Technology Must-Haves for the Over-50 Crowd

Using an iPadBy Dr. Alexis Abramson

When it comes to technology, businesses are realizing that the 50+ demographic — which has at times been overlooked in terms of the marketing of new technologies — is actually extremely interested in innovative “50+ friendly” technology.

As a matter of fact, the marketplace for technology to assist aging adults is expected to grow sharply from $2 billion today to more than $20 billion by 2020, according a report from Aging in Place Technology Watch — and boomers are going to be on the receiving end of the advancements and innovations.

I’m often asked about 50+ technology in my Dr. Alexis Approved blog — so I thought I would share a few of the most frequently asked questions.  I hope they help you learn more about the advanced technology (and fun gadgets!) available for boomers, caregivers and seniors. Read More …

The New Era of Connected Aging

I’m happy to promote a new report by the Center for Technology and Aging and include information from its Executive Overview. This organization primarily serves the healthcare industry with a mission similar to ours, described as, “To improve the independence of older adults dealing with chronic health care issues by promoting the adoption and diffusion of beneficial technologies.”
Click to view "The New Era of Connected Aging," a report by the Center for Technology and Aging

A Framework for Understanding Technologies
that Support Older Adults in Aging in Place

The United States is a rapidly aging nation. (Aging is actually a global problem. -editor) A demographic change is quickly outstripping the capacity of family caregivers, providers, and programs and services that serve the aging population. To address the impending increase in the demand for health care and long-term care, new programs must be created that reinforce the ability of older adults to thrive in their homes and communities, and support them in aging independently.

We are at the dawning of “connected aging” in which the growing array of Internet-based technologies and mobile devices increasingly will support older adults in aging in place. Emerging technologies will enable both older adults and their caregivers to address a comprehensive range of medical, health, social, and functional needs. In addition, technology-based solutions that connect older adults to friends, family, and the community are becoming more viable; older adults and their caregivers are growing increasingly tech savvy; technology usability is improving; and price points are descending. As indicated in Figures 1 and 2 older adults’ use of technology, whether it be social networking, text messaging, use of the internet, or use of mobile phones/tablets, is growing at an ever increasing rate.

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Healthcorpus, an avatar to cure miscommunication

Nhumi TechnologiesDo you have an ache or health question? Would you like to know more about a body part or learn more about a health topic? With healthcorpus, you can click anywhere on the virtual body to show where it hurts and describe symptoms. That way you can better describe your condition to family, friends or your doctor. You and your doctor can also use healthcorpus to find the most relevant medical articles and information related to your selection.

Create a page and edit text – Start writing your health-related pages straightaway. Format as you like, include images and link to content on the web.

Click body to add a marker – Browse the human anatomy, find relevant body parts and click to mark the locations you want to highlight.

Drag marker to text – Drag and drop the marker into your text to link your note with the body.

Keep it private or share it – Once your page is written, you can keep it private, share it with a secret link via email, or share it with everyone as a public page.

Patients can use this free tool to communicate with their doctor, and the doc can use it to better communicate with patients. That’s important for several reasons.

Patients often complain that doctors don’t seem to actually listen to what they’re telling them, instead staring at a computer screen and tapping on a keyboard. Likewise, nearly 80% of patients forget what the doctor tells them as soon as they leave the office or are discharged from the hospital, and 50% of what they do remember is incorrect, according to this report in the Wall Street Journal.

Healthcorpus shows promise as a cure for miscommunication. Click here to see the sample I created using this text.

Top 5 ways Getting Older gets us down

Old Rotten AppleBy Sandy Getzky

Few things in life are guaranteed, yet getting older seems to come with some rather predictable frustrations. I’ve assembled the top five ways that getting older can bring us down — and how to get over all that and live life to the fullest. Remember that no matter how drab things get: getting older always beats the alternative.

1.    Body Pains

“Sometimes I call my grandson for a joint to help the joint pain”

As we get older we are constantly worried about: “what will go next?” These days it seems like hands go first. Typing becomes slower and more painful. Growing up I was told a stiff handshake was a sign of a strong, assertive individual. Now I meet people and just hope they go for the hug and spare my fragile digits. Read More …

Secret Hospital Charges Now Revealed, Wide Disparities

High Healthcare CostsHospital Prices No Longer Secret As New Data Reveals Bewildering System, Staggering Cost Differences

By Jeffrey Young and Chris Kirkham

When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.

Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a massive federal database of national health care costs made public on Wednesday. Read More …

Bionic Eye Gives Hope for the Blind

The Bionic Eye will improve over time with increased resolution.

The Bionic Eye will improve over time with increased resolution. (simulation)

Dr. Mark Humayun was going to be a doctor all along, but when a family member lost her eyesight, he soon began his journey as an innovator. “When I was going through medical school, my grandmother went blind and there was really no cure for her,” the Duke University graduate says. “And it made me rethink my career and focus more on how to restore sight to those who are going blind.”

Now a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Humayun has invented the Argus Ocular Implant, which allows blind patients to see again. According a press release on the school’s website, the intraocular retinal prosthesis “restores some visual capabilities for patients whose blindness is caused by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is an inherited retinal degenerative disease that affects about 100,000 people nationwide.”

Read the rest of the story and comment at Huffington Post.

Future implications

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Study: Vision Loss and Assistive Technologies Vary Widely

Magnify ThisLow Vision Survey Results

Guest article by Jared Smith

Results of WebAIM’s recent survey for those with low vision are now available at A few highlights are found below. The results of our motor disabilities survey will be available soon.

This data underscores that users with low vision are very diverse. The range of vision loss varies greatly, as do the assistive technologies used. The vast majority of respondents use multiple assistive technologies, ranging from screen readers to simply changing text sizes in browsers. There is very high keyboard use in this population, strengthening arguments for ensuring keyboard accessibility. Read More …

Fee-for-Service, or Payment for Outcome

Healing Health CareGuest article by Ray Collins

Fee-for-service (FFS) is a payment model in which every test, procedure, office visit has a price. Since it is the predominant model in the US, it has driven and will continue to drive health care costs higher until it is abolished. Since the health care industry favors this payment model, all cost control attempts have failed. This model makes no price distinction between whether your health improves with treatment or not. Payment for outcomes is being attempted not only to control costs but to reward good outcomes for patients, unlike FFS. The legal mechanism for the change to payment for outcomes is the Accountable Care Organization, a creation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Here is an excerpt from Brian Klepper’s post at KevinMD, Hostage to a payment method that puts the interest of patients last. Read More …

Innovating Healthcare is Hard


I added this comment to Innovating Healthcare is Hard, an article on MedCrunch by Eugene Borukhovich.

Healthcare Innovation shows a stethoscope on a lightbulbDISRUPTIVE innovation is especially hard, because entrenched stakeholders stand to lose lots of money if things change. Even though there’s plenty of opportunity in healthcare innovation, resistance to real change is the biggest obstacle developers face.

Our nation wastes well over a trillion dollars each year, because we pretend to have a healthcare system but actually have an insurance-based, fee-for-service Disease Management system with perverse incentives (and a legal requirement) to maximize corporate profits for shareholders rather than serve society.

Follow the money, and you’ll see that our “system” doesn’t want you to die but doesn’t profit when you get well either, or when you are healthy and don’t need care. So, we treat symptoms and view patients as paying customers with the real objective of keeping them paying.

To implement disruptive change in this broken system, we should start with the most important stakeholder, the patient, and get them engaged in (1) managing their own health and (2) pressuring elected representatives to change policies that benefit corporations over individual citizens.

Wayne Caswell, Founder & Senior Editor, Modern Health Talk

Please browse our other articles on the Future of Healthcare and Health Reform and share your own perspectives below. You’ll see byline articles from many different perspectives (doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, public policy experts & pundents, and futurists).

Zeo’s demise, a wakeup call for Sleep Wellness?

Zeo headbandThis article is based on a LinkedIn discussion that was started by Paul Sonnier, founder of the Digital Health discussion group.

Zeo has closed shop. Mentioned here & here and shown in the video below, Zeo is the company that provided a well known direct-to-consumer (DTC) sleep monitoring and coaching system that claimed to take the “science of sleep out of the lab and put it into your hands.” While speculation abounds as to why this happened (see comments in this group discussion:, it does highlight some of the challenges in this dynamic consumer digital health market segment, which represents 70 million people in the US alone. Read More …

Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us

TIME magazine coverIn his 38-page TIME magazine special report, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us,” Steven Brill dives into our health care system to understand why things cost so much, avoiding the more traditional question of who pays for what. What he found was both disturbing and telling. (His 3:38 min video introduction is at the end.)

