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ONC Awards $300K in Funding to 6 Digital Health Pilot Projects!

By ADAM WONG

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced the six winners of the inaugural ONC Market R&D Pilot Challenge. The six winners will live-test new health information technology (health IT) applications in health care settings administered by their challenge partners.

The winning innovator-health care organization teams will each receive $50,000 to fund their pilot programs which will become operational in August are:

  • ClinicalBox and Lowell General Hospital
  • CreateIT Healthcare Solutions and MHP Salud
  • Gecko Health Innovations and Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Optima Integrated Health and University of California, San Francisco, Cardiology Division
  • physIQ and Henry Ford Health System
  • Vital Care Telehealth Services and Dominican Sisters Family Health Service

The ONC Market R&D Challenge launched on October 20, 2014 with the goal of finding early stage health care startups from across the country and connecting them with health care organizations and stakeholders with whom they could potentially run a pilot program to test the application.

Three in-person matchmaking events were held in January, 2015, focused on connecting health care organizations with innovator companies looking to pilot test their products. Almost 500 organizations expressed interest in finding partners through the matchmaking program. More than 300 in-person meetings were held in New York, New York; San Francisco, California; and Washington, D.C., with many more conducted virtually. These “speed-dating” events allowed startups to meet face-to-face with health care organizations to identify common interests and goals. ONC and the organizer of these meetings, Health 2.0, intended for the events to have additional benefits, including facilitating the exchange of ideas that might lead to new partnerships and relationships.

To be eligible to serve as a host, organizations were required to operate in clinical, public health and community, or consumer health environments while also serving enough consumers or patients to conduct a pilot study. The innovators had to be an early-stage health information technology company with less than $10 million in venture capital funding and a readily available technology solution.

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E-mail from TEDMED

It’s the kind of event where you might find yourself (as I did) seated between the Surgeon General and a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, with a singer/actor/model type across the table. Yet somehow, everyone finds common ground.

Once again, a who’s who of people descended on San Diego for TEDMED – three days packed with smart, provocative folks discussing how Technology, Entertainment, and Design play out in the healthcare field.

We’ve been attending TEDMED for a few years now, and this one might just be the best we’ve seen yet. From my perspective – an engineer at heart who’s devoted the past twelve years to growing a healthcare technology and communications company – TEDMED boiled down to this: the challenge of managing a range of increasingly complex systems, the need for collaboration, and a clear call to action to effect change.

We’re not kidding when we talk about complexity. A few highlights:  Dean Kamen (one of my  former bosses and current mentors) of Deka Research &  Development and David Agus of the University of Southern  California made their respective calls for a more responsive  regulatory environment in the face of more complex and sophisticated medical breakthroughs, as well as an approach for documenting  the social cost of not approving them.  Eric Schadt of Mount Sinai School of Medicine described the dizzying complexity of genetics the way an engineer might model a network – think of a GPS for your DNA – helping even those (like  me) who can’t grasp the genetic system understand how it works and how personalized medicines interact with  it.

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Overestimating Consumer Demand for Health Care Technology


More people with higher levels of concern about their health feel they are in good health, see their doctors regularly for check-ups, take prescription meds “exactly” as instructed, feel they eat right, and prefer lifestyle changes over using medicines.

And 40% of these highly-health-concerned people have also used a health technology in the past year.

At the other end of the spectrum are people with low levels of health concern: few see the doctor regularly for check-ups, less than one-half take their meds as prescribed by their doctors, only 31% feel they eat right, and only 36% feel they’re in good health.

While roughly one-fourth to one-third of U.S. adults have been early adopters of consumer technologies in general across low-moderate-and-high health concern segments, more of those with greater health concerns tended to use health tech products in the past twelve months: 40% of the highest concerned people vs. 25% of those with moderate health concerns and 14% of those at the lowest-concern level.

These insights are discussed in a report, The New Role of Technology in Consumer Health and Wellness from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), published in October 2011.

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