TEDMED 2011

The TEDMED conference took place last week in San Diego, but it has taken me this long to digest all of the content and follow up on all the connections I made there. The general theme of the conference can be summed up in two sentences: There are amazing advances coming in medical technology. These may or may not make it through the FDA approval process in time to save your life.

This was one of the few conferences where it made sense to go to every session. A representative sampling:
•    Eythor Bender of Ekso Bionics demonstrated an exoskeleton that allowed a paraplegic to walk.
•    Daniel Kraft showing what medicine can learn from other fields such as aviation.
•    Calvin Harley of Telome Health describing how we might halt the aging process by regrowing the DNA on the end of your chromosomes. (A Russian researcher on aging cautioned me that you might not want to rush out and start gobbling down the “nutritional supplement” quite yet  – remember Vitamin E?)
•    Architech Michael Graves now in a wheel chair, describing his frustration with poorly designed hospital rooms,
•    Lance Armstrong describing the decisions he and his doctor needed to make in treating his cancer.
•    Quyen Nguyen of UC San Diego, showing a video of a fluorescent dye that binds to tumor cells to make them more visible during surgery.
•    Diana Nyad describing her attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida and her encounters with box jellyfish.
•    Paul Stamets on medicines derived from mushrooms.
•    Gabor Forgacs of Organovo demonstrating an inkjet printer that was modified to “print” organs from a supply of cells.
•    Yoav Medan of InSightec describing one of the breakthroughs that did get FDA approval: a device that uses focused ultrasound to do surgery without making an incision in the patient.
•     Mehmood Kahn, Chief Scientific Officer of PepsiCo arguing that we needed processed foods (albeit of higher quality) if we were to feed the earth’s seven billion inhabitants. (Although e-Patient Dave tweeted that this does not explain high fructose corn syrup.)
•    Dean Kamen describing his frustration in trying to get FDA clearance for a robotic arm he developed for war veterans.
•    Nate Ball, an engineer and beatbox artist demonstrating how he makes all those sounds. On stage. By having Dr. Nguyen thread fiber optics through his nose so we could see an image of his vocal cords as he made various sounds.
•     Charles Pel of Physcient describing a new model of retractor that uses force sensors to back-off before it damages bones or tissue.

Next year, the conference moves to Washington, DC. In a move that can only be described as audacious, Jay Walker plans to double the size of the conference and take on the DC establishment. If anyone has the enthusiasm and resources to do it, it would be Jay.

Check out more photos of the event here.

Day Two: SBR Health at the WHITv7.0 Conference

Day two of the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology (WHIT) conference got off with less of a bang than Monday  – hard to match the energy Todd Park put forth yesterday.

Today’s keynote was delivered by Peter Tippett, MD, Vice President of Connected Healthcare Solutions at Verizon who was to speak on the revolution in HIT being enabled by the marriage of the Cloud and mobility. Although very interesting, his keynote ended up pretty much being an hour long advertisement for Verizon. Not that this was all bad, as Verizon is doing a lot of interesting work applying science to uncovering falsehoods in current security dogmas. For instance, Peter presented how Verizon is attempting to make data more secure. By studying, then releasing information on data breaches and publishing the data at www..com/databreach, the updates will appear on their blog at securityblog.verizonbusiness.com.

What I find particularly interesting is that the length of a password does not significantly reduce the chances of being compromised. However, Tippett stated that most attacks come from remote access, so just doing port scans followed by locking down open ports would reduce data breaches by 70%!

I also found his discussion of the Verizon LTE was enlightening. Evidently Verizon uses a lower frequency than other carriers so their 4G service works better at penetrating buildings such as hospitals as these lower frequencies get around walls better.

In a panel session on mHealth, Joe Kvedar, MD, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, spoke of his center has found that  patients are starting to do a better job at more effectively taking care of their health. This is being enabled by connected consumer devices like the new iPod Nano that can track your daily steps. He also stated that this is a timely convergence with the change in the way healthcare is being paid for, where healthcare providers need to become better at managing their populations health so these tools could not be coming at a more plotting time.

