Omron home blood pressure monitor 786N: Good hardware, bad app design

omron home blood pressure monitorIf there is one device that I think most older people should have at home, it’s a home blood pressure monitor. So a few years ago, I wrote an article for the Geriatrics for Caregivers blog with tips on choosing and using a home BP monitor.

At the time, I didn’t recommend a specific device because I hadn’t tried any. But recently I decided it would be much better if I could suggest a specific device to patients and families.

So I looked on Amazon and looked for a home BP monitor that could meet my specifications:

  • Measures BP at the arm
  • Easy to store, review, and share BP readings, which means some type of wireless data transmission capability
  • Smartphone/tablet not mandatory to use the device

When I wrote a blog post in April 2014 about my specifications, Omron did not seem to offer a device with wireless data transmission.

But earlier this year I noticed a Bluetooth-enabled Omron monitor on Amazon.  So I bought an Omron 786N earlier this summer and have been trying it out.

Pros & Cons of the Omron 786N Home Blood Pressure Monitor with Bluetooth

Here are my thoughts so far: [Read more…]

Still In Search of a Personal Health Record & Trying Healthvault

Recently I completed a consultation on a new patient. This person had moved to San Francisco a few years ago, and was not sure he was satisfied with the care he was obtaining from his new PCP.

The consultation was a bit challenging for me, because I had no past medical records available to review. Nothing from the old cadre of doctors on the East Coast, nothing from the current PCP, not even anything from a recent hospitalization. No laboratory results, no studies.

(In truth, I usually decline to schedule an initial consultation until some of this information is available. I need this type of information in order to do my work assessing the person’s health and the current medical management plan.)

As I often do, I encouraged this patient and his family to start maintaining a personal health record (PHR): some kind of collection of his key medical information, all in one place and under their control. I explained that this would be a huge help if they wanted to

  • Obtain second opinions when necessary
  • Transfer to a new PCP
  • Be able to check on how the chronic conditions were being managed and consider other options
  • Get better medical care in the event of an emergency or possibly even while traveling

In its simplest form, a PHR is a collection of papers kept in a binder or perhaps file cabinet. Paper can be hard to keep organized, however, and can only be searched effectively if everything was first filed in an organized fashion.

So a digital approach would seem to be in order. Digital information is easier to search, and often more portable than paper information.

But I was annoyed to find that yet again, after recommending this family set up and maintain a PHR, I couldn’t actually recommend a specific product or service. This was surprising to me, because it was almost three years ago that I wrote this article for the Geriatrics for Caregivers Blog: Tools for Caregivers: Keeping & Organizing Medical Information.

Yet today, I still cannot recommend a tool that will do the following: [Read more…]

GeriTech’s Take on AARP’s 4th Health Innovation @50+ LivePitch

On Thursday May 14, 2015, AARP hosted its fourth Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch event, an event that “features the most exciting start-up companies in the “50 and over” health technology sector.”

In this post, I’ll list brief descriptions of the finalists, comment on how promising they seem to me — in terms of improving the healthcare of older adults — and tell you which products I’m most interested in. To see what I’ve thought of past LivePitch finalists, here’s my coverage of the first, second, and third cohorts. (Now what would be interesting is to see what’s happened to all those companies since, esp the winners. No time now to do it, but let me know in the comments if you have an update re a past LivePitch finalist.)

As usual, the start-ups were judged by venture capitalists and by a consumer audience. No judging or input from anyone whose primary work and expertise is to improve the health of people aged 50+.

See the FAQs for the eligibility criteria for this year. More interesting to me are the judging criteria and AARP’s categories (also listed in FAQs):

“The Judges will focus on these five critical elements:

  • Functionality – Is the company’s product easy to use, and does it get the job done?
  • Potential – What is the company’s business model and likely profitability, size of the market, likelihood of adoption, and growth potential?
  • Team / People – What experience does the team have, and can they make the product or service a success?
  • Creativity/Differentiation – Why would someone use this product and/or service over alternatives?
  • Scalability – Is this a small business not capable of scaling or is it a large business that has a lot of growth potential?

The AARP Consumer voting will focus on these four critical elements:

  • Need – Why should consumers want this product? Does the product/service address a significant unmet or under-met need? Is it unique?
  • Marketing – How easy is it to get the product?
  • Usage – Why is the product easy to use?
  • Value – Why does the value and cost of the product makes it a “must have”? What is the value proposition? Would someone use it and/or refer it to family and friends?”

AARP’s Categories for Health Innovation @50+:

  • Medication Management
  • Aging with Vitality, e.g. increase daytime energy, maintain muscle strength, manage arthritis, improve or aid in memory/cognition, brain fitness improve/aid hearing, improve/aid vision
  • Vital Sign Monitoring
  • Care Navigation
  • Emergency Detection & Response
  • Physical Fitness
  • Social Engagement
  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Behavioral & Emotional Health
  • Other
Compared to last year’s categories, AARP seems to have dropped the category of “aging in place.” They still don’t have a category about managing one’s chronic health problems, which I would argue is extremely important to maintaining the health and wellbeing of people aged 50+.

AARP’s list of this event’s ten national finalists is here. They also had an additional group of five Florida finalists, which I won’t have time to cover.

GeriTech’s quick take on the AARP LivePitch finalists

[Read more…]

Advance Care Planning Online: GeriTech takes a look at MyDirectives.com

A few weeks ago, a visitor to Geriatrics For Caregivers sent me a message via the contact form.

He explained that he is a hospital chaplain and that his workplace is considering using MyDirectives.com to help their patients with advance care planning.

“I would love to hear your opinion of the service,” he wrote.

I’d actually never heard of this service, but that’s not so surprising…new healthcare services for consumers emerge and evolve so quickly that even if I followed tech for aging adults full-time, I’d have difficulty keeping up.But I have a soft spot for advance care planning. So I decided to take a look at this website, in order to let the chaplain know what I thought.

And, as an experiment, I also decided to try recording myself visiting this advance care planning site.

So if you are wondering what I thought, or if you’d like to see what a practicing doc might do when a patient asks about some new-fangled web-based service, you can watch me explore MyDirectives below. (For audio-only, click here.) [Read more…]