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Sprint and Techstars Mobile Health Accelerator

Posted on October 21, 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.

Not that we needed another mobile health accelerator, but I was really intrigued by the companies that are backing this mobile health accelerator. First, besides loving healthcare IT, I also love the startup community. I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than a journalist, but no doubt I have parts of both in me. As part of that love, I addictively read a venture capitalist, Brad Feld’s blog. So, I was really intrigued by his post announcing the new “Powered by TechStars” Mobile Health Accelerator with Sprint.

I also find it interesting that this is the second mobile health accelerator that is Powered by TechStars (Nike+ Accelerator was the first).

We’ll see what comes out of the accelerator. I have a lot of confidence in the TechStars mentorship approach to accelerators. Plus, Sprint has some deep pockets and it seems every telco is looking at how to do mobile health. Although, I was a bit surprised to see Sprint’s name on this since I haven’t seen their name at the various mobile health events I’ve attended. Instead, that’s usually been dominated by Verizon, AT&T, and Qualcomm. We’ll see if that changes at this year’s mHealth Summit.

If you want to be part of this mobile health accelerator in Kansas City, they’re accepting applications.

Healthcare Cloud Spending To Ramp Up Over Next Few Years

Posted on October 4, 2013 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.

For years, healthcare IT executives have wrestled with the idea of deploying cloud services, concerned that the cloud would not offer enough security for their data. However, a new study suggests that this trend is shifting direction.

A new study by market research firm MarketsandMarkets has concluded that the healthcare industry will invest $5.4 billion in cloud computing by 2017.  This year should see a particularly big change, with total healthcare cloud investment moving from 4 percent to 20.5 percent of the industry, according to an article in the Cloud Times.

The current US cloud market for healthcare is dominated by SaaS vendors such as CareCloud, Carestream Health and Merge Healthcare, according to MarketsandMarkets. These vendors are tapping into an overall cloud computing market which should grow at a combined annual growth rate of 20.5 percent between 2012 and 2017, the researchers say.

As the report notes, there are good reasons why healthcare IT leaders are taking a closer look at cloud computing. For example, the cloud offers easy access to high-performance computing and high-volume storage, access which would be very costly to duplicate with on-premise computing.

On the other hand, the MarketsandMarkets researchers admit, healthcare still has particularly stringent data security requirements, and a need for strict confidentiality, access control and long-term data storage. Cloud vendors will need to offer services and products which meet these unique needs, and just as importantly, change and adapt as regulatory requirements shift. And they’ll have to have an impeccable reputation.

That last item — the cloud vendor’s reputation — will play a major role in the coming shift to cloud-based deployments. If giants like AT&T, IBM and Verizon stay in the healthcare cloud business, which seems likely to me, then healthcare institutions will be able to admit that they’re engaged in cloud deployments without suffering a public black eye over potential security problems.

On the other hand, if the giants were to get cold feet, cloud adoption would probably slow substantially, and remain at the trickle it has been for several years. While vendors like Merge and Carestream may be doing well, I’d argue that the presence of the 2,000-pound gorilla vendors ultimately dictates whether a market thrives.

Is Your State Health Department’s App on Your Mobile?

Posted on August 9, 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 came upon this excited tweet from Geeta Nayyyar, MD, CMIO for AT&T, where she excitedly links to the announcement of the Alabama state health department mobile app.

I of course was interested to know what a state health department would include in an app. The linked article talks about it being used to disseminate public health info and share opportunities for public health workers to get continuing education. Do we really need an app for this?

I’m trying to imagine a public health worker getting excited to download their state health department’s application. I don’t think we’re going to be seeing it on the home page of people’s cell phone. It’s likely to be one of the many applications that gets downloaded and never used. If that’s the case, it makes me wonder why it was even created in the first place. I guess I’m interested to hear how much engagement they really get on the app.

What I do think is interesting is the possibility for using a mobile app to disseminate public health alerts. I could see many people opting in for that type of notification. Although, does that need an entire app? I like the idea of the government trying to use the latest technology, but it seems like there could have been better ways to accomplish their goals.

