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Is The Future of Smart Clothing Modular or Integrated?

Posted on September 4, 2014 I Written By

Kyle is Founder and CEO of Pristine, a company in Austin, TX that develops telehealth communication tools optimized for Google Glass in healthcare environments. Prior to founding Pristine, Kyle spent years developing, selling, and implementing electronic medical records (EMRs) into hospitals. He also writes for EMR and HIPAA, TechZulu, and Svbtle about the intersections of healthcare, technology, and business. All of his writing is reproduced at kylesamani.com

OMSignal recently raised $10M to build sensors into smart clothes. Sensoria recently raised $5M in pursuit of the same mission, albeit using different tactics. Meanwhile, Apple hired the former CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, to lead its retail efforts.

And Google is pushing Android Wear in a major way, with significant adoption and uptake by OEMs.

There’re two distinct approaches that are evolving in the smart clothing space. OMSignal, Sensoria, and Apple are taking a full-stack, vertical approach. OMSignal and Sensoria are building sensors into clothing and selling their own clothes directly to consumers. Although Apple hasn’t announced anything to compete with OMSignal or Sensoria, it’s clear they’re heading into the smart clothing space in traditional Apple fashion with the launch of Health, the impending launch of the iWatch, and the hiring of Angela Ahrendts.

Google, on the other hand, is licensing Android Wear to OEM vendors in traditional Google fashion: by providing the operating system and relevant Google Services to OEMs who can customize and configure and compete on retail and marketing. Although Google is yet to announce partnerships with any more traditional clothing vendors, it’s inevitable that they’ll license Android Wear to more traditional fashion brands that want to produce smart, sensor-laden clothing.

Apple’s vertically-integrated model is powerful because it allows Apple to pioneer new markets that require novel implementations utilizing intertwined software and hardware. Pioneering a new factor is especially difficult when dealing with separate hardware and software vendors and all of the associated challenges: disparate P&Ls, different visions, and unaligned managerial mandates. However, once the new form factor is understood, modular hardware and software companies can quickly optimize each component to drive down costs and create new choices for consumers. This approached has been successfully played out in the PC, smartphone, and tablet form factors.

Apple’s model is not well-suited to being the market leader in terms of raw volume. Indeed, Apple optimizes towards the high end, not the masses and this strategy has served them well. But it will be interesting to see how they, along with other vertically integrated smart-clothing vendors, approach the clothing market. Fashion is already an established industry that is predicated on variety, choice, and personalization; these traits are the antithesis of the Apple model. There’s no way that 20% or even 10% of the population will wear t- shirts, polos, tank tops, dresses, business clothes, etc., (which I’ll collectively call the “t-shirt market”) made by a single company. No one company can so single-handedly dominate the t-shirt market. People simply desire too many choices for that to happen.

OMSignal and Sensoria don’t need to worry about this problem as much as Apple since they’re targeting niche use cases in fitness and health. However, as they scale and set their sites on the mass consumer market, they will need to figure out a strategy to drive massive personalization. Apple, given its scale and brand, will need to address the personalization problem in the t- shirt market before they enter it.

The t-shirt market is going to be exciting to watch over the coming decades. There are enormous opportunities to be had. Let the best companies win!

Feel free to a drop a comment with how you think the market will play out. Will the startups open up their sensors to 3rd party clothing companies? Will Apple? How will Google counteract?

Around Healthcare Scene: EMRs and Health Technology Talk

Posted on March 10, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

EMRs are supposed to increase efficiency and patient care. However, because of the amount of data they contain, sometimes the opposite happens. Anne Zieger discusses a recent report in Modern Healthcare, which talks about how nearly 30 percent of PCPs claim that they missed notifications of test results, leading to a delay in care, thanks to the over-abundance of information the EMR collects.

Would the use of mHealth technology such as tablets and smart phones cause harm like this as well? We’re sure to find out soon with mobile technology advancing among providers. Research shows that some providers are “gradually shifting their use of smart mobile devices from business functions like e-mail and scheduling to a much wider range of activities. Be sure to read some of Anne’s thoughts on the matter, and find out if this growth will continue at this pace.

And speaking of tablets, around 4,000 home care staff will be receiving a brand new Android tablet. Bayada, a national home care agency has recently sent out Samsung Galaxy Tabs to therapists, medical social workers and other home health professionals. Considering the fact that iPads are often the tablet of choice, this was an interesting move. The workers can document information while at a patient’s home, as well pull up data before going to the house. Will more healthcare providers be taking on the Android tablets, because of their lower cost? Chime in over at Hospital EMR and EHR.

There’s always some kind of new app being created to help people keep track of their health. Now, people can use uChek, an at-home urinanalysis, to keep their health in check. The mobile app, along with the uChek kits, allow people to test their urine for a variety of different markers. While it shouldn’t be used to replace a necessary visit to the doctor’s office, it could help prevent certain issues from getting worse by catching them early on.

