News 1/5/11

“I don’t care if they have an iPhone or an HTC EVO 4G, it’s my job to support that device,” says Russell P. Branzell, CIO of Poudre Valley Health System (CO), in this CMIO article. The article speaks to the increased use of mobile devices and increased adoption of mobile health applications by clinicians, most of whom bring their own brand of mobile into the enterprise. I wonder if most healthcare CIOs agree, because two I’ve spoken to recently from medium and very large health systems do no, explicitly telling me which devices would be supported in their respective environments.

The telehealth joint venture between Intel and GE, which we reported on last fall, is going live as GE Care Innovations, based in Sacramento. The new venture will focus on chronic disease management, independent living, and assistive technologies. No commercial product is available yet.

A new report suggests Apple will ship three different versions of the next iPad for different types of wireless networks, allowing for more ubiquitous connectivity than solely 3G. The report also predicts that 40 million iPad 2s will ship in 2011.  

skype

Increasing numbers of providers are using Skype and other remote services to provide video-enabled telemedicine consultations. Providers can charge the same for online visits as those conducted in person, though this will likely have to change as asynchronous (SMS, e-mail) services requiring less time are used to provide care. The article suggests the potential use of a flat monthly patient fee for all interactions.

STAT-MI program, which is funded by The Verizon Foundation, transmits ECG readings from EMTs to smart phones of physicians at University Hospital (NJ). The program has been found to shorten time to treatment by as much as 131 minutes.

Pharmaceutical giants Sanofi-Aventis and Novartis, who were the first to offer Apple mobile apps, continue their trend setting as the first big pharma companies to offer Android-based mobile apps. Novartis released an oncology-focused app for providers and a flu tracking app for consumers while Sanofil offered an app with nutritional information geared at dietary-conscience conditions like diabetes.

ZocDoc

16% of family physicians offer online appointment scheduling today versus 6% in 2005. The rapid expansion of services like ZocDoc, which operates in only four metro areas, is helping fill the demand from patients to schedule appointments. ZocDoc charges providers $250 a month. Another company the article mentions, Health In Reach, is pretty interesting to me as they offer appointment scheduling and are only paid when appointments are set, forcing patients scheduling appointments to pay a portion of the co-pay to get the appointment slot.

A new report by Pyramid Research finds mHealth as an opportunity for carriers as well as hardware and software companies to realize new revenue streams. The report also concluded that the number of mHealth apps will increase from 200,000 to 600,000 by 2012 and that 70% of people worldwide are willing to pay for mHealth applications.

Oklahoma City physician David Albert showcases a single lead ECG that is essentially a skin for the iPhone 4. The device, coined AliveCor, can analyze, store, and transmit readings. That’s pretty cool.

A similar product from iHealth is a new blood pressure monitoring system that transmits results to Apple devices. Pretty soon Apple will have to start devoting sections of the their stores to mHealth hardware.    

SutterMyChart

Sutter Health is offering Epic’s MyChart app for Apple devices to its 75,000 patients in Sonoma County, California. The app provides users with access to their medical records as well as the ability to contact providers, see upcoming appointments, and check test results.

This WSJ article features its top apps and platforms for people caring for family members. Over 7,100 of the 8,700 health-related apps out there are built for Apple devices, with Android and BlackBerry a distant second and third, respectively.               

Remote monitoring solutions developer IDEAL LIFE announces the IDEAL LIFE Health Tablet, which sounds like a home monitoring aggregator in that it collects and transmits data. It also provides the patient with access to health information and the ability to contact the provider. We recently reported about IDEAL LIFE as their products are part of a massive remote monitoring / telemed pilot in China.

UK insurer Westfield Health releases an iPhone app for users to access policy and claim information on the go. After some recent personal experience with dental insurance yearly maximums, it would be very nice to have access to balance information on my iPhone while deciding between material options for crowns. More generally, a little consumer price/cost transparency in healthcare would go a long way, though we’re at least moving that direction with startups like Castlight and solutions developers like Net.Orange.        

A study conducted in 12 countries by the London School of Economics finds 81% of those with Internet access search for health related information, but only ~25% check the source of the information they use. What was most interesting to me was that people in Russia, China, India, Mexico, and Brazil were more likely to use the Internet for health information than the US, Australia, or other European countries. The study was conducted in part because smart phones and tablets will outsell PCs by 2012, making online information more readily accessible.

 

Travis Good is in his final year of an MD/MBA program and is involved with multiple health IT startups.

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