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Text Messages Move the Needle on COVID-19 Vaccinations

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As communities across the nation seek new ways to bring COVID-19 vaccination rates up to levels that can more effectively mitigate the spread of variants, they are looking for new and better ways to reach those who are just hesitant, undecided or unaware of how to get vaccinated.

A study of one regional health system’s digital campaign found that sending interactive text messages increased vaccinations rates by more than 4%, in this case by using “psychological ownership” techniques designed to make the message receiver think of the vaccine shot as “theirs.”

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Sonia Singh, senior vice president of consumerism at AVIA Health, a digital health company, sheds light into this concept and explains the value of digital campaigns. She draws on the company’s work helping promote the study’s interactive text messaging program and other similar digital campaigns.

Q. Please discuss the study featured on Nature.com, examining one regional health system’s digital campaign for vaccinations.

A. I’m excited to see texting capabilities receiving attention for their powerful ability to drive health engagements. We’ve seen similar results as the findings in the study with AVIA members who have implemented text and chat solutions in order to increase their patients’ participation in their health journey.

One of the primary areas where we see the power of texting is through providing ongoing and personalized nudging capabilities, tailoring the messaging to the patient. We can shift the message, language and frequency of text communications to best motivate patients to take action.

Texting also brings a level of urgency we haven’t seen through sending emails and making phone calls. Ninety percent of text messages are read within 90 seconds, drastically increasing the likelihood that the consumer will see, respond and interact with the communication.

Q. What is the value of digital campaigns when it comes to efforts like vaccination?

A. Digital campaigns are foundational to increasing the reach and accessibility of public health initiatives, including vaccination. Ninety-seven percent of adults in the U.S. can send and receive texts through their phone, making it one of the best ways to reach a wide audience. They also can be received and read, even if a consumer doesn’t have access to a smartphone or reliable internet.

The additional advantage with digital campaigns is they can be easily personalized to the audience’s context, including language preferences and incorporating cultural sensitivities in the content.

Q. Why have interactive text messaging and other similar digital campaigns proven effective?

A. Text messaging and chatbots have transformed the way that health systems interact with their patients, and vice versa. Seventy-eight percent of consumers say they want the ability to text with businesses, and consumers are 82% more likely to convert to a patient through texting, rather than calling or filling out a form. The patient demand and the business case for texting are clear.

Health systems are leaning into texting and similar digital campaigns because it allows patients to interact with the health system on their terms. Texts also can provide comprehensive education capabilities, as health systems are using SMS to send relevant snippets of educational content to patients.

Additionally, text and chat digital solutions give health systems the ability to see who has read and responded to their messages, making it easy to provide targeted follow-ups and reminders when necessary.

Text messaging also has proven effective in a variety of other areas, including scheduling and rescheduling appointments, sending appointment reminders and registration information, and filling in gaps in care with preventative care and wellness reminders.

Q. What should healthcare provider organization CIOs and other health IT leaders be doing now to help with the country’s effort to get more people vaccinated?

A. Health system leaders must consider how digital can help them engage with unreached populations. Digital, especially texting, can be a powerful tool to reach and motivate patients to get vaccinated.

Health systems can start by creating digital campaigns focused on educating patients and clarifying any misconceptions a community has about vaccination. Texts and other digital tools can also be personalized based on the target population to ensure the messaging fits in their cultural context and health literacy levels.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bsiwicki@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Original Post: healthcareitnews.com

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Health Care

Apple Sues NSO Group, Accusing It of Spying on Users in New Lawsuit

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Apple announced this week that it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance technology company, in federal court for allegedly accessing users’ devices without authorization.

In addition to damages, the tech giant is seeking to block NSO Group from accessing or using any Apple products, or developing spyware that could be used on Apple products in the future.

“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, in a statement. “That needs to change.”

Apple devices are “the most secure consumer hardware on the market,” he contended, but “private companies developing state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous.

“While these cybersecurity threats only impact a very small number of our customers, we take any attack on our users very seriously, and we’re constantly working to strengthen the security and privacy protections in iOS to keep all our users safe,” Federighi added.

NSO Group offered a statement to Healthcare IT News in response to requests for comment.

“Thousands of lives were saved around the world thanks to NSO Group’s technologies used by its customers,” said NSO Group representatives. “Pedophiles and terrorists can freely operate in technological safe-havens, and we provide governments the lawful tools to fight it. NSO Group will continue to advocate for the truth.”

