CHICAGO – Welch Allyn home medical devices will now be offered as part of Honeywell’s remote patient monitoring platform. “We continue to work with patients and providers to deliver the highest quality-of-care outside of the traditional healthcare setting,” said John Bojanowski, president of Life Care Solutions, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies, in a statement. “The Welch Allyn devices are optimized for ease of use, deployment and implementation, and will easily integrate with our technology.” The Welch Allyn Home 1700 Series blood pressure monitor with SureBP technology and Welch Allyn Home weight scale will now be offered as standard peripherals with Honeywell Life Care Solution’s Genesis Touch remote patient monitoring kits. “The Welch Allyn Home platform demonstrates our commitment to continued innovation, improved patient outcomes and access to care,” said Alton Shader, president of Hill-Rom’s Front Line Care business, in a statement. “We are honored and excited to be chosen by Honeywell Life Care Solutions as their standard for clinically-accurate remote patient monitoring.”
TAMPA, Fla. – Dr. Chris Pittman has been appointed to the scientific advisory board of Tactile Medical, makers of at-home devices to treat lymphedema and chronic venous insufficiency. Pittman is CEO and medical director of Vein911 Vein Treatment Centers. Tactile’s scientific advisory board includes international medical experts who assist the company in strategies around clinical development, guidance on operating plans, and drivers for reimbursement and sales/marketing activities.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M University will use a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop health technologies for people with chronic diseases in underserved communities across the country.
The Engineering Research Center on Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP), a program led by Texas A&M with the University of California at Los Angeles, Rice University and Florida International University, will develop revolutionary, cost-effective technologies and systems at the point-of-care, wrote program investigators in an abstract submitted to the NSF.
The program will develop under-the-skin sensors and handheld devices for patients in underserved communities to track diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and to prevent and delay the onset and management of those conditions.
“This requires both the development of transformational health technologies and systems and a paradigm shift in how these technologies are integrated into communities,” wrote the investigators.
How to deliver more care to larger populations with fewer resources
SAN DIEGO – As CEO of GreatCall, a trailblazer in connected health devices and services for aging adults, David Inns has been surrounded by a dizzying number of advances in home health care technology over the past decade—and he’s ready for what’s coming next.
HHTN: How are technologies like sensors, predictive analytics and connected health devices impacting the way home health care is delivered today?
INNS: For home health providers who are interested in taking on risk-based contracts, they have demonstrated the ability to reduce costs associated with hospitalization, emergency room trips, skilled nursing and long-term care.
HHTN: How can health care providers use the data from these technologies to produce actionable insights for patients?
INNS: Remote ADL (activities of daily living) monitoring provides a holistic view of a senior’s behavior, and changes in that behavior are often an indicator that something deeper is going on. A senior who is significantly changing their activity— for example, spending less time in bed and opening the refrigerator more at night—may benefit from some extra clinical attention. Remote monitoring technologies identify “at-risk” seniors at critical moments in time and enable timely medical intervention or medication reconciliation.
HHTN: Why are measurable results important in health care?
INNS: Measurement can help quantify theories about the value of remote monitoring services and other ADLs. Without measurement, organizations are poorly equipped to monitor and, ultimately, improve the quality of their care. More broadly, measurement also helps assess health care use and costs among patients and determine specific factors or interventions that result in care improvements.
HHTN: What are some of the biggest obstacles in preventing these technologies from being fully embraced by home health care professionals?
INNS: Most technology companies focus exclusively on the product. However, seniors living independently need an exceptional level of service wrapped around that technology. They need access to real human beings who understand the limitations of seniors, and that service needs to be seamlessly integrated into the technology stack. To the senior, the hardware, software and service should provide a single experience that lets the senior experience the benefit of the product without fear.
HHTN: How can companies ease the adoption of these technologies by providers?
INNS: Companies that are providing solutions to health care providers need to understand that providers are typically very protective of their main asset: time. They don’t have bandwidth for setup videos, debugging phone calls or battery replacements—they just want access to the benefit. As such, products are typically better packaged as services. Those services should be reflective of, and integrated with, regular existing workflows.
