Issues

Desperately Seeking Spectrum

Consumer and Business members of CALinnovates were treated to a panel discussion featuring Chairman Julius Genachowski, CALinnovates Board Member Ron Conway, Andreessen-Horowitz VC Jeff Jordan, Twilio’s Jeff Lawson, Lookout’s John Hering and foursquare’s Holger Luedorf in San Francisco at the Founders Den.  The panel, moderated by CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery, addressed the need to unleash spectrum in order to stimulate the economy, create jobs, speed up our networks, and support innovation at every level.

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Mobile Broadband Expansion Means Jobs Growth, Experts Say

By Matt Hamblen | Computerworld

Expanding mobile broadband services in the U.S. in the coming years would produce thousands of new jobs and help reverse today’s downward employment trend, a group of economic development and business officials said Wednesday.

“As mobile broadband is built out, you are likely to see jobs created,” said Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist for the Progressive Policy Institute during a conference call sponsored by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA).

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Connect people to health by increasing access to technology

By Kweisi Mfume
5:32 p.m. EDT, August 15, 2011

When we think of the technological advances of the past 20 years, one in particular will probably come to mind for most Americans: wireless technology, which now enables us to access the Internet from anywhere. But when most Americans think of the top uses for the wireless Internet, health care is probably not the first thing on that list. Perhaps, in the near future, it will be.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-08-15/news/bs-ed-broadband-20110815_1_health-care-health-disparities-african-american

Access to Technology & Broadband

“105 families in California add a broadband connection every hour”

The term “broadband” refers to the high-speed internet service which allows users to access a large volume of data very quickly. Think of it like a highway: the more lanes there are, the more traffic that can pass through efficiently. For instance, a very narrow road (or single-band signal) only has the capacity for light traffic, or Morse Code, for instance. Larger bandwidth can handle more types of data – such as telephone communication or music on the radio. A broadband “highway” has the capacity to move more complex and larger data vehicles very rapidly.

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Hospitals, doctors jumping into the digital age

By Andrea Suozzo  | Addison County Independent

While iPad-carrying doctors might seem futuristic, that image is not too far off for Porter Medical Center’s staff.

On Aug. 1, Porter flipped the switch on the first part of an information system that will digitize most functions at the hospital and its 11 satellite practices.

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Healthcare IT Solutions

Engaging Patients with “Gamified” Mobile Care

There’s a new buzzword floating about town.  That word is “gamification”.  So, what is it, and why do I think it has everything to do with the fastest moving trend in healthcare technology?

In their great piece on gamification, Mashable defines the term as “the use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications. The term also suggests the process of using game thinking to solve problems and engage audiences.”

Gamification is seen as the next frontier in mobile, web, and social technology.  Industries far and wide are climbing on board with the trend in hopes of engaging consumers.  In this age where patient engagement is at the fore (read: I sunk a good half hour of my life playing with the symptom checker on the Texas Health homeage) healthcare organizations can certainly profit from this trend more now than ever before.

Using Gamification to Solve Health Problems

The best thing about gamification is that it can be used to solve real-world health problems like diet, fitness, adherence to medication, and managing care protocols.

In a recent article on MobiHealth News entitled, “Should health apps be as fun as Angry Birds?”  Dr. Jessie Gruman is profiled as asking developers to explore what their target audiences have to accomplish in their daily lives to manage their medical issues.  Devices and apps should simplify those tasks for patients.  Even more, Dr. Gruman feels it is important to not just get caught up in the fun and frivolity of gamification.  Rather, these health apps should make the lives of those managing chronic disease easier.

In the Mashable article, Gabe Zichermann, the author of Game-Based Marketing, speaks of balancing the fun and frivolity of gamification with the task of making life easier for cancer patients.  He says, “I don’t presume to think that we can make having cancer into a purely fun experience,” he says. “But, we have data to show that when we give cancer patients gamified experiences to help them manage their drug prescriptions and manage chemotherapy, they improve their emotional state and also their adherence to their protocol.”

