Premera Blue Cross launches app
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. – Premera Blue Cross has launched a mobile app to give members access to their health plan information on the go. “The app makes it easy and convenient for our customers to carry their health care information with them so they have the information they need to make the right health care decisions for themselves and their families,” said Neil Lazo, director of mobile products for Premera, in a statement. The mobile app allows members to find health care providers, follow their claims and interact with a chat bot.
Kvedar, Cartmell join b.well board
BALTIMORE – Dr. Joseph Kvedar and Emma Cartmell have joined the board of b.well Connected Health. Kvedar is the vice president of Connected Health Partners, Partners Health Care; and Cartmell is managing director at Cappello Group. “I’m delighted to welcome these new directors to our team, each with impressive experience and valued perspective in connected health and the technologies that are enabling consumers to participate in their own healthcare,” said Kristen Valdes, founder and CEO of b.well Connected Health. “Their significant expertise in developing and implementing connected health strategies will greatly strengthen b.well’s ability to take our company and product offerings to the next level, with the goal of putting consumers at the center of their healthcare.” b.well is a platform that connects all aspects of an individual’s health care in one place to manage chronic disease.
mHealth diabetes solution wins Aegis Graham Bell award
NEW DELHI – Research university Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and Wipro Limited, a global information technology company, jointly won the 2017 Aegis Graham Bell Award in February. They were recognized in the Innovation in mHealth category for their joint initiative, “Redefining Primary Comfort Using mHealth.” The two entities have developed a mobile health solution using a glucose monitoring system integrated with a cloud-based monitoring application for providing more efficient and effective diabetes care. “This award is a testimony to not just the novel, first-of-its kind diabetes management solution that has been developed, but also underscores the potential of what can be achieved in the health care sector through unique partnerships such as the one we have with Wipro,” said Dr. Bipin Nair, dean of the Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, in a statement. The Wipro-Amrita Diabetes Management Solution will provide a cost-effective, non-enzymatic glucose sensing solution for diabetes care, while promoting a healthy diet and active lifestyle, said Nair. It will also enhance health screening and early diagnosis; contribute toward better adherence to drug and dietary regimen; and encourage diabetes self-care activities and help prevent complications. The Aegis Graham Bell Award is the largest innovation award for the ICT domain in India.
Axxess acquires Home Health Gold
DALLAS – Axxess, a provider of cloud-based software solutions to home healthcare companies, has acquired Home Health Gold, a provider of health care data analytics and software. David Merk will remain president and CEO of Home Health Gold. “This is an important step for Axxess as we continue our commitment to provide the best tools for home health agencies to succeed,” said John Olajide, founder and CEO of Axxess, in a statement.
Smartphone app measures blood pressure
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a mobile app and hardware for smartphones to measure blood pressure. The approach uses two sensors, with the sensor unit and other circuitry housed in a case attached to the back of the phone. Users turn on the app and press their fingertip against the sensor unit. With their finger on the unit, they hold their phone at heart level and watch their smartphone screen to ensure they’re applying the correct amount of finger pressure. “This device could be a game-changer,” said Ramakrishna Mukkamala, senior author of research on the technology published in Science Translational Medicine. “This invention gives patients a convenient option, and keeping a log of daily measurements would produce an accurate average, discounting an occasional measurement anomaly.”
Smith & Nephew launches Wellframe-powered surgery recovery platform
ANDOVER, Mass. – Smith & Nephew has launched a digital platform that enables orthopaedic surgeons to remotely track their patients’ real-time healing progress. In partnership with Wellframe, a mobile-enabled care management solution provider, Smith & Nephew’s platform collects data from patients by measuring their recovery at regular time points. “Our innovative platform has the potential to revolutionize the recovery process for each patient and provide invaluable data to inform future innovation and clinical practice,” said Andy Weymann, chief medical officer at Smith & Nephew, in a statement. The Wellframe technology includes a care team dashboard and a mobile application that features a daily checklist with education and reminders for patients to engage in behaviors required to aid their surgery preparation and rehabilitation, as well as messaging between surgical teams and patients. Smith & Nephew has conducted research studies on the new platform in select U.S. and U.K. hospitals. “Using mobile technology is a significant improvement over standard care, providing the patient with an easy-to-use tool to report their progress and enabling surgeons to track patient recovery closely,” said Iain McNamara, one of the clinical investigators, in a statement.
Rice researchers developing light-scattering technology
HOUSTON – The National Science Foundation has awarded $10 million to a Rice University-led team that hopes to create wearable and point-of-care microscopes that use on-chip illumination and sensing to non-invasively aid in the diagnosis and monitoring of nearly 100 health conditions that today require a biopsy or blood test. “The project will produce a platform technology for in vivo, 3-D tissue imaging, with the aim of being able to point a camera to a part of the body and see live biology below the skin without making an incision or drawing blood,” said Ashutosh Sabharwal, the principal investigator on the grant, in a statement. The five-year grant is one of three awarded from the National Science Foundation’s Expeditions in Computing program. Sabharwal’s team will use a combination of mathematical algorithms, camera design and imaging sensors to reverse engineer the path of scattered light. “Imagine a wearable device no larger than a watch that uses sensors to continuously measure white blood cell count and wirelessly communicate with the oncologist’s office,” Sabharwal said. “The patient could go about their daily life and only have to go to the hospital if there was a problem.”
