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Aetna Shuts Down CarePass – What’s It Mean?

Looks like MobiHealthNews was the first to break the story that Aetna had chose to shutdown their CarePass product. This is big news since CarePass was Aetna’s baby and calling card in the mobile health world. They had a lot riding on it. Although, I think that iTriage, which Aetna acquired, was certainly the most used app under their umbrella.

If you’ve been on the mobile health/mHealth conference circuits you know that Aetna has been everywhere. Plus, the CEO of Aetna was even a keynote speaker at HIMSS (makes you wonder how much they paid for that spot). Without their CarePass product I’ll be interested to see what Aetna does in this space. Will they basically pull out almost completely?

Sure, Aetna will always take part in some way or another, but will they be pumping money into it like they’d been doing for a while now? I don’t think they will. I think we’ll see Aetna take a backseat approach to the IT part of the industry and just hop on board other people’s work like they did with iTriage.

Another piece of the MobiHealthNews article mentioned above that really intrigued me is this:

The company found no shortage of willing partners to feed data into the app. Over the two years of its existence, CarePass interfaced with MapMyFitness, LoseIt, RunKeeper, Fooducate, Jawbone, Fitbit, fatsecret, Withings, breathresearch (makers of MyBreath), Zipongo, BodyMedia, Active, Goodchime!, MoxieFit, Passage, FitSync, FitBug, BettrLife, Thryve, SparkPeople, HealthSpark, NetPulse, Earndit, FoodEssentials, Personal.com, Healthline, GoodRx, GymPact, Pilljogger, mHealthCoach, Care4Today, and meQuilibrium.

I think there’s a lesson here when it comes to API integrations. Who would have guessed that after making such a huge investment in CarePass, Aetna would just close up shop? I’m quite sure none of these companies that integrated with CarePass’ API thought CarePass would be gone. These types of integrations can be very time consuming and now all that effort is down the drain.

Although, the bigger lesson here is that just because you integrate a bunch of data from other applications doesn’t mean your app is going to be a success. It’s what you do with the data that’s integrated that matters. That’s why I’m really skeptical about Apple Health and HealthKit. Getting the data is one thing. Making that data useful is something very different.

August 27, 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.

Timex SmartWatch Doesn’t Need a Smartphone

We’ve been covering a lot of the movement in the SmartWatch space. It’s a really interesting set of technology since every one of them integrates some piece of healthcare into their technology. One of the features of pretty much every smartwatch out there is that they’re essentially just a second screen for your smartphone. That means you need a smartphone to be able to use the smartwatch. That’s not really too much of an issue since most of us have smartphones.

While it’s true that most people have smartphones, when it comes to health and fitness you often don’t want to carry around your smartphone while you’re running, swimming, biking, etc. With this in mind, I was intrigued by the announcement of the Timex Ironman smartwatch that doesn’t require a smartphone. Here’s a short description from the WSJ article:

The point, for Timex, was to create a device that could keep someone connected during hardcore workouts without having to bring along a smartphone or music player. It’s waterproof down to 50 meters, so it’s fine for swimming and even diving, and has a Qualcomm Mirasol display, which is more visible in direct sunlight than many LCD screens.

The watch tracks a user’s speed, distance traveled and pace in real time, and can share it with friends and family who want to follow along. The wireless connectivity enables the watch to send email messages, and a “find me” mode allows users to send an alert to emergency contacts such as friends and family if trouble arises.

I see this as another great evolution of the smartwatch environment. First, it provides a health and fitness alternative that makes a lot of sense. Second, it’s really interesting to see a company like Timex getting involved in the space. It will be really interesting to see how Timex does developing a touchscreen watch since that’s not their usual skill set.

August 20, 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.

Physician Use of Mobile Technology Infographic

Physician Use of Mobile Technology Infographic

August 13, 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.

FitBit Makes You Gain Weight

How’s that for a headline? That’s the story that caught my eye on this NBC – Today show article that talks about the Fitbit, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband tracking technology and its impact on people’s weight. First, it’s worth noting that the Today show is talking about fitness trackers. That’s a great sign of the mainstream appeal of these fitness trackers. Although, I guess we have to ask if it’s a fad.

However, back to the original part of the story. Does the FitBit make you gain weight? Obviously, a medical device doesn’t make you gain weight or make you lose weight. However, the information it offers you can influence the choices you make. The article talks about how one person compared the estimated calories burn vs the estimated calories eaten and there was a disconnect with what was happening with their body. According to the fitbit, they were burning a lot more calories than they were taking in, but they were still gaining weight.

What this highlights to me is something most of us have known forever. Weight loss is really hard and is a much more complicated problem than we want it to be. It’s simple to say that it should just be a mathematical equation of calories in and calories burned, but it’s not that simple. People’s metabolism matters. The type of calories you eat matters. I could keep going, but you get the point.

We should of course know this since the weight loss industry has to be a trillion dollar industry. People will spend hordes of money losing weight. Unfortunately, much of that money is spent on things that don’t get results. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not often the devices fault as much as the user error (or lack of user use).

Let’s also be clear that we’re still really early on in the fitness tracker and other wearable sensor technology evolution. Five more years from now I think the sensors and algorithms will be so much better than today. Although, I might be most hopeful that people will find some amazing psychological solutions that really change people’s behavior for good. The potential is there to make an enormous difference in so many people’s lives.

August 6, 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.

Seniors and WiFi

I’ve had a number of long and deep discussions with people about seniors and their adoption of technology to deal with their health. So, I was really hit by this tweet I saw a few months ago about Seniors and their access to wifi:

I imagine that some would argue that many seniors don’t need wifi since they’re just going to use the internet on their phone. This is a fair point that’s worthy of deeper consideration and understanding. However, I find really interesting that so many seniors don’t have Wifi. I’ll be watching to see how this changes over time.

I guess the key healthcare question is: How important will wifi be to the future of healthcare?

While I love what’s happening in the mobile space, our data plans aren’t ready for what we can accomplish on wifi. I don’t see them getting there for a while either. Plus, our mobile phones become even more powerful when they’re connected to wifi. Kind of reminds me of the difference between when I paid for long distance by the minute versus our current unlimited long distance plan. That’s the difference between mobile data and wifi.

Of course, every good senior healthcare technology aficionado will tell you that in many cases the senior doesn’t need to have internet or be tech savvy. The seniors aren’t the ones that will use the technology. It’s the caregivers that are going to use the technology and you can be sure to a large majority of them have wifi.

July 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.

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.