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FitBit API and Other Healthcare APIs

I’ve long been a big fan of APIs in technology. It’s really powerful to open up your software so that outside developers can create really cool applications on top of your software. Think where Twitter would be today if it weren’t for their API. Most of the best Twitter clients were not built by Twitter. That’s just one simple example.

With that in mind, I was interested to see how the FitBit API was doing in its development. It’s been around for a couple years, so my hope was that I’d find a mature API with some good documentation and most importantly a strong developer community around it.

It seems like Fitbit has made it really easy to sign up and start using their API. That’s a good thing. Far too many in healthcare have an API, but they put up these enormous barriers for developers to start using it. When you’re dealing with PHI, you do have to take a serious approach to access, but the intent should be to create as many of those trusted API relationships as possible.

Next, I took a look at the Fitbit API documentation. Most of you won’t want to look at the API documentation since you’re not a developer. However, if you look at this Fitbit API Explorer page, you’ll get a good view of what functions are possible with the Fitbit API. They have a set of Ruby, PHP, and .Net Client libraries which is great (Although they’re not directly developed or supported by Fitbit). I do wish they had a really good sample app that uses their API. I’ve found a great sample application is incredibly valuable to developers that want to start using that API.

Finally, I took a look at the Fitbit discussion group. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more activity here. It does seem that the questions in the group do get eventually answered, but I’d have like to see a bigger Fitbit presence in the forum. The most active threads are the feature requests and announcements threads which isn’t too much of a surprise. There were only 15-20 active threads in April.

All in all, it looks like Fitbit has created a pretty solid API. I could see myself using it for a future project.

I’m interested to know what other APIs you’ve found in healthcare. What other healthcare companies are putting out really good APIs? Have you used the Fitbit API? What was your experience? Is it reliable? What are the best apps in healthcare that leverage someone’s API?

April 12, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Blood Pressure Cuffs on iPad and iPhone iTunes Store

If you haven’t figured out, I’m becoming completely enamored by the possibilities of medical devices being available in the home. It just makes complete sense that we would have more and more medical devices in the home. We’ve had the thermometer at home for a long time. There’s little reason why we wouldn’t have more devices at home that would help us gather information which we can provide to the doctors.

Plus, the real key to this all is that these devices will make the e-Visit with doctors so much more reasonable since we can send the details of what these devices measure to the doctor in real time. Very cool stuff!

With this background, that’s why I find it so exciting that Apple featured a blood pressure cuff for iPhone (iHealth BPM – ANDON HEALTH Co., LTD) and iPad (iHealth BPM – ANDON HEALTH Co., LTD) on their online store.

iMedicalApps posted an interesting look at why these types of blood pressure cuffs aren’t a big game changer for mobile health. Essentially they describe that their cost means that compliant patients are the ones that will buy and use these devices. To that I simply respond: that’s just the start.

As more and more people start to use and benefit from this device, the price will drop and more and more people will want the same. Plus, I predict we’re going to see a change to healthy patients using this type of device. Instead of only getting your blood pressure when the doctor tells you to do it, there are going to be more and more active patients that just want to track things like blood pressure as they proactively monitor their health. This type of iPad and iPhone device opens the door for this type of mobile health.

March 16, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Health Games – Applying Gaming to Better Health

I’ve been really interested lately in something that people call game dynamics. Basically, it’s features on a website or in an application that uses a game or competition to encourage the desired result.

At its most basic level, you can see this type of thing in apps like Foursquare where you can receive badges as you do certain actions. Basically, they give you an award for doing the things that they want you to do. It’s been used incredibly effectively in many online applications. In fact, the whole dynamic of game mechanics improving engagement of a website is a field that I think is just beginning to flourish.

With this short background, you can imagine why I was so intrigued by a websites called Health Gamers. I love the name and the play on words. Here’s a short description of what they are about:

Helth ‘ Gā-mər, n. One who is interested in developing, researching or playing game technology as a way of improving the well being of others. At healthGAMERS, we want to start a dialog about Health Games, an emerging field that uses game-based technology to improve the health of the public. Many players are needed to make a successful Health Game, and we hope people from a variety of fields will weigh in on this innovative subject.

They have highlighted some interesting health care apps that use gaming to promote healthy behavior and actions. I’m sure I’ll do many future posts talking about applications and “games” that I find on their website.

