativity, but the model is left in that PowerPoint deck to collect dust.
At companies where there is no framework for operationalization of the models, PowerPoint is where models go to die!
In the healthcare system, there is a massive amount of invaluable data that is waiting to be unearthed. We now have the computing power and the algorithms to sift through patient data and biomedical literature and surface what matters and recommend a course of action. According to PubMed, in the last 5 years alone, there have been 3,573 studies on hospital readmission, 9,745 papers on comparative effectiveness, 39,230 studies on drug-drug interaction, and 132,241 studies on hospital morbidity. But only a handful of those models are in production.
Contributing to the biomedical literature and thus expanding our understanding of diseases, risk factors, and effectiveness of treatments is very admirable. This is how science progresses: making incremental discoveries while standing on the shoulders of those who came before you. But it is unreasonable to expect physicians to consume this expansive body of work apply the learnings to their everyday practice. When we visit our doctors we should all expect to benefit from the latest discoveries without requiring our physician to be a superhero.
Editor’s note: Our upcoming DataBeat/Data Science Summit, Dec. 4-Dec. 5 in Redwood City, will focus on the most compelling opportunities for businesses in the area of big data analytics and data science. There are just a few seats left, so be sure to register today!
I hope at this point you all agree with me that dissemination of the insights to the decision makers is as important as extracting the insight from the data. This is why an application developer is a data scientist’s best friend. Regardless of how insightful the model is, if it is not put in the hands of the people who make everyday decisions, then it is of little impact.
Where does a company start?
The three basic steps involved in creating a more data driven organization are:
Invest in a distributed computing platform to take advantage of all the data available: structured and unstructured.Recruit data science talent and train existing team members.Define a path for operationalization.
Even with the right technology, people, and processes in place, it may still be hard to decide which opportunities to go after first. That’s where analytics road mapping comes into the picture; with reports showing health app adoption is stagnant, it really becomes crucial to go after opportunities that will have the highest impact. To build the most impactful tools, data scientists and application developers need to understand who, when, what, and how aspects of decision-making. Let me elaborate on these criteria by considering a healthcare provider.
Who: Identify all possible target user groups for the analytics/application.
For a healthcare provider, there are three groups of people to target with applications: hospital admins, care providers (physicians, nurses, PAs) and patients.
What: Identify what decisions these user groups make.
Hospital admins make very crucial resource allocation decisions like staffing, bed management, care coordination, revenue assurance, and identifying gaps in care for potential preventive health initiatives.
Physicians on the other hand make the most important decisions at the point of care: making correct diagnoses and providing the best treatment for the patient.
Patients play an increasingly important role in the delivery of healthcare as they participate more in the decision making for treatment and control of their chronic conditions. They make many everyday decisions that have an impact of their well-being: whether or not to adherence to a drug, diet, and activity regimen or conduct high-risk behavior.
When : Understand when these decisions are made and insert analytics into existing workflows without additional effort.
Ideally, analytics should inform the decision maker at the moment the decision is being made. For instance, if a hospital is concerned about over-utilization of lesser diagnostic tests, then a point-of-care solution that offers more appropriate tests at the time they are ordered is much more effective than a retrospective physician benchmarking exercise.
Hospital admins already use tools like scheduling applications to coordinate elective surgeries. Analytics could be run in the background in order to understand the number of new cases expected by care units, predict the length of stay for existing patients, and quantify the available capacity.
Modifying patient behavior at the time those everyday decisions are being made is the hardest challenge. For instance, an ideal nutrition guidance tool would modify the patient’s behavior at the time he is deciding on where to have lunch.
How: Understand user groups’ attitude towards predictive analytics and come up with a presentation that is most appealing to them.
Understanding user expectations, experiences, and attitudes toward predictive analytics is important.
Hospital admins in general have a very positive attitude towards predictive analytics. The types of decisions they make like identifying gaps in care require sifting through large amounts of data and they appreciate what big data analytics can accomplish for them.
Physicians are more likely to adopt a tool that supports their decision making than a prescriptive tool that tries to do their job for them.
