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19 percent—56.7 million—of Americans live with one or more disabilities. Of that number, 7.6 million people have a hearing impairment. Living with a chronic condition such as hearing loss is a reality most of us will not experience, but that doesn’t mean it is hard to envision what life would be like.

Take a moment and imagine your daily interactions with other people. Now imagine them again, but as a person who is deaf. How many people would you be able to communicate with easily—if at all? Do any of your coworkers understand sign language?

The Future is Accessible

For most of us, the idea of going through life as a person who is deaf seems overwhelming. The type of thing that might hold you back. For Leah Katz-Hernandez, however, being deaf has not been a deterrent to success but rather a reason to work harder.

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Holding impressive titles such as Executive Director of Deaf USA, Press Assistant/Research Associate for Michelle Obama, and now, as the Secretary for the West Wing of the White House. Yes, a deaf lady greets, meets, and interacts with powerful world leaders as well as ordinary citizens with purpose on a daily basis—all in sign or through an interpreter.

She is a strong advocate for accessibility, and the fact that she is now SOTUS (Capitol Hill slang for Secretary Of The United States) means she can continue to be a beacon for those who live life with a hearing impairment.Citing her parents as her primary sources of inspiration, she has a long list of relevant experiences and believes in giving back as much as she can.

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True equality means everyone has access to the same standards, same opportunities, and same treatment. We think having someone as capable and experienced as Leah Katz-Hernandez as Secretary for the White House is a magnificent idea—disability or not.

See an interview with Katz-Hernandez here

The Paradox
There is an old paradox that asks, “What happens when an irresistible force meets an unmovable object?” also known as the ‘Spear and the Shield.’

When it comes to healthcare, we have expeditiously advancing technology, an aging population, and unsustainable consumption of resources as the ‘Spear.’ On the other hand, we have the healthcare system as it exists today: slow moving procedures; a lack of accountability; and healthcare initiatives and teams that are massively divided and far from patient-centric. This is the seemingly unmovable object, or the “Shield.”

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A recent article by HP proposes this very thought, and also theorizes there are going to be six major disruptions to the current healthcare system by 2020.

What if there was a way to ensure that things not only continued to function properly, but could be given tools which enabled the current state of healthcare to operate more efficiently and in a way that puts the patient first?

The change Mozzaz seeks to propagate is exactly that: sustainable and patient-centric care. We created—and continue to improve on—our complex care solutions in order to assist healthcare providers and organizations to reduce the strain that the existing state of fragmented care plans produces.

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Why does this matter?
The current circle of care includes a feedback loop that involves doctors, therapists, and other clinicians, that will eventually dictate their version of the best care plan to the patient. This often leaves family members wanting more for their loved ones—but the healthcare organizations can’t produce better results because they lack the resources. With modern technology being affordable and accessible by any segment of the population, we can now empower the patient more than ever before.

This change reduces costs on all parties involved.

As we move closer to 2020 and its “inevitable” healthcare disruptions, it is our hope that we can work together to enable patients, clinicians, and organizations alike to empower one another in a way that ensures a significant boost to accountability, quality, and standards of care while reducing financial burdens and resource strains.

break the cycle

In a recent interview with healthitoutcomes.com, Debbie Welle-Powell, vice president for accountable health and payer strategies at SCL Health, highlighted how technology and legislation is causing a shift from the old per-month, per-member (PMPM) pay cycle to a more incentivized system that enables reduced costs to healthcare organizations (and patients) as well as raising the overall standard of care.

“We know the migration from volume to value is essential to delivering care that is accountable and affordable,” she said. The entire tone of the interview is about driving patient-centric care that is not just accountable and affordable, but also improving on relationships between care providers and patients. There are more news items every day that indicate a push towards accountable and outcome driven healthcare systems all across the globe. This is partly because of legislation such as ‘Obamacare’ also partly because organizations and patients alike are recognizing a need for greater accountability and reduced costs in their care plans.

break the cycle 2The current system is not sustainable. The current system is lacking. The current system needs better tools to handle an aging population and a rise in chronic condition diagnoses.

She closed the interview by driving home the point, “It’s not just about lowering the expense; it’s really about improving care or understanding.”

Debbie Welle-Powell and the SLC Health team are clearly adapting well to the push for more patient-centric solutions that empower care recipients and organizations to improve their current level of care.

This is one trend that isn’t going anywhere but up, and we look forward to seeing more organizations like SLC Health drive the change that we all need.

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Patient-centric Technology
2014 was a huge year for healthcare reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or, “Obamacare,” continued its rollout, placing emphasis on Meaningful Use—the term placed on the requirement that healthcare organizations prove that technology they adopt benefits all parties in a purposeful way; while patients continued to seek new ways to raise the standards of care. Social media engagement, increased data tracking, and patient empowerment are on the rise.

