Tales from the Technoverse

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Health IT – Mobility, Wearables, and the Internet of Things

November 21st, 2014 · No Comments · atarc, healthcare, technology

A remarkable statistic that was presented during the panel discussion I moderated yesterday at the first Federal Health IT summit hosted by ATARC, the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center, was that medical errors in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The focus of the panel directly and indirectly dealt with how to decrease that statistic.

A lot of the emphasis over the last year or so in the federal Health IT market has focused on electronic health records and comparable issues, topics which have been and continue to be challenging and important topics.

But as Dr. Julian Goldman who was one of the participants on the panel who noted even more important is all of the information we do not have and do not use that directly affect the results of medical treatment.

Panel members included:

  • William Cerniuk, Technology Director, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Julian Goldman, MD, Director of the Program on Medical Device Interoperability at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology
  • Wendy Nilsen, Health Scientist Administrator, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health
  • Carl Schulman, Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Regarding mobile technology and healthcare, Wendy Nilsen discussed barriers to mobile usage and how her work at NIH and the mHealth efforts are attempting to remove those barriers. As was pointed out, while the usage is by health providers the technology development comes from commercial providers. How these all interface can be a challenge.

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Carl Schulman discussed his work in real-time (just-in-time) provisioning of healthcare information and training to practitioners. While he works at a research and training hospital, he notes that healthcare is not being provided by a variety of different kinds of people and institutions. His work supports the ability to provide healthcare in traditional and non-traditional settings.

William Cerniuk talked about the really wonderful work the Veterans Administration is doing to enhance the provisioning of healthcare using apps and on-line resources for Veterans, a positive story amidst some of the less-positive coverage that Veterans has been getting. He is in the process of distributing iPads to clinicians to enable these activities. The initial distribution was for 12,000 iPads with a goal of eventually getting to over 175,000.

Julian’s research revolved around the intersection of the Internet of Things (IoT) and healthcare data collection. He noted how much work has to be done to collect data accurately, sampling information can often end up presenting an incorrect picture. More important are the questions relating to what medical professionals might do with the data once collected.

It is clear that we are at the beginnings of a revolution in healthcare, though with lots of technology and policy questions on the table (like privacy and security).

As with almost everything the powerful message is associated with the mission, not the supporting infrastructure. Here too, while it is important to invest in and pay attention to administrative issues, such as electronic health records, it is just as, if not more so, important to look at how we will ‘do’ healthcare in the future is being impacted by these personalized implementations of technology.

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Toward the end of the panel, we talked briefly about the possibility of predictive healthcare activity. Sort of like Minority Report but for healthcare, catching issues before they happen. Most exciting, William Cerniuk told me he could help me achieve more steps with my Fitbit than my wife does even if I spend all of my time on the coach watching TV.

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