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  • It’s not an Oscar, it’s a Webby

    Why do some people make movies? Martin Scorcese knows why they don’t. “You don’t make pictures for Oscars,”  he said. mHealth producers don’t do it to win awards either, but they have a special chance now. The Webby Awards started in 1996, organised by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). This year, mobile health apps have their own category.

    The Wall Street Journal has a report on the winner, Walgreens, named the Best Integrated Mobile Experience for its Paperless Coupons. It’ll collect the trophy on 19 May in New York. Walgreens is the USA’s largest drugstore chain with sales of $72 billion, more than 6 million customers and more than 8.200 outlets. It’s vision is to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond. It’s winning app helps its customers to refill prescriptions, find nearby health clinics and chat with a pharmacist.

    The other four finalists were:

    Glow, a reproductive health app Touchfit: Georges St. Pierre, a fitness app Win the Hour FuelBand SE, to chart and reward activity challenges for every hour Charity Miles, to link athletic accomplishments to favoured charities.

    Scorcese said that “Our world is so glutted with useless information, images, useless images, sounds, all this sort of thing. It’s a cacophony, it’s like a madness.” This was before Webby’s mobile health category. Maybe now, it’s something like apps are awesome, as some hyperbolic acceptance speeches might say.

  • Does HIE need to improve?

    Health Information Exchange (HIE) is one of the essential parts of an eHealth strategy. It’s disappointing that user satisfaction with HIE solutions dropped an average of 8% over the last year. Part of the explanation seems to be that USA users’ demands have outpaced vendors’ capacity. The findings are in HIE 2014: Revisiting Great Expectations from KLAS, a research organisation. They’re reported  by HIE Watch.

    HIE vendors have invested millions of dollars to add extra functionality, but only about half are seeing better provider satisfaction scores. The HIE solutions included in the survey were from twelve suppliers: Allscripts, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, Informatics Corporation of America (ICA),InterSystems, Medicity, NextGen, Optum, acquired from Axolotl, Orion Health, RelayHealth and Siemens. It’s important to remember that USA users have different requirements to potential users in Africa. Functionality, power and flexibility may be some of the important features to consider.

    It’s possible that HealthShare could be added to next year’s survey. It’s seen rapid growth.

    KLAS defines HIE as at least two healthcare provider organizations actively exchanging patient data and other information, either uni-directionally or bi-directionally. The survey does not include HIEs that do not yet actively exchange data.

    The array of HIE choices for African countries is considerable. Procurement needs rigorous requirement setting, assessment and clear strategic goals.

  • Marginal gains for benefits realisation

    The GB Olympic Cycling team won 12 gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and 14 in 2008. Much of the success has relied on the Director of Performance, Sir Dave Brailsford and his marginal gain technique.

    Brailsford’s concept is the aggregation of marginal gains (AMG). He believes that breaking down and identifying every tiny aspect of performance then making just a 1% improvement in each area, it’s feasible to improve overall performance. It’s already been applied in other contexts. An explanation is on You Tube.

    The method is valuable for eHealth benefits realisation. tinTree has identified three main types of organisational change needed for benefits realisation: process change, organic change and strategic change. Benefits realisations often places considerable emphasis on process change. This is good, but not enough. Organic change is important too. It’s where users see how to use new eHealth information to improve their own performance, both individually, and as part of a team. They can then set about applying their new insights. The combined effect is a large, and often rapid, step up in eHealth utilisation and benefits.

    It’s a prerequisite that eHealth’s relevance, usability and functionality has to be at gold medal standards too. This is where there may be boundaries to AMG’s use in eHealth benefits realisation. AMG’s reach extends across preparation and practice. The equivalent for eHealth includes engagement and user requirements. Engagement means starting with organic change, and is feasible. User requirements are different. Users often have to take supplier’s offerings, so compromise, and this may be a break on AMG and any other technique.

