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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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 …

Medical Alert Systems

Reviews.com recently published a review of The Best Medical Alert Systems, and they gave me permission to repost it here as long as I met their requirements.

Three out of our four final contenders shared the exact same technology. Clockwise from the top left: Acadian On Call, MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical.

Medical Alert Systems — Help at the push of a button

Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they prefer to live in their own homes, and most expect to stay there. It’s called “aging in place” and put simply: no assisted living facilities. Family members want to respect these wishes, but the risks are real. According to the National Council on Aging, one in three adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year, let alone other emergencies. The best medical alert systems address these risks with reliable devices that can connect seniors with help, keeping them safely independent — and giving family members one less thing to worry about. Our top pick, Bay Alarm Medical, goes even further with attentive, personable service. In an emergency, we’d feel comfortable with a loved one in the company’s hands. Read More …

‘The Patient Will See You Now’ Envisions New Era

The Patient Will See You Now (book)The Patient Will See You Now’ is a book by Dr. Eric Topol that envisions a New Era in healthcare where we consumers take more responsibility for our own health and wellness and have the tools to do so. Often these are smaller, cheaper, and easier to use versions of what doctors have used for years, but digital and in some cases more accurate or beneficial.

Dr. Abigail Zuger wrote a review of Topol’s book for The New York Times and described the overall thesis as “the old days of ‘doctor knows best’ are as good as gone. No longer will doctors control medical data, treatment or profits. Instead, thanks to the newest science, humanity will finally achieve truly democratic health care: Up with patients! ‘Our Bodies, Our Selves’ for all!”

As Tool says in the following video, “What bothers me most about healthcare is the unwillingness to give rightful info to patients.”

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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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When your medical care hurts, do you Yelp?

SurgeonsHealth consumers want more transparency, so rating systems like Yelp, Angie’s List, the Surgeon Scorecard, or any other tool that helps the market better understand health care cost, quality and value will play an important role in evaluating providers.

Those on the top of the healthcare mountain and slowest to adapt may be most at risk from disruptive change. After all, 429 of the original Fortune 500 [1955] are no longer in business or anywhere near the top, and that’s a scary thought for those who are not yet seeking & embracing such change but are instead hiding from it.

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Fixing the Primary Care Crisis

Available in print form on Amazon.com for $14.95As I keep reminding people, Americans spend twice as much as other countries on health care yet still live sicker and die younger, according to the World Health Organization. At $3 trillion/year, that’s about 18% of the nation’s GDP, and it’s not sustainable, especially as our nation’s baby boomers approach retirement age and start needing more medical care in their later years.

I’ve known Dr. Stephen C Schimpff (electronically) for years and have published several of his articles here on mHealthTalk. I’m happy today to promote his controversial new book, Fixing The Primary Care Crisis: Reclaiming the Patient-Doctor Relationship and Returning Healthcare Decisions to You and Your Doctor. ($3.95 for the e-book and $14.95 for the print edition)

Dr. Schimpff begins his book with an overview of what primary care is and is not, why it’s in crisis, and why the American medical care delivery system is so badly dysfunctional. He then explores the concepts of integrative medicine, trust and the all-important issue of healing. 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 …

Trust the Internet or Your Doctor?

Doctors were once the most trusted members of the community, but now it’s the opposite. Why are we so desperate for our doctors to be wrong? I don’t get it.

That was the beginning of an editorial in The Daily Beast that made my hair stand on end. The undisclosed doctor/author did a fine job of writing and defending his profession, but I found it obvious that he/she still doesn’t understand why so many people distrust their doctor. The rest of this is from the two comments I posted, along with links to related articles.

TIME magazine cover

COMMENT-1:

No, you don’t get it. Your sarcastic editorial, although interesting and well-organized, misses the point entirely. Americans pay twice as much on healthcare as other nations but still live sicker and die younger, according to the World Health Organization. Why is that? It’s certainly not because we now trust the Internet more than our doctor. It must be something else, and Steven Brill got closest to describing the problem in his TIME Magazine report, “Bitter Pill: Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us.”

How has the Internet become a more trusted source of medical information than the family doctor? Maybe it has to do with the natural incentives of an industry that profits from illness and injury and spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex to protect its obscene profits. Read More …

BRAINCHANGE with David Perlmutter M.D.

BRAINCHANGEOur local PBS channel (KLRU.org) today aired BRAINCHANGE, a special on Alzheimer’s Prevention that featured Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D.

Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist who gained much of his knowledge about brain science from his dad, who was a practicing neurosurgeon and now has Alzheimer’s. That experience gave him even more motivation to understand why Americans have such a high rate of Alzheimer’s and why that is increasing.

The special served as a PBS fund-raiser but in many ways seemed like an infomercial to sell Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Still, it was factual, thought-provoking, and complements work I’m involved with at Intelligent Sleep, where we see sleep as the third leg of wellness and as important as nutrition and exercise. I could not find an online version of the show, but here are my notes and some summary videos: Read More …

Patient Attitudes About Doctors and Healthcare

American Health Care is Snake BitPatients don’t like their doctors.
Why is that?

