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Some Perspective on Mobile Health

This holiday weekend with family has been really interesting. It’s been fascinating to hear what my relatives and friends have to say about the mobile revolution that’s happening in healthcare and in every part of our lives. The most interesting observation is how little many of my relatives know about what’s really happening in mobile and definitely in mobile health.

Offhand I’ve mentioned a few of these topics to my relatives to see how they respond. As is often the case, it’s met with a general silence based on their lack of understanding of the subject. They certainly listen intently, but they know so little about the subject that they have very little to add to the conversation.

Of course, I’m dealing with a relatively small sample, but I think there’s a lesson there for those of us who live, eat, and breathe this stuff every day. A huge shift is happening, but most of the people out there know nothing about it.

I’m not sure this is a bad thing. While they know very little of the high level stuff, my wife, her sisters and mother did go wait in line for the $199 iPad mini deal today. So, there’s definitely interest in the devices. Although, I think few of them have any idea of how important all of these devices will be to their lives in a few years. They did however introduce me to a pointless, but addictive game called Space Team. At least they know about the most important things.

November 28, 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.

What Healthcare Can Learn from Casinos

My background comes from managing large IT projects at a number of the top Casinos in Las Vegas and around the world. As I’ve switched over to healthcare there are a number of things that healthcare could learn from what Casinos do.

Customer Focused Big Data
First, casinos are very good at knowing their customers very well. All of this sits on the back of big data and we’re just getting started on this in healthcare. In the casino industry they’ve been working on it for years. The amount of data they crunch to be able to provide a better customer experience goes beyond anything people in healthcare are even thinking about doing.

The focus of data in casinos is about getting the right customers to come to your establishment and then making sure that once they’re there they get the best user experience possible. Think about this in healthcare terms. How many organizations are using big data to make sure that the right patients are visiting their hospitals? Not that many. How much data is being used to drive a patient visit in healthcare today?

In our current sick care (not “health” care) environment, it’s pretty rare that big data drives a visit. That’s not to say that some data isn’t involved in the sick care we provide today, but we rarely look to outside sources of data to really improve the patient experience. I believe this will change as more and more mobile health devices start gathering our health data in a really portable manner. The future of health will likely be similar to a casino where the experience will be customized for every patient. Mobile health apps will likely be the conduit for much of this data.

Security and Privacy
Another big lesson healthcare can learn from casinos revolves around security and privacy. You can imagine the number of threats casinos have on their IT infrastructure. Everyone would love to find a way to hack into a casino and access their hundreds of millions of dollars that’s flowing every day. Security and privacy are a core part of every thing that’s ever done in a casino.

Imagine a healthcare system that has security and privacy built into everything they do. In some respects this is the case in healthcare. Many of the organizations I talk to pay a lot of attention to the security and privacy of their health IT systems. However, the same can’t be said for many of the mobile health applications hitting the market today. There are exceptions, but many mHealth apps focus on functionality over privacy and security. This could be a real problem going forward. We need to shift the mobile health market so privacy and security are a core feature of everything we do.

November 21, 2013 I Written By

Does mHealth Increase or Decrease Doctors Power Over Patients?


Does this tweet rub you the wrong way?

The idea of my doctor controlling me rubs me really wrong. There is nothing in this world that I abhor more than the idea of someone controlling me. There’s probably a reason that I work for myself as a blogger, but I digress.

Maybe control is the wrong word here. Doctors have a tremendous amount of influence over patients. I know that I trust my doctor to do what’s right for me. I go into the patient experience basically trusting my physician. I don’t think that mHealth changes that trust. I guess in many ways you could describe my view as a trust but verify positioning. mHealth helps me to verify much quicker. I think that’s a great thing.

What mHealth does do is hold doctors more accountable for the service they provide. This happens in many ways in mHealth. As I mentioned, it helps patients verify what they’ve been told by their doctor. mHealth also makes accessing and doing physician reviews much easier. Whether you like them or not, they’re here to stay and people are going to look at them. Doctors are going to have to be accountable for what’s said on those. Those are just a couple of examples.

I don’t think doctors should fear a loss of control thanks to mHealth. However, they should consider how mHealth will hold them more accountable for the work they do. That will be a dramatic shift for many doctors.

October 23, 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.

BlueStar By WellDoc To Be First Mobile Prescription Therapy

You may be familiar with WellDoc already. They are distributors of a mobile app that was created to help manage diabetes, which has been very successful. And just a few days ago, they released something else that appears to be rather monumental.

The service is called BlueStar, and is the mobile version of the diabetes management program. What’s so monumental about this, is that it is the first disease therapy to be prescribed through an app. In addition to that, it is also the first that can be eligible for reimbursement through insurance. Not all insurance companies will cover it, but self-insured companies like Ford, Rite Aid, and DexCom have said BlueStar will become a part of their pharmacy coverage.

BlueStar features many of the same features that Diabetes Manager, the first WellDoc program, did which include getting alerts when their blood sugar level is too low or high and charts to detect trends. It suggests tips for getting blood sugar higher. However, what’s new is that BlueStar can provide feedback concerning medication dosage, give better coaching, and even recommendations to a doctor.