I guess I don’t see what’s so “awesome” about an app that likely won’t get much use.

Android Security Risks May Outweigh Benefits

Posted on April 26, 2013 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.

Not long ago, my colleague John Lynn made a compelling pitch for the Android platform, arguing that it’s likely to take over healthcare eventually given its flexibility.  That flexibility stands in sharp contrast to Apple phones and tablets, which work quite elegantly but also impose rigid requirements on app developers.

That being said, however, there’s security risks associated with Android that might outweigh its advantages. The major carriers are doing little or nothing to upgrade and patch the Android versions on the phones they sell, leaving them open to security breaches.

The Android security problem is so egregious that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint with the  Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate how AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile handle software updates on their phones.

In the complaint, the civil liberties group argues that the carriers have been engaging in “unfair and deceptive business practices” by failing to let customers know about well-known unpatched security flaws in the Android devices that they sell.

What makes things worse, the ACLU suggests, is that the carriers aren’t even offering consumers the option to update their phones.  Though Google has continued to fix flaws in the Android OS, these fixes aren’t being bundled and pushed out to the wireless carriers’ customers.  As the ACLU rightly notes, such behavior is unheard of in the world of desktop operating systems, where consumers regularly get updates from Apple and Microsoft.

In its complaint the ACLU argues that the carriers must either provide security updates to customers or allow them to get refunds on their devices and terminate their contracts without any penalty. It’s asking the FTC to force the carriers’ hand.

In the mean time, with healthcare requiring strict data security under HIPAA, one has to wonder whether hospitals and medical practices should be using Android devices at all (at least for their work).  Of course, clinicians who are accustomed to using their personal Android phones or tablets will be inconvenienced and probably fairly annoyed too.  But as things stand, hospital CIOs better be really careful about how they handle Android phones in the healthcare environment.

Future of mHealth Dependent on Interoperability and Use of Available Technology

Posted on December 22, 2011 I Written By

My education in the healthcare industry is still somewhat in its infancy, but I really enjoy learning about mHealth in particular.  This probably stems from my general love of technology, but also from my fascination with business and watching companies and industries grow.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks with mHealth is there are way too many people developing products rather than businesses.

One of my favorite shows is Shark Tank which gives everyday people the opportunity to present their business to billionaires looking for an investment of some sort.  One of the most common comments the investors make is that the person has a product and not a business.  It is such a thin line but essential to true success.  Products of some sort are essential to a business, but they are not in and of themselves a business.

That is the problem with most of the companies in mHealth at this point.  There are tons of apps and gadgets and other fun things out there, but there is no one company that is trying to bring it all together.  Interoperability is the real basis of success in this industry.  Having to go to ten different companies for your healthcare needs is no different from what we have always had, except you are using electronics instead of paper.

While that is a step in the right direction, it is not the level of change that will be needed for real success in the industry.  There will inevitably be more companies that fail than succeed, as is the case in any industry.

The healthcare industry is very similar to aviation in this area.  The air traffic control system is essentially the same system that has been in use for decades.  While there have been great advances in technology, namely GPS, we still use the same archaic tools that keep the industry inefficient and cluttered.  Clearly major advancements have been implemented in terms of aircraft and related systems that make air travel faster and safer, but we are not even close to using all of the tools available.

There are plans in development to better use the improved tools that are available, but they have still not been widely implemented for numerous reasons.  Instead aviation remains inefficient and the consumer is the one who suffers in the form of increased costs with reduced service.

Healthcare is quickly following the same path.  While there have been amazing developments in the technology doctors use on a day-to-day basis, the system itself is still incredibly inefficient.

That being said, I have great hope that this will change in the coming years.  As more major companies like AT&T, Qualcomm, Verizon, etc. become involved in the industry we will start to see the real breakthroughs that will give mHealth its legitimacy.  What will be even more incredible is when some of these tech companies really link up with traditional healthcare companies that have real power in the industry.

