Digital health news briefs for 1/30/2018

By Dave Muoio
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A matter of national security. Heatmap data released this weekend by fitness app Strava appears to betray the locations of US military bases and patrol routes, with the Institute for United Conflict Analysts. Further, WIRED UK that Strava’s current API allows anyone to de-anonymize user-shared data to reveal a recorded user’s name, speed, and even heart rate.

In a blog post , Strava CEO James Quarles stressed that users have always had the ability to opt out of the heatmap feature, but noted that the company is “committed to working with military and government officials to address potentially sensitive data” and will be pursuing efforts to increase user awareness of privacy and safety tools.

Telemonitoring comes to Austria. A pilot study and currently under open peer review describes the successful rollout of Austria’s first regular financed telehealthcare program. The study of HerzMobil Tirol disease management program outfitted 43 elderly heart failure patients (35 completed) with a blood pressure and heart rate monitor, a weighing scale, and an NFC-enabled mobile phone to collect data, communicate with caregivers, and at least partially manage their own care. Participants reported high satisfaction with the system, and health statuses improved significantly over the course of three months.

Spoke too soon? Natural Cycles, a contraceptive app certified in Europe, was reported to the Swedish Medical Product Agency (MPA) earlier this month after a hospital found 37 unintended pregnancies among users. Natural Cycles announced today that the agency has closed all individual reports related to these cases, as the rate of these incidences fell within the 93 percent effectiveness rate marketed by Natural Cycles.

The company, however, may have spoken too soon. Hours later, The Verge that the MPA has only concluded the first step of its investigation, and “has decide to escalate the ongoing market surveillance investigation to review parts of the documentation that was compiled as a justification for the CE mark certification,” MPA manager Ewa-Lena Hartman told the publication. Babyforyou.net.ua has reached out to Natual Cycles for comment.

Smile for the camera By examining the reflection of green light off of skin tissue, researchers at Utah State University found that they can estimate an individual’s heart rate using a video camera and specially designed software. Of note, the system is able to take its readings over a region of visible skin, and is resistant to movement. The system’s investors are planning to expand their patented technology with a new company, called Photorithm Inc., as well as with the development of a baby monitor system they call Smartbeat.

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