SimplyHome is honored to be a recipient of this year’s Sky High Growth Award. Asheville, North Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce awards the Sky High Growth Awards to the fastest growing small businesses for the year. The award is based on outstanding achievements in areas such as sales growth and employment. This is the third Sky High Growth Award for SimplyHome! Click here to see the full list of all 28 businesses honored.
SimplyHome was honored to be a part of this tech summit. Our very own Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO is featured in this photo. We look forward to providing technology to improve services provided in NC.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos on Wednesday encouraged more than 150 behavioral health advocates and specialists attending an Innovative Technologies Summit, to use technology, innovative thinking and teamwork to meet the care needs of North Carolina’s citizens with mental illnesses, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders.
Technological advances in behavioral healthcare were highlighted and demonstrated at the one-day conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. The conference was organized by the State Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services and the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse. In a welcome to conferees, Wos emphasized Gov. McCrory’s passion for innovations and technology and concern for our citizens who have behavioral healthcare needs.
“Today we bring together this passion for innovation with our vision of improved services in our state for citizens with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities,” Wos said. “We are looking for better ways to do business, better ways to provide services, and better ways for our citizens to access the services they need.”
Wos directs the many divisions of DHHS to work together to bring more technology to bear in the delivery of health and human services.
The conference attracted top speakers who discussed how North Carolina can take advantage of technology to provide care for citizens in need of services and supports for mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Presentations on innovative technologies included smartphone applications with GPS and interactive messaging, avatars that can offer brief intervention strategies, and smart home technology with adaptive equipment built in and geared toward an individual’s needs. This technology is used to empower and support individuals to live healthy and independent lives in the community. North Carolina strives to remain a leader in progressive technologies as a means to support prevention, treatment, recovery, and habilitative care.
Several themes were in play during presentations and discussions, including:
- Reducing the barriers to the utilization of innovative technologies by offering a more flexible funding system at the state level;
- Use of technologies as an adjunct to care, rather in place of care; and
- Coordinating technological systems across healthcare agencies as a means to enhance care for the individuals served.
Wos praised the passion for innovation demonstrated by some of the speakers who are top leaders in their fields, including H. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment within the U.S. DHHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He leads the agency’s national effort to provide effective and accessible treatment to all Americans with addictive disorders. He discussed the role of electronic health records as a tool for improving care.
Clark praised North Carolina for dedicating $4 million for telepsychiatry to meet the needs of individuals where few psychiatrists practice, particularly in rural areas. DHHS’ Office of Rural Health and Community Care is responsible for administering this appropriation made by the General Assembly.
Another speaker, Melissa Pinto, assistant professor at Emory University, participated in a team that piloted a three-dimensional, avatar-based program that immerses young adults into a virtual primary care environment. Through the program young adults interact with virtual health care providers and health coaches to practice effective communication about depression symptoms. The technology generates tailored feedback to the participant’s responses.
Rodney Bell, representing the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado, and is an independent consultant in technology management, discussed his software company’s mission to advance the effective use of emerging technology in service of social needs, particularly to promote the quality of life and independent living of people with cognitive disabilities.
Wos encouraged all stakeholders to consider using more technology as a means to enhance outcomes for individuals served. She also noted that these measures offer more opportunities for self-direction and autonomous living in the community.
She praised the speakers and urged providers and innovators alike to help North Carolina find the most economical and effective ways to meet the needs of its citizens.
“Your efforts will allow people to live more independently,” she said. “I believe that if we work together, we can develop system supports that promote independence and self-sufficiency using technology,” she said.
Jason Ray, SimplyHome VP of Product Development, talks about the personal website offered to all of our SimplyHome System customers. He explains what data to look for and how to run reports to view trends in the data.
Please enjoy this article written by our friends at DrugWatch.com. The organization is an awareness group that aims to educate the public about prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and medical devices that have the potential to cause patients serious harm. Their website is continually updated with drug recall news, recent FDA approvals, drug interactions, side effects, and current developments in the medical field.
Important Medical News for Seniors
Older Americans are often prescribed several drugs to manage their health. Even though everyone should be careful when taking medications, it’s important for seniors to know the benefits and risks.