Samsung, UCSF launch study on blood pressure app
SAN FRANCISCO – Samsung Electronics and the University of California San Francisco have launched a study on My BP Lab, a jointly developed smartphone research app to help users monitor their blood pressure and stress levels, and obtain personalized insights for improving their daily health. My BP Lab leverages an optical sensor available on several Samsung smartphones to provide users with more accurate information about their health status. This optical sensor is built into the device and allows blood pressure to be directly measured by the smartphone without any external hardware. “We are pleased to be partnering with UCSF to utilize this sensor and contribute to research that will provide our users with crucial and meaningful feedback about their health,” said Peter Koo, senior vice president and leader of the health service team at Samsung, in a statement. One aim of the study is to optimize My BP Lab to provide contextualized and scientifically informed feedback, so users will be able to gain a better understanding of their stress and blood pressure levels, and manage their health more effectively. The study also further improves the accuracy of the blood pressure readings, by gathering data from thousands of users in real-world settings. Users joining a program led by UCSF researchers will receive personalized, on-demand information regarding their stress and blood pressure levels throughout the day. “This study could provide the largest dataset yet on stress, daily emotional experiences, and blood pressure,” said Wendy Berry Mendes, director of the Emotion, Health and Psychophysiology Lab at UCSF, in a statement.
Our Mobile Health, NHS growing apps library
LONDON – The National Health Service is inviting developers to submit applications to the NHS Apps Library, a resource for patients to access safe and effective digital tools. The organization is working with mHealth apps library Our Mobile Health to assess digital health care apps for inclusion in the Apps Library, which is currently in public beta version. “Patients can be confident that the apps they are using are safe and trusted,” said Hazel Jones, program director at NHS Digital, in a statement. “We are looking forward to working with Our Mobile Health in developing that process.” Our Mobile Help will ensure the apps meet NHS technical, clinical and safety standards, and help connect people to the information and services they need easily and effectively. The NHS Apps Library currently contains 46 apps to help patients manage a variety of conditions such as diabetes, mental health and COPD. “Digital technology is now a part of all our lives and in the NHS we want to harness the advantages of digital to improve services and empower patients to take control of their own health,” said Juliet Bauer, chief digital officer at NHS England, in a statement.
VNSNY to integrate Reflexion’s VERA avatar for post-surgery rehab
SAN DIEGO – The Visiting Nurse Service of New York is partnering with Reflexion Health to bring its exercise rehabilitation virtual assistant to the patients and communities the agency serves.
VERA is a digital platform that brings the guidance of a physical therapist into the home, along with tools that help clinicians remotely monitor patient progress beyond the traditional in-clinic setting.
“Reflexion Health’s vision of delivering truly patient-centered care that helps patients at home aligns with our mission to promote the health and well-being of those we serve through cost-effective care and services,” said Lester Schindel, executive vice president, chief of provider services, strategy & physician network development, VNSNY, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Reflexion Health to bring this new, innovative platform to patients and caregivers who deserve more convenient, compassionate care.”
VNSNY is the largest not-for-profit home- and community-based health care organization in the United States, serving the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.
Reflexion’s VERA system is designed to deliver on-demand therapy sessions that eliminate barriers associated with travel, costs and time. The system uses an avatar and offers guided therapy exercises, giving patients feedback that helps them stay engaged and motivated. Patients and clinicians are able to stay connected throughout recovery, ensuring continuity of care. Patients typically use VERA to recover from lower-extremity surgeries.
VERA is currently in clinical studies at a number of academic medical centers across the U.S. Initial data has shown that VERA improves compliance, and saves time and costs in post-acute care rehabilitation.
Together, VNSNY and Reflexion Health will offer patients access to VERA as an enhancement to home-based physical therapy following lower-extremity joint replacement.
Princeton researchers developing technology to diagnose multiple conditions in real-time
PRINCETON, N.J. – Engineers from Princeton University are working to use sensor wearable sensor technology to develop software that could diagnose multiple diseases in real-time, like warning a patient who is developing diabetes.
In a recently published paper, “IEEE Transactions on Multi-Scale Computing Systems,” researchers led by Niraj Jha wrote that their system, the Hierarchical Health Decision Support System, used biomedical data to successfully detect five diseases in simulations created from patient data. The system diagnosed Type 2 diabetes with 78% accuracy, arrhythmia with 86% accuracy, urinary bladder disorder with 99% accuracy, hypothyroid with 95% accuracy and renal pelvis nephritis with 94% accuracy.
“This opens up the possibility for the first time that outside of a clinic, individuals can monitor whether they have developed or can develop a disease,” said Jha, a professor of electrical engineering, who developed the new technology with Hongxu Yin, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student.
HDSS used publicly available, anonymized biomedical data from hundreds of patients and fed it through eight machine-learning algorithms that had been trained by the researchers to recognize typical signs of these diseases. The data consisted of physiological measurements collected by commercially available medical sensors that are embedded in small electronic devices attached to hospital patients to track things like blood pressure and galvanic skin response.
The HDSS system is unique because it compares the data points to publicly available data about disease symptoms. This allows the software to detect signs of trouble that patients aren’t aware of, or symptoms that they fail to reveal to their doctors.
Jha wrote that rather than focus on in-patient treatment, the team is working to apply data from wearable sensors intended for everyday use, such as watches or wristbands. The approach would provide physicians with symptomatic information that patients might have forgotten or not noticed, and would also allow for monitoring patients after a diagnosis.
The researchers said the ultimate goal is both to increase efficiency in health care, and to allow for earlier diagnoses and better patient outcomes. Yin said the researchers eventually would like to expand the type of data available for use in diagnoses, such as patient records or genetic information.