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Scan What’s In Your Food – TellSpec

I recently came across an IndieGogo campaign for a product called TellSpec. They describe TellSpec as “A revolutionary hand-held device that tells you the allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, and ingredients in your food.”

The concept is really interesting and they’ve already raised $116,826 from 650 people, surpassing their goal of raising $100,000 and they still have 24 days left for their campaign. Given those numbers, I guess many others are interested in this as well.

While I think the concept is beautiful, I’m a little skeptical of how good it will actually work. I’m interested to see if it really can produce the results that they describe. If it can, then no doubt there will be many interested in using such a product.

I do wish that it would identify both the chemicals and the portion sizes. If it could do both, then it would take food tracking to a much higher level of tracking. Maybe this will be an opportunity for TellSpec to partner with another company that has portion identification using something like a picture. The combined functions would make TellSpec interesting for a much larger market than just those interested in identifying chemicals in their food.

Another major challenge with what they’ve created is that it’s a separate device. One day this or something like it will be built into our cell phones. I don’t have to explain why people don’t want to carry two devices. Once it’s integrated with the smart phone I can already see the pre-meal ritual being to scan your food so that what you’re eating is captured and tracked.

I once heard someone say that one of the biggest factors influencing our health is the food we put in our body. Maybe TellSpec combined with other mobile health applications will get us closer to understanding the relationship between the foods we eat and are health.

November 6, 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 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.

Study Shows Mobile Devices Increase Patient Engagement

I’ve heard many people ask the question of whether or not mobile health care helps or hurts patient engagement. The latest study says it definitely improves it.

A study conducted by the Center for Connected Health, published in 2013, found that when a patient used a wireless device to track data, they were found to track their blood pressure more often than those who else a telephone modem device.  In this study, the median age was 61.7 years old. Here are some of the other findings:

  • Those using wireless devices recorded and engaged more frequently 
  • The number of uploads per day were higher with those using a wireless device.

Personally, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If I had the option of tracking health data on a mobile device, or on a regular telephone, I would definitely choose the mobile device. It’s so much more convenient, and easier to remember. I don’t know if this was an option in the study, but I know with many mobile devices, you can set up push alerts. If a person gets an alert, reminding them to record certain information, I feel like it would help as well.

What I thought was most interesting was the median age — 61.7. I don’t think it would come as any surprise that someone quite a bit younger (myself) would think that mobile healthcare would help with patient engagement, especially with the younger generation. However, the fact that the participants in this study are older, I think that is what makes this study a little more monumental.  At least with the people I know that are around that age, mobile devices can be intimidating. But if they are set up with their device, shown how it works, and understand it, I think that people of all ages will start to benefit from mobile devices.

July 15, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Pain Squad App Helps Adolescent Cancer Patients

I can’t even imagine what a scary experience it would be to have cancer, let along as a child. One of the ways to treat the symptoms of cancer is to understand the pain level, and what the patient is feeling. However, that can be difficult to get a full grasp on, especially in children. If they aren’t tracking it daily, then information collected can be flawed.

Last year, an app was released in beta testing at a Canadian hospital in Toronto to help doctors understand more fully what their younger patients were feeling as they underwent cancer treatment. The app, called Pain Squad, was developed using the feedback from children and teenagers who had cancer. It involves pain surveys that have to be filled out twice daily, but involves the child and engages them.

The app features videos of celebrities from popular law enforcement shows, Rookie Blue and Flashpoint, giving motivation to kids as they do a certain amount of journals in a row, and they can be promoted to different ranks. This video does a great job of explaining the app, and shows some of the videos. They are so motivating!

I really liked this quote, from the parents of a little girl named Olivia, who was a study participant:

Filling out a paper pain journal was like homework. The Pain Squad app is interactive and the more Olivia used it, the more rewards she got. It only takes a few minutes to complete but it gave Olivia a better understanding of and more control over her pain.”

Last year, this was in some of the final stages of testing, and because of it’s success, it was set to be released in other areas in Canada, as well as outside of Canada. I’m not sure if it’s officially been released since then, but I love the idea of this. There’s only so much you can determine from asking someone to point at a smiley face on a poster board to describe their pain level (I personally never really know what to say when I’m confronted with that sign!)

This app is designed for the iPhone.

June 26, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

“The Kaiser Way” – Kaiser Permanente’s Approach to Mobile Healthcare

Kaiser Permanente is the healthcare provider I went to since the time I was born, until I went to college. Imagine my surprise when I headed off to school and discover that it didn’t even exist in the state I moved to. In my limited scope of knowledge, I think I thought Kaiser was the only healthcare provider out there!

Even though I’ve come to realize there is definitely more than one healthcare provider out there, I think I’ll always like Kaiser. My husband and I are back in Colorado, and are currently working to get a plan covered by Kaiser. As I’ve heard my parents talk about them, and seen some of the services offered, I’ve been impressed with what they have to offer, and how it seems like they’ve been very involved in mobile healthcare. So I wasn’t too surprised when I saw this article that talks about how Kaiser has made it possible for their patient’s to connect with their doctors via email.

