News & Updates

A survey evaluating the impact of Text4Baby in San Diego finds improved patient knowledge. 63% of respondents found that Text4Baby “helped them remember an appointment or immunization that they or their child needed” and 75% learned about “medical warning signs they did not know”. The program, which provides a SMS-based health notification system for new moms, has almost 250,000 subscribers.

Pfizer launches Robitussin Relief Finder 2.0, a free iOS app that allows users to track flu activity, find nearby stores selling Robitussin and receive coupons. Pfizer, which sells the smoking-cessation drug Chantix, recently released Plan Q, a smoking cessation app as well as Pfizer Engage, an extension of their healthcare professional resource portal. FDA does not currently regulatory pharma apps, but sent 14 warning letters earlier to companies, asking that Google Search Ads mentioning brand name drugs also disclose their risks and benefits.

A new study by IT industry association CompTIA finds that more than 50% of physicians use a smartphone for work purposes. According to the study, 25% of physicians also use tablet computers and 38% use clinical apps daily in their work.

Researchers in Belgium are working on a new iPhone sensor that can detect smell. The sensor could aid in the detection of diseases that classically present with unique smells that physicians search for on physical exam, such as “sweet” smells in infection or fetid breath in end-stage liver and kidney disease.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) finds that clinical decision support systems do not generate cost savings. The study looked at the COMPETE II system across 47 primary care practices in Ontario. Though the system led to slightly improved clinical outcomes among diabetes patients, the system cost an estimated $160,845 per quality-adjusted life year.

Cisco updates its tele-health platform, Cisco HealthPresence, adding enhanced security measures and increasing access to data such as electronic medical records.

A study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine finds that hospitals using the clinical reference system, UpToDate, experienced shortened hospital stays, fewer deaths, and better quality performance than those not using UpToDate. Over a three-year period, the 1,017 hospitals using UpToDate experienced 372,500 fewer hospital days per year and 11,500 fewer deaths than comparable hospitals.

The VA buys 100,000 tablets for clinicians to improve clinical workflow. The tablets will likely be used for continous access to VISTA, the VA’s EHR system, though seems that apps for heart rate monitoring and on-the-spot blood analysis also will be top priorities.

Google adds a web interface and opens up BigQuery, a service designed for large-scale internal data analytics, to all comers. The services lets companies analyze website usage and purchase patterns from millions of website visits. The app is free while still in beta, then shifts to a “pay to play” model.

The HHS Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announces that more than 100,000 primary care providers have committed to adopting certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs) That one-third of all primary care providers nationwide are looking to work with their Regional Extension Center (REC) to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation represents a major step toward broader and more meaningful use of health IT.

Also in JAMIA this week was a study finding significant savings associated with implementation of health information exchanges in 11 Tennessee Emergency Departments. HIE access was associated with annual cost savings of almost $2 million from reducion in hospital admissions and duplicated lab / imaging studies.

Thomas Suarez, a 6th grader in Los Angeles, has created an anti-Justin Bieber, Whac-a-Mole-style game for iPhone called “Bustin Jieber”. Wanting to teach his classmates how to make iOS apps, he also started an “app club”. Click on the link to see his talk at TEDxManhattanBeach.