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London Doctors Stage Protest Over Rollout Of App

Posted on April 18, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

We all know that doctors don’t take kindly to being forced to use health IT tools. Apparently, that’s particularly the case in London, where a group of general practitioners recently held a protest to highlight their problems with a telemedicine app rolled out by the National Health Service.

The doctors behind the protest are unhappy with the way the NHS structured its rollout of the smartphone app GP at Hand, which they say has created extra work and confusion among the patients.

The service, which is run by UK-based technology company Babylon Health, launched in November of last year. Using the app, patients can either have a telemedicine visit or schedule an in-person appointment with a GP’s office. Telemedicine services are available 24/7, and patients can be seen in minutes in some cases.

GP at Hand seems to be popular with British consumers. Since its launch, over 26,000 patients have registered for the service, according to the NHS.

However, to participate in the service, patients are automatically de-registered from their existing GP office when they register for GP at Hand. Many patients don’t seem to have known this. According to the doctors at the protest, they’ve been getting calls from angry former patients demanding that they be re-registered with their existing doctor’s office.

The doctors also suggest that the service gets to cherry-pick healthier, more profitable patients, which weighs down their practice. “They don’t want patients with complex mental health problems, drug problems, dementia, a learning disability or other challenging conditions,” said protest organizer Dr. Jackie Applebee. “We think that’s because these patients are expensive.” (Presumably, Babylon is paid out of a separate NHS fund than the GPs.)

Is there lessons here for US-based healthcare providers? Perhaps so.

Of course, the National Health Service model is substantially different from the way care is delivered in this country, so the administrative challenges involved in rolling out a similar service could be much different. But this news does offer some lessons to consider nonetheless.

For one thing, it reminds us that even in a system much different than ours, financing and organizing telemedicine services can be fraught with conflict. Reimbursement would be an even bigger issue than it seems to have been in the UK.

Also, it’s also of note that the NHS and Babylon Health faced a storm of patient complaints about the way the service was set up. It’s entirely possible that any US-based efforts would generate their own string of unintended consequences, the magnitude which would be multiplied by the fact that there’s no national entity coordinating such a rollout.

Of course, individual health systems are figuring out how to offer telemedicine and blend it with access to in-person care. But it’s telling that insurers with a national presence such as CIGNA or Humana aren’t plunging into telemedicine with both feet. At least none of them have seen substantial success in their efforts. Bottom line, offering telehealth is much harder than it looks.

Apple Watch and Other Apple News

Posted on September 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Yesterday you probably heard that Apple came out with the new iPhone 6, Apple Pay, and the new Apple Watch. The iPhone 6 wasn’t terribly exciting. They have some new form factors that are similar to what Samsung’s been doing with the Android and will be a pain for developers who have to deal with multiple form factors. The iPhone 6 also has a bunch more storage.

Apple Pay is an interesting announcement since it has the chance to really change the way we pay for things. I’m still torn on how retailers and consumers will adopt the technology, but it’s a big bet and could really revolutionize the way we buy things. Our phone literally could become our credit card like many have envisioned for a long time. Of course, the recent iCloud leaked celebrity nude photos was bad timing for the announcement that Apple wants you to use your iPhone as your credit card. In reality, they are two very different security issues, but for the consumer that will get lost in the discussion.

The bigger news from a health standpoint is the Apple Watch (they chose not to go with the iWatch name). As you’d expect from Apple, the design is beautiful and well thought out. They’ve added a scroll wheel on the side to do things like zoom and also can be pressed to go to the home screen. Hard to say how functional this feature really will be until we get a chance to try it.

The Apple Watch does have some health features, but it basically feels like a Fitbit, Fuelband (discontinuted), or Jawbone on your arm. It does have a heart rate sensor and accelerometor. I thought they’d probably announce more health features. So, that was a disappointment. Maybe they are working on other health features, but they didn’t announce them. The Apple Watch doesn’t come out until early 2015 and will have a $349 price point.

I expect that many will buy the Apple Watch, but they’ll do it more for the status of the watch than the functionality. The smartwatch space hasn’t done all that great. Will the Apple Watch change that dynamic? It doesn’t feel like enough for me to want to go back to wearing a watch. Apple is leading with style and so they’ll get some uptake, but I’d like to see a little more substance.

Apple Health and HealthKit – I’m Extremely Skeptical

Posted on June 4, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Everyone is buzzing over the latest announcement from Apple at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) that an Apple Health app and HealthKit (for healthcare developers) will be included in the latest iOS release (iOS8). The announcement was a little weak for me because it had already been leaked that the announcement was coming and also because the details of what it will do are really glossed over.

Whenever I hear an announcement without many details I start to wonder if it’s just vaporware right now. I think it is in this case. Instead of Apple offering a healthcare product that they know people need and will use, it feels like they’ve seen the growth of the health tracker and wearables market and they’re just throwing something out there to see if it works.

