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Doctors can now call Uber for patients, ditching taxi vouchers

Seniors

The ride-hailing company Thursday announced the launch of Uber Health, a desktop platform for healthcare providers that allows doctors to provide rides for patients who might otherwise miss their appointments because they can’t get to them.

Uber Health has been in testing since July with around 100 physicians and hospitals. Rival Lyft also has been working with healthcare providers over the past few years. Both tech startups have been looking for ways to grow their business with companies.

The benefits to doctors and hospitals of using ride-hailing apps — which replace taxis and medical shuttles, but not ambulances  — include on-demand scheduling, destination tracking, and lower costs, said one doctor who had tried Uber’s service.

Nationally, missed appointments cost healthcare providers $150 billion a year, with no-show rates as high as 30%, according to SCI Solutions, which provides IT services to the healthcare industry.

“In the past, we used taxis, but you had to hand out a voucher in person, you had no idea where the person might be going and it cost 20% to 40% more,” says Chris Needham, director of Member Health and Wellness at Renown Health, which serves urban and rural patients in northern Nevada and has been testing Uber Health since October.

Needham says hospital staff assesses which patients are at risk of missing critical appointments and provides them with pick-up and drop-off rides at the hospital’s expense.

Another benefit of the service is helping healthcare providers meet patient care goals that can factor into how a facility scores with regulators.

Critically, Uber says it’s worked with Clearwater Compliance to ensure Uber Health is compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) standards.

More than 100 healthcare organizations have been using Uber Health as part of its beta program, including Blood Centers of the Pacific, Georgetown Home Care, LifeBridge Health, and MedStar Health. The dashboard and API are now available publicly.

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Microsoft’s new Soundscape iOS app is designed to help the visually impaired navigate cities

 

Microsoft has a new app out today called Soundscape that uses 3D audio technology to help map out landmarks and points of interest through audio cues.

Soundscape empowers more people to explore the world around them through a 3D audio experience. The app enriches your perception of surroundings as you walk, helping you get where you want to go. Rushing between classes, going for coffee with a friend or touring a new city with the family are all common experiences that could be more rewarding and cause less anxiety for nearly 300 million people with sight loss worldwide.

Users can set audio beacons at specific destinations and places, and the app will provide 3D audio cues (which can be perceived directionally) to help improve their “ambient awareness” as they travel there. Users will then be able to incorporate that information from the Soundscape as they build a mental image of what’s around them.

The Soundscape app can also call out points of interest, roads, and intersections that you pass, along with more specific settings for describing a user’s current location and direction, or what’s coming up ahead of them. For example, it can describe different shops and street names as you walk by, something that other navigation techniques used by people with visual impairments can’t always help with.

If a user isn’t sure where they are or which way to travel, they can hold the phone flat in their hand with the top edge facing the direction they want to go and then use the buttons at the bottom of the screen to locate nearby landmarks and navigate.

The app is designed to be used in tandem with more traditional means of navigation, not replace them. As Erin Lauridsen, the access technology director at LightHouse for the Blind explains, “Obstacle avoidance is not the problem, we have a dog, a cane and our blindness skills for that. The gap is knowing where things are and being able to decide what’s of interest.”

Microsoft Soundscape can be downloaded here.

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How the Internet of Things will enable seniors to stay in their homes longer

Ninety percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age. Livability can be optimized through the incorporation of universal design principles. One-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older.

Senior Living

Cheerful senior couple making faces and having fun while taking a selfie with smart phone.

Technology can be an enabler for aging in place. There are four categories of technology that may help seniors stay in their home longer: Communication and Engagement, Health and Wellness, Learning and Contribution, and Safety and Security.

Emerging sensor and connectivity technology has made possible the development of a new generation of monitoring systems that don’t require the person being monitored (the resident) to wear a device. Instead, networks of sensors within the home connect to a cloud-based algorithm that learns the daily living patterns of the resident. The algorithm recognizes if there is a deviation that may require sending an alert to a smart phone or social media app so someone can take action, or at least pay closer attention.

The behavior patterns that Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring systems are able to detect and learn include these activities:

  • location of the resident within the home
  • light sources being used
  • bed time and awakening time
  • television watching
  • cooking
  • bathroom usage
  • leaving the home and returning
  • heating or air conditioning temperature and adjustments

As you can see, all of these depend on either motion or an electric appliance or source being utilized, which pretty much encapsulates everyone’s home life. Surely anything that can reduce the astronomical number of human caregivers that would be needed over the next few decades to care for the exploding elderly demographic is welcome.

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Studies Reveal Adopting Online Technology Links to Better Health Situations for Seniors

Smart Home Automation

Learning, embracing and adopting a new technology is, for some seniors, an extremely daunting task. But logging onto Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or perusing the internet can provide seniors with worthwhile health benefits. Many studies including a  study published in the issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, seniors who routinely use online technology engage in more cancer-preventive behaviors than their peers. The study shows that aging adults who utilize the internet are more likely to be active and physically fit, eat a well-balanced diet, and are less likely to smoke than their peers who utilize the internet less often. These findings led the team to conclude that increased utilization of modern technology directly correlates to seniors? overall health.

