With significant growth projections, wearables have become more than a passing trend and are truly changing the way people and organizations think about managing health. I hear from many companies and customers who want to understand how the wearables market is impacting patient care as well as some of the changes taking place with providers, insurers, and employers. In the next several blogs, I'll share some of their questions and my responses. The first question is:


Please give an overview of the wearable technology industry as it relates to healthcare, and what is the projected growth?


In healthcare there are two main vectors of activity, starting with the health and fitness-oriented consumer devices such as the Fitbit, Fuel Band, and some of the emerging smart watches. These devices measure steps, sleep activity or general activity to try to encourage a healthy lifestyle.


The second vector includes devices found in clinical settings. For example, a company called Sotera Wireless has a vital signs monitoring device that is worn by the patient in the hospital. The key value proposition is that you have continuous monitoring rather than having a nurse come in periodically to take the patient’s vitals. Plus, the patient is not tethered to the wall or the bed so they can move and walk around more freely.


Another example that was not necessarily designed for clinicians is Google Glass, which has received a fair amount of press. It has been approved for use in some hospitals, and there are a number of use cases emerging. One is around streamlining clinician workflow support, so the clinician doesn’t have to interact with other screens in other areas of the patient room or the operating room.


In this first wave of wearable device adoption in the healthcare industry, we see a lot of repurposing of devices that were originally designed for other uses. Over time, we’ll see more sophisticated devices targeted at the industry. Some wearable devices will likely be regulated, for example, those for real-time glucose monitoring. But the payoff will be that purpose-built devices can better meet the complex needs of the healthcare industry, whether it’s, for example, remote monitoring of patients or encouraging health plan members to adopt a healthier lifestyle.


According to IDC, vendors will ship over 45 million wearable units in 2015; an increase of over 133 percent from 2014 worldwide shipments. They predict 45 percent annual growth for shipment volumes over the next several years, meaning roughly 126 million devices in 2019. If you look more broadly at the Internet of Things (IoT), in which wearables are a category, IDC is predicting a 36 billion dollar market for healthcare by 2018, so there are very aggressive growth projections.


In healthcare, the key driver of growth is moving from periodic monitoring, traditionally associated with the occasional visit to a doctor, to daily or even continuous monitoring of the patient’s specific conditions and general wellness. Wearables won’t replace the doctor visit, but they can establish baselines to measure against, and the streaming patient-generated data they sense and collect will improve the accuracy of predictive models to give insight into how a patient is really doing in near-real time. We are seeing just the tip of the iceberg today as companies target the healthcare vertical and build more sensing capabilities into devices.

What questions about wearables do you have? What do you think?

In my next blog, I'll look at some of the ways that wearables are impacting providers, payers and employers as well as patients.


Now that organizations have the computing power to gather meaningful information on patients and understand the trends that can lead to better outcomes, what are their plans for population health management and what are the next steps?

Watch the clip above and let me know what you think. What are you doing to prepare for population health management?


Martha Thorne is the Senior Vice President and General Manager for Population Health at Allscripts. We recently sat down with her to discuss the importance of electronic health records (EHRs), the growing trend toward population health, and the ever-present need for data security. Read the interview below, watch a clip in the video posted above and let me know what questions you have about EHRs.


Intel: What is the importance of electronic health records (EHR) today and how are they progressing toward the future?


Thorne: EHRs continue to be an incredibly important tool for physicians and all health practitioners. What’s interesting to me is that there are many who consider EHRs to be a commodity. What we’re seeing now is that the EHR adoption rate has continued to grow, and what organizations are looking for today is more value. They are seeking ways to make it easier to do documentation, to make sure that information is available at the fingertips of the providers, and to make sure they are reaching out to the consumers and have a way to impact their health behavior. Healthcare organizations have to do all of this with very little extra budget.


Intel: How are consumers fitting into the healthcare information equation?


Thorne: One of the areas that’s really critical right now is consumer engagement. Not just patient engagement, but consumer engagement. There are many consumers who are high users of healthcare and need information about their healthcare status, clinical records, laboratory information and radiology, and diagnostic test results. Many consumers are now coordinating their own care and they’re having to go from specialist to specialist or their primary care to specialist and they need to be able to have that information and communicate appropriately with that next provider. What we’re also seeing in this space, which is really interesting, is that as consumers become more empowered, healthcare providers are needing to understand what it will take to get consumers more engaged in delivering changes to their own health status. So, this really is that next piece beyond just the basics of providing access to a clinical record, but now how do we make sure that we’re engaging with the consumer and they can impact their own health behavior?