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What’s Ahead?
Trends for 2015 are centered on the ever-increasing importance of technology in healthcare. According to several experts the big trends to watch out for are: ‘Care without boundaries;’ customized personal health analytics; and tech-enabled patient engagement.

‘Care Without Boundaries’

It’s a relatively new term that involves an individual’s wish to maintain health and wellness, particularly during an episode of care. If you are suffering a chronic condition you may and likely will have to coordinate your care with several clinicians including specialists and general health practitioners. Keeping many appointments, tracking the effectiveness of your care plan, and managing your medications can be a massive stressor. Thankfully, technology now allows this data to empower patients more than ever before with a seamless flow from patient to clinician.

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Personal Health Analytics
Using customized personal health analytics, such as data tracking applications and solutions, can enable a care giver or patient to receive a quality of care higher than ever before.

“The use of mobile and personalized analytics in healthcare is what’s next to improve healthcare delivery with integrated, assistive, and augmentative technology,” says Judy Murphy, CNO and Director of IBM Healthcare Global. This means that patients will experience more patient-centric care while clinicians can easily track complex care plans.

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Technology Enabling Patient Engagement
Tech-enabled patient engagement means a consistent flow of information between patients and their healthcare providers. Rather than the traditional episodic touch points that have us stuck in the mid-1900s, patients and doctors can now collaborate and communicate effortlessly in order to steadily adjust and improve a personalized care plan that makes sense for the individual. This reduces financial costs and time constraints for the patients and the clinicians.

It’s encouraging to see a focus on research in special education and learning disabilities aligned to a Federal strategy. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) submitted comments to the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education on the future work of the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).  NCSER solicited input from researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders as they determine what issues need specific attention and how best to communicate the results of research to practitioners.  With the strong emphasis on evidence-based practices, LDA and NCLD felt it was of critical importance that IES and NCSER hear from families and practitioners with expertise in learning disabilities. Respondents were also asked what new topics NCSER should prioritize for future research.  NCLD and LDA addressed the following:

  • Systems issues that directly impact student outcomes, such as the impact of budget cuts and eligible services, reasons for the decreasing number of children identified as having a disability, impact of early intervention on educational outcomes, collaborative teaching models, knowledge translation to reach the classroom level, the role of specialized instructional support personnel and their impact on student achievement, and the impact of various education reform efforts (i.e., college and career ready standards and assessments) on students with disabilities.
  • Elements that support success for students with learning disabilities, prioritizing research that provides a better understanding of the factors and interventions that support positive learning outcomes.
  • Research to support accurate identification of specific learning disabilities, including more research on processes such as multi-tiered systems of support and other approaches as part of a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Effectiveness of multi-tiered systems of services and supports on distinguishing students with specific learning disabilities from struggling learners.
  • Examination of interventions addressing specific learning disabilities and co-occurring disabilities.
  • Reinforcing the important role of cultural competency through the IES grant process by emphasizing diversity in the grant applications.
  • Closer investigation of research questions that will assist both general and special educators to provide a high-quality education to students with learning disabilities.
  • Research on improving educator preparation, including general and special education teachers and specialized instructional support personnel, to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities. 

These are fantastic research topics that will hopefully result in positive programs and outcomes. As a parent and stakeholder, I would encourage active participation with these groups and initiatives and help make a real difference.

@rini

 als

Some good news for ALS patients, families and supportive lawmakers who pushed the government hard to reverse its decision on blocking Medicare reimbursement for speech generating devices and communication tools that would have taken effect December 1, 2014. ALS patients had aggressive support from Congress on the question of speech generating devices. Some 200 members signed a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter in September, asking CMS to respond to patients’ concerns. On Tuesday, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., sent the agency another letter.

Speech generation equipment is critically important to patients with ALS and similar neurodegenerative disorders – conditions that limit their capacity for movement and speech. At Mozzaz, we have seen some positive results as ALS patients start to lose their ability to speak and communicate effectively.

CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said the agency “is committed to beneficiaries’ access to needed technologies to improve their quality of life, including the coverage of speech-generating devices for individuals with a severe speech impairment.” He added that CMS is assessing the evolution of that technology since 2001.

Let’s hope CMS and funding agencies can keep up to speed with technology and all of its innovation.

@rini

NJ teacher

 

Congratulations to Mark Mautone, a teacher from New Jersey, who was voted by the State Department of Education as this year’s top teacher. Mautone is seeing success using ABA in the classroom in conjunction with computer tablets for children with Autism. Digitizing data that was once kept on written spreadsheets can now be easily accessed to help monitor a student’s progress. Our latest product, Mozzaz Care, does just that. Teachers and therapists can now capture and record data in real time and then use the data to track a student’s progress and make adjustments to their programs accordingly. We will be showcasing Mozzaz Care next week at the Geneva Centre for Autism International Symposium.  

To read the full article: NJ teacher of the year puts theory into practice with autistic preschoolers