CHC breaking news: Qualcomm on 5G’s $1T impact, Think Fast stroke VR

From the Connected Health Conference in Boston

Qualcomm announced today two releases: an analysis on the effects of 5G mobile on the healthcare sector and the Think Fast virtual reality (VR) simulation program for stroke diagnosis.

5G Mobile: Qualcomm’s study, “5G Mobile: Impact on the Health Care Sector”, found that 5G’s increased data speed, reliability, and security will have a substantial and positive impact on healthcare both in quality and financially. 

  • It will enable the ‘personalization of healthcare’ through permitting the continuous real-time gathering of healthcare data through sensors and on the back end, to process that data usefully. Qualcomm calls this the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) which works for this Editor as long as the devices and apps are secure. (Having worked in telehealth where network drops and latency in many areas, particularly rural, often made check-in via tablet connectivity a matter of the stars aligning right, this is good news–Ed. Donna)
  • It will better support remote diagnosis and imaging, including the application of VR
  • It will facilitate distributed computing, which is data processing closer to the patient, for the greater use of predictive analytics 
  • Faster and more data will help in the transition from volume-based to value-based/outcome-based care
  • Financial impact is estimated by IHS Markit at more than $1.1 trillion in global sales in healthcare by 2035. broken down as follows:
    • $453bn in the healthcare vertical: hospitals, doctors, medical equipment, pharma
    • $409bn in supply chain and related
    • $253bn in added value sectors: payers, data analytics providers, cloud data services

The study was authored by Prof. David J. Teece, Tusher Center for Intellectual Capital, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and supported by Qualcomm. Study PDFPreviously in TTA: Ericsson’s less rosy 5G international healthcare survey [TTA 13 June].

Think Fast VR: FAST–Facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties and time to call emergency services–is the acronym for what to watch for when someone is having a stroke. But if you could observe it in reality, it would be far less ambiguous and more memorable. Think Fast is a VR simulation program that lets the user (a med student, nurse, healthcare educator, or average person) observe a stroke’s effects as if it was happening to them. By stepping inside a stroke victim’s world, it educates on warning signs and critical steps for care. It was designed by ForwardXP using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon VR SDK and Unity 5.6 plugin. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability–which can be minimized or prevented with quick response within three hours. Video below. Hat tip to Ashley Settle of Weber Shandwick

Want to know effectiveness of telehealth, interoperability? NQF reports take their measure.

There’s been an increase in doubt about the efficacy of telemedicine (virtual visits) and telehealth (vital signs monitoring) as a result of the publication of two recent long-term studies, one conducted by the University of Wisconsin and the other by CCHSC for Telemonitoring NI [TTA 13 Sep]. These follow studies that were directionally positive, and in a few cases like the VA studies conducted by Adam Darkins, very much so, but mostly flawed or incomplete (low N, short term, differing metrics). What’s missing is a framework for assessing the results of both. In an exceptionally well-timed announcement, the National Quality Forum (NQF) announced their development of a framework for assessing the quality and impact of telehealth services. 

In a wonder of clarity, the NQF defines telehealth’s scope as telemedicine (live patient-provider video), store-and-forward (e.g. radiology), remote patient monitoring (telehealth), and mobile health (smartphone apps). Measurement covers four categories: patients’ access to care, financial impact to patients and their care team, patient and clinician experience, and effectiveness of clinical and operational systems. Within these categories, NQF identified six areas as having the highest priority for measurement: travel, timeliness of care, actionable information, added value of telehealth to provide evidence-based practices, patient empowerment, and care coordination. Finally, the developing committee identified 16 measures that can be used to measure telehealth quality.

The NQF also issued a similar framework for interoperability, a bête noire that has led many a clinician and developer to the consumption of adult beverages. Again there are four categories: the exchange of electronic health information, its usability, its application, and its impact—on patient safety, costs, productivity, care coordination, processes and outcomes, and patients’ and caregivers’ experience and engagement. And it kept the committee very busy indeed with, from the release, “53 ideas for measures that would be useful in the short term (0-3 years), in the mid-term (3-5 years) and in the long-term (5+ years). It also identified 36 existing measures that serve as representative examples of these measure ideas (sic) and how they could be affected by interoperability.”

Both reports were commissioned and funded a year ago by the US Health & Human Services Department (HHS). We will see if these frameworks are extensively used by researchers.

NQF release, Creating a Framework-Telehealth (download link), Creating a Framework-Interoperability (download link), Mobihealthnews 

12 percent of US veterans now using VA telehealth services

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has some good news (for a change)–that during the just-closed Federal FY 2014, 690,000 veterans, or 12 percent, used telehealth services. This was a 13.3 percent increase over FY 2013 (608,900). While this report is preliminary (beware!), we see a slowing of growth in the number of veterans accessing telehealth and a concentration–not dispersal–of telehealth services in rural areas (+ 10 points). This chart compares the numbers:

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/VA-2014-vs-2013.jpg” thumb_width=”350″ /]

Chart: EIC Donna. Please note that percentage of telehealth users add up to over 100 percent due to usage (one patient could access two or three forms of telehealth. FY14 telehealth user breakout is estimate based on FY13 percentage, to be eventually compared to official figures.)

Telehealth as defined by VA: (more…)