About a decade ago eHealth companies were all the rage, and now they are all essentially gone.  While there is no guarantee that mHealth will not end up the same way, you have to think they stand a better chance.  Smartphones are an increasingly essential part of everyday life for almost everyone.  It only makes sense to include healthcare in that arena.

Non-Traditional Healthcare Companies Emerging in mHealth

Posted on May 23, 2011 I Written By

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but there is a trend that I am noticing as I learn more about mHealth: the companies involved are not new to most of us.  There are of course traditional healthcare companies, like GE who has been around since my grandpa was young, as well as any number of start-ups of various sizes, but what is becoming increasingly more common is other large companies expanding into the mHealth market.

Some of these companies may not be too surprising, such as AT&T who has a variety of interests in mHealth.  The obvious reason is because they own a huge portion of the mobile phone market.  As more mobile apps are developed, it is important for them to support the technology necessary for those apps to operate.  Not to mention creating mobile networks so that the customers can access their phones in the first place.

Perhaps the less thought of reasoning is the huge number of people that AT&T insures, both currently working for them, and those who have already retired.  By improving healthcare they will also lower their costs to insure people.

Last week I wrote about how Ford is entering the market to help improve drivers’ health.  It would not be at all surprising to see all of the other major automakers follow suit once they see the success Ford is having, and I have every reason in the world to believe they will be successful.

Cisco is another company that is becoming hugely important to the healthcare market as they help hospitals establish more reliable networks.  Through the installation of WLAN networks, doctors and nurses are able to more reliably access the information they need to take care of their patients.  As these networks become more reliable, hospitals will become more inclined to take advantage of the benefits they provide.

There is no doubt that technology, and smartphones in particular, will increasingly be a part of our lives.  Some people get freaked out because they feel like machines our running our  lives like we are in a movie or something.  As for me, I think any technology that can improve our quality of life, and in some instances save lives, is the kind of technology that we need to be pursuing.

Connecting Wireless, Mobile and the Future of Healthcare: Healthcare Honchos Address Issues Head-on

Posted on April 23, 2011 I Written By

There are tons of conferences out there relating to healthcare, and an increasing number are related to technology and specifically to mobile healthcare.  This conference focuses specifically on taking advantage of the opportunities that wireless and mobile healthcare provides.  Plus, it is in San Diego so you can’t really miss there.

Convergence Summit Runs May 10-12, 2011 in San Diego

How will advances in mobile technology improve access to healthcare in the U.S. and globally? What role will wireless technology play in improving productivity in healthcare? Will the new regulations outlined recently by the Health and Human Services department regarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) play a role? Wireless and mobile healthcare may well form the basis for new methods of healthcare delivery—for instance, “to treat an individual patient across care settings—including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities” (CMS Office of Media Affairs).

These and other wireless healthcare issues are to be the star subjects of the Convergence Summit, a three-day event to be held May 10-12, 2011 in San Diego, hosted by the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA) and its partner TripleTree, LLC.

Featured speakers include:

  • Paul Jacobs, Ph.D, CEO of Qualcomm, who is slated to give the opening-day keynote on May 10, 2011;
  • Bill McGuire, M.D., the former CEO of United Healthcare, who is to open the second day of the summit on May 11, 2011;
  • Harry Greenspun, M.D., chief medical officer at Dell, kicks off the final day on May 12, 2011.

A post-lunch keynote on May 12 is to feature Dan Buettner, the New York Times best-selling author of, most recently, Thrive: Finding Happiness in the Blue Zones Way (National Geographic, 2010).

The Convergence Summit is an exclusive gathering of executives, investors, developers and policy makers who come together annually to address issues of advancing innovations in wireless and mobile healthcare technology. Other speakers include John Kelliher, The Marwood Group; Richard Migliori, Optum; Preetha Reddy, Apollo Health Systems; and Tien Tzuo, Zuora.