Patients constitute the most heterogeneous group with quantified-self on one end and people with chronic diseases who rather not think about their health on the other. According to a study, 26 percent of the applications downloaded in 2010 were used just once. Adoption is key to success and is extremely hard to achieve.
Many of the health applications that target patients aim to collect better/granular data in between visits to be leveraged later by the physician or to alarm the patient when they need to reach out to a physician. These applications have a better chance of being adopted if the data collection is effortless.
For example, researchers at University of Toronto studied a selection of Agatha Christie’s novels written while she was between the ages of 28 and 82. They found that the vocabulary size decreased by 15 to 30 percent as she neared the end of her life, while repetition of phrases and indefinite word usage in her novels increased significantly, suggesting that towards the end of her life she may have suffered from Alzheimer’s.
Though anectodal, this example is inspirational. Similarly, an analytics powered application can follow our daily online activities: our browsing habits, the language we use in our emails, types of news we are attracted to and infer our mood, any deterioration in our cognitive skills and allow early diagnosis of mental diseases. We already see similar approaches being used in preventing suicide among teenagers.
In conclusion, an effective partnership of big data analytics and rapid application development will disrupt many industries including healthcare. Companies must get the data scientists and application developers sitting on the same floor in order to give itself a competitive advantage in today’s market.
VentureBeat is creating an index of the most exciting cloud-based services for developers. Take a look at our initial suggestions and complete the survey to help us build a definitive index. We’ll publish the official index later this month, and for those who fill out surveys, we’ll send you an expanded report free of charge. Speak with the analyst who put this survey together to get more in-depth information, inquire within.
Consumer smartphones are fundamentally unsuitable for use in healthcare environments, argues the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Spectralink.
The NHS is becoming more digital as patient records, prescriptions and other data have moved online.
This movement also includes the adoption of mobile technology to access and share information while caring for patients, in the office or travelling through hallways.
Smartphones are becoming the devices of choice at many hospitals; but despite portability and the ability to access critical content on the go, there are many reasons why consumer-grade smartphones might not be the smart choice for the healthcare industry.
Privacy and Security
Unsurprisingly, security is one of the top concerns when it comes to using mobile devices to access sensitive patient data.
Smartphones are designed to access and share data in the cloud, increasing the potential for data to be duplicated and moved between applications.
This makes tasks such as protecting the confidentiality of protected health information, as required by the data protection act (DPA), a huge challenge.
Using purpose-built mobile devices that only work within the confines of the building can ensure data is kept secure and help prevent costs from spiralling due to loss, theft or extra security measures.
This way, confidential data can be accessed via the handsets within the building, but not when the device leaves the wireless network as there is no data stored on the device itself.
Integration and Management
For organisations willing to let employees select or bring their own devices, the IT department has to deal with a range of systems, products and platforms.
While nurses may find increased satisfaction, IT teams may find maintaining and integrating these devices a complicated, if not impossible, task.
Due to the critical nature of the information nurses need to access, ensuring integration with existing hospital systems is vital.
New handsets enter the market constantly, and firmware updates and fixes are released every few weeks. IT support will be inevitably stretched to meet these new demands and upgrades.
Call and Phone Quality
Making and receiving voice calls is still the primary use for mobile communications within hospital and care environments.
Interrupted or dropped calls can create frustration as well as being potentially dangerous when relaying messages that have a direct bearing on patient care.
It’s critical to maintain the equivalent voice quality, reliability and functionality as is expected from a wired telephone.
Conventional mobile contracts for this kind of mass use would involve huge costs; many IT departments would need to use Wi-Fi systems for communications.
One of the greatest challenges for smartphones within the work environment is delivering acceptable voice quality when using in-building Wi-Fi networks.
While mobile devices can enable productivity, used incorrectly they can also hinder it. The personal use of mobile devices at work can create disruptive situations.
Nurses and doctors are more likely to get distracted, taking attention away from the task in hand and reducing overall productivity.
Additionally, problems like insufficient battery life can lead to costly and potentially dangerous delays due to missed communications.
Smartphones often suffer from poor battery life, leaving them unsuitable for long working days or use across shifts. Purpose-built devices are built to alleviate specific fundamental issues such as swapping batteries at the beginning of a shift.
