Friday, September 10, 2010

Smart Moneys' Take on Aging Technology

Contributing editor Peter Keating, in the September 2010 issue of Smart Money, has made a useful contribution to the examination of aging technology. In his article, Peter argues that emerging aging services products fall into three categories. First, devices such as medication optimizers and telehealth systems, which keep you healthy. Second, there is technology, such as wearable devices that automatically detect falls and alert family members, which promote safety. The third kind of senior technology, such as cell phones with large buttons and bright screens, are designed to make modern gadgets easier to use.

Source: Smart Money, September 2010, pp. 38-39

GE Healthcare and Intel Form New Telehealth Company

This announcement follows the formation of an alliance between the two companies in 2009, and makes good business sense, in my judgment. Many of the players in the aging technology arena are small and inadequately capitalized for the long run. Intel and GE have the deep pockets to stay the course and become THE dominant players.

The new venture will be based in Sacramento, and be owned equally by Intel and GE. Intel will contribute its assistive and remote health technologies, and GE Healthcare will contribute QuietCare, a remote monitoring system. The new company is expected to be operational by year-end.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Telemedicine Conference

The Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College recently sponsored a conference entitled "Communications Technology for Telehealth and Telemedicine." Conference speakers included telehealth experts from Intel, Verizon, Polycom, and the VA region encompassing Florida and Puerto Rico. The range and depth of the presentations were remarkable. Although telemedicine has been around for some time, the technology in support of remote access medical services continues to evolve. The sophistication of diagnostic tools was particularly noteworthy. And, the VA is clearly a role model for telehealth utilization.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

HealthVault Data Uploading

A recent New York Times article notes that Microsoft's new online health data storage system called HealthVault lets users upload data directly to their account from about 50 devices, including many blood pressure and heart rate monitors, and blood glucose meters and weight scales. Owners of the account can then share data with their case manager, who could be tracking their response to a new medication, for example. This is good news. HealthVaults' utility to the consumer will increase significantly with the addition of devices which can upload clinical information to the storage system.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The State of Technology in Aging Services

In March of 2008, the Center for Aging Services Technologies released a useful report on the state of technology in aging services. Three groupings of technologies are cited: health and wellness technologies, safety technologies, and social connectedness technologies. We are reminded of the barriers to technology adoption, which include negative experiences and misconceptions, lack of financial incentives, lack of consensus on value, and inadequate infrastructure. The report concludes with several recommended actions, among which are supporting research on the value of aging technologies, involving older adults in product design, and designing new financial models which combine prospective payment and pay for performance.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Telehealth's Impact on Disease Management

AdvaMed, an advocacy group of medical device manufacturers, diagnostic product firms, and healthcare information technology providers, recently released a report developed by the Center for Telehealth at the Medical College of Georgia. Key report findings follow.

The report, which is based on a review of published studies on telehomecare and remote monitoring, as well as several current case studies, focused primarily on how these technologies have impacted the care of patients with diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Among the findings in the report:

● A study of 281 congestive heart failure patients who received telehomecare found that they experienced a 60 percent reduction in hospital admissions, a 66 percent decline in emergency room visits and a 59 percent reduction in pharmacy utilization. In contrast, the control group experienced increases in all of these areas.

● When patients with severe respiratory illness requiring long-term oxygen therapy were remotely-monitored, hospital admissions decreased by 50 percent, acute clinical problems decreased 55 percent and hospitalization costs went down by 17 percent.

● A study of 400 diabetes patients found that those monitored by in-home glucose meters and video conferencing showed significantly greater improvement in reducing average blood sugar levels than those who did not receive such monitoring.

These are impressive results, to be sure. Additional studies of the use of telehealth with such at risk patients are clearly warranted, if the reimbursement case is to be made.

Free Microchips to Alzheimer's Patients

The October 23-November 5 issue of the Florida Medical Business News featured a story about a joint venture between VeriChip and the Alzheimer's Community Care of West Palm Beach. VeriChip is offering free VeriMed radiofrequency implantable microchips to 200 patients with the disease. There are two goals for the undertaking. The first is to demonstrate that the product and the data base can raise care standards and improve the efficiency of care delivery. The second goal is to help persuade health insurance companies and CMS to provide reimbursement for the service. If one of the 200 patients is found wandering, law enforcement officials can take the patient to one of 12 hospitals with chip readers located in Palm Beach, Martin or St Lucie Counties. The chip contains a 16 digit number which enables medical personnel to access information stored by VeriChip. The patient database includes identification, next of kin contact information, allergies, medications, advance directives, and other pertinent material.