Thai mHealth program to transform the health system

The application, Saraphi Health, and the mhealth project of which it is a critical element, receives funding from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. The purpose is to be able to build a digital archive to be used by the managers and developers of public healthcare policy. The aim is to improve the efficiency of dealing with urgent health situations. Mhealth program in Thailand uses app to collect medical data. MobileCommerceNews.

Specialist housing does not reflect what most older people want (UK)

A thoughtful article in The Guardian by Aleks Collingwood of The Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlights the disincentives that exist at present in the widely-assumed-to-be-desirable downsizing of accommodation by older people to meet their own needs better and to make more efficient use of their larger houses by other families. Among the points made, “There’s a negative framing of the debate – downsizing emphasises loss of status and reduced importance. To interest more people in moving there not only has to be a wider and more attractive choice of housing options, but we need to think carefully how these options are labelled.” Read the comments too: It’s time for a new model of specialist housing for older people.

At least it is several centuries since older people in the UK, unlike their counterparts in Ghana, faced being ostracised as witches. Older people are wrongly accused of witchcraft (GhanaWeb) although one wonders if the underlying impulse to isolate older people from the mainstream of society is not actually the same.

UPDATE 11 June: It seems appropriate to add here an article about housing for older people by Malcolm Fisk, published a few weeks ago: Old age debate (in Inside Housing. See the comments, too “…the disservice we have ‘done to’ many older people by shrinking their lives … to a flat, to a room, to a chair, to a purse / wallet, to a photo.”)

‘Nudging’ chronic condition-ers to QSing

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]TripleTree, a VC that funds many iHealthy companies, casts a hopeful eye (certainly not a Gimlet Eye) at the consumer-driven growth of health tech and finds the steam generated by the Quantified Selfers and Fitness Addicts, stoked by the Healthcare Digerati who are not Going Surfing USA, is cooling fast and flatly. The Big Bucks are betting on ‘nudging’ (or as Aunt Lillian put it, ‘nooodging’) those diabetics, overweight couch potatoes, smokers and consumers of 72-ounce sodas, those naughty 20 percenters who spend an estimated 80 percent of US healthcare money, towards the New Jerusalem of Healthy Lifestyles and Big Savings. Of course, as the writer points out, payers and pharmas are still gathering data and documenting that increasing physical activity or sensoring med reminders, despite their Quantum of Cool, actually gets everyone to this destination and not another. One increasingly popular Road to Perdition is to introduce the refractory to the Carrot und Stick Gauntlet located at the corner of Tech, Privacy and Cost [TTA 21 March.] But the intensely blinking Big Yellow Light is that the Diabetic Experience [TTA 5 April] points out that ‘nooodging’ people to do something they don’t wanna and has uncertain, variable outcomes is not necessarily Their Road to Damascus. Personal Fitness, Chronic Condition Management and Connected Health

While The Eye takes The Road to the Beach in a 1946 Buick Super woody, Editor Donna notes the listing at the end of the article of the dozen finalists for the iAward to be announced 30 May, including AliveCor, Healthsense (a telecare system!) and Qualcomm Life.

Now a virtual therapist

“Ellie” the Virtual Analyst has it right down to the  ‘uh-huhs’  in responding to her patients, but she really excels at taking the measure of body language. According to the NPR interview with University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies’ lead developers, psychologist Albert “Skip” Rizzo and computer scientist Louis-Philippe Morency, “Ellie tracks and analyzes around 60 different features — various body and facial movements, and different aspects of the voice. The theory of all this is that a detailed analysis of those movements and vocal features can give us new insights into people who are struggling with emotional issues. The body, face and voice express things that words sometimes obscure.” Movement is tracked by Microsoft Kinect, voice by a microphone. This is the flip side of their original telementalhealth research from last year with simulations of virtual patients for training psychiatric residents [TTA 14 Aug] and PTSD assessment [TTA 28 Oct 11]. Like both of these, this was originally commissioned by the US Department of Defense for PTSD diagnosis, so Ellie provides a report at the end of each session. Your Editor also thinks there’s commercialization potential in the growing category of ‘couch apps’. [TTA 11 MayIf Your Shrink Is A Bot, How Do You Respond?

