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IT Challenges in Meeting the Prescribed Treatment for what Ails Healthcare

Ever wonder why hasn’t IT revolutionized healthcare as it has most every industry in the world? I do – its one of the reasons I’ve made a career transition from IT into healthcare. That, and trying to see if I can help find how IT still can improve healthcare.

Information Technology, and advances in technology in general, have brought a revolutionary impact on almost all industries on the planet, specifically in decreasing costs throughout the value chain from supplier through consumer, streamlining communications, and in empowering consumers by giving them greater access to information and therefore greater say in what and how products and services are provided to them.

Even the theatre industry has benefited from IT.

Managing the sound and lighting effects in theatre productions is much less expensive and more user-friendly now then say 30 years ago, allowing theatre companies to lower the costs for stage productions and making culture more available to the masses.

Similar cost reductions and operational efficiencies are being witnessed globally. Currently, Uber and AirBnB are causing major disruptions by bringing a new, tech-based model to transportation and the hotel industry. (And in the process, creating an entirely new economy.)

But this hasn’t happened in healthcare.

Healthcare still has not fully adopted IT and much of it operates as it did in the 1950s. (Look, for instance at similarities between the hospital patient room from the 1950s and today.)

And, the underlying cost structure hasn’t changed – or reduced – as other industries have. In fact, healthcare costs continue to rise year over year at a rate faster than inflation.

This isn’t entirely for lack of trying – either on the part of IT firms or the medical community.

The question is Why?

Why has IT been unable to penetrate healthcare to effect cost reductions when it has a well established track records for doing so in other industries? And its close corollary – What can we do about it?

To understand the situation well enough to answer the question, we have to realize that the IT and healthcare industries differ in one important way.

The information technology field follows the “If you build it, they will come” mantra made famous by the Kevin Costner film, “Field of Dreams”. (As we’ll see, this approach would be a nightmare in healthcare.)

And, more recently, Steve Jobs was famous for not listening to the consumer – because the consumer doesn’t know what they want until he puts it in front of them. [Interesting analysis of Jobs’ quote on this subject on the HelpScout blog.] And really, most customers, the public in general, doesn’t know what they want from IT or what kinds of things IT can accomplish in the first place. So anticipating – or creating – customer needs is a viable approach – one Apple did and continues to do exceptionally well.

But, this doesn’t work in healthcare where the medical community is dealing with human life. Doctors can only use drugs, medical devices, and treatments that have been widely tested in controlled settings, proven to be effective, and with side effects that are well known and documented.

This requirement for testing is foreign to the IT industry. In IT, it is not uncommon to release products with known bugs and allow consumers to identify the problems and deficiencies with the software or solution. Microsoft was famous for taking this approach and Google has taken the practice one step further by releasing beta software for public use. [Disclosure: I love Google and Microsoft – research for this and all blogs starts at Google, and are drafted in Word.]

Beta refers to software that, while functional, is not fully ready for commercial use.

Yes, there are sound business reasons for the practice or releasing software that may not be fully ready for commercial use – especially in Google’s case as their products are released for free – as flaws in software products can be hard to find or are manifest only under certain conditions. Relying on customer reports is often the most efficient way to identify flaws.

But in healthcare, this doesn’t work. Anything intended for use with real patients must be thoroughly tested on patients and in controlled and monitored settings. We don’t want to wait for people to die to realize a drug or other treatment may have serious side effects.

So even if you put an IT solution in front of doctors and other providers that may potentially increase the quality of care, they won’t use it unless you can also point to documented evidence of its efficacy. The uptake, or adoption, of new drugs and technological approaches requires a greater level of evidence than the IT industry may be used to providing.

What’s required is a merging of the medical industry’s approach to clinical trials (e.g., testing with all results documented) with the iterative, Agile development process from the technology industry.

Agile development is a process for developing a software or technical solution that breaks the overall effort into multiple stages, called sprints. The end of each stage allows for an opportunity to test (e.g., run a small clinical trial).

