Stories about: mobile apps

10 trends to watch in pediatric medicine: Part 1

Girl looking in microscope-ShutterstockSince our “trends” posts at the top of the year are among our most viewed, Vector took time out this summer to take an interim snapshot of pediatric medicine’s cutting edge. Here we present, in no particular order, our first five picks. Check back next Friday for Part 2. If you want more, there’s still time to register for our National Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards (September 26-27). The posts will also appear as an article in the fall issue of Children’s Hospitals Today magazine.

1. Digital health apps 2.0

The electronic revolution in health care continues. According to recent surveys, more than 90 percent of physicians have smartphones and more than 60 percent are using tablet devices like iPads for professional purposes. Dr. Eric Topol and others think these digital tools are the future of medicine.

Mobile apps keep proliferating, adding more and more features: high-quality image capture, voice-to-text capabilities and gaming techniques to motivate adherence, as well as sensors that gather physiologic data, like glucose levels and heart rate. Consumers are tracking and sharing data themselves, saving time in the clinic and helping physicians monitor their symptoms. Through the much-hyped Google Glass, it won’t be long before doctors can seamlessly call up patient data, look up a drug dosage and get decision support during a clinical visit without using a hand-held device.

One limiting factor in this “Wild West” scenario is the FDA’s ability to keep up with digital advances from a regulatory standpoint.

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Hacking our way to a new mobile app

Brian Rosman holds up a tablet app he and a team of Children's and MIT Media Lab staff developed over the past two weeks during the Health and Wellness Hackathon

At 10 a.m. he’s directing two actors on set, at 10:34 a.m. he’s filling up a catheter and at 11:01 a.m. he’s gushing about the importance of pediatric avatars. Brian Rosman, a Robotic Surgery Research Fellow in the Department of  Urology at Children’s Hospital Boston, has been working non-stop at the MIT Media Lab’s Health & Wellness hackathon to create a new app for post-operative care. His duties have included directing a video about the app, rounding up realistic props and explaining how the program works to judges and hackathon attendees.

Rosman and his team of coders, clinicians and industry professionals are competing against five other teams for a $10,000 prize awarded to the best open source healthcare application.

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Could texting patients reduce hospital readmissions? Thinking through an innovation

(Lars Plougmann/Flickr)

Your child has been in the hospital and it’s discharge day. It’s a chaotic scene: You’re trying to take care of him and maybe his little sister who keeps running down the hall, while completing hospital paperwork and packing your bags.

You’re finally out the door, in your car, kids strapped in and … what?  You’ve just lost contact with the medical professionals who took care of your son. What was it they said to do at home again?

Perhaps you try phoning but can’t get through to your doctor. Or you try to email through the hospital’s secure system, but can’t put your hands on the password. The doctors hope you remember to pick up your son’s meds.

Vinny Chiang, a physician at Children’s Hospital Boston, came up with a simple idea. Could day-after communication with patients be “pushed” — proactive and automated? Could it be texted?

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The Wild, Wild West of health apps: Can the FDA restore order without stifling innovation?

"Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show poster (cliff1066-TM/Flickr)

The business of smartphone health apps is growing exponentially. Here at Children’s, I coordinate and supervise a team of software developers who are helping our clinicians build apps. While I love the innovation and excitement health apps bring, the regulation is just starting to catch up with the industry. That makes the future uncertain.

The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed mobile health app guidelines, published in July, are a step in the right direction. But many concerns remain. In taming the Wild West, will the FDA go too far into overregulation? Will the new rules stifle the growing industry of app development by small startups or internal hospital developers? Can we continue innovating in the current state?

Consumers feel the uncertainty too. When considering the use of an app, how do you know whether it’s providing correct information?

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3 smartphone health apps you might not have expected

Melinda Tang, MEng, is a software developer for the Innovation Acceleration Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. This post is the first of a series highlighting fun and helpful mobile health applications and other interesting apps that developers in health care can learn from.

With more than 1 million mobile apps available today, there’s no doubt that mobile devices are changing the way we operate. With the push of a button or tap of a screen, we can turn our smartphones from entertainment consoles to travel guides to personal health monitors. One report estimates that a half billion people will be using mobile health apps by 2015.

Here are a few interesting examples I shared with the Mobile Apps working group at Children’s Hospital Boston, to inform our growing cadre of app developers and other health-IT-minded folks. These apps provide innovative solutions to problems you may never have thought your cell phone could solve — and in ways you might not have expected.

Mosquito Buster is an extremely simple app that lets you use your phone to replace standard mosquito repellants such as sprays and candles. Turn on the app, and your phone will emit a high-frequency pitch

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10 market questions for valuing mobile health apps

A mobile developer at work (Jennifer 8 Lee/Flickr)

Keeley Wray (@Market_Spy) is technology marketing specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Technology and Innovation Development Office. Her post first appeared on Hospital Impact and is re-posted here with kind permission.

My role at Children’s Hospital Boston is to determine market entry strategies to transform the innovative ideas our physicians come up with into nifty products.

Increasingly, this includes valuing new mobile applications. There are sets of questions I like to ask inventors (and myself) to determine whether a product is worth investing resources in. Given the limited resources available to develop new applications, it’s important to know whether an application will provide value to patients, within our institution and externally, and (a harder question) whether it could be commercially viable. Several commercial barriers tend to come up repeatedly, such as security challenges, limited market size, or difficulty integrating applications with EMR systems.

That’s why this question list has served me well–and maybe it will you.

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