Update on Health+Care 2013 pre-event

As reported previously, on Tuesday 14 May, the organisers of Health+Care 2013 held a pre-event telecare/telehealth exhibition called The Home Care House of the Future hosted by Circle Housing Group at one of its newest Circle Living shared ownership flats in London. Thanks to the organisers and exhibitors, we can now post the following 3½ minute video and additional information provided by the exhibitors. (more…)

Scanadu Scout emerging for crowdfunding

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]The Scanadu Scout [TTA 30 Nov 12], so widely touted as a ‘medical tricorder’ going for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, listed on Indiegogo’s crowdfunding platform yesterday, and is already 3x oversubscribed at $311,000 with 29 days to go. Scanadu connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth LE and from a forehead readng calculates temperature, respiratory rate, blood oxygen, heartrate, blood pressure and stress. However it has no FDA nor CE approval, thus is being ‘quantified’ as a research tool not a vital signs monitor, so you too can be a Scout.  $199 now is the entry price but multiple package deals are still available, but you’ll have to wait till March 2014 at the earliest. Complete with glowing videos. Indiegogo, Wired UK.

News Flash: The Gimlet Eye just texted Editor Donna with a better name; the Scanadu Nirvana, for the altered state the hordes of Quantified Selfers (QSers) are undoubtedly in.

(Holiday) Weekend reading: McKinsey’s guide to 12 disruptive technologies

The McKinsey & Company consultants have compiled two lengthy PDFs (one long executive summary and a very long full study), plus a podcast by one of their researchers, on what they see are 12 core disruptors which will be familiar to most of our readers. None are labeled ‘healthcare’ but seven of the 12 fit right into any tech in the field: mobile internet, the ‘internet of things’, advanced robotics, automation of knowledge work, cloud computing, next-gen genomics and 3D printing. Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy (downloads in article)

A model for health tech accelerators, made in NY

‘Digital health accelerators’ are popping up like spring flowers, but what is the ‘secret sauce’? New York Digital Health Accelerator’s (NYDHA) program may have found the recipe. Dave Chase, CEO of Avado, takes a go at it from what a program like this means to an early-stage (or startup) company. Key points:

  • 23 leading providers were the selection committee–customers, a/k/a ‘who pays’–and they mentored and met extensively with their assigned company
  • Funding and the equity ‘take’ were the most attractive of any accelerator:  according to Chase, “providing the most funding per company of any accelerator ($300,000 or more[Ed.note: versus a more typical $20,000]) — roughly 5-15x more than other accelerators while taking significantly less equity.”
  • It was actively co-managed by The Partnership Fund for NY and NYeC (NY eHealth Collaborative) whose senior staff sourced conference/exposure opportunities and connections with Federal and state healthcare leaders
  • NY is clearly backing this with a goal of reinventing healthcare

NY Digital Health Accelerator Is a Model to Emulate: Startup’s Perspective (Forbes)

Previously in TTA: Healthcare IT–New York’s Next Big Thing [14 May] highlighting the Partnership Fund for NY and the NYDHA program.

UK housing providers’ telecare alarms funding crisis

For years, many providers of specialist accommodation for older people, social housing or people with other needs have been offering panic alarm/telecare services funded wholly or in part from the public purse, particularly through Supporting People funding, which has now been cut off. This has left the housing providers with practical, financial and ethical dilemmas as highlighted a month ago in the comments on this TTA item: Supporting People funding reductions – telecare panic. Now specialist housing consultancy Support Solutions reframes the question and re-imagines the solution: Funding Alarms & Proactive Communication Systems for Vulnerable People.

text4baby: positive study results (US)

Results from a year-long evaluation provide evidence that text4baby benefits users. text4baby is a free mobile health information service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) that provides pregnant women and new mothers with health and safety information via text message. The content includes messages about immunization, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, etc. A survey developed by researchers from the National Latino Research Center (NLRC) at California State University San Marcos and the University of California San Diego, with support from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, was administered to 631 text4baby users in San Diego. Findings indicate that text4baby is increasing users’ health knowledge, facilitating interaction with health providers, reminding them of their appointments and immunizations, and improving access to health services. More information and link to the study results. Heads-up thanks to Bob Pyke.

