Moore’s Law and The FUTURE of Healthcare

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk
Which Future

This article examines a future driven by Moore’s Law and the trend of circuits and components getting smaller, faster and cheaper exponentially over time and the eventual blending of science and technology (INFO + BIO + NANO + NEURO). I approach this topic from the unique perspective of an IBM technologist, market strategist, futurist, and consumer advocate. See About the Author and About Modern Health, below, to better understand what shaped this view of the future. You can also see my slide presentation and related articles & infographics at the bottom.

Which Future?

Futurists regularly consider alternative scenarios and examine factors that can steer the future in one direction or another. That way, clients can select a preferred version of the future and know what they might do to make that future happen.

It’s relatively easy to extrapolate past trends, assuming that nothing prevents those trends from continuing at the same rate, but will they? One can also look at what’s possible by tracking research lab activity and then estimating how long it will take to bring those new technologies to market.

But a potentially better approach is to start with a solid understanding of market NEEDS and what drives the development of solutions for them, or factors that inhibit solutions. Changes in politics and public policy, for example, can be a huge driver, with Obamacare as an example, or a huge inhibitor. That’s why I’m so interested in various healthcare reforms that accompany tech innovation. Read More …

Don’t Look Back – the inspiring story of Danny & Shelly

Don't Look Back. Shelly now walks a mile three days a week using the gait trainer shown here.Danny Long became a 24×7 caretaker for his wife, Shelly, after a botched spinal cord operation in 2008. The surgery was supposed to improve the failing sense of touch in her hands and feet, but instead it left her a quadriplegic with no feeling at all, except the severe pain in her back.  Afterwards, no doctor would predict that she could ever walk again. But today, with help from her friends and faith, and the loving support of her creative and supportive husband, Shelly walks a mile every three days using the large gait trainer shown.

At some point, Danny decided to document her progress and their therapy journey in a series of videos. One showed how he adapted an old exercise bike to work for someone in a wheelchair. Another showed home-build parallel bars that Shelly used to practice standing and walking. And a third showed the walking harness he made to establish weight bearing safely. There are other videos on his Vimeo page, but the one I include below is a summary of their story.

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Affordable Care Act tests home care for Medicare patients

Health care reform law aims to improve care,
lower costs for seniors and people with disabilities.

House Call

The Problem

3-4 million seniors living with multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes, lung and heart disease are too ill or disabled to easily visit their physician when they need care. Instead, they go to the ER or are hospitalized. These seniors represent about 10% of Medicare beneficiaries but account for two thirds of Medicare’s expenditures, and it’s a problem that’s not going away. The number of people with multiple chronic illnesses will grow to 6-8 million by 2025.

The Solution

House calls, directed at these highest cost patients first, are a solution to the rising Medicare costs. The average $1,500 per ER visit, for example, can more than justify the cost of 10 house calls. Savings are even greater for avoided hospitalizations. Home-based primary care programs have the potential to save 20-40% on Medicare’s most expensive patients by bringing them care in their homes. But this is a new and relatively unproven healthcare delivery model.

Testing the Solution

The Independence at Home Demonstration, authorized by the Affordable Care Act, will test the viability of a new service delivery model that utilizes physician and nurse practitioner directed primary care teams to provide services to certain Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. Up to 10,000 Medicare patients with chronic conditions will now be able to get most of the care they need at home.

“This program gives new life to the old practice of house calls, but with 21st Century technology and a team approach,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator.

The new Independence at Home Demonstration greatly expands the scope of in-home services Medicare beneficiaries can receive. It’s a voluntary program for chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries that will provide them with a complete range of primary care services.  Read More …

WanderID – a new identification service

WanderID face matching technologyWanderID is a new service that uses biometric face matching software to give you peace of mind, knowing  that your loved one can be easily identified if they wander away or get lost.

You register and upload photos of a loved one to the WanderID website. If they then get lost, a police officer or EMT could use their smart phone to take a picture and search the company’s database. That’s when the service matches their photo with ones you uploaded, so you can get reconnected with loved one. It works just as well for small children or seniors with dementia. Read More …

Unpaid Caregiving in America

Image showing The economic cost of unpaid caregiving is over $480 billion per year.According to AARP, 43.5 million Americans are caregivers, and although they do it out of love and obligation, caring for a loved one takes a personal and financial toll.

