Telehealth Enhancement Act takes Important Step

Telehealth KioskAs a member of the American Telehealth Association (Austin chapter), I too support the Telehealth Enhancement Act, however I see it as just a baby step and think much more is needed. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

The proposed bill would modernize the Medicare program by allowing Medicare patients to be cared for remotely by a licensed healthcare provider from any state. That way, if you need medical help while on vacation, you could connect online or by phone with your own doctor back home without requiring that they be licensed in the state you traveled to. I urge Congress to adopt this bill and expand it beyond Medicare, to other federal agencies and health benefit programs.

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The $49 Doctor Visit, Online

Doctor Visit

Oh, the indignity of it all.

Instead of searching for a doctor, calling for an appointment, taking time off work, and then driving to the doctor’s office, just connect online with video.

Healthcare just got a whole lot easier for consumers, thanks to American Well and a new telehealth service that connects people to physicians through their iPad, iPhone or Android device as well as any web browser.

The company’s technology manages physician availability and allows consumers to either choose a specific doctor or simply connect to the next available one. They can also review doctors’ professional profiles and see how other patients rate them.

Doctors accessed via American Well are currently available for live video consults 24 x 7 x 365 in 44 states and the District of Columbia. The $49 cost of a 10-minute video call can be paid via credit card, debit card or health savings account, and at that rate it costs less than a typical office visit, which averages $68 and can reach up to $120 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 …

Health Benefits of High Definition Videoconferencing

Lev Gonick discusses innovations using HD videoconferencing.

Next Generation High Definition Video Conferencing Will Provide Immediate Public Benefits

Researchers expect it to revolutionize health care delivery and STEM education

By Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation, January 31, 2013

The patient, who sees her neurologist regularly for “memory coaching” to counter the effects of short-term memory loss, never has to leave home for her appointments. The doctor, who is 40 minutes away, never has to leave his office. They “meet” by video.

“There is nothing she needs to do, as long as the system is on,” says Lev Gonick, vice president for information technology services and chief information officer at Case Western Reserve University. “She just needs to be in the right place at the right time.”

In some ways, it’s almost better than meeting in person, since this is not just any standard video system.

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Health & Medicine Outlook 2013

Click on the magazine cover to see more forecasts collected in the World Future Society’s annual Outlook reports.“Human actions could become more accurately predictable, thanks to neuroscience. Nano-sized robots will deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to their targets. And though many recently lost jobs may never come back, people will find plenty to do (and get paid for) in the future,” according to forecasts you’ll find in this roundup of the most thought-provoking possibilities and ideas published in The Futurist magazine over the past year.

I’ve extracted the following Health & Medicine forecasts from the World Future Society’s special report, Outlook 2013. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist.

  • Better health, but fewer doctors.
    A projected shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by 2020 will drive technological innovations such as low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics—i.e., Lab-on-a-Chip technologies. A cell-phone-sized device could analyze your blood or sputum while you talk to a health provider from the comfort of your home. —Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler, “The Abundance Builders,” July-Aug 2012,p. 17
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Healthcare Reform to Boost Telehealth 55% in 2013

Home Healthcare Gadgets, Devices, Sensors

Healthcare Reform to Boost Growth in Telehealth Market by 55 Percent in 2013

Austin, TX 19 Dec 2012 – From 2010 to 2011 usage of remote patient monitoring, or telehealth, increased by 22.2 percent as the number of patients enrolled worldwide reached 241,200. However, telehealth device revenues only grew by 5.0 percent from 2010 to 2011; and 18.0 percent from 2011 to 2012. InMedica, a division of IMS Research (now part of IHS Inc.) attributes slow revenue growth over the last year to poor economic conditions leading to restrictions in healthcare funding particularly in Europe, and ambiguity on the impact of healthcare reform and readmission penalties on telehealth in the U.S.

In the U.S., there remained considerable uncertainty on the future of the US healthcare market and the role of telehealth in this market throughout 2012. As the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began penalizing U.S. hospitals for readmissions in October 2012, many healthcare providers remained unclear on the potential impacts on their institutions and are yet to implement a post-acute care plan.

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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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Senior Living Options & Costs Infographic

As seniors age, they may need help with daily tasks. Helping them decide on appropriate living arrangements is critical to staying safe and healthy. Investing in home modifications and some sort of medical alert system is a cost effective way for seniors to feel safe and secure while living an independent lifestyle, as this infographic suggests. Read More …

Will the Affordable Care Act Help Telehealth Flourish?

Nurse Jennifer Witting

Nurse Jennifer Witting stands beside newly installed telemedicine equipment at the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, Mich., on June 20, 2012. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

By Brian Heaton (original article at govtech.com)

Opportunity is knocking for telehealth to become a common method of practicing medicine in the U.S.

One-on-one Web-based video chats and other electronic consultation between doctors and patients isn’t new — it’s been used throughout the U.S. in varying degrees for a few years now. But health-care reform, a ballooning  and aging population and a shortage of available family physicians may be a perfect storm that could blow the doors open for telehealth to go mainstream.

As states’ health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces where citizens can compare and purchase insurance plans — begin to debut in advance of the 2014 deadline set forth by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to health-care providers should expand for many Americans. Obtaining insurance coverage soon may be easier, but the gap between the number of incoming patients and available primary care doctors is widening.

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AT&T blocks FaceTime, impacts the Deaf

AT&T blocks FaceTime, and sign language for the deaf and hard of hearingBy Brendan Gramer, in Wired Magazine

When I learned that Apple would finally be enabling the iPhone’s FaceTime app to work over mobile connections, I was ecstatic. As someone who is deaf, I could now use this one-touch, always-on video chat app to communicate with friends and family in my natural language: American Sign Language (ASL).

