Mobile Innovation and the Advancement of Healthcare

07/29/2011 by NextGenWeb

On July 26, the Institute for Policy Innovation held a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss the future of healthcare, emphasizing mobile innovation as the biggest driver of change. New developments in health information technology are rapidly changing the way medical professionals deliver care and patients manage their own health. Merrill Matthew, a resident scholar at the Institute, remarked that real health care reform that improves quality, reduces costs and increases access is happening through innovation, not legislation.

Representative Michael Burgess, M.D. (R –TX, 26) delivered the keynote address to the audience of Hill staff, media and industry representatives. Representative Burgess agreed that mobile health is the future of healthcare and emphasized the importance of preserving a free market environment that will allow innovators to continue to thrive.  As the market rapidly changes, “it is impossible for us today to envision the future of technology so policy matters, but innovation will make us a competitive nation,” the Congressman remarked.

Today, the majority of Americans own a cell phone. Many even own a smartphone or tablet device. In some cases, a person might own all three mobile devices. Creating technologies that interact with a patient’s cell phone or smartphone ensures a link between the healthcare provider and the patient. For example, patients are able to send in pictures of wounds and transmit them to their doctors for a diagnosis. The doctor can also access a patient’s health records remotely from a mobile device.  Mobile health allows patients to be more engaged in their personal health.

Recent Study Shows Health IT is Environmentally Healthy

05/11/2011 by NextGenWeb

A recent report by Kaiser Permanente found that Health IT adoption not only improves healthcare, but it also can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The study calculated that adoption of electronic health records, digital prescriptions and other health IT technology could save over 1,000 tons of paper that would have been used for medical charts in a year. By replacing face-to-face patient visits with virtual visits, 92,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be eliminated, while filling prescriptions online would eliminate nearly 7,000 tons of emissions. “Electronic health records can support a more environmentally sound health care sector if they are used to change workflows and care delivery, rather than just a substitute for paper records,” said a Kaiser Permanente representative.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH Act, offers federal incentives for healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records. Eligible doctors and hospitals can receive $14 billion to $27 billion in funding for demonstrating meaningful use adoption of the EHR systems.

Read more: http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/health-it-could-doctor-the-environment-too–20110504

Telehealth, Telesurgery and the Future

10/27/2010 by NextGenWeb

Advancements in technology and high-speed broadband are allowing doctors to complete surgeries faster and with much more precision. In 2001, the first ever telesurgery was completed on a woman in Straussburg, France performed by a doctor in New York City. Known as “Operation Lindbergh,” Dr. Jacques Marescaux removed a woman’s gallbladder with the use of broadband Internet and special devices from across the Atlantic. Broadband enabled him to see in real-time what was happening while he controlled robotic arms to remove the organ.

Most recently, the first all-robot surgery took place at McGill University. Even the anesthesiology, a very complicated formula of medicines, was provided by the robot. While surgeons were a few steps away, perfect accuracy technology enabled them to perform the world’s first all-robot surgery. The robo-device transmits high-definition 3D images to a nearby workstation controlled by surgeons.

As a solution to serious shortages of medical specialists in rural America, the combination of robots and broadband promises a strong future for telesurgery. In an interview at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005, Dr. Gregory Weinstein said, “If you had a person who is trained as an assistant who can take care of surgical complications and who knew the rudiments of the case, while the highly-specialized person is at a hub somewhere else, actually performing the surgery – you might be able to deliver healthcare to a section of society that presently doesn’t [have access to it], and I think that is an exciting prospect for the future.”

Broadband is Essential for Health Care Advancements

10/27/2010 by Joel White

Every year in America more than 100,000 people die in hospitals as the result of medical errors. Many of those errors happen because critical information about a patient wasn’t available when treatment decisions were made, or because care givers misread handwritten prescriptions or notes.

Tragedies like this could be prevented through widespread use of electronic medical records that, with appropriate security precautions, could be accessed instantly when they are needed. Yet only 14 percent of U.S. physicians use electronic medical records.

Broadband access to the Internet is essential to maximize the effectiveness of health information technology, specifically as it relates to the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR). EHRs give providers instant access to the complete health history, test results and records of their patients. Doctors can obtain complete medical histories at the touch of a button, leading to fast and effective treatment decisions. EHRs can also help doctors get immediate information and medical history of an unconscious patient in an emergency or crisis.

However, without broadband, these efforts cannot be used to their full potential. For instance, applications that will embed in EHRs – video consults, large file advanced imaging, and remote guided surgeries – are not effective or even usable without high speed connectivity. Other innovations, like remote monitoring of patient vital signs at home, can save countless time and dollars in office visits and quickly alert clinicians to potential medical problems.

