Leroy Jones, Jr. is the creator of Talking Technology with Leroy Jones, Jr.

October 2011 Archives

@TechnicalJones: Rural Health Care & Broadband

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I've always been a big supporter for using innovation and advances in technology to reform our health care system, especially for those living in remote areas where there are little, or no, medical resources.
It also takes changing some of the basic fundamentals for delivering these services.  Last week, the Federal Communications Commission redefined its definition of Universal Service, moving it from a time-honored voice-centric fund for basic phone service to one focused on the broadband needs of consumers and businesses in the 21st Century.  The transformation is really good news for people living and working in rural areas, where a majority of the government funding will be allocated to deliver broadband services.
While everyone might not agree with all the changes to the Universal Service Fund (USF), the FCC believes it should help spread the availability of broadband services to the more than 18 million American households in rural areas that have no access to high-speed Internet service and that aren't likely to get it soon because it costs too much to build the service out to their homes. 
One reason rural areas were left out of the "broadband build-out" was the cost associated with providing the service.  The new USF intends to provide subsidies for areas where there is no business case for companies to provide service on their own and would fund wireless broadband access in remote or rugged areas.
However you look at it, this is a positive step by government, and companies in the public/private sector, in supporting the delivery of broadband to rural communities.  And, when broadband services are available, offering mHealth services may not be far behind.  The delivery of broadband, as well as mHealth services, could also lead to job growth, as people working in the health care sector consider extending medical services to outlying areas currently underserved by their practice or hospital.
More detail on the FCC's overhaul of the USF will be forthcoming shortly.  Hopefully it won't take long to update and enact the new USF, have companies use the funds to build out broadband, and turn the promises and benefits of mHealth into reality for rural communities across the country.  

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@TechnicalJones: Hospital Apps

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@TechnicalJones: Hospital + AT&T = CodeHeart

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Check this out 
Washington Hospital Center and AT&T collaboration:

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@TechnicalJones: mHealth Big Picture

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@TechnicalJones: mSurvey on Use

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Check it out:

"Information-gathering, whether by searching for health information or consuming health news, remains the most common mobile health behavior. However, there has been an increase in consumers using their mobile phones to manage their care or treatment in the past year. For example, 3 percent of consumers used prescription drug refill or reminder services on their mobile phones in 2010, while 8 percent did so in 2011."

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@TechnicalJones: mDoctors

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@TechnicalJones: mHealth Light

Check out this article on
technology & rural health care:

@TechnicalJones: mHEALTH Air

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Last week, two trade shows were dueling for attention in the San Diego area - the Wireless Health 2011 conference, sponsored by the Wireless Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA), and the Cellular Telecom and Internet Association's (CTIA) Enterprise and Applications event. 
While each showcased mHealth applications and services, attendees and presenters were significantly different.  In one corner, Wireless Health featured academics and researchers who pontificated on the future of health care and, down the road apiece, CTIA exhibitors spun their messages on how they make current mHealth technologies work; how they get people, doctors, insurers, etc. to adopt them; and how they make money from their health care applications and services.
Now let me admit, I didn't attend either of these shows, but knew people who were there.  I closely monitored the goings-on at each because in their own way, what happens at these shows can have a significant impact on the future of health care in our country.
The one thread that can be seen running through each show was wireless, or mobility.  Delivering high-quality mHealth to the masses may be the important social change our society will experience since the Internet was born.
My basic take on the innovation and adoption of mHealth is that there needs to be a foundation for delivery of these services.   The foundation, or thread, in this case, is the ability to ensure all this information flies through the air, unencumbered, secure, and with the highest-quality transmissions required to monitor, diagnosis and eventually treat patients remotely, especially down home in the rural areas.
This is done over mobile networks.  Regardless of which mobile carrier is transmitting the data, all need to have enough airwaves, or spectrum, to do so.  I've been told by a buddy of mine in the mobile industry that spectrum has always been viewed as "golden," and that, "you can never have enough spectrum."   That has never been more true than today.
Roger Entner, CEO at Recon Analytics, a consulting firm, recently told USA Today that about 50% of mobile users in the world use smartphones. Just look at iPhone 4S sales in the past four days - over 4 million sold worldwide.  Add to that the number of tablets being sold, the hundreds-of-thousands of applications run by people using those devices, and the spectrum capacity of mobile networks can be eaten up quickly.
Spectrum is essential and must be freed up for use by carriers to continue offering the kinds of services we want, and, in the case of health care, need, as we become more dependent on doing things anywhere, anyhow and anytime.