I found the rest of the day pretty mediocre with the exception of a presentation by Cynthia Galbincea, Executive Director of Marketing Communications at the Cleveland Clinic. Galbincea spoke on their mobile strategies, stating they are seeing a lot of demand from consumers for wellness and information applications, and have been very active in developing and deploying these types of applications, especially in support of their branding strategies. From their doctors, their organization is seeing the largest uses of their iPads for sharing information with their patients, assisting with diagnosis, as well as tracking patient’s progress on them. Cleveland Clinic’s mHealth strategist, Tony Crimaldi stated they are focusing exclusively on iOS development, and with that, mainly applications for iPad devices as these are the preferred device with their clinicians.

That’s it from the final day of WHITv7. Overall, a pretty impressive line up of thought leaders and innovators and I’m looking forward to more high quality innovation events such as this one from the World Congress.

This Week: SBR Health at the WHITv7.0 Conference

I’m onsite in Vienna, VA for two days attending the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology (WHIT) conference and thought I would share some highlights of the first day with our readers.

Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Department of Health and Services, kicked off the event, giving a fantastic, animated and passionate keynote on a confluence of market and health policy forces that have created an extraordinary environment for health innovation. I especially like his insightful remarks on how information liberation – new initiatives allowing patients to download and transfer their own data – is creating especially significant opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Vivian Funkhouser, principle of Health IT at Motorola, spoke about issues around managing the exploding number of devices to use in acute care settings. Her talk focused on the need to create scalable wireless infrastructures and multiple use devices.

Expanding on this topic, Brian Wells, an Associate Chief Information Officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System talked about mobile device adoption within the health system and what they are doing to support the iPad is the device of choice. He asserted their users are overwhelmingly wanting iOS enabled applications – in fact, not one person has come to him to ask why applications were not being supported on Android or RIM devices. Brian also found that support issues for the iPad applications they have deployed are extremely low – iPad users generated .05 calls per user over 6 months. However, getting wider adoption of the devices is not without it’s challenges – one of the biggest issues he is facing is that their system just spent millions of dollars to put PCs in patient rooms for the physicians to use. So, it is still an uphill fit to convince leadership to purchase and deploy more mobile devices like the iPad. If he had it his way, Brian stated he would replace all the COWS (computers on wheels) with iPads!

In the afternoon, Will Yu, Special Assistant of Innovations and Research Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) spoke on how now is the best time to innovate in healthcare, as the market and incentives are aligned. He elaborated on how his office is attempting to create the ecosystem for their programs to be coordinated with healthcare innovator’s efforts, outlining their innovation framework which is based on communication, collaboration and support.

Closing the day with a well presented keynote, Paul Grundy, MD, the Global Director of Healthcare Transformation, IBM, spoke on new delivery models to drive down costs and improve care, focusing primarily on giving a very compelling argument for the Primary Care Medical Home model. He had perhaps one of the best and shortest definitions for a PCMH I have heard to date:

“A relationship based team with a project manager.”

One of the more poignant remarks he made to show how bad our current state of medical care coordination was that his cat is in a care registry so that no vaccinations missed, but his wife has to remember to get her own mammograms scheduled.

I’d be interested to hear your feedback on that last remark in the comments section.

That’s it for today – please check back tomorrow when I’ll report on some of the highlights for day two. –Peter Eggleston, Chief Marketing Officer SBR Health Inc.

The Maribel Foundation: LA Children’s Hospital and Telemedicine

Some may know her for her memorable characterization of Selena, others may remember her vast and ever changing music career, and most are just getting acquainted with Jennifer Lopez in the latest season of American Idol, but no matter how you know her, Jennifer Lopez, better known as J.Lo, is doing something worth remembering. Partnering up with her sister, Lynda, the pair founded the Maribel Foundation, their mission:

That’s why Lynda and I are working to create the Maribel Foundation. Our goal is to dramatically increase the availability of quality health care and health education for women and children, regardless of their ability to pay.

While this goal is no small task, they’ve taken it a step further and announced to launch a Telemedicine campaign, mainly in Los Angeles’ Children’s Hospital.

