Semtech’s LoRa Technology Help Saves Alzheimer Patients in Real-Time

Semtech’s LoRa Technology Help Saves Alzheimer Patients in Real-Time

Semtech’s LoRa Technology Help Saves Alzheimer Patients in Real-Time

The police in Korea plan to give Lineable’s Silver, a wearable Internet of Things (IoT) device, for free to actively locate Alzheimer patients.

Semtech Corporation announced that Lineable, a Seoul-based startup manufacturer of GPS trackers, has integrated LoRa® devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) in its new wearable safety device, Silver.

Lineable’s Silver device, co-developed by the National Police Agency of Korea, SK Telecom and SK Hynix, is specifically designed for patients with Alzheimer’s. Through a hybrid GPS system, caregivers are notified when patients leave the house or out of the designated safe zone.

Many patients are not constantly monitored by a supervisor, and in Korea, about 10,000 Alzheimer patients go missing each year. Silver is currently being used by the police in Korea and the police plan to distribute 3,000 devices each year to Alzheimer patients, free of charge. During its first month of service in October 2017, the Silver device helped save six patients and in three months, it helped save 20 more patients.

“The Lineable LoRa-based device provides a universal solution for tracking Alzheimer patients at a low cost due to its low battery consumption and wide network coverage,” said Harris Shim, Head of Business Operations at Lineable.

“SK Telecom has created the first nationwide LoRaWAN™ network and Lineable is one of the first companies to develop a solution that leverages Semtech’s LoRa Technology to track people’s location.”

“Lineable’s Silver wearable technology has already seen early success in Korea by being able to locate Alzheimer patients in real-time,” said Vivek Mohan, Director of Wireless and Sensing Products Group at Semtech. “The LoRa-based device is able help the community and its police force by providing a technology that gives families peace of mind.”

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ICICI Lombard and Practo Enable Cashless OPD for Patients

ICICI Lombard General Insurance, in collaboration with Practo, have launched a health insurance app ‘IL TakeCare’, the healthcare platform which implements the concept of cashless OPD. The ‘IL TakeCare’ application works in sync with Practo’s ‘Trinity’ technology. This solution covers OPD expenses of all its customers. The app addresses customer requirements which includes real-time claim authentication of expenses such as doctor consultation, medical tests, pharmacy spends etc. Also, it enables the user to access a cashless network comprising of specialized doctors and tackle the customer’s problem of paying for OPD expenses from their own pocket. The app has allowed customers make cashless visits with doctors including those who operate stand-alone clinics.

With the help of IL TakeCare app, users can book a network diagnostics centre for medical tests and receive the results on the app. Thus, this acts as an online repository of medical records. The medicines will be available at discounted rates. The users will be able to pick them from a medical store or get delivery at their home. The app enables real-time view of personal health records (PHRs) and other benefits, billings and transactions for service providers. It consists of a one-time password (OTP) for all transactions via mobile or email. Also, it provides multiple access points for the family members.

Practo’s Trinity technology will provide a paperless and cashless experience to the patients. They will get information related to everyday healthcare needs such as doctor visits, medicine purchase, online consultations and diagnostic tests. The customers can visit ICICI Lombard clinics on Practo’s provider network by booking appointments through the app. For improving the transparency levels, the system will recognize them automatically and verify the transaction done through the app. The doctors will be able to send the structured digital prescriptions thus helping ICICI Lombard in identifying prescribed tests, treatments and medicines. This will further ensure real-time adjudication of claims and periodic settlement for doctors.

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Vulnerabilities in syringe infusion pumps could harm patients

Vulnerabilities in wireless syringe infusion pumps could harm patients

More medical devices – this time, syringe infusion pumps – have been found to contain vulnerabilities that hackers could use to compromise the safe treatment of patients. 

Eight recently discovered vulnerabilities in several widely used syringe infusion pumps could enable hackers to change the dose of medication that a patient receives, according to an advisory notice from ICS-CERT (Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team), part of the US Department of Homeland Security.

The flaws were found in the software used on the Medfusion 4000 Wireless Syringe Infusion Pump from Smith Medical. More specifically, it is present in versions 1.1, 1.5 and 1.6 of the software.

These devices are used to deliver small doses of medication in acute care settings. The vulnerabilities, meanwhile, were discovered by independent security researcher Scott Gayou.

“Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities may allow a remote attacker to gain unauthorized access and impact the intended operation of the pump. Despite the segmented design, it may be possible for an attacker to compromise the communications module and the therapeutic module of the pump,” says the advisory.

Read more: Security researchers uncover vulnerabilities in cardiac pacemakers

Updates on their way

It’s worth stressing that no known attacks have been carried out at this stage. According to the advisory, such an attack would require “an attacker with high skill”.

The flaws include the use of hard-coded credentials; passwords stored in the configuration file; improper access control; and improper certificate validation.

The advisory suggests that that healthcare facilities using these devices should conduct a risk assessment to determine whether they should disconnect the pumps from their network until a fix is available.