While other industries and services have been impacted by the economic doldrums of the past few years, wireless has continued to grow.  Consumers and businesses rely more on their mobile devices than ever before, with many even abandoning their wired services in order to save money. 
To all the real people, who depend on these services, spectrum means nothing - until it impacts their experience.  They don't care about the technology and what's behind making the service work, just that their tablet or smartphone can access information quickly and they can make phone calls.  
It's important then that the government act quickly to free up as much spectrum as possible to enable mobile carriers to continue offering the innovative services people want and need.  In some cases this might entail re-evaluating the spectrum holdings of other industries that may not be using this valuable commodity to better serve their customers.
My Mama often said, "The flu is going around -- it's in the air."  Well, at some point in the near future, health care will be in the air - and spectrum could be the remedy.
Leroy Jones, Jr.


@TechnicalJones: Text - No Smoke

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Interesting use of text messaging:

Quitting Smoking May Be Just A Text Away

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@TechnicalJones: Blackberry Shutdown

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@TechincalJones: Blackberry Failure

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@TechnicalJones: mHealth Steps

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Check out this interesting article:

Text-Messaging for Health Still Has Its Challenges

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@TechnicalJones: Text Health Progress in Africa

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The drive to improve access
around the world continues:

Texting for Health Makes Progress

Texting for Health Makes Progress

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@TechnicalJones: Africa SMS

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For the past few years I've been updating you guys on different technologies, especially in the area of healthcare, and after screening through all the items I covered or wrote about, it finally hit me:  "What does all this stuff mean to real people?"

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that innovation is part of our society - whether it comes from a garage in Silicon Valley or halfway around the world.  Technology cruises on.

But technology for technology's sake isn't good enough.  Technology has to solve an inherent problem, make our lives more fun, or allow us to work more productively.  For health care, it needs to enhance the quality of service, reduce the cost of that service, and make those services available to more people.

We are at a point in time where tens-of-thousands of mobile applications are available to us on hundreds of devices.  And they're not limited to smartphones.

Analysts now say that tablets are outselling laptop and desktop computers.  We live in a mobile world that has gone crazy with the ability for people to do what they did at home, or in the office, anywhere, anytime, on a device of their choosing.

Some applications are fun and others help us work more productively.  Then there are those that have significant impact on our lives, and health.

Monitoring devices, services that offer home care for seniors or home bound patients, and others that allow anyone connected to the healthcare ecosystem to communicate and share information at the click of a button - X-Rays, prescriptions, patient data, etc.

And this is surely the tip of the iceberg.  New applications are developed and available daily, and it seems like each new or updated application delivers a more "feature rich" service. 

For example, the heart monitoring service that was available two years ago that displayed your heart rate in digits might now have a chart that displays your heart rate in real time on a smartphone.

So technology isn't an issue, except that it stands alone.  What's missing is how this all fits into our lives - how does this technology enhance our experience.

Sure, you can go to a conference where all these companies show off their new, innovative solutions, but if no one knows where to get it, how it works, what's the cost, will my insurance cover it, etc., then technology is only good for a show - not real life.

Again, I'm not talking about the fun applications or the business applications - I'm talking about the ones that can add real meaning to our lives and those that can help ourselves and loved ones. 

Think about this:  there are a number of applications and services that can help people avoid being placed in assisted living facilities, but each comes with a caveat - there is usually a need to have a computer and knowledge of how to use one to gain the major benefit. 

Not sure about you, but I don't know many seniors in that stage of their lives that can even understand, "point and click."  I know my Mama didn't.

The reality is that our healthcare system is in shambles and there are a number of areas that need to fall into place if we want to see change.

mHealth can be a godsend to everyone in our country - especially those who can't afford normal healthcare or those living in rural areas who currently have no access to healthcare facilities or services -- and can have the greatest impact on reforming the health care system.

Reform needs to be based on a combination of reality and technology.  The health care ecosystem now spans a broad group of companies and industries, including health care, insurance and communications.  These and others play significant roles in delivering the future of health care.

Over the coming weeks and months, I intend to walk through these different areas and show the links among them, and why things like services, investment, government, technology, regulations and reality need to come together to avoid all this mess.

It's going to be fun!!! :-)

Leroy Jones Jr.

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