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Future of Healthcare: Life Science Intersecting with the Exponential Increase in Computing Power

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Life science is intersecting with the exponential increase in computing power, and as President and Managing Partner of Google Ventures (GV), Bill Maris sees great opportunities for new technology in the field. Today, Maris addressed a crowd of entrepreneurs and change makers at one of Chicago’s greatest startup and technology hubs, 1871.

Bill MarisAs we see with our customers’ Internet of Things deployments, every sector, from life sciences to retail and transportation, exponential increases in computing capacity open doors for advances that few see coming.

Maris summed up how technology has grown over the last 20 years: “What is 320,000 times better than it was before? Tech.”

As Maris pointed out, today we all have a device in our hands that connects us to the sum of human knowledge. And, the capacity of computer technology is on an exponential curve. In a world where you’re on an exponential curve, everything changes very quickly.

Pulling a page from Slack Founder Stewart Butterfield, Maris shared two photos to make his point. First, he showed a photo of the crowd at the 2008 presidential inauguration. How were people documenting the experience? With cameras— cameras with film. Fast forward to 2012, and how did people document that event? Digitally, with their phones. Each photo shows thousands of people with cameras and phones respectively. The pictures, side-by-side, paint the radical change that happened in less than four short years.

What does this have to do with technological advances in life sciences?

Everything, because the field of life sciences is currently experiencing this exponential curve, as it somewhat has in the past.

In the 1800s, Bloodletting basins were used to collect blood that was taken from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. When the basin was full, the patient was thought to be treated. In the 1950s medical professionals used the “iron lung,” a negative pressure ventilator. Today, the negative form of pressure ventilation has been entirely replaced by positive pressure ventilation or biphasic cuirass ventilation.Then, in 1957, the first chemical synthesis of penicillin was completed.

Today, exponential curves are steeper than ever. The Human Genome Project is a great example. In 2002, people thought it was impossible to sequence the genome to 100%. Here’s how the evolution looked: 1990: 0%; 2002: 1%; 2003: 100%.

So, what does the world look like in 2034? “Think about those exponential curves, and apply that math. This could mean diagnoses before you know you’re sick. You don’t change the oil in the car only when the car breaks down,” Maris said.

A major theme of Maris’ talk about the future warned that we should also look to make sure that technology is distributed and that its creators and adopters consider access. In our work, we’ve seen companies use technology as a means of creating access— a project by Orange Business Services and Almerys, Cardiauvergne, being a great example.   

In today’s world of exponential curves, what’s your business doing to ensure your evolution? How are you using computing power to impact patient and customer outcomes and revenue? We saw Maris’ talk as an invitation to beg the question. We’d love to hear about your innovations in the comments section below.

More on the innovations of Digi customers around the globe.

Bill Maris founded Google Ventures in 2009 and oversees all of the fund’s global activities. GV is one of the most active investors in the world, with approximately $1.6 billion under management, more than 250 portfolio companies and offices in Mountain View, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and London. The fund’s early track record includes investments in pioneers like Uber, Nest, DocuSign, and Cloudera; IPOs like Foundation Medicine and RetailMeNot; and exits to industry leaders like Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo.

Photo credit: Hyde Park Angels

Mass Transit Demos and More at Arrow IoT Immersions

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Digi will be at all four stops of Arrow’s IoT Immersions event. We’ll be traveling to Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Jose, and Boston over the coming months along with other leading tech companies sharing IoT technology and how it’s changing industries. At the show we’ll have three IoT demos to share with you. Here’s a little bit of information on what we’ll be up to during the event and where you can find us:

Mass Transit Bus with ConnectCore 6Digi at Arrow IoT Immersions
We’re extremely excited to be a part of the Mass Transit demo, which showcases how IoT tech is already changing our transit systems. Inside the bus, you will find a Digi ConnectCore 6. The ConnectCore 6, based on the Freescale i.MX6 processor, drives multiple high definition monitors that provide bus location data as well as vehicle diagnostic information to the driver. Other companies that will be on board this mass transit demo include: Intel, Microsoft, Advantech, Microchip, Eurotech.

If one connected transit demo isn’t enough, we have good news. We’ll also be showing off Digi’s Wireless Vehicle Adapter, aka WVA. This handy device opens up a local Wi-Fi network and streams real-time vehicle diagnostic information to a tablet. Stop by our kiosk in the Cloud Pavilion to give it a try. We’ll have a tablet loaded with an Android application for you to play with.

