Posts Tagged ‘broadband’
Five 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.
According 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.
Get 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:
- The rising costs of health care;
- The worsening shortage of primary care physicians, and an even greater shortage of specialists;
- The shift away from diagnosis-related fee for service management of diseases to reimbursement based on wellness & measured outcomes; and
- The advent of more widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs).
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 Well, MyNowClinic, 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 the rest of this entry »
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.
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).
Telemedicine 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.
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.
Digital 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.
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.
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.