News 5/25/11


Ford announces that it will be experimenting with health apps integrated into its cars.  They’ve signed a partnership agreement with WellDoc, which makes disease management platforms.  The funny thing as I read the opening of the story was that I assumed the driver in the story veering across lanes was doing so because he was looking at a graph of his glucose readings instead of the road.  It ends up the driver was slumped over the wheel of his car. I really don’t believe that an integrated health app would have prevented that.

Healthcare marketing organization CPM announces  a predictive model to identify smart phone users for targeting messaging.  Once identified, hospitals can target promotion of smart phone apps to users. I guess CPM hopes it is the developer of those mobile apps.


More on the federal investigation of Google for allegedly allowing illegal pharmacies to advertise on its services, for which Google has apparently set aside $500 million to settle.  A WSJ story details how Google was warned repeatedly about this problem but did not address or resolve it.


Voalte signs an agreement with the industries favorite, just-went-public, mHealth champion  Epocrates.  The deal enables Voalte to offer hospital customers the option to purchase the Epocrates drug and clinical reference application for smart phones that are already being used for Voalte’s clinical communications platform.  This is an interesting extension by Voalte as they clearly realize owning the smart phone platform for clinical users enables them to resell other applicable tools for the platform.  I wondering how this works with Apple’s in-app purchase and subscription policy?  Either way, it’s exciting to see Voalte extend its functionality through validated third party applications.

Mobile health app adoption is being driven by both patients and doctors.  That is definitely true, but my favorite quote is this one: “I see an app for my condition. Is there a chance to include it in my treatment plan so I don’t have to come in all the time?” I’m not sure how most doctors would react to that, especially if they are liable for endorsing random health apps.


Verizon and Medco partner to launch Medco Pharmacy mobile app for Verizon’s Android and Blackberry devices.  The app helps Medco PBM members find less expensive drug options, sends reminders, identifies harmful interactions, and provides access to member benefit information.

Project ECHO, which links specialists at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center with rural providers, has provided more than 10,000 consultations, mostly in the evaluation and management of hepatitis C patients.  This paper speaks to the success of the program, but also the need to change reimbursement policies if the model is going to be scaled.  To date, the project has been funded by ~$9 million in grants.

The above video is an advertisement for Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s iPhone app.  What is interesting to me is not the app itself, which was released last December, but that the advertisement is being shown in movie theaters before previews start.  I’ve never seen that advertising medium use before for a hospital app, but it seems like a good approach as it’s a perfect time for bored movie-goers to download apps.

A study conducted on the use of interactive voice response (IVR) for diabetic patients in Honduras finds fairly low numbers for active participation, but overall improvements in health awareness and A1c.  The system used cloud-based calling technology to minimize cost.

To meet the growing demand of college students needing mental health screenings and services, more colleges are turning to online questionnaires to evaluate and identify high risk patients.  I was surprised to read that a fourth of college students sought mental health services last year. 

Lake Chelan Community Hospital (WA) gets a $487,000 grant from the USDA to expand its telemedicine services.

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

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