News 10/5/11

Welcome to October! On October 22, I’ll be conducting a tutorial session on entrepreneurship and startups in healthcare at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Annual Symposium in DC. If you want to sign up or learn more about the talk and my co-speakers, visit AMIA’s Web site. I hope to see you there.

Speculation and buzz surrounded the the launch of the iPhone 5 (make that the iPhone 4S) Wednesday. The announcement of a slightly improved iPhone 4S was a bit disappointing considering the hype. The new device is faster, has a better camera, and incorporates new voice recognition features.

In related and somewhat crazy news, Sprint has supposedly agreed to buy 30.5 million iPhones for ~$20.5 billion over the next four years, a deal in which Sprint will apparently not see a profit until 2014. That supposedly gets Sprint exclusive access to the iPhone 5 (when introduced) for its WiMax network until 2012. In the mean time, Verizon and AT&T will offer the iPhone 4S, a souped-up version of the iPhone 4. Wow, I’d love to be Apple these days.

Health department are testing technology to combat sexually transmitted infections (STIs). One of the solutions, HookUp, is a text-based program to educate and connect teens to resources related to reproductive health. It seems like a great group to target and a great health topic to address.

UnitedHealth taps CareSpeak as its text messaging partner. The partnership will leverage CareSpeak’s technology for two-way SMS messaging geared at improving treatment adherence. Simple reminders and educational messages will be sent, while biometric data (glucose, weight, blood pressure, activity, etc) will be collected, all over SMS. Rewards and incentives will also be sent using SMS. The new service will be implemented over the next year.

Smart phone clinical communications vendor Voalte announces Voalte Connect, a mobile device management service developed in partnership with AirWatch. The new service eases the process of remotely managing and securing mobile devices in the enterprise. This is a great idea as mobile services beyond secure messaging are added to smart phones. Controlling the deployment and management of the devices puts Voalte is a very good spot.

QR codes provide a great way for providers to market to patients. This is an interactive way to publicize new offerings, especially facility apps and mobile-enabled services (SMS, mobile web).

A new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, a rather impressive journal for a study like this, finds that variability exists in how published content is approved on diabetes-related social networks. The study also found that 80% of such sites had advertising from industry (pharma, devices, insurance), which isn’t surprising because I’m betting all of these sites are free to users.

Procura launches Procura Mobile, a BlackBerry solution that helps streamline home health care workflows and collect data at the point of care. This is on the heels of mobile home health vendor CellTrak’s acquisition of MedShare a few weeks ago. It seems so clearly beneficial to enable home health over mobile devices.

As I mentioned in a story last week, EMR vendor Practice Fusion is beta testing native mobile apps for iOS and Android. I’m curious to see the functionality and experience offered on smart phone-sized devices. I’m hoping to speak with Practice Fusion about the app later this week. Stay tuned.

Amcom receives 501(k) clearance as a class II medical device from the FDA for its Commtech Messenger service. Commtech relays clinical alerts to the appropriate wireless device.

Meridian Health, iMPak Health, T-Mobile, and Nokia partner to launch SleepTrak, a sleep monitoring system that uses near field communication (NFC). From what I can tell, a user wears a small card (Amazon – $30) on their arm. This card communicates sleep information over NFC to a specific Nokia phone, the Astound (T-Mobile stores). The phone then transmits the results over T-Mobile’s 4G network. There is also a SleepTrak app (Nokia Ovi Store) for the phone. It seems overly complicated to me.

I’m sorry but I just can’t seem to go a week without another infographic. I got this one in an email from RunKeeper, showing the rapid user growth of the company. I must say, 467% growth over the last 18 months is impressive. If you read the comments on the page, the true number of active users is closer to 1 million, not 6 million as the infographic shows, but still pretty good. Also of note, and not surprising, is that the more body metrics you track (weight, calories, sleep, etc), the more active you are (or vice versa).

A Tricare data breach affects 4.9 million armed services patients. The breach was the result of a loss of backup tapes from a military EMR. All these breaches of PHI seem to be related to hardware, either laptops and backups, making the cloud seem not so bad.

If you have a mobile health startup that meets the following three criteria, submit an application to have your company and product featured at the mHealth Summit’s Startup ‘Mobile’ Health Pavilion: 1) offer a mobile health app, product, or service; 2) be in startup or early seed stage (pre Series A); and 3) have a working prototype or demo ready to present. I’ll be at the event looking forward to seeing and reporting on the 40 winners.

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

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