The economic impact is surprisingly high. It was over $480B/year in 2009, a figure that includes lost worker productivity, reduced earning capacity & retirement income, and increases in their own physical & emotional health and related costs. That’s about 3.2% of the U.S. GDP ($14.1 trillion in 2009). It’s more than the $361B in Medicaid spending. And it’s nearly as much as the $509B in 2009 Medicare spending. It’s also more than half of what we spend on defense. The burden is even worse for long-distance caregivers.

The infographic below details caregiving in the U.S. Read More …

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 …

Before I die… Or before they do…

Before I die, from Candy Chang's TED talkToday I republish most of the content of a Huffington Post article that June Cohen wrote as part of TEDWeekends, a curated program about powerful “ideas worth spreading” each weekend.

The days between Thanksgiving and the New Year are always a time for reflection: On what’s been accomplished, on what remains ahead of us, and – most importantly – what matters most to you.

TED Fellow Candy Chang creates public art installations that explore the hidden landscape of near-death choices. Her work asks the audience, chalkboard-style, to fill in the blanks: “Before I die, I want to ________________.” Their answers have been, in turn: hilarious, heart-breaking, raw, real.

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Talk Frankly with Aging Parents about Healthcare

 

By Barb Berggoetz, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star

It’s 3 a.m., and your phone startles you out of a sound sleep.

Your 70-year-old mother has suffered a stroke. You rush to her house nearby to take her to the hospital.

But you’re not prepared. She’s incoherent. You forget the name of her primary care doctor and don’t know what medications she’s taking.

This may be an all-too-common scenario, as adult children struggle to take care of aging parents, and sometimes grandparents, and their often- complex medical needs.

Being a caregiver, even if it’s only part time or for emergencies, is challenging. When do you step in? How do you offer advice without being bossy? What can you do to help prevent emergencies? How do you best handle them when they happen?

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15 Home Safety Tips for Care Givers of Dementia Sufferer

original article on Alesha's blogGuest article by A.E.Churba, A.E.Churba Design, LLC

Dementia is a brain disorder that causes behavioral changes and changes in mental cognition for those living with the disease. Those living with dementia, a debilitating disease that includes the more readily recognized term Alzheimer’s disease, tend to lose the ability to remember names, arrange thoughts coherently and forget their current surroundings. As the disease progresses, communication becomes more difficult for the sufferer and agitation can occur.

Creating a home that is safe and comfortable for both the care giver and individual is very important. Following are 15 simple tips that can help care givers keep those afflicted with the disease safer in their home or living space.

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AARP Finds Toll On Family Caregivers Is ‘Huge’

AARP: Join the Fight for Medicare and Social SecurityValuing the Invaluable: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving is a new study by the AARP that estimates a value of $450 billion a year for work done by more than 40 million Americans caring for an elderly or disabled loved one. That may be a bargain for society, but it’s a “huge” burden on the family members.

Cymando Henley’s mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as he started college. Now she’s in a wheelchair, and Henley has been taking care of her ever since – for nearly twenty years now – helping her in and out of bed and onto the toilet, and even rolling her over in the middle of the night if she gets uncomfortable. Social programs help pay for about 35 hours a week of in-home health care, but Henley puts in at least that much himself for free, on top of working at a full-time job. Such non-medical care from a professional can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Listen to the story or read about it at NPR.org.

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Will Family Caregivers Drop Out of the Regular Workforce?

OldMan1Mark is unemployed and has a dilemma. As an older boomer, he’s often described as “overqualified” for many jobs, which really means he’s “too old.” And with no job, his time and declining finances are split between supporting school-age kids on one hand and caring for a live-in elderly parent on the other. Now a study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research shows that he’s not alone.

Effect Of Informal Care On Work, Wages, And Wealth” concludes that long-term eldercare of a loved one can keep informal caregivers out of the labor force.  The study examines this rhetorical question, “Do adult children who work less become informal caregivers, or do informal caregivers work less?

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