Just like any prescription, a doctor can prescibe BlueStar for a certain period of time in addition to medications. When a pharmacy receives that prescription, they will forward it on to WellDoc, who will have someone help the patient setup BlueStar on their device. BlueStar will calculate how much insulin a patient should take, depending on the attending physician’s recommendations, blood sugar levels, and how many carbs were eaten at a certain time. If a treatment regimen is deemed to be ineffective for a patient, a report will be sent to the doctor recommendation a new regimen.

Because diabetes truly affects so many across the country, this could mean a lot to many people. Of course, there are questions about how effective it can be, since many people may become unmotivated after using the app for a certain period of time. Time will only tell.

June 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.

S Health Gives Comprehensive View of Health

So I just traded in my Nexus S for a Galaxy S2. I know, I know — the Galaxy S4 just came out, so I’m a little bit behind the game. Still, it’s a good upgrade, and I’m loving having it. However, when someone mentioned on Facebook how much they loved S Health, a feature on the new Galaxy S4, I had to check it out. And, of course, it made me a little bit jealous that my older Galaxy didn’t appear to have it.

So what is S Health? Well, it was launched last year, and the newest version was released with the S4, optimized to work with some of the senors that are integrated into the S4. While the S Health has many similar features to other devices on the market, such as FitBit — including a built-in pedometer and diet tracking — it also has some features that are rather unique.

The feature that stood out most to me was the Comfort Level. It tells you what your comfort level is, by pulling in the ambient temperature and humidity of the room you are in. While I am not totally sure what the point of knowing this would be, it’s cool that it can do that. You can track all your progress in a variety of different charts, and sync it with third-party blood pressure and glucose monitors. All of these things combined seem like they would give you a pretty comprehensive look at your health profile.

Overall, I wouldn’t buy the Galaxy S4 just for this feature, but it is a nice added bonus. If you already have a smart phone that works well for you, I’d go with a less expensive option for a wearable a device, rather than shelling out the cash for this. It also sounds like they have some more things in the work for S Health, so be on the lookout for that in the future!

Of all the wearable devices out there, do you have a favorite?

June 17, 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.

Doctor Mom by Health Tap – Consult A Doctor Who’s Been There

Have you ever been to the doctor and felt like they totally had no idea what you were going through? I know I have. Which is understandable in some ways — I mean, not every doctor is going to have experience with every ailment or condition. However, when it comes to my son…I want to be able to talk to someone who has gone through similar experiences. Sometimes it’s nice for reassurance, or even to feel justified in being concerned about something.

By now, it might seem like I’m border-line obsessed with Health Tap, especially because today, I’m going to share with you their latest feature called Doctor Mom. This company just seems to be really innovative, and is churning out awesome services like crazy. However, I think this is definitely my favorite concept yet.

When you ask a question at Doctor Mom, the question is assigned to doctor, who also happens to be a mom who has raised children of her own. The website lists the following benefits of this program:

  • Emphathetic, compassionate, and caring answers
  • “Been there, done that” answers based on personal knowledge and experience
  • The ability to dive deeper into women’s issues

These doctors know what it is like to be pregnant and to have a child. I’m sure the majority of them have seen many different illnesses, and talked to many paranoid parents. And because of that, they are able to connect better with moms. I’m not saying that male doctors can’t show empathy and be great doctors — my primary care physician, and my son’s pediatrician, both of which I love, are males. But I still love this idea. 

I know I’m always texting my mom or sisters and asking them questions about my son, even though most of the time I know they don’t really have an answer. It’s just nice to get reassurance from someone that has “been there.”  However, I look forward to using this service in the feature!

June 14, 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.

Lumosity: An Exercise Program For Your Brain

So often, we focus on our physical health, but neglect our mental health. All forms of dementia are devastating. Many people complain of brain fog. Thousands of people suffer from attention disorders. While I don’t claim to know the cure for any of these things (or even the cause) I do think that exercising the mind is just as important as exercising your body. I mean, if your brain fails, then your life ceases to exist. It’s a pretty important thing to take care of!

I saw a commercial today for a website called Lumosity.com. It sparked my interest, so I decided to check it out. The website says that it “turns neuroscience breakthroughs into fun, effective games” and it’s a way to “harness your brains neuroplasticity [the brain's ability to grow and expand] and train your way into a brighter life.”

To be honest, it seems like it is set up a bit like an exercise website. When you sign up, you answer some questions about where you want changes to be made. Changes can be made in any of five categories, all of which have subcategories. These categories are memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving. You can select as many or as few of these categories as you want. After doing this, you can create an account and view your free and personalized training program, and you can personalize your training even further.

The program changes with you — as you get better at the challenges, you get newer ones. Each of the “sessions” include a variety of games to help you improve in the areas you initially selected. You get points very every game you do, to help you track your progress. The games are actually pretty fun, and challenging, and scientifically developed to help increase your brain function.

The basic version of Lumosity is free, but if you really want to get into the program, there are paid options. This gives you more games each day, more personalized training, and more. People spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, on personal training at a gym, as well as countless hours…so why not spend some of those valuable resources on making sure your brain is in tip-top shape? I thought this was a cool idea, and I think it could be a great resources for anyone wanting to exercise their mind. Apparently, 97% of Lumosity users improve after just 10 hours of training (which can be seen in the personalized tracking portion of the website.)_

Lumosity Brain Trainer is also available as a free download for iOS devices.

June 10, 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.