Telehealth at the Mayo Clinic – today and moving forward

KARE 11 TV reports on Mayo Clinic’s use of telehealth since the threat of coronavirus…

Mayo Clinic is providing care to patients through telehealth that includes video appointments, remote patient monitoring, interactive care plans, primary care concerns, specialty visits and COVID-related visits.

“All of the patients that I’ve taken care of—and I’m a cardiologist—I’ve taken care of by video for the past three weeks and that’s increasing more and more,” said Dr. Steve Ommen, medical director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Connected Care.

Even more exciting, to me, than the increase in telehealth use now is the implication that we’ve set a new bar for telehealth with changes in regulations…

The government has temporarily relaxed some regulations that were barriers to delivering telehealth. That includes allowing doctors to practice telemedicine across state lines.

“In order to deliver care to a patient, I really was required to be licensed in the state where they were during the interaction,” Dr. Ommen explained.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also expanded coverage for telehealth services. Prior to this waiver, Medicare could only pay for telehealth on a limited basis that included patients who lived in designated rural areas.

And the patient expectations…

He added, “The patients are going to appreciate how convenient it is to get care this way and keep them safe. And third, the care teams are all going to be ramped up to do it now in a way that’s going to be just a standard part of their practice.”

According to Dr. Ommen, those three things will put telehealth in a stronger position than it was in just a couple months ago.

Augmented Reality Tool for local governments and first responders: Edgybees

I’m not a big TV detective show fan but Edgybees seems to be the tool that all of the fictional police departments have to compile disparate info into a picture or video that solves the mystery in real time. Or as they put it…

Edgybees augments live video feeds with precise geo-information layers captured from any camera, human input or other data sources.

Our Augmented Real-time Intelligence™ fuses computer vision, multi-sensor data analytics and 3D video generation to provide a simple visual layer of highly accurate, real-time information. The result is instant clarity and collaboration within even the most complex operational environments.

Here’s a video on their work:


Tools that local government can use to monitor and respond to social media chatter

The coronavirus sheltering and distancing is bringing technology (and access to broadband!) to the forefront in so many ways. Today I have a bunch of tools designed for local governments, although probably just as useful to other organizations.

Starting with – Zencity

Zencity’s platform monitors and aggregates online discourse in real-time. The platform provides insight on what people are saying on specific topics from a range of social and local media channels. This allows city leaders to quickly respond to residents’ real concerns around COVID-19 without guessing about what is important to them. Geolocation data pinpoints discourse according to specific neighborhoods, so that localized resources and outreach can be targeted and efficiently allocated.

EVENT Mar 30: Human Services’ Calls with the Governor’s Office

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Reports

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, in conjunction with the office of Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, is pleased to host a series of four weekly Calls with Governor’s Office featuring updates for nonprofits on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19.
The Governor’s office values the state’s nonprofit partners and would like to easily give information as news is breaking in this changing environment. Each free virtual chat will take place over the next four Mondays from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. and will feature Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan, or both.
The first call will focus on information for, and questions from, nonprofits in the human services sectors. Visit MCN’s event page in the coming weeks for information on future calls.

On the face of it, this isn’t necessarily broadband-related, unless of course you had questions about the inequity of broadband connectivity in rural areas impacting ability to access government services or adhere to sheltering in place executive order.

National Nonprofit Launches Easy Census Help For Seniors

A great tool for folks who have sufficient broadband and a great jumping off point for getting seniors who aren’t online more comfortable once they get there…

Millions of seniors who had planned to get help at their local library or senior center filling out their 2020 Census online are now stuck, says Tobey Dichter, the founder of Generations on Line, a national nonprofit that simplifies the Internet for techno-timid seniors. “Certainly not the first of our worries during the pandemic, but we will all suffer the effects of undercounting older adults for a decade to come.” 

Generations on Line, which has trained more than 100,000 older people, is helping seniors get unstuck, providing free help through its new The site gives seniors a safe place to practice and hone the skills they need to enter their Census information with confidence. It includes a three-minute government-sponsored video on privacy, quick training on filling in forms, previews of some of the actual questions, and tips for Internet safety – all in a cheerful, age-respectful digital package that adapts to whatever device is being used, from tablet to desk to smartphone.

Getting more older adults to fill out the Census is critical, as many senior services are funded through the Older Americans Act, and Congress uses Census statistics to apportion resources. For Pennsylvania, it means tens of billions of dollars a year.

“Right now, even going outside to the mailbox to return a form, if they receive one in the mail, or answering a call from a government worker, as some seniors will, is problematic,” said Dichter. “Even before Covid-19, our studies showed that older people are rightly suspicious of scams and inclined not to share their information with strangers. It also revealed that many were unknowing or timid about entering their information on their computer or smartphone. More than half of people over 65 have smartphones,” she said, “but we have found most use them for very limited purposes–calls and texting.” 

