Internet of Things (IoT) and Your Healthcare

IoT for Healthcare — A $163 billion opportunity

Internet of Things Enabled Healthcare

Healthcare is a highly valuable albeit highly contentious industry. Soaring costs, complex insurance regulations used at times as much for political leverage as for ensuring patient care, overworked doctors and nurses, and ongoing public health issues all influence the way patients interact with medical professionals and other caregivers.

illustration of smartphones, computers, etc. used for healthcare IoTTo some extent all of these problems, along with many others that plague healthcare service delivery, could be streamlined, and outcomes improved, through better access to real-time information, innovative monitoring techniques and predictive diagnostics–all solutions the Internet of Things can enable.

IoT as a Healthcare Industry Disruptor

Based on research conducted by Accenture Consulting and published earlier this year, 73% of healthcare executives think IoT will be “disruptive” within three years. In keeping with a broader theme impacting enterprise IoT adoption, the research further finds that only 49% of healthcare executives say “their leaders completely understand what” the IoT means for the industry.

Despite an apparent hesitancy, digital research firm eMarketer projects an $163 billion value for IoT-related healthcare by 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of more than 38% from a 2015 baseline.

An executive summary in the research report outlines a number of key use cases:

  • Internet-enabled devices and sensors seamlessly collect and analyze real-time health and fitness data.
  • Connect entire networks of medical devices.
  • Locate healthcare-related assets.
  • Streamline patient care and medical research.

It’s already tracking:

  • Pharmaceutical inventory
  • Helping elderly patients stay safe in their homes
  • Powering prescription bottles that remind people when to take their medications

Value From Data

IBM has tailored its cognitive data analysis platform Watson for healthcare, and has placed major emphasis on its health-related products and services. For Watson Health, IBM cites four primary benefits of data insight created by connected appliances:

  1. optimized organizational performance
  2. better customer engagement
  3. enhanced decision making
  4. management of patient experience while gaining cost efficiencies

    [READ FULL STORY HERE]

OvidVR Uses Virtual Reality for Surgical Training on Hip and Knee Replacements

Can immersive virtual reality (VR) be used to prep medical students and surgical residents for the operating room? OvidVR hopes to do just that with its Ovid-Total Knee Arthroplasty and Ovid-Total Hip Arthroplasty VR simulations.

photo of VR training for surgeons doing hip or knee replacementsJust launched in May 2017, the development team is promoting OvidVR as a safe surgical training environment with hyperrealistic simulation. The team hopes to reportedly “fill a clear gap in simulation based medical training.” It’s not meant to replace the traditional cadaver lab, but rather complement it, a common theme I’ve run across in studying how VR may be utilized in the medical field. Additionally, OvidVR isn’t meant to be a solitary training tool, as it features multi-user co-op mode.

Furthermore, user performance analytics are built into the software, potentially allowing attendings and other supervisors of trainees to provide feedback on surgical skills.

Current OvidVR demonstration videos feature the surgical training software running on the HTC Vive platform, however, the Oculus Rift system is also shown in product photos (both are supported per OvidVR staff). Their entire setup is supposedly able to be a “complete mobile set up , everything fits inside of a backpack, giving you the freedom to learn at home or office”, which would likely require at least a laptop to power the hardware running the VR simulation as well as the headset and trackers.

While the current market of VR surgical simulation training program is nowhere as crowded as the general medical app genre, OvidVR isn’t the only player. OssoVR (also orthopedics focused, just landed $2million in seed funding) and FundamentalVR (which incorporates a heavy dose of haptics with their VR model for surgery training) are some of the other alternatives. While not specifically for surgery, SimX offers another take on medical training using mobile VR.

The entertainment industry has recently helped make immersive VR more accessible for all, and the future of this technology in the medical field appears bright.

[SEE ORIGINAL STORY HERE]

What do Surgeons and Elevators Technicians Have in Common?

There is no excuse today for the surgeon to learn on the patient” — William J. Mayo, 1927.

For a long time, in medicine, this was the only way to learn.
Luckily for doctors and patients, we now have the ability to integrate visualization, computing, performance measures and simulated procedures.

AR can help surgeons become more efficient at surgeries, as well as train them safely without having to use actual humans.