It can be easy to trust a doctor’s orders without really understanding why they are prescribing certain drugs, but the more information patients and doctors have, the more informed decisions can be made. Changes and adjustments can often be made based on a person’s individual circumstances.
Knowledge of how a particular medication works can also alert people to possible dangerous side effects.
There are certain questions seniors should ask their doctor about the medications prescribed. The AARP suggests seniors ask their doctors the following questions in order to help them avoid certain mistakes that could negatively affect their health:
- When and how should I use this new drug?
- What is the purpose of the medication?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- Will the drug interact with other medications, vitamins or supplements I’m taking?
- Is a generic or lower-cost brand name medication available?
- What side effects, reactions or warning signs should I watch out for?
Knowledge about prescription drugs doesn’t stop with those questions. Medical news is always changing. Studies often show that medications once thought of as safe could do damage after long-term use or when mixed with other medications. Some of these drugs lead to the development of more damaging diseases.
Diabetes Drugs May Increase Cancer, Other Health Risks
There are several pills that fight Type 2 diabetes on the market that don’t use insulin to treat the condition. Instead, many of them stimulate insulin production in the body. Some people take a combination of the medications to treat the condition.
Studies show that many who were prescribed these drugs have reported developing certain illnesses linked to popular diabetes medications:
- Actos: Bladder cancer, heart problems
- Byetta & Bydureon: Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, heart attack
- Januvia & Janumet: Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and kidney problems
- Victoza: Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid and gland issues
As always, when it comes to taking certain medications for certain conditions, it’s up to the patient to discuss the risk and benefits with their doctors. Type 2 diabetes can be managed. It’s much harder to manage certain heart conditions and cancers.
Making healthy food choices, getting exercising and losing weight may also decrease your need for these medications. Patients can work with their doctors to safely manage their conditions.
Important Medical Device News
Medical devices are technological advances that have helped improved peoples’ lives. However, not all of them work as intended. Some are recalled due to defects.
Metal-on-metal hip implants have been the subject of many medical headlines over the past few years. In the past, most implants, which mimic the ball and the socket joint of the hip, were made of plastic and ceramic.
The metal-on-metal prosthetics were originally thought to be an innovation for hip replacement surgery. Instead of being stronger and longer-lasting than implants made from other materials, they were a disaster for patients.
Thousands of patients have claimed injury due to the implants breaking early or rubbing together and sending metal debris into their bloodstream, causing blood poisoning. In many cases, metal-on-metal hip implant recipients underwent revision surgeries, which meant replacing their hip implant.
Johnson & Johnson has been in the news lately for their metal-on-metal prosthetics. J&J will pay $2.5 billion dollars to settle at least 8,000 lawsuits against its subsidiary company DePuy Orthopaedics. Patients claimed the ASR Hip Implant system caused serious complications.
Stryker is just one of several metal hip manufacturing companies with pending lawsuits. The company’s neck and stem components for their Rejuvenate and ABG II products were also blamed for causing those same health concerns.
Manufacturers including Biomet, Zimmer and Wright Medical are also facing lawsuits that claim their devices were faulty and caused injury.
Stay Informed and Follow Up on Prescriptions
Any information you can get about the drugs or devices you’re using can help you. Patients should ask their doctors to review their medications at least once a year and ask whether they are still needed at their current dosage.
Making healthy choices involves being fully informed. Knowledge empowers a patient to understand why they are making certain choices and the potential consequences of those actions. Information gives them the opportunity to ask their physicians questions and understand what the doctor is talking about.