With all this talk of technology in the healthcare world, one might wonder how it affects patient engagement. We recently switched pediatricians for my house, and while the last office was very tech savvy, this new office doesn’t have a computer in the offices, they give out paper prescriptions, and they have paper files. And to be honest, I love this office way more because of how personal the visit was, with no technology to distract the doctor. At our old office, the doctor stood far away from us, only looked at the computer the majority of the time, and it just wasn’t personal. However, because a lot of the mHealth technology does a lot of good, Dr. West over at the Happy EMR Doctor has some suggestions. He has created a list of 7 tips to help improve EHR etiquette, and this is definitely something all healthcare providers should follow. Just because there’s technology, doesn’t mean the importance of patient engagement should disappear as well.

How Serious Is the Security Threat to Connected Medical Devices?

Posted on June 23, 2011 I Written By

I’m in New York City this week for the second Mobile Health Expo, which wrapped up Thursday afternoon. You may have seen the story I wrote for InformationWeek based on one session related to the security of networked medical devices.

Since I just do news and not commentary for InformationWeek, I figured EMR and HIPAA—specifically, the HIPAA part— was the perfect forum to discuss a small controversy that I may have stirred up with that story.

The two presenters from Indianapolis-based security firm eProtex talked about how connected medical devices have recently been popping up all over the place. “As little as two years ago, we checked some hospitals and found that there was less than one networked clinical device per bed,” eProtex Executive Director Earl Reber said.

With network connection and exposure to the Internet came heightened threats from viruses and malware, both internal and external, Reber and eProtex Chief Security Officer Derek Brost said. Sometimes it’s because devices are so old that they still run DOS and simply weren’t built for the HIPAA era. Other times, the greater reliance on various versions of Windows makes medical devices vulnerable to attacks.

Often, Brost said, hospitals are trying to protecting the wrong assets. “It’s not the actual medical device in most cases [that is at risk]. It’s the individual patient’s health information,” he said.

All this makes a lot of sense, though it is important to note that the warnings are coming from a security vendor with a real interest in selling products and services to prevent and combat insidious threats to medical equipment and other connected devices such as smartphones and tablets.

This was not lost on at least one person, “ZigZagZeke.” In a comment titled “Ignorance,” this poster said in no uncertain terms:

The speaker is using scare tactics to try to make sales of his protection software. Makers of such software are desperately trying to convince people that their Apple products need protection, because as more and more users switch to Apple, sales of anti-virus software are declining. This use of scare tactics is know by an acronym: FUD, which stands for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” It is the speaker’s only hope.

I suspect some of the criticism was directed at me for not differentiating between malware and viruses or between Linux/Unix/Macintosh and Windows.

Did I screw up here by not pressing the speakers on these differences, or are Apple devices and operating systems becoming just as vulnerable to data corruption as Windows? Windows became a prime target not just because of security holes, but because of its ubiquity. Now, the iPad and iPhone seem to rule at least the physician market. Wouldn’t that critical mass put Apple iOS in the crosshairs of a growing number of hackers and malware spreaders?

So what’s the real story here? As devices get connected to EMRs and hospital networks and produce more protected health information (PHI), should healthcare providers be concerned about greater HIPAA liability? If so, where should they focus prevention efforts?

iPad EMR

Posted on April 8, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

EMR and EHR has been getting a ton of traffic related to my posts on the iPad EMR. It’s a really interesting discussion that I think people that love technology and EMR will enjoy. I have no doubt that the interface that the iPad is helping to promote and develop is going to have a major impact on healthcare. Not that everyone will have an iPad in healthcare, but that the technology behind it will be copied and we’ll see lots of interesting documentation methods for EMR software.

Dr. Larry Nathanson, MD from BIDMC seems to disagree with me in his writeup about his experience using the iPad in an Emergency Room. However, what I found most interesting about his writeup is his comments about the challenges of the iPad.

The first was how well it will hold up in a clinical environment. The iPad doesn’t seem to be the most rugged device and clinics like to abuse devices (from my experience). The second was the challenge that plagues all tablets: difficulty entering strong passwords. between the numbers, symbols and mixed case, it’s harder to enter these passwords on a device like the iPad. Is biometrics the solution to that?

What do you all think about the iPad and EMR? Will we see an iPad only EMR develop into a real power player in the industry?

Body of Medical Knowledge Too Complex for the Human Mind

Posted on May 20, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a recent comment, Steven suggested that an EMR and HIT in general might be necessary because the volume of medical knowledge is so large and complex that it’s too complex for the human mind. Here’s a short section of his comment:

Another set of reasons to adopt EMR, and sooner rather than later, are the reasons that are beyond the horizon. With the rate of change continuing to accelerate in the health care industry, along with our body of medical knowledge, I see a day where a person’s care plan is simply going to be too complex for a human brain alone to work out all the contributing factors. Sometimes I think we’ve already reached that point and haven’t quite realized it yet.

I absolutely love this concept of the body of medical knowledge being “too complex” for us to work it all out on our own. The idea that we need good clinical decision support systems, EMR and other technology we might not have even developed is really intriguing to me. Reminds me of my previous post about not knowing the true benefits of EMR.

The basic concept being that we won’t know the real benefits of EHR adoption until we have a platform for smart people to be really creative. Think about the Apple iPhone. If you look at the creativity that’s come out of the iPhone platform, it’s amazing. However, we would have never seen all this creativity until the platform was adopted in a broad way.

I believe that being able to managing and delivering all the medical knowledge out there is going to be one of those long term benefits we can’t realize until we have broad EMR adoption.