Doing so may (but may not) increase the timeline and cost of the development of a health IT solution – but will more than make up for it in the increased quality and long-term uptake of the solution by the medical industry.

Performing clinical trials earlier in the development of health IT solutions allows the medical community to contribute early on by helping adapt the technology to the specific needs of their patients and potentially making providers more amenable to incorporating the solution into their practice of medicine going forward. At the least, being involved earlier in the development process will train providers in the use of the technology – especially important for situations when the new technology will change the workflows associated with patient care.

In essence, IT can still be the remedy for what ails the US healthcare system and incorporating a clinical trial approach to the Agile development process may be just what the doctor ordered.


August 7, 2015 Posted by | Audience Communication | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Apps from AARP?

When you think of AARP, is mobile apps what comes to mind? AARP is known for providing discounts to is members, providing branded insurance products, and lobbying on behalf of Social Security and Medicare. But recently, this same non-profit has released two mobile apps – targeting the Caregiver community.

A caregiver is a term for anyone who helps or provides care to another individual, often a parent or spouse, in handling their daily activities. The caregiver can be paid, such as a nurse, but is more often an unpaid relative. And the person receiving care is often suffering an impairment, and/or dealing with health issues.

AARP_CG_app_1_300x250These two apps released by AARP on the Apple iOS and Android platforms provide features and support that are designed to help in providing care. For instance, the apps help manage medications, keep a schedule of doctor’s appointments and other medical needs, and create and maintain notes you want to share with the doctor. But will this work? Does this actually help someone take care of a loved one? Are these features unique? Or are they really the features that a Caregiver needs?

On May 28th, at a special 11am EST/8am Pacific time, we will be joined by Trisha San Diego of AARP, who is the driving force behind the creation and release of these Apps, and we’ll ask her these questions.

AARP_Tag_PMSWe’ll also ask why the non-profit is moving into mobile apps. What these apps do and how they help AARP’s members and other caregivers. We’ll also ask if this is a sign of things to come from AARP?

Tune in Live online to Technology Today radio.

And Call In to be a part of the show at 929-477-2187, or reach us by text at 240-731-0756, on Twitter at @techtodayradio, or on Facebook.

Join us.

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Episode Descriptions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Vac or not To Vac – That is the Question

The benefits of vaccinations have been questioned and vigorously defended in the national debate over the last several years – and coming to a head in our current measles outbreak.

But what is the technology and science behind vaccinations? We’ll look into this and bring in experts who can talk about the individual and population health benefits of vaccines. What exactly is “hive immunity”? We’ll discuss the research and clinical trials that have been done – and what has not been done – in supporting or refuting the use of population-wide vaccinations.

Whether you have young children or not, exposure to germs and disease impacts us all. You will want to tune into this episode of Technology Today – Tuesday, 2/24 at 6PM EST. Tune in Online.

Join Us.

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February 20, 2015 Posted by | Episode Descriptions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yelp for your Doctor?

Online review sites are coming into Medicine, and why not? there are online reviews for most everything else. But, will online reviews impact your selection of a Doctor? Is the anonymous nature of the Internet helpful or hurtful in selecting a physician you will trust with your and your family’s health? And perhaps more importantly, will negative review of your doctor posted online change your views of your current doctor?

A recent article on the Wall Street Journal asks this question as well.

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Audience Communication | Leave a comment

Has Health IT Achieved Lower Costs and Improved Outcome As Advertised?

The relative high cost and poor outcomes of the US healthcare system as compared to the rest of the developed world is well documented. In his first Inaugural Address, President Obama promised to “wield technology’s wonders” to improve the quality and lower the cost of medical care in America. This hasn’t happened. The benefits IT has brought to most every industry, hasn’t been witnessed in the medical industry. This may be because best practices for developing IT solutions simply don’t take into consideration what needs to go into building successful medical products and treatment approaches.

I’ve seen this gap – and the consequences it can cause – while building and deploying hardware-based tools and software applications, including EMR and ERP systems, for a variety of industries. 

On Tuesday, March 4th at 6pm EST, we discuss what needs to be done to bridge the gap between IT product development and the medical community’s need for evidence-based research and clinical trials. 