Jennifer and Lynda Lopez at the Telemedicine Launch in San Juan

Information from their Website:

The Foundation will work to expand the number of telemedicine clinics both domestically and abroad, increasing access to top quality pediatric care for the most serious cases. Telemedicine is a remarkable new healthcare delivery system that uses telecommunications technology to conduct medical diagnoses, consultations, treatments, transfers of data, education of physicians, and dissemination of public health alerts and/or emergency updates.

Simply stated, this technology allows patients located all over the world to receive access to care by the physicians at one of America’s top pediatric hospitals, the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Patients living in under-served and under-privileged areas, two groups that are especially vulnerable to inadequate healthcare, can greatly benefit from telemedicine.

Some of the potential benefits of telemedicine are as follows:

Access: Telemedicine can allow children with serious childhood diseases in other areas of the world to be examined, diagnosed, and/or treated by the top pediatric oncologists, hematologists, and pediatricians at the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Doctors can virtually give patient care to children in different parts of the world.
Quality: Telemedicine permits consultations to take place among the referring physician, the consulting physician, the patient, and the patient’s family through interactive video and medical equipment and instruments, with the added benefit of having critical patient information available on-line. Additionally, the physicians or other personnel at remote or under-served locations can be educated before or during the consultations with specialty physicians and other experts, increasing their ability to treat other similar cases in the future.
Cost: The travel cost of the patients for specialty care, the travel cost of the health care professionals for continuing education or consultation, the personnel / equipment cost for not having to keep specialty care facility in rural or under-served hospitals, and other costs can be either eliminated or reduced.
To learn more about their campaign, watch the video here: Maribel Foundation

SBR: Proud Sponsor of the AAP Pediatric Office of the Future

 

After attending the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibit earlier this month, we are proud to announce that SBR Health is a sponsor of the AAP Pediatric Office of the Future.

New for 2011: Pediatric specialists work in hospitals, in clinics, and on the go. This year the much expanded Pediatric Office of the Future (POF) exhibit is highlighting all 3 “offices”! In addition to our primary outpatient booth, we’re featuring the new “Hospital of the Future” booth showcasing hospital-related technologies for the high tech hospital “office.”

~AAP Pediatric Office of the Future

October 15-18, 2011, SBR Health attended the AAP National Conference in the Hospital of the Future, situated between the Hospital of the Future and the Tech Talk Theatre.

Here, SBR’s Chief Marketing Officer, Pete Eggleston and Inbound Marketing Specialist Jenna Antonelli set up the company’s demo, providing real-time video for preventing readmissions and increasing referrals.

The Tech Talk Theatre housed several speakers, including “Taking Your EHR Selection Process from Confusion-to-Confidence” and “Telemedicine and Robotics Innovation for Advancing Care Deliver”. 

Above, Thomson Reuters Pediatrics presents, “Neonatal and Pediatric Patient Safety – Focus on Drug Therapy and Parenteral Nutrition”. Below, Health Nuts Media attracted a large crowd during, “Animation, Health Literacy & the Engaged Patient”.

 

To learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Office of the Future, visit here.

 

 

 

 

Video-Enabled Language Interpretation

SBR Health’s initial customer was a large teaching hospital that approached us with an interesting problem. Like all healthcare facilities, it had a responsibility to patients who needed help communicating with their providers. State and Federal laws, as well as accreditation standards, require that patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) be provided with interpreters. Many of the smaller institutions deal with these needs by contracting with telephone-based interpretation agencies, but the larger facilities have their own cadre of trained interpreters who can be dispatched to meet in person with the doctor and patient.

Our prospective customer’s problem was getting the interpreter, doctor, and patient all in the same place at the same time. Too often the interpreter would go to the exam room to find the doctor was running late. Eventually the interpreter would need to leave for his next appointment, only to have the doctor arrive and be unable to proceed without the interpreter. This was enough of a problem when only three people were involved, but when an entire surgical team had to wait before they could obtain informed consent, things could get very expensive and potentially life-threatening.