In the article, Bernard J. Tyson, Kaiser Permanente’s Incoming Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said of this mobile app that “It’s something our members wanted, they have it and they love it.” I think that this goes to show that Kaiser is really trying to be intune with the changing healthcare world, and what their patients wnat. Since being launched, there have been 14 million e-visits, Tyson said, and members can access these visits through a free mobile app.

Patients are able to connect with their doctor through the app by emailing them questions, making appointments, and accessing lab results. It allows patients to decide whether or not they actually need to make an appointment, as well as build a stronger relationship with their physician. Kaiser has worked hard to ensure the safety of the patients using this app, as that is definitely a big concern across the board when it comes to mHealth.

Personally, I love the idea about being able to email your physician. Back in Utah, I was overall impressed with the patient portals that were available to me, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t easier to connect with my doctors. In fact, there was one instance where I tried to get in contact with a physician for over a month, just getting the run around from her assistants, and I eventually just gave up. The doctor seemed very on top of things, but her staff was not, and I always wished I had been able to just contact her quickly and easily through a method like the one that Kaiser has in place.

I won’t go over everything that is talked about in this article, but I highly recommend reading it. It sounds like Kaiser has a lot in store for the future. Tyson mentioned that the obvious next “natural progression” is for telehealth. I really found this article to be really excited, and I can’t wait to see what Kaiser has in store. Hopefully other healthcare systems will take note and follow in their suite.

June 24, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Discover The Best Health Apps With AppRx by Health Tap

Well, Health Tap has once again come out with a new and useful way to help people find legitimate healthcare information. In an effort to help people sift through the 40,000 health and exercise apps available, AppRx was created.

AppRx is a directory of apps that have been recommended and reviewed by some of the world’s leading physicians. If you’ve ever tried looking through apps, it can be hard to figure out which ones should be trusted. Because, not all health apps should be regarded as so.

It’s a simple idea, but one that I think is long overdue. I just checked it out, and it looks like it is very easy to navigate. You can search for specific apps, or select from a variety of categories. There are 23 different categories, that cover everything from ab workouts to mental health to pregnancy. You can even set it to show just iOS compatible apps or Android compatible apps. To be honest, I think that’s one of my favorite features! Back when I only had an Android device, I got so frustrated when I was searching for a certain kind of app, and only iOS apps would show up.

You can also sign up for a newsletter, which sends you an app of the week — this weekly publication highlights a certain app that comes highly recommended from physicians. So if you want to try out new apps that already have the seal of approval from a physician, this might be a good newsletter to subscribe to!

I am excited to use this website — not only for my personal use, but to help find apps to write about on here! There are already some app certification programs in the works, such as Happtique, but until apps start getting the mark of approval from that, AppRx is a great alternative. I use Health Tap a decent amount, and I do trust that information I get from there, so it will be nice to have this additional resource.

June 3, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

iChemoDiary Helps Cancer Patients Track Symptoms

In Friday afternoon’s #HITsm Chat, the following Tweet caught my eye:

Although I don’t have cancer, and hope never to, many people that I know have been diagnosed with some kind of cancer. Because of this, I was interested in learning more about this app and see what it had to offer.

When you have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy, it’s important to pay close attention to any symptoms or side effects that you may experience, as well stay on track with treatment. iChemoDiary makes that process a little bit easier, by giving several options to users for tracking this information. You can track your schedule, medicines that are being taken, and access your treatment plan easily.

In addition, the app allows you to track which symptoms you should be watching out for, and take notes throughout the day. Reports can be created concerning anything that you recorded in the app.

This app seems like an easy way to track chemotherapy treatment, and easily share the information with doctors and nurses. It’s free to download, and looks pretty easy to use. I think it would be nice to have an app dedicated to keeping track of this information, rather than having to worry about remembering the details, or carrying around a notebook everywhere you go. Similar to using a  food diary, sometimes it’s just easier to have something that is easily accessible and created solely for this puprose.

Are there any other apps available for people that are undergoing chemotherapy, or who have been diagnosed with cancer?

Download here for iOS devices.

May 29, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Stay Hydrated With The Jomi Band

Drinking water can be the solution to a lot of health problems — it aids in weight loss, it helps the major organs of the body function better, and well, it’s just not good to be dehydrated! But many people, myself included, don’t drink enough water on a regular basis! I know for me personally, I just get so distracted throughout the day, it doesn’t even dawn on me that I didn’t drink water until 6 PM hits, and I’m totally out of it. At that point, my husband asks if I drank anything, and as I think about it…I realize I didn’t! Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a reminder.

If you follow CNN on Facebook, you may have recently read this article. It talks about an Estonian start-up called Jomi Interactive. Several of their prototypes were released last week, and one of the most interesting is the Jomi Band and Sleeve. It’s basically a device that you can attach to your water bottle, and it tracks how much you drink. If it feels that you haven’t had enough fluids, it will let you know with flashing LED lights. The device will be created to link up to a mobile device, if that’s appealing to you for some reason. 

There’s another product already on the market called Hydracoach. It’s a water bottle that has the tracking device built in. So the only main difference I can find is that the Jomi Band can be used on multiple water bottles.

