swyMe selected to present at the Innovators Challenge

Dateline Boston: Sept 11, 2014

swyMe, a leader in delivering secure, mobile, high quality video for connected health, mHealth and telehealth through their swyMed product, announced that it has been selected as one of 10 organizations in the Partners Healthcare Innovators Challenge (http://symposium.connected-health.org/innovators-challenge). swyMe will be presenting at the Partner’s Connected Health Symposium 2014 (http://symposium.connected-health.org/) in Boston on October 23rd and 24th, 2014 at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center.

“Partners HealthCare was Read more

Prioritize Patients

prioritize patients

I attended a webinar last week where the speaker, Jeff Robbins, Director of Neurodiagnostics and Telehealth at Tift Regional Medical Center, recounted the following (paraphrased) story:

Eight years ago Tift had purchased their first batch of telemedicine equipment.  For the first year or so they mostly stared at it, with no idea how to go about using it.

They wondered whether they could be reimbursed for anything they used it for and whether they could figure out how to use it and wondered what it could do.  They weren’t using their equipment.  They weren’t using telemedicine.

Then Jeff said they decided to “put the patients first.”  They purposefully forgot about reimbursement, coverage regulations, computer abilities of the doctors, or whether the possible uses fit into the business plan of the hospital.  They focused on finding out, through actually doing it, if telemedicine could help their patients.  When that happened…

All those things took care of themselves.

Or, as Jeff put Read more

swyMe – Expanding Telehealth, Mobile, Cloud

reprinted with permission by Mobile Cloud Era


Photo: By Tim Evanson, [CC BY-SA 2.0], at Flickr

In a merger of telehealth, mobile and cloud, Massachusetts-based swyMe is offering video conferencing in ambulances. The basic system includes three cameras in the vehicle: a standard “fish eye” 360º camera mounted high on the ambulance wall; a webcam attached to a touch screen monitor; and a handheld HDTV 720p IP camera.

The combination of the three affords a remote physician a view of the overall situation in the ambulance, the ability to communicate face-to-face with attending EMS workers and capability to zero in to close-up views of the patient. The system is HIPAA compliant and uses AES256 security.

swyMe COO Jeff Urdan explained that Read more

Hackers and Telemedicine Security – Thoughts?

hacked

Today’s reporting (and here, here, and many other places) that Community Health Systems hospital network was hacked for personal information is alarming.  Although no credit card–and NO CARE INFORMATION–was taken, social security, birthdays, and addresses all were.  That is, everything necessary to open bank accounts, sign up for credit cards, and nearly anything else that counts as identity theft.

As potentially bad for the patients as this is, it’s equally bad for Community Health Systems.  Apparently their stock took only a brief hit (CYH), although it wouldn’t be shocking if it moves lower again assuming the news becomes more widespread and if they are sued.  This scenario is possible because although–and I would like to emphasize this yet again–NO CARE INFORMATION WAS TAKEN (medical histories, treatments, etc.) the information was still covered under HIPAA.  (They do have insurance to cover cyber liability, but even so…)

I do not know how the data was kept or encrypted.  It’s interesting…and somewhat heartening…to know that the care information was not accessed by the hackers.  However, I believe it helps us remember that no system is completely safe, and that the highest available level of security should always be used.  Currently, regarding encryption, that would be AES 256-bit encryption.  It also means use of secure one-time-use keys for communication software endpoints and conscientious use of regularly changed passwords by users.  It means keeping devices used within networks either on VPNs (vitual private networks) or, again, using 256-bit encrypted, password-secured communication over non-VPN networks (and why not do it on the VPNs anyway?).

So, now the question is: Does this security breach have any implications for telemedicine and mHealth?  My guess is that mHealth is probably at the greater risk.  I think there’s less of a general use for cybercriminals for care data than simply personal data, and that certain types of personal data, such as location data combined with the pedometer on (could indicate you’re out jogging 10 miles from your house…might be a good time to break in), make mHealth a little more nerve-wracking.  Just a guess.  There may be very creative ways to make use of mass medical histories and treatment information that just hasn’t been discovered yet.  Thoughts?

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Bikers and Teddy Bears: 9th Annual Teddy Bear Ride

biketeddys

photo credit: Jeff Schrier | MLive.com

Starting at 2 p.m. this Saturday, children in the pediatric center of Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw, MI, which is a customer using HitCast, an earlier release of what has become our swyMed solution, will be receiving between 200 and 400 teddy bears courtesy of the Great Lakes Harley Davidson and Tri-County Michigan Hogs.

This is a fantastic tradition that’s been as wonderful for the kids in the hospital as for the bikers giving of their time and resources.  However, the children generally are not able to go outside the hospital to see the bikers arriving with teddy bears often attached to the bikes, or to see them dismounting and coming in.  Covenant has, in the past, utilized some of the telemedicine capability to stream video of the bikers arriving into the pediatric center.

