Being amused to death?

This short article in Senior Housing Forum (US) by Steve Moran, formerly a community developer and now in the telehealth field, scores neatly and briefly on what is wrong with the ‘hotel’ model of many senior communities. Basically the extent of ‘care’ is such that a premium is placed on entertaining the residents and not in purposeful activity connected to the outside world that provides psychological reward and literally a reason for living. He says it best here:

While I believe entertainment needs to a part of every community’s activity program, I don’t believe it should be the most important part, I would argue that it should be the least significant part.

Activities programs need to start with the premise that seniors want to learn, to grow, to create and are capable of doing so.

What do you think? Let us entertain you to death (Article continuation/conclusion–don’t forget to read comments on both)

‘Smart steth’ listens in on kidney stones (UK)

smartstethoscope-2A ‘Smart’ and rather modest looking stethoscope may pack a big (figurative) punch. When medication does not break up kidney stones, shock wave lithotripsy is often used, but it is difficult to tell when the fragmentation process is complete. This device monitors the pulses as they echo off the stone, and by changes in sound (‘tock’ vs. ‘tick’) can confirm that the stones are shattered (any reference to Mick’s Group is unintentional but unavoidable). In clinical trials it has reported an accuracy rate of 94.7%, far above any existing tech. The Smart Stethoscope delivers no radiation, and can also be used as an assessment tool for probable response to lithotripsy. Developed by Prof. Tim Leighton (left) at University of Southampton with Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation Trust (GSTT) and UK-based tech firm Precision Acoustics Ltd. which will be developing a commercial version. “Smart stethoscope” keeps an ear on kidney stones (Gizmag) Research study in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. University of Southampton announcement.

Overview of telehealth in the VA (US)

Adam Darkins, M.D., who is Chief Consultant, Care Coordination Services, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), recently presented at the Connected Health Symposium on the efforts–and results–of the VA in what they call Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT=telemedicine), Home Telehealth (combined video and telehealth), store and forward (imaging), telemental health and more. This presentation is undated but is recent because of the Federal FY 2012 statistics cited (ending September). The VA is the largest user of telehealth services in the US with nearly 1.4 million consultations a year, over 900 sites of care and growing at 70% per year. 30% of their patients live in rural areas at long distances from VA facilities. They are also the largest database of outcomes over time, and what Dr. Darkins cites as Home Telehealth Savings is $1,999 per patient per year. Much more in this fact-packed 14 page deck. Telehealth Services in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (PDF) VA telehealth services grow by 70 percent with significant utilization, cost savings (FierceMobileGovernment) Hat tip to Mike Clark.

Related: VA to double telehealth consults to veterans (Government Health IT)

Bio on Dr. Darkins reveals his UK roots as a trained neurosurgeon, early telehealth program director at the King’s Fund and founder member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Telemedicine Forum.

Mindings app wins ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition (UK)

Mindings (which allows family and friends to send personal captioned photos, text messages, calendar reminders, social media content and much more to a digital screen in a family member’s home) had a mixed reception from Telecare Aware readers when we mentioned it (references here) but has gone on to beat Just Checking, CareConnectMe, @UK, and Pintrack to £100,000 investment in a Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank for US readers, other country versions listed in Wikipedia) type session organised by Improvement East, in partnership with NHS Midlands and East. Innovation in Adult Health and Social Care Competition. Heads-up thanks to Toni Bunting.

Microchip gives phones X-ray vision

Beyond the eye-catching headline for this pointer-to-the-future item, there are hints that these new chips being developed at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) could be also used for detecting counterfeit drugs (if the manufacturers provided chemical markers, one assumes). Surely there are telehealth monitoring uses this could be put to? Microchip gives phones X-ray vision PSFK item. Heads-up thanks to Toni Bunting.

Report: Telecare and Telehealth – a game changer for health and social care (UK)

Despite the title (we dislike the ‘game changer’ cliché) and the trendy infographics there are some good things about this free 36-page report produced by Deloitte. For example, their use of the terms telecare and telehealth are clearly defined early on – something many forget to do. The early parts are stuffed full of figures and projections, which may be useful. It is descriptive of the current situation in the UK and does not miss some of subtler aspects, such as the different approaches to telehealth that the four nations of the UK have taken. Parts 3 and 4 move on to describe the challenges to the adoption of telecare and telehealth and presents numerous case examples demonstrating the potential benefits.

In all, because the principal author, Karen Taylor, has pulled together and structured so much information it is a great resource that many people putting together business cases will plunder. However, it seems to this editor (Steve) that it lacks an audience and it lacks the bite of the HaCIRIC report featured earlier this week.

Download the report from the Deloitte UK Centre for Health Solutions web page Telecare and Telehealth.

