LAUNCH OF THE EUROPEAN DIRECTORY OF HEALTH APPS -A review by patient groups and empowered consumers

Foreword by Robert Madelin, Director General, DG CONNECT
Launched at the media partner’s event, European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) 2012
In partnership with: How are you?; GSK; Novo Nordisk; and SanofiA full copy of the European Directory of Health Apps can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/HEALTHAPPS
As of Oct 3rd 2012, the European Directory of Health Apps will be available in the public domain on the PatientView website:
http://www.patient-view.com/-bull-directories.html

 


The European Directory of Health Apps 2012-2013 is the first-ever directory of its kind. It contains key facts on 200 health-oriented apps that are all recommended by patient groups and empowered consumers.The 200 apps are also categorised in the Directoryaccording to the service they provide the patient/consumer, and according to the language/s in which the apps are available.*Special effort was made in include apps devised by patient groups and other consumer organisations

Each app has a one-page entry in the Directory, containing the actual patient group/consumer recommendation/s, the cost of the the app, its developer/s (including some brief details about the developer/s), and the weblinks from which the app can be downloaded. Information and references are hyperlinked in the online PDF version of the Directory, to enable easy access.*All information in the Directory ireferenced and can be downloaded
WIDE RANGING AND IN MANY LANGUAGESThe variety and the international remit of the 200 patient/consumer apps in the Directory is impressive. PatientView has identified apps in 62 very-different health specialties. Until recently, most apps have been the creation of US developers. But PatientView has found that European developers of health apps are quickly catching up—the apps in the Directory are available in as many as 32 different European languages.
Click on links below for :Chart on specialties in the European Directory of Health Apps. Title of chart is “Number of apps for the following medical specialties/conditions in the European Directory of Health Apps.”http://bit.ly/SPECIALTIESChart on languages in the European Directory of Health Apps: Ttle of chart is “Number of apps in the following languages in the European Directory of Health Apps”

http://bit.ly/LANGUAGES

HEALTH APPS REPRESENT A NEW AND POTENT ‘E-TOOL’Health apps are capable of helping patients to self-manage their medical conditions round the clock. Apps provide support for patients (whether at home, at the doctor’s office, at hospital, at work, or travelling/on holiday), and cater for a wide range of their healthcare needs. Health apps can even be invaluable for patients and members of the public who are traditionally hard for national healthcare systems to reach—such as homeless people.
SOME CASE STUDIES A few examples of the types of apps in the Directory are mentioned below:

• Apps that support self-management of a medical condition. U-Turn, developed in Northern Ireland, is an app to help people addicted to opiate drugs. The app advises the user on how to recognise the symptoms of an opiate overdose. The Scotland-based NGO that recommended the app, the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF), describes it as “an excellent naloxone training aid and resource”. The app is available in English.• Apps that allow patients to report adverse events. Fodspor [Footprints] was developed by a Denmark-based patient group specialising in patient safety, the Dansk Selskab for Patientsikkerhed, to “make it possible for patients and relatives to write their own hospital experience ‘footprints’ on the phone.” Patient comments about their experiences are emailed to hospital managers, who gain unbiased, truthful accounts of patients’ experiences of care in the managers’ hospitals. Available in Danish.• Apps that support the homeless. UK charity, the Amber Foundation, commissioned its Amber Homeless Helper app to provide young homeless people throughout the UK with information on the many local services available to them. The Devon-based local NGO that recommended the app, Young People’s Housing Advice, says that the app “is designed to provide as much information as possible to help people find the right support.” Available in English.
• Apps to support patients when they travel. ICE 112 is an app developed in Iceland that utilises a smartphone’s GPS system to enable the user to be tracked while they are travelling. The app alerts the emergency services if the traveller is in trouble. 112 is the EU-wide emergency number, and this app is recognised by the Belgium-based European Emergency Number Association (EENA). The app is available in English and Icelandic. Such apps are invaluable for people living with a chronic condition, giving them the confidence to go abroad. A similar approach is utilised by an award-winning app developed in Portugal, AlzNav. The app is intended to help guide people with dementia back to their home, and will call for help if the user becomes lost or disoriented. The app is available in English. Wheelmap, winner of the Smart Accessibility Awards 2011, helps people with impaired mobility: thanks to crowdsourcing it lets users of the application rate the accessibility for wheelchair users of public places”.  The app is available in English, German and Japanese.

• Apps that support the clinical-trial process. Developed by Stephane Dufau of the University of Aix-Marselle, France, Dys is a learning tool for children with dyslexia, and also comprises part of a scientific programme at the University. Users e-mail their responses to the app, giving scientists insights into the letter spacing that will most help children with dyslexia to read. The French health NGO that recommended the app, ANAPEDYS [National Association of Associations of Parents of Children with Dyslexia], hopes “that this study, and the app, will bring real results for people with dyslexia.” The app is available in English and French.

