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Smart Contact Lens with Health Sensors

We’ve written about Google Glass before, but now Google has partnered with a Swiss company to bring their Google Eye technology to the market. Here’s a short description from this Venture Beat article:

Google and Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis announced this morning that they will be collaborating on bringing Google’s smart contact lens technology, which contains sensors for tracking things like blood glucose levels for diabetics, to consumers.

Specifically, Novartis says it’s interested in the tech’s glucose-sensing capabilities for diabetics, as well as its potential for helping people with presbyopia, who can’t read without glasses. The smart lens technology could eventually help to fix the eye’s autofocus capabilities for nearby objects, potentially by implanting it directly into the eye.

Let’s make sure that you don’t think this contact lens is going to replace Google Glass. We’re not there yet, but don’t be surprised if it gets there some day. These new smart contact lens are more like the variety of health sensors that are hitting the market than they are a Google Glass replacement. For purposes of this site, that’s just as cool.

I’ve often argued that we need to prepare ourselves for a wave of health sensors that are coming. This smart contact lens is another great example of this wave.

July 16, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

SmartWatch Showdown

The following is a guest blog post by Lauren Still.

For those hoping the new Android Wear devices coupled with Google Fit would be some sort of mashup of a Basis-type fitness tracker and Google Now notifications, well, you’re going to have to wait some more.  Last week at I/O, Google previewed the three new smartwatches running their new wearable device OS: Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch and Motorola’s Moto360.  Both the Samsung and LG will be available for order after the first week of July, and the Moto360 is planned for late summer.

Between the LG and Samsung, the devices are near identical with the major differences being in stylistic hardware design.  Both devices have the same processor (1.2GHz), storage and memory (4GB, 512MB respectively), have your standard Bluetooth 4.0 LE, accelerometer, gyro and compass as well as being water resistant for up to 30 min in a meter of water. Neither device has a speaker, or the ability to send audio navigation directions or information to bluetooth headphones, and any “Ok Google” searches return with cards, where information can then be pushed to the user’s mobile device.

The major technical differences show up in the display:  the LG has a 280 x 280 IPS LCD, while the Samsung sports a 320 x 320 SuperAMOLED display. The resolution isn’t a major difference, but the Samsung does come off a with a bit more umph. Regardless, don’t expect to be able to see either display in bright sunlight.

Both device batteries are expected to last at least a full day on a single charge, but with the LG’s larger 400mAh capacity and lower-level screen, users may end up pulling more time from the device, even though the AMOLED has an overall lower power consumption during long displays of black pixels.  Current battery life usage tests for both show about a 60% drop over 12 hours of fairly active use.  Charging back to full strength from there takes about an hour for the Samsung and around 90-minutes on the LG model.  The LG model has a magnetic charging base which is incredibly convenient and streamlined, while the Samsung design is clumsy and awkward to click in, and does not lay flat.

The Samsung also includes a heart rate monitor, and while that may seem valuable to the healthcare crowd, it’s only implemented as an on-demand feature so don’t expect any continuous data tracking for now.  Additionally, Samsung has a pretty bad track record when it comes to heart rate monitor accuracy, so actual applicability in any use is TBD.  Even with the HR monitor and better display, the Samsung is the less expensive option at $199, with LG being an additional $30.

The dimensions are nearly the same, as are the weights, with the LG being a bit heavier and with a slightly smaller footprint. Both devices are on the clunkier side with large square displays. Stylistically, the LG takes on a more “sport look” and is straight black with a replaceable soft matted rubber strap, traditional buckle and very squared off face.  The Samsung’s casing is far more refined being a near match to their older Gear 2, with beveled edges and a silver boarder finish, but the clasping mechanism on the fixed sportband is a nub-button style making it feel less secure.

Side by side, it will probably come down to fit and comfort for most users.  The LG, being very flat, tends to irritate the wrist bones on those users with smaller or bonier wrists, even at looser strap settings.  The Samsung’s back has a slight taper, and will be more comfortable. There’s also a physical on/off button hidden on the bottom of the Samsung, but given the use model of the devices it seems a little unnecessary and just one more thing to break.

Both devices are quite responsive to gesture control, and there’s been no noticeable lag in screen activation through this feature.