This HuffPo article compared the Apple HealthKit to what Apple did in iTunes. That’s so out of touch with the reality of healthcare apps. Music is a simple thing (not the rights part, but the usage part) that everyone understands. If you give them the music, then the consumer can go to town with it. Health data is much more complex.

The reality of health data is that it often has little value without some sort of outside expert analysis. This becomes even more important when you start mixing multiple sources of data into one interface like Apple will be doing with HealthKit. Sure, if Apple was focused on making all of the data they collected from all these third parties into smart, actionable data, then I’d be really excited. However, they’re not doing this at all. They’re just going to be a dumb platform that anyone can connect to and the smartest thing it will do is send you a notification. However, the outside application will have to prompt it to even do that.

I don’t think that Apple HealthKit is all bad. Maybe it will make it easier for developers to code their application once and then be able to connect their application to any blood pressure cuff out there. If they can do that, it would provide a lot of value to entrepreneurs in the space. However, it won’t transform health as we know it the way some people are describing it.

I also love people propping up the names of the Mayo Clinic and Epic. Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault had some similar names as well. How are they doing? A name doesn’t mean you’ll get a result.

The Epic name is interesting. However, I’m not very confident that bringing one closed garden together with another closed garden is really going to produce a lot of results. I’ll get back to you when I actually see them announce what they’re really doing together. Until then, this just feels like Epic and Apple had dinner together and said that it would be great if they could work together. If they had more, they sure didn’t talk about it on stage. So, I’m skeptical of what will really come out of the partnership.

What’s Next for Smartphone Innovation?

Posted on November 13, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

GigaOm recently reported that Apple is working on a curved screen smartphone and pressure-sensitive touch censors for future iPhones.

Samsung had already announced a curved screen smartphone as is demonstrated in this video:

As I think about these new smartphone innovations, I don’t see anything real game changing with this technology. Certainly I understand that the biggest game changers in technology are often when a company combines a bunch of relatively innocuous innovations into one tight package. I believe the iPhone is the perfect example of this principle.

With that said, I have to feel a little disappointed by even the small innovations that are coming out in the latest smartphones. Bigger screens, curved glass, and pressure sensitive sensors don’t do much for me. I’d love to hear what you think about the pace of smartphone innovation. What could they innovate that would really be a game changing innovation for healthcare?

The hardware piece aside, I think on the smartphone software side there is still a ton of potential for innovation coming very soon. We’ll see where it takes us. I’m not expecting huge hardware innovation in smartphones anytime soon. When it comes to eyewear computing like Google Glass, that’s a different story.

Apple’s October 22nd Mac and iPad Event – What’s Coming?

Posted on October 16, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

I was excited to read this Techcrunch article on the next Apple event that is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22nd in San Francisco. Of course, Apple always tries to keep their announcements private, but the tech press has done a good job getting the leaks just the same. So, I was interested to see what might be coming out of Apple.

The unfortunate part of the Techcrunch post is that there was no game changers listed in the post. Basically, a little bit faster, a nicer screen, better resolution, and a small change in weight. None of those really impact how you use the device. Sure, they’re all nice and in aggregate we gain some benefit, but it’s nothing that will change how we’re using the devices today.

Of course, Techcrunch was just trying to guess what Apple’s going to announce. So, I hope that they’re totally wrong. I hope that Apple comes out with a cool wristband technology that changes the way we consider the battle for the wrist. Something new and different. Sure, there are some apps that are limited by the processing power of a phone or by the screen resolution, but all of that will come.

Anyone else have predictions on what Apple could announce that would provide an amazing opportunity for healthcare?

iPhone Fingerprint Recognition and Healthcare

Posted on September 16, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Many people I read were disappointed by the latest announcements coming out of Apple and particularly with their new “inexpensive” iPhone. It turns out it’s not that inexpensive and seems to show a lack of understanding on Apple’s part of the inexpensive smart phone market. This tidbit aside, I was quite interested in the announcement of the iPhone fingerprint recognition that’s built into the “home” button on the iPhone. Here’s a description of this feature from the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine:

With the introduction of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint recognition, there is no longer an excuse not to have a “passcode” (this time in the form of a fingerprint) on your smartphone. The new Apple iPhone 5S has a fingerprint recognition module built into the “home” button on the iPhone. After registering your finger print, simply touching the home screen button will unlock the device for you seamlessly. Should the phone be lost, without your fingerprint, the contents of the device will be secure.

iPhone Fingerprint Recognition - TouchID

I recently discussed in detail various possible options for biometrics in healthcare. The smartphone is another place where we’re likely to see more and more biometric integration. As is discussed in the comments of that post, there are still security challenges with biometrics, but I still believe that overall it’s more secure.