These devices make it easy for nurses to clock out, swap the battery, and hand off the same device to the next nurse beginning their shift.
Total Cost of Ownership
When exploring the cost of implementing smartphones in an organisation, IT management should look at several ‘hidden’ areas of cost.
These can include lack of durability, potential for theft, support requirements and accessories (such as extra security applications and protective covers).
The cost burden should be judged over the device’s lifetime of usage, not just the initial cost of procurement.
Consumer devices are rarely durable enough for the rigours of the healthcare environment. Impact, droppage and chemical cleansers can easily damage devices not equipped to cope.
They also usually have short lifecycles, before a new ‘improved’ version is available. Keeping pace with these upgrades is near impossible for most organisations, let alone an industry seeing spending cuts and freezes.
The smart choice?
As smartphones continue to extend their march into the workplace, it is becoming increasingly clear that they are not always the right choice for the specialised needs of healthcare environments.
In the case of organisations that have a large percentage of nurses, the benefits of purpose-built devices easily outweigh the fragile nature of smartphones – weak call quality with in-building wireless networks, high total cost of ownership and poor battery performance all of which impact productivity.
Given the rigours, regulations and requirements attached to the medical environment some devices can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Yesterday, I went with my friend to meet his new nephrologist and receive an unwanted diagnosis. I went with my friend because I have a unique skill set at meeting new doctors and healthcare providers and dealing with unfamiliar health situations.
This quote of Nick Mason (the Pink Floyd Drummer) on trends within the music industry got me thinking about some unthinkable things we’ll see materialise as a result of the rapid convergence of mobile and health in this decade.
Last month, we compiled a list of 9 companies that had new takes on self-tracking and were crowdfunding on Indiegogo. The list included Push, an armband that tracks force instead of just activity level, Angel, an open source activity tracker that lets the developer decide what the device should do, and TellSpec, a spectrometer-enabled food tracker.
Push passed its goal of $80,000 by $54,000 and Angel passed its goal of $100,000 by over $200,000, but besides Push, Angel and Tellspec, the rest of the companies on the last roundup did not reach their funding goals.
Since then, five other health products have been added to Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Many examples on this list also utilize different methods for health tracking and awareness, like a sensor that tracks sitting time instead of activity time and an algorithm that gets information from texting instead of an app to track nutrition.
ScanZ says it understands its user’s skin, and that it can answer the three questions everyone with a blemish asks. One, ‘when will it go away?’, two, ‘what should I do to make it go away faster’, and three, ‘if the user doesn’t have a pimple, will he or she break out?’ The system uses a device that scans the user’s face and a companion app that answers these questions for the user. Algorithms within the app are based off Mayo Clinic’s algorithms, which, ScanZ says, “mirror a dermatologist’s process of solving skin problems.” Users can track the progress of their blemishes on the app and also be prepared for what may happen in the future.
During the crowdfunding campaign, ScanZ is offering the device for $199, which is $50 off it
You probably have heard all the good arguments about why your practice should employ inbound marketing – and, in particular, why you should take advantage of the public’s embrace of social media to learn about and communicate with their doctors,...
HAPItrack veut se distinguer dans la déferlante des capteurs d’activité. À première vue, on dirait un Tamagotchi. Mais non. Avec sa bouille rondouillarde, le petit capteur calcule le nombre de nos pas, celui de nos kilomètres parcourus, nos calories brûlées, minutes d’activité, temps de sommeil, mais aussi… tatataaa… nos instants de bonheur!
