iPhone as Medical Tricorder

The future is all around us. Our cars will probably never fly, but man we are getting some interesting tech in the last 5 years, driven largely by the worldwide adoption of iOS devices loaded with sensors and the software framework to exploit those scanners. Apple themselves are about to push their “HealthKit”, an API (application programming interface) to access and share health data as collected and processed by the iOS device.

The interesting twist isn’t on the tech side, it’s on the business side. But before delving into that, can you imagine the various advantages to tracking your body health datapoints in real time – how is your sleep this week, your protein intake, your blood sugar, your physical activity? I think we all inherently understand alcohol hangovers, but most of us don’t further tie our moods to our diet & physical health. If my device monitored 5-10 daily levels and I was really having a shitty day, I’d be curious to know what that looked like to avoid it in the future. Think sugar crashes, how much spicy food, hours sitting, lactose intolerance, miles pedaled, acid reflux, body fat, and more serious stuff like peanut allergies, HIV, and other human issues that some of us must manage.

The twist is that Apple, flush with money and influence, is trying to modernize the health insurance market in the US by working with major health providers and insurers. They have made key hires from that industry and have been working for years laying the groundwork. The end result being that HealthKit apps might actually share data with your healthcare providers, allowing them more accuracy, efficiency and hopefully better care.

If you are outside of America, this must be obvious. Who needs your health data more than your doctor? But in the states nothing medical is shared. Everyone has a data silo (which translates into a revenue source), backed up by a federally enforced rule known as HIPAA, and the patient is left to suffer. Yes, we often receive decent care and plenty of scans by expensive cameras, but it comes at a HUGE personal cost, much frustration, and there are many cases of misdiagnosis because of the lack of data sharing.

Apple knows “the iPod model” will keep working – make a device easy and portable enough, add features that actually work at a core level (not marketing me-too fluff like samsung), market it properly, and watch the thing take off. This healthkit thing, if done right, will make our iOS devices our medical iPods, and perhaps the waiting room dance will become as easy as checking into a flight with your iPhone.

I think we are about to get alot more physical with our phones, which is why I think I want a wrist iPhone instead of a pocket iPhone.

Now we can all scan B’Lana. I know I was scanning up and down back then. Hottest Klingon?

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iWatch Your Health

Finally, mainstream consumer technology has noticed the health of the consumer. Instead of computers just making us fatter, lazier, and more spoiled than ever before, there’s some pushback in the form of wearable health tech, and it looks like Apple might be the driving force here.

Last week they announced their HealthKit API to developers, which is a nerdy way of saying “Here, build things”. Healthkit is a set of frameworks to track, share, and communicate calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose, blood oxygen levels, and other health metrics.

Any mobile iOS device (not AppleTV) will be able to act as your sensor array and primary tracking system. Macs will probably be able to track but not monitor, as they do not have the same mobile sensors as iOS devices. This is not revolutionary but evolutionary, as the iPod has been helping people track their jogging performance for almost a decade now, and of course GPS is used for tracking your travel by bike or foot. The health section on Apple’s App Store has been buzzing.

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It gets really interesting when you factor in a possible new mobile iOS device – the iWatch. If you shrink down the key elements to the iPhone5 and put them behind a curved glass wristband, well then you might have something.

I think it’s technically possible beause most of the battery life in an iOS device is used to power the display. The smaller display requires a smaller battery. The removal of all ports except a lightning connector also saves a ton of space. Apple has spent their billions the last few years working on both curved glass and custom battery shaping tech. If the whole band is battery there’s plenty of space. Have you seen the size of some current watches? Plenty of volume if you can work in that rounded shape.

If Apple gets a touchscreen iOS watchband to market I think they could have a winning product. It’s all about the feature set – what it can and more importantly can’t do. Do you need your “cloud” in your watch? Do you need the full internet? Do you need wifi, 3G, etc?

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Perhaps Apple will say no. Your watch should tell the time and help monitor your body metrics, at least version 1. Maybe if it’s within bluetooth range of a trusted device it can sync or use internet, I don’t know. Perhaps they cram those radios into it, we will just have to wait and see. I know Apple has been combining and reducing the size of their various mobile radios.

