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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e-Patient Dave says, “Gimme My DaM Data!”

I watched his TEDx talk several months ago and can’t believe it took me so long to post the video and a link to his blog (in Resources/Blogs). What follows is directly from the TEDx website.

When Dave deBronkart learned he had a rare and terminal cancer, he turned to a group of fellow patients online — and found the medical treatment that saved his life. Now he calls on all patients to talk with one another and know their own health data. Dave deBronkart wants to help patients help themselves — by owning their medical data, connecting to fellow patients and making medical care better.

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How Wearable computing could take off

The 1"x1" WIN One shown here is an Android-powered wrist computer.After decades of tech evolution consistent with Moore’s Law, you can now wear a $3.5 million mainframe computer on your wrist. The WIMM One is much faster than the IBM System/370 Model 158-3 mainframe that I worked on in the 1970’s, and in some ways it’s better. It’s got sensors, an accelerometer, and wireless connections to connect with other digital devices and remote services. So, it’s not just a wristwatch; it’s also a wrist-doc that can monitor, track and report vital signs to help keep you healthy.

I’ve already written several articles about the role of smartphones in healthcare, including:

But now here’s an Android-based wearable computer that complements the smartphone, tablet, PC and medical devices you may already have. It’s just entering the market now but points to what we may expect — wearable devices that are always with you to unobtrusively monitor your activity, sleeping patterns and vital signs such as heart rate.

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How Safe is your Personal Health Information?

HackerGoogle

By Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk

People worry about the security of their identity, financial and medical information when they hear stories of hacker attacks on large commercial and government websites, including AOL, Hotmail, Microsoft, MySpace, NASA, Sony, Stratfor, USBank, VeriSign, VISA, Xbox, Yahoo, and many others. They also worry when they read about Target, Google, Facebook, and Twitter pushing privacy boundaries and taking liberties with their collected customer data. Both types of stories dilute trust.

It doesn’t much help if a company that overreaches and gets caught simply promises to do better, and then if public outrage prompts potential legislation, they join industry initiatives to propose new plans for self-regulation, such as the publication of privacy policies that users seldom read.

This article addresses the question, “How Safe is your Personal Health Information?” It examines the benefits and security risks of storing your personal health information online, based on my own personal experiences and decades of IT experience. But I’d like to hear of your experiences in the comments section too.

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Indiana Health Info Exchange adopts AT&T solution

Serving 10 million patients and more than 19,000 physicians in over 80 facilities, the nation’s largest health information exchange organization, the Indiana Health Information Exchange, Inc. (IHIE) is responsible for an ocean of information.

This week IHIE announced that it will use AT&T Healthcare Community Online to scale and expand its business plans. The AT&T solution is a highly secure, cloud-based health information exchange (HIE) that integrates patient data from various sources into a single patient view. It symbolizes the connected and collaborative future of healthcare – where information is exchanged across states, regions, and eventually the entire nation – according to Randall Porter, Assistant Vice President, AT&T ForHealth.

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What makes you sick? Ask Dr. Watson

Watson's avatar, inspired by the IBM Watson is IBM’s natural language artificial intelligence supercomputer that last year competed on the quiz show Jeopardy and consistently outperformed two record holding humans, one with the longest winning streak (74 wins), and one winning the most money. Watson can process 200 million times more instructions per second than all of the computers on the recently retired Space Shuttle.

In just 3 seconds, Watson was able to parse and analyze the equivalent of nearly 300 million books to find relevant information. For perspective, if those books were placed on a long bookshelf, the shelf would be longer than 7 football fields.

Watson in Healthcare

WellPoint is pioneering the use of Watson in healthcare, giving physicians better insight to help improve patient outcomes. (See infographic below.)

Related articles on Watson in Healthcare

Watson in Other Industries

The Infographic

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A Doctor in Your Pocket: Future of Personalized Medicine

image by Alex Nabaum, WSJWhat does the future of medicine hold?

Tiny health monitors and tailored therapies, says David B. Agus, author of “The End of Illness,” a book to be published Tuesday by Free Press. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal published an adaptation of that, and my posting here is a short summary of the WSJ article.

Dr. Agus believes that most of the medical conditions that kill us, such as cancer and heart disease, can be prevented or delayed with personalized medicine, but we don’t yet know enough about how the body works to do the things that avoid causes and prevent illness. He thinks, however, that the end of illness is near.

He describes the future of medicine as holding a big shift from the today’s model, where we currently wait for the body to break before we treat it. We’ll soon be able to  adjust our health in real time with help from smartphone apps and wearable sensors that track proteins and the inner workings of cells. We’ll monitor what happens when we exercise, eat more salmon or dark chocolate, or take drug x at dosage y.

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Physician use of Social Media

doctorAs I wrote earlier, Social Media Growth is Fastest among Boomers, but how are physicians and patients using social media?

