Stratus Video Call Center is like a Virtual Waiting Room

Stratus Video Call Center(Reposted — originally published 11/9/2011) As healthcare providers gear up for telehealth, they’ll face new issues such as 24×7 remote monitoring and the need to support virtual doctor visits by telepresence over the Internet. I wrote before here and here, there must be compatibility among different video systems, including the enterprise class-systems in hospitals and consumer-class systems in PC & mobile devices.

Until today, the two prominent solutions I knew about  were Vidyo and a Lifesize Communications technology called ClearSea. Both are cloud-based services that translate between incompatible video systems, but now there’s another option.

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Top Technology Innovations All Seniors Should Have

Guest article by Helen SmithReal Seniors over age 75 are less likely to be Silver Surfers than baby boomers who used computers in their jobs.

The number of adults over 60 using the Internet and related devices is continuing to grow, and according to a Pew Research survey, over half of all seniors now use the Internet and have cell phones.

This might lead to us to conclude that seniors are “silver surfers,” ready to embrace tech developments as they arise, and turning to the Internet for everything from their shopping and deliveries to their dating needs. In reality, however, we have a long way to go before this is the case. [See Tech Adoption by Real Seniors, because there’s a big gap between them and boomers?]

Technology has been evolving at such a fast rate that keeping up can feel overwhelming, and this is particularly true for seniors [the real seniors]. They often aren’t nearly as excited about new gadgets and gizmos as their younger and more tech-savvy relatives are.

Technology, however, can be a huge benefit to seniors and help them live happier and more enriching lives. So whether you’re a tech wizard or just interested in making life a bit easier, here are the top innovations that all seniors should have: Read More …

How to stay connected with parents from far away

When mom got dementia, I was stuck overseas.

When mom got dementia, I was stuck overseas. (Photo credit: Chad King, https://www.flickr.com/photos/chdwckvnstrsslhm/208884800/sizes/z/, Some rights reserved)

By Daniel Lewis

Following my mom’s diagnosis of dementia, I got stuck. I was in shock and had no idea what to do since I was working abroad. I couldn’t leave my job, my kids and my home overseas to come back and take care of her, and I felt incredibly guilty for that. I have no siblings and no relatives that could help, so I had to find a solution. Read More …

Are Crypto-Currencies Safe?

Here's a Bitcoin - at least a representation of one since they're actually electronic

Here’s a Bitcoin – at least a representation of one since they’re actually electronic

Last week Yvonne and I closed on the sale of our Austin home and the purchase of another home in the Dallas area. The process was simpler than I remember from the past, and since we paid cash for the new home, we didn’t even need a notary. I just downloaded a few forms, signed them on the kitchen table, scanned into the computer, and sent them back to the Title Company through a secure email service. This experience foretells the future, but are crypto-currencies safe? Really safe?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting research papers related to blockchain applications in healthcare. Blockchain is the enabling technology behind BitCoin and other crypto-currencies, and it’s catching on fast — maybe too fast. Judge for yourself. Read More …

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 …

64% of Consumers Ready for Telehealth (survey)

As a technologist and founder of Modern Health Talk, I advocate for telehealth, including remote doctor visits by video, but I wondered about how ready consumers are for this vision of the future of healthcare. Well, market research from American Well, a telehealth company, answered that. Here’s a summary of their 2015 Telehealth Consumer Survey. 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 …

Millions of free iPads for Seniors

Can Apple and IBM change Health Care?

Ruth Schoon learns to use the iPad

Ruth Schoon describes how she now uses an iPad to follow her great grandchildren from afar.

That was the title of a recent Forbes article that prompted me to comment, and my comment is the basis of today’s post. Basically, it was reported that IBM and Apple are partnering with Japan Post, that country’s largest health- and life-insurance company, to provide millions of free iPads for seniors with the aim of improving their health and their lives.

My Response

The Apple iPad is truly an amazing device for seniors. When they’re shown how to use it, the benefits go way beyond just extending life (i.e. more revenue from premiums for insurance companies) or improving health (less expense from claims).


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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 …

How to Make a Smart Bed for your Smart Bedroom

Luna

Here’s you can make a smart bed for your smart bedroom.

Because good sleep so closely tied to good health, I’ve posted dozens of articles about sleep, including many about technology and how artificial lights interfere with our biological clocks and sleep-wake cycle. I’ve also been working with Dr. Bruce Meleski to open Intelligent Sleep, a new sleep wellness and brain health center here in Austin. We’re doing some pretty cool stuff with metabolic, neurosensory, and behavioral therapies, and we’re promoting a vision of the Smart Bedroom. So today’s post is about a new product we hope to carry and that I think you’ll like. (video below) Read More …

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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MiniTrends affecting Telehealth

Skype TranslatorOverlapping MiniTrends affecting Telehealth include

  1. health reform,
  2. the Internet of Things,
  3. speech recognition & synthesis, and
  4. real-time language translation.

I’ve written a lot here about health reform, telehealthmedical tourism, the Internet of Things, and the overlap of healthcare MiniTrends, but today I saw a video that evolves my thinking further. It’s about Microsoft’s Skype and their newest Skype Translator Preview.

The Skype Translator video below gave me a glimpse of what telehealth might be like in 5 years or so. This vision includes the Internet, video consultations, smart sensors, and the trend of medical devices becoming smaller, cheaper, easier to use, and widely used among consumers for telemedicine. But the video consultation may be done from anywhere, in any language, and that could dramatically increase competition and result in much better outcomes at lower prices.

