March Innovation – the Bant App Could Save Billions

Again our monthly innovation will focus on a smartphone application – the Bant app. Not too surprising, as it seems a new health app is developed daily. We now have apps that can help you review your blood pressure, your glucose level, heart rate and even your brainwaves.

Increasingly, the health industry is turning to smartphones to monitor and help patients with chronic illness, essentially turning our favorite Angry Birds device into lifesaving equipment.

Approximately 80% of Canada’s health-care dollars go to the treatment of chronic illnesses. The big five – diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments, cancer and mental illness are expected to cost worldwide health-care $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the World Economic Forum.

Fortunately, there are those who are on a mission to tackle the problem of crippling health-care costs, individuals such as Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, the senior director at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in Toronto.

Cafazzo’s team of 70 experiences doctors, nurses, software engineers and designers are undertaking an immense task – to tackle what ails us, before the conditions become acute and require medical intervention. By keep patients on track through home care and remote monitoring, they believe patients will be less likely to end up in the hospital or on expensive drugs, which will reduce the economic impact on our health-care system.

Bant App

Enter the Bant app (named after Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin), an iPhone app developed by Cafazzo and his team.  

bant app

Bant allows you to simplify your diabetes management, “Diabetes management is a team effort and Bant empowers your team. It makes blood glucose data capture easy and sharing your experience even easier,” says Bant’s website.

Traditionally, diabetic teenagers have presented a challenge to health professionals, since they typically are reluctant actively monitor their blood glucose levels, prick their fingers and take readings.

The Bant app aims to increase usage through gamification (the use of game design techniques into non game contexts) elements that reward teens with iTunes store credits every time they use their glucometer.

About a year ago, University Health Network ran a three-month, Health Canada-approved clinical trial of Bant with 20 diabetics aged 12 to 16. Initial signs were encouraging, participants monitored their blood 49.6% more frequently—from 2.38 to 3.56 times a day, on average (the target is a minimum of four times).

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Bant is a constant reminder to young diabetics that they can keep their condition from worsening if they modify their behaviour. Dr. Cafazzo says his team came up with the idea for the app after observing teen patients in the hospital. “No matter how sick these kids were, they still had their phones with them.”

Get Bant from the app store.

 

February Innovation – CodeHeart

These days, innovations seem to come in the form of “apps.” A term that means any software made for any device. People have been using apps for years, but they weren’t called apps. Not until the mobile revolution have we been smattered with app this and app that.

As you may have guessed, the latest innovation we wanted to profile was another app. Not to throw it in with the rest, this app is different and could possibly revolutionize the administration of first response medical care.

CodeHeart

CodeHeart is the name and it may be on the tip of your doc’s tongue soon. CodeHeart is a wireless app that allows physicians to see ECG and other EMS instrument read-outs in real-time. The display is transmits live video over secure telephone channels.

CodeHeart

“CodeHeart was borne out of a desire to get ECG and other readings to physicians quickly,” says Dr. Satler, director of intervention cardiology, and one of the driving forces behind the app.

Prior to the created of CodeHeart, ECG readouts had to be faxed to specialists and the like. These days a fax isn’t quick enough. “The trouble is that this can take up to 10 minutes to send. Given that camera-equipped mobile phones are everywhere, it made sense to see if such information could be sent live by camera phone: Just hold it up, shoot the chart and then send it in for quicker diagnosis and response,” says Satler.

As simple as it sounds, the team working on CodeHeart ran into a few obstacles. At the inception, technology hadn’t caught up with the idea. Cellular data was expensive and phones were unable to send high resolution video in real-time. Fortunately, it was only a matter of time before phones had the specs and the platform to deliver the desired content.

Security was also an issue. Sending patients records wirelessly has raised concerns, and is not HIPAA compliant. (The HIPAA Act of 1996 lays out privacy standards for protecting patient medical information. Sending it by conventional cellular channels is not allowed.)

Fast-forward, and today you have an app that meets all the speed and privacy standards.

“Currently we are just starting to get CodeHeart into the field,” says Satler. “There’s still some reluctance by some EMS organizations to use it, simply because they are leery of how new it is. But I have no doubt that, in a few short years, CodeHeart apps will be in widespread use across North America, if not the world.”

Compared to other medical equipment, applying CodeHeart is simple, quick and most importantly, cheap. Currently there is no listed price, as the app is not yet in any app stores, but it will most likely go for the price of a coffee. Considering this app turns every phone into a portable telemedicine terminal, that’s a small price to pay.

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The possibilities are endless. With CodeHeart, every first responder will be able to link to experts all over the world, in real-time voice and video.