Don’t Kill the Open Internet

Net Neutrality keeps Internet Open

This really is about healthcare, believe me. It’s also about free speech, commerce, education, employment, and the open Internet, so read on.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to gut Net Neutrality consumer protections and kill open Internet competition as a result. That’s not surprising since he formerly worked as an attorney for Verizon Communications, but there are many issues that are not well understood, and not being discussed.

I am so bothered by this that I sent personal notes to the five FCC Commissioners, shared my Net Neutrality perspectives, and urge them NOT to gut Net Neutrality.

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FCC Broadband Health Imperative – how we responded

FCC Broadband Health Initiative - Modern Health Talk respondsAs a retired IBM technologist, market strategist, futurist, consumer advocate, and founding editor of Modern Health Talk, I am please to respond to this FCC action and will describe my background afterwards. What follows is the detailed docket (16-46) with my responses inserted and key points highlighted. Read More …

Healthcare as Public Utility

healthcare as a public utility - image of health care practitioner with handheld mobile deviceComputing functions once associated with PCs are moving back to big servers in the Internet Cloud, leaving mobile client devices to handle the user interface (UI) but not the data storage and analysis. I find this shift especially interesting, having grown up in the mainframe world at IBM as computing functions moved to PCs.

In the case of speech recognition and Apple’s SIRI artificial intelligence, even the UI function is now split between client & server. This has huge implications for healthcare, with IBM’s Watson and AT&T’s analytics engine aimed at different parts of the healthcare problem.

The networked mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.) will serve as a health gateway between a host of medical & environmental sensors and cloud-based services that collect & analyze the collected data. The benefits will not just target individual patients but be applied across large populations.

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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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Presidential Report on Independence Technology

Independence TechnologyIn an 80-page report issued this week, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), made several recommendations to address America’s aging population with independence technology. They include:

  • mHealth innovation,
  • remote patient monitoring,
  • telehealth expansion and reimbursement,
  • broadband access for seniors,
  • more sophisticated wheelchairs, and even
  • home designs for sustained independence.

What follows is a highlighted extract from the report’s Executive Summary. Read More …

20-20 Vision of Digital Life in 2025

Pew Research Center recently published its vision of Digital Life in 2025, based on predictions from over 1,000 experts who generally said the Internet would become “like electricity” – more deeply embedded in our lives but less visible.

Word Cloud - Pew Research examines Digital Life in 2025

Before I present the top 15 themes from the Pew report, here’s my own Back to the Future vision of technology and and its impact & challenges, based on an article I wrote 11 years ago. It looked back 20 years to George Orwell’s 1984 and then forward 20 to the year 2024, and I present it here because it’s helpful to see a history of where things have come from as you contemplate the future. Futurists, however, will tell you that forecasting is not as simple as just extrapolating trends. Read More …

Millions of free iPads for Seniors

Can Apple and IBM change Health Care?

Ruth Schoon learns to use the iPad

Ruth Schoon describes how she now uses an iPad to follow her great grandchildren from afar.

That was the title of a recent Forbes article that prompted me to comment, and my comment is the basis of today’s post. Basically, it was reported that IBM and Apple are partnering with Japan Post, that country’s largest health- and life-insurance company, to provide millions of free iPads for seniors with the aim of improving their health and their lives.

My Response

The Apple iPad is truly an amazing device for seniors. When they’re shown how to use it, the benefits go way beyond just extending life (i.e. more revenue from premiums for insurance companies) or improving health (less expense from claims).


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Lack of Fast Internet threatens Telehealth Future

I responded to an online discussion of a call for Congress to Expand Telehealth Services to Improve Patient Access and Outcomes and Decrease Healthcare Costs. Key to delivering telehealth is the availability of high-speed Internet access, and that prompted me to comment on an online conversation of this HIMSS problem description.

The enormous potential of telehealth or telemedicine to positively transform healthcare delivery in America is not being realized due to numerous impediments. These include out-of-date public and private reimbursement structures, inadequate broadband availability, and varying licensure and practice restrictions between some states. … In many areas of the country, there are not enough health professionals to provide in-person visits or appropriate follow up care, especially for mental health and highly specialized services like pediatric critical care. In other areas, distance or unavailability of transportation presents impediments to care.

