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Could Patent Conflicts Choke mHealth Growth?

Posted on November 2, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @annezieger on Twitter.

This week I caught a very interesting piece in MobiHealthNews which took a look at the possibility that the mHealth world is ripe for patent clashes.

Orion Armon, an attorney with Cooley LLP’s IP litigation practice, notes that companies in medical device, computer, networking and communications markets are busily patenting mHealth innovations, and that sooner or later, these patents will overlap.  The result: nasty turf battles which cost everyone involved boatloads of time and money.

While the number of patent lawsuits currently being filed in these industries is nowhere near the levels seen in say, the smartphone and computer  business, a few significant cases have emerged, Armon reports:

  • CardioNet filed lawsuits against MedNet Healthcare, MedTel 24, Rhythm Watch, AMI Cardiac Monitoring, ScottCare, and Ambucore Health Solutions;
  • Robert Bosch Healthcare filed lawsuits against ExpressMD, MedApps, Waldo Health, and Cardiocom; and
  • BodyMedia filed a lawsuit against Basis Science.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the patent ambitions of Airstrip, a tech vendor offering a mobile patient monitoring platform. The company’s President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cameron Powell, told MobiHealthNews that his company’s patents cover “taking any type of physiologic data—whether that’s from a sensor in the shoe, a home monitor, a blood pressure cuff, or a monitor in the hospital—and then re-rendering it on a native or HTML5 application on a mobile device.”  (My jaw dropped when I read that one.)

Since that interview, Airstrip has filed a lawsuit against mVisum Inc. alleging that four of the other vendor’s products infringe its patent.  It’s asking the court for an injunction barring future infringement, treble damages and attorneys’ fees.  These are standard provisions in a patent lawsuit, but from where I sit they’re pretty intimidating, and if the injunction is ordered mVisum has a heck of a battle on its hands.

As provider interest in mHealth applications continues to expand, I can only imagine that the patent battles are going to get uglier and more widespread.  It’s only logical, given the explosion of innovation we’re seeing in this space. But I do hope that patent wars don’t slow the introduction of new products too much at such a critical time in the mHealth industry’s growth.

Dictation and EMRs, Pocket Health, and the Mirage of Health: This Week at HealthCare Scene

Posted on June 3, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Here’s the weekly roundup of articles throughout HealthCare Scene. Many of these sites have other great articles not highlighted here, so be sure to check those out as well. 
EHR, EMR, & HIPAA

Will Growth in Mobile Use Compromise HIPAA Compliance?

Being able to access data through a mobile device is very valuable for doctors. However, questions about security have been raised, and if certain guidelines aren’t followed, some mobile devices may not be in line with HIPAA standards. Problems are discussed with mobile data security, and the HIPAA standards are explained in this post by Katherine Rourke.

Happy EMR Doctor

Guest Post: Do EMRs Cause a Mirage of Health?

With increased patient access to medical records, there is increased power given to the patient over their health care. However, is it possible that too much access may give false security, or, in some cases, cause someone to worry about something they may not have control over? Ken Harrington, Practice Manager at the Washington Endocrine Clinic, discussed the “mirage of health” that may be created with patient access to EMRs and other medical technology. In this guest post, the questions “is it possible to have ultimate control over one’s health” and “will access to a patient’s medical chart cause them to make better choices — or any choice — to improve their health?” are discussed.

Smart Phone Health Care

PocketHealth Raise the Bar for mPHRs

Personal health records can be very helpful, especially when one has more than one physician. The creation of mobile personal health records (mPHR) has made it even easier to have this information available at anytime. PocketHealth, the latest mPHR to be released, is untethered, was built following the CCD standards, and has raised the bar for other mPHRs.

EHR and EMR Videos

Dr. Frank Davis’ EHR Story from the 2012 HIMSS Conference

At the 2012 HIMSS Conference, Dr. Frank Davis, CMIO and trauma/critical care surgeon at Memorial University Medical Center in Georgia, discussed his experience with EHR at the hospital he works at. In this video, he also gives advice to those starting in EHR Incentive Programs, and the benefits of EHRs and meaningful care.

EMR Thoughts

Meddik, BodyMedia Announce Recent Fundings

This past week, companies Meddik and BodyMedia both announced the large sums of money raised during recent rounds of funding. Meddik raised $750k in seed funding, while BodyMedia raised $12 million. Both companies are dedicated to creating medical and health technology.

Hospital EMR and EHR

Dictation and EMRs: A Bad Marriage? 

A study conducted by researchers with Partners Healthcare in Boston recently examined records on a large number of patients to primary care doctors that are in the Partner’s system. The researchers wanted to see if, and how, the way a physician documents visits affected overall care for patients. Results found that when doctors solely used EMR, they generally provided better care for the patients.

How to Track Your Health – Jump on the Self-Logging Bandwagon

Posted on February 6, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

Last week, I wrote about Margalit Gur-Arie’s idea for a national health data repository. Commenters, including Gur-Arie, had some great comments. And one of the things that came out of that post was that if there is ever a community run national database, I would happily log my health data into it, and maybe do it for my parents and kids as well. But I don’t really have a great track record of health-logging. I’m not a Quantified Self afficionado, I don’t even check my weight on a regular enough basis. Having my husband photograph me and gauging my weight by the relative puffiness of my cheeks is what constitutes a weight check in my universe. So what are the odds of me going through piles of paper records and typing it all up for a UHR? Slim to none, but a girl can still dream.

Wired published an article late last month on How to Use Tech to Track Your Health, just for people like me. Don’t worry, assures the article, self-logging ain’t that hard, it’s probably so easy even a cavewoman can do it.

Now, just because the article is on Wired doesn’t mean it comes with awesome pedigree and stellar writing. People, it’s 2012, not 1992. If I hear about one more app that sends you text reminders about getting your annuals done, I’m going to barf. Ditto for those tired ovulation trackers. I don’t know who I blame more. the tech companies that come up with these novel solutions after every iPhone developer and their mother has already created a dozen apps and websites around the idea, or the Wired writer who thought it was newsworthy enough to include in her round-up of the most happening ideas. Either way, I don’t care. I don’t want to know about any more reminder and calendar apps, not unless this magical app connects me directly to someone like Simon Cowell or Idris Elba (ok, I have a thing or two for Brit accents). See, there’s a business idea for you – have celebrities become our health coaches and cheerleaders. Some of us might be ready to pay for the privilege.

There are the usual sleep-pattern analyzer apps and personal sleep coaches that help you get a good night’s worth.

Kvetching aside, not everything in the Wired article sounded like it was floated circa the 1900s. I quite liked reading about the BodyMedia biometric patch that apparently works like one of those ciggie patches, and logs your sleep, heart rate etc for upto a week. It is intended to be used a week prior to your appointments, presumably so you can bombard your doctor with the aforesaid minutiae. I also liked the Moodscope idea – you can go to the Moodscope website and play a game, and your reponses to the game are used to gauge your mood. I can imagine how useful that could be to people who might be prone to depression or who want to chart what external stresses produce what reactions in them.

I haven’t used any of the apps or gadgets mentioned in the article, so I’m just reacting at a very surface level to the idea behind the product/service. And your mileage may, of course, vary.

Check it out here.