Breaking news – an NHS innovation failure

As a sad indication of the NHS’s – and the UK health & care system in general’s – inability to innovate, v-connect, previously known as Red Embedded, has made the following announcement:

“It is with great regret that we are discontinuing the v-connect service as of the 31st October 2016. I am sure that the reasons will be understandable to you but here is a short summary. The video technology has been in development for more than eleven years. The efforts to commercialise the technology, in care, have been in progress for more than seven. In that time we have developed many features that support people to live independently at home supported by a personalised set of connections and facilities matched to their needs. We were guided by the continual calls for integrated care, personalisation and care closer to  home. We have been somewhat successful in obtaining project and grant funding to facilitate this. (more…)

Telemedicine coordinators help improve user numbers in Queensland

The demand for telemedicine services in south western Queensland is reported to have tripled from 8 consultations a month click to enlargeto about 35-40 following the appointment of coordinators who show patients how to use the service. The Queensland Government media statement issued last week quotes the coordinator at Charleville Hospital as saying 99% of people prefer the service to traveling to see a specialist face to face.

The video link service connects doctors with patients from 2 rural hospitals and one district hospital in south west Queensland. These are relatively small hospitals with 24 to 39 beds and use Flying Doctors to provide some of the facilities such as surgery. Alternative for patients, say in Charleville, could be a 7 hr 620 km drive to Toowoomba or a 8 1/2 hour 750km drive to Brisbane to see a specialist for a 10 minute appointment.

Sony to launch new telehealth camera at Australian Healthcare Week

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Sony Australia and New Zealand today announced it will officially launch its new Patient Monitor telehealth camera system at Australian Healthcare Week. Sony’s IP Patient Monitor,  NCSRS46P, has been developed in Australia to meet the specific needs of regional healthcare, according to Sony.

The solution enables two-way audio and one-way video communication over IP, typically a broadband internet connection. It has been created in an environment where privacy, ease of installation, simplicity of use and reliability are key concerns. The camera has a powerful 36x optical zoom that allows the healthcare professional or specialist to easily and efficiently view the area of interest and effectively assist with diagnosis.

Although the official launch is next week, there are over 200 IP Patient Monitors in use across Australia, say Sony, including in New South Wales where they are used as part of the Greater Western Clinical Outreach Project.

The Australian Healthcare Week will be from 25-27 March at the Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh, New South Wales.

Telepsychiatry: a new practitioner’s experience

Daniel W. Knoedler, MD in Psychiatric News chronicles his first week as a full-time telepsychiatrist, working for the Green Bay VA Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is definitely a bit stressed as he adjusts to working alone in a cold basement, his image in the video system and the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Psychiatrist who doesn’t have face-to-face contact with patients–and his own socialization. Yet he thinks telemedicine is useful in addressing the lack of access to care for patients and that the technology is not much of a barrier. He does worry about the consequences of not shaving, leading to some musings on Howard Hughes.  Telepsychiatry: First Week in the Trenches

Smaller scale telehealth and telecare successes

It is usually the large scale telehealth and telecare projects that hit the news, be it for their successes or, indeed, failures. So as the new year starts, let’s celebrate a couple of  smaller scale projects which have made progress recently.

From Coldwater, Michigan, we have a student telehealth scheme opening this month. With significant funding from the Michigan Department of Community Health, clinics will be opened in two schools in Branch County to provide primary healthcare services from a central Adolescent and Pediatric Center which has four physicians and a nurse practioner. A school based nurse provides physical assessment of students in need and, if appropriate, links via video to the Center to consult a physician or the nurse practitioner. Diagnostic equipment at the schools are also networked so the Center staff have access to these in real time. Prescriptions, if needed are sent direct to a convenient pharmacy. The state funding provides the majority of costs for equipment, a nurse at each school and operation for 3 years. See Branch County CHC website for more details.

From the other side of the Atlantic, in Doncaster, England, the local council’s telecare service reported that it has reached its 1,000th user. Doncaster’s service povides access to a comprehensive range of sensors from simple fall detectors to other sensors placed discreetly around the home on ceilings, doors, walls, beds and chairs. The 24-hour monitoring service attracts a weekly charge under £4 and there is no charge for the equipment. The benefit to the user is obvious and the Council benefits too, as it has an obligation to provide care services to residents who are unable to live at home.

Telekinesis to help paralysed people – gets closer

Happy to add another ‘tele-‘ to our range of interests when it’s as interesting as this…a relatively untrained volunteer controls a flying model helicopter drone my means of thought via an electrode cap, a computer, and wifi. Article about it here. Heads up thanks to Toni Bunting, TANN Ireland.

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]

Related item, also thanks to Toni: Use Universal Gesture Control From Any Room In Your House.

