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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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 Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future.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 …

mHealth – Is it Mobile Health or Modern Health?

What is Mobile Health?  That’s the subject of a Linkedin discussion started by Wendy Thomas, founder of the Mobile Health Association in Austin, TX.

Her purpose was to clear up confusion between syllogisms, and the analogy she used was that Lions are all Animals, but not all Animals are Lions. The same goes with the health terms such as digital health, ehealth (electronic healthcare), mhealth (mobile healthcare), and telemedicine, so she argued that…

Mobile Health IS Wireless Health AND Mobile Health IS Telemedicine, but Wireless Health AND Telemedicine are not necessarily MOBILE HEALTH.

Syllogism examples in healthcare

While I agree with the premise of Wendy’s argument, people often associate Mobile Health with the ambulance that shows up to provide care and transportation, rather than the use of mobile devices and wireless networks. That’s why I drew the diagram with Mobile Health not entirely within Wireless Health or within Telemedicine. Confusion still persists, and I’m adding to it with yet another term – Modern Health. 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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Do We Need Doctors Or Algorithms?

robot medic

Image credit: Shutterstock/koya979

By Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures
(original on TechCrunch.com)

I was asked about a year ago at a talk about energy what I was doing about the other large social problems, namely health care and education. Surprised, I flippantly responded that the best solution was to get rid of doctors and teachers and let your computers do the work, 24/7 and with consistent quality.

Later, I got to thinking about what I had said and why, and how embarrassingly wrong that might be. But the more I think about it the more I feel my gut reaction was probably right. The beginnings of “Doctor Algorithm” or Dr. A for short, most likely (and that does not mean “certainly” or “maybe”) will be much criticized. We’ll see all sorts of press wisdom decrying “they don’t work” or “look at all the silly things they come up with.” But Dr A. will get better and better and will go from providing “bionic assistance” to second opinions to assisting doctors to providing first opinions and as referral computers (with complete and accurate synopses and all possible hypotheses of the hardest cases) to the best 20% of the human breed doctors. And who knows what will happen beyond that?

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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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mHealth and Child Abuse

child abuseby David Lee Scher, MD (11/9/2011)

There has not been a more horrific scandal in the world of sports that I can remember than the child abuse scandal (the mainstream media calls it a sex abuse scandal) surrounding The Pennsylvania State University.  Let it be said that I am very impressed with the reaction of much of the student body which is one of shock and disdain for the administration charged with covering up alleged abuses of children by a former assistant football coach. According to the grand jury’s report, the school demonstrated willful blindness to the allegations brought to it, none going to state officials. Some of the fans at Saturday’s PSU-Nebraska football game are organizing a blue shirt campaign to show solidarity for the victims (blue ribbon being a symbol of child abuse).

As this blogger is an evangelist for wireless technologies and the noble things it will deliver (efficient, dignified, cost-effective and better continuous healthcare), I think it fitting to discuss how mHealth technologies may, in the future, be useful tools for subjects of child abuse and their loved ones.  Read More …

A Consumer Electronics Christmas

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year in 2012. As for me, I can hardly imagine a better one, filled with family… and electronics.

Our son visited for 3 days with his pretty wife and our 7 month old granddaughter. What a treat. It ended too soon, and Yvonne and I miss them already. That helps explain our Electronics Christmas.

We’re like baby boomers split between keeping up with their adult kids and grandkids while also caring for elderly parents, but since our parents are long gone our attention is laser focused on our only son and his family. That’s why I’ve long wanted a good video conference system – to lessen the need for 4-hour trips to Dallas to see them.

Apple FaceTime Read More …

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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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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RX Integration

image of blood  pressure cuffThis article by Lee Distad is republished with permission from ResidentialSystems.com.

Finding Opportunities for Health Care Technology Integration

In the AV and automation channels there are categories that are widely adopted, such as AV distribution, as well as ones that are less so, such as energy management. At least at present, home health care is a category that is in the latter group. But a partnership between CEDIA and manufacturers of these technologies is seeking to make it both better known and a successful profit center for integrators.