- National Institute on Aging. (n.d.) Age Page: Diabetes In Older People-A Disease you Can Manage. [Fact Sheet] Retrieved from http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/diabetes-older-people
- Drugwatch. (n.d.) Dangerous Drugs. Drugwatch.com. Retrieved from http://www.drugwatch.com/drugs-and-devices/
- AARP (2012, December 7). 9 Types of Medication Older Adults Should Use With Caution. AARP.com. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-07-2011/medications-older-adults-should-use-with-caution.html
- National Institutes Of Health. (n.d.) Taking Medicines. [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/sideeffects/01.html
- Hollmer, M. (2013, November 19) Updated: J&J acknowledges $2.5B-plus hip lawsuit settlement agreement. Firece Medical Devices. Retrieved from http://www.fiercemedicaldevices.com/story/reported-jj-hip-settlement-drops-25b-conditions-added/2013-11-19
- Drugwatch. (n.d.) Stryker and Stryker Orthopaedics. Drugwatch.com Retrieved from http://www.drugwatch.com/manufacturer/stryker-orthopaedics/
Check out this amazing video of Jonathon and see how he is moving in a positive direction after his accident. We want to give The Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg, SC a big thank you for putting this video together and for sharing it with us. We are so proud to be a small part of Jonathon’s independence.
Jonathon is a strong-willed person who longs for his independence. Paralyzed not long after graduating from high school, Jonathon promised the doctors and nurses he would accomplish two goals: He would walk again one day, and he would have his own apartment and live on his own. With the help of SimplyHome technology and the Charles Lea Center, Jonathon is able to stay alone at nights and on weekends in his own apartment. SimplyHome worked to install technology into Jonathon’s apartment that allows him to open and close his front door, control his thermostat, lights, fans, and television through an app installed on an iPad.
The Dankner’s Story
We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a customer who happens to be the first person in the state of North Carolina to receive our assistive technology funded through the Innovations Waiver. Lisa Dankner is the mother of Natalie Dankner who is a 26-year-old women living with autism and using SimplyHome technology to remain as independent as possible.
“My husband travels, and this system has been a godsend in terms of having more of a normal life,” says Lisa.
The system was installed in the Dankner’s home is January of 2012. They are using a combination of door/window sensors, water sensors, smoke sensors and a pendant to control when the system is on and off to monitor Natalie’s safety when it comes to some of her behaviors.
“It’s our day that is different,” says Lisa.
Some of Natalie’s behaviors that are of concern are leaving the home without anyone knowing, lighting things on fire using the kitchen stove, and flooding the home. Natalie has had a history of clogging the toilets. Lisa says they have spent thousands in repairs already and are now able get a notification before it is too late.
“Sleeping at night was difficult because Natalie gets up at all times of the day and night. With the SimplyHome System, I feel confident, with the settings we have, she wouldn’t be out the door long before we would be woken. It actually allows me to have normal sleep,” says Lisa.
Funding For Technology
Lisa spoke about the challenges she has had with Medicaid and what she has learned during the process. “Hopefully we are leading the way for other people in the state to be able to experience the benefits of using SimplyHome technology,” Lisa said.
After Natalie was approved for the Innovations Waiver, Natalie’s case manager submitted a system recommendation to the state for approval for the assistive technology. The challenge is often giving a vision to funders as to how sensor tools can create improved safety and independence. Lisa has been an amazing advocate for her daughter and did not stop fighting when times got tough.
Natalie is now a productive member of the community – working, volunteering, shopping, going to church and living as every human being should, with dignity and independence.
Natalie is passionate about being an independent young woman. Lisa says her daughter’s autism has been “a life long learning process.” She is committed to finding what solutions give Natalie maximum independence.
We continue to expand our products and services. Because Telehealth is still new and we get so many inquiries about the technology, we thought sharing this tutorial would be beneficial. Please take a minute to listen to our interview with Gabrielle Corey, a SimplyHome Customer Service Representative. She has taken the lead on implementing the technology and training staff and partners on how to use the equipment. She recently spearheaded a pilot program for the Telehealth Suite and has some great data that you will hear her share.
What you can expect in this tutorial:
- nuts and bolts of the new Telehealth Suite
- benefits vs limitations of the equipment
- pilot program overview and data analysis
SimplyHome leads the industry with FDA approved telehealth devices (used to monitor blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen levels, glucose and weight) that guarantee patient data is securely transmitted to ensure proper treatment.
SimplyHome is now introducing an FDA approved telehealth product suite in preparation for an FDA rule that will be finalized this October. The rule states that IT companies will be required to register health care hardware and software that transfers, stores, converts or displays health care data.