His first story starts with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a nonprofit facility of the University of Texas, as he follows a patient who had to prepay $48,900 for six days of testing just to determine his cancer treatment regimen, which could easily run half a million dollars. An analysis of the itemized list of confusing charges showed that they were inflated as much as 100 times over retail prices, even before the hospital’s leveraged buying power. Those costs were also way higher than what Medicare would pay for the same tests, procedures and drugs.

MD Anderson, with its 19,000 employees, is one of the city’s top-10 employers, and its CEO last year was paid $1,845,000. Four other hospitals in the 1,300-acre Texas Medical Center are also in the top-10. Clearly, healthcare is a big business, but who’s making the money if it’s not doctors, nurses and technicians? It’s the hospitals, insurance companies, drug companies, equipment providers, and testing companies. Read More …

Americans are sicker and die younger (with VIDEO)

Being American Is Bad for Your Health

By Marty Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School

“Americans are sicker and die younger
than people in other wealthy nations.”

That stark sentence appears in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it comes from the authors of a landmark report — “Shorter Lives, Poorer Health” — on differences among high-income countries. (Editor: This WHO Interactive Chart compares mortality rates from different causes.)

You probably already know that America spends more on health care than any other country. That was one of the few facts to survive the political food fight pretending to be a serious national debate about the Affordable Care Act.

Read More …

Health Benefits of High Definition Videoconferencing

Lev Gonick discusses innovations using HD videoconferencing.

Next Generation High Definition Video Conferencing Will Provide Immediate Public Benefits

Researchers expect it to revolutionize health care delivery and STEM education

By Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation, January 31, 2013

The patient, who sees her neurologist regularly for “memory coaching” to counter the effects of short-term memory loss, never has to leave home for her appointments. The doctor, who is 40 minutes away, never has to leave his office. They “meet” by video.

“There is nothing she needs to do, as long as the system is on,” says Lev Gonick, vice president for information technology services and chief information officer at Case Western Reserve University. “She just needs to be in the right place at the right time.”

In some ways, it’s almost better than meeting in person, since this is not just any standard video system.

Read More …

How States are battling Obesity

United States of Obesity: How Are States Battling Bulging Health Costs?

By Scott Kahan, M.D., Director, STOP Obesity Alliance, Obesity Medicine physician

There is no doubt that obesity remains a top health issue in the states as we enter 2013. According to the most recent “F as in Fat” report, a state-by-state obesity report card published by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, obesity costs the United States up to $210 billion per year and obesity-related health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are expected to rise significantly in coming years. With numbers like these, it only makes sense to ask: What are states doing to tackle obesity, and what trends are on the horizon in 2013? Read More …

How to Find a Reputable Hip Replacement Specialist

Click on the X-ray image to read a Wikipedia article on Hip Replacement.

Image source: Wikipedia
In this X-ray, the patient’s right hip (left of image) has been replaced, with the ball of this ball-and-socket joint replaced by a metal head that is set in the thighbone or femur and the socket replaced by a white plastic cup (clear in this X-ray).

By Geoffrey Winterburn

A hip replacement is major surgery where part or all of a diseased/damaged hip is removed and replaced. Finding the right hip replacement specialist for you can seem rather daunting but there is plenty of advice out there to calm any fears and get you in the right hands.

Do you Need a Hip Replacement?

Before you begin to start your search for a hip replacement specialist, it is essential that you are sure that this is the best treatment for you. An artificial hip is not as reliable as a real one, and some problems can occur. 1 in 10 people report on-going hip pains after an operation and certain movements must be avoided to prevent dislocation. That being said, for many, a hip replacement will considerably improve the standard of living.

Many practitioners will advise you to persist with minor symptoms but a replacement may be considered if:

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What’s Missing from the ‘Patient-Centric’ Conversation?

TeamworkBy Alan Blaustein, Founder, CarePlanners
(original article on Huffington Post)

“Patient-centric health care” is all the rage. No, it’s not a clinical diagnosis (oh no — stay away he’s got centric). It’s the desire to put the patient in the middle of her medical care. Think on that for a moment — our system has gotten so far away from the patient that we give the malady a diagnostic classification like “patient-centric” in order to treat it.

So hospitals and other institutions are putting in new technologies and strategies that are patient-centric. Technology companies are springing up to developing widgets galore that make the patient more centric. And medical schools are busy creating patient-centric curriculums.

