This week MobiHealthNews covered UCLA's partnership with smart cane startup Isowalk, rounded up 51 digital health metrics for 2013 and reported on a UK startup's Bluetooth measuring system for ostomy bags. This was just some of the news that has come out recently. Here are some other pieces we have been reading.
The Framingham Heart Study and the Jackson Heart Study have teamed up on an initiative to track risk factors, diet habits and exercise habits of participants in near real time, instead of only during checkups, which are far less frequent. Because the checkups aren't regularly scheduled, oftentimes, the Wall Street Journal reports, prescribing medicines is imprecise. To better understand how these risk factors and medicines work together, researchers on this new initiative believe more might be learned about blood pressure, heart risk and stroke risk by monitoring patients with mobile devices. By doing so, researchers want to see if there's a difference in a patient's heart rate during events like exercise, that they wouldn't normally see during a checkup.
Bill Gates revealed four technology concepts that haven't been made into real products yet in a special edition of Wired that he edited. Then, Wired asked four product design firms to create prototypes of the ideas. While his goal for the four ideas was to eventually bring them into fruition for developing countries, one of his ideas has a mobile health tilt. Kernel is "a diagnostic accessory that offers cloud-based health care." Gates dreamed up this device as a solution to areas in which doctors are not within easy traveling distance, but this problem doesn't just exist in developing countries. The accessory created by FuseProject is a Bluetooth-connected diagnostic amulet, which is embedded with medical tests. The amulet opens to reveal a pad with four quadrants: red for blood, yellow for urine, blue for saliva, and green for breath. The pad absorbs samples and then transmits test results to a mobile app via Bluetooth.
Privacy is a big topic in digital health, and Huffington Post writers Lisa Gallagher and Hilary Wandall took a crack at tackling it. While, the authors say, most people agree keeping data private is important, the extent to which data is kept private might also be an issue left to deal with. The authors give an example of four different women from around the world: a pregnant woman with HIV in Bangladesh, a mother with an HIV positive child in Nigeria, a woman with an HIV positive fiancé in India, and a single woman with HIV in Chile. In each situation, regional customs and laws on privacy differ. Still, the authors argue that the issue of privacy is one of the key issues holding digital health back because of regulations that haven't been figured out.
Forbes' writer for entrepreneurial innovation in medicine, David Shaywitz, says the end of 2013 marks the "conclusion of digital health's honeymoon period", and the beginning of the phase where companies need to "deliver value rather than just promises". Coupled with his welcoming of this new phase in digital health, Shaywitz also shared his views on the top people in digital health. He starts with digital health entrepreneur of the year, Dr. Dave Albert, founder of AliveCor. In his reasons for choosing Albert, Shaywitz includes FDA clearance for AliveCor's heart monitor and the fact that the device may "democratize simple EKG measurements".
Shaywitz's other mention goes to his digital health investor of the year, Social + Capital Partnership's Chamath Palihapitiya, who has invested in Propeller Health (formerly Asthmapolis), Neurotrack, Simplee, Breakthrough Behavioral, Syapse, Flatiron Health, and Better. While Shaywitz gave honorable mentions to firms Aberdare Ventures, Psilos, Bob Kocher’s team at Venrock, Merck’s Global Health Innovation Fund, and Qualcomm Ventures, he believes Palihapitiya "he backs up his talk with thoughtful investments in a range of interesting digital health startups".
Technology and market research company Forrester shared its top technology trends for 2014. While the trends are meant to describe the general technology sphere, many relate closely to digital health technology. Forrester predicts digital convergence will erode boundaries, or that there will be a closer tie between the digital and physical world. In digital health, this could translate to the way a patient interacts with his or her doctor -- in office and through patient engagement focused mobile apps. On a similar note, Forrester also says sensors and devices will draw ecosystems together, and will "move from hype to reality with the ubiquity of connectivity and proliferation of devices". Forecasts from Juniper are already showing the high growth rate of health and fitness devices.