I also know my life could use a simple sleep tracker, calorie counter, exercise tracker, and electronic medical record holder that also knew my schedule, my contacts, and my habits. These apps exist as stand-alone concepts, but each one has to be configured to your liking and then your data is not shared with any other systems.

The Healthkit API could finally force the sharing of this data, both for personal goal encouragement and for medical professionals tasked with providing you care.

(BTW – This weekend I saw a Samsung ad saying ‘the future is here now’ with their smart-watch prominently displayed. Apple could counter with an ad that shows their smart-watch doing various things with the tagline ‘our future works’ ;-))

 

Subtly Outrageous

Well it’s 2014, and snarky internet humor is just about all we have left. Prez Obama actually went on Zach Galifinakis’ mock talk show Between Two Ferns to pitch Healthcare.gov.

“How will it feel when you are not president anymore and everyone won’t let you beat them at basketball?”

“How does it feel to have a 3″ vertical?”

“That’s a 3″ horizontal”. Haha

I thought it was pretty funny, if not a bit demeaning to the president, to play the straight man to Zach’s feigned idiocy. This is 2nd term stuff, not really worrying about elections anymore. Obama’s people saw this as another avenue to advertise the healthcare signup website, and I think it works on that front. Lots of people love comedy and ignore the news.

And besides it is funny, and that’s what it’s there for.

 

Oh My Obamacare, Part 5: Software Is Now Working, Time For Research

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Healthcare.gov let me in today, let me make my account, and get through the identity confirmation stage. That identity phase is always interesting – this one used various pieces of government-known data and asked it back to you, with misleading and nearly-accurate answers along with the factual answer. Very clever, and it was like a trick question about my own life.

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After you do the email confirmation and pass the identity test,you are let into your account. If you aren’t ready to register, you can follow the main top tab from “Get Insurance” to “Learn”. They ask you a similar version of the basics of your profile and then put up a list of links to more information. These cover things like pre-existing condition details, self-employment policies, coverage of unrelated people, medicaid eligibility, etc. in more detail.

I’m finding the site fast and easy to understand, at least when compared to other business sites needing to push something this complex out. I use web apps all day long plus design some myself, and this isn’t so bad, assuming it keeps working.

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The feds get bad reviews for everything but a couple of their more recent web offerings have been pretty decent (and are currently all shut down because of the tea party shenanigans).

Personally, I’m gonna hold off finishing my application until I have all my family info in front of me. I’m printing some of the FAQ’s to review with the fam. I thought it was important to show the site working since the mainstream media has learned it was down. Let’s see if they update their narrative.

Bill Moyers Essay: On the Sabotage of Democracy

Nailed. It. The Republican minority is sabotaging this country right now. Congress’s approval rating has moved to 10%, below even W’s worst days. Several services and programs I rely on at work have already shut down and I have a family member way out in Oh-yeah that is furloughed. I think people know this is BS and hopefully punish these tea party idiots for it. This is a law, voted on 3x now, and deemed legal and constitutional by the supreme court, and these jackasses are willing to destroy this country in the name of keeping people unhealthy. CRAZY.

Bill Moyers Essay: On the Sabotage of Democracy on Vimeo on Vimeo

via Bill Moyers Essay: On the Sabotage of Democracy on Vimeo.

Vote Them Out! Politicians Who Won’t Compromise Will Ruin Us

If they want to hijack our government for their own radical agenda, then I say let the democracy work the way it should and let’s vote all the idiot tea partying republicans out.

The Tea Party exists to RUIN the federal government. They don’t believe it should exist at nearly the size or complexity it does now. So they have infiltrated and are doing their best to take the whole thing down from the inside. I have a bit of radical in me and don’t care that much for “the feds” but we have to reject this from our system before it achieves it’s goal. Try listening to right-wing radio or TV for 2 minutes before screaming “You Fuggin Idiots!”. Their ignorance is staggering – this is what happened to the people who stopped listening to teachers.