In a statement, the devices’ manufacturer Smiths Medical said that the possibility of this exploit taking place in a clinical setting is “highly unlikely”, as it requires a complex and an unlikely series of conditions. It is planning to release Version 1.6.1 for the Medfusion 4000 Wireless Syringe Infusion Pump in January 2018.

Read more: “Scary” number of healthcare IT execs put faith in inadequate IoT security

Patients at risk?

Gordon Morrison, director of government relations at security software company McAfee, told Internet of Business that despite the massive potential of the IoT in healthcare, a large number of medical devices are vulnerable to hacking – putting both hospital networks and patients themselves at risk.

“It is essential to ensure these devices are not introduced at the expense of the safety of the patient and their data,” said Morrison.

Achieving this will be a two-fold process, he added: “Ensuring that the devices are built securely by design and with the necessary security controls in place; [and putting in place] a security policy for connected devices in hospitals, to ensure that they can’t access sensitive data and are regularly patched against newly-discovered vulnerabilities.”

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FDA approves patch for cyber vulnerability in cardiac pacemakers of 465,000 patients

FDA finds cyber vulnerability in 465,000 patient's cardiac pacemakers

Up to 465,000 implantable cardiac pacemakers manufactured by health company, Abbott, formerly St. Jude Medical, containing a cybersecurity vulnerability are finally set to receive a firmware patch approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA has completed its review of Abbott’s radio frequency (RF) enabled implantable cardiac pacemakers and confirmed that, if exploited, the vulnerabilities could allow hackers to access a patient’s device. With access to the device, any hacker with malicious intent could potentially cause harm to patients from “rapid battery depletion or administration of inappropriate pacing.”

The news comes a full year after hedge fund, Muddy Waters Research, revealed the flaws in the medical devices to the media in August 2016.

At present, there have been no reports of patient harm due to the vulnerability in these devices, all of which are in the US. Nevertheless, as of August 23, Abbott has issued an FDA approved firmware update as what it calls a ‘corrective action’ for all of its RF-enabled pacemaker devices, including cardiac resynchronization pacemakers.

Read more: Drone defibrillator ready to take off and save lives

FDA approves firmware update

In a statement, the FDA confirmed that the firmware update addresses the vulnerabilities it identified, meaning that any risk of exploitation and patient harm is reduced. The FDA added that, after installing this update, any device attempting to communicate with the implanted pacemaker must provide authorization to do so.

The update will apparently be available from August 29 for devices manufactured prior to August 28. Any device made thereafter will have this update pre-loaded in the device.

The FDA has said that patients must discuss this update with their healthcare provider at their next visit, as the firmware update requires an in-person visit. Supposedly, the update will take three minutes to complete, during which the device will operate in back-up mode (pacing at 67 beats per minute), and essential, life-sustaining features will remain available. Abbott assures patients that there is “a very low risk” of malfunction during the update.

Read more: “Scary” number of healthcare IT execs put faith in inadequate IoT security

Further concerns

In a press release, Abbott also says that it is also releasing a Battery Performance Alert for its implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) that provides physicians with earlier warning of the potential for the low risk of premature battery depletion. This is to address issues in ICD and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) devices, manufactured between January 2010 and May 2015, which could potentially experience premature battery depletion.

Robert Ford, executive vice president of medical devices at Abbott, said “Connected devices are having a significant positive impact for patients and their health. To further protect our patients, Abbott has developed new firmware with additional security measures that can be installed on our pacemakers.”

“All industries need to be constantly vigilant against unauthorized access,” Ford added. “This isn’t a static process, which is why we’re working with others in the healthcare sector to ensure we’re proactively addressing common topics to further advance the security of devices and systems.”

Read more: Drone defibrillator ready to take off and save lives

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Is IoT the right prescription for getting patients to take their medicine?

IoT prescription for getting patients to take medicine?

Prescription drugs are a fact of life for millions of people worldwide. Some medicine is administered by healthcare professionals in clinics and hospitals; in other cases, it’s left to patients themselves to manage their own medication at home, particularly when it comes to long-term, chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Either way, it’s vital that patients stick to the prescribed regimes, taking their medicine at the right times of day and in the right doses, as directed by their physicians.

Sticking to doctor’s orders in this way is often referred to by healthcare professionals as ‘medication adherence’. A lack of it (or ‘non-adherence’), meanwhile, can pose serious risks to health, says Sean Handel, senior vice president at digital medicine specialist Proteus Digital Health.

“Medication non-adherence leads to uncontrolled health conditions, excess hospitalizations, emergency rooms visits and office visits,” Handel says. He reckons it’s costing the US healthcare system around $ 290 billion annually – and the problem is acute, he adds:

“More than 50 percent of prescribed medications are not taken as directed and providers lack accurate, timely adherence data necessary to diagnose non-adherence and its root cause and then allow the patient and provider to respond quickly to poor adherence.”