As far as the OS goes, Android Wear works mostly the same regardless of which device it’s on. This includes standard settings like screen dimming and activation, notifications through Google Now, Google Fit functionality and voice command.  Visually, the major difference is the “clock” face with several Google OEM options available, and then each device having a few more choices. Notifications pop up on the bottom of both devices, and swipe directions to control actions are consistent across both models, typically giving users the option to mute, view, reply or push information to the user’s phone.

Voice commands start with the classic “Ok Google…” just as with mobile devices, but includes a few wearable specific commands such as take a note, reminders, steps, send a text/email, etc.  Google has no plans to segregate Android Wear apps from the rest of the Play Store, so functionally any application downloaded to a user’s phone that has a Wear component will be synced to the device as well.

So, aside from seeing what the final OS looks like upon public release, and what apps will be available in the near future, the remaining major question is how the Moto360 stacks up against the other two devices.  The specs aren’t fully released, but given how close the other two compare on a technical level, expect it to at least make par. What is known about the Moto360 is that it has a much more classical look and feel, with round face, stainless steel accents, leather straps, a physical button and will likely be dust and water resistant.

The watch is still on the bulky side, with the face about as large around as a silver dollar, and the casing is about as thick as the others. The round design appeals to both genders, and will fit smaller wrists better aesthetically and bonier wrists more comfortably (n=1 in this very scientific study). The display also flips, unlike the other two, for users who prefer devices on the right arm. As for charging, the backside is port-fee, and appears to be an induction based design, and that also points to some possible contact based bio-sensor functionality. Motorola states that  battery life was “made a priority”  based on lessons learned from developing their first smartwatch. Again, if much of this current design is a pivot from the first attempt, there’s a reasonable expectation that there will be more fitness tracking functionality in the Moto360 than in the Samsung or LG watches, but Motorola is being rather coy on those points.

Unfortunately, for fitness tracker users looking for an Android integrated option, none of these devices are there yet, but there is the potential once apps come into the marketplace for Android Wear and especially once the GoogleFit SDK is released.  For previous Pebble owners looking for a notification device replacement with a little more flexibility, all three are good options, and it really just comes down to aesthetic preferences.  In either case, it’s probably worth waiting a couple months for the Moto360, as it really seems the most promising of the three.

And on a more depressing note, this really signals the end for cross-platform smart watches like the Pebble as both Apple and Google work their way into developing truly connected, fluidly integrated platform-specific devices.

July 2, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

InstaMD Headset’s Failed IndieGogo Campaign

I was really interested to watch and see how the InstaMD IndieGogo campaign would do. Here’s their video preview of the product:

I think the trend of making vital signs tracking easy is an important one. Although, I wasn’t sold on the use of an existing stethoscope with a headset being the modality that would be found interesting by users. The problem is that most patients don’t just have a stethoscope laying around the house. So, you have to buy the stethoscope and the InstaMD headset. Plus, those two items together with your mobile device feels quite cumbersome.

Considering the campaign only got 9 funders of their project reaching $546 raised, I have a feeling many others saw it the same way I did.

While InstaMD wasn’t a success on IndieGogo (and maybe they’ll find success outside of that platform), I think that much of their thinking is correct. We’re going to want to track our vital signs in a really simple, effective way. So, I guess it’s fair to say that I’m bearish on InstaMD’s technology, but I’m bullish on the future of personal health monitoring and personal health data tracking.

June 25, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Apple Health and HealthKit – I’m Extremely Skeptical

Everyone is buzzing over the latest announcement from Apple at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) that an Apple Health app and HealthKit (for healthcare developers) will be included in the latest iOS release (iOS8). The announcement was a little weak for me because it had already been leaked that the announcement was coming and also because the details of what it will do are really glossed over.

Whenever I hear an announcement without many details I start to wonder if it’s just vaporware right now. I think it is in this case. Instead of Apple offering a healthcare product that they know people need and will use, it feels like they’ve seen the growth of the health tracker and wearables market and they’re just throwing something out there to see if it works.

This HuffPo article compared the Apple HealthKit to what Apple did in iTunes. That’s so out of touch with the reality of healthcare apps. Music is a simple thing (not the rights part, but the usage part) that everyone understands. If you give them the music, then the consumer can go to town with it. Health data is much more complex.