 

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Check it out — an early poll showing that the GOP might get what they deserve for this latest stunt : House Elections should be interesting. Granted, gerrymandering has made many of these districts locks for republicans, but that can hopefully be undone over time.

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Slimdown The Lying Republicans

Those Retarded Republicans are at it again. Senator Obama ran for president on the promise of bringing “universal” health coverage to America. Being that America has a for-profit “free market” healthcare system, this means the free market has provided us with a healthy, well-insured population that is protected from catastrophic costs and prejudiced coverage rules, right?  Unknown Continue reading

Oh My Obamacare, Part 3: Go Live Day For Biggest Software Project Ever

Such crazyness about Obamacare in this country, but I had a moment of clarity the other night…..  IT’S JUST A SOFTWARE CHANGE.

Repeat after me, it will make you feel better — Obamacare is just a software upgrade. We all have an ID and can be billed for service. Insurance companies get in the middle of that. Obamacare just forces everyone into the new web-app known as “exchanges” where you decide to buy insurance for you & your family.

Whether it all works or not on day 1 is a software issue. Whether it all works overall is about as complicated as it gets, involving the signup rate, the cost of the subsidies, the doctor payout charts of these newly larger insurance companies, the overall health of the population…etc.

So it’s Day 1, October 1, and I’m on my way to start the process of signing up. I’m sure there will be lots of forms and reading to do and I want to take away some stuff to read over the next couple of days before deciding on my plan. I also have to sort out my complicated (although common these days) living arrangements as it pertains to this new system.

 

So not a surprise, there’s a delay on day 1. My state’s republican governor opted out of building our own site, so we have to go through the federal one. Here’s the delay screen:

Lots of people hitting the system. It's been a long time since I've seen a web app put you on hold like this

Lots of people hitting the system. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a web app put you on hold like this

OK, as I was putting that into the post, it let me in. I think I was on pause for about 4 minutes total. I’d love to know what kind of hit their database is taking..

First thing I need to do is create an account  (just like any other web app). Picking a username is kind of weird here.

Got stuck on the security questions – the popup lists weren’t loading. I tried a couple of times in Chrome so I’m going to try in Safari before giving up for the day….Nope still not working. I did find this calculator to start figuring estimates. I will try more tomorrow if I can get to it. Menu value list (php) code or database problems? We will never know.

 

Oh My Obamacare! Part 1 – Oh My Obamacare! Part 2 – Oh My Obamacare! Part 3

Oh My Obamacare, Part 2: A Visit From The Navigator

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While I was out the other day our household was visited from a friendly fellow explaining The Affordable Care Act, aka The ACA., aka “Obamacare”, (formerly “Romneycare”). He stood on the front porch and explained to my girlfriend that he was from an organization hired (created) to inform citizens in our state about the new healthcare options, how to sign up, and how to get further information.

She said she was impressed and actually called him the most helpful stranger to ever show up at the front door. Not a lot of competition, I know, but still a compliment.

He left her with a flyer spelling out pretty clearly the basics of the situation: Everyone must be covered for 2014, and if you don’t currently receive coverage from your employer or other entity you will have to purchase a plan (or ‘product’) by 1/1/14.

My household has been uninsured for 5+ years and we are all relatively healthy, so we are a primary target for signing up. I live with my girlfriend and her child, in a house I own and have been underwater on for the last 4 years. I’m living the updated american dream – I am a salaried employee with no benefits. My sole benefit is my mobile working environment and the small tax break I can take for my home office.


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Yesterday on the news they were discussing the attempt to get the message out about ACA details, and the republican efforts to sabotage the ACA. They claimed these “navigator” groups have been hired in every state (total budget $50 million) to find the uninsured masses (50 million people, coincidence?) and encourage them to sign up.

The big question as to what it will all cost is still out there. I’m expecting to pay somewhere between $200-$300 month to get mid-level coverage for myself, with lower deductibles (co-pay) than a cheaper plan. I’ve been putting off healthcare for 10 years now, so as soon as I’m covered I plan on making some appointments to get this old rig serviced!