Intel: What are you doing to focus on population health, and where do you see that headed in the next few years?


Thorne: Population health is a really broad category. It’s like describing the finance category with many applications underneath. We view population health the same way. There are a variety of different aspects of population health, but, ultimately, what it drives down to is providing a way of managing your patients, your consumers, in helping to improve the health status. First thing we have to do is understand what the current state is. We also need to understand how we’re now going to deliver a way to impact that current state and do it in a cost effective way. What we’re starting to see is information being delivered to providers, and then providers can take on a lot of different forms. It might be health coaches. It might be care navigators. It might be physician providers. It could be the surgeons. But we’re finding ways to deliver information at the point of care and where it makes the most sense, so that data could impact that health behavior of the patients.


Intel: What’s your view on information security now that data is more accessible to many sources?


Thorne: As we see healthcare information becoming more readily available, especially to consumers, they are going to be very interested in how we’re securing that data. What we need to do is look at how we can make information available in the cloud or another secure place that brings with it a high degree of confidence that the information is secure. I suspect that we’re going to see a whole new degree of security coming our way that we haven’t even yet imagined. My sense is that smaller startups could lead on this.


Intel: What type of healthcare IT trends are you seeing?


Thorne: There are several different trends in play right now. In the core EMR environment, we’re going to see a trend towards easier-to-use software for the providers that makes it very fast, simple and intuitive to do documentation and get the basics done. We’re also going to see inclusion of data analytics and genomics in organizing treatment plans. The second trend is a focus on better and more effective care coordination with the consumers. There are a number of different aspects to it, but different patients have different capabilities of engaging in their own health behavior. Ultimately, analytics is going to play a very important role, now and in the future, that will start to inform a lot of what we do and start to provide us with more information and more detail that will help us be more precise in terms of how we manage health. Lastly, we’re seeing a reduction in the inpatient census. What that’s doing is driving a higher inpatient volume in the post-acute network. We’re starting to see a shift towards patients being managed in the post-acute stay, which is more around the lines of home care, skilled nursing facilities and rehab facilities. Allscripts does very nicely with our Care in Motion suite and something that we’re going to continue to grow into the future to help manage those transitions of care and help those patients move back into a home setting where they’re less likely to have a preventable readmission.

Why are today’s most complex diseases so difficult to fight? They are mobile, opportunistic and have the ability to quickly adapt and change. To take on these diseases, and win, we need coordinated care that operates with the same flexibility, responsiveness and focus.

Patient care coordination is dynamic and highly interactive, involving many processes, stakeholders and activities. At its core, it is about organizing patient care so that the right care services can be delivered as fast as possible, without sacrificing quality.


With the enactment of penalties for preventable readmissions, healthcare providers need to address current gaps in care transitions that lead to poor outcomes, readmissions and patient complaints.


Israel’s Maccabi Health Services conducted several studies that revealed a close link between frequency of care delivery and health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions. Based on those results, Maccabi and the Gertner Institute established the MOMA* Video Conferencing Call Center. This new technology-based service delivery model will help enhance quality of care and reduce costs by:


  • Reducing travel demands placed on patients
  • Increasing the frequency of doctor-patient interaction with mobile technologies
  • Eliminating unneeded and costly in person visits for routine checkups


Today’s mobile solutions help healthcare professionals provide care to their patients throughout every stage of care. The ability to communicate, facilitate transitions and assess needs and goals is no longer dependent on infrequent and costly face-to-face interactions.


Now healthcare professionals can use mobile video conferencing technology to create a proactive care plan, monitor their patients and respond to change in real time.


Dr. Galit Kaufman R.N.PHD, director, department of nursing services at Urgent and Online Medical Centers suggests, “The Intel technology-based tablets are very easy to work with. We came to the conclusion that this technology will be successful if it supports, not replaces, human interaction. Video conferencing is the next best thing to being there. It supports the personal nature of the interaction between the nurse and the patient, and contributes to the quality of care clinically. Having a lot of contact creates a lot of motivation.”


What question do you have?


Read the Case Study: Improving Health Outcomes and Reducing Costs with Video Conferencing Technology


In the above video, John Chuang, president of Onyx Healthcare, talks about how technology can reduce patient readmissions while increasing engagement.


What do you think? What's your solution for reducing readmissions?