Generations on Line also provides basic digital literacy for seniors through its free app “Easy Tablet Help For Seniors” suitable for families or caregivers to download in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for older friends and relatives. Based in Philadelphia, PA, Generations on Line, established in 1999, is an award-winning pioneer in reducing the digital divide.

Community Use of E-Rate-Supported Wi-Fi is Permitted During Closures

This came up on a call today and will hopefully make it even easier for libraries and schools that are closed to keep their wifi networks open  to support local residents who don’t have access at home.

The FCC reports

By this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau reminds schools and libraries that are closed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak that they are permitted to allow the general public to use E-Rate-supported Wi-Fi networks while on the school’s campus or library property.  Specifically, libraries may offer access to E-Rate funded services on their premises as well as services that are “integral, immediate and proximate to the provision of library services to library patrons”[1]—and because the mission to serve the public is ongoing, libraries are permitted to allow the public to access E-Rate funded services even when they are closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Similarly, closed schools may allow access to E-Rate funded services “to community members who access the Internet while on a school’s campus” so long as they do not charge for the use of the service.[2]  We hope

that this reminder will promote connectivity to Americans impacted by the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

We leave it to individual schools and libraries to establish their own policies regarding use of their Wi-Fi networks during closures, including hours of use.[1]  And we remind all parties that health and well-being are paramount, and to follow any applicable health and safety guidelines, including those on social distancing, as may be set out by relevant federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities.

For further information, please contact Joseph Schlingbaum, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, at (202) 418-7400 or (202) 418-0829 (TTY), or at


[1] Cf. id., 25 FCC Rcd at 18775-76, para. 25 (finding that “the decision about whether to allow community access rests with the school, and we thus leave it schools to establish their own policies regarding specific use of their services and facilities, including, for example, the hours of use”); id. at 18776-77, para. 27 (“We emphasize that the revision of our rules [to allow community use of school’s E-Rate funded services] creates an opportunity for schools, but not an obligation.”).

[1] 47 CFR § 54.500.

[2] See Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, Sixth Report and Order, WC Docket No. 02-6, 25 FCC Rcd 18762, 18775-76, paras. 25-26 (2010) (E-Rate Sixth Report and Order).  Additionally, schools that choose to allow the community to use their E-Rate funded services “may not request funding for more services than are necessary for educational purposes to serve their current student population.”  Id. at 18775, para. 24.

Webinar Archive: 2020 Census: Everyone Counts – and how we can count them

I am a volunteer with Women’s March MN. Last night I got to moderate a (suddenly) online discussion on the Census for our Third Thursday series, which highlights a policy (usually MN legislation) of interest. The Census is important for three primary reasons: access to future federal funding, change in the number of representatives in congress and future plans at local, state and national levels.

I figured it was a fit here for several reasons. First, it’s how we are using technology to replace in-person meetings during the coronavirus slow down. And while you can definitely see the smoke and mirrors, Zoom worked pretty well. Second, the answer in how to engage citizens to take the Census is outreach online, now that door knocking and meetings are not available. People are getting inventive and people without broadband will be left behind. Finally, accurate Census numbers will help us with better broadband mapping and as noted above, impact funding and planning. So it makes sense for broadband advocates to promote Census!

We heard from the following speakers:

They were very informative and resilient, given the huge changes that will impact their outreach efforts.

And the goals were:

  1. to educate people around the census – what it is, why it matters, the time line of both the roll out and efforts to get a full count. And, now, how the pandemic is impacting the census and work around it.
  2. to educate people around the issue of historically undercounted communities, and the efforts underway by different groups to make sure these communities are counted.
  3. to encourage/activate people to help Get Out the Count to make sure everyone is counted – via opportunities to volunteer, ideas how to spread the word, etc. And also to take action to get legislation passed that will support full counts and counting Minnesotans in a way that benefits the communities that they come from.
  4. learn about how the coronavirus pandemic is changing how we address these goals

People had great questions – many related to “how can we help?” Unfortunately so much as change in the call for social distancing due to coronavirus but there will be roles (paid and volunteer) to reach traditionally unrepresented voices in certain (often new American) communities, in people experiencing homelessness and in prisons.

Here are some of the resources mentioned:

A favorite question, which I will be passing onto my musician friends:
I’m working on a playlist for Census Day – anyone have any ideas for fun Census songs? I’m working on a playlist for Census Day – anyone have any ideas for fun Census songs?

And a special notice to the Black Dog, which normally hosts the Third Thursday. Like most restaurants, they are feeling the punch of social distancing and have started a GoFundMe initiative.