Mature Market Experts Gem Of The Day: Boomers and the Wii Fit

Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often – Boomers and the Wii Fit – My wife and I just got a “Nintendo Wii for the kids.” According to the Wii’s virtual fitness trainers on the Wii Fit game, the first time I stepped on the Wii pad, I was 15 years older than my actual age. Pretty disheartening for a guy who’s active and regularly runs marathons. I blame it on my poor balance which the game tends to penalize. Anyway, this morning I tried it again, and knocked it down to just 4 years over my actual age so I’m making progress.

No one should confuse the Wii Fit program for real science or a real cardiovascular workout but there is definitely something to be had with the concept. For example, for someone who has never had anything to do with Yoga or stretching, the Fit introduces some worthwhile drills. Most importantly, it introduces some areas to work on to improve key deficiencies (i.e. falls are the number one cause of hospitalizations among seniors, so balance is definitely worth working on). The Wii is not there yet, but it doesn’t take a genius to see where this technology is headed.

In the meantime, Nintendo … by incorporating the mature market … continues to trounce their competition.

Source: SeattlePI.com

Source: SeattlePI.com

As I’ve mentioned before, When I was at Erickson, heading up the advertising team, the brilliantly creative interactive team produced a series of incredibly cool/funny videos centered around Wii bowling at their retirement communities. Definitely worth watching!

Note: The Washington Post did an excellent review on Wii Fit.

Mature Market Experts Gem Of The Day: The Siren Call Of The Vitality Calculator

aarp-calculator1 Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often – Vitality Calculator – I’m fascinated by the “vitality calculators” popping up on all the mature market sites. From a marketing perspective, it makes absolute sense to try to engage your site visitors. People want to be reassured that they will live forever. That being said, I can’t imagine anyone being motivated to change their lifestyle from a “calculator” as simplistic as this . . . or as computer programmers used to say, “garbage in, garbage out.”

I like to remind TR Mann Consulting’s clients, that clicks don’t equal satisfaction . . . don’t insult the intelligence of your readers . . . they won’t come back.

Mature Market Experts Stat of The Day: Electronic Tracking and Care Coordination Tools Save Lives

Electronic tracking combined with patient centered-care management can reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

Electronic tracking combined with patient centered-care management can reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often – Electronic Tracking and Care Coordination Tools Save Lives – As I have often posted before, I think technology is key to bridging the shortage of healthcare workers needed to care for the world’s booming senior population. Recent research is beginning to show the difference it can make. According to an article by Saher Selod of Mather Lifeways’ Aging In Action, “Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University conducted an evaluation of the Care Management Plus (CMP) program. The results of the study indicate that the CMP program, an intervention tool that combines electronic tracking with patient centered-care management, reduced the number of deaths and hospitalizations for older adults suffering from several chronic illnesses.

The study was conducted in Seven Intermountain clinics where 1,144 patients received the CMP and 2,288 patients, in the control group, did not. According to the results, 6.5% of the CMP patients died in the first year compared to 9.2% from the control group. In the second year, 13.1% of CMP patients died in the second year compared to 16.6% in the control group. The difference in hospitalization rates was not as high as the death rates, except for those patients who suffered from diabetes.The researchers argued that this computerized care management system worked in conjunction with extra training for nurses to improve the health care outcomes for older adults.

CMP uses data regarding the patients’ condition that is logged into a care management tracking database. This tool is then used by the care plan teams of chronically ill older adults to access patient information quickly and address patient medical needs efficiently.

This new system would require the restructuring of primary care for those who are chronically ill. Researchers from the study recommend this restructuring in order to improve the quality of care for chronically ill patients in the long term.”

Additional source: Door, David, Wilcox, A., Brunker, C., Burdon, R. Donnelly, S. 2008. The effect of technology-supported multi-disease care management on the mortality of hospitalization of seniors. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 56(12): 2203-2210.

I also recommend reading The John A Hartford Foundation’s annual report.

Mature Market Experts Gem of The Day: Hearing Aids Get Stylish For Baby Boomers

The new Lyric hearing aid is a good example of how far hear aid design has come.

The new Lyric hearing aid is a good example of how far hearing aid design has come.

Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often – Hearing Aids Get Stylish For Baby Boomers – This past October I lost most of my hearing in my right ear to a relatively rare condition called Sudden Sensory Neurological Hearing Loss, so I suddenly find myself in the market for a hearing aid. Fortunately, hearing aids have become much more stylish. Once again, boomers are on the forefront of pushing for improvements . . . and it makes sense . . . 16 percent, one in six, of the 78 million boomers have some loss of hearing.

One company that certainly seems to have their product design approaching something more tolerable to the bulk of us is Lyric. The Lyric hearing aid is placed deep in the ear canal, so it is 100% invisible to other people. And the Lyric can be worn while you sweat or get wet – which is perfect for boomers who want to stay active.

I’ll be doing my research on the various hearing aid options and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, Lyric listen up (pun intended), TR Mann Consulting can help you market your wonderfully designed product.

