PingMD, an app facilitating communication between pediatricians and patients, raised $2.5M in new funding from angel investors, as reported by GigaOm. The company recently expanded the scope of this app to include patients from other disciplines as well as allow peer-to-peer communication.
In order to squeeze waste out of the health care system, campaigns have been developed mostly on two fronts, informing both providers and receivers of care about the actions they can take to hold down increasing spending. For example, through education and information, Costs of Care aims to get both doctors and patients to reject unnecessary medical tests and treatments. There’s also Choosing Wisely, which encourages patients to start conversations with their doctors along the same lines. On a third front for nurses, there is Lean Six Sigma.
Lean Six Sigma isn’t actually a formal campaign. It’s a managerial strategy meant to help businesses eliminate process waste, and it’s the basis for a proposed course at the College of Nursing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The curriculum is being developed by two UAH associate professors, one in the nursing school and one in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management.
Lean Six Sigma incorporates ideas from both the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. Lean’s goal is to eliminate waste while Six Sigma aims to streamline processes. In the context of health care, it’s easy to imagine that these manufacturing methods promote conveyor belt medicine, encouraging nurses to see patients one by one without paying attention to the individuals and their varied needs.
On the other hand Lean Six Sigma applied to health care is, by definition, patient-focused. That’s because the strategy calls for identifying what customers, in this case patients, define as quality and then using that as a performance measure. For example, since patients value shorter wait times, part of a medical facility’s success would be determined by how well they keep wait times low.
One of humankind’s oldest battles has been the fight against cancer. Ever since Hippocrates first named the disease after the veined underbelly of the crab, we’ve struggled to understand and eradicate cancer in all its forms. While the day when we can declare our society ‘cancer free’ may still be a long way off, doctors and scientists are devising increasingly novel and effective ways of killing it at early stages. Here we take a look at the cutting edge of cancer treatment, the methods, effectiveness and theory of each new method:
It sounds like something from a Sci-Fi film: a frightening dystopia where our care is devoid of human interaction and reliant on cold, unfeeling machines. But studies show new algorithms used in cutting-edge computer models may be better at diagnosing a course of treatment than the most-seasoned health professional. Over the course of two years, researchers at Maastricht University in The Netherlands monitored the progress of 121 lung cancer patients. In the three cases it was used, the computer model outperformed the experts with a blistering degree of accuracy.
The results are unsurprising: we now know that cancer is a complex thing, its growth dictated by a patient’s genes and a host of other factors. In the same way meteorologists now trust computers to predict weather systems more than their own intuition, we’re starting to realise that cancer is too complicated to be beaten by a harassed professional. The day soon may come when this predictive treatment is the standard method used.
May 16, 2013 - By
Adam Wong, Management and Program Analyst, ONC
ONC, along with the Office of the HHS Chief Technology Officer and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), recently launched the Apps4Tots Health Challenge – a developer challenge to create applications using the new TXT4Tots message library.
Through this challenge, we are calling on developers, researchers, and innovators to use the new TXT4Tots message library by integrating it into new or existing applications that will reach parents and caregivers of young children. There will be a total of $25,000 in prizes awarded to the top three winners, including $17,500 for the first-place challenge winner.
Like TXT4Baby, the TXT4Tots message library can send caregivers appointment reminders, health alerts and parenting advice. The messages provide information about nutrition and physical activity for parents of children between the ages of one and five including:
tips and recipes for healthy snacking, and
ways to encourage physical activity among children through games and play.
While the goal of this app challenge is to integrate the TXT4Tots library and messaging functions into existing or entirely new applications, we aren’t looking for a typical smart phone application. We want to see how the parenting advice content in the TXT4Tots library can be integrated innovatively to reach users. A submission that only delivers the TXT4Tots messages is not enough to win the Challenge.
ONC and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are challenging app developers to create new tools to help cancer survivors. The new Crowds Care for Cancer: Supporting Survivors Challenge is asking app developers to create new tools meant to help survivors manage their care after they have completed cancer treatment.
HHS has had a series of developer contests that have spawned the creation of tools and apps to help patients and doctors better manage care. Some past app challenges include:
the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge
the Blue Button Mash Up Challenge, and
the Ensuring Safe Transitions Challenge.
Cancer patients need more care coordination
The number of cancer survivors in the United States is currently estimated at 14 million people. With improvements in cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as the aging of the United States, this number is expected to rise.