Some devices that have not been FDA approved, but are being used to transfer patient data, present a potential risk to patients if they do not work as intended. For example, if the wrong reading is transferred to a website for a doctor to view, the doctor could potentially prescribe the wrong medication or dosage to the patient. There are several telehealth options available right now on the market but not all of them are FDA approved.
“The FDA approval represents a level of scrutiny so a customer can be confident that they are using a product of the highest quality possible,” says Jason Ray, SimplyHome VP of Business Development.
SimplyHome uses the term “telehealth” when referring to tools they offer used to remotely monitor blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen levels, glucose and weight. Each reading is taken and then wirelessly transmitted using bluetooth to a base station that collects the data and then sends each reading to a confidential and personalized website. Then, after customizing an individual’s profile, family, medical personnel, and caregivers can receive instant notifications if health parameters are in a range of concern.
The benefits of telehealth technology are:
- Promote preventative care
- Support overall wellness
- Cut down on hospital readmissions
Each device used to test blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen levels, glucose and weight must be individually approved by the FDA. Not only that, but all of those readings need to be transported to a central device so those readings can be logged to view trending activity, pin-point potential problems and set up alert rules and that device must be FDA approved as well. Some companies have built their own portal or base station to collect this data, but have not gone through the FDA approval process yet.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal governmental agency charged with protecting the health and welfare of the American public through the regulation of food, drugs and medical devices. When a product is FDA approved, it means that EVERY aspect or component of the device, including any claim found on the device, has been scientifically proven to be valid, safe and effective. It also includes a thorough FDA inspection of the laboratory and facilities, in addition to intense review of the validity of the computer system’s hardware and software. It is against the law for any product or service to claim it is FDA approved when it is not.
When equipment or software is intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of a disease or other condition, the FDA considers the equipment or software to be a medical device. The FDA also regulates the software used in telehealth systems.
“We feel a responsibility as a company to make sure we are providing solutions that meet FDA requirements so customers can rest assure that their purchases will meet regulatory requirement long before they are being enforced, ” says Jason Ray, SimplyHome VP of Business Development.
“With Gov. Pat McCrory’s declaration of June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month in North Carolina and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, it is important to raise awareness within the local community in order to make an impact not only in the state but also the nation.
“While people may recognize signs of physical abuse, it is often mental and financial abuse that occurs and goes undetected,” says Amy Natt, a certified geriatric care manager and owner of Aging Outreach Services, a full-service elder care firm with offices in Southern Pines and Cary.
The latest U. S. Census statistics show approximately 14 million U.S. adults age 65 and older and 19 million U.S adults aged 18 to 64 have a disability, which increases their susceptibility to abuse. Elder abuse and neglect occurs when a family member, caregiver or individual trusted by the elder, intentionally creates risk or does harm to that elder.
With the more than 10,000 baby boomers turning age 65 everyday, this group is the largest growing segment of the population making the need to combat elder abuse and raise awareness even greater. By 2050, U.S. Census data predicts there will be more than 19 million age 85 or older.
With a growing population of elders, it is often impossible to have exact numbers of elder abuse reports because many go unreported; however, the latest studies have revealed that females elders are more likely to be abused than their male counterparts and that the older the elders are, the more likely they are to be abused. Research has also shown that those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are at a greater risk of being abused. Older adults may not report the abuse because of fear of retaliation or because they are embarrassed, or because they lack the physical or cognitive abilities to do so.
The impact of elder abuse impacts not only the elder with additional medical costs or personal financial losses but also increased expenditures by county, state and federal entitlement programs.
“An alarming number of scams now target older adults with false claims and promises, hoping to tap their financial resources,” says Natt. “Sadly, we have seen many cases of abuse that occur within a family. A lack of resources, caregiver stress and fractured relationships can contribute to this as well as a history of past abuse.”
With raised awareness through education and initiatives like Elder Abuse Awareness Month, elders can be safer in their communities. “Abuse occurs in many forms, and as a society, we need to have an awareness and become advocates for our elder population,” says Natt. “After all, we are all aging and someday, it may be you who needs a voice.”" For more information visit Aging Outreach Services