HEALTH

Verizon’s Converged Health Management platform gains 510(k) clearance

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Verizon’s Converged Health Management, a remote patient-monitoring medical platform designed to help clinicians and patients manage patients’ health in between doctor visits, recently received Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance to run on the iOS mobile operating system, Verizon announced Tuesday. 

Patients and clinicians now will be able to access Verizon’s solution on their iPhones and can use their iPads to access the Converged Health Management portal.

In addition, Converged Health Management added Telcare and Genesis blood glucose monitors to its line of biometric devices to its secure, device-agnostic platform. These join the list of other available biometric devices, including Ideal Life’s blood pressure cuff, glucose monitor model, pulse oximeter and weight scale.

The new enhancements give customers added choice to deliver and customize mobile health solutions to patients and employees. In fact, 59% of physicians who use mobile medical apps do so on a tablet device, and from within that group, most prefer the iPad.

“There is value in having a range of biometric devices connect to the Converged Health Management platform,” said Julie Kling, director of mobile health, Verizon. “With our new enhancements, Verizon is driving innovation for our clients by helping them to change how healthcare is delivered to patients," she said. “Verizon would like to continue to build an ecosystem of devices to create a diverse network of meaningful mobile health experiences that connect clinicians and their patients so they can be cared for in new and more effective ways."

Verizon Converged Health Management is designed for healthcare providers, health insurance and large private employers that are looking for ways to monitor at-home care compliance and engage patients in healthier lifestyle choices, all with the goal of helping clinicians reduce hospital readmissions.

Verizon provides an integrated fabric of health IT solutions that address the biggest challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system today, including the ability to securely and efficiently exchange sensitive patient data across hospital, payer and physician networks via voice, video and data. This includes interconnected cloud, mobility, machine-to-machine and security solution sets.

Verizon’s vision is to create a healthier world in which connected individuals and healthcare organizations are empowered with innovative technologies that improve health outcomes, transform access to care and lower the cost of healthcare.

 

 

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Study: Vitamin A may play an important role in combating tuberculosis

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — In findings published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Immunology, UCLA researchers investigating the role of nutrients in helping the immune system fight against major infections show that vitamin A may play an important role in combating tuberculosis.

The UCLA team describes for the first time the mechanism by which vitamin A and a specific gene assist the immune system by reducing the level of cholesterol in cells infected with TB. This is important because cholesterol can be used by TB bacteria for nutrition and other needs, the researchers said.

"If we can reduce the amount of cholesterol in a cell infected with tuberculosis, we may be able to aid the immune system in better responding to the infection," said senior author Philip Liu, an assistant professor of medicine in the divisions of dermatology and orthopedic surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center. "Understanding how nutrients like vitamin A are utilized by our immune system to fight infections may provide new treatment approaches."

Although vitamin A circulates in the body in an inactive form known as retinol, it’s the active form of the nutrient — all-trans reinoic acid — that is responsible for activating the immune system. 

The UCLA team noted that this is an early study and that more research needs to be done before recommending vitamin A supplementation to combat tuberculosis or other infections.

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FDA proposes major revisions to Nutrition Facts Label

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and such chronic diseases as obesity and heart disease. The proposed label also would replace out-of-date serving sizes to better align with how much people really eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” stated First Lady Michelle Obama. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

“For 20 years consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” commented FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans.”

Some of the changes to the label the FDA proposed Thursday would:

  • Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product;
  • Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting;
  • Present “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings;
  • Require the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily;
  • Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D. Daily Values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet;
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount; and
  • Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease.

The Nutrition Facts label has been required on food packages for 20 years, helping consumers better understand the nutritional value of foods so they can make healthy choices for themselves and their families. The label has not changed significantly since 2006 when information on trans fat had to be declared on the label, prompting manufacturers to reduce partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, in many of their products.

The changes proposed today affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The FDA is also proposing to make corresponding updates to the Supplement Facts label on dietary supplements where applicable.

The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.

 

 

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