CEDIA’s director of technology, Dave Pedigo, has been personally embedded in home health care research for the past year. As he puts it, “The elevator to get on and understand the category would be to take away the technology for a second and look at sheer numbers: there are 100 million in the U.S. alone who are reaching retirement age. At the same time there’s a serious shortage of doctors: as many as 150,000 fewer than needed according to the Wall Street Journal.”

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Advanced Computing for Aging Couple

Haven’t we all been frustrated by technology that didn’t work as expected? The endearing video below has a message for product designers and anyone trying to  help seniors use high-tech products. It’s one reason I wrote An iPad for All Ages.

Webcam 101 for Seniors” shows Bruce & Esther Huffman (86 & 79) learning how to use their pretty new PC and its built-in webcam. They were just trying to take a picture of themselves like their granddaughter showed them earlier, and they didn’t realize they were recording. The granddaughter then posted the video on YouTube, and it went viral.

I’m glad to see that Bruce & Esther were patient and supportive of each other as they learned together. By now they’re probably on regular video calls with family and have inspired others in their retirement home to follow suit. Way to go!

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 …

Extending Telepresence & Telemedicine to Patients’ Homes

VIDYO conference between Doctor & Patient (on YouTube)

Jill bought a high-def webcam for her PC when it went on sale for $40 so she could make Skype video calls with Suzie, her daughter in Houston, and keep up with the two grandkids. Suzie has an Apple iPhone4, which came with FaceTime, but she had to install the free Skype app to talk with her mom. That’s because FaceTime and Skype don’t talk to each other.

Jill found video calls so engaging that she got her 85-year-old mom an iPad 2 so she could be included in the calls and see the great grandkids more often by video chat.

As I wrote in An iPad for All Ages, this is an ideal device for aging parents who have never used a computer. It’s also ideal for connecting with healthcare professionals, but not until different hardware platforms can be on the same call, including iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, television, and enterprise telepresence systems.

I wrote about Video Conferencing for Home Healthcare in March, described the various options, and complained of incompatibilities between systems. Now I’m happy to write this follow-up to say that solutions are on the way. Thanks to the readers who shared their personal experiences and inspired this article.

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New Uses for Microsoft’s Kinect Gaming Console

Futuristic computer interface from Minority Report, with Tom CruiseStereo cameras in Microsoft’s Kinect accessory for the Xbox 360 gaming console can see things in 3-D and enable gestures and body movement as human interfaces to video games, eliminating the need for handheld controllers. But hackers are finding other uses beyond gaming.

Within weeks of the device’s release last November, someone posted a $1,000 bounty to whoever posted the first open source Kinect device drivers, according to this Wired magazine article, and Kinect took off.

Microsoft was horrified at first, tried to stop the hackers, and even threatened to prosecute them. But as the company saw the many imaginary new uses, which its own engineers never envisioned, it shifted its stance and started a love affair with the hackers themselves. Now Microsoft openly recruits academic and hobbyist hackers and encourages Kinect hacking with its own software developer toolkit. Some of the many new applications relate to healthcare, and we’ll surely see more soon.

An iPad for All Ages

No computer skills required … and now no computer either

 

iPad for the Ages - from Toddlers to Seniors

Flickr photo credits: Toddler by umpcportal.com, Senior by Courosa, licensed under Creative Commons

 

Everyone says the Apple iPad is intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to use. It almost seems tailored to toddlers and seductive to seniors. Grandparents and great grandparents with no prior computer experience can reconnect with family and make new friends online with email, social media, and video conferencing. But as easy and seductive as  iPad is, it still required a PC or Mac in order to download or upgrade its software. Not any more. Apple changed that last week with its iCloud announcement and its latest iOS 5 operating system.

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A vision of cloud based accessibility

by Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk

About the submission

Lifted by the Cloud is a 7min vision video of cloud-based accessibility submitted by Modern Health Talk founder Wayne Caswell  as part of a contest sponsored by the FCC, the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, and Raising the Floor. It’s based on the author’s 2006 presentation on BIG Broadband and Gigabit-to-the-Home. The source PowerPoint slides and a script with additional information are available online. Read More …