In two little-noted decisions formally announced yesterday (30 June), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned the funding by the FCC Universal Service Fund (USF) of the purchase or use of equipment or services provided by China’s Huawei and ZTE. The USF funds rural internet, Lifeline for low-income consumers, Indian Tribal initiatives, schools and libraries, and the Rural Health Care program–a substantial part of the national network which will also discourage private companies from use of their equipment as Verizon, Sprint, et al participate in these programs.
Both Huawei and ZTE have been found by the US government–and many others–to be extensively tied to the Chinese government and military, obligating these two companies to permit their systems to be used for espionage, plus numerous known cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities in their equipment. Other national governments have felt likewise including the UK, which is reevaluating its former permission for their participation in the 5G rollout. FCC release, Huawei order, ZTE order, ZDNet (UK)
CES Unveiled, Metropolitan Pavilion, NYC, Thursday 9 November
The Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) press preview of the gargantuan CES 9-12 January 2018 Las Vegas event was the first of several international preview ‘road shows’. It’s a benchmark of the ebb and flow of health tech and related trends on the grand scale. Gone are the flashy wearables which would change colors based on our sweat patterns and heart rate, or track the health and movement of pets. Now it’s the Big Issues of 5G, AI, machine learning, AR/VR, and smart cities. Entertainment, especially sports, are now being reinvented by all of these.
The developments this Editor gleaned from the mountain of information CEA plies us keyboard tappers that are most relevant to healthcare are:
Wireless 5G. As this Editor has written previously from Ericsson and Qualcomm, 5G and 5G New Radio will enable amazingly fast mobile speeds and hard-to-believe fast connectivity by 2019. It will enable IoT, self-driving cars, cars that communicate with each other, reconstruction of industrial plants, electric distribution, multimodal transport, and perhaps the largest of all, smart cities. The automation of everything is the new mantra. Accenture estimates the impact will be 3 million new jobs (nothing about loss), annual GDP increased by $500bn, and drive a $275bn investment from telecom operators.
AI. Society will be impacted by machine learning, neural networks and narrow (e.g. calorie counting, diagnostics) versus general AI (simulation of human intelligence). This affects voice-activated assistants like Echo, Alexa, and Google Home (now owned by 12 percent of the population, CES survey) as well as robotics to ‘read’ us better. These conversations with context may move to relationships with not only these assistants but home robots such as from Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri (which this Editor attempted to interact with on the show floor, to little effect and disappointment). Oddly not mentioned were uses of AI in ADL and vital signs tracking interpreted for predictive health.
Biometrics. This will affect security first in items like padlocks (the new Bio-Key Touchlock) using fingerprint recognition and smart wallets, then facial recognition usable in a wide variety of situations such as workplaces, buildings, and smartphones. Imagine their use in items like key safes, phones, home locks, and waypoints inside the home for activity monitoring.
AR and VR. Power presence now puts viewers in the middle of a story that is hard to distinguish from reality. The pricing for viewers is dropping to the $200-400 range with Oculus Go and Rift. At the Connected Health Conference, this Editor saw how VR experiences could ease anxiety and disconnectedness in older people with mobility difficulties or dementia (OneCaringTeam‘s Aloha VR) or pain reduction (Cedars-Sinai tests). The other is Glass for those hands-on workers [TTA 24 July] and heads-up displays in retail.
CES is also hosting the fourth Extreme Tech Challenge. Of the ten semi-finalists showing down on 11 January, three are in healthcare: Neurotrack to assess and improve memory; Tissue Analytics that uses smartphone cameras to assess wounds and healing; and (drum roll) the winner of TTA’s Insanely Cute Factor competition, the Owlet smart sock for baby monitoring [TTA’s backfile here]. One of the judges is Sir Richard Branson, who will host the finalists on 28 February on Necker Island (which hopefully will be rebuilt by that time).
After the nearly two-hour briefing, CEA hosted a mini-show on the ground floor of the Metropolitan. (more…)
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 PDF. Previously 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
Ericsson, one of Europe’s leading telecom companies, earlier this month published its latest ConsumerLab report, “From Healthcare to Homecare” on the next generation of healthcare enabled by the greater speed and security of 5G–the fifth generation of wireless mobile. Their key findings among consumers and industry decision makers contained surprises:
Growing frustration with hospital wait times. 39 percent prefer an online consult with a doctor versus waiting for the face-to-face.