We’ll also discuss a project I’m working on in researching PHR systems as an effort to tailor IT product development best practices to meet healthcare’s intrinsic needs from new products and treatments.  If successful, the approach can lead to improved Health IT solution development practices throughout the industry. 

Join Us. Live on Air at 6pm EST on Tuesday, March 4th.

Tune in & share your thoughts. Listeners are invited to send in their comments and questions by email, texts to 240-731-0756, facebook, our blog, our show page and on Twitter. Listeners are also invited to call us Live on Air at 646-652-4385.

Technology Today airs on Live on the BlogTalkRadio network – the Online home for Internet Radio!. Join us Live Here.

February 24, 2014 Posted by | Episode Descriptions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where do military-themed video games come from?

Ever wonder where these military-themed video games come from? How are game programmers and software designers able to make war scenarios and military equipment so life-like?

Ever wonder where these military-themed video games come from? How are game programmers and software designers able to make war scenarios and military equipment so life-like?

Much has been made about potential adverse physiological impacts of violent and military-themed video games, especially at a young age. To be sure, video games have had a tremendous positive impact on real-time data processing, sound and video graphics as well as in other consumer technology areas. As always, these benefits must be balanced against there social considerations.

That’s what we’ll talk about on our next episode – Tuesday, February 18th at 6pm EST. Join Us!

Do you have a position on whether video game violence contributes to violence in real live, such as gun shootings, domestic abuse and violent crimes? Video game makers take their share of heat on this front, but military themed games remain among the most popular video games franchises. We’ll talk about the true source of this violence – and it’s one that may surprise you.

We’ll be joined by Gamer and friend of the show, Lee Gaddies. Check out Lee’s facebook page and Twitter handle, lee33701.

Tune in & share your thoughts on this topic. Listeners are invited to send in their comments and questions by email, texts to 240-731-0756, facebook, our blog, our show page and on Twitter. Listeners are also invited to call us Live on Air at 646-652-4385.

Technology Today airs on Live on the BlogTalkRadio network – the Online home for Internet Radio!. Join us Live Here.

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Episode Descriptions | Leave a comment

As the Holiday Shopping Season is Upon Us – Let’s Talk Video Games!

Just in time for the Holiday Buying season both Sony and Microsoft have released updated gaming consoles.  We’ll discuss the new PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.  We’ll also look at the Steam Box built on the SteamOS by Valve as a potential competitor to the current proprietary video game consoles. One – or more – of these are likely hot items on countless wish lists this year. 


We’ll also take a look at the role of the video game tech in today’s society. Lee Gaddies, himself a gamer, will join the show. Make sure to read his guest post on the topic and check out Lee’s facebook page and Twitter handle, lee33701. Lee

So put down the controllers and Join us! This Tuesday at 6pm EST on Technology Today. Listeners are invited to send in their thoughts by email, texts to 240-731-0756, facebook, our blog, our show page and on Twitter. Listeners are also invited to call us Live on Air at 646-652-4385.

Technology Today airs on Live on the BlogTalkRadio network – the Online home for Internet Radio!. Join us Live Here.

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Episode Descriptions | , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post: The Steam Ecosystem Vying for Gaming Dominance?

With the announcement by Valve, that a Steam ecosystem will be available on a Steam Box that will play not only your preexisting Windows and Mac games but the full Library of games available on Steam as well, Valve has revealed SteamOS, its own operating system based on Linux, designed for living room gaming PCs and the living is the battle ground for your entertainment space that the XBOX ONE and PS4 are also fighting for this season.

2014 marks the first steps toward what ecosystem will dominate that coveted space in front of your flat screen. Valve’s Steam Box, its vision for an open video game console. It combines Steam’s preeminent video game digital distribution platform with a user interface designed for TVs, the BIG PICTURE all on top of the Linux platform. It will also be free which I think is it’s biggest selling point for gamers that have had enough of Microsoft’s Windows OS 8 problems and the limited catalog of games available for the Mac. “It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines,” according to the company. Valve has already announced that major game developers are already on board with Linux, and will be building triple-A game titles that will run natively on SteamOS in 2014 that puts them squarely in competition with XBOX ONE and PS4 with none of the backwards compatibility issues that you have with every next generation console. SteamOS boxes will also have a workaround for the huge existing library of Windows games: in-home streaming.