WHY IT MATTERS

NSO Group says its surveillance technology is used by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to track criminals.

But as Apple outlines in its complaint, the company’s spyware has reportedly been used against journalists, human rights activists, dissidents, public officials and others.

This month, the U.S. Department of Commerce included the NSO Group in its Entity List for “engaging in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” Specifically, the agency said that NSO Group had enabled foreign governments, via its spyware, to “maliciously target” individuals such as embassy workers and academics and to “conduct transnational repression.”

In its complaint, Apple zeroed in on “FORCEDENTRY,” an exploit for a vulnerability used to break into a victim’s device and install NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware product.

The company accused attackers of creating Apple IDs to send malicious data to a victim’s device, which then allowed NSO Group or its clients to surreptitiously deliver Pegasus.

“On information and belief, Defendants provide consulting and expert services to their clients, assist them with their deployment and use of Pegasus, and participate in their attacks on Apple devices, servers and users,” according to the complaint. Although Apple has not observed any evidence of successful remote attacks against devices running iOS 15 or later, it said that each attack carries substantial costs for the company, including the necessity to redirect resources.

“In the meantime, on information and belief, Defendants continue with their pernicious efforts to target and harm Apple and its customers by infecting, exploiting, and misusing Apple devices and software,” said the complaint.

The company also announced that it would be contributing any damages from the lawsuit, plus an extra $10 million, to organizations pursuing cybersurveillance research and advocacy.

“At Apple, we are always working to defend our users against even the most complex cyberattacks,” said Ivan Krstic, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, in a statement.

“The steps we’re taking today will send a clear message: In a free society, it is unacceptable to weaponize powerful state-sponsored spyware against those who seek to make the world a better place.”

THE LARGER TREND

Nation-states have increasingly relied on sophisticated software to carry out governmental objectives.

As Errol Weiss, H-ISAC chief security officer, pointed out in an interview with Healthcare IT News earlier this month, cyber-offensive capabilities have now become the norm, not the exception.

“A few years ago, you could count maybe a few dozen countries that had a decent, offensive cyber capability. And now it’s probably the opposite,” he said. The U.S. government has raised the alarm about these developments, most recently regarding an Iran-sponsored hacker group targeting healthcare.

ON THE RECORD

“Our threat intelligence and engineering teams work around the clock to analyze new threats, rapidly patch vulnerabilities, and develop industry-leading new protections in our software and silicon,” said Apple’s Krstic in a statement.

“Apple runs one of the most sophisticated security engineering operations in the world, and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect our users from abusive state-sponsored actors like NSO Group,” he said.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Article: healthcareitnews.com

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French Researchers Reveal Chatbot Skills to Override Vaccine Hesitancy

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A team of French cognitive scientists has addressed the urgent issue of vaccine hesitancy within many EU countries and proposes a new approach. With a study published in October this year, the researchers successfully demonstrated that the reluctance to be vaccinated could be decreased by deploying chatbot technology.

WHY IT MATTERS

The chatbot study involved researchers from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research INSERM and ENS-PSL.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, found that interaction with a chatbot developed by CNRS, ENS-PSL and INSERM was able to reduce vaccination refusal by 20 per cent within a test group of 338 participants.

In the control group, which received only brief information about the COVID-19 vaccination, there were no comparable results in terms of general views and willingness to vaccinate.

THE LARGER TREND

Although nearly three-quarters of all adult Europeans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there remain huge disparities in vaccination rates across countries.

According to the vaccine tracker of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as of 25 November 2021, individual EU countries such as Portugal (81.5 per cent), Ireland (76.2 per cent) and Denmark (76 per cent) have already made great progress in immunising their populations with a full COVID-19 vaccination, while the vaccination rate of other countries such as Germany, France or Austria continues to stagnate at below 70 per cent.

In other parts of Europe, especially in the south-west, the vaccination rates are significantly lower than 50 per cent. In Slovakia (45.7 per cent), Romania (37.3 per cent) and Bulgaria (24.7 per cent), very few people have received the double COVID-19 vaccine dose.

These vaccination backlogs are not only due to vaccine shortages, but in many cases a result of existing scepticism of many Europeans.

The researchers from France now hope that technology-based communication, such as chatbots, could have a positive impact on these figures in the future.

