Stories about: mobile devices

Patient-generated health data: Is health care ready to absorb it?

Health care data tsunamiIsrael Green-Hopkins, MD, is a second-year fellow in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and a fierce advocate for innovation in health information technology, with a passion for design, mobile health, remote monitoring and more. Follow him on Twitter @israel_md.

A few months ago, I spent 15 minutes filling out a detailed health data form at the doctor’s office. The paper form contained multiple questions about my health, family history, medications and basic demographic information. I assumed that an administrative specialist would code it into the practice’s electronic medical record (EMR) to be put to use. So it came as a surprise when I spent another 5 minutes reviewing the form with my physician, who then proceeded to type this information into the EMR herself. I’m confident neither my physician nor I felt enabled by the experience.

Countless people have had a similar experience—or worse, filled out a form with no sign that any clinician ever saw the information. Though the industry has made outstanding progress in adopting EMRs, the practice of data acquisition from patients remains cloudy. Patient-generated health data (PGHD), a term encompassing all forms of data that patients provide on their own, is a relatively new concept in health care. It falls into two broad groups: historical data and biometric data.

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GeckoCap: How industry networking can help a start-up

(seeking thomas/Flickr)

Yechiel Engelhard, MD, MBA, is founder and CEO of Gecko Health Innovations, a health care mobile technology company that recently unveiled the GeckoCap, a smart button for inhalers that allows families and doctors to monitor a child’s asthma.

Asthma affects nearly one in 10 children and is the cause of more than 700,000 emergency department visits and 14 million missed school days each year. A big concern is that children often don’t realize the importance of their asthma inhalers and don’t use them properly. That’s why we saw the need to make asthma easy to understand and inhalers fun for children to use.

The inhaler lets parents know when their child uses it or when medication is running low.

Our team came up with the concept of a “smart” cap that would fit onto an asthma inhaler and turn medication adherence into a game. The cap would send notifications to parents and give them a dashboard on their smartphone, showing them when inhalers are used improperly and helping them identify troublesome patterns. The cap would also generate reports for doctors, showing medication usage and helping them to educate parents about the correlation between medications, adherence and asthma triggers.

We moved forward to make this cap a reality, but quickly realized that like many start-ups we needed a strategic partner for the next development phase.

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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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Application building for dummies: Filling unmet medical needs

Photo: fdecomite/Flickr

What do you invest in if you’re a venture capitalist looking for the next big thing? I’d invest in a company that makes it easy to create your own healthcare mobile apps. Think: the WordPress of health care applications.

I believe this is an important unmet need in medicine. As a market analyst specializing in healthcare IT, I’ve supported physicians who have an idea for an application and are trying to make it a reality. Their goals vary widely, ranging from improved communication with patients to enhanced health data analytics for decision support to streamlined workflow using administrative shortcuts.

All of these disparate ideas face a common bottleneck: the physician’s inability to quickly embody an idea as a software prototype.

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