For example, though AR an accurate 3-dimensional reconstruction of the body can be created, empowering surgeons with a sort of x-ray vision (in real time, and without radiation!)

One of the barriers to developing virtual and augmented reality surgical simulation has been the large amount of computing capacity required to remove delays in signal processing. Also fortunately for us, systems that break down tasks are addressing the issue, and as A.I. gets more and more intelligent, we are certainly heading towards a healthcare revolution. Imagine what will happen once quantum computing is here!

So, what do surgeons and elevator technicians have in common? They can both benefit enormously from AR.

ThyssenKrupp, the big elevator company, is trying out the HoloLens with its elevator maintenance teams. Techinicians can use AR to dig into the problems of thousands of different configurations and millions of parts that make the elevators they maintain. And they can do it more quickly and safely.

With AR, you are looking through the headset at the real thing, augmented with additional information. There’s no substitute for learning on the spot. AR puts the equipment in the hands of the person.

On-the-job training can be taken to a whole new level thanks to AR. Imagine a new hire faced with in real-world situations in which they must perform their job duties. Millions of new employees could be trained using these technologies. Seems like hyper-training, for good or bad, is here to stay.


VR at its best shouldn’t replace real life, just modify it, giving us access to so much just out of reach physically, economically. If you can dream it, VR can make it. — MATTHEW SCHNIPPER, “Seeing Is Believing: The State of Virtual Reality”

Augmented reality is truly revolutionizing the way we interact with information, with our history and the world around us. Its availability makes it the perfect tool for small-scale grandeur.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

Top 3 Pitfalls When Implementing Wellness In The Workplace

08/23/17     ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Pitfall warning sign for article, Top 3 Pitfalls When Implementing Wellness In The WorkplaceNumerous studies demonstrate the benefits of wellness programs and their positive impact of reducing workers’ compensation costs.  While they can reduce costs in a program of any size, it is important to be aware of some common pitfalls organizations face when implementing wellness in the workplace programs.

A Common Hypothetical

The owner of the Acme Widget Company attends a workers’ compensation seminar and learns about the benefits of wellness programs in the workplace.  After returning, he installs a basketball hoop and buys a ball for employee’s to use while on their lunch break.  Postings about the basketball hoop were posted in common spaces and the owner strongly encouraged all employees play during their break times.

After the installation, the employees were excited.  A “one on one” league soon formed and the owner administered it.  Shortly thereafter, John Doe, the chief widget engineer, injured his knee why playing.  Is the injury compensable?

In Hemmler v. WCAB-Clarks Summit State Hospital, 569 A.2d 395 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990), the following injury was found to be compensable.  Like anything, these cases are fact dependent.  Central to the court’s review were the following issues:

  • Did the injury take place while the employee was engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs?
  • Was the injury caused by a condition of the employer’s premises that was a required part of the employee’s employment at the time of the injury?

Avoiding Work Comp Issues While Promoting Wellness

Promoting wellness within the workplace can create a double-edged sword for employers.  Liability will not be ignored in many instances even though the concept of healthy living and better health are a noble cause.  Proactive stakeholders can take the following steps to avoid liability from injuries suffered when employees engage in wellness-related programming.

In reviewing cases that involve injuries while engaging in workplace wellness programs, courts will generally examine whether the activity in question “furthers” the business or affairs of the employer.  Because wellness programs reduce workers’ compensation costs, courts have found the requisite connection between the work activities and an injury to uphold compensability and force the payment of various workers’ compensation benefits in certain instances.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

Reducing Work Comp Cost via Focus on Cultural Competence

illustration of multi colored hands for article, Reducing Work Comp Cost via Focus on Cultural CompetenceThe changing American workforce requires workers’ compensation professionals and stakeholders to step outside their comfort zones and challenge stereotypes and bias.  This includes the ability to work with people from different ethnic backgrounds to promote a workplace dedicated to safety.  Achieving  cultural competence requires full engagement from leaders within the company and insurance carriers.