HHTN: How do you see home health care changing in the next five years?
INNS: As the senior population continues to grow, home health care providers will continue to feel pressure to deliver more care to larger populations with fewer resources. Technology will be a key enabler to allow that staff to provide the right care to the right person at the right time. Sensors and remote patient monitoring will be a key component to making that transition successfully.
SILVER SPRING, Md. – Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, recently revealed the agency’s plans to establish a more efficient approach to digital health device regulation—and industry experts are cautiously optimistic.
“The streamlined certification process is a step in the right direction,” said Xu Zou, CEO of Internet of Things security software provider ZingBox.
Gottlieb’s Digital Health Innovation Plan calls for the government to establish public health policies that are clear enough for developers to apply on their own, without having to seek out the FDA’s position on every technology change or software development on a case-by-case basis.
“Smart devices make streamlining the FDA’s approval process a necessity,” said Jacques Touillon, CEO and co-founder of Airboxlab, maker of smart air quality monitoring devices.
“The current system worked when changing the function of a device meant shipping a whole new product, but today developers can add entirely new features to a product as it sits on a user’s nightstand, simply by updating the software over the Internet,” he said.
In his blog post that laid out the new plans, Gottlieb said the FDA will establish guidelines specifying the boundaries around low-risk technologies like some mobile health apps and clinical administrative support software. In addition, the agency will add other technologies that could be considered low-risk.
The commissioner also described a new third-party certification pilot program, still under development, under which lower-risk digital health products could be marketed without FDA premarket review and higher-risk products could be marketed with a streamlined FDA premarket review.
Zou said that while the FDA’s plans may help streamline the certification process, device security must be a top priority.
“History has shown that where new features and innovation go, so do the hackers and malware,” he said. “As the requirements of FDA certification relaxes, device manufacturers and health care providers must plan for the additional security needed to protect the more feature-rich devices.”
DURHAM, N.C. – Validic, a provider of health care data connectivity platforms, is integrating with Microsoft HealthVault Insights, a research-based project designed to transform patient engagement by generating new insights about patient health.
“Validic provides the scalable infrastructure needed to acquire a broad range of data for millions of patients,” said Drew Schiller, CEO and co-founder of Validic, in a statement. “With a vision for a health care system built around intelligent insights, we are excited for this opportunity with Microsoft to improve care management and delivery in a way that benefits providers and patients.”
Through this integration, Validic will enable HealthVault Insights to connect to as many as 400 clinical and consumer devices—enabling the data from these devices to drive meaningful insights for patients.
Patients will be able to connect their in-home medical devices and wearables to HealthVault Insights, giving providers contextual information into a patient’s lifestyle, activities and health.
Patients will receive trends and correlations that are based on the their electronic health records and analyzed by Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities to improve the management of their chronic condition and general wellness.
Clinicians will be able to remotely view the patient’s adherence and engagement with a provider-defined care program to track the patient’s progress and health data.
“We are working to bring together critical data sources with machine learning to deliver personalized, actionable insights to both patients and clinicians,” said Heather Jordan Cartwright, general manager, Artificial Intelligence and research at Microsoft, in a statement. “This collaboration helps us continue to build a seamless experience for the patient while providing unique insights to the care team.”
YARMOUTH, Maine – Getting patients to follow their medication regimen sometimes presents a huge challenge, with some experts placing nonadherence rates at 30%-60% and costs to the U.S. health care system in the billions.
Companies like Pillsy, AdhereTech and others are working to help reduce nonadherence through technology like smart pill bottles and bottle caps that track if and when medication is taken and much more.
“The doctor will tell you what medication to take and the pharmacist will give you the medication, but no one helps you stay in the habit of actually taking it,” said Jeff Lebrun, co-founder of Pillsy. “Technology can help people with that.”
Pillsy is a Bluetooth-enabled bottle cap that fits most standard prescription medication bottles. It knows when a patient opens and closes the cap, and it pairs with an app that sends reminders or alerts if the medication hasn’t been taken. Patients can check the app to see if they’ve already taken their medication, and they can choose to share their medication data with a professional caregiver or family member.