It seems like an interesting idea, especially for anyone who isn’t particularly good at keeping track of how much (or little) they drink. It may seem like an easy thing to do, but when sometimes…life gets busy. This could be very helpful for anyone that needs, or even just wants, to make sure they are drinking enough water. Granted, if the bottle is filled with something other than water, it may not be as helpful.

The Jomi Band is only in the developmental stages, but if you want to be informed of it making it’s big debut, go sign up over here. If it’s not too expensive, I might just get one myself.

May 8, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Walgreens Starts Steps with Balance® Rewards

Walgreens has been rather savvy when it comes to mHealth. They have a great mobile app and website to help manage prescriptions as well as find answers to health questions. It was no surprise to me when I heard about their Steps with Balance Rewards program.

If you are familiar with Walk with Walgreens, Steps with Balance® Rewards replace that program. Basically, you get rewards for doing simple exercise and health “tasks” throughout the day. By walking, running, or tracking weight management, you earn points that can be redeemed for products and other rewards at Walgreens.

There are a few popular devices that can be associated with your Steps with Balance account — BodyMedia, FitBit, and Withings. This makes it easier to earn rewards and track your progress.

I’m not sure if this is something I’ll sign up for, just because I feel like I have so many other programs I’m involved in, but it seems cool. It sounds like a good way to track your progress toward certain goals, and earn rewards while you are at it. It has the typical features of a health tracking program – you can connect with others, set personalized goals, and see your progress. It looks like it has been pretty successful so far, as there have been close to 10 million miles logged and around 600 thousand users. So if you shop at Walgreens a lot, and you are wanting to be rewarded for living a healthy life, this may be the program for you!

If you want to sign up, it’s free! Just head over here and get started today (and yes, it’s free)

May 3, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Lose Weight and Win Money With DietBet

After I posted about the study that found financial incentives to be a good motivator for weight loss, I have been on the lookout for more websites popping up like Gym Pact. I was curious to see how much something like this would motivate me, and since I no longer belong to a gym, Gym Pact was out of the question. Well, today a friend of my sent me an invitation to a website called DietBet, and I was immediately intrigued.

DietBet is a 4-week program, where participants need to lose 4% of their body weight (or more) in order to get any of the “pot.” You can create your own challenge, or join someone else’s, and pay a certain sum of money to participate. For instance, the one I joined was $25. And let me tell you, I’m more motivated than ever before to lose weight, even just to get back my $25.

Whenever a new person enters your group, the pot rises. I was looking at the top game, and it’s at almost $9,000. I wouldn’t mind being part of that group! When the date arrives for the contest to begin, you have to take two photos  – one full length photo of you on a scale in “airport security” attire, and one of the scale, the number on it, and a piece of paper with a weigh-in word, to prove it’s actually you. I was wondering how they would do this, actually, and it seems like they’ve got it under control! These photos are kept private, and you don’t have to share your weight with the others in the competition.

During the competition, you can post photos, write comments, and just interact with others in the game. There is also an iPhone app companion for the game, which I thought was nice.  Starting on the last day of the competition, you have 48 hours to “weigh out”

I really believe that money is a great motivator for just about anything, and I’m interested to see if I actually have any success using this site. (PS, if you want to join in, my group starts on April 29th. The more the merrier!)

April 19, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

The Smartphone Physical – Is It Possible?

Sometimes I mention that, with all of the mHealth apps and technology that is being developed, there may come a day that we won’t have to leave our homes to see the doctor. Well, that day may be sooner than I thought.

I just read this article, about how Johns Hopkins’ student, Shiv Gaglani and a team of other physicians-to-be, will be doing a “smartphone physical” demo at TEDMED 2013 (Note: John Lynn will be at TEDMED if anyone is interested in meeting him there). The physicals will include a variety of different tools and measurements, and feature a variety of popular mHealth devices. Some of the items that will be used include:

  • an iHealth scale
  • a digital stethoscope from ThinkLabs
  • CellScope phone case

(to see the comprehensive list, visit the article I linked to above.)

Gaglani believes that these smartphone physicals will be more efficient, and help patients to understand their bodies and health a little more:

For example, thanks to the AliveCor Heart Monitor, it has never been easier to get a one-lead ECG reading. Similarly, the Withings and iHealth blood pressure cuffs are plug-and-play so a clinician doesn’t have to fumble around with both a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer to assess whether her patient is hypersensitive.

The article also mentions that Gaglani believes that these types of exams will help immensely with data collection. It sounds like, if all goes according to plan, the data could immediately be uploaded to a practice’s EMR. This type of device connectivity is an important part to the future of Telehealth.

For someone who is healthy, and doesn’t necessarily want or need a heavily physician-involved physical, this is could be really great. I could see it saving a lot of time and effort that is involved with going to the doctor. While it seems like there will probably a lot of logistics to be sorted out, it’s need to see something like this in the works. What do you think — would you want to participate in a smartphone physical? Does it seem reliable enough to replace having a physician perform the physical themselves?

April 8, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.