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MiniTrends affecting Telehealth

Skype TranslatorOverlapping MiniTrends affecting Telehealth include

  1. health reform,
  2. the Internet of Things,
  3. speech recognition & synthesis, and
  4. real-time language translation.

I’ve written a lot here about health reform, telehealthmedical tourism, the Internet of Things, and the overlap of healthcare MiniTrends, but today I saw a video that evolves my thinking further. It’s about Microsoft’s Skype and their newest Skype Translator Preview.

The Skype Translator video below gave me a glimpse of what telehealth might be like in 5 years or so. This vision includes the Internet, video consultations, smart sensors, and the trend of medical devices becoming smaller, cheaper, easier to use, and widely used among consumers for telemedicine. But the video consultation may be done from anywhere, in any language, and that could dramatically increase competition and result in much better outcomes at lower prices.

As you watch, imagine that it’s a conversation between you and a doctor in Costa Rica, where you went for your knee surgery and recovered on the beach in a 4-star hotel, paid for by your insurer because the outcomes were better than most any U.S. provider. It’s the sheer volume of procedures they do that led to their world-class expertise and efficiency.  Read More …

Telehealth is Shaping Healthcare for the Better

Game ChangerBy Karen R. Thomas, President of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions

As incredibly innovative and efficient as telehealth is at providing greater access to care for consumers, lowering healthcare costs for both patients and healthcare systems, and improving outcomes, barriers have always existed that hinder the widespread adoption of telehealth. Yet recently, issues such as state requirement hurdles, reimbursement limitations, and a general resistance from physicians to learn and integrate new technologies into their care routines are quickly evaporating in the wake of the overwhelming proof of telemedicine’s many benefits. Read More …

Healthcare in the age of Dr. Google

Dr.GoogleHealthcare in the age of Dr. Google: the 2014 digital patient journey is sponsored by Fathom Healthcare, a healthcare marketing company.

Ask any medical professional what has changed about patient behavior the last few years, and she is sure to talk about a physician who never was accepted to med school … the ubiquitous “Dr. Google.”

When patients start to notice something doesn’t feel quite right, they google their symptoms and make a preliminary diagnosis. In fact, 86 percent of patients conduct a health-related search before scheduling a doctor’s appointment. 90 percent of adults ages 18-24 say they would trust medical information shared by others in their social networks. Forty-one percent say social media impacts their choice of healthcare providers. Read More …

How Tech makes Long Distance Caregiving Easier

Caregiving 2.0:
How Technology Makes Long Distance Caregiving Easier

By Michelle Seitzer

Stethoscope on a Computer KeyboardToday’s guest post is by Melody Wilding, a licensed medical social worker (LMSW) and Community Manager for eCaring.com.

It’s 11 a.m. Two meetings down: what’s next? Maybe check emails or tackle the pile of papers growing on your desk?

Just as you’re hitting a stride, the phone rings. It’s Mom … and something is wrong. She fell this morning. Read More …

16-year old makes Cancer Breakthrough with Open Access

In this video interview, Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, talks with 16-year-old Jack Andraka about how he researched journals online to invent a breakthrough cancer diagnostic test that won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

As Jack said in the video, the test costs just $0.03, takes just 5 minutes, can discover certain cancers earlier, and is 100% accurate in clinical trials so far. Read More …

Is Your Glass Half Empty, or Half Full?

Is your glass Half Empty, or Half Ful?Can your attitude affect your health?

YES. According to this article and most of the studies I found, optimism appears to be good for your health and pessimism seems to be bad. But I also found one study that suggested the opposite – that people who are overly optimistic about their future actually faced greater risk of disability or death within 10 years than did those pessimists who expected their future to be worse. So I guess the question about the glass being half full or half empty still depends on your perspective.

