mHealth – Is it Mobile Health or Modern Health?

What is Mobile Health?  That’s the subject of a Linkedin discussion started by Wendy Thomas, founder of the Mobile Health Association in Austin, TX.

Her purpose was to clear up confusion between syllogisms, and the analogy she used was that Lions are all Animals, but not all Animals are Lions. The same goes with the health terms such as digital health, ehealth (electronic healthcare), mhealth (mobile healthcare), and telemedicine, so she argued that…

Mobile Health IS Wireless Health AND Mobile Health IS Telemedicine, but Wireless Health AND Telemedicine are not necessarily MOBILE HEALTH.

Syllogism examples in healthcare

While I agree with the premise of Wendy’s argument, people often associate Mobile Health with the ambulance that shows up to provide care and transportation, rather than the use of mobile devices and wireless networks. That’s why I drew the diagram with Mobile Health not entirely within Wireless Health or within Telemedicine. Confusion still persists, and I’m adding to it with yet another term – Modern Health. Read More …

Digital Divide Still Prevalent

Among seniors, Internet and broadband use drop off around age 75By Lisa Nelson,

The rapid adoption of mobile and mobile devices is providing Internet access to those who had little or no none before.

With almost 90% of American twenty-somethings accessing the Internet through smartphones or tablets, the digital divide may narrow significantly by the end of the decade.

Despite this sunny future, a PEW Internet report looks at differences in digital access and use among American adults and finds one in five people do not use the Internet.

While increased Internet adoption and the rise of mobile connectivity have reduced many gaps in technology access over the past decade, for some groups digital disparities still remain.

The report finds that those most likely to be part of the digital divide include: Read More …

Health Reform needs a WELLNESS emphasis

This intimate but tasteful photo of a man and wife in bed shows how Sex can be used to promote Health & Wellness.How can healthcare systems encourage patients to take greater ownership of their health so they live longer? That was the question posed to a Linkedin discussion group that generated some interesting responses. I initially weighed in with:

Public Health and Social Programs

We don’t often think of clean running water, indoor toilets, sanitation systems, and school vaccinations as having profound effects on the health of our citizens, but they have. So too would programs that address poverty, unemployment, and the widening income gap. That’s why next on my list is access to nutritious food, exercise opportunities, and full-time employment, which translates into access to health insurance.

Others said consumers would need support from various health care organizations and suggested several initiatives designed to move from medical response systems to health, wellness and prevention systems. Read More …

Telemedicine becoming the new house call


Travis Proctor logged onto his computer, turned on his new webcam and clicked his mouse. Within seconds, the 42-year-old father of three was face to face with Dr. Kelvin Burton, his primary care physician.

Just months ago, Proctor would have had to drive for nearly an hour round-trip from his home in Powder Springs to Burton’s Douglasville family care practice just for a checkup. Not anymore. (Read more at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

The referenced article by Gracie Bonds Staples prompted a Linkedin discussion where I couldn’t help but respond. Here’s what I said:

Telemedicine includes video calls with patients, video consultations among specialists, remote monitoring of sensor devices, and more, all aimed at increasing service, improving outcomes, and lowering costs.

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Promoting Accessible Web Design at SXSW

The event's logo is shown with the words "South by Southwest" in Braille belowI spent several days this week at SXSW promoting accessible web design in the Knowbility booth and gained a new perspective of Modern Health Talk in the process.

South by Southwest (SXSW)

“South By” is a week-long music & film festival with over 2,000 bands and dozens of movie premiers from all over the world, as well as a fairly new SXSW Interactive segment for web, mobile and social app developers. Downtown Austin is closed to traffic all week and mobbed by an entirely different and very creative, live-fast, party-hard, and die-young species that thrives on alcohol, energy drinks and a high-energy vibe that can over stimulate older people. Bloomberg described it as “Woodstock for Geeks.”

Making traffic and parking even worse, Austin holds its annual rodeo during the same week. So each year I avoid the mess and have never attended even the tech conference, although it is credited for launching Twitter, Foursquare and other web hits and might normally have been interesting to me.

I just found the whole thing too loud, wild and geeky, and with way too much purple hair, tattoos & body piercings for my taste. But this year was different. Some of its attention shifted to Health, and that’s why I was there with Knowbility, taking the Metro Rail from near home to avoid traffic and parking hassles.

