News 6/28/11


As I’m sure everybody has heard (because it seems to be the talk on every site I go to), Google Health is dead, or at least it will be on January 1, 2012. I’m writing a post for later this week discussing the demise of Google Health in the context of the broader PHR market, so stay tuned for more.


Withings gets FDA approval for its iPhone blood pressure monitor. This is one of the products that got a lot of press earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. The device and associated app are very cool, as the video above shows, but I’m still skeptical about the uptake of something like this because I just don’t know the number of people that have iPhones and need a blood pressure cuff at home. Maybe it’s much more than I think?

American Medical News has a good story on mobile apps from payers. Most of the big payers have released apps for patients. At the bottom of the article is a good list of apps and associated functionality. Moving forward, payers intend to develop apps for providers "helping physicians communicate in a secure environment as an alternative to sending text messages, suggesting appropriate coding to ensure physicians are paid what they’re entitled to, and perhaps sending physicians messages alerting them to ‘gaps in care,’ such as when a patient is due for a mammogram."


Aging in place is close to hitting a tipping point. With big players like MIT and Intel/GE moving aggressively to build tools and services to help remotely monitor elderly patients, I think it’s true. I was impressed with a couple of the statistics in the article, namely that 71.5 million people in the US will be over 65 years old by 2030 and that one in four households provides elder care.

A new remote monitoring system from UCLA is found to improve weight and blood pressure of CHF patients. The system, called WANDA (Weight and Activity with Blood Pressure Monitoring System), does stuff with sensors and Bluetooth-connected devices, but the most interesting to me was the mobile app and SMS questionnaires used to subjectively assess patient wellbeing. This seems much more scalable but is not really covered in the abstract.


I stumbled on the graph above that shows iPad Internet traffic share compared to the rest of the tablet market. It’s rather astonishing to see the iPad represent over 95% of all tablet Internet traffic in all countries listed other than India. In the US, it is 97%.


Meducation wins the SMART Platform Apps Challenge. SMART is the Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies initiative funded by the government and run out of Harvard, which aims to create a platform of interoperable health apps. Meducation takes medication histories from the SMART platform and creates usable medication instructions in multiple languages.

ONC, American Diabetes Association, and the CDC will work with two of the Beacon Grant winners to use mobile messaging to assist and inform patients with diabetes. The two communities are New Orleans and Detroit. The program will be modeled after Text4Baby with the same technology provider, Voxiva. The jury is still out on the impact of Text4Baby.

Barriers obviously still exist for remote care and this NPR story highlights them. I’d never heard of fraud as a reason to oppose telehealth.

Thirty-seven rural health facilities in Wyoming will get high-speed connectivity courtesy of the FCC and the state’s department of health, creating a statewide telehealth network.

In related news, apparently the FCC is funding rural hospitals on a temporary basis, but hopes to change that to permanent funding with a new proposal.


Travis Good is an MD/MBA and is involved with health IT startups.

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