But then I found out that AT&T will block mobile FaceTime unless customers sign up for an expensive unlimited voice plan. I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of having to pay this AT&T “deaf tax” just to use the mobile data I’m already paying for.

It’s disappointing that AT&T is standing in the way of innovation that addresses the needs of its deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Sometimes it takes a while (and some prodding) for technology and technology companies to catch up to and embrace accessibility. In this case the technology is there, but it’s AT&T that’s throwing up the barrier.

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Too Much Hype in the Mobile Health App World?

Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPABy Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

[Original post, “Too Much Hype in the Mobile Health App World?” published on The Huffington Post on 7/23/12 in the Healthy Living/Health News Section.]

The Wild West of mobile health (mHealth) is taking the health care industry by storm, but “there are no rules to the game,” said Joseph C. Kvedar, M.D., founder and director at the Center for Connected Health in a recent interview. Mobile health is a “game changer,” he added, but there is a lot of hype because there are a lot of people developing health apps just to “get rich quick.”

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Emerging mHealth: Paths for Growth

Report cover: Emerging mHealth Paths for GrowthIn this 44-page market research report from PwC (formerly Pricewaterhouse Cooper), patients, doctors and payers share their sometimes-conflicting views on mHealth. We provide highlights below.

We live in a world that’s connected wirelessly with almost as many cellular phone subscriptions as there are people on the planet. According to the International Telecommunications Union, there were almost 6 billion mobile phones in use worldwide in late 2011. The ubiquity of mobile technology offers tremendous opportunities for the healthcare industry to address one of the most pressing global challenges: making healthcare more accessible, faster, better and cheaper.

Several factors effect how mHealth care will be provided, including:

  • The ubiquity and personal nature of mobile devices;
  • The very nature of always-in-touch mobility; and
  • Competition that will increase functionality and drive lower prices. Read More …

Five Reasons Why mHealth is Not Going Away

Click for larger image of Basic Telehealth System, connecting patients, sensor devices, caregivers, and healthcare services

Five Reasons Why mHealth is Not Going Away
(despite the Hype-haters)

By David Lee Scher, MD

One feels almost assaulted by financial projections of the mHealth market every day.  Extrapolations from the increasing use of smartphones, the use of iPads by physicians, the adoption of patient portals by insurers, and research of the Internet for medical purposes are commonplace.  Occasionally there will be a welcomed “Let’s bring it back to Earth” post, but  I can almost predict verbatim the final paragraphs of some of these predictions.

Mobile health is part of the overall movement of the digitization of healthcare.  While adoption of these technologies will take a while to occur for a variety of reasons, (many of which have been the subject of other posts by this author), it would not be fair to let the hype become the face of the industry and an easy target of critics.

These technologies WILL become a major part of healthcare for the following reasons: Read More …

10 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for the Next 25 YearsFORESIGHT may be the single most critical skill for the 21st Century. Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future.

That’s why I’ve been a member of the Central Texas chapter of the World Future Society for years, where I meet interesting people with widely varied perspectives of the future. It’s also why I participate in so many Linkedin discussion groups on emerging healthcare issues.

The following ten forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, Forecasts for the Next 25 Years. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #3. Nanotechnology offers hope for restoring eyesight.

Flower-shaped electrodes topped with photodiodes, implanted in blind patients’ eyes, may restore their sight. The “nanoflowers” mimic the geometry of neurons, making them a better medium than traditional computer chips for carrying photodiodes and transmitting the collected light signals to the brain. Read More …

Digital Divide Still Prevalent

Among seniors, Internet and broadband use drop off around age 75By Lisa Nelson, http://blog.howto.gov/2012/04/20/digital-divide-still-prevalent/

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 …

Wireless Health as Cure for U.S. Healthcare Business

The Battle for Wireless Health May Help Cure an Ailing US Healthcare Business

U.S. Business School War Game Predicts Mergers and New Services to Gain Affluent Boomer Market ShareWar Games and the Battle for Wireless Healthcare

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 2, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Healthcare technology companies – ranging from large such as GE to startups like Independa – will need to find partners and cater to the affluent Baby Boomer generation and their caregivers if they are to take the lead in wireless health, an industry that promises to help reduce much of the estimated $2.5 trillion of wasted resources in the global healthcare system. This was among the predictions of a national war gaming contest held between four top business schools and run by Fuld & Company last week in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 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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Wireless remote control of door locks

HAI control of Kwikset Zigbee door locksIt’s time for bed, but did you lock the door? You can see who’s at the front door on your smartphone with a video intercom, but can you unlock the door to let them in without getting out of bed, out of the comfy chair, or off of the sofa? Those two of many other scenarios where remote access to an electronic door lock would be convenient.

The cost and simplicity of installing remote door locks is coming down, but this project is still more expensive and costly than simple lighting controls. Still I post this article with a video and press release of HAI control of Kwikset ZigBee wireless door locks. Read More …

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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5 reasons Digital Health Technologies need FDA oversight

FDA logoBy David Lee Scher, MD

A draft proposal of the FDA guidelines for regulating mobile medical applications was released in July, 2011 . In response, the mHealth Regulatory Coalition sent detailed comments on the proposal . There was a recent piece in the Washington Times “The FDA’s Assault on Mobile Technologies” which, in my opinion, was misguided. No one in the healthcare industry (pharmaceutical, medical device, or technology) is enamored with the FDA. They recently drastically raised review fees for device companies and slow down approval processes more year after year. Between 2005 and 2008, the FDA clearance process time increased 30%, and has continually increased, notwithstanding increased funding and staffing levels. Regardless of its procedural faults, I will attempt to lay out my reasons why this regulatory body needs to oversee digital health technologies. This article should not be seen as a blanket endorsement of the FDA’s specific operational processes and policies, but as a rebuttal to the claim that it is assaulting the mobile health industry.

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