Sidenote – It will be interesting to see how they price it for the rest of my household. We are not married, so I assume we will have separate policies. She’s unemployed and a single mother so her tax credits should be more substantial than mine. I will also compare that to the rates if we were married. Should be interesting to see how the structured it.

Overall – we were very impressed with the Navigator guy and their pitch. If they really only spent $3 to get that guy on my porch explaining things to 3 uninsured people, and this is really happening all over the country through September, I have a good feeling about people becoming more informed than the republican-dominated news will let on.

 

Oh My Obamacare! Part 1 – Oh My Obamacare! Part 2 – Oh My Obamacare! Part 3

Oh My Obamacare, Part 1: Introduction To The Guinea Pig

O-My! I’m planning on signing up for Obamacare. I might insure my whole family through it. I voted for it and have waited for it for a while now.

And since this is so controversial and full of BS reporting, I’ve decided to blog the whole thing. Why not use the internet for some actual sharing outside the usual crap?

So the whole thing should start around October 1 2013 when my state opens it’s exchanges to people like me.

I plan on reporting to good, bad, and ugly of the process. To follow along, I’m turning on the category “Obamacare” and will tag everything as such.

I for one look forward to a fresh start, coverage for my pre-existing injuries, and the answer to whether the federal government can create a system worse than what we currently have.

Oh My Obamacare! Part 2 – Oh My Obamacare! Part 3

Obamacare requires most insurers to tackle obesity

Obamacare requires most insurers to tackle obesity.

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Sounds good to me. If your BMI is high, you will be able to access wellness counselors, health coaches, even Weight Watchers Inc. through Obamacare, perhaps with no co-pay.

Another nice part of this obviously needed thing in modern America – there should be plenty of competition. See, how they address obesity is something that the insurance providers get to decide, perhaps based on regionalism and demographics.

If it all works we will be able to shop in our state’s exchange for a plan that fits us based on various health categories such as obesity. And since one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to bodies and our problems, this could deliver better quality care.

Stay Healthy

Check out this Chilean public service commercial:

Anyone offended by this should lighten up. The translation at the end is “If we like them so much, we should take care of them. Make a woman get a breast exam.”

I’ve already seen posts about how this is counterproductive or even dangerous, equating it to nothing more than porn masquerading as a PSA. Sorry, I’m the kind of guy this is targeted to, and it’s not pornographic at all. This is life with male eyes. These people act like they’ve never seen actual porn, and that anyone who has is a danger to society.

I think it makes it’s point perfectly. So hate me for my nature if you must, but if you do I recommend you pay more attention to your nature than mine.

Only In America

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Try to follow the twisted logic we ‘mericans live in: The governor of a big eastern state, to avert crisis, works with the other party to reform their state health system. They put in place a universal coverage policy that ultimately provides better healthcare benefits than the other 49 states.

This system is implemented, studied and ultimately, roundly admired. So much so that it becomes a model for national reform. Several presidential candidates, from both parties, adopt it as plank in their platform. The one that wins goes forward and implements a version of this reform nationally. This healthcare reform is given a catchy, negative label (even thought most of it hasn’t even taken affect yet) and then the funny season starts. It’s election time again, and bumper-sticker sloganeering runs and ruins the day. Good/bad, for/against, no common ground, nothing but wedges.
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America Prevails

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The Supreme Court decided the ACA (Affordable Healthcare Act), or Obamacare as it’s been called (usually negatively), was in fact legal and constitutional, particularly the mandate that all citizens must be covered somewhere/somehow. To reach this ruling, the high court actually rejected the term mandate and labeled it a tax, maintaining the governments right to enact it.

Good news. The doomsday scenarios at Faux and Friends are getting more hilarious by the hour. This idea of doing the same thing as most other wealthy nations somehow terrifies them, and they are convinced that Michelle Obama will fine their overweight asses for not eating enough broccoli.

Even after admitting that many doctors can opt out, that the poor are immediately helped, and that the rich will still receive the best medical service on the planet, these republicans still believe this is the end of it all. Very funny and strange, they think this is more important than almost starting WW3 a few years back. Comedy these days is Fox news.? Continue reading