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#NowTrending: This Week’s MedTech News

We bring you this week’s medtech news, from Boston and beyond:

1. Only 15 Percent of Physicians Recommend Mobile Health Apps to Patients

In a recent survey from MedPanel, researchers found that only 15 percent of physicians discuss the capabilities of mobile health apps and wearable devices with their patients. What’s more, the doctors acknowledged that of the patients who are currently not using wearables, 40 percent would benefit from them. Likewise, of the patients currently not using mobile health apps, 42 percent would benefit from them.

“As long as tech companies view wearables and apps as consumer-driven markets, these products will remain a fad,” MedPanel President Jason LaBonte said in a company press release. “But if they engage physicians to recommend these products, wearables and apps will be viewed as part of healthcare and become permanent fixtures.

Room for improvement certainly was a theme for the report, as doctors seem to be only “moderately satisfied” with the apps and wearables currently in the market.

The Apple Watch was the most recognized device in the poll, as 82% of doctors are aware of its brand, while the physicians in the poll pegged Fitbit as the best device.

2. GIA Releases Comprehensive Global Report on mHealth

Global Industry Analysts, Inc (GIA) released a full report on mHealth services, discussing the current status of mobile health as well as its potential in the future. Here are the highlights:

  • Europe represents the largest market worldwide in the industry, while the Asian-Pacific region is the highest-growth market (CAGR expected to exceed 38.7% through 2020)
  • 79 percent of doctors use smartphones for work, and 46% use both a smartphone and a tablet for work reasons
  • Top reason for physician adoption of mHealth is time efficiency, followed closely by cost efficiency
  • Most popular app types used by physicians are medical journals, newspaper and magazines
  • Of the 97,000 mHealth apps currently available, 70 percent target consumers and fitness and only 30 percent target health professionals
  • 40 percent of doctors believe that mHealth technologies can reduce the number of office visits per year

3. Planned Parenthood Launches STD Testing Apps

Planned Parenthood announced this week that users in California, Minnesota and Washington are now able to request home lab kits that can test for two of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), chlamydia and gonorrhea. The app, Planned Parenthood Direct, is available for both Apple and Android. Although it is free to download, the kit costs $149 which covers testing and the prescription.

The test kit arrives via mail. Users send a urine sample to Planned Parenthood and will then receive their results via the app. In the mean time, they can also use the app to message doctors and nurses with any questions.

Should the results come back positive for chlamydia, the user can record a video stating their consent to treatment. In response, a physician will write a prescription to treat the STD. For those positive for gonorrhea, they will receive a referral to a health center for injection treatments. Post test, users also have the option of conducting video-visits with Planned Parenthood providers to get prescriptions for birth control delivered to them.

Although the app can be beneficial for women who are working full-time or are too embarrassed to visit a clinic for testing, there are some concerns that it will not reach poor or underserved people or teenagers.

4. Centerstone Research Institute Releases appImpact Guide to mTech in Behavioral Healthcare

This week, Centerstone Research Institute (CRI) along with the D.N. Batten Foundation released appImpact, a guide on how to integrate mobile technology into behavioral healthcare. appImpact offers behavioral healthcare providers the necessary framework in order to improve outcomes and cost savings using mHealth services.

“More than 90 percent of Americans own a cell phone and 64 percent own smartphones,” CEO of CRI Tom Doub, PhD, said in a press release. “Our goal is to capitalize on these widely available technologies to help make healthcare more convenient, accessible and effective for both clinicians and patients.

appImpact begins by identifying the patient’s needs and the organization’s goals, and from there, moves on to select the most effective tools for the case. It also outlines an evaluation process for measuring the app’s effectiveness, which could be useful information in updates and the design of future apps.

Earlier this year, CRI and the D.N. Batten Foundation partnered to launch iThrive, which is series of digital games and apps that promote healthy emotional well-being among adolescents.

5. Pacemakers and Smartphones Don’t Mix

In a study presented at the joint meeting of the European Society of Cardiology’s European Heart Rhythm Association (ESCEHRA) and Cardiostim, researchers have confirmed that phones should be kept at a distance for those wearing pacemakers or using an implantable cardioverter defribillator (ICD).

Pacemakers reportedly can mistake electromagnetic interference (EMI) from smartphones as cardiac signals, causing them to briefly stop working. This pause in cardiac rhythm can result in fainting, while someone with an ICD could receive a painful jolt from the device.

Based on regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the minimum distance kept between the two devices should be between six to eight inches.

“From earlier studies, we know that the most vulnerable phases of a call are ringing and connecting to the network, not talking, so it is important to analyze these separately,” said Dr. Carsten Lannerz, a cardiology resident form the German Heart Center and first author for the study, in a recent press release.

“Patients with a cardiac device can use a smartphone, but they should not place it over the cardiac device. That means not storing it in a pocket above the cardiac device. They should also hold their smartphone to the ear opposite to the side of the device implant,” Processar Christof Kolb added.

Though the interference between smartphones and cardiac devices is not incredibly common, it can occur; thus, there are new, more compatible smartphone models entering the market as well as new cardiac devices.

Nicole Yang

Nicole Yang

    Nicole Yang is an editorial intern at MedTech Boston. She is currently a rising senior at Amherst College, where she studies Neuroscience. During the academic year, Nicole is the Managing Editor of The Amherst Student and has also worked as a Chemistry laboratory teaching assistant. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys playing squash and practicing yoga. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Yang12.

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