In April, the ONC released an update on health information exchange. It reported that about 75 percent of US non-federal acute care hospitals were exchanging data with outside providers (for example, non-affiliated practices or other hospitals). That’s a sea change compared to 2008, when only about 40 percent of hospitals were exchanging data with outside providers.


That growth — an 85 percent increase — isn’t confined to any particular region of the country. The ONC notes that in 2008, only 10 states had a clear majority (60 percent) of hospitals electronically exchanging key clinical data with outside providers. In 2014, 47 states (all but Idaho, Nevada and Mississippi) and the District of Columbia reported that at least 60 percent of their hospitals were exchanging key clinical data.

If, as network theory asserts, the value of a system is enhanced as more nodes are added, this bodes well for the nation’s healthcare system – and indeed, for patients. Because let’s face it, the point of federal incentives for data exchange (and penalties for failing) should never have been about simple data exchange, but rather the value that exchange can provide for physicians and patients alike. That’s why it’s called “Meaningful Use” and not “Mere Use.”


“What’s the value and the use of exchanging data?” asks Leslie Krigstein, interim Vice President of Public Policy of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). “Just because you are exchanging data, you are not necessarily improving care. We need to talk more about the value to healthcare delivery.”


One response to Krigstein’s question might be found in two of the more contentious requirements proposed for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use. According to the MU Stage 3 rules proposed this spring, hospitals and practices hoping to qualify for incentives will need to provide EHR access to 80 percent of their patients, and access to patient-specific educational resources to 35 percent of their patients.


Furthermore, there are three measures of active patient engagement: Twenty-five percent of patients must access their records through specified electronic means; thirty-five percent of patients must receive a clinically relevant secure message; and providers must incorporate information from patients or "non-clinical" settings for 15 percent of patients (i.e. home health, physical therapy or perhaps wearable devices).


These are contentious requirements for many reasons – should patients be able to enter data into an EHR? Even if they should, will they? And if the federal government wants patients to actively engage with electronic health records, shouldn’t incentives and penalties be aimed at them and not the providers?


Let me flip network theory for a moment: Within an increasingly interconnected healthcare system, the value of patient engagement is significantly enhanced. It’s a blessing, not a curse.


As Krigstein told me, one driver of needed change is “a new level of understanding among patients that their data should be fluid.” And new payment models mean that it’s not just hospitals that should be exchanging data, but it should occur “up and down the continuum of care.”


In other words, MU Stage 3 doesn’t envision a world where patients routinely enter data to populate their records, or routinely pull down a copy of their EHR to print out and study. Instead, it contemplates the capacity for devices, labs and a host of providers to continuously update a fuller data representation of the patient’s current health.


That representation, in detailed form, might enable physicians to make more accurate diagnoses, for example, or to identify a public health threat in its earliest stages. Meanwhile, in dashboard form, the representation could help patients make better choices about their daily  diet, exercise and wellness activities. After all, “better-informed” doesn’t mean “crushed by data.”


Most promising of all, such a representation — however presented — should enhance the patient-physician relationship, providing a new level of transparency. In medicine, ignorance is not bliss; better-informed physicians and patients will be close collaborators in the quest for healthier lives.


What questions do you have?

Here at Intel, we recently sponsored the NextGenSTEMM Women of the Future conference at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, which brought together over 250 Year 10 girls aged 14-15 to inspire, educate and encourage them to consider STEMM subjects as a career. We want to help change the perceptions of what a career in the STEMM sector can be by showcasing some of the great work being done by colleagues here at Intel and educating students on the opportunities and career pathways available today.


Developing 21st Century Skills

There is a real need for these girls to follow their passion in STEMM subjects as Government makes large investments in stimulating the biotech, life sciences and genomics medicine sectors to help the UK be competitive on the global stage and prepare the NHS for precision and translational medicine. In the life sciences area, where the numbers of male and female graduates have been even for over 30 years, women are under-represented in leadership positions.


The morning session featured an impressive line-up of female presenters including Professor Jackie Hunter CBE, FMedSci, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Space Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, who is a familiar face on TV and is currently presenting BBC’s The Sky at Night. And to reinforce some of the key messages from the speakers a fantastic afternoon of workshops allowed the girls to talk one-to-one to organisations such as Intel.


Showcasing RealSense™ and IoT

We really wanted to capture the imagination of the girls by showcasing what we do in the Health and Life Sciences sector in a relevant but fun way, from showcasing Intel® RealSense™ technology with an interactive facial recognition app through to an Internet of Things bubble machine which responded to the girls tweeting live from the event. It allowed us to open up a conversation about how Intel technology is helping in a real and meaningful way, such as our IoT work with Mimocare to help elderly people manage their illnesses better and stay at home for longer.


