September 2012

The fine line between tech-enabled process and fraud

Smart phone plans: a super-sized way for carriers to make a buck.  McDonald’s now has to tell you the calories in a Big Mac, but Verizon and AT&T don’t need to warn you that watching videos on your phone will suck up the monthly minutes on your data plan faster than a vacuum cleaner picks up dirt. So while only 11 percent of the 65+ have smart phones, they are part of the 50% of households that have one or some.  Instead of being told upload-download speeds, storage capacity on the phone, and how to video conference the whole family in, how about giving you a WARNING sheet that shows price equivalents (like calories) of the various activities you think you want -- and how these activities fit into or drive up charges beyond your data plan? How about handing you a sheet that outlines all hidden costs? If that doesn’t make you blink, then ask what percentage of customers exceed these plans and what the average monthly bill is for customers with the type of phone you're considering?  And if that data doesn’t make you blink, you obviously can afford to both buy dinner and own the phone. >>> Read more . . .

Six trends that signal change in all things aging and health

Stick versus carrot: re-admission penalties emerge October 1st.  This may be much ado about nothing – but October is the month that hospitals begin being 'penalized' for readmitting the same patients within 30 days of discharge. What’s that mean in dollars and cents?  Well, by forcing hospitals to focus on what are euphemistically called 'transitions' -- cuts of anywhere from 0.42 percent to 1 percent in revenue loom. Or look at the flip side: CMS gets back $280 million from 2200 hospitals immediately.  And who are those pesky people who have been re-admitted? Surprise, they are disproportionately comprised of seniors, initially with diseases like pneumonia, heart attack and heart failure, with more diagnoses added each year. >>> Read more . . .

Aging services needs vendors -- commercialism is just fine

Wow – twice in a week, accusations of ‘commercialism’.  An epiphany – occasionally I have them. The backdrop: In Incident A, a future topic I am discussing at an aging services event was (at least temporarily) classified as ‘commercial’ versus ‘educational’ because vendor executives were to be on the panel, jeopardizing the continuing education credit that attendees might get. Then, the very next day, Incident B: a proposed slide deck was critiqued by (different) organizers with the recommendation to remove slides that had many vendor logos. Why? Because it might be perceived by sponsors as commercials for those vendors – again jeopardizing continuing education credits. >>> Read more . . .

Five New Technologies for Aging in Place

Rounding up from a series of press releases over the past two months, here are some new (and very new!) technologies and/or services that may be new to you for use by or in support of older adults.  All material is from vendor published information:

Care Technology Systems and Qualcomm Life Join Forces.  "A cloud-based system, Qualcomm Life's 2net Platform enables companies, providers and users to capture data from any wireless medical device and deliver it to integrated portals or databases, storing it in a secure and reliable system.  Information can be easily retrieved by physicians, caregivers or other critical audiences, such as designated healthcare service companies, providers, payors, pharmaceutical companies and application/device collaborators, for use in healthcare decisions. CTS utilizes the 2net Platform to provide PERS, ADL monitoring and biometrics." Learn more at Care Technology Systems. >>> Read more . . .

Let's push back on tech’s ‘new wave’ driven by data

About those ad words – can we outsmart them?  Just read an approving and syndicated Times article about the latest data-driven tech that uses what we access online to present us with more of the same. Given my predilection to write e-mails about the age-related technology space, the all-knowing Google regularly presents me with ads for products based on the messages I send and receive. Some ads are for vendors who are my clients, none of them are my suppliers.  As is typical, I don’t notice for a while and then – in a flash, out of the corner of my eye, I see – duh, there’s a pattern here.  So I do what you all should do regularly – tell Google these not only aren’t relevant, YOU are not who they think you are, you are someone else.  You can opt out – but, sigh, "Google may still show relevant ads based on the content of a web page" that you are viewing. But it will not ‘collect’ your interest-based information to show you more relevant content. Whew. By looking at your ads preference manager page, you can, however, change your demographic profile – making yourself older/younger than you actually are (or what Google thinks you are). This may be a wise move. >>> Read more . . .

Smart phone apps can make the user feel dumb

Is usability testing prior to release a lost art for smart phone software?  This is a big month for new phone launches -- first Nokia and Microsoft, then iPhone, then Android. Wonder how well they'll all work? Here’s an arcane little item from a now-dated phone: If you accidentally or on purpose double tap the Home symbol on a Droid 2, the device thinks you want to speak and so a female voice barks at you "PLEASE say a command." (This is with the phone set on silent.)  Arrgghh. The fix, after slogging around the Droid forums, is of course obvious, if you know where to look: remap the double tap on home to do something else, like launch a browser. Of course, why didn't I think of that? Thanks to the Internet, a stupid and obscure flaw that baffles the user (see those Internet posts dating back a few years) has a stupid fix. Meantime, until you find that fix, your device starts talking cheerfully and insistently from a purse or at a hushed banquet table – “PLEASE SAY A COMMAND!” while you look around embarrassed and a bit terrified, trying to turn the phone off, pull the battery, anything but the phone speaking when you called for silence. PLEASE, you just want it to shut up. This irritation has even spawned an app called HomeSmack to overcome this flaw.  Perfect. And how charmingly-named. >>> Read more . . .