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 …

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 …

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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Eldercare and the Wireless Revolution

TeleHealth

Photo source: healthcaredive.com

Home Sweet Home: Eldercare and the Wireless Revolution

Byline article by Jamie Dalzell

Telemedicine | Telehealth | Connected Health  —  Technology’s role in modern medicine goes by many names, and has seen massive growth since Modern Health Talk last examined it in detail. Not only are emerging technologies like wireless charging and wearable devices changing the medical landscape, but the increasing uptake by doctors and patients alike is driving growth: recent surveys show some 64% of consumers are ready for Telehealth.

With this increased adoption? The aged-care sector, in particular, is changing. And changing fast. All at once this new technology is providing a better quality of life for seniors, as well as a greater peace of mind for their friends, family and caregivers. But how, exactly? And to what end? Read More …

Is FaceTime HIPAA Compliant?

Is FaceTime HIPAA Compliant? 

By Jon Taylor, President and Founder of Bayon Health FaceTime HIPAA Compliance

In the first part of this series we wanted to address one of the most common questions we get asked; “Is FaceTime a HIPAA compliant solution?” If one was to search the internet for this answer, you’d come across a lot of mixed answers and confusion. FaceTime is such an easy tool to use when it comes to video conferencing, so it’s only natural for us to want to use it, but with all the rules and regulations regarding HIPAA, healthcare professionals want to make sure they are compliant. We decided to do a deep dive into FaceTime, looking for any information that not only answers this question, but gives us resourceful information to make a conclusion ourselves. In this report, we are going to cover what it means to be HIPAA compliant, how FaceTime works under the hood, and how FaceTime is currently being used in the healthcare industry. Read More …

Telemedicine as good as a Doctor visit?

Video ConsultationVirtual doctor visits via video conference are starting to go mainstream, with some people putting them on par with a regular trip to the doctor’s office. UnitedHealthcare, announcing that they’ll cover virtual doctor visits through American Well, Doctor on Demand, and NowClinic, is the latest to jump on the telemedicine bandwagon.

While these consultations previously would cost $40-50 per call, United members will only be charged a regular co-pay, making virtual medicine more affordable for more people. Coverage of the virtual visits will only be available only to UnitedHealth’s self-funded customers, as opposed to those with employer-funded plans, but the feature will expand next year to most members, showing just how fast telemedicine is taking off. 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 …

Telehealth Legal Obstacles Delay Home Healthcare

Doctor Robot

DOCTOR ROBOT: Technology like this RP-VITA device at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael, Calif., lets doctors beam themselves to remote patient bedsides, but government rules need to catch up. (AP / Rich Pedroncelli)

Home telehealth” technology promises to be a critical component of providing quality care to the growing number of Americans who need long-term services and supports to “age in place” at home. Home telehealth and related technology can make it cheaper, easier and more comfortable for seniors to remain at home and avoid nursing facility placement.

But government regulations lag behind telehealth technology, according to this article in the National Law Journal. This is disappointing because “24-hour monitoring would allow Americans who need long-term care to ‘age in place’ at home.”  Read More …

Most Americans Eager to Use Digital Health Tools

Today's Wired Patient - INFOGRAPHIC

Today’s Wired Patient – This infographic from Makovsky Health survey shows that, from online search to wearables, technology is changing patient-focused healthcare every step of the way. [Scroll down for a larger version, or click the image for the full size.]

According to the Fifth Annual “Pulse of Online Health” Survey, 66% of Americans are eager to leverage digital tools to manage personal health.

Today’s Wired Patient – This infographic from Makovsky Health survey shows that, from online search to wearables, technology is changing patient-focused healthcare every step of the way. [Scroll down for a larger version, or click the image for the full size.]

This year’s survey reveals consumer readiness to leverage health apps and wearable devices to improve their personal health, and to disclose online personal health data as a path to improved treatment options, trust and quality of health information were cited as important factors in selecting online health sources.

“Smartphones and wearables are driving a major behavioral shift in consumer health and wellness,” said Gil Bashe, executive vice president, Makovsky Health.

Consumers eager to leverage technology for better health

Top interests when downloading and using mobile health apps reflect proactive desires for informative, functional and interactive programs:

  • Tracking diet/nutrition (47%),
  • Medication reminders (46%),
  • Tracking symptoms (45%), and
  • Tracking physical activity (44%).

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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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Cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves

Google's Driverless Car

EDITOR: When seniors can no longer drive a car, they lose their independence and become dependent on others for the simplest things — shopping for groceries or Christmas gifts, getting a haircut, going the bank or doctor or the movies, and more. That can be devastating and even force them into institution care, ultimately shortening their lifespan. So it’s why I’m a fan of the autonomous, self-driving car, and Google, the company that’s so far leading the way. And it’s why I’m happy to republish this article by Zachary Shahan at FIX.com about cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves.

