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Technology Is The Secret Sauce For Residential Services

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“Mise en place” is a French culinary term for having everything in its place to ensure ingredients are ready when needed. The same approach is being used—albeit with different ingredients—for health and human service provider organizations investing in technology to complement their residential treatment programs. The new array of technology goes far beyond billing and clinical records – we have smart home designs, assistive technologies, voice-activated home or personal assistants, and virtual reality services.

I heard about some of these new technology options—and their effect on the consumer experience—in the Future Of Residential Treatment: How Technology & Innovative Program Models Are Redefining Service Delivery Models session at The 2020 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute last month. The session featured several representatives from Sequel Youth and Family Services—including John Stupak, chairman—and Theresa Jenkinson, vice president, strategic initiatives, Inglis. The two organizations are using technology for innovative programming in two very different ways—to change the consumer experience in a residential treatment center and to enable consumers to receive long-term services in the community instead of a residential center.

The key to implementing technology in provider organizations small or large is to start slow, build a team of supporters among the team, and ensure that the technology benefits daily responsibilities, said Marianne Birmingham, MS, CMUP, regional director of compliance and quality, Sequel Youth & Family Services. Sequel, which was founded in 1999, employs about 4,000 people and serves about 9,000 consumers with 39 programs that include residential treatment, community-based services, autism, education, and juvenile justice in 20 states.

The Sequel team uses a variety of technologies to enhance the consumer experience in residential treatment centers. They have created cubicles equipped with laptops consumers can use. They also use cameras in the facility to monitor residents, to ensure safe and secure interactions with consumers, and to allow staff to learn from interactions with consumers for training purposes. The organization uses Skype and FaceTime to encourage more family contact with consumers. They also discussed several technology innovations on the horizon including virtual education and training, virtual reality for the treatment of anxiety and stress, and gamification of treatment and planning.

John Stupak, chairman of Sequel Youth and Family Services, encouraged his colleagues to embrace technology, which might require stepping outside of their comfort zones. His advice: The best approach is to start slowly and build momentum by showing how technology complements team members and improves the efficiency of daily responsibilities. From an operational perspective, technology investments should help streamline access to data that informs and enhances clinical decisions. He shared the organization’s 10-year software vision as well as its ultimate plan to enhance data collection tools (including electronic health record, appointment software, customer relationship management, and surveys) to a more robust enterprise with the addition of an application programmer interface that acts as a platform to connect programs.

At Inglis, the team is using technology to help consumers live more independently in the community. Inglis, founded in 1877 as the Philadelphia Home for the Incurables, was one of the first organizations in Philadelphia to offer residential medical care for the poor. It is now the largest private developer of affordable, accessible housing for consumers with disabilities, operating 11 housing communities with 383 units and a six-year waiting list (see Who’s Waiting & Why).

Ms. Jenkinson gave an interesting example: Customizing commands for voice-activated home and personal assistants like Alexa. To illustrate, she talked about programming Alexa to turn on lights in an apartment for a person who is quadriplegic with the commands “mom” for kitchen and “John” for bathroom. These technologies, found in smart homes, have empowered residents and saved money as demonstrated during a smart home pilot from 2016 to 2018, she said.

Building on this success, Inglis plans to open 23 apartments (out of 47 total units) in the summer of 2021 that will be equipped with smart home technology and an additional package of tech supports. This project—the Inglis Methodist Gardens housing community—is a $16.4 million joint venture between Inglis and Methodist Services funded by a $4 million grant from Aetna Better Health Pennsylvania. Inglis plans to include adapted technology services in all future housing developments, said Ms. Jenkinson. This technology, which enables more self-determination for consumers, also helps provider organizations meet their goals in value-based reimbursement contracts.

My key takeaway from the session was that technology offers a competitive advantage to organizations serving consumers with complex needs. But it is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The technology that offers the best return-on-investment for one organization is not going to be the same for the next. The technology needs of organization will be as diverse as the strategy. Or to quote Mr. Stupak, “Technology is not the goal—it’s the means to achieving that goal.”

