Welcome to National Nurses Week and thanks to nurses out there for all the hard work! In the spirit of the week, clinical communications company Voalte is celebrating with various activities, including a Facebook storytelling competition for nurses.
According to the lead author of a recent study assessing the effectiveness of telemonitoring at reducing readmissions and ED visits, "It didn’t help at all". The data found no difference in readmissions or ED visits between the telemonitored and normal care groups. The results certainly points out the need to better assess the technologies being touted as cost lowering and utilization reducing. TeleBLANK isn’t a panacea just be virtue of having "tele" in the name. The potential is definitely there but maybe more thought needs to go into the technology intervention itself, including how to integrate both tech and human care. Either way, it’s good to have more good data. What do you think?
More telehealth data, this time on the positive side. A new study of teledentistry finds it to be effective at improving treatment of childhood tooth decay. The intervention involved both virtual consultations and education.
I thought this was incredibly cool. Researchers at UCLA develop a game where players assess images of red blood cells to determine if the cells are infected with malaria. It sounds like something meant for pathologists, but is actually designed for untrained people, using the crowdsourced responses of gamers to determine which cells actually are infected. Apparently the crowdsourced responses are about as accurate as a trained pathologist looking at the slides, which is pretty amazing to me. I think the Gates Foundation should fund a project to use CellScope or one of the other cheap, phone-based microscopes to capture images of blood cells. Feed those images into a Facebook game based on the current game being researched at UCLA, and allow Facebook users to help with a real world problem in a fun way, getting some type of public health badge in the process. Health is improved, Facebook gets a warm fuzzy, and Facebook users improve their virtual credibility.
Physician use of social media seems to be the topic of discussion everywhere these days. Is it just the news that gets through my filters, or is this becoming an increasingly central component of the doctor-patient relationship discussion? I assume it’s an indication that more and more docs are online testing the waters, as this article lays out. What’s interesting is that only 10% of medical schools have social media policies, an astoundingly low percentage given recent concerns about students and residents sharing content they shouldn’t be sharing. I think this percentage is increasing rapidly, though, as every medical school I talk to is either in the process of creating a policy or has recently created one. Hopefully the behaviors developed in med school and training will stick, though with the evolving nature of social media, technology, public health, and doctor-patient relationships, it’s likely something that will need to be relearned and modified over time.
Congrats to our sponsor Kony for being named a Visionary in Gartner’s recent report on Mobile Application Development Platforms. The report predicts that 80% of mobile apps will be hybrid or mobile web by 2015.
The VA is distributing 1,000 iPads to family caregivers to help them care for veterans at home. Approved apps, which are still in development, will feed data from caregivers back into VA systems, and I presume will connect caregivers with VA personnel. This seems like a big pilot to me. I realize the VA is huge, but maybe a pilot of 500 or 250 or even 100 might be a better way to start.
I have to admit I like researching and publishing, though I think doing it as a central part of my job would be not terribly fun. Evidence is king these days when it comes to the practice of medicine. Doing your part to grow the evidence base is important, regardless of your academic setting. I’m not just talking about what med works best, but also what tech intervention improves outcomes or lowers costs or any number of other important outcome measures. Getting off the stump, this recent review article of the effectiveness of electronic reminders for adherence found that SMS was effective at improving short-term med adherence.
Kickstarter uber-success Pebble announces that RunKeeper will be the first app installed on its platform. For those of you that haven’t heard of Pebble, it’s a smart watch that connects to your smart phone (Android and iOS) using Bluetooth to bring alerts and other data from your phone to your wrist. Pebble is also launching an SDK for developers. Pebble has raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter. My big question with Pebble is how badly will it suck the life out of my iPhone battery if I’m running Bluetooth non-stop?
Castlight Health raises an astonishing $100 million in Series D funding. I must admit I’m baffled by the numbers here, as this $100 million brings the total to $181 million raised by Castlight over the last several years. Castlight provides employers with a platform to help employees assess the cost and quality of care, giving them insight and presumably improving decision making. The press release mentions "dozens" of organizations using Castlight, but only four are listed. With this type of investment, Castlight is pushing to be the healthcare marketplace, which I imagine will probably include a goal of being a part in the health insurance exchanges supposedly coming in the next few years. This is the sort of investment that scares off competitors, especially in a category that has not been won yet.
The screen sizes of smart phones are getting bigger. I remember when five inches was a small tablet, not a smart phone. Supposedly the new iPhone is going to have a slightly larger screen, and I’m sure developers of existing apps will love the change in aspect ratio. I personally think a slightly longer screen would work well as long as the menu and screen options are well place so I don’t have to stretch to reach them.