Optimism about the Future

This week I was one of several presenters giving short talks to the World Future Society about what makes us optimistic about the future. Rather than rant about health reform, as I often do, I chose instead to talk about BIG Broadband and Google’s choice of Austin for its next gigabit fiber network, Kansas City being their first. I spoke of the applications enabled by Internet access that’s more than 100 times faster than what we currently have, how it enables exciting new applications and innovations in telehealth, telework, distance learning, e-commerce, e-government, and more.

But this article takes a different spin, with text provided by Anne Boysen, one of the other speakers. Her interesting approach fits nicely with the half empty / half full question, because she looks at several trends that bring out the pessimist in us, followed by balancing trends that give us hope.
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mHealth: What does it mean and what’s included

What is mHealth, and does the term stand for Mobile Health or Modern Health?
That’s the subject of a an online discussion started by David Doherty, moderator of a LinkedIn group interested in using mobile technologies to improve health. He started the discussion to support my view that any definition of mHealth that only includes smartphones is both limiting and arrogant. This article supports that discussion by expanding the definition of mHealth and what’s included.

Much of this article builds on an earlier article that I wrote in May 2012, where I addressed confusion among syllogisms, using the analogy that Lions & Tigers are both Animals, but not all Animals are Lions or Tigers. Likewise, there are some confusing overlaps among the terms mHealth, eHealth, Wireless Health, Connected Health, Digital HealthTelehealth, and Modern Health. The devices that serve these market segments overlap too, so I must discuss them collectively.

Syllogism examples in healthcare 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.

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Sensor Network to Protect the Elderly

Marge Skubic

Marge Skubic developed a remote sensor network to monitor seniors’ activity and baseline health. Click image for credits and larger version

System monitors seniors’ health in the comfort of their own homes

By Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation, December 6, 2012

Many elderly dread the prospect that chronic medical issues will force them to leave their homes for an assisted living facility or nursing home, making them dependent upon others for their care and personal needs. Sometime in the near future, however, new technology could help them remain in their homes longer, perhaps indefinitely, without having to give up their independence.

“Our goal is to keep people in their private homes for as long as possible,” says Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri. “The idea is to detect functional decline or early signs of illness, so we can identify problems when they are very small and proactively address them before they become catastrophic. That way, mom won’t have to leave her home.” Read More …

Will the Affordable Care Act Help Telehealth Flourish?

Nurse Jennifer Witting

Nurse Jennifer Witting stands beside newly installed telemedicine equipment at the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, Mich., on June 20, 2012. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

By Brian Heaton (original article at govtech.com)

Opportunity is knocking for telehealth to become a common method of practicing medicine in the U.S.

One-on-one Web-based video chats and other electronic consultation between doctors and patients isn’t new — it’s been used throughout the U.S. in varying degrees for a few years now. But health-care reform, a ballooning  and aging population and a shortage of available family physicians may be a perfect storm that could blow the doors open for telehealth to go mainstream.

As states’ health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces where citizens can compare and purchase insurance plans — begin to debut in advance of the 2014 deadline set forth by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to health-care providers should expand for many Americans. Obtaining insurance coverage soon may be easier, but the gap between the number of incoming patients and available primary care doctors is widening.

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AT&T blocks FaceTime, impacts the Deaf

AT&T blocks FaceTime, and sign language for the deaf and hard of hearingBy Brendan Gramer, in Wired Magazine

When I learned that Apple would finally be enabling the iPhone’s FaceTime app to work over mobile connections, I was ecstatic. As someone who is deaf, I could now use this one-touch, always-on video chat app to communicate with friends and family in my natural language: American Sign Language (ASL).

But then I found out that AT&T will block mobile FaceTime unless customers sign up for an expensive unlimited voice plan. I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of having to pay this AT&T “deaf tax” just to use the mobile data I’m already paying for.

It’s disappointing that AT&T is standing in the way of innovation that addresses the needs of its deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Sometimes it takes a while (and some prodding) for technology and technology companies to catch up to and embrace accessibility. In this case the technology is there, but it’s AT&T that’s throwing up the barrier.

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