    The AMG approach is also in a new book by the psychiatrist behind the winning Olympic GB cycling team, Dr Steve Peters Chimp Paradox. A website, Chimp Management, offers insights to improve personal performance. It describes some of the technique and has seven main areas of change that anyone can access. The Chimp Journey is:

    Your inner mind (self and emotions) Others and Relationships Communication Environment and Stress management Maintaining your health Success Happiness.

    Steve Peters applies science in a lovely whacky way. He’s applying his technique at Liverpool FC. It’s helped to give the club a good chance of winning the England’s Barclays Premier League. If chimping works for football and competitive cycling, it has a role eHealth. The challenge is knowing how to use it.

  • Is Big Data a big con?

    Harvard Business Review (HBR) hosted articles by global management gurus like Peter Drucker. Times have changed a bit since then. A recent challenge to conventional thinking has come from

    Why Your Analytics are Failing You author Michael Shrage on the HBR Blog Network. He’s a research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business.

    He says that many organizations are investing millions in Big Data and analytics, but managers still seem stuck in the same kinds of business arguments and debates. Decisions may be more driven by data, but the organizational culture is largely unchanged and analytic is not having the expected impact.

    The challenge is recognizing that Big Data and analytics for decisions obscures the organizational reality that new analytics often requires new behaviours and ways of working. People need to collaborate more and functions and process may need changing.

    Asking the right questions and finding the right answers are important, but not the dominant issues. How the questions, answers and analytics align, or conflict, with individual and institutional behaviours matters more, then how the organisations responds to improve it.

    It’s worth remembering William Bruce Cameron, the USA columnist’s ideas about information.

    “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

  • More connection’s on the way

    More countries in Africa are connecting. Thuraya and Bharti Airtel have announced an agreement to provide Airtel Africa customers with mobile satellite products and services across 17 countries on the continent.

    Extending mobile networks into remote areas presents both geographical obstacles and business challenges. Thuraya’s satellite network will help bridge the digital divide by providing an immediate and cost-effective way for Airtel to extend its coverage. This creates new opportunities for a variety of stakeholders, including government. Healthcare systems can now start incorporating eHealth services as connectivity will be more cost effective and stable.

    Samer Halawi, Chief Executive Officer of Thuraya said, “We recognize the massive impact that access to reliable communications can have on the lives of people. Thuraya’s robust satellite network will enable Airtel Africa to provide its consumer and enterprise users with reliable, high quality voice and broadband services.”

    Connectivity has proven to be a stubborn challenge. It seems that satellite solutions offer a valuable way ahead.

  • eI4Africa Partnership’s e-Infrastructures are on the move

    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 3 June is the venue and date of the eI4Africa 4th Thematic Workshop: High Performance Computing for Public Good. It’s organised under the aegis of the European Commission’s (EC) Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Local organisers are Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and Tanzania Education Research Network (TERNET), supported by Sigma Orionis, specialists in connecting research to innovation and markets in the ICT sector, and the eI4Africa Partners. The event is linked with the Technology Transfer Alliance (TTA) Conference 2014. Registration is open.

    The events’ objectives are:

    Enhance collaboration among African and European scientists Raise awareness on the regional Research and Education Networks and their potential Propose alternate means of conducting research and delivering services Demonstrate the relevance of e-Infrastructures and advanced networks Provide a forum for discussions and debates on recent development and perspectives in the field.

    Main features are:

    A high-level opening session with Tanzania’s Minister of Communication, Science and Technology, as Guest of Honour and representatives from DIT, TERNET and COSTECH Setting the scene, with presentations on: experience from South Africa in High Performance Computing (HPC) for public good eI4Africa overview, Research and Education Networks (REN), Tanzania IdP/CA and Science Gateway e-Infrastructures developments and applications under eI4Africa and survey findings Bird-of-a-Feather (BoF) sessions for opportunities to use e-Infrastructure in various government and public activities.

    Taken together, these e14Africa initiatives help to move on Africa’s digital environment. This benefits Africa’s eHealth too.

