Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Insurance companies vs. general-purpose devices used for health care

The New York Times published today an interesting article about insurance companies opposing the use of general-purpose devices, e.g. mobile phones or mainstream PCs for health care applications. The article also covers some other insurance rules that hinder or prevent using modern technology to lower the cost of health care.

Medicare and private health insurers decline to cover cheap devices like iPhones and netbook PCs that can help the speech-impaired, despite their usefulness and lower cost.

Instead, public and private insurers insist that, if Ms. Lynn and others like her want insurance to pay, they must spend 10 to 20 times as much for dedicated, proprietary devices that can do far less.

The problem is that the insurance rules are made for tailor-made single-purpose devices to help the patients. If an general-purpose device would be used, it would be considerably cheaper, but also more difficult to manage. Not all patients are able, e.g., to install new software or update phone software themselves. There is also the question of liability if software or hardware fails in a critical moment. With single-purpose devices, the prices are, however, ridiculously high, a specially made PC with speech-recognition software and support functions costing 8000 USD.

These kind of policies, however, make it very difficult to create affordable home health care services. Many chronic diseases could be monitored with a simple sensor attached to a standard mobile phone containing just some special software. The software could send monitoring data to health care services, or call help if necessary. Of course this is not 100% safe as the battery can run low in a critical moment, but neither would it be 100% safe to be chronically ill at home with no monitoring except for routine visits at a physician.

Doctors must still bring a patient into their offices instead of, say, inspecting an e-mailed photo of a rash if they want most insurers to pay for the consultation.

This is somewhat understandable, as there is little to prevent insurance fraud in such a case. To modernize the health care system to cut costs, the need of the doctor to physically meet the patient should be cut to the really important cases, not for routine prescription of cortisone salve.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An update information about the chronic diseases in China

A report from Chinese Health Ministry shows 260 million Chinese — or about 20 percent — suffer from chronic diseases, an increase of 4.9 percent compared to 2003. The figure has been increasing by an average of 10 million every year for the last decade.

Amount of heart disease and cancer cases had doubled, while cases of hypertension and diabetes had tripled.

Read more from this link:
China facing growing and costly burden from chronic diseases

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

UBI-HEALTH'10 conference

Date: May 31 - June 2, 2010, Nordic Centre, Fudan University, Shanghai, China


Paper Submission: March 22, 2010, 12:00 GMT (POSTPONED)
(500-1000 words abstract or full-length paper max 5 pages)

Acceptance Notification: April 30, 2010

Camera-ready: May 14, 2010


International Workshop on Ubiquitous Healthcare and Welfare Services and Supporting Technologies (UBI-HEALTH'10) provides international forum for the latest services, technologies and researches in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) assisted healthcare and well-being (H&W).

Participants include clinicians, hospital administrators, IT- professionals, researchers, educators, solutions vendors, device manufacturers, system designers, integrators and consultants. UBI-HEALTH'10 is also important international forum for e-Health associated cooperative bodies such as ITU, WHO and APEC, particularly for Ubiquitous Healthcare Initiative for Ageing Societies. In addition to the technical papers to be selected by the Technical Program Committee, the program will include distinguish keynote speakers focusing on burning topics of eHealth. The overviews of ongoing projects and future predictions are also of interests.

Authors are invited to submit papers presenting new research related to the theory or practice of remote and on-site H&W of the following main topics (not limited to):
  • remote and local -healthcare;
  • well-being;
  • health informatics;
  • bio-informatics;
  • public safety systems;
  • socio-economic studies;
  • techno-economic studies;
  • H&W sensors, circuits and systems;
  • fusion of traditional Chinese medicare to western medicare;
  • eHealth;
  • ageing related services and technologies;
  • pandemics and biosecurity;
  • services and technologies of developing countries;
  • global developments;
  • intelligent knowledge management;
  • associated Internet services (as web 2.0+) and technologies;
  • telecommunication solutions;
  • diagnosing tools;
  • H&W monitoring/alarm techniques;
In these areas your paper may focus for instance to the following themes:
  • user-centric design;
  • analytical and simulation techniques;
  • experimental systems and field operational testing;
  • information collection and dissemination;
  • activities and status of planned and ongoing projects;
  • deployment strategies and predictions;
  • standardization efforts and problems;
The workshop proceedings will be published in IEEE Xplore and indexed in relevant databases. Authors of selected outstanding papers will be invited to submit extended versions of their papers for consideration of publication in a Special Journal Issue.


All papers must be original work. Presenting authors of accepted papers will be required to register for the conference in order to secure that their paper is included in the conference proceedings. All papers will be peer reviewed by the Scientific Committee, which reserves the right to accept or reject abstracts for inclusion in the conference program. Each Corresponding Author (the author that submits the paper, will attend the congress to present the paper and is responsible for communicating with the Congress Organizers and the paper's co-authors) is limited to two submissions for the congress.

Authors are invited to submit full papers in English of not more than 8 pages (including figures, tables & references) or 500-1000 words abstract in IEEE double-column format. Submissions must present original work that has not been previously published, and is not under submission elsewhere. Submissions should use the general IEEE template with the minimum font size of 12 points. All papers must include a title, complete contact information for all authors, and keywords on the cover page. The corresponding author should be identified clearly. Please follow the following link for the detailed guidelines for manuscript preparation.