I’d also love to hear what other health related applications people use that effectively use game mechanics to promote healthy behavior. Let me know in the comments.

March 15, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Unbelievably Long Wireless Health (mHealth) Conference List

The other day I just happened across this incredibly long (and impressive) list of mobile health related conferences and events that are happening all around the world.

I’d been joking with people recently that if you wanted to go to a mobile health or mHealth related conference every week of the year, you could. Looking at that list, I wasn’t exaggerating very much at all. That’s seriously unbelievable.

The conference on the wish that I’d most like to go to is EuroMedtech 2011 May 16-17 in Torino, Italy. Yes, I totally have a thing for Italy. I lived there 2 years and so I feel like it’s home for me. Plus, speaking fluent Italian I’d love to go there for a conference. Not to mention, I’d love to get some connections with the European healthcare IT and mobile health world.

I’d love to make it to the Mobile Health Expo East in New York City on June 21-23, but it’s not looking like I’ll make it to the east coast. I attended this in Las Vegas and had a great time. They tell me they’ll be coming back to Las Vegas. In fact, I got word at HIMSS that they might even partner with a big technology show in Las Vegas. That’s a little disappointing to me, but it makes sense for them to do it. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be going again.

Then, I should definitely find a way to make it to one of the Health 2.0 conferences. Probably the Health 2.0 in San Francisco would be best, but I almost made the one in San Diego in a couple weeks.

The real problem with all of these conferences is that the older I get the less I want to travel. I always enjoy it once I’m there, but there’s certainly a cost to travel. I’m not even talking about the actual cost of the flight and hotel. Although, add in the annoyance of travel and the actual costs of the flight and hotel and I usually opt out of most of the conferences. Unless someone pays my way to the conference. Then, it’s pretty hard for me not to attend.

Which mobile health conferences do you plan to attend? Which ones should I attend?

March 14, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Modular Wearable Wireless Sensors with Real Time Patient Data Using Open Source Software

I must admit that generally when I see press releases from healthcare IT companies I kind of roll my eyes. However, I was pretty intrigued by this press release from Shimmer Research about their Wearable Wireless Sensors.

Since this is a research company, you can see that their approach is a little bit different. They don’t want to be the wearable sensors that I’ve talked about a number of times before. They don’t want to enter the retail market and sell these wearable sensors to health minded individuals (at least as far as I can tell). Instead, they want to be the “Intel Inside” lots of other people’s technology.

I like how they describe their products as modular devices that collect data and use a low power firmware and baseline transmission platform to communicate with another companies device.

“The collected data is sent to a PC, laptop or even smart phone via Bluetooth, radio or local storage via a microSD card. Current sensing capabilities include Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Tilt/vibration, ECG, EMG, GSR, GPS Strain Gauge, PIR/Motion, Temperature, Light and Vibration.”

That pretty much covers a large portion of the medical device sensor components that are available today. I for one am really excited to see what creative healthcare minds do with all of these modular sensors.

March 11, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Moving Holograms – Star Wars Technology in Health Care

That’s right, the 3D hologram image that was made popular on Star Wars is now closer to becoming a reality. Plus, it doesn’t even require 3D glasses to see it. Here’s a quote from the story:

Remember the Star Wars scene in which R2D2 projects a three-dimensional image of a troubled Princess Leia delivering a call for help to Luke Skywalker and his allies? What used to be science fiction is now close to becoming reality thanks to a breakthrough in 3D holographic imaging technology developed at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences.

A team led by optical sciences professor Nasser Peyghambarian developed a new type of holographic telepresence that allows the projection of a three-dimensional, moving image without the need for special eyewear such as 3D glasses or other auxiliary devices. The technology is likely to take applications ranging from telemedicine, advertising, updatable 3D maps and entertainment to a new level.

“Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world,” said Peyghambarian, who led the research effort.

The obvious connection to healthcare is in Telemedicine. You could have a 3D doctor in your house or they could see a 3D patient. That’s pretty cool to consider. I can’t wait for this type of technology to be widespread.

It’s amazing how many scientific discoveries have already been emulated in movies and TV shows like Star Wars and Star Trek.

March 10, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

GE Smart Phone Health Care Apps

GE has launched a partnership with MedHelp to provide a number of health related smart phone apps. You can see them listed here with links to be able to download the apps.

