The King’s Fund’s ‘newspaper’ on health and the General Election (UK)

click to enlargeThe King’s Fund is now participating in the runup to the 7 May UK General Election with Health and the election, a Paper.li format roundup of national health issues. Much of it centers around the present and the future of the NHS, and what The King’s Fund is tracking as the deterioration in service in such metrics as waiting times for A&E, cancer care and routine operations, coupled with growing deficits. Will the NHS be a deciding factor in the election, as the ITV report seems to indicate? The King’s Fund is gathering the coverage and tracking possible answers to that question. TTA is an official supporter of The King’s Fund, and their upcoming Digital Health and Care Congress 2015 on 16-17 June. TTA readers enjoy a 10% discount when using this exclusive link.

UnaliWear Kanega assistance watch makes Kickstarter goal

click to enlargeThe UnaliWear Kanega assistance watch [TTA 18 Feb] on Wednesday closed its Kickstarter crowdfunding over the top at $110,154. It has several features to promote safety for older people or the disabled, with fall detection, GPS and stand-alone cellular/Wi-Fi connectivity, but the most unique is voice recognition and command/response. Its latest prototype is half the case size as previously, with a more attractive analog watch face, which makes it a lot more MAYA (most advanced yet acceptable–Raymond Loewy), and a major improvement in form over your typical PERS or most GPS watches. With our usual caveat (if it does what it says it does in production), we applaud Jean Anne Booth and her team for their achievement–and we’ll be watching.

The end of an era – is this Mike Clark’s last newsletter?

Ardent followers of Mike Clark’s newsletters will be saddened by the news that the current funding from Innovate UK, KTN Ltd and the Assisted Living Innovation Platform to support the extensive work he does to keep us all informed of important stuff has come to an end.

The Telecare LIN is therefore looking to its readers. To maintain a comprehensive monthly news summary going out to over 48,000 people, they are looking to crowdsource funding to support the website, content and hundreds of links and journal article references each month. They are currently looking for a number of organisations to support continuing production (including supplements, Twitter stream, archive) at around the £5k level per year. The news service, currently in its tenth year is recognised as an authoritative source and valuable resource in the UK and in other parts of the world working on digital health, telehealth, mHealth, telemedicine and telecare.

More details, and who to send the money to, are on the first page of the newsletter.

Mike will also be appearing in person (more…)

Your Friday superintelligent robot fix: the disturbing consequences of ultimate AI

click to enlargeOur own superintelligent humans–Elon Musk (Tesla), Steve Wozniak (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Stephen Hawking–are converging on artificial intelligence, not just everyday, pedestrian robotics, but the kind of AI superintellect that could make pets out of people–if we are lucky. In his interview with Australian Financial Review, the Woz (now an Australian resident) quipped: ‘Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on?’ (more…)

Google granted patent for sensor contact lens

click to enlargeOn Tuesday, Google was granted a patent for its contact lens with sensors and embedded microchip. According to Time, the patent award was uncovered by WebProNews, which seems to be focused more on the problems of Google Glass than the patent, though the abstract and a development figure is included. The patent was originally filed in September 2012. We’ve previously noted that Google is partnering with Novartis/Alcon (their eyecare division) to further develop applications. The most prominent is glucose level detection for diabetics, but there is also a huge market in correcting presbyopia and autofocusing ‘zoom’ lenses [TTA 17 July 14] Of course, Google does not admit to any of this, telling a Time reporter that “We hold patents on a variety of ideas—some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.” So we should keep blinking.

Pondering the squandering redux: $28 billion gone out the HITECH window

In 2009, the US Congress enacted the HITECH Act, as part of a much broader recovery measure (ARRA or ‘the stimulus’), authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to spend up to $35 billion to expand health IT and create a network of interoperable EHRs. Key to this goal of interoperability and seamless sharing of patient information among healthcare providers was achieving stages of ‘meaningful use’ (MU) with these EHRs in practice, to achieve the oft-cited ‘Triple Aim‘ of improved population health, better individual care, delivered at lower per capita cost. Financial incentives through Medicaid and Medicare EHR programs were delivered through multiple stages of MU benchmarks for hospitals and practices in implementing EHRs, information exchange, e-prescribing, converting patient records, security, patient communication and access (PHRs).

Five years on, $28 billion of that $35 billion has been spent–and real progress towards interoperability remains off in the distance. This Editor has previously noted the boomlet in workarounds for patient records like Syapse and OpenNotes. Yet even the progress made with state data exchanges (e.g. New York’s SHIN-NY) has come at a high cost–an estimated $500 million, yet only 25 percent are financially stable, according to a RAND December 2014 study. (more…)

Chronic care management with telehealth (US)

Our readers, especially those in the US engaged with medical practices, might be interested in reading a two-part interview with Editor Donna by occasional TTA contributor Sarianne Gruber. We discuss the new model for Chronic Care Management (CCM) now included in what the Federal Government (CMS-Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) pays physicians for Medicare patient visits and services. Telehealth, or in CMS terms remote monitoring, can play a vital role in the provision of care coordination, assessment, documentation, patient access and facilitation of self-management as part of the care plan, culminating in better outcomes at lower cost. Published in the new RCM (Revenue Cycle Management) Answers, a spinoff of HITECH Answers. Part 1.  Part 2