Connected Health Care
We’ll also be sharing how Internet of Things is changing healthcare. There’s an enormous opportunity to use internet connected devices to improve outpatient care. We’ve built a connected blood pressure cuff, which enables caregivers to provide excellent service to patients even if they are outside the hospital.

The blood pressure device was modified with XBee, which enables communication to the cloud. Since the device is connected to the internet, caregivers can easily set up alarms so they’re notified whenever an abnormal condition is met. You can try this demo out for yourself in the Medical Pavilion.

More Information for Arrow IoT Immersions
In addition to our demos, Digi CTO, Joel Young, will be a part of the Solutions Sessions alongside other technology experts. Specifically, they’ll be discussing how the Internet of Things is impacting business, specifically cloud computing and connecting from the network’s edge into the enterprise. Want to attend, but not yet registered? Head over to the IoT Immersions page to sign up.

The New Patient Experience: Internet Connectivity Creating Healthcare Anywhere

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Last week, healthcare and technology innovators from around the United States came together to experience the future of healthcare at the Mill City Innovation & Collaboration Center (ICC), a new space created to showcase technologies, evaluate usability in simulated environments  and conduct community and practice-based research. The “Healthcare Anywhere” event focused on how healthcare providers can use information technologies, mobile applications and the Internet of Things to generate patient data for real-time monitoring creating a completely new patient experience and transforming the way patients and their healthcare providers interact. Real world, commercial-ready applications included a wearable, Internet of Things demonstration by AFrame Digital and Digi International.

AFrame and Digi came together to demo of AFrame’s MobileCare™ Monitor system, a wrist watch-like device that wirelessly communicates a user’s motion and location data to a cloud-based monitoring and alert system. The system’s capabilities include emergency call, impact detection, location tracking, along with activity and vitals tracking and trending. The solution uses Zigbee wireless technology, provided by Digi International, to connect to the network, and Device Cloud by Etherios to give providers an easy to use management portal.Health Monitoring on Tablet

The demonstration was installed in a simulated home environment to show attendees that data collection is a non-intrusive process.  AFrame Digital and Digi also demonstrated a patient app, intelligent mobile alerts and cloud-based care management tools that help seniors and patients stay safe at home, provide real-time feedback about a person’s health or well-being or give early warning when a person’s health begins to deteriorate.

“The Internet of Things paradigm is really about personalizing experiences,” said AFrame Digital’s Jill Thorpe, vice president for strategic initiatives. “Patient-generated data will influence healthcare the same way web navigation patterns and search criteria personalize consumer experiences on websites. We help healthcare providers leverage patient-generated data to personalize patient-directed content and enhance patient communication with their health care providers. Over time, combining sensor devices and patient-generated with powerful analytics and machine learning will help care providers get ahead of health problems before they become acute, enable more scalable care delivery models, and ultimately lead to better care and outcomes.”

“We believe that technology will reduce unnecessary face-to-face clinic visits, allowing physicians to see more patients and engage with their patients in new ways,” said Richard Tanler, Director of Mill City ICC. “Solutions offered by AFrame and Digi International are part of our hyper-connected world, that now includes apps for  managing our health and the health of loved ones.”

Panel Discussion

“Digi International’s products and services are used by our healthcare customers and OEMs to connect millions of devices in thousands of hospitals. The products and cloud services are being used to bridge the critical gap between healthcare information systems and a broad range of devices,” said Steve Popovich, vice president of global accounts, healthcare at Digi International. “We see new opportunities as healthcare devices become more mobile within traditional patient care facilities, for long term chronic illness monitoring and aging in place applications.”

In addition to live demos, the ICC hosted a roundtable dedicated to the topic. Panelists included representatives from Intel, Oracle, The Boston Consulting Group, and UnitedHealth Group and leaders from all local health systems represented in the audience.

The discussion included statements such as: 

“Right now, you’re collecting a lot of data and over the next few years, you’ll continue to share your behavioral footprint,” Deneen Vojta, UnitedHealth Group.

“Open data to entrepreneurs so they can create new ideas on new treatment models that will significantly open up new innovation,” Reid Oakes, Oracle.

“Reducing face to face visits by 40%. Reducing unnecessary face to face time to reduce scarcity,” Anurag Gupta, Boston Consulting Group.

“A visit starts in a different way today and in the future it could be done in a virtual space anytime anywhere at anytime,” Mark Blatt, Intel.

