News 2/4/11

In an effort to increase user adoption, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will interview experts from 15 industries outside of healthcare to try to garner best practices and recommendations for developing consumer health IT tools. AHRQ will then provide those recommendations to vendors to hopefully create more user-friendly consumer facing tools. I think creating meaningful incentives for consumers might also increase adoption rates.


With this AHRQ news comes a timely announcement from Massive Health, a San Francisco startup, that it has secured $2.25 million in investment to build mobile applications to help patients suffering from chronic diseases. The company is somewhat vague on what it will specifically develop, but the core team brings a good amount of user experience and interface know-how from other industries. The article made Massive sound like Healthrageous, but I’m not sure if this is accurate or not.


Speaking of Healthrageous and incentives, the company has a new white paper which lays out four key design principles for creating effective incentive programs to change behavior and improve health. The link from the blog post to the actual white paper didn’t work for me, but the post sums up the principles, which are: 1) reward behavior change and support continuous achievement; 2) ensure objective validation; 3) complement with intrinsic motivations; and 4) secure user input, evaluate, and change course as needed.

As I mentioned earlier this week in reference to Epocrates, all graduating med students rely on smart phones for clinical rotations. This article talks about nursing students increasingly relying on smart phones as well for access to reference materials and other necessary repositories of data.


Another personalized mobile health service that uses incentives, Vitality Personal Pathways, announces the release of an iPhone app, Vitality Activity Tracker.  The mobile app tracks activity by GPS and WiFi, uploading the data to member accounts  Vitality provides incentives, by way of the Vitality Mall, for meeting certain personalized milestones and targets.

pMDsoft updates its mobile charge capture app so that users can now seamlessly transition between an iPad and iPhone, with updates automatically reflected between the devices. Charge capture, along with CPOE, is predicted to be one of the main features that will increase adoption of mobile technology by clinicians in the future. Today, adoption is mostly driven by data access.

The clinical decision support system Isabel, which can be integrated into an EMR, will soon be available on Apple and Android mobile devices.


Epocrates officially announces IPO pricing with 5,360,000 offered at $16/share. Epocrates provides mobile reference tools to clinicians.    

Integris Health (OK) is another health provider that is getting USDA telemedicine money. The grant to Integris is meant to provide education and expand health services to rural communities, specifically speech therapy and telestroke.

Doctor’s Express of Dallas, an urgent care facility, signs with Healthagen for premium location listings in Healthagen’s iTriage mobile app. Another urgent care provider, Lourdes After Hours (LA), also announces a partnership with Healthagen. iTriage provides symptom checking and facility information.


NorthShore University Health Systems (IL) has two iPhone apps geared towards patients. One provides facility information and the ability to call facilities from the app while the other is MyChart, from Epic, which provides patients access to portions of their medical records.

In the battle for tablet supremacy, Apple’s iPad is winning on fronts other than coolness. A recent study finds that the iPad had a 2% return rate while 13% of Samsung Galaxy customers were returning their devices.           

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

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