Jun 302017

Having already been a third party vendor for health care products over the past decade, Amazon is considering expanding its scale of distribution in health care industry.  From online bookstore to a behemoth commerce company, Amazon has the consumer market necessary for such a jump.  But what are the implications for other distributors of medical supplies?  

Amazon’s brazen introduction into the field could awaken increased competition among other distributors, something that would bring costs down and encourage innovation.  The intricacies of health care as an industry are complex, and may take a long time for any new challenger to overcome, but the logistics and infrastructure are already in place for Amazon.  

Through the rapidly expanding initiative called Amazon Business, a wide selection of medical supplies, from sutures to beds, have been made available over the past year.  According to Amazon executives, Amazon Business has generated roughly $1 billion in sales and is poised for continued growth.  In a February 2016 report, the US was estimated to have an annual 4.2% increase in the sale of disposable medical supplies, raising the market to $54.1 billion by 2020.  Groundbreaking research has lead to the creation of new products based on improved materials and designs that will benefit growth.  However, many of these developments in minimally invasive and noninvasive techniques will reduce the need for disposable medical supplies. This shifts the balance of funding from replaceable materials to permanent equipment.  Capitalizing on this, Amazon has also made moves into the pharmaceutical industry, recently hiring health care experts and listing job openings for similar positions.  Will the next evolution of health care be labelled with Amazon Prime?

Further Reading:





May 092017

The Fitbit has been around since its inception in 2007, and the entire market of modern wearables followed its release.  Currently, roughly 21% of the US population owns wearable technology, but according to Ben Wood, an analyst from CCS Insight, “the reality is these devices have stalled in the marketplace.” How do current healthcare systems benefit from this popular platform, and what is the next step in wearable electronics?  

The biggest pro of health wearables is their instantaneous single-parameter measurement, transmission, and collection of data.  Smart wearables have the potential to offer an unobtrusive, 24/7 platform for specialized health services.  Not only is it accessible and high-quality monitoring for potential patients, but it is also a cost-effective solution. The current technological development is of a high level; however, several issues still remain open.

Beyond advances in technology, the real challenge that prevents the effectiveness of wearables is the clinical validation and flow of data into electronic health record (EHR) systems.  Much of the information stored on these devices is simply not configured to a format that physicians can use.  While there is software available that can sync the two systems, this process is often too slow or cumbersome for potential time constraints.
Standardization and interoperability in the succeeding generation of smartwatches and devices is the next big step towards improving a patient’s lifestyle.  It is very important to have simultaneous access to different kinds of health-related data, such as patient’s health record.  This would give health professionals the much needed ability to remotely monitor and treat the health of an individual according to their personal health status.  Easy communication between the device to the health provider is a step towards improving disease prevention and rehabilitation standards.  






Apr 142017

With the advent of the iPhone, mobile medical applications have increased in use for both patients and consumers.  Companies capitalize on the relative cheapness of iOS development to build platforms around mobile health and fitness, and a plethora of these apps are available on the market now.  Catchphrases such as “scientifically proven” and “medically tested” abound in many of these consumer marketed applications, but oftentimes the evidence to back up these claims are absent.  Regulation and accountability of the mobile world has become somewhat of a grey zone in terms of who should control the screening and vetting process.  Federal departments, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), have historically limited their jurisdiction to specific medical topics.  This begs the question: who is responsible for this regulation?    

Recently, state regulators have started investigating the claims of many fitness and health applications to ascertain their correctness.  The Office of the Attorney General of New York (NYOAG) has cracked down on many of the heart rate monitoring apps and the marketing claims they have promoted.  One such application is Cardiio, a heart rate monitor that advertised to “measure your heart rate, learn how the numbers relate to your general wellness, perform effective workouts to get in shape, and track your progress” in addition to calculating life expectancy based on heart rate.  The NYOAG found that Cardiio, Inc.’s assertions that Cardiio-Heart Rate Monitor can calculate a user’s potential life expectancy and estimate how the user “stacks up” against “the average person” in the USA did not contain sufficient disclosures that these calculations were hypothetical and estimates not intended to measure accurately life expectancy.  As a result of the investigation, many changes were made to the original application to notify users that the data was not always accurate.  The emboldened tag, “The Cardiio app has not been tested with individuals with health conditions…and has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” is a reminder to be wary of the advertised benefits of healthcare apps.   

