The Guardian’s impassioned article on how common and harmful loneliness is among older adults led to some reflection by this Editor on how difficult and ‘multi-part’ an approach to help can be, even if you call it ‘The Campaign to End Loneliness’. “Studies have found loneliness can be more harmful than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, increases the risk of premature death by 30% and the chances of developing dementia by 64%. More than one million people aged over 65 are thought to be lonely – around 10-13% of older people.”–statistics from the article and AgeUK’s press release on their recent study, ‘ Promising approaches to reducing loneliness and isolation in later life’. GPs see a lot of them, and some more for an ‘event of the day’ than actual medical need. Loss of hearing, sight and mobility further isolate the older person, particularly those in rural areas where everyone and everything is at a distance requiring driving, creating dependency among those who can no longer. Even among the middle-aged, loss of hearing reduces engagement in social situations. (And the article does not include the disabled.) It closes with suggestions that councils need to budget for and organize programs to reach out to lonely adults, including carers, and that not one approach can fit all, but emphasizes more personal approaches such as groups and one-on-one support. Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk via Twitter
Is a way to fight the Loneliness Factor located in technology, even remote patient monitoring? That’s been the primary reason for some systems such as GrandCare, but even in RPM, whether hub-based or smartphone/tablet based, the reminders and active clinician monitoring part of chronic care management can and do engage. Older people are using smartphones and tablets–perhaps not as fully as a 40 year old, but they are using Skype, calendaring and social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and news/opinion sites). A big help here, according to Laurie Orlov, would be voice recognition and integration into safety/alarm technologies. This Editor also sees proactive alerting to changes in condition as a still-untapped area. There’s $279 billion of potential in ‘silvertech’ as estimated by AARP and Parks Associates–it’s a matter of getting young techies/entrepreneurs excited about it, and the Sand Hill funder crowd realizing that yes, it’s sexy too. Long Term Living
Pioneering or inadequate? Mercer LLC, a major employee benefits consulting company that is part of business consulting giant Marsh & McLennan, and digital health platform developer ConsejoSano (Health Advice) recently announced a partnership where Mercer will market the ConsejoSano platform to its large base of US employers and also to the wider US Hispanic market of 54 million with at least 22 million in the workforce. Their pitch is to the group most comfortable communicating in Spanish as a primary language. The service is via phone or mobile app, and connects employees to native Spanish-speaking doctors. However, you won’t be able to visit that doctor unless you go to Mexico; they are provided via Salud Interactiva S.A. de C.V., a Mexico City-based medical services/telehealth company. Because the doctors are ex-US, they cannot refer or write a prescription, and only address questions on general health needs, mental health, nutrition and chronic disease management. Still, ConsejoSano claims a 60 percent resolution of medical needs upon the first call.
This Editor asks: What about that other 40 percent? This conceivably is a ‘first turn’ service for that Spanish-speaking person, and after you’ve built up that trust, the consult isn’t completed. Why isn’t this built with warm transfer capability to US-based assistance which can refer the person to either local in-network doctors, a telehealth doctor in their employee insurance network or other assistive services? Is this a good-looking glass-half-full for the Spanish-primary speaking population? Mobile Strategies 360, Mercer release
Anyone working in telehealth knows that, of the principal long term conditions to which it is applied, COPD is the most problematic, with many telehealth trials showing no significant benefit. However in various meetings, Dr Julia Bott has tantalised me by suggesting that she and Dr Hilary Pinnock may know how to use telehealth more effectively.
Therefore, on 3rd March, we are holding a small, free, meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine in London from 3pm-5pm to examine how telehealth can be used to manage people with COPD better. Present will be both Dr Hilary Pinnock (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Julia Bott (University of Surrey).
So far we have senior representatives from two major telehealth organisations attending and probably need at least three more. If you are interested, please do email this editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, explaining why you’d like to join us for what I suspect may prove to be a groundbreaking event.
Jason Hope, who back in September wrote on how one of the greatest impediments to the much-touted Internet of Things (IoT) was not security, but the lack of a standardized protocol that would enable devices to communicate, has continued to write on both this topic and IoT security. While The Gimlet Eye had great fun lampooning the very notion of Thingys Talking and Doing Things Against Their Will [TTA 22 Sept 15], and this Editor has warned of security risks in over-connectivity of home devices (see below), relentlessly we are moving towards it. The benefit in both healthcare monitoring/TECS and safely living at home for older adults is obvious, but these devices must work together easily, safely and securely. To bend the English language a bit, the goal is ‘commonplaceness’–no one thinks much about the ubiquitous ATM, yet two decades ago ‘cash machines’ were not in many banks and (in the US) divided into regional networks.
As Mr Hope put it as the fifth and final prediction in his recent article:
The IoT Will Stop Being a “Thing”
How many times in the past week have you said, “I am getting on to the World Wide Web?” Chances are, not very many. How many times have you thought about the wonder of switching on a switch and having light instantly? Probably never. Soon, the Internet of Things, and connectivity in general, is going to be so common place, we also won’t think about it. It will just be part of life and the benefits and technology that wow us right now will cease to be memorable.
This Editor continues to be concerned about how hackers can get into devices, (more…)
The Royal Society of Medicine has two unbeatable benefits to offer conference attendees: virtually every world expert is keen to present there and, because it is a medical education charity, charges are heavily subsidised. As a result you get the most bang for your buck of any independent digital health event, anywhere!
And just now the offer is even more attractive as if you book for all three in the next 14 days (ie by 12th February) the RSM will give you a 10% discount on all three!