This event is the first of many expected at the ICC, and you can learn more about the center and upcoming events at: MillCityICC.org. The panel discussion will also be available. Stay tuned– we’ll be sharing it in the next two weeks.

Digi Enables almerys’ Critical Cardiology Telehealth Application in France (M2M Now Magazine Case Study)

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“We wanted to be up and running quickly and Digi provided us with the rapid development environment we needed. Its solutions were easily integrated into our IT platform. The solution was ready in less than two months, and enabled us to get to the market quickly.” – Robert Boualit, health services director at almerys

Heart failure is the leading cause of emergency hospitalization in patients over 60 years old. For those suffering from heart disease, changes in body weight are a crucial indicator of their health and response to treatment. Remote monitoring for patient weight “warning signs” can avert emergency hospitalization, improves the health of patients and has massive cost-saving implications for health care systems worldwide.

Digi and almerys, a subsidiary of Orange Business Services, have helped develop and implement a cardiology telehealth pilot project in the Auvergne region of France. The Cardiauvergne project, which utilizes Digi’s ConnectPort® X3, Digi TransPort® 41 and Device Cloud by Etherios™, performs in-home monitoring to collect a patient’s weight data daily, and transfers it quickly and securely to a medical co-ordination unit where medical decisions are made.

Since the Cardiauvergne project began in September 2011, 315 patients have been monitored and 600 health crises have been averted. This is just one example of how Digi is improving patient care by connecting critical devices – see our Medical Brochure to learn more about how Digi and Etherios are expanding the mobility and frequency of patient health care.

Top 5 Lessons about Wireless in Healthcare

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Meet our guest blogger: Eric Abbott is a technology executive with a deep understanding of healthcare IT and telecommunications infrastructure. With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Abbott is responsible for leading product management initiatives at ExteNet Systems. Prior to joining ExteNet Systems, Mr. Abbott served as a Senior Product Manager for Motorola, Inc. There, he led the development of advanced applications and communication systems for healthcare, public safety agencies, and enterprise customers. His background also includes medical informatics, healthcare IT, business strategy, operations, and systems engineering.

The convergence of healthcare IT with wireless technology has achieved tremendous strides in improving access to care, timeliness of care, patient safety, and the quality of care. Indeed, real-time, contextual access to the healthcare enterprise EMR has enabled new delivery method paradigms, as evidenced by the rise of mobile health modalities. Healthcare vendors have responded with a rich suite of new products, applications, and services to create an infrastructure environment of connectivity between people, things, and processes, thereby promoting continuity of care between a healthcare organization’s EMR and wireless medical devices and instruments. Examples range from biometric machine-to-machine (M2M) medical device sensors that form body area networks to applications running on a commercial wireless device such as an iPhone or iPAD.

Healthcare organizations dealing with the world of wireless have learned the following top 5 lessons.

1. Security and privacy is paramount.
Physical, technical, and operational safeguards are critical necessities when dealing with multiple families of wireless devices. Bring your own device (BYOD) practices enhances potential vulnerabilities, and reliance on native security and privacy methods is not prudent given strengthened HIPAA requirements and emerging requirements.

2. Sizing and selection of infrastructure is critical towards assuring high levels of availability to users.
Wireless technology offerings have evolved beyond Wi-Fi. Healthcare organizations must understand how to use and select broadband technologies such as 4G LTE and Bluetooth inside and outside the 4-walls of the hospital.

3. Financing of wireless services is a reality.
Traditional, fixed capital Wi-Fi based systems are yielding way to hybrid wireless systems that include commercial wireless service offered by public wireless carriers. Financing of commercial wireless infrastructure given their up-front capital and recurring operations costs is an important consideration from an operations standpoint.

4. The extent of offered wireless services is a key consideration.
Potential interference, inherent capacity limitations and constraints, and assured interoperability between wireless systems mandates intelligent wireless management methods such as service access control and network access control.

5. HIT workflow and technology integration is fundamental for success implementations.
Semantic interoperability between end-processes requires rigorous integration practices that include attention to latency, throughput limitations, and other technical metrics. Additionally, clinical workflow integration from a cultural and organizational standpoint is necessary via training and best practices process methods in order to facilitate adoption. In turn, these achieve operational efficiencies and thus the expected return on investment.

Want to read more on wireless in healthcare? You can read our last M2M healthcare post, “An Introduction to M2M and Healthcare,” here.

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