The reality of health data is that it often has little value without some sort of outside expert analysis. This becomes even more important when you start mixing multiple sources of data into one interface like Apple will be doing with HealthKit. Sure, if Apple was focused on making all of the data they collected from all these third parties into smart, actionable data, then I’d be really excited. However, they’re not doing this at all. They’re just going to be a dumb platform that anyone can connect to and the smartest thing it will do is send you a notification. However, the outside application will have to prompt it to even do that.

I don’t think that Apple HealthKit is all bad. Maybe it will make it easier for developers to code their application once and then be able to connect their application to any blood pressure cuff out there. If they can do that, it would provide a lot of value to entrepreneurs in the space. However, it won’t transform health as we know it the way some people are describing it.

I also love people propping up the names of the Mayo Clinic and Epic. Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault had some similar names as well. How are they doing? A name doesn’t mean you’ll get a result.

The Epic name is interesting. However, I’m not very confident that bringing one closed garden together with another closed garden is really going to produce a lot of results. I’ll get back to you when I actually see them announce what they’re really doing together. Until then, this just feels like Epic and Apple had dinner together and said that it would be great if they could work together. If they had more, they sure didn’t talk about it on stage. So, I’m skeptical of what will really come out of the partnership.

June 4, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Samsung’s $50 Million Digital Health Investment Fund

Fred Pennic over at HIT Consultant posted a great story about the new $50 million digital health initiative coming out of Samsung. Here’s a portion of Fred’s article about the announcement:

The new initiative will utilize a new health open reference design platform tailored to take advantage of the latest sensors, behavioral algorithms, battery technologies and displays.
To aggressively support this initiative, Samsung has also announced a $50 million investment fund dedicated to innovative start-ups and technologies in the digital health space. The goal of the fund is to stimulate creative new approaches to digital health and Samsung’s open platforms.

I’ve long been interested in the role that cell phone companies will play in the digital health space and specifically in the health sensors space. There’s always been a bit of a problem for me with the various health sensors out there in the market today. I just don’t care enough about them to wear one every day. The watch comes closest to a natural product that I could see myself wearing it regularly, but the clip on products just aren’t something I want to do every day. I have too many other things to think about.

Of course, you wouldn’t catch most of us without our cell phones on us. This is why it’s always made sense why the cell phone would be the ultimate health tracker. It doesn’t require a habit change by the end user.

Until this cell phone-health sensor vision comes to fruition we’re going to have to limp along with these other wearable technologies and no doubt Samsung wants to be a major player in that space so they know which ones are worth integrating into their cell phones down the road. With that in mind, $50 million seems like a small investment for them to make in the space.

I personally see this $50 million fund as a small down payment by Samsung on what will likely become a much larger investment for them in healthcare.

May 29, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Decline of Health and Fitness Tracker Usage

I’ve started hearing a number of people mention this. In some cases it’s first hand accounts of their own usage and in other cases it’s people talking about the health and fitness tracker usage trend. Basically, it seems that we haven’t yet figured out how to make a health and fitness tracker sticky. This chart from Edneavour Partners shows the tracker usage trend really well:
Health and Fitness Tracker Usage

From my own personal experience, I’ve found a similar usage curve. The big challenge is that the value of the tracker 3 months out isn’t clear. When you first start using the tracker, the data is quite interesting because you’ve never seen the fitness tracking data. Plus, you’re interested to see how it changes over time. Once you reach the 3 month plateau, you already basically know the patterns and so they lose their value.

What’s not clear is whether these companies (or some outside company) will find a way to leverage a long term history of tracking into something really valuable. Will having blood pressure trends for 3 years make it so you can detect potential health issues that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise? I think this is the potential for the quantified self movement, but I’m skeptical that the current set of trackers and sensors will get us there. How much value can be gotten from steps, weight, and blood pressure? I think we’ll need a more advanced set of trackers to be able to reach that longer term goal.

May 21, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Turn Any Stethoscope Into a mHealth Device

I was intrigued by a mHealth startup company called InstaMD that’s Launching at TiECon today. Here’s a short description and video of the product.