The demonstrations triggered lots of discussions and questions from 'Will Moore's Law become obsolete?' to 'If the planet Mercury was put on water would it float or sink?' - we'll leave that one for you to answer in the comments below but it really highlighted how much we were opening up the mind to what is possible in the sector for these young girls. We only wish we could have spent more time with the girls but were pleased to see that we were being invited to many schools for further discussion.


Looking to the Future

An inspirational day finished up with prizes being distributed by Intel for the best questions which included Intel NUC kits while each of the 20 schools also received an Intel Galileo board. We're looking forward to not only following up on the innovations created by the prize-winners but hope to see some of the girls attending the event playing a big role in the future of our sector soon.


Now, about that Mercury question, if the planet was put on water would it float or sink?



As populations age around the world, home healthcare will become a more vital part of caring for senior patients. To learn more about this growing trend, and how technology can play a role, we sat down with Tracey Moorhead, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA), which represents non-profit providers of home health, hospice, and palliative care services and has more than 150 agency members in communities across the country.


Intel: How has technology impacted the visiting nurse profession?


Moorhead: Technology has impacted the profession of home care providers, particularly, by expanding the reach of our various agencies. It allows our agencies to cover greater territories. I have a member in Iowa who covers 24,000 square miles and they utilize a variety of technologies to provide services to patients in communities that are located quite distantly from the agencies themselves. It has also impacted the individual providers by helping them communicate more quickly back to the home office and to the nurses making decisions about the course of care for the individual patients.


The devices that our members and their nurses are utilizing are increasingly tablet-based. We do have some agencies who are utilizing smartphones, but for the most part the applications, the forms and checklists that our nurses utilize in home based care are better suited for a tablet-based app.


Intel: What is the biggest challenge your members face?


Moorhead: One of the biggest challenges that we have in terms of better utilizing technology in the home based care industry is interoperability; not only of devices but also of platforms on the devices. An example is interoperability of electronic health records. Our individual agencies may be collaborating with two or more hospital systems, who may have two or more electronic health records in utilization. Combine that with different physician groups or practice models with different applications within each of those groups and you have a recipe for chaos in terms of interoperability and the rapid sharing and care coordination for these various patients out in the field. The challenges of interoperability are quite significant: they prevent effective handoffs, they cause great challenges in effective and rapid care coordination among providers, and they really continue to maintain this fragmentation of healthcare that we’ve seen.


Intel: What value are patients seeing with the integration of technology in care?


Moorhead: Patients and family caregivers have responded so positively to the integration of these new technologies and apps. Not only does technology allow for our nurses to communicate with family members and caregivers to help them understand how to best care for and support their loved ones, but it also allows the patients to have regular communication with their nurse care providers when they’re not in the home. Our patients are able to contact the home health agency or their nurse on days when there may not be a scheduled visit.


I visited a family in New Jersey with one of our agencies and they were so excited that it was visit day. When the nurse arrived not only was the wife there, but the two daughters, the daughter-in-law and also the son were there to greet the nurse and to talk with the nurse at length about the progress of the father and the challenges that they were having caring for him. That experience for me really brought home the person-centered, patient-centered, family-centered care that our patients provide and the technologies that were being utilized in that home not only when the nurse was there but the technologies that the nurse had provided with the family, including a tablet with an app to allow them to contact the home health agency, really made the family feel like they had the support that they needed to best care for their father and husband.


Intel: How are the next generation of home care providers adapting to technology?


Moorhead: The next generation of nurses, the younger nurses who are just entering the field and deciding to devote themselves to the home based care delivery system, are very accustomed to utilizing technologies, whether on their tablets or their mobile phones, and have integrated this quite rapidly into their care delivery models and processes. Many of them report to us that they feel it provides them a significant degree of freedom and support for the care delivery to their patients in the home.


Intel: Where will the home care profession be in five years from now?


Moorhead: I see significant change coming in our industry in the next five years. We are, right now, in the midst of a cataclysm of evolution for the home based care provider industry and I see only significant opportunities going forward. It’s certainly true that we have significant challenges, particularly on the regulatory and administrative burden side, but the opportunities in new care delivery models are particularly exciting for us. We see the quality improvement goals, the patient-centered goals and the cost reduction goals of care delivery models such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes as requiring the integration of home based care providers. Those organizations simply will not be able to achieve the outcomes or the quality improvement goals without moving care into the community and into the home. And so, I see a rapid expansion and increased valuation of home based care providers.