  1. Create and format your manuscript(s) by following IEEE guidelines Template and Instructions on How to Create Your Paper (DOC, 92KB)

  2. Conference papers follow IEEE PDF specification for compatibility. Therefore convert your file into PDF-format by using some free-of-charge or other utility. NOTE: Turn off all PDF security features. Your PDF-file must be editable and commentable.

  3. Submit the manuscript via EDAS system in PDF format.

NOTE: Please be aware that at least one full registration per accepted paper is mandatory to include the paper in the proceedings of the conference. A paper without registered authors will be withdrawn.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Start-up Workshop 19th May 2009 at TKK


Ubiquitous Services and Technologies for Healthcare, Wellbeing and Public Safety in China and Finland


Iiro Jantunen, Mika Husso, Prof. Jyri Hämäläinen, Timo Korhonen, Edward Mutafungwa, Xirui Wang, Zhong Zheng.


Lecture hall S4 (morning session), Internet Café (afternoon session). TKK Faculty of Electronics, Communications and Automation, Otakaari 5, Espoo.

  • Timo Itälä, senior researcher, SoberIT / TKK
  • Eija Kaasinen, research coordinator, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland
  • Vesa Pakarinen, senior research scientist, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland
  • Päivi Topo, academy research fellow, THL National Institute for Health and Welfare
  • Yuping Zhao, professor, PKU Peking University

Morning session 9:00 - 12:30 at S4

9:00 Reception, coffee

9:30 Welcome words and UBI-SERV project presented (slides), Timo Korhonen

9:55 PKU and UBI-SERV (slides), Yuping Zhao

10:20 Agile Citizen-centric Health (slides), Timo Itälä

10:45 Coffee break

11:00 Aging population, care services and needs for ambient technology (slides), Päivi Topo

11:25 Pervasive health care technologies, Continua Health Alliance, HL7 (slides), Vesa Pakarinen

11:50 MIMOSA-MINAmI, human-centered design, ethics (slides), Eija Kaasinen

Lunch 12:15 - 13:15

Afternoon session 13:15 - 16:30 at Internet Café

13:15 Briefing for the group sessions, Iiro Jantunen

13:30 Group sessions

14:30 Coffee break

14:45 Wrap-up of the group work, Group chairmen

15:00 Panel discussion, chair: Jyri Hämäläinen
Panelists: Eija Kaasinen, Timo Korhonen, Vesa Pakarinen, Yuping Zhao

16:00 Workshop conclusions

16:30 Workshop ends


Preferably contact latest at 12:00 AM 18th May 2009 so that your presence can be taken into account in servings and group work planning.

Continua Health Alliance

Continua Health Alliance provides a nice video of its vision of the future of health care. Very informative to watch. One must note that not only technological advances, but the user needs, user acceptance and ethical issues need to be taken into account.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Social networking software for research programmes?

UBI-SERV project belongs to Academy of Finland research program MOTIVE, which had a start-up seminar in Helsinki this week.

This kind of seminars are very good for researcher networking, and also for project networking. I am arranging visits to two of our sibling projects within MOTIVE. I would be happy to link to them here, but not all the projects within MOTIVE have websites of their own. Web 2.0 type communications is embraced only by a minority of the projects. Of course, the project related to Web 2.0 development (Somus) does extensively use these technologies, e.g. blogging and microblogging. Also Web 2.0 type collaboration tools are used.

The type of Web 2.0 application not used in MOTIVE for research collaboration is Facebook-type online social networking. A research project could have a profile in such a service, with other related projects as "friend" projects. This would make it easier to keep up with the developments within related projects. Know any such service?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Highlights of Chinese Medical Reformation

Date: 07-05-2009
Topic: Highlights of Chinese Medical Reformation
Keywords: 850 Billion RMB Cake - ICT Medical Market Opportunity

The official implementation of Chinese medical reform plan has been passed for one month. There are many new opportunities, changes and hopes, as well as questions and difficulties. The ultimate goal of this reformation is to provide a universal health care to whole 1.3 billion Chinese people, by the year of 2020.

There is one thing I want to highlight , which could probably affect our project. It is the 850 billion RMB (94.4 billion Euros) financing support from the central government and following province governments. This immense amount of funds will be allocated during next three years, to rural area patients, medicine industry, different levels of hospitals, community health centers, etc.

It is estimated that the total amount of fund dedicated to health care ICT sector reaches as high as 1.2 billion Euros, which brings huge market potential in this area. Last month, two important events have been hold, the 61st China International Medical Equipment Fair (CMEF) and 2009 China International Medical Electronics Assembly (CMET). These two events drawn the attentions of participant from more than 20 countries and regions, and around 2000 enterprises. IT giants such as Intel, Microsoft and IBM all shows the solutions towards e-health. Particularly for IBM, it demonstrated the radiology theatre solution based on Blue Spruce. The solution is essentially a common platform where enables medical personals to browse the relevant diagnostic data, such as CT scan, MRI, ECG, etc.

Without any doubt, the market of ICT health care in China will be the hop spot, especially during the economical recession time. However, there comes the question, who will finally get the share of this giant cake? And with what kind of applications or services? (These questions could be asked during the interview with Neusoft.)

Interesting Links:
Medical Reform in China Indicates A Huge IT Market
China’s Poor Hope Reforms Fix Health Problem
IBM’s web-based radiology theatre
Chronology of Chinese health reform