 

Common Cultural Barriers to An Effective Work Comp Program

The great American melting pot continues to change.  This includes immigration from different parts of the world with people who seek their pursuit of happiness and a better life in the United States.  These changes impact workers’ compensation programs based on barriers that need to be broken down.  Common barriers include:

  • Mistrust of the government, including courts and government officials. Workers’ compensation programs involve a component of government involvement, including industrial commissions and judges.  A mistrust of these officials can impact how immigrants perceive justice.
  • Perceptions within one’s community by ethnic groups following a work injury. Even in instances where an injury is temporary, there is an underlying stigma attached in some communities that transcends the confines of the law and a workers’ compensation act.  Lack of self-worth following an injury trickles down to prolonged medical care and receipt of indemnity benefits.
  • Inherent risk of injury to new immigrant populations. Countless studies demonstrate non-white and/or non-English speaking populations suffer work injuries at a greater frequency than Caucasian and/or English speaking populations.  Like immigrants from Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, today’s immigrants tend to have fewer transferable job skills as whole and gravitate toward positions resulting in a higher frequency of injury.

Improve Your Safety Training Through the Use of Technology

08/16/17    Safety National

photo of workers in hardhats using high tech screens for atricle, Improve Your Safety Training Through the Use of TechnologyAs injuries continue to occur and claims increase, employers are often left scratching their head as to why. That is because “Telling” is not safety training. ”

Normagene Dmytriw, Senior Safety & Occupational Health Specialist, Broward County Government, Risk Management lead a discussion at the WCI’s 2017 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference. As technology improves, and becomes more readily available and affordable, employers are looking to technology to provide creative and effective learning options.

Gamification advantages

  • Fun
  • Engaging
  • Sense of achievement

Gamification disadvantage

  • Winning over objectives
  • Difficult to translate learners game progress to objectives
  • Costs equipment costs and software costs
  • OSHA
  • Novelty wears off

Using simulators – a machine with a similar set of controls designed to provide a realistic imitation of the operation. There is virtual and manual.

Advantages of simulators

  • Safe learning environment
  • Unlimited attempts
  • Retain information more efficiently
  • Learners are more engaged
  • Don’t have to wait for a real situation
  • Feedback is immediate

Disadvantages

  • Cannot fully re-create real life situations
  • Cost purchase, updates and maintenance
  • Not every situation can be included
  • The results and feedback are only effective as the actual training provided

    Webinars are virtual lectures or training sessions delivering a presentation to a large dispersed audience. If you are going to used webinars they are great for safety committees and to educate safety professionals on current issues but they are not OSHA compliant. Some advantages are convenience, affordable, efficient, and long term value. Some disadvantages are not all web browsers are the same, internet speed, mobile devices may not be ideal, not for compliance and participants are not engaged.

    Training is vital to the success of your employees. It’s important to invest in training programs that teach your employees and create thought provoking ideas to make your safety programs more efficient.

    [READ FULL STORY HERE]

Older Workers And The Retirement Presumption

There are many factors in the United States forcing workers to continue to work into their traditional retirement years.

Chart of aging U.S. Work Force for article, Older Workers And The Retirement PresumptionAlthough this provides a source of dedicated workers, the downfall is that injuries tend to result in prolonged periods of disability and missed time following an injury.  It is important for members of the claim management team and attorneys defending these claims to coordinate efforts and evaluate the use of a retirement presumption defense.

Misconceptions about the Aging American Workforce

People are living longer in the United States.  The result is people are staying in the workforce well into their “retirement years.”

A recent survey noted that 37% of non-retired American say they expect to retire after age 65, and 26% at age 65.  This is steady increase for past years when Americans were planning to retire at an earlier age.  This trend is having the following impact on workers’ compensation and other disability programs:

• Increasing pressure and underfunding of the Social Security system = decreased benefits;

• Increasing dependence on other social “safety net” programs; and

• Increasing severity in injuries resulting in higher benefit awards.

Failing to Prepare for the Aging American Workforce

The aging American workforce has caught employers and other interested stakeholders by surprise.  The results of a recent DMEC & Cornell University study titled State of the Field: Absence and Disability Management Practices for an Aging Workforce should serve as a wake-up call.

• 6% of employer respondents “very” to “somewhat” concerned about an aging workforce. The transportation industry had the highest level of concern, and the financial/banking/insurance industry had lowest level of concern;

•  64% of employer respondents have not considered the aging in absence and disability programs. It was also noted that “many organizations are concerned about the implications of an aging workforce, but relatively few have considered an aging workforce in designing integrated absence and disability management programming.”