In healthcare we still have that thing called 2 factor authentication. However, this integrated fingerprint recognition on the iPhone home screen sure makes one factor of the authentication quite easy. Of course, this assumes that in fact the iPhone fingerprint recognition works well. I hope and expect that it will work well, but you never know until the device hits the market.

Apple hasn’t yet made the fingerprint recognition feature available to other iPhone applications, but I expect they’ll make that happen sooner rather than later. I’m sure many in healthcare will utilize that feature in their applications.

Which Type of Cell Phone Do You Use?

Posted on August 28, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Today my sister was evaluating the various types of cell phones out there. I told her a couple of options that she couldn’t go wrong with, but it prompted me to wonder which types of cell phones readers of this site use. Sure, I could look at the stats for the website, but that would just be people who read the site on their cell phone. No doubt many read it from tablets, desktops, laptops, emails, and feed readers.

I look forward to seeing the results.


The Categories of mHealth

Posted on August 27, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

mHealth (or mobile health if you prefer) is such a broad area. Not only can it include every aspect of healthcare, but it also has no geographic, economic, or cultural barriers. You might remember that I wrote previously about various categories of mobile health apps. I think there are also 3 categories of mHealth communities. While there is some overlap, I think it’s interesting to look at each communities unique assets.

Smart Phone User, Developed Country – This category of mHealth user has a smart phone and almost always has internet access. If they don’t have their smart phone, they’re in front of a laptop or computer, they’re holding a tablet, they’re always on and always connected. Internet access and electricity are generally not a problem.

Non-Smart Phone User, Developed Country – This group is quickly becoming smaller and smaller as smart phone’s become cheaper. Plus, it’s amazing how many people who can barely put food on the table have an iPhone in the pocket. However, this group also contains many of the older generation who don’t have a smart phone (my mom’s in this group). Both of these groups are really important parts of the healthcare system. However, for some reason many of the mHealth applications that are made don’t consider them.

Cell Phone User, Underdeveloped Country – We’ve all seen the statistic that shows that there are more people in the world with cell phones than there are people who have clean drinking water. These users have a cell phone, but these are generally feature phones and not smart phones. In some cases they might not have a place to charge the phone regularly and the service they get might be spotty. There are a lot of amazing mHealth applications being built for these communities. I’m always amazed at the power of a text message.

I’m sure we could divide these categories in a lot of different ways. Certainly there are plenty of exceptions to these categories as well, but I think it’s valuable to consider which type of user an mHealth application is trying to help. It makes all the difference when developing your mobile health application.

The iWatch and Apple’s Role in Healthcare

Posted on July 24, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Christina Farr at MedCityNews has a great article up about the rumors circling around Apple’s entrance into the digital health space. The article circles around the possible announcement of the Apple iWatch. Of course, right now it’s mostly just rumor that Apple is going to start selling an iWatch. Although, there are some strong suggestions that this is a possibility.

In some ways I can see how the iWatch is an interesting next step for Apple. However, unlike most other smart watches, I’m pretty sure that if Apple does release the iWatch it will do much more than just digital health. Sure, digital health will play a role in any watch based sensor device. I just don’t see Apple putting all their iWatch eggs in the digital health basket. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if the iWatch can’t do more than digital health, then we’ll never see an iWatch on the market.

This will be a drastic change in the battle for the wrist. Would you rather wear a smart watch that only does digital health or something that does so much more? The answer is simple and if Apple is able to create a multi function smart watch, then they’ll destroy much of the other smart watch market.

Regardless of the iWatch, Apple is going to play a major role in healthcare thanks to the iPad and iPhone. Although, much like those devices, I think it’s very unlikely that Apple will make the decision to create a digital health specific product.

Apple’s Top 118 Apps for Doctors

Posted on July 19, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.


I had to kind of laugh at this tweet. I have mixed feelings of a “top” 118 mobile applications. At first glance, 118 seems like far too many apps for a “top” list. Although, when you start to think that there are tens of thousands and possibly over a hundred thousand mobile health applications, maybe 118 is a pretty narrow list.

Of course, the irony is that we only use on average about 5 applications regularly. Sure, we download dozens more, but we only use a few of the applications on a regular basis. Doctors are definitely no different in this regard. Maybe their average is a tough higher, but it’s still less than 118 applications. Think about what it would take to use 118 applications regularly. There’s not enough hours in a day to even do it.

What I do think this is showing is that we’re starting to see a maturing of the mobile health industry. Hopefully soon we’ll have some breakaway apps that really define the space and become a true “top” mobile app for doctors.

I recently read an article that talk about the difference between mobile and desktop. One difference they described was that on the desktop we turn to Google, but on a mobile we turn to apps. For example, if you want to know the weather on your desktop you Google to find it out. On your mobile you open your weather app or look at your weather widget. I think we can take this learning and apply it to healthcare.