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FDA regulation of mobile health apps: A prescription for growth?

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — What if Moore’s law — meaning the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits would double every two years — applied to healthcare applications? That actually was all the talk earlier this year at the TedMed conference, at least according to a blog written by Dave Copeland, a well-vetted business and technology journalist. One of the disincentives to the kind of robust healthcare app development that would exemplify Moore’s law expressed by TedMed attendees was regulation, as in the lack of regulation would "discourage risk-taking and innovation." 

(THE NEWS: Kaiser Health News: Legislation to be introduced to create new FDA office overseeing mobile health apps. For the full story, click here.)

So creating a new Food and Drug Administration division to regulate the development of mobile health apps might become the big boon in what has already become a big business.

The actual devices that will house those mobile health apps is increasing in penetration across all demographics. As of September 2012, 45% of American adults have a smartphone, according to statistics culled from Pew Internet and American Life Project. And half of U.S. adult cell phone owners now have apps on their phones.

According to Pew’s research, smartphones are particularly popular with young adults and those living in relatively higher income households; 66% of those ages 18 to 29 years own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 also own them. And young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment.

The future of how health care is delivered or monitored could be on the drawing board of an app developer even today. What do you think? How do you think an FDA commitment to regulating mobile health apps would impact the industry? Drop me a line at mcjohnsen@hotmail.com.

(To check out Copeland’s blog, click here.) 

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AccuDial introduces five APAP products featuring readily comprehensive weight-based dosing instructions

BY Michael Johnsen

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — AccuDial Pharmaceutical earlier this year introduced five SKUs across its Children’s AccuDial Acetaminophen Oral Suspension, featuring one of the only weight-based dosing acetaminophen products with an interactive, rotating label. The single-ingredient products, indicated to help reduce fever in children, are timely for the coming cough-cold season. Children’s AccuDial Acetaminophen Oral Suspension will retail for a suggested $4.99 and is available in five flavors: grape, dye-free cherry, cherry, bubble gum and strawberry. 

AccuDial is set apart by its easy-to-use dosing system that helps parents consistently identify the proper dosing of acetaminophen. Parents dial their children’s weight in pounds and the label shows the most accurate dose of acetaminophen. This label technology takes the guess work out of dosing and helps reduce dosing errors. 

In a recent study conducted by Concentric Research, 97% of parents who used AccuDial were confident they administered the correct amount of medication.


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The growing convenient care industry continues to gain momentum

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Just as a new study emerged, putting a number against retail-based health clinics and indicating that the clinics are poised for strong growth in the coming years, southern Pennsylvania health insurer Independence Blue Cross announced that it is has added coverage for urgent care centers and retail health clinics, and developed a new Web tool to help members locate such facilities. This marks yet another boon for the convenient care industry, which is already experiencing some significant advancements so far in 2012.

Richard Snyder, IBC’s chief medical officer, said that retail-based health clinics and urgent care centers serve as convenient alternative for patients in need of prompt care for nonserious health threats and can help curb overcrowding at the emergency room. This is a point that DSN has stressed for quite some time, and it’s important to acknowledge that third-party payers continue to increasingly embrace the concept.

Not only do such facilities help ease overcrowding at the ER, but they also are very cost-efficient. Research has shown that care initiated at retail clinics is 30% to 40% cheaper than similar care at physician offices and approximately 80% cheaper than similar care at an ER.

Meanwhile, CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic announced that it not only opened its first clinics in Cincinnati and Dayton, but is has also become an in-network provider with TriWest. TriWest is the Western region plan contractor for Tricare, the healthcare insurance program for Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families. Tricare provides healthcare insurance services to 2.9 million lives in the western region.

MinuteClinic has already contracted with Health Net (Tricare North region contractor) and Humana Military (Tricare South region contractor) and now offers care to Tricare members across the United States.

It’s clear that regardless of who is elected president and what happens to healthcare reform, the convenient care industry has proven the vital role that it plays in helping to keep Americans healthy.

What is your take on the news?

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