News in Brief

VA telehealth savings, Internet of Things security, and making at the White House

Shutterstock image: futuristic medical interface.

(Image: Shutterstock)

Study shows savings from VA telehealth program

Veterans getting their care via the Veterans Health Administration's home-based telehealth programs are experiencing better outcomes with lower costs than vets who are not enrolled, according to a new study.

This is the first time the VA has been able to directly compare populations of veterans accessing telehealth with those who get all their care in person. Data from 2009 to 2012 showed that annual costs of telehealth patients dropped about 4 percent after a year using telehealth programs, compared with a one-year spike of 48 percent in costs for those veterans outside telehealth.

The study by Dr. Adam Darkins, the VA's lead on telemedicine implementation, showed that telehealth patients had higher pharmacy costs, which was attributable to better compliance with prescriptions. The telehealth population also saw decreases in hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

Darkins, speaking June 17 at the Health Information Management Systems Society IT conference in Washington, D.C., said telehealth services will increasingly migrate to new platforms.

"What we've done with home telehealth devices is platform agnostic," Darkins said. "People will be able to connect from their smartphone, computer table, laptop, and looking into the future, from their TV."

Internet of Things gets added layer of security

A new technological development has improved the cybersecurity measures around federal infrastructure powered by the Internet of things.

Real-Time Innovations announced the launch of the first secure messaging software designed for critical industrial systems.

Industrial sites often become targets for cyber espionage. According to the Homeland Security Department, 59 percent of all reported cyberattacks against critical infrastructure targeted energy and 20 percent targeted manufacturing in 2013. In government, this type of infrastructure exists in air traffic control, the Navy's Open Architecture Computing Environment and FORCEnet, and the Army's Future Combat Systems.

The new messaging technology is designed to allow for more effective defense systems with higher situational awareness, according to an RTI release. It also creates more efficient manufacturing through predictive maintenance and increased automation.

White House hosts a Maker Faire

On June 18, as part of a national "Day of Making," President Barack Obama is hosting a White House Maker Faire. These gatherings of inventors, tinkerers and tech enthusiasts originated in San Francisco in the 2006 , and are intended to both connect and inform communities of "makers."

The White House announcement states that the goal of its gathering is to "celebrate America's students and entrepreneurs who are inventing the future with these new technologies and techniques." And the administration has pulled out all the social media stops to promote its Maker Faire, even enlisting the band OK Go to tout the June 18 event:

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