I absolutely applaud these efforts and wholeheartedly believe we need to continue to move in this direction, but where, exactly, is the patient in this patient-centric revolution? Read More …

How Intelligent Systems Can Streamline Patient Care

A Health Care Intelligent System Proof of Concept, by Microsoft in collaboration with Freescale and KontronMicrosoft and partners Kontron and Freescale demonstrate connectivity across institutional systems and handheld medical devices in the home.

REDMOND, Wash. — July 12, 2012 — Healthcare providers can improve the level of care they provide to patients by taking advantage of intelligent systems, which connect data, processes and devices across internal departments and geographical boundaries. In addition to connecting disparate data within hospitals and clinics, intelligent systems can help facilitate home healthcare and independent living by helping patients monitor their health and send the information to providers automatically.

Microsoft’s Windows Embedded team, the Microsoft Innovation Center in Torino, Italy, and Microsoft HealthVault have collaborated with Freescale and Kontron to develop an intelligent system proof of concept that seamlessly connects the Freescale home health hub reference platform, FDA-certified panel PCs, servers and in-home medical devices. The system (see video below) enables patients to automatically relay medical data from devices to physicians or family members via the cloud, connecting a touch-screen information display in the home, devices such as blood pressure monitors and glucose monitors, and medical data systems located at a hospital or a physician’s office.
Read More …

Home Monitoring of Seniors will drive Wearable Devices

Home Monitoring for Seniors Will Drive 36 Million Wearable Wireless Device Market

Some High Tech mHealth SolutionsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – LONDON – July 13, 2012

​A combination of factors including the growing senior demographic combined with economic, social, and technological developments are driving investment and demand for home monitoring devices that can extend and improve in-home care.

As the market transitions from safety focused offerings toward health monitoring and extending and enhancing the comfort, safety, and well-being for seniors living in their own homes and care homes, monitoring devices will grow to more than 36 million units in 2017, up from under 3 million units in 2011, at a CAGR of 55.9%.

Over the same time, home monitoring will almost double its share of the wearable wireless device health market to 22% from 12%.

“Healthcare providers and caregivers alike are looking for devices to improve the monitoring of seniors in their own homes as economics and demographics increasingly drive that demand” says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research and author of a new report examining the wearable wireless device healthcare market. Read More …

Long Term Care and the Home Healthcare Opportunity

Long Term Care InfographicThis article presents statistics about the Home Healthcare Opportunity (see more statistics) and an infographic about Long Term Care costs (from Northwest Mutual).

“We can save Trillions by moving at least 50% of healthcare services from institutions to homes.” (Eric Dishman, Intel)

  • Boomers have a “fierce” desire to remain independent.(AARP)
    • >90% of people 65+ want to age at home if safe as long as possible.
    • This will lead to an expansion of organizations offering home- and community-based care.
  • Avg. Nursing Home private room = $83,000 a yearin 2010. Assisted Living rent = $39,000 a year. (MetLife)
    • Avg. Independent Living Community = $32,000/yr (Long Term Living Magazine)
    • Avg. In-Home Care = $18,000/yr (health aid, meals on wheels, maid, etc.)
  • Global Home Healthcare market = $40.5 billion  in 2009, growing to $67 billion by 2016 (GBI Research)
    • US Digital Health market = $5.7B by 2015 with 55% CAGR (Parks Associates)
    • US Home Remote Monitoring = $295M by 2015 (Frost & Sullivan)
    • US Remote Patient Monitoring = $7.1B in 2010, with 25.4% ACGR and 2015 estimate of $22.2 billion (Kalorama Information)
    • Health & Fitness Apps market = >$400 million in 2016 (ABI Research)
  • Global mHealth market = $10B by 2016 (mHealth Networking Group on LinkedIn)
    • With over 72% of the globe connected via mobile technology and over 60% of US physicians owning tablet devices, the promise of mobile health to profoundly impact, on the delivery of healthcare cannot be understated.
    • Most of these physicians are using iPads and about half of all tablet-toting physicians use the devices at the point of care.
    • Asia Pacific mHealth market = $7B by 2017 (GSMA)
    • >20,000 medical/health apps = 3rd fastest-growing, with 60% aimed at consumers vs. health professionals
  • U.S. Health Care Fraud = $80 billion per year. (conservative estimate from CNBC’s Health Care Hustle series) Read More …