The website is part of GE’s healthymagination and the website says “Tracking your health is easier when it’s broken down to specific activities. I guess that provides GE’s answer to my question about whether we’ll have dozens of health related smart phone apps or one main one to rule them all.

Here’s a look at the GE and MedHelp smart phone apps (which seem to only be available for the iPhone):
I’m Expecting – Keep track of everything that’s happening to you and your baby with 24/7 access to your information both from your phone and online.

Sleep on It – Take control of your sleep patterns with this app that combines alarm clock functionality, sleep data, and health data.

Moody Me – Have more happy days! Track your mood, note what affects it, and record any treatments you’re taking to find out what makes you feel good and what makes you sad so you can better manage your mood.

My Diet Diary – Record your food and exercise routines to stay on track toward your weight loss goals. Share your progress on Facebook and MedHelp to get encouragement from friends!

Pregnancy, Sleeping, Moods and Dieting. An interesting combination to start off with. I have a feeling we’re just barely getting started with health apps.

March 8, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

1 Million Prescription Text Alerts Using Walgreens Prescription App

I really love when people say that mobile healthcare is never going to happen. Of course, many people really don’t mean what they’re saying. What they’re really trying to say is that there’s not a full industry for just mobile healthcare apps. Instead, they argue that mobile will play a role in healthcare, but it will likely come from existing healthcare industry players.

I think this news coming out of Walgreens is an example of that. Last week, we got word that 4 months after its launch, the Walgreens prescription refill by scan has over 1 million subscribers to the prescription text alert service.

I saw this application at the CES conference (or maybe it was from one of Walgreen’s competitors). Sweet and simple. Just like consumers want in their apps. Props to Walgreens for launching their Refill by Scan application on both the iPhone and Android app marketplaces.

Here’s a quote from Walgreen’s President of e-Commerce, Sona Chawla:

“Our customers have enthusiastically adopted our mobile applications and we’re continuing to bring innovative technology to our online and mobile platforms to enhance the customer experience,” Sona Chawla, Walgreens President of E-commerce, stated in the company release. “With refill by scan, prescription text alerts, unique photo features and the ability to shop or browse products all available on a mobile device, we’re adding new levels of choice, control and convenience for our rapidly-growing numbers of mobile customers.”

I’m still interested to see how all of these mobile health applications evolve. Are we going to end up having 20-30 apps on our smart phones? Or is there going to be a few apps that take over and do most of the heavy lifting for mobile healthcare? Either way, I can tell were at the very beginning of what will be an exciting change for smart phones in health care.

March 7, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Most Popular Mobile Device at HIMSS11

I think it was quite evident that there was one mobile device that was by far the most popular mobile device at the healthcare IT conference, HIMSS 2011. The funny thing is that despite being the most popular device, the vendor of this device was no where to be found among the 1000+ HIMSS exhibitors. Yes, that’s right. There were 1000 exhibitors at HIMSS and the most popular mobile health device vendor was no where to be found.

Of course, if you haven’t guessed already, the most popular mobile device at HIMSS 11 was definitely the iPad.

It seemed like about every other booth had an iPad giveaway. Every EMR vendor at HIMSS had some sort of iPad strategy and many made announcements at HIMSS about their new iPad EMR. Sadly, I didn’t walk away with an iPad myself, unless some nice vendor contacts me in the next couple days saying that I won their drawing. Then, I’d jump for joy.

I find it pretty amazing that the iPad was marketed so well at HIMSS at a cost of $0. Yes, I saw the Fujitsu iPad like offering (although really a tablet with the iPad form factor and related similarities). I also saw the yet to be released Blackberry playbook. Yet, there was no booth for Apple. There were no Apple sales or marketing people at HIMSS. There was no big Apple party at HIMSS. Yet, there’s no doubt that the iPad came off a big winner at HIMSS.

February 28, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Calling All Android Medical Apps

Ok, so as you can tell from the title of this post, I’m looking for any and all Android medical apps that I can find. Yes, I am biased to Android since that’s what I use for my phone. I’d like to get an iPod touch, but I still haven’t gotten the chance to get it yet. So, for now I’ll be trying out the various medical apps for Android.

So, let me know which medical apps are the best ones you’ve found for the Android device. If you know of a list of Android healthcare apps, then that works just fine too. Let me know and after HIMSS I’ll get down and dirty with the apps and write about them here for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Thanks!

February 17, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.