National telehealth plan to improve rural health called for in Australia

Ahead of the forthcoming Australian Telehealth Conference 2015, one of the speakers has spoken to the media partner of the conference, Australian Aging Agenda Technology Review. In an article published on the Aging Agenda website, the speaker, Dr Shannon Nott, is quoted as saying “There needs to be a telehealth plan put in place in Australia. We need to start looking at telehealth and say this is something we should seriously invest in. We need to look at it and get it right from the start; that includes getting it right for indigenous communities [and] getting it right for rural and remote communities”.

Nott is said to have spent four months last year researching telehealth in rural and remote Alaska, Canada and Brazil including indigenous communities. The article quotes him as saying “In Alaska for every dollar that they spend on telehealth software and programs they save $10.50 in travel alone in terms of healthcare costs. Not to mention the hospital admissions avoided, the GP admissions avoided.”

click to enlargeThe Australian Telehealth Conference 2015 takes place on the 23rd and 24th of April in Sydney.

NHS Apps Library embraces mental health…and Mole Detective vanishes

Thanks to Mike Clark for pointing this editor to the breaking news that the NHS Mental Health Apps Library has now gone live. It features online tools, resources and apps that they claim have a proven track record of effectiveness in improving mental health outcomes.

It is accessible through the NHS Choices platform, a website that gathers over 40 million visits per month, 9.7 million of which are to pages on depression; 6 million per month to stress and 9.4 million to anxiety.

This is likely to be a major benefit to those who have difficulty obtaining access to face:face mental health services, especially as a number of presentations in the Royal Society of Medicine have suggested that online mental health services can often be more effective (more…)

Data breaches top 120 million since 2009 (US)

click to enlarge“The medical industry is years and years behind other industries when it comes to security.”–Dave Kennedy, TrustedSEC CEO.

We admire the Washington Post for arriving at the conclusion we did in 2010–that healthcare organizations are uniquely vulnerable to cyberattack because of the high value of patient data, and an often lighter level of HIT security. But now we get the finger wag that ‘it’s only going to get worse.’ (Beyond 120 million breached records?) Data security, of which HIPAA patient information protection is a part, wasn’t primary for years, especially in organizations overwhelmed with transitioning EHRs, getting EMRs to speak with EHRs, Meaningful Use, new care and payment models, 30-day readmissions and ‘oh, by the way, how will we get paid?’ The Premera Blue Cross (Washington state) breach of 11 million records was the second largest in healthcare history (after Anthem Health‘s February bunker buster of a breach). Most breaches are from stolen laptops or shared/easy to guess passwords (or none at all)–but these have not been in the millions. Premera’s theft took place on 5 May 2014 and was only discovered in January; it included SSIs, bank information, claims data, patient name/address and date of birth. Those affected were in California and Alaska primarily, but also included Federal employees.

But Premera can’t say they were not warned. The US Office of Personnel Management’s Office of the Inspector General (OPM OIG) independently audited Premera in April 2014 detailing several vulnerabilities, including a lack of timely patch implementations, a lack of methodology to “ensure that unsupported or out-of-date software is not utilized” and insecure server configurations, and the need to upgrade physical access controls in their data center. FierceHealthIT

Premera’s medical files data may expose other payers, which in turn may legally come after Premera, according to FierceHealthIT.

Only now are health systems and practices focusing on securing all information  (more…)

Assistive tech for older adults gets fresh developer interest, funding

Companies and investors are waking up to the potential of technology to assist both older people, wherever they live, and families to keep in touch, live more safely and to compensate for impediments created by physical or cognitive conditions. Ozy, an online news aggregator new to this Editor, notes the $5 trillion annually that boomers and older adults spend in what’s termed the ‘new old-age economy’ (AARP has previously termed it the ‘longevity economy‘) and that there’s money in tech solutions to their problems. Examples: the Lift Labs [TTA 1 Oct 13] stabilizing food utensil that cancels out most active tremors (as in Parkinson’s) while eating; Caremerge which has EHR, care coordination and secure messaging features for the care team in long-term and transitional care, but also connects families with a smartphone app and residents with reminders; GeriJoy [TTA 3 July 14], a tablet that combines an interactive pet avatar/companion with engagement, reminder and education tools for older and cognitively impaired adults.

While we’ve noted many developments along similar lines over the past ten years, interest and financial backing is aligning. (more…)

W Australia telehealth scheduling contract awarded to Telstra

Telstra Health has won a contract to provide its iScheduler product to the Western Australia Country Health click to enlargeService’s Statewide Telehealth Service, worth $3.2m over five years, according to an article in Pulse+IT. iScheduler will be used to support the scheduling and management of emergency telehealth services, patient telehealth consultations and education and training for doctors, specialists, nurses and other staff according to the article.