The obstacle that gamified health apps enable clinicians to overcome is helping patients manage guilt over failure to comply.  This is the key obstacle patients face when attempting to follow a diet, fitness, or medication regimen.  Games help patients manage that guilt.  The game navigates patients through their story of successes and failures until they ultimately become victorious.

Docs Love Mobile Devices, But Need Smarter Features

Vendors need to provide native applications and more intelligence to get EHRs to “play nicely” with mobile devices.

“Whatever the objections to mobility have been in the past, they are falling away as everything wireless becomes more powerful, more affordable and more user-friendly.”

That’s the conclusion of a new white paper from research firm Frost & Sullivan that summarizes the burgeoning new uses for mobile devices in healthcare.

Kenneth Kleinberg, a consultant with the Advisory Board, agreed with this perspective. “There’s a huge flood of interest in using tablets and smartphones by physicians,” he said. “They’re going to use whatever works to make their jobs easier and faster. They love these devices. They want to use them in the hospital and the provider environment.”

Frost & Sullivan projects smartphone penetration in North America will jump from 24% to 67% by 2015. Physicians are far ahead of the general population in this respect. Sixty-four percent of doctors were using smartphones in March 2010, according to a Manhattan Research study.

Frost & Sullivan noted that smartphone applications for healthcare range from drug and clinical references to diagnostic tools to real-time patient recordkeeping. In addition, its report said, “Electronic health records (EHRs) can be accessed via smartphone, allowing caregivers to diagnose and communicate virtually anywhere, anytime, including at the point of care.” It noted, however, that smartphones have limited displays and processing power, so they may yield incomplete information and require time-consuming paging through multiple screens.

The white paper pointed out that tablet computers have been around since the 1980s–and, noted Kleinberg, have had some impact on healthcare for the past decade. “However,” Frost & Sullivan observed, “a slimmer, less expensive, more feature-packed version is now taking the mobile device industry by storm. These new iterations, launched by a growing list of top-tier vendors, have significant potential in the healthcare sector.”

Among the uses for these tablets–which include iPads and the like–are applications for “diagnostic imaging and video, quick access to educational and reference resources, and on-the-spot access to electronic patient records,” said the report. Native applications being developed for the tablet, it notes, include those for MRI viewers, mobile film readers, and mobile medical calculators.

Kleinberg pointed out that clinicians can’t make good use of EHRs on either tablets or smartphones unless the software vendors have written device-specific native versions of their EHRs. “Depending on how the screen was designed and what the resolution is, the application might not fit well,” he said, if it were accessed through a browser or Citrix. “Also, the handwriting recognition might not be effective.”

So where do the vendors stand on mobile devices? “Almost every major vendor has a ‘skunkworks‘ that is working toward native support of at least a couple of these devices, like an iPad or an Android smartphone,” Kleinberg responded. “Some of them can demonstrate this now; some of them have even released it. But it’s a difficult, time-intensive venture to design these versions.”

The mobile health explosion is coming at a time when other issues–including Meaningful Use and ICD-10–are placing big demands on their resources, Kleinberg noted. The bigger companies are capable of forging ahead on all fronts, but the smaller firms may have to put off designing native mobile applications.

The new generation of devices “is almost there,” he said, for effective use of EHRs. A physician can document a visit on an iPad, for example, by using the touchscreen, typing, digital handwriting, and voice recognition. But the workflow factor has not been sufficiently addressed. To reduce the number of screens a physician has to go through and the amount of data he has to enter, he said, applications must be designed with more intelligent features.

“EHR vendors have not done a very good job of designing knowledge-based algorithms that take the information you’ve provided and attempt to reduce the number of questions you have to answer to get to the solution,” said Kleinberg.

iPads are perfectly capable of handling other tasks, such as viewing digital images or taking photos of a patient to show his condition, Kleinberg said. And doctors can use various mobile devices to place orders in computerized physician order entry systems, as long as they don’t expect much in the way of decision support, he added.

The main advantage of mobile devices, he said, is that they have the potential to increase physician adoption of health IT, because doctors love their smartphones and iPads. “If these mobile devices get physicians to use these systems, the adoption issue–which is crucial for Meaningful Use—will be alleviated.”

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