Home Automation Shows Promise for Seniors, but HomeKit Isn’t the Answer – Yet

By Beth Kelly

Home automation has been a mixed blessing for senior citizens and those who provide their care. Individual assistive technologies and comprehensive smart home “ecosystems” are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they’re more capable than ever of understanding older user’s needs and capabilities.

The development of comprehensive home technology platforms – such as Apple’s HomeKit and Google’s Home – has accelerated hopes that technology’s role in senior care will continue to make rapidly meaningful strides, via the ever-widening Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart Home applications of IoT

Integrating Disparate Subsystems

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Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

By Dr. Shaiv Kapadia, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder, Iggbo

The United States has the best and worst healthcare system in the world. Let me explain. If you are having a heart attack or stroke or a victim of an accident, there is no better integrated system of acute care delivery on the planet. Chronic disease, however, is a completely different story. [EDITOR: The medical industrial complex spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex, to avoid disrupting healthcare as they know it. That’s because cutting costs to match what other advanced nations pay per capita would mean losing over $1.5 trillion/year in profits – profits that today mostly come from treating symptoms.] Read More …

Blitab Braille Tablet for the Blind – Is it needed?

Blitab Braille TabletAs someone who has promoted the Universal Design concept for decades, I was taken back by a Futurism video I saw on the Blitab braille tablet. It is billed as “The World’s First Tablet for the Blind”, but that’s not true, and it’s arguably not nearly the best either. That title, in my view, goes to the Apple iPad with all of its accessibility features, but more on that later. This short article explains my concerns with the Blitab product and the company developing it, because they don’t seem to understand their market or target user. I urge any of my blind friends to challenge me on this assertion in the comments below.

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How to pick the good smartphone health apps

With so much choice, here's how to pick the good smartphone health apps and avoid the bad onesBy Carol Maher (original here)

With an estimated 100,000 health and fitness apps available on the two leading smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, it seems there is an app for everything – from tracking your bowel movements, to practising your pimple-popping technique.

However, a number of apps are starting to raise the ire of government regulators. Brain-training juggernaut Lumosity was recently fined US$2 million (A$2.7 million) for making unfounded claims that its app could improve work performance and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Read More …

Medical Alert Systems

Reviews.com recently published a review of The Best Medical Alert Systems, and they gave me permission to repost it here as long as I met their requirements.

Three out of our four final contenders shared the exact same technology. Clockwise from the top left: Acadian On Call, MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical.

Medical Alert Systems — Help at the push of a button

Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they prefer to live in their own homes, and most expect to stay there. It’s called “aging in place” and put simply: no assisted living facilities. Family members want to respect these wishes, but the risks are real. According to the National Council on Aging, one in three adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year, let alone other emergencies. The best medical alert systems address these risks with reliable devices that can connect seniors with help, keeping them safely independent — and giving family members one less thing to worry about. Our top pick, Bay Alarm Medical, goes even further with attentive, personable service. In an emergency, we’d feel comfortable with a loved one in the company’s hands. Read More …

‘The Patient Will See You Now’ Envisions New Era

The Patient Will See You Now (book)The Patient Will See You Now’ is a book by Dr. Eric Topol that envisions a New Era in healthcare where we consumers take more responsibility for our own health and wellness and have the tools to do so. Often these are smaller, cheaper, and easier to use versions of what doctors have used for years, but digital and in some cases more accurate or beneficial.

Dr. Abigail Zuger wrote a review of Topol’s book for The New York Times and described the overall thesis as “the old days of ‘doctor knows best’ are as good as gone. No longer will doctors control medical data, treatment or profits. Instead, thanks to the newest science, humanity will finally achieve truly democratic health care: Up with patients! ‘Our Bodies, Our Selves’ for all!”

As Tool says in the following video, “What bothers me most about healthcare is the unwillingness to give rightful info to patients.”

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Google expands Health Search feature

People won’t trust Dr. Google if the search results they get are from Joe Blow or who knows who with no assurance of information accuracy, so Google is improving the quality of health information we find online using the company’s its prolific search engine, and this has tremendous potential.

Maybe you just heard a news story about gluten-free diets and then go online to ask, “What is celiac disease?” Or maybe a co-worker shook your hand and later you found out she had pink eye, so you look up “pink eye” to see if it’s contagious and what the symptoms and treatments are. It’s comforting to know that real medical experts have vetted the information presented.

Mobile search example

Starting back in February, when you asked Google about common health conditions, relevant medical facts from reputable sources began to appear, such as this one for tonsillitis. Google Health Info Curated

Google expands Health Search feature

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When your medical care hurts, do you Yelp?

SurgeonsHealth consumers want more transparency, so rating systems like Yelp, Angie’s List, the Surgeon Scorecard, or any other tool that helps the market better understand health care cost, quality and value will play an important role in evaluating providers.

Those on the top of the healthcare mountain and slowest to adapt may be most at risk from disruptive change. After all, 429 of the original Fortune 500 [1955] are no longer in business or anywhere near the top, and that’s a scary thought for those who are not yet seeking & embracing such change but are instead hiding from it.