The Western Australia Country Health Service is the largest country health service in Australia and one of the biggest in the world, providing health services to approximately half a million people, over a vast 2.5 million square kilometres area. The range of health services provided cover primary health care, emergency and hospital services, population health, mental health, Indigenous health and aged care.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia has, in October last year, previously criticised a new telehealth service launched by Telstra that was to connect patients to random GPs via phone and video, saying it could undermine the viability of rural general practice (see Australian Rural Doctor).
Telstra launched its ReadyCare service in October, announcing it would offer patients around the clock advice, diagnosis, referrals and prescriptions from doctors either over the phone or through video link.
The communications giant had claimed the service will deliver better healthcare to rural and remote Australians who live a long way from their doctor.
But the RDAA and the AMA disagreed.

Next DHACA Members’ Day 27th April – come for free!

The next DHACA members’ Day will take place on April 27th at the Norcroft Conference Centre at Bradford University (Tumbling Hill St, BD7 1DB) starting at 9.30 am – all members are invited, free, and membership currently remains free, too.

The principal focus of the day will be five projects that members of DHACA special interest groups (“SIGs”) are beginning work on – the intention is to engage all DHACA members in at least one. The five projects are:

  • Testbeds for digital health
  • Developing mHealth Apps
  • Wearables for Self-Care
  • Defining the digital platform for citizen engagement with the NHS
  • A Programme of Education to promote apps and other digital technology in self care

To start the day, we have invited Beverley Bryant, Director of Strategic Systems and Technology at NHS England, and Bill McCarthy, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Operations), and Honorary Professor of Health Policy at the University of Bradford, to speak.

Join DHACA here. Book your place for April 27th here.

Radiation from smartwatches, wearables: real, alarmist, or the NY Times?

click to enlargeThe Gimlet Eye has that certain half-baked radioactive ‘glow’. The healtherati are all aTwitter over a New York Times Style (!) section article that does the unthinkable–it dares to raise the question of the possible harm of radiation that wearables, including smartwatches as well as smartphones, might present to both adults and children. The writer, Nick Bilton, is a regular tech columnist.

After an unfortunate baiting for attention at the start, making an analogy of cellphone/wearable radiation to 1930s adverts with doctors ‘endorsing’ cigarettes, he for the most part tries to take a balanced approach. By the end, he lines it up like this. Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi–no evidence of harm in adults. 3G/4G cellphone radiation–you may want to be careful. He points out that studies aren’t definitive. Older studies, such as the WHO’s, a Swedish and some European studies point to harmful (carcinogenic) effects from phones held extensively too close to the head, but nothing is definitive in causality as the CDC pointed out and additional studies have proven no conclusive evidence of harm. Conclusion–use anything 3G/4G with caution, away from the head, limit exposure by children or pregnant women. Cautious enough?

Oddly, he advocates Bluetooth headsets but doesn’t mention using speakerphone settings–and then, for the smashing windup, won’t put the Bluetoothed Apple Watch near his head. It’s a weirdly sourced (an alternative doctor the only one cited? Old studies?) and half-baked, partially tossed salad article. Consider: most wearables are–surprise, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connected. But it does bring up the inconvenient question, only partially answered, of All Those Rads and What (If Anything) Are They Doing To Us.

What’s really interesting? The immediate, twitchy and prolonged press response. As they say in New Jersey, they are ‘jumping ugly’. (more…)

Scotland invests £30M over 3 years on telehealth (UK)

In a news release this morning (19 March 2015) the Scottish Government said it is to allocate click to enlarge£200m over two years to support the implementation of health and social care integration.

According to the release the investment will extend the current Integrated Care Fund into 2016/17 and 2017/18, and comes on top of £100 million of funding already allocated for 2015/16. The money will be distributed among the 32 local NHS and social care partnerships that have been set up as part of the move towards integrated services.

The Integrated Care Fund forms part of over half a billion pounds of Government investment over the next three years that will be used to support integration, including £100 million over three years for delayed discharge, and £30 million over three years for Telehealth.

The Integrated Care Fund supports the implementation of plans to  bring together health and local authority care services by 1 April 2016.  This will give the partnerships the resources to focus on preventative care and early intervention as well as support for people with multiple and long-term conditions. (more…)

Recent developments in digital health – RSM event report

The third successive year’s sellout “Recent developments in digital health” event, hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in London, UK, attracted prestigious speakers from across the NHS, industry and academia and provided delegates with a comprehensive overview of digital healthcare advancements in 2015.

Organised by Dr Andrew Harper, from the Telemedicine & eHealth Section at the RSM, the meeting provided insight into how the NHS is lining up to integrate and deploy digital health technologies to advance patient care.

Attracting senior NHS England members including: Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy; Dr Mahiben Marruthappu and Dr Harpreet Sood, Senior Fellows to the Chief Executive, the vision for digital health integration and deployment throughout the NHS was finely characterised and explained to delegates.

These sessions were supplemented by real-world experiences from Dr Dominic (more…)