On February 25th, the RSM is holding their first 2016 conference: Recent developments in digital health. This is the fourth time they have run this popular event which aims to update attendees about particularly important new digital heath advances. For me the highlight will be Chris Elliott of Leman Micro who plans to demonstrate working smartphones that can measure all the key vital signs apart from weight without any peripheral – that includes systolic & diastolic blood pressure, as well as one-lead ECG, pulse, respiration rate and temperature. When these devices are widely available, they will dramatically affect health care delivery worldwide – particularly self-care – dramatically. See it first at the RSM!
I’d also highlight speakers such as Beverley Bryant, Director of Digital Technology NHS England, Mustafa Suleyman, Head of Applied Artificial Intelligence at Google DeepMind (who’ll hopefully tell us a bit about introducing deep learning in to Babylon), Prof Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation, NHS England and Dr Ameet Bakhai, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. It’s going to be a brilliant day!
On April 7th the RSM is holding Medical apps: mainstreaming innovation, also in its fourth year. Last year the election caused last minute cancellations by both NICE & the MHRA, who are making up for that with two high-level presentations. Among a panoply of other excellent speakers, I’m personally looking forward especially to (more…)
Many readers of Telehealth and Telecare Aware will join our editors in sending condolences to the family of Bob Pyke, who died on Sunday 24th January 2016. (Obituary and condolences link here.)
Bob’s enthusiastic promotion of all things telehealth by linking to relevant articles online pre-dated TTA by many years. A Google search of his name will show up thousands of items and associations to which he was linked. He continued to post articles to his Facebook page up until last November, despite the debilitating effects of his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or motor neurone disease (MND) as it is known in the UK.
In July 2014 he announced his illness with typical frankness and simplicity “I wish I could write as well as Danny Sands who recently wrote about his own health experiences, my writing style is a cross between Monty Python and Mark Twain. On this past Friday, I was diagnosed with ALS. I am blessed to have a loving family and friends who support me and encouraged me to keep a journal about my changed life.”
Bob was a nurse and the humanity which led him into that profession always shone through: “Since being diagnosed with ALS, I am not a patient with ALS, I am a person who has ALS.” Nor did he shrink from noting some of the more difficult aspects of his illness “…living with ALS or dying is the most singular and solitary experience one undergoes.”
Ten years ago Bob and I collaborated on setting up a social networking site for community nurses. Unfortunately it did not get past the early stages but it was always a pleasure working with him. Looking back through my emails I see that I once described Bob to a colleague as “a long term avid sniffer out of news”. I think he’d have liked that.
Bob built up a worldwide network of people interested in nursing and telehealth and he inspired and encouraged them. We will miss him.
Founder and ex-editor, TTA
The King’s Fund is still bullish on the transformative capabilities of technology-enabled care services for health (even if others are not, see following article). This article (which almost passed this Editor by this month) highlights eight areas which have the greatest potential. Some are expected–but at least two are surprises. You be the judge!
- Smartphones: apps, as hubs/hub replacements, and research transmitters (voluntary but also involuntary?)
- At-home and portable diagnostics; smart assistive technology
- Smart or implantable drug delivery
- Digital therapeutics/interventions; cognitive behavioral therapy; lifestyle interventions
- Genome sequencing
- Machine learning (computers changing based on new data, spotting pattern) in big datasets (Surprise #1)
- Blockchain, the tech behind bitcoin; decentralised databases, secured using encryption, that keep an authoritative record of how data is created and changed over time, to bring together decentralized health records. (Surprise #2)
- The connected community; P2P support networks and research communities
The International Summer School on Integrated Care, “Integrated Care in Theory and Practice” is organised by the International Foundation for Integrated Care’s Integrated Care Academy©. It will run from 27 June – 01 July at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK.
It will provide a week of intensive training on theory and practice of integrated care. It is aimed at health and social care professionals, clinicians, researchers and managers who want to strengthen their understanding of integrated care, get a comprehensive overview of the state of the art in theory & practice, and hone their competencies in analyzing, designing, evaluating and practising integrated care.
It is eligible for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) or Continuous Medical Education (CME) credits for professionals and managers. (more…)
“Front-line health and care workers in seven areas will pioneer and evaluate the use of novel combinations of interconnected devices such as wearable monitors, data analysis and ways of working which will help patients stay well and monitor their conditions themselves at home”, according to the NHS press release. (more…)
HCF, the oldest of the “Big Four” Australian health funds, has bought a 15% stake in telemedicine online doctor service startup GP2U. GP2U provide systems which helps to make remote consultations via video conferencing possible.
According to yesterday’s press release HCF will run a pilot to “ensure the service is scaled to the wider HCF membership as smoothly as possible”. In addition to providing the video conferencing platform, GP2U also provides a prescription service that sends prescriptions directly from the GP office to pharmacy once the GP approves it. GP2U has agreements with three Australian pharmacy chains, Terry White Chemist, Chempro and Priceline.
HCF is a not-for-profit organisation founded 80 years ago and provides health cover for 1.5 million Australians and has a turnover in excess of AUD 2 billion. GP2U is very fortunate that such a large fund has taken a serious interest in it
The European Alliance for Innovation (EAI) is holding its International Summit focused on eHealth (eHealth360°) from the 14th-16th June 2016 in Budapest, Hungary.
The summit is claimed to be a unique event bringing a 360 degree perspective on mobile and electronic health. It will gather experiences and innovative ideas from related projects and activities, to draw out the process of moving from innovative research to commercialization.
It aims to be a powerful and inspirational event that brings together industry representatives, researchers, vendors, mHealth and eHealth domain experts, clinicians, developers and others to plan, learn, network, collaborate, strategise and tap more effectively into the immense potential of the eHealth and mHealth domains. It will comprise (more…)