Absent a clear and workable broadband policy from the FCC and Congress, uncertainty about the future may dampen investment in critical infrastructure to promote adoption and technology use. Making high speed connectivity available to doctors and their patients at a reasonable cost is the job of America’s broadband networks. Health providers need to fold technology into their practices, which means vendors need to develop products that work for our health care workforce. And patients need to engage in their care. Together we can deliver the next generation of health that leverages technology to improve care and lower health costs.

Joel White is the Executive Director of the Health IT Now Coalition.

Assistive Technologies Showcased at Library of Congress

10/26/2010 by Shana Glickfield

One important aspect of broadband and heath care is assistive technology.  Especially given America’s aging baby boomer generation, people will increasing rely on these tools to access their health information and other resources on the Internet.

In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Library of Congress hosted an Assistive Technology Demonstration Fair last week.  Companies presented the latest technologies that are providing accessibility, both at home and on the job, for people who need it.  Featured technologies included accessible cell phones, captioning software, speech recognition tools, and much more.

AT&T was one of the companies showcasing at the event, demonstrating to attendees how tools that embrace broadband, like iWalk, Vlingo, and even the iPhone, can improve accessibility for those with disabilities.  Watch an interview below with Jay Wilpon, Executive Director, Speech Research, IEEE Fellow, AT&T Fellow, for more on broadband and accessibility.

A Story of Lost Driving Privileges and Life Enhancing Linkages

10/26/2010 by Graham Richard

It was the look on my father’s face when we got in his cherished white Tornado and handed me the keys with a sigh that said it all. He really loved cars. Perhaps it was being raised without one as a child of the depression. Maybe it was his hometown, a city in the heartland of automotive innovation and a short drive to Detroit. He lived the birth of the Zollner Pistons. He saw 10,000 workers make International Harvester Trucks and he saw the impact of the invention of the gasoline pump in Fort Wayne. His gold watch was testimony for 40 years at Tokhiem, one of the three gas pump manufacturers in town. I remember how he loved buying the latest new car and telling Mother that he would “hand it down” to one of the five kids. When those keys to the Corvair and especially the powder blue ’65 Mustang reached my hands, I felt the power of a Hoosier “car guy.” Could the INDY 500 be in my future?

But this day, with failing eyesight, he did not even try to take the test. He would not drive again. He felt like a teenager with no wheels. Stuck at home. Dependant on others for mobility. As a diversionary strategy we convinced my technophobic mother that a computer with dial-up would be a good investment for Dad and keep him out of her hair. Boy was it ever. He became a Senior Geek. And I learned a lot about life enhancing linkages. His desire to learn about using a computer soon got beyond what I could offer so we decided to hire a senior mentor from the nearby high school. This tech tutor for Dad meant a great deal for both. Since most of his grandkids were out of town, it was his weekly tutoring by a teenager that got him hooked online. With special magnification (even as his macular degeneration progressed) he learned finance software, paid bills, sent cards to grandkids, and shared photos with retirees online.

But this is also a story of opportunity lost. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) began to take over his life. Even with two nurses in the family, the disease was disabling him. My wife, Mary, would often say “I just need to lay eyes on Art.” As a seasoned cardiology nurse she knew all the visual clues that were critical to managing the effects of the disease and improving the quality of his last months. Once I asked his cardiologist, “what percentage of your heart patients that enter the hospital would not need hospitalization if you could physically see them in the home before an emergency admission?” His reply: 50% of hospital visits could be reduced.

Life enhancing linkages are now being developed using broadband. Congestive Heart Failure telehealth services are showing us a new way to deliver home based services that improve care, support caregivers, and reduce the cost of unneeded emergency room visits and hospitalizations. There are a number of CHF Telehealth projects that have been generating positive results. Parkview Health Systems in Fort Wayne is in the early stages of a CHF Telehealth project. The Veterans Administration has a program as well.

This year the Center for Technology and Aging made five awards to demonstrate how remote patient monitoring technologies can improve the quality and efficiency of chronic disease management and post-acute care of older adults. One of the award recipients was the New England Healthcare Institute to work with CHF patients. The potential for these broadband Telehealth services to improve care and save money is very substantial. Nationwide 8 out of 10 older Americans suffer from one or more chronic illnesses including CHF. It is estimated that successful use of remote monitoring technologies could reduce the costs chronic disease by over $200 billion over 25 years by reducing emergency room (ER) visits, hospitalizations, hospital remissions and other healthcare services. In a survey of healthcare enterprises that have implemented the MeKesson Telehealth Advisor, results included a 66% reduction in ER visits and 52% reductions in hospital costs.

My father would have enjoyed the benefits of these new broadband life enhancing linkages. They will make later years in life a better experience for millions of Americans.

Graham Richard “America’s Broadband Mayor,” Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana (2000-2007), posted this for NextGenWeb and can be reached at gr@grahamrichard.com.