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Fixing the Primary Care Crisis

Available in print form on Amazon.com for $14.95As I keep reminding people, Americans spend twice as much as other countries on health care yet still live sicker and die younger, according to the World Health Organization. At $3 trillion/year, that’s about 18% of the nation’s GDP, and it’s not sustainable, especially as our nation’s baby boomers approach retirement age and start needing more medical care in their later years.

I’ve known Dr. Stephen C Schimpff (electronically) for years and have published several of his articles here on mHealthTalk. I’m happy today to promote his controversial new book, Fixing The Primary Care Crisis: Reclaiming the Patient-Doctor Relationship and Returning Healthcare Decisions to You and Your Doctor. ($3.95 for the e-book and $14.95 for the print edition)

Dr. Schimpff begins his book with an overview of what primary care is and is not, why it’s in crisis, and why the American medical care delivery system is so badly dysfunctional. He then explores the concepts of integrative medicine, trust and the all-important issue of healing. Read More …

Why should I Tweet or even Read Tweets

Why should I tweet or even read what other people tweet?

TwitterBy Janice Friesen

I am regularly asked why anyone would use Twitter. This is because I work mostly with people aged 40-80 who have not used technology much. I always try to respond with my own experience. Sometimes I have used it and sometimes I ignore it for months. I don’t feel like I have to read what everyone I follow says. If I don’t like what someone I follow writes about I can stop following them without any hurt feelings. I can choose to only follow people who write and share what I think are interesting things. Once a friend I knew shared about the Egyptian Spring AS IT HAPPENED!

When I share it is because I have found an interesting resource. Or maybe I have had a universal and interesting experience. Maybe I retweet something I think is really important that someone else tweeted. Also, many teachers I know have found that it is a great way to connect to like-minded people across the globe and support one-another’s teaching. It makes meeting at a conference somewhere really exciting.

This morning though, I read a terrific article in the New York Times Week in Review Section about why Scott Simon of NPR tweeted his Mother’s last hours. It was the best description of why someone tweets that I have come across. I cannot do it justice here, but here is a quote. Read More …

The Best Smartphone Apps for Caregivers

WebMD MobileBy Glenn Randolph

Caregivers have a demanding job that can be downright overwhelming at times. These days, many caregivers are using modern mobile smartphone apps to do their jobs more effectively. Smartphone apps can be used for countless purposes, such as scheduling, looking up pertinent health information, identifying pills and so much more. What are the best smartphone apps for caregivers? Here are a few of the best to consider using.

This list should help you cut through the clutter of over 1.2 million different apps listed for iOS alone by July 2014. 240 of them were specific to medicine or health care. Read More …

Trust the Internet or Your Doctor?

Doctors were once the most trusted members of the community, but now it’s the opposite. Why are we so desperate for our doctors to be wrong? I don’t get it.

That was the beginning of an editorial in The Daily Beast that made my hair stand on end. The undisclosed doctor/author did a fine job of writing and defending his profession, but I found it obvious that he/she still doesn’t understand why so many people distrust their doctor. The rest of this is from the two comments I posted, along with links to related articles.

TIME magazine cover

COMMENT-1:

No, you don’t get it. Your sarcastic editorial, although interesting and well-organized, misses the point entirely. Americans pay twice as much on healthcare as other nations but still live sicker and die younger, according to the World Health Organization. Why is that? It’s certainly not because we now trust the Internet more than our doctor. It must be something else, and Steven Brill got closest to describing the problem in his TIME Magazine report, “Bitter Pill: Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us.”

How has the Internet become a more trusted source of medical information than the family doctor? Maybe it has to do with the natural incentives of an industry that profits from illness and injury and spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex to protect its obscene profits. Read More …

BRAINCHANGE with David Perlmutter M.D.

BRAINCHANGEOur local PBS channel (KLRU.org) today aired BRAINCHANGE, a special on Alzheimer’s Prevention that featured Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D.

Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist who gained much of his knowledge about brain science from his dad, who was a practicing neurosurgeon and now has Alzheimer’s. That experience gave him even more motivation to understand why Americans have such a high rate of Alzheimer’s and why that is increasing.

The special served as a PBS fund-raiser but in many ways seemed like an infomercial to sell Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Still, it was factual, thought-provoking, and complements work I’m involved with at Intelligent Sleep, where we see sleep as the third leg of wellness and as important as nutrition and exercise. I could not find an online version of the show, but here are my notes and some summary videos: Read More …

Patient Attitudes About Doctors and Healthcare

American Health Care is Snake BitPatients don’t like their doctors.
Why is that?