A New Look at Web Design (new for me anyway)

Universal access to education, jobs, government and society today means going online on the Internet, but imagine what it’s like for someone who’s blind, has severely limited vision, has some other disability that makes access difficult, or where English is not their primary language. I sat down with a blind person to get a critique of Modern Health Talk and listen to the text read aloud with JAWS screening reading software.

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A Totally New Healthcare System

KingOfTheWorldFive months ago I posted a challenge on Linkedin titled, “Innovative Ideas for a Totally New Healthcare System?” and it generated a discussion that’s been active for 5 months now with over 900 responses from different perspectives worldwide.

As a fun exercise to stimulate creative, out-of-box thinking, pretend you have all been appointed to the new World Health Commission by the new King of the World (or whatever title you prefer). You have absolute power to determine health strategy, for the whole world. Think like a child, and forget the constraints you’re used to dealing with as adults. There are no financial hurdles, no political worries, no cultural barriers, no legacy to contend with, no managers looking over your shoulders, and no imposed time frames. What is it that patients, providers and society seek from healthcare? Why can’t they get that now? Starting with a completely blank canvas, what would be the objectives of the new System? Imagine potential roadblocks and how we might overcome them.

The discussion has evolved, and most participants have come in and out of it, but Clifford Thornton posted one of the longest and most thoughtful replies and gave me permission to reprint it here.

A Totally New Healthcare System

By Clifford Thornton

Wow sir, a blank sheet; this is a dynamic exercise.

I came into the healthcare field about 9 years ago from a marketing strategy business background in the cable/telecommunication industry. Let me say that I cannot think or even imagine a bigger contrast in terms of quality of service, efficiencies, level of customer satisfaction, duplication of service levels, delivery, and range/availability of services.

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Telehealth cuts patient deaths by 45%

Industry leaders welcome telehealth planAccording to this article in Fierce Mobile Health, results from a large telehealth study that monitored 6,200 remote patients show that telehealth can dramatically improve the care people receive while helping to reduce costs. The study took place over three years and covered patients in three cities suffering from one of three primary conditions: diabetes, heart failure or COPD.

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Are we Bringing Health Care Home or Sending it Overseas?

Doctors at We Care Health Services, IndiaGet ready for outsourced health care. Last week I wrote TeleHealth: The Doctor Will See You Now, Remotely, but what if Remotely means someplace in India or China?

As Dr. David Lee Scher notes, interest in mHealth is driven by several factors, including:

  1. The rising costs of health care;
  2. The worsening shortage of primary care physicians, and an even greater shortage of specialists;
  3. The shift away from diagnosis-related fee for service management of diseases to reimbursement based on wellness & measured outcomes; and
  4. The advent of more widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs).

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TeleHealth: The Doctor Will See You Now, Remotely

Basic Telehealth System, connecting patients, sensor devices, caregivers, and healthcare services

Derived from a paper by Iboun Taimiya Sylla, Texas Instruments

There’s a fairly new option for after-hours medical care that connects you with practitioners anytime, anywhere.  It’s called Telehealth or Telemedicine, and it’s offered by companies like American WellMyNowClinic, and OptumHealth.

Hospitals already use high-speed Internet connections to share medical information among specialists within the facility or in different locations. And they can even put a rural patient in front of a big city specialist miles away. But as Internet use permeates people’s everyday lives, health care professionals are able to connect with patients in real time over any distance without traveling or scheduling an office visit. Previously when you were sick, you had to go to the doctor. Now she can come to you, electronically 24/7. Some services also provide in-home visits by physician assistants to supplement telehealth.

“While having access to a doctor outside of normal office hours is a popular telehealth service, it isn’t the only one. Doctors can also Read More …

Bridging The Digital Divide

Transforming Rural Economies: Bridging The Digital Divide (excerpt)
by Maine State Representative Diane Russell

Growing up in Bryant Pond, about as rural as it gets in Maine, taught me a little something about being at the tail end of innovation. The last crank phone operator station in the country was located right down the street from our home. While the celebrity status is great, the educational piece was the vigorous debate over whether or not our town should upgrade to that fancy new technology — the dial tone.

Read the rest of her article

Wayne Caswell (Modern Health Talk) posted the following comment:

We all know that technology and the Internet are keys to telemedici­ne, telework (jobs), distance learning, e-commerce­, and e-governme­nt, but the latest FCC report to Congress says a full one-third of U.S. households lack broadband access. That’s either because they have no access to it or because it’s too expensive or they lack the skills or perceived need.