Hands-Free Driving: Google’s New Driverless Car

One of the biggest tech stories of the year is definitely the unveiling of Google’s driverless car. The general story is this: Google is manufacturing some completely self-driving cars – no steering wheels, accelerator pedals, or brake pedals. But the details are pretty fascinating, and even more interesting are the broad societal implications. Read More …

Why doctors are so afraid of apples

Old Rotten AppleAs implied in An Apple a Day… the fruit and the smartphone can both keep doctors away, and that has many of them terrified for good reason.

Those at the top of the healthcare mountain especially fear the Healthcare MiniTrends, because they know 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies (1955) are no longer in business today. And they’re looking down at a new class of hungry competitors who are already exploiting these minitrends.

Let’s look at just two of the trends: (1) the new focus on wellness, and (2) new smartphone uses. Read More …

Are You Ready for Some Sensors… in Healthcare?

Activity Trackers

Some wearables (photo from BIONICLY.com)

They’re Everywhere! They’re Everywhere! Sensors that is, and it seems they sense everything too.

Here’s a tiny subset:

  • Temperature (e.g. thermostat)
  • Light (photocell)
  • Sound & Vibration (microphone)
  • Proximity (motion sensor, Doppler radar, stud finder)
  • Pressure (altimeter, barometer, tire pressure)
  • Magnetism (security contact switch)
  • Chemicals (smoke, radon & CO2 sensors)
  • Fluid Flow (water & gas meters)
  • Electric Current (electric meter)
  • Moisture (humidifier, leak detector, rain gauge)
  • Radiation & Subatomic Particles (Geiger counter)
  • Speed, Distance & Acceleration (odometer, tachometer, accelerometer)
  • Pressure (barometer)
  • Force (strain gauge)

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Exploring New Health Technologies

Monitoring Vital SignsBy Beth Kelly

There are more new health technologies on the market than ever before. Mobile phones and tablets provide health apps, many of which are capable of interacting with wearable fitness tracking devices. Trackers and their accompanying apps, which can be used to measure heart rate and steps per day, take medical awareness a step further than programs that simply focus on caloric intake.

EDITOR: While the accuracy of many of these wearable devices disappoint medical professionals, the simple ability to track progress, no matter how accurate, is a big step forward. And accuracy will improve over time with better sensor technology.

Managing diabetes and other medical illnesses, losing weight, and obtaining a higher level of health has never been easier as a result of the new technologies. Read More …

Four Health Monitoring Apps for Caretakers

Health Monitoring Apps

According to a survey by Manhattan Research, some 95 million Americans used their smartphones in 2013 to find health information or to use it as a healthcare tool. That’s an increase of 20 million from the previous year but just the tip of the iceberg. According to information published by the FDA, this market is exploding, and they expect to see 500 million users worldwide using health care apps by 2015, growing to 50% of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users by 2018.

The Manhattan research revealed that for 38% of mobile phone users, their device has already become essential for locating health and medical information. This is good news for caretakers who are charged with monitoring a senior’s health because of the many outstanding, cutting edge apps available.

With some 7,000 health & wellness apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad alone, deciding which to download may seem overwhelming, as we described two two years ago in How to Find Mobile Apps for Home Health Care. These four, however, can provide you with a good start. Read More …

Top Home Tech for Seniors [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Tech for Seniors and Caregivers infographic courtesy of Home Access Products.

With innovations in health care, medicine, and nutrition, it’s no surprise that Americans are getting older. By 2030, nearly 20% of Americans will be over 65– and nearly 90% of them want to stay in their own homes as they age.

As aging in place continues to rise, seniors are increasingly looking towards technology to stay safe and connected. From personal alert systems to cell phones and tablets, seniors are embracing technology and all of its benefits. Whether aging seniors are tech-savvy, or prefer simple ways of communicating at home, these products and services can assist seniors with safety, entertainment, health/wellness, communication, and assistance. Read More …

Smartphone Based Medical Imaging

Tricorder

Today’s post summarizes an article on digital microscopy by Ariel Sabar for Smithsonian Magazine.

In “Star Trek,” chief medical officer Leonard “Bones” McCoy wands a body with a medical “tricorder,” and seconds later it reports the patient’s condition. The device could do almost anything, including heart rate & EKG, brain scans & EEG, and more.

Today we’re getting very close to doing all that on a smartphone. UCLA professor Aydogan Ozcan adds advanced imaging techniques to a smartphone and turns it into a powerful microscope to count red and white blood cells, screen urine for kidney disease, spot flu or HIV viruses, or test water for toxic chemicals, parasites and bacteria. His goal is to make these capabilities so small, cheap and idiot-proof that you can easily carry our own tricorder in your pocket. Read More …

Wello iPhone case tracks several points of health

Wello iPhone CaseBy Wayne Caswell

I spoke briefly with CEO Hamish Patel at the opening of the SXSW Interactive yesterday and was impressed enough to write about his device today.

The Wello iPhone case tracks several points of health with a variety of medical-grade sensors that measure things like like temperature, heart rate (pulse), heart rate variability (stress related), blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and even ECG. And at just $199, it’s priced the same as the popular AliveCor, which already has FDA approval and has been on the market for over a year. Wello also seems to have similar function to the Scanadu Scout, which we reported on 15 months ago. Read More …