HAPItrack veut nous aider à davantage prendre conscience de nos instants de bien-être. Pour cela, il est équipé d’un petit bouton que l’utilisateur est appelé à presser entre 1 et 10 secondes selon l’intensité de ses émotions. Dès lors, le visage d’un petit personnage s’illumine sur l’écran du HAPItrack, passant d’un état de quasi-léthargie à un mode ambiancé « Youpi tralala! ». L’idée de Hapilabs ? Nous reconnecter à notre bien-être. Pour nous aider à po-si-ti-ver, le capteur de 50 g stocke et partage ses données à travers une application iOS ou Android. Grâce à elle, on pourra associer à ces instants la photo du moment qui nous a mis en émois, une date… On l’agrémentera au besoin d’un commentaire. L’historique de l’utilisateur lui permettra également de consulter sa timeline du bien-être…
En appuyant entre 1 et 10 secondes sur le bouton du HAPItrack, on lui indique l'intensité de nos émotions. Les données collectées sont également croisées avec les habituelles datas sur l’activité physique, permettant d’obtenir un tableau de bord constitué de fioles symbolisant notre équilibre de vie. À nous de les maintenir remplies en permanence au-dessus de 50% de leur contenance pour pouvoir prétendre être « re »… Inutile de dire que le HAPItrack est attendu impatiemment à la rédaction pour nous permettre d’en savoir plus sur notre degré de sérénité…
This year, Sony filed a patent for what might seem to be a silly idea for a wearable device with built-in vital sign monitoring — a “SmartWig”.
The SmartWig is meant to cover ”at least a part of a head of a user” and the patent offers use cases for the wig that span from general health tracker to a presentation aid.
Because the technology is on the head, Sony plans for it to monitor health factors such as brain waves, temperature, pulse, blood pressure, sweat. The company also wants the SmartWig to track environmental information like image, sound, humidity, temperature, and density of CO2. Sony specifies that the wig could also help blind people with navigating and understanding when there is an obstacle behind them.
A camera in the wig, Sony says, could be a way for users to communicate with each other and a laser pointer within the wig could help users present information before audiences.
Unlike other head-worn trackers that MobiHealthNews has covered in the past, Sony emphasizes the fact that the SmartWig’s sensors will be hidden, making the device more appealing to users. Another advantage of the SmartWig, Sony says, is that ”users instinctively protect their heads more than other body parts”, which the company believes is “advantageous” because it reduces the risk of the device being damaged during use. Sony also plans to potentially integrate the wig with other computing devices, such as “computer glasses,” by which Sony is probably referring to products like Google Glass.
Many mobile health device makers have tried to appeal to the potential user’s fashion sense, and naturally, Sony’s SmartWig would too:
“The wig itself may have a fancy or funny appearance, but may also have an inconspicuous appearance so that other people in the surrounding of the user may not even take notice of the wearable computing device,” the patent says. “In contrast to wearable computing devices known from the art, the wearable computing device proposed in this disclosure thus has the potential to become very popular and commonly used. The proposed device could even be used as a kind of combined technically intelligent item and fashion item at the same time.”
Maybe it goes without saying, but big companies, like Sony, are always filing patents for what seem to be weird product ideas and most never come to market.
Hands-free devices like Google Glass can be really transformative when the hands they free are those of a surgeon. And leading hospitals, including Stanford and the University of California at San Francisco, are beginning to use Glass in the operating room.
In October, UCSF’s Pierre Theodore, a cardiothoracic surgeon, became the first doctor in the United States to obtain Institutional Review Board approval to use the device to assist him during surgery. Theodore pre-loads onto Glass the scans of images of the patient taken just before surgery and consults them during the operation.
“To be able to have those X-rays directly in your field without having to leave the operating room or to log on to another system elsewhere, or to turn yourself away from the patient in order to divert your attention, is very helpful in terms of maintaining your attention where it should be, which is on the patient 100 percent of the time,” said Theodore.
A Stanford-affiliated startup calledVitalMedicals is developing a system that would automate doctors’ access to patient images and medical records using Glass by syncing them automatically via Wi-Fi. VitalMedicals’ debut app, VitalStream, sends live vital signs and alarms to the operating surgeon’s Glass device during conscious sedation. It gets the vital signs from its integration with the ViSi mobile vital sign monitor
VitalMedicals is working on a second app, SurgStream, which displays the pre-surgical images and streams live fluoroscopy, ultrasound and endoscopy video to Glass or a tablet.
The projects, which emerged from Google’s early outreach to developers to create apps for Glass, are still in their earliest stages and still have time to iron out the bugs. And with many doctors interested in applications for the wearable interface, Glass is likely to spread quickly when they do.