Read more: Qualcomm Life: Remote patient monitoring is a tonic for healthcare challenges

Better adherence

With that in mind, Proteus Digital Health offers Proteus Discover, billed by the company as ‘the world’s first digital medicine service’. This involves an ingestible, sensor-equipped pill which, on reaching the stomach, sends a signal to an accompanying patch, worn on the skin. Patients can use the Proteus Discover app to keep track of the medication they’ve taken and to set up reminders. Their healthcare practitioners, meanwhile, can monitor their adherence.

Proteus Discovery is just one example of how healthcare IoT could help to ensure that patients get the medicine they need. Although sometimes hampered by compliance and risks concerns or lack of funding, the IoT has quietly slipped into healthcare environments.

Improving drug delivery and adherence through these technologies is just one area of focus, much of it driven by technology start-ups. And at this early stage there seems to be more traction around medicine adherence than the automation of delivery – in other words, smart devices that automatically deliver a dose of a drug to a patient without any other human intervention.

For instance, last year saw E Ink – best known for making the screens on Amazon Kindle e-readers – partner with the healthcare division of smartphone manufacturer HTC and packaging specialist Palladio Group to design ‘smart’ labels for medicines. These provide patients with a reminder when it’s time to take their medicine, information on the quantity of medication left in the package, and an update on the time at which medication was last taken. They can also request a refill in the case of a repeat prescription, simply by pushing a button on the product label.

According to Dr Fy Gan of E Ink, the smart packaging label can be applied on a range of packaging, “from paperboard cartons to prefilled syringes to pill dispensers” in order “to improve medication-taking behaviors.”

AdhereTech, meanwhile, makes smart wireless pill bottles for tracking adherence, which use cellular technology and sensors to remind patients if they miss a dose through an automated phone call or text message.

Read more: Scalpel, clamp, VR headset: A surgeon’s quest to fix healthcare

Automating drug delivery

But more complex solutions are coming to market that seek to automate drug delivery itself. For instance, Chrono Therapeutics has developed a device worn on the arm or torso that syncs with a mobile app and monitors nicotine levels in the patient’s body. It can then auto-administer nicotine before cravings kick-in, as part of smoking cessation programmes.

Meanwhile, Microchips Biotech has developed implants that can store and release precise doses of drugs over extended periods of time – for months and even years, the company claims. Each implants contains hundreds of ‘micro-reservoirs’; these are small, hermetically sealed compartments, each of which can store up to 1 microgram of a drug.

The implant is activated by a wireless signal that triggers the micro-reservoirs to release the drug on a pre-programmed dosing schedule. These implants can also be built with bioelectric sensors which release drugs in response to physiological or metabolic changes in the patient.

Other tech, meanwhile, promises to bring more precision to the drug delivery process; Injeq’s new IQ-Needle smart needle, for example, is used for lumbar punctures (otherwise known as spinal taps) and gives an alert as the needle tip reaches its target – the spinal fluid. This helps to avoid an overly deep puncture and unnecessary tissue damage.

And with other areas being explored – such as smart inhalers and smart insulin pens such as the award-winning KiCopen – this is clearly a rapidly evolving space.

Read more: Internet of Things the ‘most powerful disruptor’ in healthcare

Patient power and challenges

Last year, ‘citizen health hacker’ Tim Omer, who has diabetes, told Internet of Business how he re-engineered his continuous glucose monitor to deliver real-time blood glucose measurements on his Android smartwatch. He believes that IoT technologies are generally moving healthcare in a positive direction.

“As a patient, the more I understand, the more control I have to review and analyse and use systems to assist me, the better I can manage my condition,” he tells Internet of Business.

But there will be challenges ahead. In the UK, for example, last year’s Wachter Review of the National Health Service’s use of IT highlighted the difficulty of reform, even in relatively straightforward areas such as the implementation of electronic healthcare records.

And as Tim Omer points out, the sheer number of IoT device vulnerabilities could spell trouble for medical devices that, above all, needed to be trusted.

“Security and the accuracy of the service needs to be fully tested,” says Dr Ramin Nilforooshan, consultant psychiatrist and lead clinician for the Surrey Borders Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM) project, in which people with dementia and their carers are being provided with wearables and other devices to monitor their health and wellbeing in their own homes.

These devices can, for example, detect if a patient has left the house, had a fall, is not eating or drinking normally or has used the bathroom more than usual. If the solution identifies a problem, an alert is issued that is followed up by a clinician or carer.

“We have received many positive reports from trusted users. Carers and people with dementia feel very supported with the idea of a monitoring system in place for them,” says Dr Nilforooshan. But when it comes to IoT drug delivery, he says, security could be the biggest challenge.

Other medical professionals, meanwhile, variously cite limited data usage, data integrity, information governance, network performance and regulatory requirements as potential barriers. But most still agree that the IoT has a lot to offer the health sector, improving patient care and outcomes.

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