  • eMail phishing and routine thefts hit USA hospitals

    Data breaches and security vulnerabilities keep up their momentum in USA healthcare. They have a repetitive theme, so the nature of the breaches may be less significant than the unrelenting attacks and the need for constant vigilance across a wide range of ways in. Thousands of people are affected. iHealthBeat has a summary of the breaches reported by other news outlets. It’s grim reading.

    Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) has alerted nearly 12,000 patients whose data  might have been compromised by a phishing scam. Employees from several entities responded to phishing requests for patient information believing they were CHI’s legitimate requests. Compromised information included patients’:

    Addresses Dates of birth Diagnoses Health insurance information Medical record numbers Medical service codes Treating physicians or departments.

    About 3,619 patients’ Social Security numbers were compromised too:

    3,500 in Kentucky 66 in Chattanooga, Tenn 26 in Des Moines, Iowa 15 in Washington State 12 in Redding, Pa.

    PracMan, a billing company used by Alabama physicians, reported a data breach caused by a subcontractor copied and stored computer data from a PracMan computer to an unsecured server. It compromised 3,100 patients. The breach included:

    Account numbers Addresses Dates of birth Dates of services Insurance policy numbers Telephone numbers.

    Some files included medical data and 69 patients’ Social Security numbers.

    PracMan said it will offer affected patients one year of no-cost credit monitoring services (Ellison, Becker’s Hospital Review, 4/2).

    Kaiser Permanente notified about 5,100 patients of a data breach involving a laptop infected with malicious software some two and half years before the breach. Kaiser’s Northern California Division of Research were the laptop’s users. The breach included:

    Addresses Birth dates Lab results for research Medical record numbers Medical research data Names.

    After a theft of eight computers, used to process medical billing and collections, from Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, compromised 338,700 patients’ data, including:

    Names Medical billing information Social Security numbers. Addresses Birth dates Diagnoses.

    The Michigan Department of Community Health reported a data breach after theft of a laptop flash drive holding 2,595 patients’ data. Encryption protected the data on the laptop, but it was not sued to protect the data on the flash drive were. Data included:

    Addresses Birth dates Names Social Security or Medicaid identification numbers of 1,539 patients.

    The organizations are offering patients compensation. There’s no end to this threat. These reports from the USA are very courageous and valuable. Are African countries as aware of the data and cyber-security incidents that affect them?

  • Can analytics help to spot fraud and waste?

    As analytics is expanding its impact into people’s health, it seems that it’s broadening its value for fraud prevention and minimising waste. Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan (BMCHP), a healthcare payer in the USA, is using analytics to identify opportunities to improve quality and reduce costs.

    An interview with Lisa Feingold, Vice-President of Clinical Informatics at BMCHP in FierceHealthIT says that corporate analytics supports cost and utilization trending, identifies outliers and opportunities for cost savings. There’s an emphasis on pharmacy analytics too to find trends. Actuaries model cost and utilization, and the data passed into contract setting with different state entities.

    In a separate interview with Doug Cedras, Director of Corporate and Financial Investigations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), also reported in FierceHealthIT, he says that a rules-based solution wasn’t providing the expected leads. It could take years to identify a problem. The switch to predictive analytics helped his team to identify fraud earlier in its cycle, so prevent improper payments. Having used analytics will help identify adverse situations, the team can move promptly on to decide how to deal with them.

    A striking observation by Cedras is that BCBSM’s customers expect more analytics. They want to know how their money is being spent, what conditions they’re experiencing within their cohort, to make better decisions about which benefits to buy. It’s not just BCBSM that sees considerable value in predictive analytics.

  • Worldwide interactive cyber-threat map

    Kaspersky Lab has launched an interactive cyber-threat map that visually displays real time, worldwide cyber-security incidents. The types of threats displayed include malicious objects detected during on-access and on-demand scans, email and web antivirus detections, and objects identified by vulnerability and intrusion detection sub-systems.