The InstaMD Multi-Use Headset is easily attachable to any stethoscope and provides users with the ability to record heart, lung or GI sounds, which can then be uploaded directly to the InstaMD provided web and mobile app. Users with access to the InstaMD web and mobile app can record and archive their audio files and, if desired, share their information with their medical provider in real-time. For the first time, convenient audio and video health monitoring is available to consumers through any computer or smart mobile device. In essence, InstaMD’s Multi-Use Headset is making advanced health monitoring more convenient and cost-
effective than ever before.

I think it’s a pretty interesting use of the traditional stethoscope. I’d be interested to see it in action. What isn’t clear to me is whether InstaMD wants to be in the device space or whether they want to be in the Telemedicine space. It would be interesting to learn what their long term goal is for the company.

Ont thing that is an issue for this product is that I don’t know many patients who just have a stethoscope laying around at home. Usually the doctor is the one with the stethoscope and not the patient. It’s not like the thermometer where everyone has one already. That’s a barrier to adoption that I think will be an issue. I think they’ll have to sell the stethoscope with the headset.

If this interest you, check out their Indiegogo campaign.

May 15, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

The mHealth Move from Direct to Consumer to Employer Health

I’m starting to see a trend that’s happening over and over again in the mobile health space. Many mHealth companies focus initially on direct to consumer. They put their app on the app store and wait for the patients to come rolling in. Unfortunately, Field of Dreams was wrong when it said, “If you build it, they will come.” Mobile health companies quickly realize that marketing a mobile health app direct to consumers is a really tough business. Plus, consumers can be really fickle and so it’s hard to make money even if you do get some traction and following.

In the startup world when something like this happens, they do what they call a “pivot.” Essentially they pivot their product from one business model to a new one. Sometimes that means basically scrapping their product and starting a new one. Other times it’s applying their technology to a new space.

The pivot I’ve seen most often with mHealth companies is the pivot away from a consumer health application to an employer health application. Many employers are looking for ways to improve the health of their employees since their healthcare costs are huge and real. So, a mobile health company can make an ROI case for why the employer should buy their product. I won’t dig into the ROI of employer health here, but I should in a future post.

I had one guy I talked to recently basically say that healthcare startups should focus on the employer health space. He saw that as the real opportunity for a healthcare startup to be successful. While I certainly find the employer health space intriguing, I’m not sure it’s the best space for healthcare startup companies. A lot of it depends on the company and the DNA of the people at that company.

What I do see is a trend of mobile health companies interested in employer health. I’ll be interested to see how many of them give it a go and then pivot back to being consumer health focused companies.

May 7, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Pilotitis in Wired Health Drawing

I always love these drawings at events. This one was done at the Cisco Breakfast at the Wired Health event. My favorite part of this is what they call “Pilotitis.” I’m not sure what exactly they meant by it, but I’ve seen a lot of ways you could apply pilotitis. Whether it’s organizations that can’t get out of the pilot phase of the business or whether it’s healthcare organizations that want to pilot everything and can’t make any real decisions.

April 30, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Fuelband Team Fired

In the world of wearables, the Nike FuelBand was one of the rockstar products out there. So it was intriguing to see the report from CNet that Nike was fireing the majority of the FuelBand team. Plus, they note that they will stop making wearable hardware. They will continue to sell the FuelBand SE, but won’t be bringing the slimmer version to market like they’d planned this Fall. They will continue to improve the Nike+FuelBand App.

This is an interesting move by Nike. I wonder what led to this decision. Was it an issue internal to Nike or did they just see that they had no need to be doing the hardware since there were plenty of alternatives out there. They could just use their brand and some Nike powered apps with the existing hardware on the market? It would be hard to argue that there hasn’t been a huge interest in this type of fitness tracking product.

One potential issue is that the fitness tracking product line is finding that retention of users is a big problem. People start using a fitness tracker and do so quite well for a month or two. After that, they stop using it because they’ve already more or less seen the results and the data. This is the challenge these fitness trackers face. How do you keep the product interesting and continually engage users.

Nike getting out of the hardware game isn’t really a big issue since there are so many other trackers. However, I wonder if it’s a clue as to what else might be happening in the market.

April 23, 2014 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 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.