That was the topic of a recent article by Peter Ubel at KevinMD.com that mentioned a New England Journal of Medicine article and included the table below. Ubel explored patient attitudes about doctors and healthcare and the reasons why Americans rate their own doctors high (ranked 3rd worldwide) and rate our healthcare system low (tied for 24th, just ahead of Chili, Bulgaria, Russia & Poland). I responded with this comment…

Yes, consumers see most doctors as compassionate and hard-working, with their hearts in the right place. After all, they got into medicine to help people. But the “system” they work in is preventing them from doing that. Read More …

4 High-Tech Medical Management Apps for Seniors

Medical Management Apps for Seniors

 

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” — it’s a catch phrase from a popular commercial in the late ’80s for a medical alarm pendant manufactured by LifeCall, an emergency alert service. The device was designed for elderly people who lived alone. If a medical emergency arose and they couldn’t get to a phone, they could speak into the device and be immediately in touch with a dispatch service. It was a technological medical wonder.

Technological medical wonders have come a long way since then. These sample medical management apps for seniors can make life safer, give caregivers more options for better care and ease the minds of relatives. Read More …

How to Make a Smart Bed for your Smart Bedroom

Luna

Here’s you can make a smart bed for your smart bedroom.

Because good sleep so closely tied to good health, I’ve posted dozens of articles about sleep, including many about technology and how artificial lights interfere with our biological clocks and sleep-wake cycle. I’ve also been working with Dr. Bruce Meleski to open Intelligent Sleep, a new sleep wellness and brain health center here in Austin. We’re doing some pretty cool stuff with metabolic, neurosensory, and behavioral therapies, and we’re promoting a vision of the Smart Bedroom. So today’s post is about a new product we hope to carry and that I think you’ll like. (video below) Read More …

Investor Look at 2015 Healthcare Opportunity

Bull MarketEditorial by Wayne Caswell

While I’m not a financial advisor or Wall Street analyst, I took issue with a MedCityNews article by Paul Beckley, “An investor’s 2015 healthcare roundup.” In short, he said to “BELIEVE in the business of health.” While I’m bullish on the future of healthcare, I sure hope he’s wrong, because the amount Americans spend on healthcare needs to go way down, not up. Here’s my reader comment and investor advice.

Beckley’s article bills Healthcare as an immensely profitable industry. It is, because it brings in $3T/year. But since that’s twice what other nations pay per person, yet we still live sicker and die younger (per the World Health Organization), investors should prepare for some very big losses in my view. At least that’s what I hope happens, and while it may not be good for clueless healthcare investors, it would be immensely good for the economy.

Our nation should “theoretically” be able to cut overall costs in half (like $1.5T/year) with health reform, digital innovation and new business models and still improve outcomes. There will be many winners among the innovators, but there will also be a great many losers who aren’t insightful enough to see the handwriting on the wall or quick enough to adapt.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

That, and the fact that 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies [1955] are no longer in business today, is a scary thought for those sitting at the top of the healthcare mountain. They know they must adapt to health reform die, and they’re looking down with fear at hungry innovators who are already exploiting the many healthcare MiniTrends and their important intersections. For those innovative entrepreneurs, these are times of great opportunity, and they’re climbing up the mountain.

See 101 MiniTrends in Health Care. It’s a “must read” for investors and entrepreneurs looking at the 2015 healthcare opportunity.

The Elusive Smart Home

With the annual Consumer Electronics Show starting next week, the news media is filled with marketing hype about the elusive Smart Home market, which is nearly as misdirected today as it was in 1957. Watch this video of the RCA-Whirlpool® Miracle Kitchen and ask how many of those products you can buy today.

Whirlpool was wrong 58 years ago when it introduced its Miracle Kitchen, and I think it’s wrong about home automation today too. All the company did was offer a Smart Home vision that never crossed the chasm to mass-market adoption. The problem wasn’t a lack of sensors, actuators, electronics, or network standards, but marketing and the inability to understand consumer needs and wants, or the ability to show a value proposition or deliver a solution with ease of use and affordability.

I still have seen no company that “gets it” or knows how to deliver the smart home vision — not Whirlpool and not Apple or Microsoft or Google or Philips or BestBuy. A lot of innovation has occurred in the last 50-some years that is getting us closer to that vision, including smartphones and the Internet of Things, but there are still many marketing barriers that these companies don’t seem to understand. Read More …

All Generations can use Xbox One with Kinect

How Multiple Generations Can Connect at Home
Using Xbox One’s Kinect

Family uses Xbox One Kinect

The learning curve of new technology has a reputation for widening the generation gap. However, some new tech toys, like Microsoft’s Xbox One with Kinect, are bucking that convention. All generations can use the Xbox One with Kinect, because it gives them some easier ways to be entertained and brings everyone together for family fun. Read More …

Beyond Jeopardy!, What is Watson Up To Now?

IBM Watson plays Jeopardy! and wins.By Dr. Martin Kohn, Chief Medical Scientist for IBM Research

Two years ago, IBM’s Watson computer shocked the world when it beat two past grand champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!

Watson isn’t playing around anymore.

Watson and the technological leaps forward that made it so revolutionary — the ability to understand human speech, make sense of huge amounts of complex information in split seconds, rank answers based on probability, and learn from its mistakes — are being put to work.

In health care, Watson is helping doctors tailor medical treatment to every patient’s situation in a time when the amount of medical information is doubling every five years. Read More …