Not unlike the Nvidia Shield, it will include a method for wirelessly streaming games from your existing gaming computer that you already have STEAM on to your TV, which Valve says will also come to the regular Steam client at some point in the near future. Also like the XBOX ONE and the PS4 coming to both Steam and SteamOS: streaming video and music services. “We’re working with many of the media services you know and love,” Valve writes. That means never having to leave the Steam ecosystem to watch YouTube or do your social networking and you can play the background music of your choice while playing your favorite games.


So why would Valve create a brand new operating system for gaming? “As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself,” the company’s announcement reads. Valve says that by working at the operating system level, they’ve managed to improve graphics performance, and can also improve audio and reduce controller latency. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell famously called Windows 8 a “catastrophe” and has publicly blamed Microsoft’s operating system for tanking PC sales. Also with Windows 8 app store it puts them direct competition for Steam’s video game revenue model, and lets Microsoft own the shopping experience. Newell said that Valve was planning to create three tiers of the Steam Box, “good,” “better,” and “best,” with “good” likely a $99 box that would stream games from other more powerful computers that most gamers already have so a $99 Steam box is still cheaper then the next Windows OS or a upgrade to Windows 8 for a PC gamer or even the Mac OS, and “better” being a $300 box that Valve would both build itself and allow partners to build so long as they adhered to a certain hardware spec. Valve has all the ready-made hardware you can buy to get started with SteamOS. At CES, the company said it already had 15-20 hardware partners lined up.

Some of the most exciting things the Steam OS coming out at this time is a apple to apples comparison to the new console gaming systems and the way it will reinvent the way we look at and talk about gaming as we know it today.

By Lee Gaddies
Guest, Technology Today 12/3/13

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Audience Communication | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A True Gamer comes to Technology Today

To help us look at the advances in video game tech, and compare and contrast the different video game consoles – Xbox One and PlayStation 4, we will be joined by Gamer Lee Solutionary Gaddies.  

LeeFew individuals are better suited to join a discussion on what really have been the revolutionary advances in technology that video games have brought about.  Lee is an Illustrator at Hero by Design Studios. Check out Lee’s profile on Facebook – and follow him on twitter at lee33701.

Join us on Tuesday, December 6th at 6pm EST on Technology Today. Listeners are invited to send in their thoughts by email, texts to 240-731-0756, facebook, our blog, our show page and on Twitter. You can also call us Live on Air at 646-652-4385 during the show.

Technology Today airs on Live on the BlogTalkRadio network – the Online home for Internet Radio!. Join us Live Here.

November 22, 2013 Posted by | Episode Descriptions | Leave a comment

Video Games a Driver of New Tech

Many believe that video games are the bane of the modern day existence. That they are nothing more than a means to dull the brain with no productive outcome.

Well, those who hold this opinion may be surprised to know that video games and gaming in general are drivers of great technological advancement in a variety of fields – from the computer graphics that display the games, to artificial intelligence that run the games & play as the “computer”, to personal computing computational power that handle the advanced graphics and AI on ever smaller form factors from desktops to laptops to tablets and even to phones. There are even more subtle advances that most people don’t think about such as human-user interaction. We’ve come a long way from the keyboard and mouse.

Video games and the game consoles on which they are played are big business, with popular video games commonly selling over a million copies.

This is a topic we need to discuss. And we’ll do that on Technology Today Tuesday, December 3rd at 6pm EST. We’ll discuss the tech behind video games. Compare the new PlayStation 4 with the Xbox 1. We’ll also discuss SteamOS and its role as a competitor to Microsoft as an operating system for gaming.

Join us. Live at on Tuesday, December 3rd at 6pm EST.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Audience Communication | Leave a comment