    Kaspersky Lab’s globally distributed cloud-based infrastructure is Kaspersky Security Network (KSN). It helps Kaspersky Lab products receive information about new suspicious files and other threats almost immediately as they appear. Internal KSN mechanisms analyze and summarize the data sent automatically from thousands of protected devices whose users consent to share information about suspicious programs they encounter.  KSN then processes the information about security incidents and adds this data to the map so that anyone can view the wide variety of threats, and the speed at which they spread.

    The interactive map allows users to rotate the globe and zoom in to any part of the world. Different types of threats detected are marked with different colours. The user can also bring a description of each threat up on the screen or disable the display of threat types.

    “Every day, Kaspersky Lab handles more than 300,000 malicious objects. Three years ago the figure was just 70,000,” commented Denis Zenkin, Head of Corporate Communications at Kaspersky Lab.

    The map provides us with an inside look at the scale of cybersecurity threats and just how important cyber security protocols and device management is. eHealth initiatives and health systems need to be aware of the situation ad ensure they deal with the risks that online applications bring. Regulations and policies to protect personal data have never been more important.

  • Mozambique – bringing down the cost of broadband

    The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a global coalition working to make broadband affordable for all, has signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Mozambican government.

    Mozambique is the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) country to join the alliance, and the third developing country to, joining Nigeria and Ghana. The agreement means that A4AI and stakeholders across Mozambique will now work closely together to drive down the cost of Internet access via policy and regulatory reform.

    The Alliance’s primary focus is to reach the UN Broadband Commission Broadband Target of entry-level broadband services costing 5% of an average monthly income. Members include Google, Omidyar Network, UK DFID and USAID.

    Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of A4AI said: “We are delighted to welcome Mozambique as a formal member of A4AI. The country has made great strides in infrastructure and policy development in recent years, but much hard work still lies ahead. Latest figures from the ITU suggest that a fixed-line broadband connection costs around one and a half times the average monthly salary for a Mozambican, whilst a basic mobile broadband package costs between 40% and 66% of monthly income. We are confident that by working closely with the government, private companies and civil society organisations, we can help to drive prices downwards and unlock the immense social and economic benefits of the Internet for ordinary Mozambicans.”

    More affordable internet is likely to boost economic development, which will spill over into other spheres of society, including healthcare, creating new opportunities for eHealth and mHealth development in the country. By when and how much remains to be seen.

  • It’s confirmed: hackers use Heartbleed

    Two organisations have confirmed they’ve been hacked through Heartbleed. The BBC technology site says it’s Mumsnet and the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA acted quickly and reported a statement on its website. It says that “Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) of approximately 900 taxpayers were removed from CRA systems by someone exploiting the Heartbleed vulnerability.”

    Mumsnet’s action is on its home page. It deals with:

    What you need to do Questions? Post them here More info from MNHQ on the password reset.

    The two responses provide a good reference for African healthcare organisations if they need to deal with an attack.

  • Where will tech hubs take Africa?

    Africa’s moving into the zero marginal cost society envisaged by Jeremy Rifkin, the US economic theorist, in his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society, which isn’t a coincidence. The World Bank has identified the trend in a blog and a smart map.

    The characteristics are that African digital growth is largely “home grown”. Africa’s 700 million mobile subscribers use services provided locally, and are downloading more locally developed applications too. The technology hubs popping up across Africa provided many of these.

    The hubs vary a lot in their scale, objectives and business models. Most seem to serve business and commercial activities. Health doesn’t seem to be well represented. This could change. BongoHive in Zambia maintains an up-to-date list.

    Organisations that worked together to create the map were the Botswana Innovation Hub, the research arm of *iHub in Kenya and Bongo Hive in Zambia. It’s smart.

