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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.

How M2M Will Transform Medical Information

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Yesterday on Twitter, we received a question from Heidi in response to an article we shared. Heidi asked how M2M might transform medical information worldwide. We thought that such a great question solicited a thoughtful answer– one with more than 140 characters. So, we asked our healthcare IT expert and guest blogger, Eric Abbott to weigh in on the topic.


In response, Eric pointed out three key areas that M2M will transform medical information.

Timely Access 
First, M2M is able to exchange medical information in real-time or near real-time between a patient and clinical systems and caregivers, promoting timely access to care for patients. This is a bi-directional benefit, as caregivers can react to changing patient conditions in a transparent manner. For example, in some circumstances, both patient and caregiver are able to know that their treatment is working in a matter of hours, and not weeks, thus eliminating anxiety.

Industry trends show that M2M technology costs are decreasing while wireless networks accessed by M2M systems are becoming more pervasive. What this means is that monitoring of patients and people for disease management and wellness, respectively, are becoming less intrusive. Consequently, this improves quality of life, particularly since people are mobile and they don’t want to give up active lifestyles. Additionally, I want to mention that many different industry initiatives are currently underway specifically designed to promote M2M globally by tackling such hurdles as battery life of M2M devices. Indeed, self-powered M2M devices (i.e., via body heat or motion) are now reality. This particularly benefits disadvantaged regions of the World, where maintenance and operating costs for clinical M2M can be an issue.

Knowledge that Impacts Outcome
By providing data exchange between patients and clinical systems, M2M promotes knowledge exchange about the efficacy of treatments or even wellness programs across a diverse array of individuals. Hence, medical informaticists are able to analyze clinical outcomes across large participatory populations. This is incredibly important, because it helps to reveal trends, dependencies, and.or optimal courses of therapy, thereby promoting faster development of treatments, and mitigation/elimination of ineffective treatments, all of which lowers the costs of care, improves clinical outcomes, and increases the quality of care.

We thank Heidi for her question. It opens the doors for us to share more information on M2M and its impact on healthcare. If you’re interested in seeing how specific M2M applications have been implemented, you can see case studies and system diagrams here.

Do you have a question about the Internet of Things or M2M? Would you like us to cover a specific topic here on the iDigi blog? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter. We’re here to provide useful information for you, so we love your questions and comments.

Wireless Devices Answer the Call for Help via McKnight’s

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This article was written by Kelly Besecker, Vice President for Sales and Marketing at AFrame Digital and Steve Popovich, our Vice President of Business Development at Digi International.

As a result of rising medical costs and an increasing number of patients with chronic conditions, many senior living facilities are seeking wireless monitoring solutions for managing patients’ health in addition to life-safety. For all patients or residents, any change or decline in their condition needs to be detected as quickly as possible to allow for early intervention.

According to a study conducted by IMS Research, more than 50 million wireless health monitoring devices will ship for consumer monitoring applications during the next five years. Such devices offer personalized care for a variety of health scenarios, including fall risks.

Falls are a major health risk. It is estimated that one in three persons over the age of 65 is likely to fall at least once a year. Personal emergency response systems can help by providing a “panic button” device that a senior can press if an accident occurs.  However, a 2008 study by the British Medical Journal found that 80% of people over the age of 90 who wore monitoring devices never pushed the alert button after a fall, either because they didn’t want to bother anyone or were unable to do so.  If a fall goes undetected, the results can be devastating for both the patient and the senior living facility.  Remaining on the floor, even for a few hours, can lead to problems such as dehydration, low body temperature and skin sores due to pressure. Additionally, senior living facilities can face the loss of revenue, lawsuits and license revocation if falls go undetected.

To prevent undetected falls, senior living facilities are now looking for solutions that feature a built-in accelerometer that measures movement and orientation, and can automatically sense falls. When a fall is detected, it sends an alert where it is deemed appropriate, such as a caregiver or nurse station. With automatic alerts, caregivers are able to act more quickly to provide assistance. In addition, automatic detection allows a trend to be developed over time that may indicate an increase in instability over time. If the system also determines the location of the resident, a pattern of difficulty with certain locations or time of day may emerge.

Of course, it is everyone’s goal to prevent falls before they happen. Most falls are associated with one or more identifiable risk factors such as weakness, confusion and certain medications. Research has shown that identification and attention to these risk factors can significantly reduce fall rates. Companies such as AFrame Digital have introduced technology that is designed to detect changes so medical personnel and caregivers can be alerted before a fall happens.

AFrame’s MobileCare™ Monitor system, a wrist watch-like device, wirelessly communicates a user’s motion and location data to a cloud-based monitoring and alerting system. The AFrame 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 the iDigi Device cloud to make system management easy.

Read the Full Article on McKnight’s 

Identity Management in an M2M World: 5 Key Considerations

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By 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.

