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American Well Patents Are Unenforceable

Posted on September 13, 2016 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.

Good news today for the telemedicine industry as the federal courts ruled that American Well’s telemedicine patents are unenforceable in their case against Teladoc. Here’s an excerpt from Mobi Health News on the decision:

It’s looking more and more like the path to victory in the major turf wars of digital health will not be through patent litigation.

Earlier this week, a Massachusetts federal judge Indira Talwani ruled that American Well’s telehealth patents, which the company had sued Teladoc for allegedly infringing, were unenforceably broad. She cited the same Supreme Court precedent, Alice v. CLS Bank, that an ITC judge used to invalidate Jawbone’s patents last month in the tracker company’s battle with Fitbit.

I love the way Jonah Comstock from Mobi Health News described the decision. The path to victory won’t be based on patent litigation. Let’s hope that Jonah is right since patent litigation is an awful way to create a market. That’s true for telemedicine and the health sensor market. There’s a supposed PHR patent out there which needs to be invalidated the same way.

As you can see, I’m not a huge fan of software patents. It’s pretty hard to make the case for the innovation that you’re really trying to accomplish. Plus, far too many software patents are held by patent trolls. In this case, it’s a bit better since American Well has built a legitimate telemedicine business and isn’t just relying on their patent. That’s a good thing and it’s healthy to have Teladoc, American Well, MDLive and others battling it out in the market.

I’m glad to see the federal courts ruling on this. American Well is looking to appeal the decision, so it’s not over yet, but I’m hoping the result of their appeal is the same. We’ll all be better with that patent being unenforcable.

Hospital Branded App Infographic

Posted on October 7, 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’m always intrigued by infographics, so I couldn’t resist the following infographic that looks at hospital branded mobile apps by MobiHealthNews. In some ways I’m surprised there aren’t more hospital branded apps, but in other ways I think patients are more tied to their primary care doctor than they are to a hospital. It was interesting that a large portion of those hospitals with a branded app are children’s hospitals.

Hospital Branded Apps Infographic

3 Keys to Healthcare Gaming

Posted on June 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.

Jonah Comstock has a great article over on mobi health news about Ayogo building an adherence game for big pharma. The article is short on details since Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo, wasn’t given permission to demonstrate the game. However, the article highlights three elements that I have yet to see really done well in the “gaming healthcare” space. Each one of them is incredibly powerful and could change healthcare, but I have yet to see them implemented well. They are:

  • Social
  • Fun
  • Competition

I can’t think of three more powerful motivators that exist. People love to be social (see Facebook). We love to have fun. Most of us also love a good competition.

It sounds like Ayogo is trying incorporate all 3 of these elements into an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that helps to improve prescription compliance. You don’t need all 3 elements to create a successful application, but how powerful it is if you can nail all three of them.

I think the concept of healthcare gaming is an important one and someone is going to finally crack the code. The problem I’ve seen is that the healthcare games I’ve seen too date are too much healthcare and not enough game. As I’ve written about before, health improvement needs to be a side effect of enjoying the game. Basically, you should want to play the game whether there was a health benefit or not. That’s a high barrier to overcome, but has a nice pot of gold waiting on the other side for whoever cracks the code.

New mHealth App Certification – The Next CCHIT Like Mistake

Posted on January 17, 2012 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 first heard about the new Secure, Branded App Store for Hospitals and Healthcare called Happtique in early December on Techcrunch. At its core, I think it’s an interesting idea to try and filter through what the article claims are “23,000 mobile health apps available for iOS and Android.” Helping physicians and hospital administrators filter through these apps could be valuable. Plus, most hospital administrators would love a way to have a phone that was limited on which apps it could download.

Well, it seems that the company has shifted gears a little bit. As Brian Dolan from Mobi Health News reported, Happtique is taking the first steps to setting up a certification for mobile health apps.

Happtique, a healthcare-focused appstore, announced plans to create a certification program that will help the medical community determine which of the tens of thousands of health-related mobile apps are clinically appropriate and technically sound. The company has tapped a multi-disciplinary team to develop the “bona fide mHealth app certification program” within the next six months. The program is open to all developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

It will certify apps intended to be used by both medical professionals and patients.

While I think that providing some way for people to filter through the large number of mobile apps, I think certification is a terrible way to go about it. Many people know I’ve written many an article about CCHIT pre-EHR incentive money and how screwed up the CCHIT EHR certification was for the industry. I think it’s just as bad news for Happtique to create a certification for the mobile health industry.

Turns out that Happtique seems to have agreed with this idea back in October 2010 where they said in a MobiHealthNews interview, “We are not in the business of opining whether an app is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ though. That’s not our role. Apple doesn’t do that and others don’t either. If the FDA indicates that an app is a medical device and needs to be regulated, well, that’s a different situation and we can take it out of the store.” Seems they’ve seen a different business opportunity.

They have a couple recognizable names on their board to create their certification including Howard Luks and Dave deBrokart (better known as e-Patient Dave), but I believe they’re going to find that it’s an impossible task. First, because they won’t have the breadth of knowledge needed to create certification requirements for every type of mHealth app. Second, what value will the certification really provide? Third, how do you make the certification broad enough to apply to all 20,000+ apps while still providing meaning to those using a very specific mHealth app? Plus, I’m sure there are many other issues I haven’t thought of yet.

The problem with these certification ideas is that they start with great intentions, but always end up bad.

mHealth for Seniors is Voice Not Text and Is Worth Paying For

Posted on March 30, 2011 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.

Neil Versel has a really great article over on Mobi Health News. It feels a bit like a pitch for a company, but within the article the company makes two observations that every mobile health person should take not of. The first comment is about seniors need for voice instead of text on their mobile:

The average user of GreatCall products and services is 68 years old, according to Pantalone, so the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company wants to keep its apps simple. Jitterbug phones, with large buttons and uncluttered screen displays, “are terrible for texting because you have to triple tap, and seniors don’t want that anyway,” Pantalone said.

Pantalone said that 80 percent of seniors’ activity on cell phones is making or receiving calls, not texting, browsing the Web or running smartphone apps. That’s pretty much opposite the trend for younger generations, so GreatCall’s services are mostly voice-to-voice. “We’ve found that voice and IVR-based apps are effective,” Pantalone said.

Makes sense when I think about the seniors I know. They definitely use it as a phone and are generally scared about the idea of texting (with the usual exceptions). This generation of seniors will benefit more from a voice mHealth app.

Then the second money quote from Neil talks about a study that was done that talks about what users are willing to pay for:

Pantalone also reported on another interesting data point among its older customer base that runs counter to attitudes of younger people: 38 percent of Jitterbug and GreatCall users surveyed in 2010 expressed a willingness to pay a recurring monthly fee for a health-related service.

I imagine it’s even more likely true with the senior community where they realize that their health is fragile and they’ve come to realize that they need to take better care of their health. I wonder what other paid mobile health applications are seeing success.