Health In Digital

Updating you about the Healthcare revolution, one post at a time.
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The most recent update from Facebook has given users the ability to log major life events. Among these are Health and Wellness events such as weight loss, eating habits and overcoming illness. Is this a sign that the social networking giants Facebook are poised to move into the digital healthcare space?

Social platforms seem to be a parallel universe to the rest of med tech apps, with new networks appearing on a daily basis. Quite a few claim to be the new Facebook for doctors, patients or other stakeholders occupying the medical space (or even connecting all of them). We’ve looked at a few success stories to see what lessons could be learnt.

Specificity is key

Platforms for patients with specific illnesses that allow creating communities and exchanging information about their diseases (i.e. treatments, management, progression etc.) seem to be a successful model in health social networks.

The rulebook needs to be rewritten

Health social networks require a new way of thinking from traditional networks. What works for Facebook won’t necessarily work for health.

Value must be added

Patient networks for support alone can be successful. However to make a really successful health social network tools and other features that add health specific benefits to the user are key.

Openness is essential

Many health social networks share data and user generated content with research partners. In a world where many users are concerned about what happens to their data and information online its key that privacy policies and data usage are transparent.

ECGs, which have been around for quite some time now, are used to measure heart rate and regularity of heartbeats as well as any damage to the heart. AliveCor took a step further, and designed a truly magnificent device, which is essentially an iPhone cover with the same capabilities as a traditional ECGs minus the big box and cables.  Absolutely brilliant.


It is becoming more and more clear that there is no incompatibility between doing business in an ethical and transparent manner and achieving good financial results
Fabio Barbosa former CEO of Santander Brasil (This statement couldn’t be more relevant to healthcare technology companies)
I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.
Steve Jobs biography

iPharmacy is the no.1 paid medical app available on the iTunes. Priced at $0.99 (US) or £0.69 (UK) this app has attracted over 1 million downloads!

What does it do?

The app allows users to identify unknown pills by entering some characteristics of the pill like shape and colour. 

The app also allows users to view drug safety information on the go. You can rate and comment on drugs as well as finding the closest pharmacy where your drug is available. 

The information provided on the app is FDA approved and reliable. 

Why is it so successfull?

The developers have made it really easy to access reliable health information on the go. Couple this with the pill identifier and location services and you have the recipe for an app thats adds real user value without being too complex. The developers released several variants of iPharmacy to cater to different audiences.

You can find it here on the iTunes app store

The end result will be that every willing patient is a research patient and every time you use the NHS you are playing a part in the fight against disease at home and around the world
David Cameron (December 2011) - Speaking on opening up NHS patient records for research purposes BBC NEWS

Visualisation of data is key. This video shows a great example of translating medical data. Clinical notes and test results must be accessible and understandable by consumers. If i get a blood test I want to be able to interpret the results independently as well as in partnership with my physician. 

Asthmapolis, this simple yet powerful platform is an excellent example of the new, patient-centered healthcare paradigm. Its core is a GPS mounted rescue inhaler, which sends a signal to an external server with the exact time and location of use. This allows patients to track their attacks, physicians to monitor their patients’ symptoms, epidemiologists to observe prevalence and scientists to explore spatial and temporal disease patterns. All with unprecedented objectivity and accuracy. Sounds too good? Well, there is still the FDA,  CDER, ICSAS, EMA.

Today was the final day of the mHealth Summit,held in Washington D.C. The programme was focused on business, clinical research and policy perspectives of mobile health. One of the Keynote speakers that caught our attentionwas U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. In her talk, Sebelius acknowledged that the U.S. government has ‘a critical role as a catalyst’ to encourage entrepreneurs to enter the mHealth market. We are curious to see how this is going to develop! In addition, the summit was host to ‘40 most innovative mHealth start-ups’, some of which were truly jaw-dropping and we shall write more about them in the near future!

For those of you who are interested, some of the talks were uploaded online