The technologies that we see implemented today will only continue to enhance the ability to care for these patients, to coordinate care and to communicate back to those nascent health delivery models, such as ACOs and PCMHs.

For years, the term “Big Data” has been thrown around the Healthcare and Life Science research fields like it was a new fashion that was trendy to talk about. In some manner, everyone knew that the day was coming that the amount of data being generated would outpace our ability to process it if major steps to stave off that eventuality weren’t taken immediately. But, many IT organizations chose to treat the warnings of impending overload much like Y2K in the aftermath, that it was a false threat and there was no real issue to prepare for in advance. That was five years ago, and, the time for big data has come.


The pace at which life science-related data can be produced has increased at a rate that far exceeds Moore’s Law, and it has never been cheaper or easier for scientists and clinical researchers to acquire data in vast quantities. Many research computing environments have found themselves in the middle of a data storm, in which researchers and healthcare professionals need enormous amounts of storage, and need to analyze the stored data with alacrity so that discoveries can be made, and cures for disease can be possible. In the wake of a lack of preparedness on the organizations’ part, researchers have found themselves in the middle of a research computing desert with nowhere to go, and the weight of that data threatening to collapse onto them.


Storage and Compute

The net result of IT calling the assumed bluff of the scientists is that they are unprepared to provide the sheer amount of storage that is necessary for the research, and, even when they can provide that storage, they don’t have enough compute power to help them get through the data (so that it can be archived), causing a back log of data storage that exponentially compounds as more and more data pours into the infrastructure. To make matters worse, scientists are left with the option of moving the data elsewhere to help them get through processing and analysis. Sometimes, well-funded laboratories purchase their own HPC equipment, sometimes cloud-based compute and storage is purchased, sometimes researchers find a collaborator with access to an HPC system that they can use to help chunk through the backlog. Unfortunately, these solutions create another barrier; how to get that much data moved from one point to another. Most organizations don’t have Internet connections much above 1Gbps for the entire organization, while most of these datasets are many terabytes (TBs) in size and would take weeks to move over those connections at saturation (which would effectively shut down the Internet connection for the organization). So, being the resourceful folks they are, scientists then take to physically shipping hard drives to their collaborators to be able to move their data, which has it’s own complex set of issues to contend with.


The depth of the issues that have arisen out of the lack of preparedness of research- or healthcare-based organizations are so profound that many of these organizations are finding it difficult to attract and hire the talent they need to actually accomplish their missions. New researchers, and those on the forefront of laboratory technologies, largely understand the requirements they have computationally. If a hiring organization isn’t going to be able to provide that, they look elsewhere.


Today and Tomorrow

As such, these organizations have finally started to make the proper investments into research computing infrastructure, and the problem is slowly starting to get better. But, many of them are taking the approach of only funding what they have to today to get today’s jobs done. This approach is a bit like expanding a highway in a busy city to meet the current population’s needs, rather than trying to build it for 10 years from now; it won’t make a difference in the problem by the time the highway is completed because the population will have already exceeded that capacity. Building this stuff the correct way for an unpredictable time at some point in the future is scary, and quite expensive, but the alternative is the likely failure of the organization to meet their mission. Research computing is now a reality in life science and healthcare research, and not investing will only slow things down and cost the organizations much more in the future.


So, if this situation describes your organization, encourage them to invest now in technologies for the 5-years-from-now timeframe. Ask them to think big, to think strategically, instead of putting tactical bandages on the problems at hand. If we can get most organizations to invest in the needed technologies, scientists will be able to stop worrying about where their data goes, and will be able to get back to work, which will result in an overall improvement in our health-span as a society.


What questions do you have?

By Valère Dussaux

Here at Intel in France, we recently announced a collaboration with the European-based Teratec consortium to help unlock new insights into sustainable cities, precision agriculture and personalized medicine. These three themes are closely interlinked because each of them requires significant high performance computing power and big data analysis.


Providing Technology and Knowledge

The Teratec campus, located south of Paris, is comprised of more than 80 organisations from the world of commerce and academia. It's a fantastic opportunity for us at Intel to provide our expertise not only in the form of servers, networking solutions and big data analytics software but also by utilising the skills and knowledge of our data scientists who will work closely with other scientists on the vast science and technology park.


