News 9/7/11

The Yale School of Medicine is buying its 520 medical students iPads. and in the process. upping its coolness standing with students nationwide. It claims the purchase will,break even at worst over time since Yale spends $100,000 each year, not including labor, to print class materials for first- and second-year students. That’s astounding, even though I remember getting reams of paper every week or so during those first two years. So nice to be Apple these days.

Is the iPad too big for medicine, and do providers need a smaller version? Despite Apple’s insistence that it won’t build a different-sized tablet, a 7-inch iPad might be worth considering for doctors. I’m still of the opinion that the iPad is sized just right, but white coats need to be upgraded to accommodate.

Speaking of 7-inch tablets, Amazon is planning a Kindle Tablet. This is a departure from most of the failing iPad competitors in that Amazon is not trying to compete with the iPad, but instead is trying to fill the gap between the Kindle and iPad with a trimmed down tablet optimized for e-reading and multimedia. The rumored $250 price point is certainly attractive and Amazon has its own app store. Healthcare functionality is unknown, but the Kindle Tablet will be built on Android,  so it might make a cheap patient education and check-in tool.

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Verizon launches Verizon Universal Identity Services-Healthcare, which provides security and identity capabilities to customers who use Verizon’s hosted healthcare services. The new services are accessible on Apple, Android, and BlackBerry mobile devices.

A new report says that a fourth of US adults use mobile devices for directions or local recommendations. This is very good news for organizations like iTriage and ZocDoc that provide location-based healthcare information and resources.

Do you have a great mobile health idea that "goes beyond the hospital and clinic and into the day-to-day lives of patients, helping them maintain health and wellness, age independently, and manage chronic conditions"? If so, the Center for Connected Health is seeking submissions for its 2011 Symposium Innovators Challenge.

A New York Times article introduces readers to mHealth. Lots of high tech stuff is presented, such as wireless patches (above). Reimbursement is seen as the major limiter.

A report finds that 40% of adult mobile phone users have smart phones, with Android leading the way at 40%, followed by the iPhone at 28% and BlackBerry at 19%. From that, I infer that developing mobile apps for Apple and Android phones will only reach about a quarter of the US adult population. I would also presume that the 25% of the population those apps can reach is disproportionately healthy.

After releasing an iPhone app last fall, medical documentation platform vendor MD-IT releases iConnect for Android. The app allows user to access MD-IT EMR and scheduling data remotely.

I came across this study that will be present later this month at the Medicine 2.0 conference at Stanford. It looked at using SMS to target medication adherence to improve health literacy and clinical outcomes (A1C) in an underserved population. It sounds like one message is going to be sent each day to participants with "it’s that time" as the content. This message was chosen because it is de-identified, so I’m curious who is going to come up as the sender of messages and whether the ambiguity might raise more questions.

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

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