OM, CHP: Increased Use of Technology to Reach Consumers, Provide Care

NYAPRS Note: The following pieces (please forgive some of the label language) underscore the rising use and importance of text, cell and web based technology in facilitating information sharing between healthcare consumers, providers and other related groups.


Can Consumers With Cognitive Disorders Use The New Technologies?

By Monica E. Oss, CEO  Open Minds  September 5, 2013


Developed by OPEN MINDS, 163 York Street, Gettysburg PA 17325,  All rights reserved.  You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. You may not use this work for commercial purposes without written permission from OPEN MINDS.


There is one predictable comment that I get when I'm discussing treatment technology with clinical teams – "Our consumers can't use that [name a technology]. They can't use computers and smartphones – and they don't have the money to access them."


What I think they are saying is that individuals with cognitive disorders can't use the new array of apps and web sites and health monitoring tools that are becoming commercially available. And, I also think this is shorthand for, we (the management team) don't need to know how to use these technologies.


But, au contraire. In fact, consumers with cognitive disabilities of all types are making great use of these emerging technologies (I'll get to the access issue later) – and organizations that serve these consumers run the risk of obsolesce by not keeping on top of the tech and the trends. Here's a quick summary of what's out there now...


Consumers With Serious Mental Illnesses

For consumers with serious mental illness (SMI), the rate of mobile phone use is both comparable to the general public, and showing success as an engagement and treatment tool. According to researchers from the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center's Geisel School of Medicine, 72% of survey respondents with serious mental illness reported owning and using a mobile device (see Mobile technologies among people with serious mental illness: opportunities for future services). A recent study found that the majority of participants with SMI willing and able to engage in treatments using mobile phones over an extended period (see Mobile Assessment and Treatment for Schizophrenia (MATS): A Pilot Trial of An Interactive Text-Messaging Intervention for Medication Adherence, Socialization, and Auditory Hallucinations).

Some of the technologies emerging for these consumer groups include Beating the Blues, myStrength, CBT Referee, eCBTmood, and WhatsMYM3.


Consumers With Autism

While we don't have a national survey providing statistics on the use of technology by consumers with autism, if the commercial market is any indication, the available assistive technologies for this consumer group is on the rise. According to Pradnya Joshi in Finding Good Apps for Children With Autism, "The Apple iPad has been hailed as a savior for assisting children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs...." And, in the ITunes store, there are 30 categories of apps being used with and by people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs.

Some of the technologies emerging for these consumer groups include AutismTrack, Training Faces, and AutismXpress.


Consumers With Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease

There are a smattering of apps for consumers with dementias. The apps seem to fall in two categories – brain exercises focused on memory training and personal safety apps. The number of brain training apps are many – Brain Trainer by Lumosity, Brain Bomb, Math vs. Brains, Dr. Kawashima, Memory Trainer, BrainyApp and mTrainer Pro. The personal safety apps are focused on assisting or extending caregiver support – Unus Tactus, The Tweri Alzheimer Caregiver Tool, Dementia Rx, and Dementia.


If serving any of these populations is in your organization's future, brushing up on the emerging consumer treatment technologies would be a good investment of time.

And one note on the issue of cost of access to these technologies. As we move from fee-for-service payment to value-based payment arrangement for provider organizations, I think provider organizations will find it cost effective to provide high-cost consumers with these technologies in order to reduce both administrative costs and cost of care.



Brooklyn Startup Sells ACA Texting

Crain’s Health Pulse  September 6, 2013


Brooklyn mobile communications company Mobile Commons has found a growing niche: It is contracting with the nonprofit and governmental organizations that are spreading the word about state health exchanges.

The company's product is a text-messaging service that it says specializes in getting responses from the 18- to 29-year-old demographic. That's an important target market for the exchanges, since that age group is seen as prime customers to buy individual policies on the exchanges come October.

Company co-founder Benjamin Stein said clients include exchanges in several states, including Connecticut and New Jersey. Private insurers are also customers. The actual messages vary, Mr. Stein said.

"We have a content library that includes grade-level appropriate messages in Spanish and English," he explained.

The more targeted the message to the recipient, the better the response rate, he added. Texting is most popular in low-income households. Hispanics text 156% more frequently than Caucasians, while African-Americans text 224% more, said Mr. Stein.

Located in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood, Mobile Commons is seven years old and has been used in many political and goal-oriented campaigns, including the Obama presidential races.


The Number Of Tech-Enabled Professionals & Caregivers On the Increase

By Monica E. Oss, CEO, Open Minds  August 29, 2013


Developed by OPEN MINDS, 163 York Street, Gettysburg PA 17325,  All rights reserved.  You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. You may not use this work for commercial purposes without written permission from OPEN MINDS.


Maybe it was just a matter of time. Maybe it's the push from the broader use of electronic health recordkeeping (EHR) systems (see Physicians Double Down On EHR Adoption all members and EHR Adoption By US Hospitals Tripled Between 2009 & 2012 all members). Maybe it's the easier-to-use new hardware. But, the proportion of clinical professionals and caregivers embracing technology in service delivery is on the rise.


75% of physicians use their smartphone to communicate with other physicians, 70% of physicians use their smartphone to research medications, and of those physicians who use an EHR, 77% use a smartphone and 15% use a regular mobile phone (see Survey of Physicians Suggests Tablets More Useful Than Smartphones). The most-used medical apps? Epocrates, Medscape, MedCalc, Skyscape, Doximity, and Up To Date..


And a survey of physicians around their usage of technologies for communicating with consumers (see CompTIA's 4th Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities) had some surprises. Physicians reported their uses as:

  1. 50% used a smartphone for work purposes
  2. 31% used a tablet to communicate with consumers
  3. 43% used a website to provide information to consumers
  4. 34% allowed consumers to email or text questions
  5. 29% sent email reminders for appointments
  6. 26% used social networking sites
  7. 20% sent text message reminders for appointments
  8. 18% provided web portals for consumers to view medical records
  9. 17% provided online appointment scheduling
  10. 10% used instant messaging
  11. 7% used video conferencing


And, it's not just clinical professionals. Caregivers are interested. A recent study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcar (see e-Connected Family Caregiver: Bringing Caregiving into the 21st Century) found that caregivers are very receptive to technologies that may help them to take care of their loved ones:

  1. More than 75% of the caregivers surveyed said they were interested in and likely to try using personal health record tracking software.
  2. About 70% felt a caregiving coordination system and a medication support system that dispenses pills would be helpful.
  3. Between 60% and 70% cited interest in other technologies, such as devices to monitor and transmit medical information.
  4. About 69% of caregivers said they would be somewhat or very receptive to using smartphone applications to help them with caregiving.


And, what technologies are caregivers looking for? Medication support systems and personal health records.

The individual stakeholders – from physicians to care givers – are moving to embrace new treatment technologies to make their professional lives and their personal lives easier. Keeping up with them will be a challenge for most provider organizations.