News 4/14/12

Thanks for the comments on my last post about pagers vs. smart phone apps for clinical communications. I’m working on a follow-up on the subject.


Allscripts formally announces the release of Wand, its native iPad app for Allscripts professional and Enterprise. The idea is to offer easy access to the tasks clinicians do most in EMRs. Also part of the value Allscripts is touting is data displays that can help clinicians have discussions with patients. I haven’t tested it yet, so I’d be curious to hear feedback from clinician users not included in the press release.

In May, the VA is very likely to eliminate one of the barriers to veterans receiving telecare at home – co-payments for the virtual service. This hopefully will spur increased usage of home-based telecare by veterans and save the VA some money.


I’ve grown to be a fan of GreatCall, the mobile company focused on solutions for the elderly. I’m not really sure why, especially as I still describe it as mobile phones with big buttons. Maybe simple phones with big buttons — and some other specialty connected devices — have grown on me. GreatCall just announced LiveNurse for iPhone. The app and service ($3.99/month) enables users to access nurses 24 hours a day. It also includes the A.D.A.M medical education content. The $3.99 has to just be the subscription with additional cost for usage, right? I can’t see that anywhere on the website.

I’ve written before about mobile device management and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies for health systems. This article, while not specific to healthcare, is a much more informed opinion about the “unstoppable momentum” of BYOD that will cause mobile to be the transformative force in enterprise IT over the next decade.

US physicians lag behind physicians in other parts of the world in terms of using social media to engage colleagues and patients. On the surface, I imagine payment models and medical-legal reasons hold the US back.

The New York Times has a story outlining five companies “pushing” transformation in healthcare in the US. Each company is broken down by idea, how it works, and business model. AirStrip and ZocDoc are the most obvious choices, but Telcare, Avado, and ClickCare are also included.


The Microsoft HealthBlog has a story about a sponsored pilot using Kinect games and HealthVault to improve the health of seniors. It’s an interesting concept and I’m excited to see more programs like this. Who doesn’t love the idea of bowling on Kinect or Wii to improve health?

More games for health news, which I love. This article has a lot of good examples of how payers are using games to engage members and improve health. Some, like Cigna’s deal with DailyFeats, I hadn’t heard about.


I admit I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Fooducate (or apps like it) for nutrition tracking. I personally would never use them but thankfully for Fooducate, I’m the not the target audience –75% of users are female. Fooducate scans barcodes, grades the scanned foods, and offers alternatives, all based on the nutritional content and ingredients. Basically it makes ingredient lists meaningful. Fooducate has over a million downloads of its mobile app and 500,000 people use its mobile or web apps every week. It’s not Instagram growth, but very impressive for a health app. I’m curious how Fooducate does monetizing this with mobile ads.


Surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital (MI) are using iPads and FaceTime for “telerounding.” That’s a new term for me and I sort of like it. Patients are given iPads and, with the assistance of a medical team member at the bedside, can do live video chat with surgeons using FaceTime. I assume surgeons could use an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer, but the story says iPad. I think this would make docs happy, especially those that have traditionally had to round at different places and also see patients at an outpatient clinic.

The California Telehealth Network (CTN) gets a donation of $700,000 from UnitedHealthcare. United previously donated $600,000 to CTN. The grant is meant to improve CTN’s technical and programmatic support. Interestingly, and maybe not surprisingly, only 20% of CTN locations have on-site IT.

With the Instagram purchase this week, I felt compelled to include one of the many articles about the new power and value of mobile. This is one of the better ones that I read and it outlines business models built solely on mobile.


I read this article a few weeks ago about Apple clawing back market share lost to Android over the last year. The reasons:  1) iPhones for Sprint and Verizon; 2) low-priced iPhones (old models); 3) broadened distribution for Apple (Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy); and 4) Apple’s costs are now the same as alternatives.

In related good news for Apple, a survey of over 5,000 high school students finds that 34% of them now own an iPhone, up from 17% last year. I haven’t been in high school for a while, but this seems incredibly high to me based on the cost of data plans for iPhones. The same survey found that 34% of high school students own a tablet and 70% of those tablets are iPads


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

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