    When the hubs see that people are ready to use their phones for health and healthcare, they are likely to respond rapidly”? The opportunities are considerable and can help to sustain patients as the foundation of healthcare and enable more effective population health management. Jeremy Rifkin sees this as transforming healthcare into a “distributed, laterally-scaled peer-to-peer relationship in which doctors, researchers, and other health-care providers collaborate in open-networked Commons to advance patient care and the health of society.”

    This needs watching carefully so that African countries can help to take advantage of, and nurture these new opportunities. They won’t be on such a grand scale at the outset.

  • EHR strategy is easy, implementation isn’t

    The great Prussian military thinker, Carl von Clausowitz said,“In strategy everything is very simple, but not on that account very easy.” He didn’t know that it applies to EHRs and IOp too. Last year, ehna posted that the USA’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) IOp project was cancelled with a substantial write-off. Now, iHealthBeat has posted that the “House voted 416-1 to pass a two-year appropriations bill (HR 4486) that would withhold 75% of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ requested funding for electronic health record system upgrades until it shows progress on EHR interoperability with the Department of Defense.”

    The House’s decision relies on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report recommending that VA and DOD need to support cost and schedule claims, develop IOP plans, and improve collaboration. It also said that the two departments had not established a joint process to select ICT investments using cost, benefit, schedule, and risk criteria. The consequences are a limit to their ability to pursue joint eHealth solutions that meet their needs and to provide better value and benefits to the government. It sounds as though a rigorous business case and socio-economic assessment was part of the missing bit.

    These very valuable lessons for African countries are clear. EHRs and IOp are complex projects that need rigorous technical, business, socio-economic and risk assessment well-before they start. Less than this increases risks, which are demanding to manage without making them more difficult. Clausewitz’s third rule is simple enough:“Never waste time.” It’s even more important when resources are extremely scarce, like in Africa.

  • First African Centre for eHealth Excellence

    Acfee’s proposed partnership with UCT is not going ahead as originally planned. Read a more recent update here.

    A new eHealth initiative is now underway, based in South Africa. The University of Cape Town (UCT) and tinTree International eHealth have agreed to set up a Centre for eHealth Excellence. It’s prime goal is training, leadership and development in Africa to provide a steady stream of eHealth experts to support Africa’s growing eHealth investment. It’s the first in Africa.

    It’ll be linked to UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences. In a press release today, Prof Wim de Villers, the Faculty’s Dean said that “The Centre will be driven by academic excellence and help to expand the pool of advanced eHealth skills, knowledge and solutions on the African continent.” This is the start, and discussions are continuing with several key partners before the official planned launch date in 2015.

    The academic Centre will:

    Deal with eHealth innovation responsively and offer value to a wide range of partners Contribute new and relevant knowledge to the global eHealth domain through credible research and publications Prepare medical graduates to practice in an environment that is already experiencing technologically driven transformation Produce more informatics, analytics and implementation graduates and leaders for eHealth Provide countries with analysis and tools to make informed, constructive choices between competing eHealth priorities Be guided by an Advisory Board of eminent African health and technology leaders.

    tinTree chairman, Dr Sean Broomhead, believes that the Centre’s role is vital to eHealth, and its value for better health. He said, “Good eHealth improves our experience of health, whether we receive care, provide care, or simply want to remain healthy. Getting eHealth right needs special skills. The Centre, together with its African partners, will build the capacity needed to expand eHealth’s positive impact for Africa.”

    UCT was set up in 1829. Its Faculty of Health Sciences, set up in 1912, has the oldest medical school in Southern Africa. Its core business is research in medical and allied fields and teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students across a wide range of healthcare-related disciplines.

    tinTree is based in South Africa. It’s an international network of global eHealth professionals. It uses leadership and development skills and strategies to support African countries, Regional Economic Communities, companies and NGOs to move eHealth forward.tinTree analyses eHealth developments in Africa and globally, building models, tools, handbooks and other information assets to find lessons that help health organisations and ministries of health move ahead. tinTree operates eHealth News Africa (eHNA).

    eHNA will post news and commentaries on the Centre as it happens.

