Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Siri could revolutionize the 911 system

It's been awhile since my last post, for that I apologize. However I've been writing a lot in various places and will update the blog this week. 
This piece appears in GigaOM and is focused on how Siri can completely change emergency care, especially how we interact with first responders. Here's an excerpt. 
In health care we face numerous challenges. One that is being tackled by the FCC, Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation is the limited nature of our emergency 911 system. Currently, if one is dialing from a cellphone, chances are that 911 cannot automatically find their location. And the only way to contact 911 is the traditional way — by telephone.
All of that is about to change. Next Generation 911 will allow for communications to be made by voice, video or text. Location will automatically be appended to voice calls, saving time and confusion when the caller doesn’t know where they’re location is — or isn’t able to verbally communicate it.
As someone who analyzes health policy (with a focus on long-term services and supports), I believe that Siri, Apple’s recently introduced natural language voice technology, has the potential to change not just our 911 system, but also to be one of the biggest consumer-facing technologies in health care that we’ve seen in decades.

Emergency health care today

Imagine this scenario: an elderly person is having a cardiac event. She is having trouble breathing and is unable to complete a sentence. Dialing 911 is possible, but if the caller is unable to narrate the condition, first responders would still be in the dark until they arrive.
Even after they do arrive, information still eludes them: some critical — including prior medical history, current medications and allergic reactions to medicines — and some logistical, such as health insurance and next of kin...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Medicaid's Patients Need Better Access to Care

By Elaine Hirsch

Recently New York Times reporter Robert Pear highlighted one of Medicaid's greatest problems: access to health care providers. Pear interviewed residents of Louisiana enrolled in Medicaid, several of whom expressed frustration at the fact their Medicaid cards didn't automatically ensure access to the care they needed. One patient had three herniated discs in her neck, but couldn't find a surgeon who would accept patients on Medicaid. She angrily referred to her Medicaid card as a "useless piece of plastic."

Some physicians are unwilling to take Medicaid patients because they view them as unreliable. Even if they attended
school online, most health care professionals are aware that Medicaid patients are less likely to show up for appointments and take responsibility for personal health, and more likely to have complicated health issues. As such, many patients will struggle to find doctors willing to treat them.

Since its inception in 1965, Medicaid has provided essential healthcare to millions of low-income families. The program can be credited for keeping people off the streets and serving as a safety net for society's most vulnerable citizens. However, although Medicaid has proven successful in many ways, it is far from perfect.