The solution our customer sought was to move the interpreters to an outlying suburb where space was plentiful and have the interpreters deliver their services via video to where the doctors and patients were located. There was only one problem: the system needed to work at all times and all places, not just when everything was going normally in a wired-up exam room, but even after an earthquake, in a triage tent set up in a university parking lot. Furthermore, the system needed to be simple enough to be used on a laptop by someone with no training, but sophisticated enough to make connections to an interpreter without requiring the services of a dispatcher.  As we worked on implementing a solution for this customer, we validated our core premise that the success of any technology depended only 10% on the technology itself and 90% on how it was integrated with the organization’s workflow and protocols. Working closely with the Guest Services and IT teams, we first developed new workflows based on the desired operational model. Then we used rapid development techniques to prototype clinician and interpreter-specific interfaces, incorporating the desired workflow methodology into each. This allowed us to test the user interaction and ease of use, iterating as needed to create the optimal solution.

As our first customer realized, the ability to effectively communicate is paramount for optimum patient treatment, and in emergency situations, the delay of treatment or inaccurate information obtained by poorly communicated pre-conditions can result in patient harm, unnecessary complications, and in extreme cases, adverse outcomes.

We were able to addresses the shortcomings of remote interpretation services through the use of low-cost video technologies, any device/any network deployment, skills based routing, intelligent queuing, n-way video calling, and a video-based distributed call center. Now we are setting out to redefine how video is used across the Arc of Patient Communications™.

Welcome to SBR Health

In 2008, I was serving as Chief Product Officer for a company started by some Stanford University graduates to address a need they saw for a video communication product that was as inexpensive and as easy to use as consumer products like Skype but that had enterprise-level collaboration tools and military-grade security. The initial markets for this new company’s products were users throughout the intelligence community, the military, and other government organizations. With the government market now firmly established, I began looking for commercial market opportunities, and to that end, I began analyzing the database of more than 5,000 businesses that had downloaded the free trial product from the company’s website. One thing that intrigued me was the number of users in healthcare who had downloaded and were using our product. When I called many of these users to inquire how they were utilizing our product, I found they were looking for an easy and low-cost way to communicate with their patients wherever they were, an application that is an aspect of telemedicine.

The term telemedicine can be used to describe any kind of healthcare delivered at a distance using a communication media such as remote data monitoring, store-and-forward transmission of images, or interactive video. Until recently, the specialized equipment and expensive network infrastructure required by video made it impractical unless the patient was a great distance from the doctor. It’s no surprise that some of the most extensive implementations were in places where the population was dispersed over a vast distance, such as Nebraska or Northern Ontario. Still, a number of the healthcare professionals I talked to felt that the real benefits of video were yet to be realized. If the cost and complexity could be brought down, there was a much larger population of patients who may not need to travel long distances but still could be better served if they could avoid traveling. These patients were in local community hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or in their own homes.

However, after much additional interaction with a variety of forward-thinking healthcare professionals using our televideo platform, we learned that simply reducing the cost and complexity of televideo technologies did not solve the larger problem of how to utilize these technologies seamlessly in existing IT and clinical processes. In effect, we discovered something that proved to be true throughout healthcare: The success of any technology depends only 10% on the technology itself and 90% on how that technology is integrated with the organization’s workflow and protocols. It isn’t that the healthcare community is crying out for more, cheaper technology, but that it needs solutions to facilitate the delivery of care in a more efficient and effective manner.

Out of this discovery, SBR Health was born. We exist not to create televideo products; rather we strive to create healthcare solutions that are video-enabled.

Welcome to the SBR Health blog

The healthcare industry is ever evolving, and here at SBR Health, Inc., we are excited to be part of it.

SBR Health is dedicated to changing the way that clinicians deliver healthcare. We create real-time, video communications solutions specialized for the healthcare industry. Three months ago, we opened our doors at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, next door to MIT. Now, we’re in full swing, working toward our goal of making it easier for caregivers to provide better, more targeted care to their patients. To accomplish this goal, we’re engaging with a variety of medical professionals to learn how our platform can help solve some of the issues they face today.

The intersection of technology and medicine is an exciting field, and we created this blog as a way to engage with the community. Read about developments in telemedicine, SBR’s experiences in the field, the start-up business community in Boston and more.