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

Why Insurance Companies Are Saying No to Generic Drugs

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff      Posted Aug 9, 2017

It flies in the face of conventional wisdom: insurance companies that won’t pay for generic drugs, essentially forcing patients to opt for pricey brand-name drugs. And yet that’s exactly what’s happening, report ProPublica and the New York Times.

illustration of generic drug capsule and brand drug capsule with boxing gloves for article: Why Insurance Companies Are Saying No to Generic DrugsIt’s “befuddling,” says one 41-year-old who says he has to foot a $90 co-pay for Adderall XR because the generic isn’t covered by his plan. How’d we get here? The report pins it on pharmaceutical companies trying to “squeeze the last profits from products that are facing cheaper generic competition,” and asserts they’re doing it by shaking hands on back-room deals that may be happening more and more often.

Though they’ve uncovered evidence this is happening with more than a dozen drugs, including Aggrenox (a stroke preventative) and Zetia (for cholesterol), the report dives into Adderall XR and its “continued success … long after generic competitors arrived on the market.” In a move designed to cling on to market share, maker Shire began sweetening the deal for pharmacy benefit managers and insurers.

The list price didn’t budge, but the insurers and “middlemen” like CVS Caremark were paid rebates. And the report explains why patients might not opt to just pay for the generic themselves: In the case of one Brooklyn mother, it costs an extra $600 a year to pay for her son’s Adderall XR versus a generic, but paying for it through insurance is the only way to make it count toward her family’s $3,000 health insurance deductible. Read the full report here.

[SEE ORIGINAL STORY HERE]

New Senate Bill Seeks To Reduce Telemedicine Restrictions

By Jeff Lagasse  |  July 31, 2017

photo of dcotor with laptop and medical icons floating in air for story on New Senate bill seeks to reduce restrictions on telemedicine useWhile the Senate’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act imploded last week, that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from introducing bills that would make tweaks to the healthcare system in smaller ways. One such bill, sponsored by Reps. Doris Matsui, (D-California), and Bill Johnson, (R-Ohio), would expand the use of telemedicine to reduce costs.

The bill, the Evidence-Based Telehealth Expansion Act of 2017, was introduced late last week and would give the Health and Human Services secretary the authority to waive Medicare restrictions on the kinds of telemedicine it covers — as long as the actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concludes it would indeed save money.

Restrictions that would be lifted include any geographic limitations, as well as limitations on the use of store-and-forward technologies. Store-and-forward technologies are where patient healthcare data and digital images — such as radiologic images — are captured, packaged as a case file, and transferred via telecommunication services to a clinician who then responds with a diagnosis and any relevant therapeutic recommendations.

Additionally, the bill seeks to lift limitations on the types of healthcare providers who can offer these sorts of telemedicine services, with the caveat that they be a Medicare-enrolled provider. The bill would also remove limitations on on specific codes designated as telehealth services.

The waivers would come with certain telemedicine restrictions.
In addition to the CMS actuary rubber-stamping the waivers’ net reduction in spending, the HHS secretary would have to determine that the waivers reduce spending without reducing the quality of care; improve care quality without increasing spending; and wouldn’t deny or limit the coverage or provision of benefits for any given individual.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

How an Air Purifier Can Boost Air Quality for Your Office Space

office workers wearing dust masks for article on improving inddor office air quality with air purifier

The air quality in your home is something you can control, but what if you spend 40 or more hours a week in an office building? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that, “Most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors and many spend most of their working hours in an office environment.

Indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside.” While the majority of the air quality in a large building is affected by the actions of building management, there are things you can do to improve air quality in your office, cubicle, or other workspace. One step you can take is to use a high-quality air purifier. But what air purifier is the best one for use in an office environment?

The Problem of Air Circulation in Office Buildings

The air quality in an office is important for several reasons beyond just the amount of time you spend there. We know from multiple studies that air flow and circulation — that is, the frequency with which the inside air is replaced by air from outside — is one of the most important factors affecting indoor air quality. In an enclosed space, whatever pollutants are present will tend to build and build and become more concentrated, and therefore become more harmful. Outdoor pollutants can be dispersed by the wind and diffused into the much greater air volume of the Earth’s atmosphere. That’s why circulating outdoor air through a house or office building generally increases the air quality in the building (this is not to say, of course, that outdoor air pollution is not harmful, but that in most cases outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air).

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