An important outcome of the recent claims settled was the methods used to categorize the variety of medical applications in the app store.  Medical devices are separated into classes by the FDA, ranging from low risk Class I devices such as dental floss, to higher risk Class III apparatus such as a heart replacement valve.  Many medical mobile applications have been moved from Class I to Class II, representing a greater amount of regulation and control.  While mobile applications provide a faster and more adaptable method of healthcare support, we should be aware of the evidence necessary to show their effectiveness and safety.




Assurance of Discontinuance with Cardiio, Inc.




Sep 142016

The fight against the Zika virus continues with a new development coming from the University of Maryland.  Montgomery County, teaming up with researchers from University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business CHIDS, has pushed an initiative for better health IT tracking and recording.  With a more versatile and stable set of electronic health records, disease spread can be more easily tracked and prevented.

“Incidents like the current Zika crisis bring the issue [of Health IT systems] to the forefront” said Ritu Agarwal, chair of information systems at the Smith School.  For the first time, epidemics can be anticipated proactively instead of reactively, thanks to this novel method of seamless information sharing.

Read more about CHIDS new a Public Health Information Technology (PHIT) Maturity Index and its mission!

ScienceDaily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160809185901.htm

Healthcare IT News: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/university-maryland-unveils-tool-gauge-how-public-health-taps-ehrs-crises-zika

Future Care: http://www.himssfuturecare.com/news/public-health-official-confront-interoperability-issues-while-trying-fight-zika

Aug 172016

CHIDS hits the news after developing a method to measure and improve IT capabilities in the world of electronic health.  The Public Health Information Technology (PHIT) Maturity Index was designed by Kenyon Crowley and a team of researchers in order to create a practical approach to aid public health system stakeholders and health departments.  After benchmarking data through extensive testing, the PHIT system will be able to gather information and increase interoperability.   From their recent research published in Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research, the team developed a framework for the PHIT Maturity Index with the goal of using this system to find and assess diagnoses for the current Zika outbreak.

PHIT Maturity Index

Find out more about this write up on groundbreaking health data research and Kenyon’s interview at http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/researchers-develop-tool-to-help-overcome-public-health-it-barriers


Research publication



Aug 032016

WHITE is a health information technology (IT) summit that provides a forum for communication and discussion on health IT research from a multidisciplinary perspective. Despite IT’s potential to transform healthcare delivery, significant challenges remain regarding design, implementation, utilization, and evaluation.

These issues are being actively explored in fields as diverse as medical informatics, computer science, public health, business, and economics. Each field brings a unique perspective and insights; collectively, these disciplinary approaches are complementary. The mission of WHITE is to continue building a multidisciplinary health IT and economics research community, and to stimulate new ideas with both policy and business implications. Synergies generated from integration across individual disciplines will deepen our understanding of health IT design and its resultant impact. Finally, this forum provides a great venue to facilitate interaction and collaboration between academia, government, and industry.

Jun 112016

Who is the keynote speaker at WHITE 2016? Thought you would never ask!

This year’s keynote speaker at WHITE 2016 is Dr. Lisa Simpson. Dr. Simpson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Academy Health.  Having over 80 publications in scholarly journals, her research focuses on improving the performance of the health care system. Here are 4 interesting facts about Dr. Simpson.