The big data lab will be our principal lab for Europe and will initially be focused on proof of concept works with our first project being in the area of precision agriculture. As we progress techniques we will bring the learnings into the personalized medicine arena where one of our big focuses is the analysis of merged clinical data and genomic data that are currently stored in silos as we seek to advance the processing of unstructured data.


Additionally we will also be focusing on the analysis of merged clinical data and open data like weather, traffic and other publically available data in order to help healthcare organizations to enhance resource allocation and health insurers and payers to build sustainable healthcare systems.


Lab makes Global impact

You may be asking why Intel is opening up a big data lab in France. Well, the work we will be undertaking at Teratec will not only benefit colleagues and partners in France or Europe, but globally too. The challenges we all face as a collective around an ageing population and movement of people towards big cities present unique problems, with healthcare very much towards the top of that list. And France presents a great environment for innovation, especially in the 3 focus areas, as the Government here is in the process of promulgating a set of laws that will really help build a data society.


I highly recommend taking time to read about some of the healthcare concepts drawn up by students on the Intel-sponsored Innovation Design and Engineering Master programme in conjunction between Imperial College and the Royal College of Arts (RCA) in our ‘Future Health, Future Cities’ series of blogs. For sustainable cities, the work done at Teratec will allow us to predict trends and help mitigate the risks associated with the expectation that more than 2/3rds of the world's population living in big cities by 2050.


So far, we have seen research into solutions curtailed from both a technical and knowledge aspect but we look forward to overcoming these challenges with partners at Teratec in the coming years. We know there are significant breakthroughs to be made as we push towards providing personalized medicine at the bedside. Only then can we truly say we are forging ahead to build a future for healthcare that matches the future demands of our cities.


Further Reading:



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I recently had the privilege of interviewing Daniel Dura, CTO of Graphium Health recently on the subject of security on the frontlines of healthcare, and a few key themes emerged that I want to highlight and elaborate on below.


Regulatory compliance is necessary but not sufficient for effective security and breach risk mitigation. To effectively secure healthcare organizations against breaches and other security risks one needs to start with understanding the sensitive healthcare data at risk. Where is it at rest (inventory) and how is it moving over the network (inventory), and how sensitive is it (classification)? These seem like simple questions, but in practice are difficult to answer, especially with BYOD, apps, social media, consumer health, wearables, Internet of Things etc driving increased variety, volume and velocity (near real-time) sensitive healthcare data into healthcare organizations.


There are different types of breaches. Cybercrime type breaches have hit the news recently. Many other breaches are caused by loss or theft of mobile devices or media, insider risks such as accidents or workarounds, breaches caused by business associates or sub-contracted data processors, or malicious insiders either snooping records or committing fraud. Effective security requires avoiding distraction from the latest media, understanding the various types of breaches holistically, which ones are the greatest risks for your organization, and how to direct limited budget and resources available for security to do the most good in mitigating the most likely and impactful risks.


Usability is key. Healthcare workers have many more information technology tools now than 10 years ago and if usability is lacking in healthcare solutions or security it can directly drive the use of workarounds, non-compliance with policy, and additional risks that can lead to breaches. The challenge is to provide security together with improved usability. Examples include software encryption with hardware acceleration, SSD’s with encryption, or multi-factor authentication that improves usability of solutions and security.


Security is everyone’s job. Healthcare workers are increasingly targeted in spear phishing attacks. Effective mitigation of this type of risk requires a cultural shift so that security is not only the job of the security team but everyone’s job. Security awareness training needs to be on the job, gamified, continuous, and meaningful.


I’m curious what types of security concerns and risks are top of mind in your organization, challenges you are seeing in addressing these, and thoughts on how best to mitigate?

Telehealth is often touted as a potential cure for much of what ails healthcare today. At Indiana’s Franciscan Visiting Nurse Service (FVNS), a division of Franciscan Alliance, the technology is proving that it really is all that. Since implementing a telehealth program in 2013, FVNS has seen noteworthy improvements in both readmission rates and efficiency.


I recently sat down with Fred Cantor, Manager of Telehealth and Patient Health Coaching at Franciscan, to talk about challenges and opportunities. A former paramedic, emergency room nurse and nursing supervisor, Fred transitioned to his current role in 2015. His interest in technology made involvement in the telehealth program a natural fit.


At any one time, Fred’s staff of three critical care-trained monitoring nurses, three installation technicians and one scheduler is providing care for approximately 1,000 patients. Many live in rural areas with no cell coverage – often up to 90 minutes away from FVNS headquarters in Indianapolis.