As you watch, imagine that it’s a conversation between you and a doctor in Costa Rica, where you went for your knee surgery and recovered on the beach in a 4-star hotel, paid for by your insurer because the outcomes were better than most any U.S. provider. It’s the sheer volume of procedures they do that led to their world-class expertise and efficiency.  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 …

Caring for Elderly Parents from Afar

Caring for MomFamilies used to stay in the same general location. This made it convenient for grown children to keep tabs on their elderly parents and make sure that they were doing well and receiving proper care. Now that so many families are scattered across the country, it can be a bit more challenging to care for our aging loved ones. If your parents live in Phoenix but you are up in Portland, rest assured there are still plenty of ways to be an effective long-distance caregiver. Consider the following tips and ideas for caring for elderly parents from afar: Read More …

About Operating Room Safety

 Make Sure You’re in the Safest Possible Operating Room

Operating Room

The Hazards of Hospitals

We all think of the hospital as a place we go to get better, but hospitals in the United States are making people sicker at alarming rates. Between overtired interns, germ-covered doctors,  haphazard record keeping, and equipment failures, you might find yourself in more trouble than you were when you checked in. Here are some alarming statistics, followed by some patient recommendations.

  • 1.7 million infections are contracted in hospitals each year.
  • 1 in 5 patients suffer harm from medical errors, and 99,000 die from them.
  • You’re 30,000 times more likely to die from a hospital visit than a plane crash.
  • And more die from infections each year than from car accidents, breast cancer or aids.

High Anxiety

The simple mention of having a medical procedure brings out anxiety in most people. It’s human nature to become fearful when preparing to undergo a surgical procedure that requires in-patient treatment, sedation and operating rooms, as it is associated with pain and mortality. 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 …

HealthSpot visits reimbursed by Medicaid!

HealthSpot and CareSource Team to Improve Access to Healthcare
Managed Care company creates value for Medicaid members, increasing access to care through HealthSpot telehealth platform.

Telehealth KioskDUBLIN, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE, 8/20/2014)–HealthSpot®, a pioneer in patient and provider driven healthcare technology, and CareSource, an Ohio nonprofit managed care company dedicated to meeting the needs of healthcare consumers for more than 25 years, announced an agreement to increase access to quality healthcare for CareSource Medicaid, CareSource Just4Me and MyCare Ohio members.

HealthSpot has built a comprehensive healthcare delivery platform that combines cloud-based software with the award-winning HealthSpot station. The stations connect patients to medical providers from a variety of Ohio’s health systems including Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals. For the past 18 months, these providers and others have been using the stations for diagnosis of high frequency illnesses, such as the flu and upper respiratory issues.

“HealthSpot is the first open platform that enables community providers to see patients outside their facility and truly create value for everyone in the healthcare ecosystem.”

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101 MiniTrends in Health Care

Watch for Trends Ahead

This image is from MiniTrends, a book by John Vanston that I strongly endorse. I’ve known John for years and did consulting work for his company, Technology Futures. His book inspired my Modern Health Talk vision. (Click image to see book. Go to end to hear about the MiniTrends conference.)

“What the Hell is happening to health care?”

“And is it an Opportunity or a Threat?”

Insights by Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk.

An awful lot has changed in just the last few years and even more will change in the near future, with the aim of reducing (or at least containing) our health care costs. What’s behind these MiniTrends, and what is their implication for providers, payers and consumers? That’s the $1.5 trillion question. Here I talk about many, many MiniTrends–surely you can find 101 of them if you look! 

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

That quote is important, because 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies [1955] are no longer in business today. That’s a scary thought for those sitting at the top of the healthcare mountain, because they know they must adapt to the megatrend of health reform and Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) or die. And they are looking down with fear at the hungry competitors who are already exploiting the many related minitrends, because for them these are times of great opportunity.

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Telehealth is Shaping Healthcare for the Better

Game ChangerBy Karen R. Thomas, President of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions

As incredibly innovative and efficient as telehealth is at providing greater access to care for consumers, lowering healthcare costs for both patients and healthcare systems, and improving outcomes, barriers have always existed that hinder the widespread adoption of telehealth. Yet recently, issues such as state requirement hurdles, reimbursement limitations, and a general resistance from physicians to learn and integrate new technologies into their care routines are quickly evaporating in the wake of the overwhelming proof of telemedicine’s many benefits. Read More …

Managing My Costs of Care [ESSAY]

MedicaidDollarsManaging My Costs of Care is a well-written essay by Jay Warner.

I recommend it, because this one example shows just how easy it “should” be to cut healthcare costs in half to get down to what the rest of the world pays — for better care and outcomes — and save $1.5 trillion/year. It all comes down to getting the incentives right, because with employer-provided health insurance, Jay had no incentive (or ability) to comparison shop. Now he does.

The healthcare landscape is changing as payers pressure providers for more price transparency and seek other ways to contain costs and maintain profitability now that they can no longer cherry-pick the healthiest customers or cut them off when care gets too expensive.

Other disruptive changes include remote sensor monitoring (telemedicine) that can follow trends and identify problems earlier, remote consultations (telehealth) that can replace in-person office visits, medical tourism when it’s less expensive and has better outcomes than local surgeries, and an overall shift away from the fee-for-service insurance model. That model once served as pre-paid medical care, but now payers are starting to view insurance as protection against catastrophic illness and injury with consumers paying for the small stuff out of pocket. With that trend comes two others: (1) increased competition and (2) an increased focus on overall health and wellness, including nutrition, exercise, and sleep as it’s pillars.

A side benefit of wellness, beyond dramatic reductions in health care costs, is improved safety and performance. Restorative sleep, for example, is associated with improved alertness, attention, creativity, decision-making, focus, learning ability, mood, reaction & recovery times, and working memory, all of which contribute to better grades at school, better productivity at work and in sports, and fewer motor vehicle accidents and deaths.