“Wireless coverage is nearly ubiquitous within the U.S. and many parts of the world. This opens up opportunities for advancing healthcare globally in ways we haven’t even dreamed of,” says TripleTree senior director and chief marketing officer Chris Hoffmann.

WLSA organizers devote each day to a forward-looking theme about uniting wireless and healthcare. Conference themes for this, the sixth annual Convergence Summit, include “Defining a global platform for wireless and mobile health” (Day 1), “Best approaches for streamlining patient-doctor interactions” (Day 2) and “The convergence of mobile and cloud, and the simplification of healthcare solutions” (Day 3). Day 2 also features the presentation of the third annual I Awards, sponsored exclusively by TripleTree, for innovation in wireless healthcare.

Several lively forums dovetail with the conference themes; the forums are open exchanges, with executives, innovators, investors and others brainstorming the topics. No PowerPoint presentations allowed!

Conference participants for the three days of forums include representatives from large and small companies on the cutting edge of the convergence of wireless and healthcare. A sampling of participating companies includes Appirio, Ascension Health, AT&T, Banner Health, CareFusion, Dell, EmpowHER, Healthagen, InstyMeds, WhiteGlove House Call, Johnson & Johnson, Jitterbug, Mental Workout, Optum, Procter and Gamble, RehabCare, Teladoc and Telcare. A total of 300-400 participants are expected to attend the summit.

“When we put all these people in the same room—innovators and users, entrepreneurs and HMO chiefs, technology wizards and policy wonks—the mix is exhilarating,” TripleTree’s Hoffmann says. “The future of healthcare swirls into shape before your eyes.”

The WLSA is an international nonprofit think tank that puts CEOs from the world’s most innovative wireless and mobile health companies together with global leaders in healthcare and technology and financial sponsors.

TripleTree, LLC, a founding member of the WLSA, is an independent investment bank and strategic advisor providing growth companies in healthcare and other technology-enabled vertical industries with merger and acquisition, private capital and principal investing services.

For more information about the 2011 WLSA Convergence Summit, go to http://www.wlsa2011.com.

Wireless 2G, 3G and 4G for Healthcare Applications

Posted on October 19, 2010 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 I’m attending the Mobile Health Conference (mHealth) conference in Las Vegas. So far it’s been a pretty effective conference for me already. Although, I’ve gotten most of the value from the people and vendors I’ve met and talked with. Although, is that really any surprise at a conference. More about those meetings later.

In this morning’s keynote conversation, they had executives from T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint that spoke and then did a short panel discussion. I must admit that I’d hoped for more from the panel discussion and I probably would have rather just had the whole thing a panel discussion. With that said, the most interesting topic they discussed was the 2G, 3G, and 4G topic.

Of course, they didn’t really dig into the different wireless signals like I would have liked to see. However, the executive from T-mobile said both in his speech and in the panel discussion that they’re committed to supporting 2G for 10 more years. Then, he offered this whopper: that most mHealth applications work perfectly fine on 2G and don’t actually need the higher 3G and 4G speeds.

He’s actually right that most health applications do work fine on 2G. However, I can’t help but wonder if that’s a function of there just not being enough 3G and 4G coverage to make it reasonable for a company to make an app that will only work on those faster networks.

From what I’ve seen in the internet world, applications will grow to use whatever resources they are given. Plus, there’s some applications that never get built until they have the resources to make it a reasonable reality.

So, while it may be true that the health applications of today generally work well on 2G, it’s worth asking what applications would we have if 3G and 4G were more widely available? I think we’re getting close to the point that we’ll find out. I imagine most EMR software would be happy to use whatever bandwidth you give them. Not to mention it would improve the user experience.

A few other quick hits:
-The AT&T executive (I believed) argued that they’re getting 4G speeds with 3G technology. So, why should they move to 4G?
-The Sprint executive nailed it on the head when he said that time is the economy of today. Higher speeds and better applications will save people time and that’s valuable.
-I can’t help but wonder where Verizon is. 3 out of 4 isn’t bad though.