  • Facing up to facts and photos

    Physiognomy may not’ve been science, but craniofacial features and characteristics are very informative for clinical geneticists when they’re diagnosing genetic diseases. To help, a UK team from the Oxford University, the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, have used 2D photos to develop the Clinical Face Phenotype Space (CFPS). Their research is in e Life.

    The project is “A first step towards the high-throughput diagnosis of ultra-rare developmental diseases we introduce an automatic approach that implements recent developments in computer vision. This algorithm extracts phenotypic information from ordinary non-clinical photographs and, using machine learning, models human facial dysmorphisms in a multidimensional ‘Clinical Face Phenotype Space’. The space locates patients in the context of known syndromes and thereby facilitates the generation of diagnostic hypotheses.” It seems like a massive first step.

    The team says that CFPS enables clustering of patients by phenotype when no known syndrome diagnosis exists. This aids disease identification and is a novel way to infer causative genetic variants from clinical sequencing data through functional genetic pathway comparisons.

    The study team used a database of 2,878 images; 1,515, 53%, healthy controls and 1,363, 47%, for eight known developmental disorders, the syndromes. They then used a computer vision algorithm to annotate automatically 36 feature points on the faces. Eventually, after several more steps, the team established that people with the same underlying genetic disease automatically cluster in CFPS.

    They propose three primary CFPS applications in clinical settings:

    Narrowing the search space for documented developmental disorders Identifying multiple people that share an ultra-rare genetic disorder Aiding the inference of causative variants in clinical genetic sequencing.

    After the years of advances in informatics, semantic interoperability, analytics, Big Data and 3D printers, analysing photos seems like a long, diagonal step forward. Einstein may have been right when he said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” In this case, it may be that the image and the knowledge are.

  • ONC help for procuring EHRs

    eHealth procurement is a tough proposition for the healthcare side. As African countries move further ahead, procurement becomes more sophisticated and complex.

    The USA’s Office of the National Co-ordinator for Health IT (ONC) has published EHR Contracts: Key Contract Terms for Users to Understand, and prepared by Westat, a USA Employee-Owned Research Corporation® in Maryland. It addresses a few procurement issues in a simple way, describes a few key EHR contract terms and suggests how to deal with them. From this position, it may guide people to help to select an appropriate EHR system and protect organizations from business and patient safety risks that may arise when health workers rely on EHRs for critical aspects of their work. It also aims to help to make sure that a selected EHR system does what’s expected of it.

    It’s content includes:

    Negotiating EHR contract terms Ways that EHRs are provided Indemnifications Confidentiality and non-disclosure Warranties and disclaimers Limitation of liability Dispute resolution Termination and wind down Intellectual property issues.

    Unsurprisingly, all the legal themes fit the context of USA law. The principles and concepts are still valuable lessons for other legal codes and domains, and can help to improve healthcare’s ICT procurement. For African eHealth expansion, there’s a gap for an eHealth procurement guide. eHNA looks forward to reporting how it’s being answered, before too long.

    One way or another, it deals with topics that everyone involved in EHR procurement has to succeed with. For those of you who are new to EHR procurement, the guide’ a valuable introduction. If you’re an experienced EHR procurer, it’s a helpful checklist to test and tighten your approach.

  • Mobile technology’s profiled in an eBook

    Keeping up with mHealth developments is hard. FierceHealthIT has released its commentary as an eBook on the latest example and profile that helps. Verizon, a wireless and technology provider, sponsored the eBook. It includes examples of: St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in New York, where care transition teams send nurses into the community with a mobile EKG device that attaches to a smartphone and mobile, Internet-enabled technologies ensure that patients have the right care in the right setting at the right time

    Boston Children’s Hospital uses a range of mobile apps both patients and physicians, including one that helps patients and their families navigate the healthcare system and another that helps them coordinate and communicate with their healthcare team The Veterans Health Administration is working to make its electronic medical system available on mobile devices, with plans for apps for doctors to access other back-end systems At Children’s National Medical Center, a texting pilot program has had early success in improving care transitions and outcomes for asthma patients and has improved patients’ and parents’ experiences.

    mHealth has expanded fast and shows no signs of slowing down. It has the potential to make patients feel more connected to their care and clinicians more connected to their patients, especially during care transitions.