  1. Keynote address at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Medicaid/CHIP Quality Conference
  2. Winner of the 2010 Public Policy and Advocacy award!
  3. Published Health Plan Quality Improvement Strategy Under the Affordable Care Act
  4. Served as the Deputy Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Dr. Simpson makes a powerful impact in the area of health policy and system response to childhood obesity.    She also currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research, Healthcare. We are honored to have Dr. Simpson serve as the keynote at WHITE 2016 on Friday, October 21 and look forward to her talk!

We hope to see you at WHITE 2016 at the Westin hotel, Alexandria, VA.

Reference: http://www.healthandsocietyscholars.org/media/file/Simpson_Lisa.pdf

May 202016

Calling all scholars, policy makers and industry leaders!  Join us on October 20-22, at the Westin Georgetown, Washington, DC for WHITE 2016 and pre-conference Doctoral Consortium. 

The Workshop on Health IT and Economics (WHITE) is hosting its 7th annual health information technology (IT) summit for prominent scholars on Oct. 21-22.  The conference attracts over 100 scholars and thought leaders from more than forty healthcare institutions and universities and provides an opportunity for collaboration and interaction among academia. The goal of the conference is to deepen the understanding of health IT design and its resultant impact and to stimulate new ideas with both policy and business implications.

The Doctoral Consortium as a pre-conference event for WHITE 2016, will be held on Oct 20th. This gathering provides an opportunity for doctoral students to receive feedback on their research, network and discuss career issues.  All PhD students and post-docs working on research in the area of health IT are invited to apply. Acceptance to this event is based on a review of application materials.

The Call for Submissions and Call for Nominations for the Doctoral Consortium at WHITE 2016 is now open! If interested, please submit your paper before August 12, and nominations by August 1.  For more information about WHITE 2016 and Doctoral Consortium, please visit the confer www.rhsmith.umd.edu/chids/white.

WHITE 2016 is presented by the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, with support from the United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and our sponsors.

Dec 082015
CHIDS End-of-the-Semester team meeting!

CHIDS End-of-the-Semester team meeting!

This semester is coming to an end, and the holidays are right around the corner! CHIDS co-directors, Ritu Agarwal and Gordon Gao, met with the CHIDS team at their end-of-semester get-together and thanked them for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to achieving the center’s goals in tranforming IT healthcare.  They also welcomed new students, and said their goodbyes to outgoing graduate student, Keyur Shah. He served as the lead product manager on several CHIDS projects. Keyur has completed his program and will be joining Home Depot as an online associate product manager. Congratulation Keyur — you will be missed!  The gathering culminated with snacks, fun, and holiday cheer. Ritu wished everyone happy holidays!

Nov 122015

Congratulations to CHIDS Student Team for Winning the National Codeathon!

Congratulations to a team of students from the Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) program, sponsored by CHIDS, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business for winning first prize with the award of $2,500 at the American Public Health Association’s 2015 Codeathon in Chicago! This codeathon was about how to improve the average life expectancy rate in the U.S. and it is amazing to see what our students have worked on during this event.

It is great to see how students from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business are bringing their knowledge and talents forward in many areas. We are proud to be sponsoring the winning team members from MSIS: Udit Gupta, Sagar Maniar, Nikita Padhye, and Keyur Shah. We are also proud to sponsor the other team members, Deok Gun Park (PhD candidate in computer science) and Junaed Siddiqui (PhD candidate in behavioral and community health).

“They developed a mobile application for the general public which consisted of an intuitive survey to predict the users’ predicted life expectancy. Users could view their unique lifestyle choices that were unhealthy and the corresponding number of years of life they were predicted to lose by continuing that lifestyle choice. The model behind this tool utilized the latest epidemiology and public health research. In addition to the public user application, the team developed the ability for public health professionals to create a text messaging campaign associated with the application, and a web platform which provided analytics for campaigns and collected data from public websites to help policy makers make decision based on granular data.”

Again, congratulations to these great team members and we look forward to seeing what more is to come for these students!

To learn more about the competition itself and about the students, please see more at: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/news/ms-information-systems-students-win-national-codeathon#sthash.7jxxTShR.dpuf.