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Boots U.K. pilots MobileFirst sales assist app

BY Dan Berthiaume

NOTTINGHAM, U.K. — IBM Inc. is expanding the IBM MobileFirst for iOS portfolio of apps for retailers. Boots U.K. and American Eagle Outfitters are among the retailers who have signed on for MobileFirst apps.

“The pilot of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Sales Assist app will seek to explore how we can further empower our colleagues to be able to turn each customer interaction into a unique and personal experience," said Robin Phillips, director of multichannel, Boots U.K. "Boots colleagues will have access to real-time data and insight from across the company in the palm of their hands, allowing them to offer shoppers even greater levels of service- including real-time stock availability and easy in store ordering."

New Mobile First apps for retail include Dynamic Buy, which gives retailers gain real-time perspective and data-driven recommendations on how products are performing and seasonal recommendations, for example, helping retailers realize better return on investments, according to IBM.

Built exclusively for iPhone and iPad, IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps are delivered in a secure environment, embedded with analytics and linked to core enterprise processes. The apps can be customized for any organization and easily deployed, managed and upgraded via cloud services from IBM specifically for iOS devices.

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Study: People more activated in their care have better health outcomes, lower costs

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

SAN FRANCISCO — An increase in patient activation can improve health outcomes and lower costs, according to a new study published in the March issue of Health Affairs.

Researchers from the School of Nursing at the George Washington University, University of Oregon and Fairview Medical Group assessed the relationship between changes in a person’s activation level and changes in health outcomes and cost and found they were associated.

“The Patient Activation Measure study is important for two reasons. First, it is the largest, longitudinal study to look at the impact of an individual’s activation levels on both health outcomes and cost; and second, the findings show that activation levels are related to clinical, behavioral and utilization outcomes as well as health care costs,” stated Valerie Overton, VP for quality and innovation at the Fairview Medical Group.

Conducted at Fairview Health Services, a large non-profit health care system in Minnesota, researchers examined activation levels of more than 32,000 adult patients using the Patient Activation Measure score, a metric used to quantify a person’s knowledge, skills and confidence in managing one’s own health and health care. The two-year study found that higher baseline activation levels were predictive of better health outcomes in nine of 13 health indicators, including maintaining high-density lipoprotein and serum triglycerides in a normal range – important clinical outcomes associated with diabetes and heart disease.

In addition, more activated patients had a greater likelihood to obtain potentially life-saving screening tests such as pap smears and mammography as well as avoid a hospitalization or emergency department visit two years after their Patient Activation Measure level was collected, according to the research.

“For accountable care organizations and other delivery systems looking to reduce costs and improve the health of those they care for, this study suggests that patient activation can be a critical pathway to achieving these goals,” stated Judith Hibbard, professor emerita and senior researcher, Health Policy Research Group at the University of Oregon and developer of the Patient Activation Measure. “The greater the activation level, the greater the odds of better outcomes and lower costs,” she added.

The Patient Activation Measure is categorized into four levels with level one being the least engaged and four being the highest. Patients in the study were primarily female, with approximately 4-out-of-5 in the top two levels of activation. Key findings include:
•    People who were at the lowest levels had significantly lower odds of having positive outcomes for seven-of-13 health indicators compared with those who remained at level four in both time periods.
•    Similar patterns appeared when examining the activation levels and billed costs. When people stayed at the highest level of activation over the study period their projected costs were 31 percent lower than for people who stayed at the lowest levels.
•    Costs for people moving up or down levels, also moved in the same direction as their activation level changes. People who moved down from activation level four to three over one year were 14% higher than those who stayed in level four. Those moving from three or four down to levels one or two had projected costs that were 27% higher than those who were in level four both years (lowest average per capita cost $6,411).
 

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Survey: Tech-savvy seniors want online options to access care from home

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

CHICAGO — Just as an estimated 3.9 million Americans are reaching 65 years old this year, an Accenture survey shows there is growing demand among tech-savvy seniors (67%) who want to access healthcare services from home, but the majority (66%) are worried today’s technology isn’t sufficient to do so.

“What this means for healthcare systems is that they need to consider the role that digital technology can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point.”

“Just as seniors are turning to digital tools for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online,” stated Kaveh Safavi global managing director of Accenture’s health business. “What this means for healthcare systems is that they need to consider the role that digital technology can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point.”

The survey showed seniors who place a higher priority on technology are more likely to proactively manage their health. For example, most seniors (75%) who value technology are active in tracking their weight digitally, compared to 43% of those who do not. Similarly, half of tech-savvy seniors are actively monitoring their cholesterol, compared to 31% of those who do not value technology.

Top five areas for growth

The survey results indicate that seniors are interested in accessing a number of digital technology applications they can use to better manage their healthcare, including:
•    Self-care: More than 2-out-of-3 seniors prefer to use self-care technology to independently manage their health. AARP estimates start-up funding in this area grew to $166 million in 2013, up from $143 million in 2012.
•    Wearables: More than 3-out-of-5 seniors are willing to wear a health-monitoring device to track vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure. AARP estimates $266 million in funding was invested in this area in 2013, more than 2011 and 2012 combined.
•    Online Communities: Three-in-five seniors are somewhat or very likely to turn to online communities, such as Patient Like Me, for reactions to a doctor’s recommendation before acting on it. AARP estimates funding for these platforms rose to $142 million in 2013.
•    Navigating Healthcare: One-third of seniors would prefer to work with a patient navigator to manage their healthcare. Last year, $384 million was invested in solutions, like patient navigators, for care navigation.
•    Health Record Management: A quarter of seniors regularly use electronic health records for managing their health, such as accessing lab results (57%), and projections by Accenture suggest it will grow to 42% in five years, as consumer-facing tools increase.

The Pew Research Center estimates over half (59%) of those ages 65 and older were active Internet users in 2012-2013. Accenture’s survey showed the top reason for most seniors (62%) to go online was to find health information. Most seniors want access to healthcare technology, such as virtual physician consultations (20%), but less than one-third of healthcare providers offer such capabilities.

Other Accenture research found over half (57%) of officials from U.S. state and local government long-term care agencies believe the use of more technology will have an important role in alleviating the challenges of an increasingly older population. Those officials also projected the growing demand for elderly care services will have the most impact over the next decade, while U.S. census data indicates the rising wave of seniors will grow beyond 2025.

Accenture conducted consumer research with 10,730 adults across 10 countries (United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, Norway, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom), including 354 U.S. seniors (ages 65 and older) receiving Medicare benefits, assessing their perceptions of using technology to manage their health. The survey was fielded between May and June 2014.
 

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