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Vol. 12 No. 7, April 8, 2015


Telehealth Effective but Slower Than Onsite Stroke Assessments
Assessment for stroke took slightly longer using robotic telepresence, but this option still could be effective when the hospital has no vascular neurologist on site, according to research published at Telemedicine and e-Health. The study compared the assessments of 98 patients evaluated using robotic telepresence with 98 whose care was supervised by a vascular neurologist in house at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. The subjects were identified from a stroke alert database. Participants were selected from a stroke alert database.
According to the study, the average time between stroke alert activation and the initiation of treatment or downgrade was 8.6 minutes longer among patients in the robotic telehealth group compared with those in the standard supervision group. The average time increased among a subgroup of acute ischemic stroke patients who were treated with intravenous thrombolysis, with the average time between activation and treatment taking 18 minutes longer for the robotic group than for patients in the standard group. The study found that safety measures were similar between the groups.


New Camera Technique Detects Heart, Respiratory Rates in Nearly All People
Video-based recognition of persons’ heart and breathing rates is no longer new, but the technology has been limited to people with light skin who are well illuminated by external lighting. Researchers at Rice University have developed their own version of the technique, which they call DistancePPG, that is able to compensate for different skin tones, patient movement, and the ambient lighting wherever it’s being used.
The team used an algorithm that both averaged the color changes of the whole face and monitored individual areas as well. This allowed the team to significantly improve the scope of where such a system may be practically used, hopefully leading to its wide adoption in neonatal wards and other clinical environments where patients need to be kept under close supervision, but with minimal wiring.

Deep Brain Stimulation as New Treatment for Dementia
A highly targeted deep brain stimulation (DBS) could be the response to keeping our memory sharp and helping push off dementia. Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore implanted middle aged rats with DBS electrodes that targeted the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsible for a lot of our higher level function. After continuous stimulation of the brain via the electrode leads, the researchers noted a significant improvement in the animals’ ability to perform memory intensive tasks. Moreover, after visualizing the rats’ brains, the researchers were able to see an increase in the formation of new neurons compared to the control group. As the researchers conclude in their abstract in journal eLife, “these findings suggest that chronic ventromedial prefrontal cortex high-frequency stimulation may serve as a novel effective therapeutic target for dementia-related disorders.”


Australia: Telstra Buys Medibank e-Health Business
Telstra is adding to its e-health arsenal, striking an agreement to acquire Medibank Private's Anywhere Healthcare network as Australia's largest telecommunications provider looks to grow profits outside its traditional businesses. Anywhere Healthcare was established in 2013 and is designed to help people in regional and remote areas, or those with mobility issues, get access to specialist doctors and healthcare over video conferencing. The network has over 1,600 general practitioners and aged-care partners as well as 26 specialists, currently offering around 600 to 700 consultations per month. Telstra is planning to invest in and expand the Anywhere Healthcare business to take advantage of Australia's growing healthcare spending and its ageing population.
According to the Australian Government's Institute of Health and Welfare, the country spent more than $120 billion on health in 2009-10, averaging out to around $5,479 per person. This number is expected in increase significantly as the population ages and new treatments, drugs and technologies are made available to patients.
Neither Telstra nor Medibank would disclose how much the deal was worth. However, as it was not announced to the Australia Securities Exchange, it likely is not a material amount.

India: Health Data of Patients to Be Centralized
The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry is mulling over centralizing medical history of patients for easy access of hospitals and laboratories through a new platform called the National eHealth Authority (NeHA). The initiative will allow healthcare professionals access to complete and accurate health history for better diagnosis and treatment without compromising on patient confidentiality. In the concept note circulated, the Ministry pointed out that a major challenge faced by people is when they visit a healthcare provider for examination and undergo some tests, and the care provider initiates a treatment plan, they need to carry the whole history for their next visit.
Like the information systems developed by private hospitals, the government too wants to create a platform for information saving that will allow continuity of care. The Ministry says the initiative will help meet the challenges posed by the acute shortage of physicians and quality paramedics. As per the government data, there are seven doctors per 10,000 population, way below the WHO recommendation of 23 per 10,000 population in rural areas.

Emerging European Digital Health Companies Join The 6th Annual Health 2.0 Europe Conference 
Health 2.0 announces new panels and innovative demos for the 6th Annual Health 2.0 Europe Conference. This spring, Health 2.0 Europe and its partners at Mobile World Capital will dive into the European investment landscape, the latest design strategies for entrepreneurs, international health care concerns, and showcase the tools emerging to solve the multitude of issues surrounding the digital health landscape.
Highlights include:
  • Health IT Investment & Funding
  • Reimbursement on the way for digital health
  • Connecting European Providers in New Ways
  • ¡Innovacíon de España!: Health 2.0 is welcoming the most exciting innovators bursting from Spain’s startup hub
  • Big Names Solving Big issues
  • The Frontier of Digital Health
For further information and to register, please visit:

CMA launches website to build support for National Seniors Strategy
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is ratcheting up its public campaign to encourage development of a national strategy on seniors care. In conjunction with a broad alliance of partner organizations, the CMA has launched, a website to build a community of support for a National Seniors Strategy and make seniors care a major issue in the upcoming federal election.
On the website, both members of the public and CMA members will be able to add their voice to the call to governments to fix the current health care system and provide proper care for older Canadians. provides detailed information and updates about seniors care and the need for a national strategy in the follow sections:
  • Seniors Strategy: Detailing why Canada urgently needs to get the healthcare system in shape to meet the growing and evolving needs of the aging population.
  • Events: Outlining where the CMA is hosting senior care events across the country. Canadians can add their own seniors care related events to the events map.
  • What’s New: Find out what others are saying about the need for seniors care — and how things like long-term and home care can be better supported to the benefit of the entire healthcare system. The site features videos, infographics blog posts and articles.
  • About: See which organizations make up the Alliance for a National Seniors Strategy.

National Health Service in England and Wales Selects IBM to Enhance Electronic Staff Record System 
IBM has announced a contract with the Department of Health in England to manage and continue transforming the National Health Service Electronic Staff Record system (ESR), the UK's most important workforce management tool serving 1.4 million employees. IBM will help modernize the system by providing increased mobile access and new self-service capabilities making the system more efficient and accessible. IBM Interactive Experience will design and build a Mobile Ready Portal tailored for many different user types allowing access from PC, Android and iOS devices. The improved interface will give NHS employees easier access to new and existing HR services including mobile, expenses and e-learning. The project will also lay the foundation for future service enhancements including increased central business intelligence reporting using dashboards, alerts and collaboration tools that will help improve performance while helping reduce costs. A critical tool for the National Health Service in England and Wales, the ESR provides payroll, learning and talent management and the centralization of workforce information. It also provides a range of other services covering human resources.
The five year agreement was signed in December 2014 following a competitive tender. Following the transition from the current supplier, IBM, in partnership with the NHS ESR Central Team will manage and run the service beginning later this year.


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