News 8/24/11

DrLyle added a good deal to my post on PatientsLikeMe in his comment. He discussed the case of the network collecting data to discover that lithium didn’t really help in ALS, as well as the reasons why the site is focused on niche diseases. He went on to write in, with regard to PatientsLikeMe: 

Very, very cool stuff you’d never find on a WebMD community, and shows the power of a PHR/social network/data analytics engine IN THE RIGHT SETTING… and the key is they were smart to find the right setting. I don’t know if they will be able to easily expand outside that setting – will Diabetics ever give the intense level of data required? My hunch is it would only be a few – there is a big difference in motivation when you are simply dealing with a long-standing disease vs. knowing you might die from it in the next year.

Perfectly stated, and I agree with his hunch that diabetics will not simply flock to PatientsLikeMe to enter data and connect with other diabetics. There needs to be something more to drive patients with longstanding disease — ease (or automation) of data entry is only one piece of the puzzle. Lots of money is going into creative solutions for this problem.

Denis Baker writes:

Mobility apps remind me of apps on Windows V3.0 – there is no communication between them, that I am aware. (e.g. passing logon data on to the next app you access like CCOW in another world.) They obviously interact with whatever platform OS they are running on, but not each other. Is there any discussion or development around this? Thanks.

Good points and comparison, Denis. I think Microsoft HealthVault is gunning to be the data source with its open API and support of mobile, at least Windows Phone 7. To my knowledge, though, the only app that is doing this on HealthVault is Akvelon’s Health Guard. With this solution, users might still use one app for data entry and then Health Guard for aggregated views and analysis. It’s not really app-to-app (a2a) communication, as described by Denis, which is being done by non-health apps. Other insight is welcome. 

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HP announces a massive restructuring effort to remove itself almost completely from the consumer technology business. It will stop making tablets (which it just started making) and smart phones by October and will spin off or sell its PC division. Questions remain about WebOS, the HP-branded version of Palm OS that HP acquired last year for $1.8 billion. My favorite quote from the article is about Apple: "Apple singlehandedly knocked HP out of the PC, smart phone, and tablet business".

Mobile messaging company mobileStorm, which entered healthcare with the launch of its "mobileStorm for Healthcare" HIPAA-compliant messaging platform in May, releases a guide for "mobile enabling" healthcare. According to mobileStorm’s website, Humana and Kaiser are featured clients.

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Healthcare communications firm Ignite Health acquires mobile development firm Syndicated Methods to increase Ignite’s mobile capabilities. The acquisition includes MobilePipes, a mobile development platform meant to make the process of developing mobile services and apps faster and easier, especially on multiple devices.

The 15 winners of Broadband Adoption Model eHealth Communities Awards are announced. The awards are meant to showcase communities as models of the use of technology and telecommunications in healthcare, using the California Telehealth Network. The average award is $300,000 and each winner gets $50,000 to hire "eHealth trainer/project managers."


I somehow missed the release of Kaiser’s KP Locator app a few weeks ago. The app (free) allows users to find Kaiser facilities and contact info. It has 62 positive reviews in Apple’s App Store. I was about to write something about how basic it, is but I just tried it, and as a regrettably former Kaiser patient, I would have loved this when I was a member. I was able to quickly locate specialty department numbers instead of calling and bouncing around operators and menus on the phone. Next steps should be Member Profiles and appointment scheduling, but this is a good first app with functionality that people probably want.

The VA issues a 22-page statement on staff use of social media, drawing a clear distinction between personal and professional use. The statements calls for the appointment of dedicated staff at each facilities to manage what will soon become over 150 Facebook pages and Twitter feeds VA wide.

The above video introduces the new Echo Prelude continuous glucose monitoring system. The system is designed for ICU and diabetic patients, neither of which is represented very well by the model demonstrating the wearable device. Echo is awaiting FDA approval.

A new report, Global Mobile Health Applications Market 2010-2014, predicts that the market for mHealth apps will grow by a CAGR of 24% through 2014. The main driver is expected to be remote monitoring, with the main limiters of growth being security and accuracy. Reimbursement, though not mentioned, is probably a valid limiter of the mHealth and remote monitoring market as well. The report includes a SWOT analysis that includes Apple, Allscripts, Epocrates, GE, and Voxiva.

iPad EHR vendor drchrono raises an additional $650,000, on top of the $675,000 it raised in July. It also launches an iPad-based, integrated patient check-in app, which intakes basic information directly from the patient on medical history and insurance. It also does HIPAA consents.

Does the recent Google acquisition of Motorola open the door for Google to re-enter healthcare using Motorola’s existing healthcare clients? While it’s hard to rule anything out, especially if you’re a radiologist, I don’t think Google is going to leverage this purchase to move into healthcare.

I light of the recent fitness app post I wrote, here’s an interesting and timely comparison of several fitness tracking tools. The article walks through BodyMedia Fit, FitBit, RunKeeper, and the Withings Wifi Body Scale. The conclusion: Withings and RunKeeper are the ideal combination for the author, whose main form of exercise is jogging.


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

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