Identify management (IM) is increasingly an important consideration for leading healthcare organizations (HCOs). In broad terms, IM is defined as the process and means by which people and things are authorized, authenticated, and accounted during interactions between disparate systems. For example, IM may refer to either the process by which a user supplies credentials to gain access to a system or the user’s password and/or another unique identifier (in the case of two-factor authentication). In this way, the identity of the person or the object is firmly established to ensure that system integrity (i.e., the security, privacy, or other requirement) is assured.

Traditionally, HCOs have viewed IM as a means to manage IT and telecommunications assets. For example, IM may be used to ensure compliance to HIPAA standards (privacy and security), enforcement of enterprise policies and practices, and to provide authorized users with local and/or remote access to enterprise systems such as clinical databases.

The changing healthcare landscape coupled with the burgeoning proliferation of machine-to-machine (M2M) medical devices is forcing HCOs to re-examine their approach to IM. Drivers may be classified intro three general categories. The first are structurally changes. These include the availability of low cost M2M medical devices, pervasive broadband wireless networks, and standards-based data standards that facilitate interoperability with cloud-based services, such as the iDigi Cloud, thus creating a rich and diverse medical informatics ecosystem. In the afore-mentioned scenario, the iDigi Device Cloud promotes transparent and seamless exchange of data and information to create true knowledge sharing anytime, anywhere. Thus, a Digi M2M pulse oxometer worn by a patient is able to interface to a variety of disparate communication systems, improving a monitored patient’s mobility, thereby promoting increased quality of life.

The second are organizational changes. These include accountable care organization (ACO) metrics arising from legislative reforms. ACOs benefit from M2M data transactions by having real-time, contextual data to demonstrate, for example, improved quality of care.

The last are cultural changes as illustrated by the concept of personalized medicine, which reflects changing supply side and demand side psycho-demographic acceptance of M2M, smartphones, tablets, and other electronic means that are used for the delivery of healthcare services.

The following five key IM considerations are critical to HCOs considering changes to their enterprise architectures in order to leverage new data and M2M paradigms.

1. Identity authentication is paramount.
It can’t be assumed that a given M2M module assigned to an individual or system always remains a valid and true association. M2M modules can be lost, stolen, or replicated by well-intentioned or malicious entities. As with smartphones (i.e., Bring Your Own Device or BYOD), the identity of the M2M module must be continually validated using advanced security technologies incorporated into IM systems.

2. Reporting and Monitoring.
Chronic disease management and wellness are two of the most applications of M2M in healthcare. IM of M2M modules must be able to transcend multiple wireless technologies and provide highly-available and robust communications back to the HCO for both healthcare data reporting and monitoring of M2M system health.

3. Role and attribute based management.
Rich IM of M2M must include contextual factors such as the user, available resources, its location, and time to provide operational management efficiencies that are harmonized with enterprise policies and security best practices. For example, data off-load of M2M to Wi-Fi networks as opposed to cellular-based systems when and as appropriate based on the factors above.

4. Provisioning.
Multiple M2M modules may be assigned to systems and/or a person. IM provisioning rules that are extensible are critical to ensure both management and maintenance of M2M devices across the ecosystem. This should apply whether or not a patient is local or remote.

5. Remediation and control.
IM must be able to make real-time and near real-time control changes to M2M modules when vulnerabilities and anomalies are detected, including threats (i.e., cyber-attacks) and/or functional failure of the M2M module. Thus, in the iDigi taxonomy, the operational efficiency and integrity of an iDigi M2M module is constantly assured, promoting high levels of reliability and availability, while minimizing operational risks arising, for example, from cyber threats.

You can learn more about the iDigi Device Cloud here and more about Digi International’s healthcare solutions here. Have a question for Eric? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.

Connecting Light System Diagram

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Here’s how the Connecting Light system is created from Digi equipment for the 73-mile-long installation of 400 giant illuminated balloons on Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. The huge network will go live tonight for an crowd expected to bring traffic along the 80-mile World Heritage site to a crawl as thousands of spectators flock to the interactive event. Connecting Light is a perfect example of a large-scale system for centrally controlling remote devices—the same advanced infrastructure that hospitals use to monitor patient ventilators, infusion pumps or dialysis machines, and that forward-thinking power utilities use to network their entire grid.

The technology required for Connecting Light was assembled by Digi Professional Services—our solutions experts who network dynamic message signs along highways, smart thermostats for utility networks and positive train control systems for railroads. Putting all these different devices online is arguably the next big revolution for the Internet. Organizations are starting to demand visibility to their remote assets along with centralized control for everything out in the field as their competitors begin benefitting from the systems currently being put in place. It’s an exciting time to be involved with this stuff!

The diagram above shows how Programmable XBees, ConnectPort GSM mobile routers and the iDigi Device Cloud all work together to form a reliable backbone behind a breathtaking artwork that spans England’s coasts.


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