While celebrating advances in cancer care, there remains a need to help patients manage their health after they have completed their primary treatment. Cancer survivors experience a host of physical and psychosocial long-term and late effects of the disease, and it’s the treatment of this that requires coordinated follow-up care.
Despite significant progress in cancer treatment, the complex and often fragmented state of end-of-treatment care may lead to harmful breakdowns in patient-provider communication. This can result in unmet health care needs. Better communication, data exchange, and care coordination have been shown to help the patients.
HIMSS Media launched an online community dedicated to chronicling new and innovative models of care that improve individual and community well-being, while reducing health care costs. The Future Care community website is supported by IBM and its Smarter Care initiative.
Sorin Group announced that the FDA cleared SmartView, a remote monitoring application for implanted cardiac rhythm management devices. The technology allows physicians whose patients have a Paradym device, Sorin Group’s implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), to monitor them outside of the office.
The White House unveiled policy requirements calling for all federal government agencies to make information resources easily accessible. Data liberation efforts are already underway and have long been a priority for the CMS and ONC.
TrialReach, a UK based clinical trial search platform, raised £2M in Series A funding. The round was led by Octopus Investments along with Amadeus Capital Partners, who previously invested in the company in 2011.
Day one of Health:Refactored is officially in the books much to the relief of many tired shoulders. After all, there was hardly a panel or speaker who didn’t resort to the tried and true crowd favorite: “Raise your hand if …” And no, the sore shoulders are not a jab at our target audience (read: developers). Rather, the fatigue stemmed from the simple fact that people require a lot more hand raises these days to describe their experiences and occupation(s).
The hand raising got started bright and early with Health 2.0 CEO Indu Subaiya’s opening remarks where she felt out the crowd with a series of questions. Health:Refactored is branded as a conference for designers and developers working in and around the health care space, but it’s hard to tell who exactly makes it into the auditorium for the event.
If Subaiya’s survey is any indication, the Health:Refactored crowd is pretty heavily weighted on the technical and entrepreneurial side with maybe a slightly smaller representation of designers. Attendees also seemed evenly distributed between health care veterans and health care newbies (exciting, welcome new friends!). These buckets were hardly mutually exclusive though as most everyone seems to dabble in business, and the brave seem to dabble in everything.
The questions continued throughout the day, and with the right combination of imagination, lighting, and squinting you could almost see the raised hands shape shifting into ven diagrams. We are software developers and MBAs, but on a broader scale we are patients and stakeholders interested in fundamentally changing the world. All these questions and more were on tap in day one, which revealed the Health:Refactored crowd to be a bunch of chameleons. It’s hard to tell what day two will bring with this crowd, but in the meantime, we should probably all get our shoulders loose …
In preparation for Health:Refactored, our code and design focused conference taking place May 13–14, we sat down with Vice President of Innovation & Engineering at Spaulding Clinical, Brock Heinz. He will present a demo on the panel “Dreaming of Data: Big, Open, & Interoperable – Part I” on May 13. Follow the Health:Refactored speaker interview series here.
Spaulding Clinical is a clinical research organization based in Wisconsin. Heinz discusses the technicalities of making use of and managing clinical trials data. Here he talks about his migration to health care from a more general IT background and how he got over thinking that his lack of experience was a liability. He also gives us his predictions for Pharma 2.0.
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The New York Digital Health Accelerator (NYDHA) announced the graduation of its inaugural class at its first annual Demo Day. The eight participants are developing technology solutions in care coordination, patient engagement, and analytics.
A Toronto based pediatrician along with his team, developed a new children’s medication app called Snap’n'Dose. It allows users to take a picture of the drug identification number with their smartphone and calculate the correct dosage for that particular medication based on the child’s height & weight.
Doctor Q&A startup HealthTap raised $24M in Series B funding. The round was led by Vinod Khosla’s Khosla Ventures, who joins the company as an advisor. Other investors include Mayfield Fund and Mohr Davidow Ventures.
In preparation for Health:Refactored, our code and design focused conference taking place May 13–14, we sat down with CEO of Smart Patients Roni Zeiger, MD. His talk “Data and Context” will take place during “Dreaming of Data: Big, Open, & Interoperable – Part II” on May 14. Follow the Health:Refactored speaker interview series here.
Q. Yourparticular segment within this panel is about how an obsession with data can create problems. So now data is getting in our way?How did we get here?
A. I think part of the problem is we’re still not sure what data we need. Being appropriately opportunistic geeks like many of us are, we get good at analyzing the data we have. It’s important to take a step back and remember that in medicine, we still don’t have a very good understanding of exactly how to measure quality.