That was the topic of a recent article by Peter Ubel at KevinMD.com that mentioned a New England Journal of Medicine article and included the table below. Ubel explored patient attitudes about doctors and healthcare and the reasons why Americans rate their own doctors high (ranked 3rd worldwide) and rate our healthcare system low (tied for 24th, just ahead of Chili, Bulgaria, Russia & Poland). I responded with this comment…

Yes, consumers see most doctors as compassionate and hard-working, with their hearts in the right place. After all, they got into medicine to help people. But the “system” they work in is preventing them from doing that. Read More …

4 High-Tech Medical Management Apps for Seniors

Medical Management Apps for Seniors

 

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” — it’s a catch phrase from a popular commercial in the late ’80s for a medical alarm pendant manufactured by LifeCall, an emergency alert service. The device was designed for elderly people who lived alone. If a medical emergency arose and they couldn’t get to a phone, they could speak into the device and be immediately in touch with a dispatch service. It was a technological medical wonder.

Technological medical wonders have come a long way since then. These sample medical management apps for seniors can make life safer, give caregivers more options for better care and ease the minds of relatives. Read More …

All Generations can use Xbox One with Kinect

How Multiple Generations Can Connect at Home
Using Xbox One’s Kinect

Family uses Xbox One Kinect

The learning curve of new technology has a reputation for widening the generation gap. However, some new tech toys, like Microsoft’s Xbox One with Kinect, are bucking that convention. All generations can use the Xbox One with Kinect, because it gives them some easier ways to be entertained and brings everyone together for family fun. 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 …

When NOT to buy a Smartphone

Cell Phones for Seniors who can't use a SmartphoneI do love smartphones and tablets (especially the Apple iPhone & iPad). They’re like having a powerful computer in your pocket and support all sorts of mHealth (mobile health) apps, but I have to admit they aren’t for everyone.

As I read through the 13 articles about “Advancing the mHealth Ecosystem,” I remembered today’s conversation with a dear friend that expanded my perspective. She’s about to give up her iPhone 4 and go back to using a flip-phone. Since I often promote Apple smartphones and tablets for seniors (she’s not yet 60), and my wife talked her into the iPhone a year ago, this was a bit of a shock, so I had her explain.  Read More …

Smart Car Features for Older Drivers

Nearly Nine in 10 Seniors Drive a Car that Doesn’t Fit their Aging Needs

AAA research helps “silver tsunami” match vehicle features to health concerns

Click to read about the future of driverless cars.

This photo by Henry Fountain pictures one of Google’s fleet of self-driving vehicles. The Lexus hybrid has a range-finder on top but otherwise looks reasonably conventional. We may eventually be able to buy cars that drive themselves (see comment below), and three states already license experimental models for operation on public roads, but until they’re commercially available, AAA offers advice on selecting car features for older drivers.

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 3, 2012) – With nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffering from health issues that affect driving safety, finding a car that not only adapts to conditions, such as lack of flexibility or muscle strength, while maintaining safety and comfort can be difficult. Data from a new AAA survey also reveals that only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions.

To better equip the “silver tsunami” for driving safety and comfort, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers resource to address a broader range of health conditions and include new data on 2012 vehicle features. As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008. In the update, Smart Features identifies vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, lists current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online tool.  Read More …

Holiday Togetherness When You Can’t Be There

iPad2 FaceTime Test

Review by Justine Ezarik (www.iJustine.com)

While in Houston with family for Thanksgiving, I discovered an article in USA Today that I just had to share. Thanksgiving togetherness when you can’t be there is a well written article about using a PC, tablet or smartphone with video conferencing software to bring families together virtually. It not only applies to holidays but any time you want to get family & friends together online. Please follow the link above to read the article.

Below is text from a previous article on this tech trend that I wrote about a year ago.

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What mobile phone and tablet do you use?

What platforms should healthcare app developers support?

iPhone4s showing Facetime with granddaughterWhile participating in the “What is Mobile Health?” Linkedin discussion that I mentioned a few days ago, an Australian app developer asked me the following question, sensing that I might have a helpful perspective. Because my response might also help Modern Health Talk readers, I’ll include both his question and my reply here.

Hi Wayne,
Can I ask what mobile phone you currently have and use? Do you have an iPad? The reason I ask is I find it interesting to appreciate the technology individuals use and the effects it has on the opportunities we see to advance healthcare.

@David, I have an Apple iPhone3, and both my wife and son (in Dallas) have an iPhone4s so they can use FaceTime video conferencing and we see our year-old granddaughter. On the tablet side, I have my wife’s old iPad after getting her an iPad2 to resolve conflicts over who gets to use it. BTW, she completely quit using her PC after getting the first iPad. Read More …