Patients who choose to participate in the telehealth program receive tablet computers that run Honeywell LifeStream Manager* remote patient monitoring software. In 30-40 minute training sessions, FVNS equipment installers teach patients to measure their own blood pressure, oxygen, weight and pulse rate. The data is automatically transmitted to LifeStream and, from there, flows seamlessly into Franciscan’s Allscripts™* electronic health record (EHR). Using individual diagnoses and data trends recorded during the first three days of program participation, staff set specific limits for each patient’s data. If transmitted data exceeds these pre-set limits, a monitoring nurse contacts the patient and performs a thorough assessment by phone. When further assistance is needed, the nurse may request a home visit by a field clinician or further orders from the patient’s doctor. These interventions can reduce the need for in-person visits requiring long-distance travel.


FVNS’ telehealth program also provides patient education via LifeStream. For example, a chronic heart failure (CHF) patient experiencing swelling in the lower extremities might receive content on diet changes that could be helpful.




Since the program was implemented, overall readmission rates have been well below national averages. In 2014, the CHF readmission rate was 4.4 percent, compared to a national average of 23 percent. The COPD rate was 5.47 percent, compared to a national average of 17.6 percent, and the CAD/CABG/AMI rate was 2.96 percent, compared to a national average of 18.3 percent.


Despite positive feedback, convincing providers and even some FVNS field staff that, with proper training, patients can collect reliable data has taken some time. The telehealth team is making a concerted effort to engage with patients and staff to encourage increased participation.


After evaluating what type of device would best meet the program’s needs, Franciscan decided on powerful, lightweight tablets. The touch screen devices with video capabilities are easily customizable and can facilitate continued program growth and improvement.


In the evolving FVNS telehealth program, Fred Cantor sees a significant growth opportunity. With knowledge gained from providing the service free to their own patients, FVNS could offer a private-pay package version of the program to hospital systems and accountable care organizations (ACOs).


Is telehealth a panacea? No. Should it be a central component of any plan to reduce readmission rates and improve workflow? Just ask the patients and healthcare professionals at Franciscan VNS.

I'm often reminded that within the health IT sector we overlook some of the more simple opportunities to provide a better healthcare experience for both clinical staff and patients. A great example of this was the news that the NHS is investigating the feasibility of providing free Wi-Fi across its estate which it estimates will 'help reduce the administrative burden currently estimated to take up to 70 percent of a junior doctor's day'. I'll cover the often-talked about benefits to clinicians in a later blog but here I want to focus on how access to free Wi-Fi could impact the patient in a myriad of positive ways.


Today many of us see access to the internet via Wi-Fi just like any other utility. It's not something we think of too deeply but we expect it to be there, all day, every day. But access to Wi-Fi in an NHS hospital can either come at a price or is not available at all. The vision put forward by Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, could truly revolutionise the continuum of care experience and fundamentally change the relationship between patient/family and hospital. I've highlighted five of the main benefits below:


1. Enhances Education

Clinicians will say that a better informed patient is more likely to buy in to their treatment plan. Traditionally an inpatient will be delivered updates on their condition verbally by a doctor 'doing the rounds' once or twice per day at the bedside. With the availability of free Wi-Fi in hospitals and the much-anticipated electronic patient access to all NHS funded services by 2020, I anticipate a patient being able to simply log-in to see real-time updates about their condition at any time of the day via their electronic health record. And Wi-Fi may offer opportunities to provide access to online educational material approved by the NHS too.  I would add a cautionary note here though around the differing levels of interpretation of medical data by clinicians and patients.


2. Connecting Families

A prolonged stay in hospital affects not just the patient but the wider family too. Free Wi-Fi changes what can sometimes be a lonely and isolated period for the patient by bringing the family 'to the bedside' outside of traditional visiting hours through technologies such as Skype or email. And those conversations may well include patient progress updates thus reducing the strain on nurses who, at times, provide updates over the telephone. Additionally, family will be able to spend more time visiting patients while still being able to work remotely using free Wi-Fi.


3. Future Wearables

As the Internet of Things in healthcare becomes more commonplace we're likely to see increasing examples of how wearable technology can be used to not only monitor patients in the home but in a clinical setting too. Tim Kelsey used the example of patients with diabetes, 1/5th of whom will have experienced an avoidable hypoglycaemic episode while in hospital. Using sensor technology connected to Wi-Fi will help minimise these incidents and ensure patients do not experience additional (and avoidable) complications during their stay in hospital. Again, the upside to the healthcare provider is a reduction in the cost of providing care.