That’s the topic of an article by Stephanie Baum at MedCityNews.com and a infographic created by oBizMedia.com for Mesotheliomapage.com. As it turns out, 90% of physicians are jumping on the social media bandwagon, but most use specialized physician communities more than more general purpose networks like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. And while they’re starting to refer patients to online patient groups, few will interact with them directly online, largely due to concerns about liability and patient privacy. The infographic below details results from several surveys.

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Telehealth cuts patient deaths by 45%

Industry leaders welcome telehealth planAccording 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.

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Qualcomm Life connects Wireless Medical Devices & Cloud

Qualcomm announced this week that Qualcomm Wireless Health is now Qualcomm Life,  a wholly-owned subsidiary whose mission is to define and connect the global wireless health network and bring medical devices to life by securely connecting them to cloud-based services. The encrypted and HIPAA compliant bimetric data is then remotely accessible by device users, their health care providers and caregivers. (video & illustration below)

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eCaring: a Home Care Management & Monitoring System

From Press Release…

eCaring™ Develops Breakthrough Home Health Care Management System

eCaring Creates Easy To Use Web-Based Home Care Management And Monitoring
Systems For Families, Home Health Care Workers, And Doctors

Contact: Robert Herzog, (917)-743-4347 or (347)-946-0080; info@ecaring.com

NEW YORK, Dec. 7th 2011 – eCaring™ LLC today announced the launch of its new home health care management and monitoring system that enables home care recipients to live at home longer, with better quality of care, at lower cost.  eCaring’s breakthrough web-based system enables everyone involved with home health care—from family members to home care providers to doctors—to receive up-to-date, useful information on the care, conditions, activities and status of home health care patients.  eCaring also announced today that it will offer a 75% discount for life to those families accepted into its beta test.

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Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for 2011-2025FORESIGHT 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. It’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.

9 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

The following nine forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, 20 Forecasts for 2011-2025. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #1: The Race for Genetic Enhancements Will Be What the Space Race Was in the 20th Century. Genetic therapies and biomedical enhancements will be a multibillion-dollar industry. New techniques will enable doctors to change your DNA to revitalize old or diseased organs, enhance your appearance, increase your athletic ability, or boost your intelligence.

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Lessons from Healthcare Innovation in India

image of the Taj Mahal in India (from Microsoft PowerPoint)

By Wayne Caswell

The Innovation Sandbox, by C.K. Prahalad, is an excellent article published in 2006. But because it’s a bit long for my audience and requires user registration for access, I’m presenting my summary below.

To create an impossibly low-cost, high-quality new business model, start by cultivating constraints.

Once the “sandbox” of constraints is defined, unconventional thinking can occur in many directions at once. The result is often breakthrough innovation that doesn’t just change processes; it changes lives. For example, indiOne found a way to offer modern and well-equipped hotel rooms for $20USD per night while Western-style hotel rooms typically cost $250-$300. And indiOne does this while making 65% gross profit, compared to 30-40% for the luxury chains. They did it through innovation.

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Are we Bringing Health Care Home or Sending it Overseas?

Doctors at We Care Health Services, IndiaGet 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:

  1. The rising costs of health care;
  2. The worsening shortage of primary care physicians, and an even greater shortage of specialists;
  3. The shift away from diagnosis-related fee for service management of diseases to reimbursement based on wellness & measured outcomes; and
  4. The advent of more widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs).

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Why mHealth is the Holy Grail of Participatory Medicine

David Lee Scher, MD (mHealth consultant)

David Lee Scher, MD (mHealth consultant)

By David Lee Scher, MD

mHealth has been utilized in underdeveloped countries for many years due to inaccessibility to scarce health care resources as well as the widespread use of cell phones. Developments in health care in the Western world have  recently spurned interest in mHealth in developed countries too.

1. A present and worsening shortage of primary care physicians, and an even greater shortage of specialists, coupled with health care reform which is aimed at increasing access of health care will make face to face care more difficult. This, in some areas, has spurned the telehealth industry, whereby a physician will literally see you over the Internet. Physician shortages and the cost of this technology (most services charge as an office visit and require insurance) limit the widespread potential success of such endeavors. MHealth initiatives will actually increase contact of the provider and patient via text messaging, email, and communication of sensor-derived physiologic data (see below).
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TeleHealth: The Doctor Will See You Now, Remotely

Basic Telehealth System, connecting patients, sensor devices, caregivers, and healthcare services

Derived from a paper by Iboun Taimiya Sylla, Texas Instruments

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 WellMyNowClinic, 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 More …

Keyless Door Locks

Keyless Door LocksTo unlock the door of my wife’s 9-year-old Lexus, I can insert and turn the key OR just press a button on the wireless key fob, but I still need to get the key out of my pocket. I don’t even need to take the key out to unlock or start my newer Infinity because it uses near field communication. I just push a button on the door to get in and turn the ignition to start.

Wouldn’t it be nice to enter the home the same way? As shown in the photo, I still use a key, but many keyless door locks are available. Each has advantages for certain situations, so which option would you prefer? Here are some ideas, but we’d like to hear from you, so leave a reply below.

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