NEED FOR SOME SCRUTINY The importance of the European Directory of Health Apps lies not just in its categorisation of health apps, but also in its reviews of the apps. As Robert Madelin, Director General of the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, notes in his foreword to the Directory:“From DG CONNECT’s perspective, consumers and patients need guidance and support in finding useful and reliable apps. Scrutiny of these apps by informed users (such as empowered citizens and patient groups) could be one way forward. I am certain that this Directory will prove useful, not only to users of healthcare systems throughout Europe, but to the many European citizens who live or strive to live healthy lives as well as for everybody who needs such information in their everyday work.”

FUTURE PLANS PatientView hopes to expand on this initial exercise in collating patient perspectives on health apps by increasing the number of apps and international scope it covers. PatientView will also shortly post on its website a link to an online survey in which developers of health apps can leave details of the apps they have created—if they want these apps reviewed by patient groups or empowered consumers. (All entries will be treated seriously, and every developer will get a reply about the outcome of the review process.) Finally, PatientView would also welcome the opinions of health professionals on the subject of health apps that help patients self-manage their medical conditions. Even apps are, in the end, no real substitute for proper clinical care. They are, though, an important healthcare tool, providing support to patients and public—a point that patient groups and empowered consumers are already emphasising.

 

About PatientView
Views of patients should be considered in all important healthcare decisions (whether a new healthcare product is being developed, or whether a government is instituting changes to a healthcare system). PatientView was formed in response to the emerging powerful new global patient movement. PatientView has worked to build bridges worldwide with the health NGOs that comprise the patient movement, to help define and support one of the most important phenomenon changing healthcare in the 21st Century. Today PatientView has the capacity to reach out to 120,000 such groups (covering over 1,000 specialties, and from most countries in the world). The patient movement grows continually in numbers and scale of influence.

Mobile phone microscope poised to begin trials in Africa

Lensless mobilephone microscope receives 3 major awards

Mobile phones are accumulating a Swiss Army Knife-esqe assortment of capabilities; substituting as cameras, providing internet access, and soon operating as medical labs if Aydogan Ozcan’s plans come to fruition. This month’s cover article of the journal Lab on a Chip features the latest creation by the Ozcan group, a functioning prototype of a mobile phone microscope. The lensless imaging platform behind the mobile phone microscope is nearing readiness for real world trials, after receiving prestigious awards in the past month from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Geographic, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Mobile phones present a tremendous opportunity in Global healthcare,” remarked Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a researcher at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute. “We can leverage the fact that eighty percent of the world’s population lives in areas covered by mobile phone networks to bridge the gaps left by a lack of health care infrastructure in developing countries.”

That lack of health care infrastructure includes not only buildings, but also trained personnel. For telemedicine tools to effectively fill in for hospitals, the devices have to meet several criteria. They must be cheap enough for widespread use in poor areas, be simple enough for a minimally trained person to correctly operate, and be able to easily transmit information over existing cellular networks. Optical microscopes, a key diagnostic tool in hospitals, are too bulky for telemedicine applications.

In optical microscopes, one of the elements which limits the miniaturization possibilities and drives up the cost is the lens. Ozcan’s telemedicine microscope avoids both these constraints by capturing an image with a lensless system. This innovative engineering means that the microscope can be miniaturized (it only weighs ~1.5 ounces) to the point where it fits on most mobile phones, while remaining inexpensive enough for widespread use in developing countries, costing only about ten dollars each.

Images are captured through a process called diffraction, or shadow-based, imaging. An ordinary light-emitting diode (LED) from the top illuminates the sample, and the detector array already installed in mobile phone cameras captures the image, recording the patterns created by the shadows resulting from the LED light scattering off of the cells in the sample. Because cells are semi-transparent, enough information is obtained from this type of imaging to detect sub-cellular elements, and to produce holographic images. By using an inexpensive LED light instead of a laser as typically required for holographic imaging, the size and cost are further reduced.

The mobile phone microscope is also easy to use, and versatile. Samples (blood smears or saliva) are loaded into single-use chips that easily slide into the side of the microscope. Because the microscope uses the entire detector array to capture an image and has a relatively large aperture, it has a wide imaging field-of-view. Samples do not need to be precisely aligned for images to be captured, and the chance of debris clogging the light source is lessened. Alternate uses of the technology include testing water quality in the field following a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.