Wearables are perceived as better ways to monitor and even administer medication for chronic conditions–nearly two in three consumers want them. But medical grade wearables will be required.
Yet the current state doesn’t lend itself to these wishes. “55 percent of healthcare decision makers from regulatory bodies say these devices are not sufficiently accurate or reliable for diagnosis. In addition, for liability reasons it will be very difficult to rely on patients’ smartphones for connectivity….medical-grade wearables will be required. Such devices could also automatically dispense medicine and offer convenience to those recovering from surgery.”
+/- 60 percent of surveyed consumers believe that wearables will improve lifestyles, provide personalized care, and put people in control of their own health.
There’s real security concerns that 5G is expected to access: “61 percent of consumers say remote robotic surgery is risky as it relies on the internet….47 percent of telecom decision makers say that secure access to an online central repository [of medical records] is a key challenge and expect 5G to address this.” Surprisingly, only 46 percent of cross-industry decision makers consider data security to be an issue. Battery power is also a significant concern for over half in wearables, a problem that over 40 percent will be helped by 5G.
Even more surprising is the lack of desire for consumer access to their medical records–only 35 percent of consumers believe that it will help them easily manage the quality and efficiency of their care. In contrast, 45 percent of cross-industry experts consider the central repository as a breakthrough in healthcare provisioning.
Decentralizing care into the home is seen as worthwhile by a majority of industry decision makers
The Proteus smart pill, once found to be so ‘creepy’, is making its first significant international move by planning to build a UK plant ultimately capable of turning out 10 billion units annually, and also partnering with several NHS-affiliated groups: Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN), The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and Oxford University, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and Oxford Academic Health Science Network (OAHSN). According to their CEO Andrew Thompson (quoted in Mobihealthnews), this starts the long NHS tendering and commissioning process. Beyond the sensors in the Proteus pill, the signal is picked up by a disposable patch receiver which transmits via Bluetooth to a smartphone and a tracking app. The business model in their current and future projected digital health devices is based on delivering an outcome, providing vital information about medication-taking behaviors and how your body is responding, not selling the device. How this will blend with the NHS model is a good guess, but the article points out that this may take up some of the loss of pharmaceutical manufacturing business in the UK–a big plus.
And all the bandwidth that Proteus will take up will be no problem, since UK and Germany will be jointly developing 5G wireless networks in the next two years which verily will gulp down all that data, along with having all your devices share the IOT (Internet of Things) chat line while you fast forward that 800 MB movie. The team consists of the University of Dresden, King’s College University in London and the University of Surrey. Note PM David Cameron’s writing pad versus Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tablet/folder combo at the photo taken at the CeBIT 2014 announcement. Daily Mail. Hat tip on both items to reader Mike Short and our own Editor Charles Lowe.
Telehealth and Telecare Aware posts pointers to a broad range of news items. Authors of those items often use terms 'telecare' and telehealth' in inventive and idiosyncratic ways. Telecare Aware's editors can generally live with that variation. However, when we use these terms we usually mean:
• Telecare: from simple personal alarms (AKA pendant/panic/medical/social alarms, PERS, and so on) through to smart homes that focus on alerts for risk including, for example: falls; smoke; changes in daily activity patterns and 'wandering'. Telecare may also be used to confirm that someone is safe and to prompt them to take medication. The alert generates an appropriate response to the situation allowing someone to live more independently and confidently in their own home for longer.
• Telehealth: as in remote vital signs monitoring. Vital signs of patients with long term conditions are measured daily by devices at home and the data sent to a monitoring centre for response by a nurse or doctor if they fall outside predetermined norms. Telehealth has been shown to replace routine trips for check-ups; to speed interventions when health deteriorates, and to reduce stress by educating patients about their condition.
Telecare Aware's editors concentrate on what we perceive to be significant events and technological and other developments in telecare and telehealth. We make no apology for being independent and opinionated or for trying to be interesting rather than comprehensive.