Telemedicine Saves Almost $4K Per Diabetic Annually

People are always looking for these fast facts. This is a good one. Broadband World News reports…

Telehealth can save rural diabetes patients almost $4,000 per year, according to a pilot program sponsored by broadband infrastructure finance firm CoBank.

The Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to cap Universal Service Funds (USF) prompted a flurry of comments from organizations ranging from operators to libraries, schools to healthcare providers. It also generated input from CoBank, which works with a number of smaller and regional operators looking to finance infrastructure deployments.

Here are some of the specifics…

“The first pilot concludes that rural patients with Type 2 diabetes can reduce federal healthcare costs by up to $3,855 per patient, per year using telehealth,” Tyree said in the letter.

Opportunity: start a Girls Who Code Club in your area

I saw this opportunity in the MN State Library Services newsletter. I’m not sure if it’s only for libraries but if you’re not a library, this is a really good opportunity to partner with one…

State Library Services is partnering with Girls Who Code (GWC) this year to bring free computer science learning opportunities to your community. Girls Who Code Clubs are free after-school programs for girls in grades 3-5 or 6-12. Participants will join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models and use computer science to change the world. Please note, this program targets, but is not limited to, girls. Participants not only learn hard coding skills and computational thinking, but they’ll also learn project management skills, collaboration, bravery, resilience, how to positively impact their community, and so much more.

When you start a GWC Club, you’ll gain access to free resources, flexible plug-and-play curriculum, funding opportunities, ongoing support, alumni opportunities for your young learners, and more! There’s no computer science experience needed to get started; GWC is there for you every step of the way. Apply now with the brief Clubs Application through our partnership, or learn more about the program at the next live 30-minute webinar! Webinars are scheduled weekly Sept. through Nov. 2019.

Mayo Clinic working with Google to refine medical searches

Mayo Clinic reports…

To help give their users the best health information possible, Google now provides relevant medical facts upfront. For example, a search for arthritis will show, beside the resulting links, a few basic facts about arthritis and a definition. To ensure quality and accuracy, all of the gathered facts were confirmed by medical doctors from around the United States, which were then vetted by expert clinicians at Mayo Clinic.

The goal of this new feature is to provide medical information in a digestible way and to get basic answers quickly. Using Mayo Clinic as a primary source, Google provides information about symptoms and treatments, whether or not it’s critical, or contagious, what ages it typically affects, and more.

“We worked with a team of medical doctors, led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, to carefully compile, curate and review this information,” says Prem Ramaswami, Google product manager. “All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the Web, and the information has been checked by medical doctors at Google and Mayo Clinic for accuracy.”

Aside from being super happy that Google is working with a Minnesota company, I have some mixed feelings on this partnership. Google is the go-to source for bar bets, lost lyrics, stock updates – everything. Most of us are aware that Google sells ads and many of us know Google uses algorithms that “personalize” your search results. For example if I search for [restaurants] and I’m in Minneapolis I get restaurants in Minneapolis. So results can be skewed and you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet – yet again, Google is the go-to.

Partnering with Mayo to lift up their results gives Mayo a lot of power. And mostly I think finding our what the Mayo says about heart disease is probably better than seeing 5 ads and then whatever websites have the best search engine optimization. BUT what if they went with someone other than Mayo? Or what if they decide to do this for other categories and I don’t agree with their chosen expert? How does this fit in with search engine manipulation effect?

This is when I miss sitting at a Reference Desk. I miss giving mini-info literacy lessons to each patron. You need to know the author, bias, date of every source. I think this strikes me because when I taught information literacy classes I often said – Google is great for quick facts but if you’ve just been diagnosed with something you might want to dig deeper.

Online emotional wellness course available to MN high school students – for credit!

TIPP News Daily reports…

Two Minnesota education organizations are combining forces in an effort to battle the student mental health crisis by offering an innovative online course with embedded daily coaching. Minnesota Virtual Schools has contracted with EmpowerU LLC to offer this credit-bearing social-emotional wellness course to any Minnesota high school student as part of their regular school day – for no additional fee.

The course, EmpowerU, creates a time and place each day for students to learn vital resilience skills and strategies that will help them improve their mental health.