PS    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two wonderful organizations that have been extremely helpful to me during this ordeal: Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology, in particular, Dr. John Carey and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Mature Market Experts Gem of The Day: $20B For Healthcare Information Technology

j0438865 mature market electronic medical records

Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often – $20B For Healthcare Information Technology – All politics are local, so the saying goes. So, it is worth noting that the amount of money being allocated in the new recovery and reinvestment law will affect all of us in some way on a local level—either for the good or the bad. Of particular interest to me is the roughly $20B allocation associated with healthcare information technology. As healthcare and its peripheral topics are of interest to me by education, training and profession, this particular expenditure carries with it both hope and caution. The expenditure carries hope from the perspective that the promise of universal electronic medical records can ultimately improve the quality of care for us all. The caution is that the devil is in the details and there is the possibility—and likelihood—that the challenges associated with implementing and administering such a technological advancement will not be resolved for many years to come.

Returning to the “politics are local” theme for a moment, the challenges with universal health records (note: NOT universal health care…I’ll leave that political debate alone for the time being) are in their implementation and acceptance across the U.S. It is not sufficient to simply supply each primary care provider with a laptop computer…there is the issue of the medical record software itself. Both Microsoft and Google have made large investments in personalized health records (I have one myself). But access to these data, the adoption of the medium across the country, identification of the patient, securing and protecting the information from unauthorized review, and many other challenges are before us.

These challenges will not be resolved by merely spending ~$20B on healthcare information technology initiatives. To address these challenges requires a unified effort across multiple fronts, including breaching technological and sociological boundaries. The basic tenets of restricted and assured access as well as accuracy of the data are so significant and are of such dire import that their mentioning cannot be overemphasized. From an academic perspective one might conclude that “of course” these items and more must be guaranteed. However, we in the U.S. have at present no common standard for enabling and ensuring these two most basic of operational items in this day and age. Certainly the technologies exist to meet the demands of these key requirements. But, their seamless, universal application is presently not available nor enforceable throughout the continuum of care nationwide. This is so for many reasons. Key among these reasons is the lack of enforced standardization for interoperability among the many, many standalone healthcare information technology systems. Many lone islands are available which cannot communicate among one another. The investment required to achieve this feat is in no way trivial. Furthermore, common standards for storing this information so that it may be retrieved at a hospital, say, in Orlando, Florida while I am away on business, have yet to be put into place.

So, how do we proceed? Well, in order to achieve the vision, all hospitals that acquire new or upgrade existing healthcare information technology systems (inclusive of electronic enterprise health records) should mandate that these systems interoperate with each other so that orders, medications, patient vital signs, laboratory results, imagery, and other information can be shared seamlessly among the many disparate systems that can coexist within a healthcare enterprise. This implies that such systems must support common data and information communication frameworks such as those proffered by Health Level 7 (HL7), DICOM, and others. Furthermore, such systems must provide the capability to support role-based user access to all stored information so that patient data will only be revealed to individuals with a need to know. Special care must be given to any information such as patient data for numerous reasons including safety and privacy. Additionally, repositories of patient information must be made available to clinicians anywhere at any time. Access must be reliable, assured, the data must be accurate and beyond question in terms of its integrity.

The aforementioned requirements are only a subset of those needed to support a truly universal form of electronic health record throughout the many thousands of enterprises worldwide. I have not made mention of the standards of care and how these can vary worldwide. Even if such a universal medium for storing and accessing patient information were confined to the United States alone this is a nontrivial challenge. However, I believe it is necessary to overcome given the even greater challenge of improving the quality of healthcare and reducing its ponderous costs in the years to come.

Note: more blog entries on electronic medical records can be found here.

Mature Market Experts Gem of The Day: Baby Boomer Steve Jobs Turns 54

Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often: Yesterday Baby Boomer and cancer survivor Steve Jobs turned 54. As one of the people most responsible for shaping a generation, Steve offered some incredible insight on two important topics . . . how to get back up after getting fired (a pretty timely subject in this economy) and the power of death. This commencement speech which he gave at Stanford University is worth the 15 minutes of your time. 

PS     Steve, if you read this, please fix this IPOD problem for your Baby Boomer fans.

PPS   I like Mr. Job’s mention in the video of the “Google” predecessor.

Mature Market Experts Gem of The Day: Serving Aging Populations with Remote Monitoring Technologies

42-17073549 telehealth mature market experts

Mature Market Experts: more mature market news and stats more often – Serving Aging Populations with Remote Monitoring Technologies – Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau expect the population of Americans aged 65 and older to increase by more than a factor of two between 2010 and 2050 [1]. At the same time estimates of healthcare expenditure increases between 2007 and 2017 show an increase to nearly 20% of GDP in this period [2]. These estimates were made prior to the recent financial crisis that began during the Fall of 2008. Further compounding this increasing demand and the concomitant increase in costs is the availability of allied healthcare professionals. Some studies [3] identify the likely decrease in the number of physicians entering any number of key specialty areas, including cardiology (20% decrease by 2020), geriatrics (35% of current demand met today), rheumatology (38 day average wait for a new appointment), and primary care (on the verge of collapse). Those of us who are baby boomers are on the leading edge of this demand and, in order to mitigate and minimize the cost impacts on our children, it is our challenge and responsibility to innovate and meet these challenges without passing along unnecessary burdens to our children and grandchildren.