Australasian Telehealth Society national strategy white paper (AUS)

The Australasian Telehealth Society has issued a five-year (2013-2018) white paper that outlines how Australia can transition toward a National Telehealth Strategy which would improve the delivery of health care. Australia, not unlike the US but with less population, has extremes of population gathered in dense urban and regional areas, then scattered in distant, sparsely populated rural or remote areas. The idea is to improve access and quality, with essential elements being a national broadband strategy and current healthcare resources. Importantly, the Society’s defines  ‘telehealth’ at the outset broadly as “enabling health care services and related processes delivered over distance, using information and communication technologies” including telecare, telehealth and telemedicine. The paper was initiated during the roundtable discussion session at their Global Telehealth 2012 Conference held in Sydney on 26-28 November 2012. Authored by Colin Carati and reader George Margelis (hat tip once again). Society link and download PDF

Assisted technology: Roundtable discussion videos (UK)

Connecting Communities is a website/organisation in the UK to promote discussion of the concerns about introducing technology of all sorts, but predominantly so far, telehealth and telecare into everyday practice. It has light-touch sponsorship from Bosch Healthcare. The videos in the following link show snippets from a recent discussion held in Leeds that was chaired by David Brindle, Public Services Editor, The Guardian. If nothing else, the principal 11-minute video is worth watching. Connecting Communities/Communities for Life.

Boys win Lego award for medication reminder robot and app (Ireland)

It’s great to see young people working as an effective team in developing technology – although it is not clear from the article what the robot element does. However, isn’t it time that there was more recognition in the media that the issues around prompting and monitoring medication compliance are more complicated than just how to get the person to receive a reminder? Dublin boys win Lego award for robot reminding people to take medicines. The Journal.

Being online aged 90 has made my old age less lonely

An article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper should be essential reading for those younger people who write off the interest of older people in getting online, or the benefits it can bring in reducing social isolation. Browse the comments too. This editor especially liked the exchange on 17 May between Decadere “…Maybe I shouldn’t get so angry at my mum when I have to explain 5,000 times that sometimes she has to double click. Not always mother, just sometimes” and welovelucytoo’s response “@Decadere – you will get your comeuppance. When you get to be your mum’s age, your children will similarly be frustrated at your total inability to control your quantum computer with the simplest of thought patterns…” Being online aged 90 has made my old age less lonely. Others aren’t so lucky.

Robots in older adult care: a debate

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]An article in The New York Times ‘Bits’ tech blog has raised debate on the appropriate role of robots in care for older adults. Illustrated by a picture of two PARO robots being recharged (a strange sight indeed) and a lead about the movie ‘Robot & Frank’ [TTA 23 Aug 12], it discusses the ethics of robots (and robotic pets) in care for the elderly versus humans which continues in the comments. One position is that it is not ethical to entrust your aging loved one’s care to a machine, and that human care is always preferable even if not high quality, because we all need human interaction. The other is that the same loved one might very well prefer having a robot efficiently assist them versus a human helper who talks down to them, doesn’t listen, is incompetent, unable or dishonest. The older person may very well interact with a robot better and demonstrate more directive control. A middle position is that robots for assistive care and robotic pets are quite acceptable as an adjunct to human support. After all, we do tend to anthropomorphize objects, not only cars (ask this Editor about Big Blue, Homer, The Bug and the Cherry Bomb) but also in studies robotic pets such as Sony’s now defunct AIBO. It is also the theory behind the virtual pet-in-a-tablet GeriJoy. And who hasn’t ‘talked’ to their balky PC or printer? Certainly Frank demonstrated ‘greater independence’ when he enlisted his pal Robot in a little heist!  Disruptions: Helper Robots Are Steered, Tentatively, to Care for the Aging