ON THE RECORD

“It remains to be shown whether the effects of chatbot interaction are lasting, and whether they are the same across age groups, and among those most resistant to vaccination”, emphasised the authors of the study with predominantly young and well-educated participants.

They added: “Half of the experimental group later tried to persuade others to get vaccinated, with three-quarters of them stating they drew information provided by the chatbot to do so.”

Source: healthcareitnews.com

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Roundup: Medanta Adopts Qure.ai’s X-ray Software, India to Open a Medical Cobotics Centre, and More Briefs

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Medanta taps Qure.ai for AI-driven chest x-ray analysis

Medanta, a multi-speciality medical group in India, has partnered with Qure.ai to implement the latter’s artificial intelligence software to enhance chest x-ray analysis.

The hospital group will be adopting the qXR software which automatically analyses chest x-rays and spots findings for better diagnosis and treatment. The AI tool can detect 30 abnormalities of the lungs, pleura, heart, bones and diaphragm.

“Medanta strives to deliver world-class healthcare through its high-end medical equipment and superior infrastructure. State-of-the-art technology is an essential aspect of healthcare delivery,” Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman and managing director of Medanta, was quoted as saying in a news report.

The Qure.ai software has also been adopted by Fujifilm Corporation for its portable X-ray FDR Xair system. Through its recent partnership with AstraZeneca Malaysia, the startup has brought its x-ray software to some primary care clinics in Malaysia to support the early detection of lung cancer there.

Medical cobotics centre to be launched in India

The I-Hub Foundation for Cobotics at the Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi (IIT Delhi) and iHub Anubhuti at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology – Delhi (IIITD) have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up India’s first medical cobotics centre.

The two government-backed university technology hubs have been developing advanced technologies in robotics and collaborative robots (cobotics), digital health, sensing and computing technologies for robotic-assisted surgeries, training, and medical procedures.

According to a press statement, the Medical Cobotics Centre (MCC) at IIITD will be a tech-enabled medical simulation and training facility for young resident doctors, as well as other healthcare professionals, paramedical staff, technicians, engineers, and researchers.

It will also serve as a validation centre for research outcomes in the area of healthcare cobotics and digital health. This upcoming facility will establish partnerships with companies, undertake research, and work toward the commercialisation of technologies.

MMC’s training programmes will be at multiple levels and cohort-specific, such as urology, neurology, and laparoscopy, but will be initially limited to minimally invasive surgeries. Experts from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi and other medical colleges will be consulted for these programmes and invited as guest faculty to conduct them.

The first batch of trainees is targeted to be inducted around April-May next year. They will be initially trained with basic training simulators while advanced surgical robots will come in the next phase.

Moreover, the centre will also be a place for various technology innovation hubs under the Indian government’s National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems to “showcase their medical-related projects and products with applications,” according to IHFC CEO Ashutosh Dutt Sharm and IHFC Project Director Subir Kumar Saha.

Philips Foundation backs cardiac rehab programme in Singapore

Philips Foundation is funding one of the centres run by social service agency Singapore Heart Foundation that provides subsidised cardiac rehabilitation services.

The year-long project of Royal Philips’ non-profit organisation aims to reduce the mortality rate of cardiac incidences and help lower a patient’s risk of hospital readmission.

Specifically, it intends to close the gap in patients’ lack of participation in rehab programmes, which is considered a huge barrier in the secondary prevention of heart diseases. It was reported that only between 6%-15% of Singaporean patients attend cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

SHF-Philips Foundation Heart Wellness Centre is one of the social services’ three centres that provide cardiac patients and at-risk individuals with access to heart health.

Philips’ support, according to SHF Heart Wellness Centres Chairman Dr Tan Yong Seng, will provide SHF with the “resources required to continue providing affordable and quality support to the patients in need, as well as give our team the capacity to focus on raising awareness on the importance of cardiac rehab[ilitation] and drive higher participation in our programmes”.

Under the partnership, 20 sites in Singapore will be equipped with the Philips HeartStart automated external defibrillators (AED) and 500 persons will be trained in giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED over a year.

“Through the heart wellness centre’s education initiatives, the AED roll-out and the CPR training, we want to equip individuals and communities with the knowledge and resources to reduce the mortality rates of cardiac incidences in Singapore,” Philips Singapore Country Manager Ivy Lai said.

Original Source: healthcareitnews.com

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