So, are we willing to write-off entire sectors of our population and give them inferior healthcare and access to jobs, commerce and government because they’re poor, black, Hispanic, elderly, live in rural communitie­s, and don’t have broadband Internet access? Or are we going to fund computer literacy and universal access to broadband? Which is cheaper or better? We can’t always rely on Market Forces. Sometimes public funding is warranted – like NOW (or actually 20 years ago).

FCC’s Broadband Progress Report Highlights Concerns

FCC logoTelemedicine and many of the high-tech home healthcare solutions we write about depend on high-speed access to the Internet, but only 65% of homes have broadband. That’s why I was so interested in the FCC’s recent status report to Congress.

Seventh Broadband Progress Report and Order of Reconsideration

The report shows that:

  • Too many Americans still are unable to fully participate in our economy and society because they lack basic broadband services.
  • Some 26 million Americans live in areas that are unserved by broadband.
  • A full one-third of U.S. households don’t subscribe due to other barriers such as cost and lack of literacy or perceived need.
  • Adoption rates are lower among blacks, Hispanics, rural, low-income, less educated, disabled, seniors and the unemployed.
  • The costs of digital exclusion are high and growing, limiting healthcare, educational, and employment opportunities that are essential for consumer welfare and America’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

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The Rural Health Care Challenge and Opportunity

Urban and suburban patients have advantages not generally available to those living in rural settings, including easy access to more healthcare professionals, specialists and well-equipped medical facilities, better roads and taxi service, public transportation systems, and broadband Internet. The challenges of providing rural health care present opportunities for innovative organizations willing to take them on, because doing so helps improve the nation’s health care system overall.

It’s kind of like when President Kennedy visited Houston’s Rice University in 1962 and said, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

And it’s why we support Intel’s Eric Dishman and his call for a “Going to the Moon” type of effort to reduce health care costs with technology solutions – solutions that enable home health care and aging in place. As a nation, we must address the rising costs by creating personal, networked, home-based care options and move at least 50% of care from hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities to homes.

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When will the Digital Smart Home market take off?

Market Research: Mass-market Households versus High-end New HomesDigital Smart Homes, including some of the same sensor and networking technologies that we promote for home health care, have long been associated with large and expensive new homes with custom installation. It’s a market that has languished as a niche for over 40 years now and has never managed to find its way to mainstream consumers. Why?

Someone asked that question in a forum I monitor, and I had to add my two cents, which I include here for perspective.

Contrast the Digital Smart Home with a modern car. When you buy a new car, it comes with everything included and already integrated to work together. There are many things you DON’T have to buy separately and install yourself, including tires, air conditioning, radio, CD-player, navigation, antilock brakes, towing package, etc.

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Need More Wireless Spectrum for Telehealth Innovation


To improve cellular signal strength, put your phone high up, but don't hold it or put it near your head.The lack of good cellular connections threatens the future of mobile healthcare solutions. I once got 5 bars on a regular basis, but the wireless signal in my neighborhood has diminished to the point that I’m lucky to get one bar or any connection at all. I took my problem to the AT&T store and showed them a picture of me outside, outside in my PJs standing under an umbrella in the rain to get enough signal to make a call. The headphones I wore prevented my head from blocking the signals, and the phone itself was dangling from a tree branch so my hands weren’t touching the phone.  AT&T finally relented and gave me a micro-cell device to connect to my broadband connection and act like a mini cell tower for my home. Now I get 5 bars again. Do you still get 5 bars? Consistently?

Rising demand for wireless broadband Internet access has created a spectrum crisis that jeopardizes economic productivity, job growth, innovation, and societal gains. Cellular networks once dedicated to voice calls are now used for streaming music, downloading apps, and sharing photos and videos. Mobile data access is consuming much more bandwidth than voice calls and taxing network capacity. We need a national imperative to allocate additional spectrum for wireless broadband, because it will produce numerous economic and societal benefits. Failure to do that could result in wireless data gridlock.

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Internet Addiction: A Public Health Crisis?

Is the Internet addicting? Is reading? Or learning? Or teaching? We can lose ourselves online, or find ourselves. We can do harm, or good. We can be brainwashed, or influence. The net’s a tool, not a disease. It’s a disruptive force, but conservative & risk-averse individuals and organizations often avoid innovation & disruptive change. It makes new things possible – scary to some; enlightening and empowering to others.

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