The lensless imaging platform is an ideal telemedicine tool because it is so easily integrated with mobile phones, which are becoming cheaper to produce while gaining sophistication. Even base models in developing countries often have cameras. Ozcan’s group developed an algorithm that instantly identifies and counts red and white blood cells and microparticles in samples, a time consuming process typically done by trained technicians. The image results are then sent by the mobile phone to centralized hospitals for analysis by doctors. As an alternative for people whose mobile phones don’t have built-in cameras, Ozcan’s group also created a standalone lensless microscope that only requires a USB connection for power and to upload the captured shadow images to either a laptop or mobile phone for transmission.

Field tests of the mobile phone microscope will begin in Africa this summer using funds received from the three major awards. In early May a proposal of Ozcan’s was selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a $100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration Grant; in mid May he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, for which he will receive $10,000; and in late May he received $400,000 for a CAREER award from the NSF.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise hold conference on the potential of telehealthcare

Agency claims area is well placed to lead in delivering healthcare from a distance

HIE forum aims to put north at tele-healthcare forefront

By Iain Ramage

Published: 12/04/2010

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise is to host a summit on the future of “telehealthcare” in a bid to put the region at the forefront of the potentially lucrative emerging sector.

It claims the challenges of an ageing population and a low-carbon economy are key to “delivering healthcare from a distance” through technological advances.

The gathering, at Aldourie Castle by Loch Ness on May 5, will consider how the region could take a lead.

About 50 delegates have been invited to contribute ideas on the delivery of tele-healthcare in Scotland over the next decade.

Steven Dodsworth, HIE’s head of life sciences, said: “This region offers great potential to be a centre of excellence in this sector.

“We already have an encouraging number of companies developing expertise in this field who are working alongside healthcare professionals and communities to overcome the challenges of healthcare at a distance.”

Telehealthcare covers a range of services such as supporting elderly patients who wish to remain in their own homes, helping people to take control of long-term health conditions and enabling people in remote locations to consult health professionals with minimum inconvenience.

Harriet Dempster, Highland Council social work director, said: “This event will enable representatives from government, health and social care providers and patient groups to discuss ideas with Scottish companies and multinationals and to develop a shared vision.”

BCS Health Scotland Conference 2010

health scotland logo

22nd and 23rd September 2010

Glasgow Science Centre www.glasgowsciencecentre.org

Giving you advance notice that our conference this year will be the biggest and brightest yet! We are staging this event at the prestigious Glasgow Science Centre where you not only have great views over the Clyde and City but complementary entrance to the fun science exhibits. The futuristic building mirrors BCS Health Scotland’s innovative and forward looking approach..

We have three themes this year which are quality, innovation, and efficiency.

Keynote speakers include:

Matthew Swindells, former CIO Connecting for Health, and chair BCS Health

Rikard Lovstrom from Sweden to talk about their National Patient Overview project and eHealth strategy

Dorothy Whittick from Canada talking about the Canadian Health Infoway national developments and a Wellness project in Alberta

Brian Robson from Scotland on the Quality theme and his experiences from the USA.

PRESENTATIONS INVITED – Do you have something interesting to present in one of our themes ?

To get in touch please use the contact form

Exhibitions confirmed include:

AtosOrigin Alliance Emis
INPS Intersystems
Microtech Support Orion Health
Voice Technologies and many more in the pipeline

Exhibitors are staging a social networking evening after the first day events so look out for a fun time as well as stimulating and thought provoking discussions.

If you would like to Exhibit please contact Neil Campbell using the contact form

NHS Scotland eHealth Awards!

An exciting new departure will be the ‘NHS Scotland eHealth Awards!’.  These awards are given to winning NHS teams for three categories sponsored by BCS and Scottish Government, look out for an announcement in the next few weeks.

London hospital tests handheld ultrasound scanner

Vscan handheld ultrasound scanner launched

By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent, BBC News

An ultrasound scanner the size of a large mobile phone has been launched in Europe and North America.

The Vscan can be used to image the heart and other organs.

Developer GE Healthcare says the portable device, priced at about £5,000 in the UK, is not designed to replace existing machines.

But it may offer rapid early diagnosis to triage patients in hospitals and the community who would then be referred for more specialist examination.

‘Not sci-fi’

It looks like a cross between a flip-top phone and the medical scanner used by Dr McCoy in the TV series Star Trek.

The Vscan is not science fiction but a hand-held ultrasound machine with a scanning wand attached, which has been approved for use in Europe and North America.

The device is being used in the cardiac investigation unit at St George’s Hospital in south London.

The moving colour images show blood flow around the heart and by switching to black and white you can see heart valves opening and closing.

Click the link to find out more about the handheld ultrasound scanner