    The range of mHealth opportunities is both wide and skewed. Research2Guidance has published its latest mHealth economics assessment. It shows a USA mHealth distribution[1] across twelve mHealth categories:

    Fitness 30% Medical reference: drugs, disease and symptoms information 17% Wellness apps 15% Nutrition 7% Medical conditions 7% Personal health record 3% CME 2% Diagnostics 2% Compliance 1% Reminders 1% Remote consultation 1% Others 14%

    The mHealth snapshot in the eBook is a good way to keep up with this changing array.

  • Google’s the heartbeat of some wearables

    Chocolate was introduced into Europe on 7 July 1550, some people say. On the same date this year,Google is supplying its Android Wear operating system to the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live in some European countries, the USA, Japan; twelve countries in total. Later this summer Motorola’s Moto 360 is expected to emerge too. The BBC’s technology site has a good review of the initiative and its issues.

    It says that LG’s G Watch costs $229. Samsung’s costs $200. Both need users to have a phone running Android 4.3 or above. Their value seems to be unproven so far. The BBC says that “for many use-cases, the case has yet to be made for a 2in (5cm) screen to effectively replace the 5in one in your jeans pocket.” It’s impact on health and healthcare is may not yet be established.

    After testing a prototype Android Wear device, a reviewer concluded that it will become the standard for wearable kit with screens. It’s not a full operating system, but a smartphone companion, and is seen as the right starting point for Google when developers are “feeling their way in the dark and trying to find a compelling case for what to do with it beyond the basic stuff.” This view is the similar to the old, disparaging comment about ICT that it’s an aspirin looking for a headache.

    With these different perspectives, it’s hard to say what the impact will be for Africa. As richer countries take it up, its replacement technology could move it on before it has a big impact in Africa. As mobile technology moves rapidly on, will Android last longer than chocolate?

  • Are wearables more than fashion?

    Fashion is a means of attracting attention. It seems that wearables are increasingly fashionable and attractive to researchers. An article in the Wall Street Journal says that researchers are conducting more and more studies on the potential of wearables to keep patients healthy and to help them recover from illness faster. It’s summarised in Fierce Mobile Health.

    It seems that USA doctors are pondering on ways to use data and technology to change medical care. We’ve heard this many times, but it maybe starting. For example, last year, doctors gave patients with Type 2 diabetes pedometers that sent motivational tips through text messages. The study showed that patients who received the tips are better at controlling their blood sugar.

    At the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Fitbit helps to track activity of cardiac-surgery patients. They’re discharged sooner if they record a higher level of post-surgical activity.

    Alongside the benefits, there are still a lot of barriers. The usual ones are privacy, security, reliability and technical and analytics capacity.

    On balance, it seems that Africa needs to be ready to take advantage of wearables.

  • Are some health videos up to it?

    Blood pressure (BP) is an important vital sign. Accuracy is essential in everything that deals with it. A study in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension (JASH) says that about a third of 209 YouTube videos were misleading and 4% were anecdotal. About half the misleading videos contained product advertisements, 70% advocated unproven alternative treatments and 91% targeted patients.

    Perhaps more alarmingly, the number of views per day and likes were significantly lower for the useful videos. Viewer engagement is significantly higher with videos that contain misleading or erroneous information compared to videos with useful information.

    This is not helpful for eHealth initiatives that include patient empowerment and the expanding role of the Internet of Things (IoT). Pursuing these types of strategies requires careful scrutiny and selection to direct patients to the majority of sites with reliable information.