Wednesday, July 27, 2016

At SAWCA 2016 Annual Convention

At SAWCA's Annual Convention in Sandestin today. It has been a morning of technology and innovation. 

Our morning started with a panel discussion led by Jarrod Magan, of Sedgwick. His panelists were Dr. Jill Rosenthal, Dr. Roberty Snyder, and Tammy Boyd. Dr. Rosenthal is with The Zenith. Dr. Snyder is the medical director for Tennessee, and Tammy Boyd is vice president of NeuroInternational. 

The fact is that technology is coming at us all. Mr. Magan's initial comments made the development track of technology more understandable. From a need to a concept, through a period of enthusiasm and growth, to a period of criticism and ultimately a good many developments never make it to the broad market. 

One of his most poignant points was about Pokemon Go. It is a game, a toy, a distraction. But, he notes that there is a growing body of evidence supporting that this game has gotten people up and moving around, which promotes health. Further, it has had a demonstrable benefit for patients with mental health issues. It is getting them out in the community, it is connecting them with other people, and it is thus effecting unexpected and unintended benefits in health care.

Tammy Boyd explained medications that are individualized for each patient. This begins with DNA testing and ends with formulation specifically for that patient. Dr. Rosenthal discussed the potentials for technology to facilitate better and more thorough communication with and among medical service providers. Dr. Snyder also had several comments about communication issues. Then, a conversation ensued between the panel members, engaging the audience, on details of how DNA is involved, tested, and used. 

Dr. Sharon Heise of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition presented a fascinating program. I have previously written about one of their great achievements, the Running Man. But, the IHMC is doing so much more. She explained technology that is allowing blind people to see. The researchers are using the human tongue and a camera to transmit images to the brain; absolutely fascinating. 

The IHMC is working on medical devices for those with sensory loss. The video presentation on exoskeletons demonstrated how technology and innovation are changing the prosthetic market. There was also a video about the next generation of rover for travel on planetary explorations. Finally, Dr. Heise presented an overview of the robotics efforts that led to the Running man and the IHMC success at the DARPA Challenge. 

The University of Mississippi Center for Telemedicine was represented by Dr. Tearsanee Davis. The Center is focused on delivering both telehealth (broad focus on wellness and care) and Telemedicine (delivery of actual medical services). She described the need is particularly intense in rural America. She described the Mississippi situation in which one "level one" trauma center exists, in the center of the states. This has to be considered in light of another relevant statistic, that most Mississippians live more than 40 minutes from the nearest medical specialist. 

The concept of telemedicine has been successfully applied in various settings. One of note is health care in the Mississippi correctional system. The telehealth concept allows the delivery of medical services without the necessity of transporting patients, and the security concerns that might entail. But, there is also the potential for perceptions of UM competing with hospitals or physicians in the primary care environment. Dr. Davis explained that instead of competing with these providers, telehealth is cooperating with, supporting, and augmenting the local care. 

The focus is non-emergent issues. There are prescription issues, allergies, infections, and other primary care issues that they have determined do not require a full physical or office visit. She explained that this support is now welcomed by physicians providing in person care around the state. 

A great morning of technology and leading-edge developments in our world. It leaves me inspired about where technology is taking us and how the world will be different.  A phenomenally focused and informative morning!

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