News 10/14/11

In response to my last post when I asked if EXTENSION was a Cisco partner or subsidiary, an informed reader e-mailed to let me know that EXTENSION is a Cisco Development Network (CDN) partner. I wasn’t sure as I’d seen it reported both ways, so I appreciate the clarification.


Epocrates has a new infographic on how providers find and use smart phone apps. The most interesting stats to me are that 45% of docs with smart phones download 50 or more apps and they only use seven per day (I wonder if this includes built-in apps like e-mail and SMS/iMessage?) Of course, the 266 polled were asked by Epocrates to name the three apps they use most and the most common answer was Epocrates.


Sprint partners with IDEAL LIFE to outfit wireless-enabled medical kiosks. The kiosks "are designed for high-volume traffic and can be installed in communal settings such as community centers, libraries, schools, employer facilities, living centers, gyms, health clinics and physician offices." According to the release, results can be sent to healthcare professionals to aid with clinical decisions, though I’m not sure who those healthcare professionals would be. Is the intent that integrated systems would install the kiosks, or are the kiosks supposed to be linked to some virtual service like TeleDoc or American Well?

A new study out of Johns Hopkins finds that video games, specifically those on the Wii, help with physical therapy in ICU patients. The most amazing part for me is that 50% of the Wii sessions were conducted with patients who were using a mechanical ventilator.


Got a pre-VC startup? Applications for the the second round of Rock Health’s incubator program are open. I think it opened last week and the deadline is November 14. If you and your founders can’t commit to being in San Francisco or one of you isn’t a developer, you can apply to the Member Program.

I just learned about another startup event at the mHealth Summit, this one being presented by HIMSS. I’m a little confused by all of the inclusion criteria for companies, but it is clear that companies need to be seeking $2 million or less.


A postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis built an iPhone microscope capable of visualizing to the cellular level. He did it with a $40 lens, some rubber, and tape. The top row above is from a commercial microscope and the bottom row is from the modified iPhone. I’d be curious to see how well this would work on much lower-end phones with cameras because iPhones are still too pricey to be distributed to rural parts of the developing world.

The VA reports that 430,000 veterans have used Blue Button to download healthcare claims history, far exceeding expectations. The Blue Button information, which I would think as claims would be a limited PHR, contains demographics, emergency contacts, medication lists, and wellness reminders. I’m not sure how Blue Button uses claims information to do wellness reminders.


Fitbit releases its version 2 pedometer called Fitbit Ultra. The $99 device adds a stopwatch, an altimeter, and a slightly larger display. It’s a cool product for a specific user.

The state of Deleware launches a site to help its residents find aging and disability services. You can search the site for different categories of services and get a list of providers based on geography. The listings have no info (no costs, no reviews) beyond address and if the provider takes public insurance. It’s a start, and perhaps it really is hard to find those services.

GigaOM has a new research note, The future of mobile health, 2011–2016. You have to sign up for a GigaOM Pro Subscription to access the full report. Companies mentioned in the report include Epocrates, GenoMed and Mobisante.


First Impressions of iOS 5

It’s nice and didn’t slow my devices down at all. I’ve installed it on both my iPhone and iPad (technically my son’s iPad.) I use his iPad mainly to read up on current happenings, so the notifications and messaging enhancements didn’t do much for me. iCloud is nice because it dumps all the iBooks (I use it only for kids’ books), movies, and music across my devices so I’m more willing to buy them on the iPad.

On the iPhone, I like the new Notification Center, though it’s hardly as revolutionary as some have said. Having SMS and push messages slide down from the top of the screen and not require a click is very useful. Pulling down from the top to see the Notification Center from any screen is good too, but I use it mainly for easy access to the weather (a tip: slide your finger right on the weather bar in the Notification screen to see the five-day forecast.) It would be better if I could delete e-mail directly from the Notification screen instead of still having to open e-mail.

The lock screen is improved by being able to see new notifications and previews of messages. It’s a small but useful feature to me. You can’t see the weather from the lock screen as far as I can tell.

I like the "Reader" option in Safari. I read a lot of Web pages on my phone, and in one click I can remove ads and format the content for the mobile screen, which is very cool. Also, the ability to Tweet directly from Safari is great because I can Tweet stories I come across, tag them with @myen, and they automatically get dumped into Evernote so I can find them later. It saves me the step of e-mailing the story to my Evernote e-mail address, which also doesn’t get the story on Twitter.

I haven’t used iMessage (or more correctly, I haven’t used any of the new features added to iMessage/SMS) but my big question is whether non-SMS iMessage would be considered HIPAA-compliant messaging, at least provider-to-provider. With the recent reports about Apple FaceTime encryption being HIPAA compliant, then if Apple used the same encryption scheme for iMessage, wouldn’t iMessages also be HIPAA compliant? Maybe I’m missing something, so I’ll throw it out there to the readers.

And if that is the case and non-SMS iMessage is HIPAA compliant, why sign up for Doximity to DocText since such a high percentage of docs have Apple devices?


Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups.

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