News 3/4/11

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Lots of news from Apple this week, with the official unveiling (also here) of the iPad 2. The new iPad comes in a smaller form factor, dual-facing cameras, double the processor speed, identical pricing and memory, improved graphics, and similar battery life. The cameras allow you to use FaceTime for video conferencing, which is a nice touch for telemedicine and consultations. Another cool part of the announcement was the new Smart Cover for the iPad, a magnetic cover that protects the screen, wakes the device when opened, and acts as stand. iPad 2 orders can be placed starting next Friday.

More good news for Apple’s iPad: a survey finds that physicians overwhelmingly name the iPad as their tablet of choice, with 79% of respondents choosing the iPad over Windows and Android-based tablets at 12% and 9%, respectively.  

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Fast Company ranks Voxiva (text4baby) the 40th most innovative company in the world for “encouraging good health via mobile apps”. They were ranked third in the mobile category, just ahead of Skype.  Voxiva recently launched two new mobile health programs, one for diabetes management and one to help people quit smoking.

Microsoft Windows Phone Health and Life Sciences Development Contest is looking for the best mobile health apps built for Windows Phone 7. Winners will get an Xbox with Kinect. From the site: “We are looking for the top ten amazing health and life science Windows Phone 7 applications for business and personal health use to be made available on Windows Marketplace!”

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A new smartphone app system developed at Massachusetts General Hospital, linked to a mini MRI, is shown to accurately diagnose stomach cancer from a tissue sample. The device is cheaper, faster, and more accurate than the current methods.

Computerworld has a story on why eICU works and is needed. It’s a little vendor-heavy, with Philips providing much of the content. According to the article, 10% of adult ICU patients last year were eICU patients. Also, 500 new eICU beds were added nationwide last year.

A new wireless fetal monitor developed in the UK is cleared for use by the FDA. The monitor apparently differs from current monitors in that it collects its data from signals received by electrodes and not physical changes. I guess this means L&D suites can now look forward to having to track down more patients walking around and not tied to their rooms.  

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A new study concludes that US hospitals are not using Facebook to its full potential to engage patients, build brand, and develop care communities. I was actually impressed that the study found 6% of hospitals had over 10,000 Facebook fans, but those 6% were probably mostly children’s hospitals, which the study found to be more skilled at Facebook use. I have to agree that Facebook is a great place to engage people and patients, but there are just too many privacy concerns for most healthcare organizations to even consider it.

Remote monitoring and management company BL Healthcare, which has recently announced partnerships with both Sprint and Verizon, completes its most recent financing round, with Verizon as one of the investors.

Central Baptist Hospital (KY) releases its iPhone app with facility information, health tracking tools, and a physician directory.

Voalte, which hopes to double its number of employees in 2011, hires a former Ritz Carlton exec as user experience manager. They plan to better manage their field employees, a group which is growing as they assign one employee to each hospital site to manage the relationship.

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The NIH announces The NIH mHealth Summer Institute for this year. The event is being co-sponsored by Qualcomm and is meant to bring together leaders in the field to learn about mHealth research.

Palomar Pomerado Health (CA) announces MIAA (Medical Information, Anytime, Anywhere), an Android-based mobile app that gives clinicians access to patient records from their phones. The app also allows for secure clinician messaging, EMR integration (Cerner, Nextgen, and VistA), and is planned to integrate NHIN Connect and Direct.

The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) begins offering ED wait times over SMS.     

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

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