Tell Ecumen what you think of pendant alarms/medical alarms/PERS

Ecumen is conducting an online survey of people over 55 on behalf of a “group of PERS device companies [who] are looking for your input to design the next generation of this product”. Good grief! To mis-quote one of the UK’s ex-prime ministers, Sir John Major, ‘If the answer is more pendants, we are asking the wrong question!” A Personal Emergency Response System Designed by You (No closing date on the survey, but it is still open for you to tell them what you think.) Heads-up thanks to Toni Bunting.

(Ed. Donna note following Ed. Steve: I had quite a bit of contact with Ecumen during my three years at LIG/QuietCare, as they were our lead customer at the time. They are a faith-based non-profit and have 70 senior communities with a range of in-community and at-home services located in four states headquartered in Minnesota. They pride themselves on being a thought and practice leader in their care and if you look elsewhere on the ‘Changing Aging’ blog you’ll see some examples. So let them know what you think both in the survey and in the comment area!)

Ideal Life chooses Orange Business Services to expand its remote health management offering (Canada)

Toronto-based remote health provider Ideal Life announced that it has chosen Orange Business Services to expand its remote monitoring solutions for wellness and chronic conditions to an international audience. Orange will provide seamless machine to machine (M2M) wireless connectivity for Ideal Life in Europe and Latin America, promoting comprehensive remote care to the home and preventing non-critical re-admissions of patients to hospitals. Press release for more information on both partners.

Africa’s mHealth breakthroughs to pave way for US

The United States will look to Africa to gain knowledge about advances in mobile health technologies…While it’s still the early days of mHealth and the digital revolution, “we will see huge breakthroughs in Africa and South Asia,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, speaking at a Monday afternoon mHealth Summit ‘Super Session’ on global implications for mHealth technologies. Africa’s mHealth breakthroughs to pave way for U.S. GovernmentHealthIT.

Or maybe it won’t… Why Nigeria Needs a National eHealth Strategy AllAfrica.

High-end eHealth centres in shipping containers (India)

Shipping containers are being put to all sorts of uses these days, including for homes and shops. Now, in the Kaithal district of Haryana, India, the first of what is intended to be a series of eHealth (telemedicine? telehealth?) centres has been opened in an unused container. Cloud-connected eHealth Centre in Kaithal. Times of India.

This is not the first time Telecare Aware has reported the use of a shipping container for such a purpose. See Telemedicine and mobile IT mobilized for Haiti relief Jan 2010 and US army uses 80-foot container for mental health telehealth booths March 2011.

Telehealth accelerating transplant patients’ recovery in Italy

The Mediterranean Institute for Transplantation and High Specialisation Therapies (Ismett) is a major transplant centre in Italy and has been running a trial with post-transplant patients in partnership with Intel-GE Care Innovations. “The study is still ongoing but the signs are encouraging. Early results that compare a control group of patients who did not use telehealth with those that had suggest that the technology accelerated patient recovery, allowing for early discharge and reduced readmissions – even for patients with complex clinical conditions. And by encouraging regular monitoring, healthcare staff have felt empowered to act sooner to avoid any lapses in a patient’s convalescence and any consequent re-hospitalisation…In fact there have been no readmissions in the intervention group so far, compared to several in the control group.” Italian organ transplant centre trials telehealth The Guardian.

mHealth: evidence, not anecdotes, needed

Earlier this week, Editor Donna, in reviewing David Shaywitz’ Forbes ‘2013 awards’ article on the top book for 2012, noted that disease management (and telehealth overall) has had difficulty with determining traditional ROI. Our long-time readers might remember this editor’s lamentations on the lack of large N studies done over extended periods–the studies which are hard to finance, justify and conduct objectively, especially by early-stage companies struggling to survive. Mr. Shaywitz has graciously commented on our article here noting the ‘outsized claims’ that many programs make, and the difficulty in actually calculating valid ROI not only for health but also wellness outcomes. A further whacking on the same subject was given at the close of the 2012 mHealth Summit by Francis Collins, MD, PhD, the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) director. NIH has only conducted 20 randomized trials of mHealth, and less than half documented any clear evidence of improvement. Despite his own personal commitment (he was a test subject for AliveCor‘s heart monitor), he correctly chides us that ‘the plural of anecdotes is not data.’ Companies, the scientific/academic and healthcare ‘communities’ need to work faster. Here’s his suggestion: a national research network of millions of people, linked through electronic medical records platforms, which would create a database of real-time data. The EMR linkage is ambitious–and probably not workable due to HIPAA privacy regulations–but Ed. Donna has two additional suggestions: incentivize people to do it through a small stipend, like mystery shopping–or use crowdfunding tools to enlist subjects. NIH’s Collins says mHealth needs evidence, not anecdotes (mHIMSS)