Apple Watch patent infringement allegation, FDA device recalls and more digital health news briefs

Also: Travel medicine company launches telemedicine offering for low-cost international care.
By Dave Muoio
02:57 pm
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On Apple and patents. A New York University School of Medicine cardiologist is unhappy with Apple Watch’s heart rate irregularity detection feature, which he claims in a new lawsuit infringes his own patent for atrial fibrillation detection technology. Filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on December 27, 2019, the suit describes Dr. Joseph Wiesel’s invention and his efforts to contact Apple in September 2017 about the existing patent. Wiesel is seeking, among other things, royalty payments from Apple as well as adequate compensation for damages.

And speaking of Apple and patents, the end of December saw the publication of a continuation patent for the company’s long-rumored Smart Ring wearable device. Uncovered by Patently Apple, the update includes claims adjacent to features described in prior documentation — for instance, new emphasis on a “predefined hand gesture” interface rather than just the device’s small on-ring touchscreen.


Can't catch a break. Returning again to the FDA recall list is Roche’s Accu-Chek Guide Blood Glucose Monitoring System, this time for “potential power issues.” The open recall was initiated by Roche in late September and, according to the FDA’s device recall database, impact hundreds of thousands of the products that the agency says are currently in commerce. Users of the system have been advised by Roche to have a spare set of batteries on hand, have a back-up testing method available and contact the manufacturer’s customer support line if the meter is unable to be reset.

This is the third wave of recall notices for Roche’s Accu-Chek monitoring system, and comes a few months after the sixth device recall of the company’s Accu-Chek Connect Diabetes Management App.


Nerve stimulation resets trigger recall. Near the head of the holiday season, the FDA also issued a recall notice for London-based LivaNova’s Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy (VNS Therapy) System for epilepsy treatment. According to the notice, just under 2,909 systems could experience unexpected device resets that will disable an ongoing therapy. Fourteen complaints have been reported so far, with guidances first sent out to customers in August.


Virtual visit voyage. Air Doctor, a company that connects travelers with local care providers for travel health insurance clients, announced that a telemedicine offering has been added to its services. Instead of more costly in-person visits, Air Doctor will provide travelers with a virtual physician visit in their own language. The service is initially available only in English, although Spanish, German, French and Hebrew are on the way.

“With this new service, travelers can receive personalized care in a comfortable setting, all while reducing traditional inpatient clinic costs by 75%,” Jenny Cohen Derfler, CEO of Air Doctor, said in a statement. “After reviewing our data, we found that 30% of patients closed their claim after a short consultation with an in-office doctor. By bringing this experience online, we are able to further reduce claim costs in a controlled manner for that 30%.”

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