If leveraged correctly, the quantified self-movement could provide valuable patient insights as well as reduce long-term costs for healthcare brands.
But before talking about the benefits to brands, we must first understand their importance to the consumer. After all, it’s the customer (or in this case, patient), that should always come first. These products don’t just monitor activity or measure how long you’re at the gym. They allow users to connect their actions with the effect of those actions. Quantified self products engage the wearer with their lifestyle goals, stress levels and current healthcare regimens. This unprecedented awareness of one’s actions can provide insights into behaviors that are negatively affecting health.
To get a better sense of this feedback loop between measurement and behavior change lets look at a few examples of quantified self products.
Lift is the generalist of quantified self applications. It focuses on a simple cornerstone of wellness: Building habits. Lift uses beautiful visual reinforcement, social support and iterative progress to enable constructive habit building. The feedback loop goes beyond physical health to make overall behavior change fun and engaging.
The emWave2 approaches behavior change from a more scientific perspective. The portable device measures your pulse and transmits this information to a desktop graphic or in the form of a light array on the device.By monitoring physiology and providing immediate feedback in addition to providing a tool to act on that feedback, the emWave2 provides more focused insight into behaviors
Much like Lift, Mango is about reinforcing positive behaviors. However, it’s focused on one goal: Healthcare compliance. Mango was created to keep patients on track with their medication. Whether it’s a prescription for anxiety or a regimen of vitamins, Mango offers reminders, warnings of dangerous interactions and a gamified system to encourage adherence.
The popularity of these tools is a sign of a more engaged healthcare consumer, and that was only a small sampling of the apps and products available. Today’s consumer wants to know how their healthcare is connected to their everyday actions. They want simple tools to gather, understand and act on those connections. Assuming this, we can imagine two positive results for hospitals, medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies and other brands within the healthcare field.
A more engaged consumer means more insight into consumer behavior
Encouraging the use of quantified self tools will more actively engage consumers with their habits and actions. Instead of vague understandings about compliance with medication or how much exercise a consumer is getting, these tools offer incentives to monitor, measure and share this information. If the consumer is more engaged with their health through simple, entertaining tools, insights can be gathered and brands can use these insights to create strategies to shape their services around a consumer’s unique needs.
Engaged consumers lower painful costs for the system
One of the most exciting potentials in quantified self technology is that healthcare consumers will gain a clearer view of their overall health. This can empower them to predict potential emergencies before they happen. Fewer emergencies put less strain on a taxed system. Even a small amount of patients avoiding one catastrophic incident – costing hundreds of thousands of dollars – can add up quickly. Putting knowledge into the hands of consumers enables more consistent, dependable consumer relationships without painful spikes in the cost of insurance, hospital staff and distribution channels.
Accenture has been working with the health authorities in Spain’s Basque Country to reduce the costs associated with caring for people with chronic diseases through technology developed for Microsoft’s Xbox games console.
The 2013 Cybercitizen Health US Study conducted byManhattan Research, a pharmaceutical and healthcare market research firm, helps healthcare marketers understand how patients and caregivers use their smartphones to find health information.
The study surveyed 8,600 adults in the US.
It estimates that 95 million Americans, up 25% from last year, used their smartphones to find health information. Adoption of mobile solutions varied among patient groups.
The study ranked the top ten patient groups that reported using mobile health solutions:
The prominence of chronic conditions on the list was expected, though the absence of conditions such as diabetes, asthma and sleep disorders was surprising. In its summary of the study, Manhattan Research states that “while adoption of mobile health apps from pharma companies is so far low, they are strongly influential for those users” and also indicate the importance of pharmaceutical websites optimized for mobile viewing.
Qmed (formerly Medical Device Link) is the world's first completely prequalified supplier directory and news source for medical device OEMs. Find medical device suppliers and IVD suppliers who are FDA-registered, ISO 13485- and ISO 9001-certified.
In 2003 I began a series of lectures at conferences entitled “Three Screens of the Digital Lifestyle.” Starting in 2000 I began researching how people were using various screens in their lives and made the assumption that over the next 5-7 years...