O2’s mobile care – in a shop near you (UK)

It is just over five years since Paul Gee, then CEO of the Telecare Services Association (TSA), flagged up to members in a prescient article that the time would come when it would be possible to buy a mobile telecare device in a supermarket [Telecare Soapbox: Tesco Telecare]. The question he posed was ‘How far away?’ Now we know. It took five years, but it arrives today. The telecare suppliers of the time did not respond to the wake-up call and they have now been overtaken by O2, the mobile arm of Telefónica in the UK. At the press conference in London yesterday O2 announced the next stage in the development of its Help at Hand service and several points struck this editor as particularly interesting: (more…)

Gesture-based control of the Kompaï robot (France)

A number of Robosoft’s Kompaï robots were put out and about with academic institutions [TA May 2010] to encourage a diversity of developments that may eventually lead to it becoming a companion robot for old or disabled people. The following video shows the result of one such collaboration, with Kompaï being taught to respond to gestures. It’s all very early stage but could have potential for use by people who have lost language function owing to strokes.

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]

According to the information on YouTube, the video “shows gesture-based control of the robuLAB10/Kompaï robot performing the tasks of person tracking and person following. Both gesture-recognition and person-tracking algorithms use input from the Microsoft Kinect camera mounted on a pan-tilt mechanism. We used a set of gestures to switch between the tasks and to finally stop the robot. The video shows two scenarios in which we implemented two different person-following algorithms. This work was done in collaboration between Humbolt University of Berlin (Germany), Ben-Gurion University (Israel) and Robosoft (France) as a part of EU FP7 INTRO project.”

Cometh the hour, cometh the video (UK)

Just now, as telehealth proponents circle the waggons to stand firm against the onslaughts of telehealth opponents, what is needed is a GP to sit down and have a relaxed consulting room chat explaining from his experience of telehealth vital signs monitoring just where the benefits are for GPs, what the learning curve was, and why they should consider using it.

And here is South Gloucestershire GP Dr Richard Berkley, doing just that…
 

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]

 
The 16 minute video could be tightened up a little but any GP who takes the time to sit through it is surely likely to be a lot less resistant by the end. The mystery is why a Tunstall-produced and branded video put on YouTube by Gloucestershire PCT has had so few views – 133 to date since it was posted 15 months ago in October 2011. Maybe the time was not right before the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme results and the subsequent kerfuffle but it seems much more relevant today.

Perhaps, with the blessing of Tunstall’s CEO Gil Baldwin, who is the 3ML Working Group’s vice-chair, 3ML could get one of its other contributing companies to edit out the Tunstall references, re-brand the video as 3ML and put it on their home page.

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Is ‘independence’ the key reason people value telecare and telehealth?

Appello asked delegates at the International Telecare and Telehealth Conference – and Twitter users following the event – to fill in the blank in the following question: “I believe what service users value most is…”. They created the video below to demonstrate their findings. It identifies that key words used by delegates were; ‘independence’, ‘reassurance’, ‘peace of mind’ and ‘convenience’.

Carl Atkey, head of Appello said: “We wanted to get real insight into how people in the telehealth and telecare industry think patients perceive telehealth. Words like ‘independence’ illustrate that telehealth and telecare can provide a real life-line to the people at the heart of the service, who often have no one else to rely on or who would like to have greater control over their long term condition. We want to obtain as many views as possible, so if you would like to tell us your opinion, tweet @talk2appello.”

[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]

P4 Digital Conference 2012 videos (Scotland)

Over 160 delegates attended Scotland’s P4 Digital Conference last month (20 and 21 November 2012). Topics concerning digital healthcare branding, consumer psychology, sports physiology and design were covered. Thanks to the Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the conference sponsors, LifeScan Scotland Ltd, Health Science Scotland, Healthcare Group CSC, NHS 24, Scottish Lifesciences Association and Video3 Technologies for making 5 recordings of the sessions available to the public here: P4 Digital Conference 2012.

All the telehealth you need, ‘in’ your phone

phone-sensorsIf the Lifewatch V does what it claims to do, hubs and connected devices may be on their way to obsolescence.  Using sensors on and apps in an Android-based smartphone, it measures ECG (one lead), body temperature, blood glucose, heart rate, oxygen saturation, body fat percentage and stress levels (heart rate variability), delivering the test results to a cloud-based server accessible for analysis and sending to the monitoring physician or clinician. For blood glucose, your strips are actually inserted into the phone.  There’s also a med reminder, a pedometer application, diet plans and logs for exercise and weight.  Whew!  The company is based in Israel and is actively seeking partners for launch into markets.  Gizmodo calls it the smartphone that could save your life.  Oh yes, it alerts a call center–and you can make phone calls, text and email too.  Not FDA approved as of yet, but it is definitely in the whiz-bang category.  Hat tip to one of our readers (at his request, anonymous.)