NextGenWeb Spotlight on Broadband and Healthcare

10/25/2010 by NextGenWeb

NextGenWeb is kicking off its spotlight week discussing the role broadband plays in 21st century healthcare delivery. Through electronic health records, remote monitoring and telehealth applications, broadband is transforming the way may Americans receive their healthcare. Both urban and rural Americans have greater access to higher quality care. Check out our “Broadband and Health IT” page for more information.

NextGenWeb had the privilege of sponsoring the Center for Connected Health Symposium for the fourth year running. This year, NextGenWeb sponsored a session titled, “Lessons Learned During the Maturation of Online Social Networks, Patient Communities and Patient Blogs.” The Center for Connected Health Symposium is an annual gathering of patients, payers, physicians, hospital leaders, entrepreneurs and IT execs that experience healthcare every day. This year’s symposium aimed to discuss and debate the means of moving care beyond the hospital and clinic and into the day-to-day lives of those who need our help.

Dr. Joe Kvedar, Director of the Center for Connected Health in Boston, has been a friend of and contributor to NextGenWeb for the past several years. At last year’s symposium, we had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Kvedar to discuss the need for continued integration of technology into America’s health care system. He also touched on the negative impact that increased broadband regulation could have on e-health delivery.

Click below to watch the interview.

AT&T Teams Up with eCardio Diagnostics

10/12/2010 by NextGenWeb

AT&T has recently announced their partnership with eCardio Diagnostics, one of the leading providers of arrhythmia monitoring solutions. The two companies will use their partnership to provide leading edge monitoring systems to heart patients. The machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless data allows for real-time monitoring information to be available to doctors, allowing patients to recover at home instead of at a hospital. Being able to recover at the comfort of home is a situation many patients would prefer. This type of technology can also help provide hospitals, health insurance companies, pharmacies, and research organizations with more information about patient history and will allow for lower costs in treating arrhythmia patients.

Doctor’s can access patients’ records and monitor their condition with the use of broadband. By knowing the exact moment a problem occurs, doctors can better treat and understand a patient’s needs. eCardio has already implemented the monitoring technology to nearly 10,000 cardiac devices and plans to see it added to thousands more by next year.

When thinking of the ways broadband can improve lives and provide better research to a number of fields, AT&T’s partnership with eCardio is just one more enhancement to recognize.

Telehealth in the American Indian Community

09/28/2010 by NextGenWeb

On Friday, NextGenWeb attended the National Summit of Clinicians for Healthcare Justice. During one of the panels, Dr. Andrew Narva discussed his work in telenephrology, using telehealth communications to work with patients who suffer from diabetic and kidney diseases. NextGenWeb has often mentioned the importance of broadband working to improve healthcare and Dr. Narva’s use with telenephrology is exactly that.

Dr. Narva focuses a good deal of his efforts in the American Indian community. Both kidney disease and diabetes are a growing concern among American Indians, at a rate of three times higher than the average population. The cost of receiving care is often high and the location of help centers is few. With the use of broadband and telehealth, American Indians are able to receive the care and support they need from doctors with just a click of the mouse.

Dr. Narva is one of the only doctors using telehealth methods on tribal lands. He uses broadband to connect American Indians on rural tribal lands to doctors and nurses in real time. Healthcare professionals even have access to electronic health records. Having access to this information allows many doctors to understand the patient’s medical history. This type of technology can be used to greatly improve the health of not only American Indians, but anyone who lives in an area not close to medical clinics. Patients are able to get the information they need and specific care from healthcare professionals by connecting with broadband internet.

Broadband & Food Safety (Yes, Food Safety!)

08/30/2010 by Shana Glickfield

Broadband plays a large role in many aspects of our public safety.   However, we most often discuss the role of broadband in public safety in terms of improving first response systems and national security.  But with the latest threat to the public being food safety, Daniel Castro of technology think tank ITIF takes a closer look at how better use of broadband technology could minimize damages in “the next Salmonella Egg-idemic.”

Castro points out that today’s big farms (egg and otherwise) are widely embracing technology already, from monitoring soil moisture to RFID tags to track livestock.  But with a larger trend of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States in recent years, Castro suggests several ways technology could be used to help with detection and prevention, even beyond the CDC’s Pulsenet, an information system used to detect foodborne illness case clusters.

In the future, better information could allow public health officials to identify and trace outbreaks more quickly. For example, if a nationwide system of interoperable electronic health records were made available in real-time for public research, this could allow epidemiologists to track outbreaks from unreported or undiagnosed illnesses by looking at data on reported symptoms. The FDA is also developing new technologies to rapidly capture, analyze and share data on foodborne pathogens through a web-based, interactive system.

Castro goes on to cite several government and private sector food safety projects in development that will take full advantage of today’s broadband technology.   He concludes by encouraging a policy framework that will best enable these potentially life-saving innovations to flourish, reminding policymakers “IT has an important role to play in monitoring, detecting and responding to public health threats and protecting the safety of our food supply.”

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