4. Happier Patients

Talk to patients (young or old) that have spent an extended time in hospital and they will more often than not tell you that at times they felt a drop in morale due to having their regular routine significantly disrupted. By offering free Wi-Fi patients can use their own mobile devices to pull back and continue to enjoy some of those everyday activities that go a long way to making all of us happy. That might include watching a favourite TV programme, reading a daily newspaper or simply playing an online game. Being connected brings a sense of normality to what is undoubtedly a period of worry and concern, resulting in happier patients.


5. Reducing Readmissions

When we look at the team of people providing care for patients it’s easy to forget just how important family and friends are, albeit in a less formal way than clinicians. When it comes to reducing readmission my mind is drawn to the patient setting immediately after discharge from hospital where it’s likely that family and close friends will be primary carers when the patient returns home. I’m seeing a scenario whereby the patient and caregiver in a hospital connect to family members, using Skype via Wi-Fi for example, to talk through recovery and medication to help ease and increase the effectiveness of that transition from hospital to home. I believe this could have a significant impact on readmission rates in a very positive way.


Meeting Security Needs

Wi-Fi networks in a hospital setting will, of course, bring concerns around security, especially when we talk of accessing sensitive healthcare data. This should not stop progress though as there are innovative security safeguards created by Intel Security Group that can mitigate the risks associated with data transiting across both public and private cloud-based networks. And I envisage healthcare workers and patients will access separate Wi-Fi networks which offer enhanced levels of security to clinicians.


Vision to Reality

Currently there are more than 100 NHS hospitals providing Wi-Fi to patients, in some cases free and in others on a paid-for basis. What really needs to happen though to turn this vision of free Wi-Fi for all into a reality? There are obvious financial implications but I think there are great arguments for investment too, especially when you look at the clinical benefits and potential cost-savings. A robust and clear strategy for implementation and ongoing support will be vital to delivery and may well form part of the NHS feasibility study. I look forward to seeing the report and, hopefully, roll-out of free Wi-Fi across the NHS to provide an improved patient experience.


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Chris Gough is a lead solutions architect in the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group and a frequent blog contributor.

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By Steve Leibforth, Strategic Relationship Manager, Intel Corporation


How sustainable is your health IT environment? With all the demands you’re putting on your healthcare databases, is your infrastructure as reliable and affordable as it needs to be so you can stay ahead of the rising demand for services?


In Louisiana, IT leaders at one of the health systems we’ve been working with ran the numbers. Then, they migrated their InterSystems Caché database from their previous RISC platforms onto Dell servers based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E7. They tell us they couldn’t be happier—and they’re expecting the move to help them reduce TCO for their Epic EHR and Caché environment by more than 40 percent.


“Using Intel® and Dell hardware with Linux and VMware, you can provide a level of reliability that’s better than or equal to anything out there,” says Gregory Blanchard, executive director of IT at Shreveport-based University Health (UH) System. “You can do it more easily and at much lower cost. It’s going to make your life a lot easier. The benefits are so clear-cut, I would question how you could make the decision any differently.”


UH Photo.jpg


We recently completed a case study describing UH’s decision to migrate its Caché infrastructure. We talked with UH’s IT leaders about their previous pain points, the benefits they’re seeing from the move, and any advice they can share with their health IT peers. If your health system is focused on improving services while controlling costs, I think you’ll find it well worth a read. You’ll also learn about the Dell, Red Hat, Intel, and VMware for Epic (DRIVE) Center of Excellence—a great resource for UH and other organizations that want a smooth migration for their Epic and Caché deployments.  




UH is a great reminder that health IT innovation doesn’t just happen at the Cleveland Clinics and Kaiser Permanentes of the world. Louisiana has some of the saddest health statistics in the nation, and the leaders at UH know they need to think big if they’re going to change that picture. As a major medical resource for northwest Louisiana and the teaching hospital for the Louisiana State University Shreveport School of Medicine, UH is on the forefront of the state’s efforts to improve the health of its citizens. Its new infrastructure—with Intel Inside®—gives UH a scalable, affordable, and sustainable foundation. I’ll be excited to watch their progress.


Read the case study and tell  me what you think.

Read a whitepaper about scaling Epic workloads with the Intel® Xeon® processor E7 v3.

Join and participate in the Intel Health and Life Sciences Community

Follow us on Twitter: @IntelHealth, @IntelITCenter

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