“Professional caregivers usually can’t be in the home 24/7, but technology can,” said Lebrun.
Adhere Tech makes a smart pill bottle that contains a series of sensors, using the same technology found in smart phones. The bottle knows if and when a patient has taken their medication and sends that data in real-time to the Adhere Tech system. If doses are missed, patients can receive customizable alerts and interventions.
Adhere Tech partners with pharma companies that sponsor programs that allow patients who are taking specialty medications to receive the smart bottle at no cost.
“The medication is only effective if the patient takes it,” said Josh Stein, CEO. “The pharma industry has realized it needs to go beyond the pill and is investing in products and services to help with the adherence problem.”
Companies like Pillsy and Adhere Tech plan to build on existing alerts and reminders by incorporating data analytics to create adherence intervention solutions.
“We’re just starting to make use of the data,” said Lebrun. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
‘The impact of millions of wearable devices tracking personal health care will put an enormous strain on traditional network infrastructures,’ says Daniele Loffreda
WASHINGTON – For a truly connected, innovative ecosystem—one with an influx of mHealth data—providers must upgrade their technology infrastructures, according to the American Medical Informatics Association.
The AMIA, which recently presented policy documents on the subject at a Capitol Hill briefing, also identified interoperability as another key obstacle to overcome.
“The pursuit of value-based care places new demands on the health care system that our IT infrastructure needs to be able to support,” said the authors of the documents. “Coordination is how we take the health IT tools of today and achieve the promise of better patient care tomorrow.”
Daniele Loffreda, an advisor with health care data specialist Ciena, said providers need to determine how they plan to manage the flow of data from home health technology devices.
“The impact of millions of wearable devices and sensors tracking personal health care or other factors will put an enormous strain on traditional network infrastructures,” he said, explaining that current legacy networks simply aren’t built to handle traffic from millions of sensors measuring all types of health conditions. “Growing investments in wearable device technologies only underscore how health care is driving demand for faster, agile and on-demand networks.”
The AMIA documents also recommend that the health care industry develop standards for the different data streams from wearables and other mHealth devices, and standards for application program interface (API) to ease the data flow.
Loffreda said many health care systems have seen the writing on the wall and are making investments to get their infrastructure up to par. While that’s a step in the right direction, it needs to happen industry-wide.
“Interoperability is imperative for today’s digital health care to work as intended,” said Loffreda. “Without high-performance connectivity, lag time and latency issues will hamper the effectiveness of devices, sensors and apps. In some cases, this situation could prove life-threatening.”
MINNEAPOLIS – Connected health solutions provider HealthFactors and Koronis Biomedical Technologies have announced a collaboration to improve health care and outcomes for people with respiratory conditions associated with asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis. The companies will work on developing products and initiatives including algorithms that are used in smart inhalers. “Breakthrough treatments for complex medical conditions are being driven by a marriage of leading-edge electronic and software technology and advanced algorithms that deliver information from devices to patients, health providers, families and caregivers,” said Patrick Lichter, co-founder, president and chief technology officer of KBT, in a statement. “This type of digital solution surrounds the patient and creates a truly connected experience that factors in all aspects of their lives and health care journey.” Throughout the collaboration, HealthFactors and KBT will partner with device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, researchers and clinicians who are focused on emerging treatments and therapies for respiratory and other complex medical conditions.
BOSTON – Connected device maker Visiomed is entering the U.S. market by establishing a North American headquarters for BewellConnect, an ecosystem of high-level monitoring devices that the company recently launched. “By creating alliances with the industry and establishing our presence in the region, we hope to change how people monitor their health care and improve their quality of life,” said Olivier Hua, general manager of Visiomed Group and CEO of BewellConnect Corp., in a statement. The BewellConnect system is designed for patients with chronic conditions and the elderly, and includes a mobile app, a touchless thermometer, a blood pressure monitor, a blood sugar meter and an oximter. Visiomed is based in Paris.