For most of us, aging means more frequent and severe afflictions. Taking care of our health by improving diet, exercising, and maintaining an otherwise active lifestyle is essential to ensure a high quality life. Even with increased vigilance chronic ailments can affect us later in life, brought on both by our genetics and consequentially due to the lifestyles we’ve led in our youths. Ailments such as dementia, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and others take their toll. Managing chronic diseases is costly from a logistical perspective in terms of time and money. However, even more to the point, effective and quality oversight of patients with chronic ailments requires regular review, screening, and monitoring of patients. This is further complicated by the need to serve patients who lack the means or are physically incapable of leaving their homes for extended periods. Telehealth and remote monitoring are a means by which a case manager—an individual assigned to oversee the care of chronically ill patients within a home-health setting—can review patient information on a regular basis (for example, daily) and support both the patient and the primary care provider. Furthermore, Intensive care units and emergency departments are becoming more crowded. Individuals with insurance are going to EDs because they cannot find satisfaction in terms of prompt scheduling with their gatekeepers (family practitioners). The quantity of individuals with chronic ailments is on the rise (stroke, CHF, diabetes, COPD, etc.) This is in part due to the fact that people are living longer. At the same time the Medicare and SS systems will not be able to sustain the growth in population over age 65. This means that working individuals will increasingly bear the financial burden for us “boomers.” As a result of increased longevity and the fiscal challenges, the retirement age will increase.

So, what do we do? Well, several things: first, technology in the form of remote data collection, reporting devices and software will become more prevalent: glucometers, BP cuffs, spirometers and associated software will be more readily available for direct communication with personalized electronic health records. If the purpose of a typical visit is to take BP and diabetic assessments, this can be handled most by collecting data at the point of care (home) and transmitting to the physician’s office for assessment. Such also applies to nursing and assisted living facilities. Next, the technical infrastructure required to transmit and store these data will be required. Paying for this infrastructure could come from a number of sources. One possibility: most everyone nowadays has access to cable television. Cable companies could offer devices that integrate with existing modems to collect and transmit data to the FP, together with complementary emails to next of kin (e.g. “Your mother’s BP as of 8:10 this morning was 145/89”). Other technologies that can be used to evaluate and monitor chronic ailments such as macular degeneration can further reduce costs by providing video cameras at point of care whereby ophthalmologists can review retinal changes without requiring an elderly individual to be transported at expense and time to a hospital or office. In addition, support for remote consults via VoIP and video can be supported over the same network. This empowers the remote provider with the ability to interact with the patient All of these technologies are in use in remote pockets around the world today. But, they will become more prevalent. These technology implementations will reduce costs and provide for more personalized care in comfortable settings (homes). Of course, nothing takes the place of the tactile hands-on. But, for routine visits the above will be invaluable. In terms of the software technologies, personalized medicine will become the norm (eventually). Telehealth will be key. But, also, support for automated workflow in the acute care environment will need to be augmented. This means fully integrating all data into the enterprise HIS.

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology published operational scenarios focused on providing key information to assist in harmonizing standards on the implementation, certification, and policy implications for robust remote patient monitoring [4]. Included in this assessment are requirements on interacting with personalized health records and enterprise health information systems. The approaches to advancing remote monitoring include both seamless communication from medical devices at the point of care (i.e., in a patient’s home setting) and with a case manager and primary care provider both through electronic transfer, storage, and display of health information and remote video and audio interaction with patients in the same home health setting.

 Technology is not the silver bullet, but those described above are key enablers for remote health monitoring. Of course, the use of technology carries with it the implication that sufficient underlying infrastructure exists. This is not always the case in remote areas of the country. Satellite, cable, and fiber optic technologies are fairly extensive within the continental United States, but pockets and regions exist in which this is not the case. Therefore, a combined effort to extend the communications infrastructure must continue together with a unified effort to standardize and train and “in-service” individual care providers on these technologies must occur. One of the best mechanisms for enabling this is through the local hospitals and their satellite clinics.

[1] Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau, August 14th, 2008; Table 12: “Projections of the population by Age and Sex for the United States: 2010 to 2050 (NP2008-T12)”

[2] Cinda Becker, “Slow: Budget Danger Ahead,” Modern Healthcare, March 3rd 2008.

[3] “Recent Studies and Reports on Physician Shortages in the U.S.,” Center for Workforce Studies, Association of American Medical Colleges, August 2007.

[4] “Remote Monitoring Detailed Use Case,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, March 21st, 2008.

So, how long do we have? Well, the sooner the better. Successful telehealth and remote monitoring programs exist throughout the United States and worldwide today. We should ensure that our elected representatives direct healthcare expenditures towards several specific areas to promote growth and alignment to meet the objectives of remote monitoring. These include continuing alignment on electronic personalized health records, expansion of our underlying communications infrastructure, and promoting common standards of communication among these records so that, regardless of location, a patient can communicate his or her information to any physician and allied health professional within the country. In summary: common storage, homogeneous communication, standardized formats.