To reach this conclusion, researchers from University College London examined data from the English Longitudinal Study on Aging, which collected participant information every two years for nearly a decade. Approximately 6,000 subjects age 50 and older participated. Each participant was asked to detail his or her habits for a host of daily activities which included smoking, physical activity, health checkups, routine screenings and internet usage. The results led researchers to theorize that internet aficionados are more aware of their health. 73% of Internet-savvy seniors stated they had received preventive screenings for both color and breast cancer compared to 51% of non-internet users. The study also showed that senior internet users are 50% more active and less likely to smoke.

Age, ethnicity, education and socioeconomic status also played into these findings, revealing a potential inequality to cancer outcomes among those who shun this technology. While the notion that embracing technology might have the ability to improve health status, further study on this potential correlation is warranted.

At Smaart House, we understand the importance of utilizing new technologies and what it can do to benefit the health of a loved one. We make technology easy to adapt and understand and provide the support seniors need to age in their own homes.

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Your Health is now a number; 42%, $2500?

Smart Home Automation

According to a recent article in the New York Times,  our health status and potential health care expenses can now be determined if we belong to the 42% or 58% of the population. Read here:

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7 Great Apps that bring Grandparents and Grandchildren together

Smart Home Automation

With society’s increase in (and reliance on) technology, many people have feared that we are losing the important face-to-face interactions that help us connect and better understand each other. Although spending quality face-to-face time is important, for grandchildren and grandparents who are separated by geography or unconventional family structures, connecting online via social media and other communication tools like Skype is a great option.

“70% of teens say the computer increases the quantity of their communication with family members living far away, and 67% say it increases the quality of those communications,” IKeepSafe reports.

These apps are a great way to connect, especially for families who live apart:

  1. Ancestry websites are a great way for grandparents and older grandchildren to explore their family’s heritage together. Some popular ones include Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com.
  2. Keepy:  Share art-work, school projects and other things that grandparents love to put on their fridge (but don’t have room for).
  3. Kindoma: Draw, play or read together in real time.
  4. Redeo: Lets you read together while your young grandchild turns the pages.
  5. Scoot & Doodle: Collaborate together on homework.
  6. SkypeVoxerooVoo and Rounds are examples of apps that allow you to send photos and videos, talk and text in real time.
  7. Wheel of Fortune is a popular game app that grandparents and grandchildren of all ages can play together, no matter the distance.
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Essential Health Apps Every Senior Should Have

 

Smart Home Automation

Aging Digitally

 

Seniors have found that, with the right repertoire of apps, smartphones and tablets can promote major lifestyle improvements. Smartphone and tablet apps allow seniors to:

  • Keep their minds active and engaged
  • Stay connected with friends and family
  • Keep abreast of news and world events
  • Set reminders for physician appointments and to take medicines
  • Pay bills online
  • Research and receive pertinent medical information
  • Listen to their favorite music
  • Stay well read
  • Easily take and save notes
  • Be entertained

Here are some essential medical information apps every senior should have:

  1. Lumosity: Evidence shows that seniors who keep their minds challenged and their brains active mitigate their risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Health claims aside, many puzzle-lovers enjoy Lumosityjust for the fun it provides. Lumosity is an ideal app for seniors, is continuously being updated with new puzzles and brain games, and is a great addition to any senior’s cell phone or tablet.
  2. Medisafe: Despite their best efforts, even seniors without memory problems can have a hard time keeping track of their medicines or fully complying with a treatment plan. Medisafe is a robust tool that seeks to help older adults manage their medications, set reminders, and create status reports about how well they have stuck to their medication regimen. At the same time, Medisafe takes privacy extremely seriously, and you can be confident that your personal medical information is safe and secure.
  3. WebMD: No app can replace a physician, but for medical information in the digital age, there is no name as trusted as WebMD. You can ask the app questions, which it responds to with highly relevant articles written by physicians who are specialists in the topic in question. It allows you to browse high-quality articles, and even get updated information about how current weather conditions may impact your health (for example, through reports on air quality and pollen levels).
  4. My Recovery app, designed by a surgeon, would help patients prepare for their operation, to understand what to expect during and after their hospital stay, and to guide them through any necessary rehabilitative physiotherapy exercises individually tailored to their needs.
  5. Blood Pressure Companion: If you want to obtain more comprehensive blood pressure data on your iPhone, try Blood Pressure Companion. This app not only lets you measure your blood pressure and heart rate, but it will also send you a test reminder. Over time, collected data will help you look for patterns in your readings. If you add your weight in the app, you may even see your blood pressure drop as you lose pounds. This is an ideal app for recording information between doctor’s visits — feel free to share your data with your doctor at your next appointment.
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How Analyzing Daily Events can Help in Healthy Aging

Aging in place is a key, heartfelt aspiration for everyone; if you need to go to a nursing home or institutional facility, current costs are up to $90,000 a year per individual. Being able to understand how we can facilitate better aging, aging in place, is a really important goal.

ORCATECH has long been invested in facilitating “Aging in place,” or promoting technologies that allow elders to live independently for as long as possible. ORCATECH’s complete sensor platform is installed in the home of our research participants, allowing new technologies to be tested with great data resolution for target outcomes.

Preempting healh challenges not only saves us a lot of money but helps us lead to lead a more fuller and better quality of life.