Please follow these links for more of the story, and be inspired to do something similar in your area if you can:
http://www.abc12.com/story/26164728/ninth-annual-teddy-bear-ride-to-take-place-this-saturday
http://www.minbcnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=929540#.U-TSmvm-2-0

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5 Things I Learned on ATA’s This Month in Telemedicine Webinar

As with last month, this is largely geared to updates about legislation along with reminders about the upcoming Fall Forum conference in Palm Springs, CA, which I’ll have to consider as I live out Orange County.

This month’s takeaways are a little more subdued than last month which had some pretty big news (see here).  The ATA had just done a survey on online consultations and had over 500 respondents.

1)  45% of respondents are using telemedicine TODAY.  This is fantastic news and, in my mind, is possibly underreported because, as Mr. Linkous and Mr. Capistrant pointed out on the last call (and pointed out in our 3 Things from last month), nearly every institution is already using some form of telemedicine and the boards don’t realize it.

2)  Specialty Care and Behavioral Health were the leading segments.  Not terribly surprising, as specialty care often needs to use leading edge tools to leverage resources for special care, and behavioral health lends itself well to an old-school videoconferencing set up (patient and doctor meet via video), leading to less push-back on its use while providing maximum benefit to both patients and providers.  The industry will have to really work, I think, to make sure providers and CDOs are aware of the more specialized applications and the benefits to be had.  Telemedice will not yield a large harvest if we only pick the low-hanging fruit.  As if to prove that point:

3)  77% use video, 57% use audio and 28% use medical peripherals.  Just over a quarter are using peripherals, while three times that are using video.  Being at a video-primary solution provider: Yay!  Being a proponent of telemedicine as a whole: We can do better.  Even the video-primary medical solutions offer a lot of specialized or integrated offerings that provide more than just adding a visual element to distance care.  Again, the question is, how do we get this to the doctors and CDOs?

4) Of the 55% of respondents that replied they are not using telemedicine today, 75% plan to implement it very soon.  I present that as Exhibit A to the tipping point naysayers…although I concede that if you responded to a survey about telemedicine from the American Telemedicine Association, you’re probably already predisposed to an interest in telemedicine.  Having said that, interest in telemedicine has been on the rise, and 75% of that growing crowd being interested in giving it a shot can only be a good thing.

4)  Mr. Linkous pointed out something toward the end that I assumed would be a primary driver (or at least remove an obstacle) but assumed would take several more years:  Private insurance is increasingly taking the lead in pushing telemedicine.  I’ve been noting that the reduced cost/better outcome/reduced readmissions scenario HAS to eventually turn private insurance into champions of telemedicine.  Amongst the names he mentioned were Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, WellPoint, and others.

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iPods and Raising Telemedicine Adoption

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What about the Doctors?

telemediPod 2000 try it bdr

The seeds of this article began when my CEO forwarded a Gartner case study from 2008[1]with the question, “If a hospital could do 345,000 video visits up to 2007, why hasn’t telemedicine expanded more?  Is the issue technological, cultural, managerial, or..?”

Fantastic question.  The issue definitely isn’t technological–at least from a capabilities standpoint.  It may be from a design standpoint…but more on that later.  I’d argue that it is indeed cultural and managerial, although some of that culture and management reflects back on us, the telemedicine solution providers.

We are presented with a quandary: 1) Where telemedicine has been systematically implemented, it has radically improved patient care, lowered costs, improved doctor/staff morale, and even increased revenue…even in the face of lingering payor reimbursement questions currently being worked out by insurers and state legislatures, and yet… 2) Adoption by both individual healthcare providers and organizations has been, well, lackluster, and often outright resisted.

The gap is caused because Read more

Telemedicine Reimbursement vs. Decreased Readmissions

readmission

The question of reimbursement is very, very important. But not as important as you might think.  As promised a couple weeks ago, we want to look more in depth at the third of our takeaways from the 2014 American Telehealth Conference…especially in light of new developments that have popped up in the news since then.

First, to  bring new readers up  …read more…

Past the Tipping Point

tipping point

Last Thursday I promised to discuss our takeaways from the ATA conference individually in more detail, starting with

#1 We’re past the tipping point.

I won’t belabor the point of the overall importance of this takeaway, as you can read about it here.  However, I will re-quote ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous because his numbers make a good launching point: “Today, 20 million Americans get some part of their healthcare remotely, and that number will grow as telemedicine expands its reach.”  And the ATA President, Edward Brown, believes that mHealth/Telemedicine will grow by 50% every year.

According to a study by IHS Technology and published in January, the almost 350,000 telehealth patients in 2013 will swell to Read more

3 Takeaways from ATA 2014

ATA takeaways

Yes, we’re perhaps a little late with this posting.  However, we think the key takeaways (for us) from this year’s ATA  (American Telemedicine Association) conference are important enough to immortalize anyway.

#1 We’re past the tipping point.

This was such a key point that the ATA itself made sure to quote a speaker mentioning it before the conference even started:

Speaker Joe Peterson, CEO of Specialists on Call, said: “In 2013 telemedicine started passing many ‘tipping points,’ in multiple industry segments, making it a true moment in time to found, scale …read more…