The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Another reason to focus on attention engineering – the aging workforce

j0234692.gifI’ve mentioned in the past the limitation human attention span has to play in user interface design. I’ve also mentioned how XaaS techniques are likely to make the user interface consistency issue even worse, if we’re not careful.


There is a study out of the University of Toronto that shows how as we age our ability to filter out distractions and irrelevant information declines. As the age of the workforce increases and people work well beyond the traditional retirement age and into their 70s, holistic, role based, user interface planning  will increase in importance, allowing individuals to focus on the problem at hand. Just assembling the raw UI pieces from various sources will be disrtacting and confusing.

Personal Genome Costs Plummeting


IEEE Spectrum had an article on The $100 Genome. Today for around $48,000 you can have your personal genome sequenced. Just a decade ago it took a national effort and 13 years. In the not too distant future (less than a decade) any of us could do it for a very low cost. Many are questioning its possible mandated use some day. If it gets this low it is getting below the range of many of the test people regularly undergo.

Some of the reasons this cost has dropped so precipitously is because of better sensing technologies and computer analysis capabilities.

Using this kind of testing should significantly improve the human lifespan by diagnosing conditions and addressing the likely outcome (possibly with gene therapy).

Can MiCare/PHR + VistA/EHR provide a new model for wellness (HWR) in the US?

In 2008, the Department of Defense (DoD) developed a prototype, Personal Health Record (PHR), and piloted it at Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC). A PHR is typically a health record that is initiated and maintained by an individual.

MiCare is designed to help members of the military and their families more effectively to manage their health and wellness, regardless of their location. They will need to seek care inside and beyond the Military Health System. In essence, MiCare serves as a patient-centric health record, aggregating documentation and information from all sources of healthcare in a location accessible to the beneficiary. Based on the success or the pilot, the DoD is now determining how to expand it more widely according to InformationWeek.

It is important to note that PHRs are not the same as EHRs (Electronic Health Records). An Electronic Health Record (EHR)refers to an individual patient's medical record in digital format. The Veterans Affairs (VA) EHR system is called the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA). Like the data recorded in paper-based medical records, the data in EHRs are legally mandated notes on the care provided by clinicians to patients. There is no legal mandate that compels a patient to store his or her personal health information in a PHR.

Can the combination of a patient maintained health record like MiCare and a clinician maintained health record like VistA provide a new model of Health and Wellness Record (HWR) that improves wellness, quality, care, and reduce overall healthcare costs?

Let's hear from you.

90 the new 60 - and what can technology do about it?

I've heard this phrase a few times over the past months as a way of putting how long people are going to be living in context. Now that I am 50, 60 doesn't seem so far away so it's a good thing we're moving the signposts and shifting our perspectives. When I was growing up, 60 was old, now it seems like it's when some people get their second wind and seeing their children get awards that they received (like Kirk Douglas).

When we think about the implications of the demographic shift there is the perspective of a "grey revolution", as this powerful demographic begins to exert it's purchasing power in areas like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education, robotics, advertisement and really across the board.

"By the year 2020, close to 50% of Europe's adult population will be aged 50 or over".

Although there is talk about "fixed income" and inflation forcing people to limiting spending, one thing that's true is they will have more discretionary time available -- even though it may not seem that way based on how busy my wife's parents seem to be.

For IT organizations this is a rich area for analytics to enable businesses to define new approaches and markets. These techniques can help organizations become more proactive and help shape their future. Even with the world changing, there will be constants like the desire for convenience, simplicity with low cost and high quality.

IT organizations can also look internally at the changing HR needs with the company, ensuring that all that knowledge from the people who helped create the industry does not walk out the door at the end of a career. That's where collaboration and knowledge capture techniques become important. Many people assume that the replacement workers will be more productive, without a significant knowledge network and foundation may not be the case. Now that more people are working in a wider variety of locations, the collaboration and access to a corporate knowledge store will need to take place from mobile devices as well as the traditional desktop. After all , it does no good to have the best repository of information in the world if you can't get at it when you need it.

This is an area ripe for IT innovation.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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