Senior Care Technology Review: FDA vs. Mobile Health Tech; “Granny Nav” for Senior Driving

This roundup links to several tech-related articles, as multiple news outlets are reporting on the latest technological developments and advances, including how Health Care Reform could impact electronic health record implementation, how consumer community sites are 24 times more likely to adopt social media tools than health organizations, and the battle between the FDA and mobile health apps.

In other senior care technology news, Independa recently closed its convertible note funding at $2.35 million, with plans to expand sales, support, and engineering operations along with marketing efforts to broaden its customer base; additionally, UK researchers are working on vehicle technology to support older drivers, and RediLearning Corp. just made its continuing education webcasts accessible online for purchase.

1. Politico: FDA Meets Mobile Health Technology, Regulation Ensues

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“An onslaught of mobile health technology has forced an arranged marriage between smartphone app makers and the Food and Drug Administration—because someone had to regulate them,” reports Politico. “There’s just one problem: Many of the tech wizards aren’t used to FDA supervision. And now, both sides are struggling to figure out how to live with each other.” Read more

2. LeadingAge: How Will Supreme Court Ruling on Health Reform Impact HIT?

“Experts agree that a possible ACA repeal would not affect the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program, which was authorized by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act,” reports LeadingAge. “However, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) maintains that a Supreme Court repeal would hamper HIT efforts because ‘the ACA’s payment reforms, pilot projects and other delivery system reforms are built with the expectation of having IT-enabled providers.'”

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The Medicare Shared Savings Program/ACOs, a bundled payment pilot depending on coordinated care between acute and post-acute care facilities, and a clause penalizing excessive hospital readmissions all need a “robust HIT infrastructure.” Read more

3. PwC: Consumers Using Social Media to Find, Review Healthcare Providers

“Patients may be a step ahead of their local hospitals in adopting social media tools, a new report by consulting firm PwC suggests,” reports eWeek.com. “For its report “Social Media ‘Likes’ Healthcare: From Marketing to Social Business,” released April 17, the Health Research Institute at PwC interviewed 1,060 U.S. consumers. The consulting firm found that four in 10 consumers use social media to find reviews of doctors and treatments and one in four posts material about their experience using social tools. Health organizations, such as hospitals, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, are behind consumer community sites in adopting social media tools, PwC reported.” Read more

4. Independa: Telehealth Solutions Provider Closes Convertible Note Funding at $2.35 Million

Telehealth solutions provider Independa recently closed its convertible note funding at $2.35 million, an investment surpassing its $2.2 million target, indicating “strong affirmation” of the company’s strategy to offer integrated technology solutions that help seniors live independently.

In addition to the $1.6 million in seed-round venture capital funding Independa announced last September, the company got another $750,000 in backing, and is now engaged in discussions with venture capital firms and strategic investors on a round of equity-based venture capital.

The funds will be used to expand sales, support and engineering operations, according to Independa CEO Kian Saneii, as well as marketing efforts aimed at broadening its customer base.

The company helps seniors requiring care services to stay at home longer and more safely through the use of technological solutions that can increase comfort and reduce costs of caregiving.

5. DriveLAB: “Granny Nav” Technology Helps Seniors Stay on the Road Longer

Newcastle University’s Intelligent Transport team is developing technology that supports older drivers and helps them remain on the road longer. The researchers recently converted an electric car into a mobile laboratory dubbed “DriveLAB,” featuring tracking systems, eye trackers, and bio-monitors meant to help researchers understand the challenges older drivers face, and to identify where key stress points are.

“For many older people, particularly those living alone or in rural areas, driving is essential for maintaining their independence, giving them the freedom to get out and about without having to rely on others,” said Professor Phil Blythe, who led the Newcastle team in investigating in-vehicle technologies for older drivers. “But we all have to accept that as we get older our reactions slow down and this often results in people avoiding any potentially challenging driving conditions and losing confidence in their driving skills. The result is that people stop driving before they really need to.”

The research is part of the Social inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) project, a £12 million research “hub” led by Newcastle University and funded by Research Councils UK’s Digital Economy program. Read more about the research initiative.

6. RediLearning: Senior Care Personnel Resource for Continuing Education

RediLearning Corp. recently launched an online resource for senior care personnel allowing people to purchase continuing education webcasts, produced in collaboration with the American College of Health Care Administrators. It’s the only place where people can access RediLearning Live and On-Demand webcasts, which feature content offering 1.5 and 2.0 CE credits to long-term care professionals.

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