  • The telehealth-meets-online course was developed by a team of therapists for adolescents with social-emotional obstacles, such as anxiety, depression and negative self-esteem.
  • The course is delivered via daily 30-minute lessons that are customized to each student’s unique needs by licensed instructors that give daily feedback via the 1:1 portal.
  • Each of the six units integrates neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy, and strengths-based strategies that engage students as active participants in the course.
  • Students make significant progress toward their goals through healthy habit change, helping them feel less anxious and improve emotional well-being.

I have three teenage daughters. I think this is so smart. (Maybe they could offer help for the parents too!) Here’s more info on registering…

Any Minnesota high school student that has an open period in their school day can enroll in EmpowerU at no additional cost for a semester credit through Minnesota Virtual.

Click here to enroll or call Lorelei Lorentz, Coordinator of Part-Time Students Minnesota Virtual Schools at 612-524-5213 with questions:

For more information click here:

Telephone check ins at Mayo help cancer patients – reduces hospital says

AMA reports on improved remote monitoring/caring for cancer patients – not online, but my phone. Clearly that doesn’t require broadband but I think speaks to the role of technology for connection in healthcare today.

A six-month telerehabilitation program yielded improvements in advance-stage cancer patients’ pain and function. The gains in these areas reduced hospital lengths of stay and the need for post-acute care, demonstrating the effectiveness of easily scalable, high-impact technology interventions.


The JAMA Oncology study included 516 patients with stage IIIC or IV cancer, moderate functional impairment and a life expectancy of more than six months who were randomly assigned into one of three groups.

Group one was a control group. Patients in this group reported, either by telephone or web-based surveys, pain intensity, and whether pain interfered with enjoyment of life or general activity.

Patients in group two did the same, but also received telephone calls from fitness care managers who provided individualized instruction in a pedometer-based walking program and resistance exercises. In addition, these patients also visited physician therapists for further adaptions of their conditioning and analgesic regimens.

Group three participants had the same program as group two with the addition of pharmacological pain management led by a nurse pain care manager.

While hospital admissions were basically the same among the three groups, the lengths of stay varied greatly, with group two having hospitalizations that were about four days shorter (3.5) than the control group (7.4) on average. The group three patients did not see as much benefit, with an average stay length of five days.

Making the Case for Public Broadband Investment at the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference

Yesterday Bernadine Joselyn and I presented at the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference about how to convince community members to invest in broadband. We gave a similar presentation at the Fall Broadband conference but the timing seems even better now as communities are working to provide public support to match provider investment in MN broadband grant applications. 

We helped people recognize that a household with broadband sees an economic benefits of $1,850 – which helps a household decide that $20/month or $100/year investment via tax is a good investment.

We were also able to listen to the keynote Amanda Brinkeman, host of Deluxe’s hit HULU series Small Business Revolution. She spoke about the importance of sharing stories to life local businesses – especially using social media. 

That message was reinforced in the second presentation – Growing Entrepreneurial Communities by Pam Bishop and Chris Schad. The comment I really enjoyed from the session was “everyone has a side hustle” and the recognition that with broadband we can turn that sideline into a business. 

MN Oncology and BCBS team up for better cancer care

Fierce Healthcare reports…

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is teaming up with Minnesota Oncology on a five-year value-based agreement for cancer care.

The collaboration will begin Sept. 1, and the payer and provider will share risk for the overall cost of cancer for members treated at Minnesota Oncology, the companies announced. As part of the deal, Minnesota Oncology has agreed to a set of evidence-based principles to guide care, so Blue Cross will waive prior authorization for certain treatments that are often overutilized.

Telehealth plays a role in the process…

Blue Cross members treated at Minnesota Oncology clinics will also receive more coordinated approach to care. Amezcua said that the model will free oncologists to provide additional services such as telehealth, as they’re not being paid based on a claims form checklist.

Minnesota Oncology also offers patients access to nonclinical supports such as nutrition, behavioral health and genetic counseling. It also provides remote monitoring, advanced care planning and palliative care for patients who need those services.

“Cancer patients face a big challenge, and we remain committed to providing comprehensive care including state-of-the-art therapies, precision medicine, genetic testing, palliative care and access to clinical trials,” John Schwerkoskie, M.D., president of Minnesota Oncology, said in a statement.