Mobile health news roundup from ATA

By Brian Dolan
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Steve Wozniak ATA

Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak

This week brought a good number of mobile health stories out of the American Telemedicine Association event down in San Jose, California. Here's a quick roundup of some of the ones we found worthwhile.

AT&T announced a deal with VRI, an Ohio-based company that offers remote monitoring services, medication adherence tracking dispensers, and other medical alert systems that notify doctors of emergencies users have while at home, according to a report in eWeek. According to the report, "the service will allow nurses at VRI's telemonitoring facility to monitor patients' vital data, including blood pressure, weight and pulse. Blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and pulse oximeters will connect to AT&T's wireless network to send biometric data to care representatives at VRI." AT&T will begin selling the service through its channels in Q3, according to eWeek.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak suggested that in the future a Watson-Siri hybrid would likely replace human doctors, who would become more like "technicians" as a result. According to SearchHealthIT, Wozniak was enthusiastic about mobile health apps, especially those that enable personal health monitoring and tracking.

"I love the little devices that hook up to my iPhone, I'm a gadget guy," Wozniak said, according to SearchHealthIT's report. "I probably wouldn't get a blood pressure thing at home and take readings and write them down, but heck when I take a reading and it's automatically in my iPhone and I can show it off, I love it."

Wozniak actually specifically called out one mobile medical app: ClickCare's iClickCare app, which aims to help physicians to connect with off-site specialists for consultations via iOS devices, according to a report in MedCityNews. The company, which was started by a husband-and-wife physician team, charges users a $99 month subscription. ClickCare has doubled its sales in each of the last two years, according to MedCityNews (which also snagged a video with one of ClickCare's co-founders at the event.)

HealthcareFinanceNews has a worthwhile roundup of the business model discussion, including telemedicine thoughtleaders' opinions on reimbursement, accountable care, and venture capital trends. The article includes some thoughts on ACOs from American Well CEO Dr Roy Schoenberg, whose company made big news ahead of the ATA event with the launch of their mobile video patient consultation offering. More on money issues facing telemedicine over at HealthcareFinanceNews here.

In addition to American Well's new app, eWeek picked up on an iPhone offering from telehealth company, ConsultADoctor. According to the company, the new app enables customers of the company's health plan clients to "obtain 24/7 phone and secure email access to licensed physicians directly from their iPhone, making it even easier to consult immediately with a network of U.S. based, state-licensed doctors for medical information, diagnosis and/or treatment." More over at eWeek here.

Finally, MedCityNews also caught up with Qualcomm Life VP and GM Rick Valencia while down in San Jose: Valencia argues that while mobile health hasn't generated a $1 billion success story like Instagram yet, but it’s “a virtual certainty” that it will, he said. What's Valencia's timeline for that kind of mHealth success? “If a killer healthcare app is not developed in the next several years, then we’ll have failed at our mission,” he said. “And we’re not going to fail at our mission.”

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