For more on technology and strategy, check out these resources – Making The Right Tech Investments For Your Organization: An OPEN MINDS Executive Seminar On Technology Budgeting & Planning and Everything An Executive Needs To Build A Successful Tech Strategy: An Exclusive CEO Roundtable Discussion. And for more on using technology to improve your value equation, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:

  1. Going From Tech Tolerant To Tech Savvy: How Managerial Staff Can Directly Impact The Adoption Of Technology
  2. The Five Key Competencies Of Technology & Reporting Infrastructure
  3. Best Practices In The Shift To Virtual Health: How To Integrate Digital Treatment Tools Into Programs & Treatment Models
  4. Managing Your Team To ‘Tech Savvy’
  5. 4 Keys To Make New Tech Work
  6. Do It Now!
  7. An Executive Guide To Strategic Partnerships That Last: How To Leverage Technology Investments For The Long-Term
  8. When New Contracts Mean New Technology: 4 Things To Remember
  9. Using Virtual Care To Improve Your Value Proposition: Best Practices In Integrating Technology Into Your Community-Based Program
  10. Training Is Key To Getting Tech ROI

Get more on this topic on October 28, 2020 at The 2020 OPEN MINDS Technology & Analytics Institute in Las Vegas in my keynote address, Forecasting The Future Of Complex Care Shaped By Technology.


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Streaming Wars on hold during quarantine as free content takes over

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TikTok post on how to make a Brandy Melville dupe.

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Back in our salad days, back when we were young and innocent, back on March 11, I wrote a column about how coronavirus quarantines could be an ideal time for subscription streamers Quibi, HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock, all of which plan to launch in some form in April and May. After all, streaming video usage would surely increase with everyone stuck at home with few other entertainment options.

What I didn’t consider is just how dramatic the explosion of job losses would be, with more than 10 million Americans filing for jobless claims in two weeks and the unemployment rate jumping to its highest point since August 2017 in just one month. Those numbers are just a hint of what’s to come, as The Bureau of Labor Statistics used the week ending March 12 as its reference period, largely before nationwide shutouts kicked in. J.P. Morgan’s Jesse Edgerton estimates another 7 million new claims to be reported for the week ending April 4. 

That’s made me reconsider how many Americans are going to jump at spending any extra money on streaming services while they’re stuck at home. Instead of cementing subscription streaming services into daily life habits, it’s possible quarantines will actually showcase the value of free streaming — particularly user-generated content. 

“With so many people staying home, we’re all going to see a lot more media consumption,” Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s chief executive officer, said on The Byers Market podcast last month. “More of the new content, if staying at home lasts months, and I think it will, will come from people and not studios over time.”

More people are spending watching video during quarantines, which, of course, is better for subscription streaming than the alternative. Comcast reported peak traffic is up 32% overall between March 1 to March 30. Comcast’s streaming and web video consumption is up a 38%. Verizon has experienced similar trends, with video traffic up 32% over an average day, a spokesperson told CNBC. And live sports continue to be canceled without an end in sight, making traditional pay TV seem even more expensive as a value proposition just as new streaming products hit the market.

But as quarantines move into April, with no end in sight, Americans will revalue how they spend their free time, especially if they’re suddenly jobless and unable to visit friends and family. That’s likely to benefit entertainment options with personal interaction and instant response from friends, such as Internet-connected video games, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok and YouTube. I’m not sure there’s any content I’d rather watch right now than the Marsh family’s at-home rendition of “One More Day” from “Les Miserables.” 

The top three applications by usage on Verizon’s wireless network in March were YouTube, Facebook and Instagam, according to a Verizon spokesperson. User-generated content is instant and fresh, documenting at-home life, while on-demand Hollywood shows will fill an escapism niche but may feel less immediate and more anachronistic as quarantines continue.

“The need to connect with people you know is going to continue to exist, the need to be entertained is going to continue to exist, but the distribution time between one and the other will shift,” Mosseri said.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook

Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

The problem with free, ad-based services is they still require ads. And global advertising is expected to go through a giant slump as the economy recedes. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the most important annual global ad conference, was canceled Friday as “customers’ priorities have shifted to the need to protect people, to serve consumers with essential items and to focus on preserving companies, society and economies,” organizers said in a statement.

While running a business that relies only on advertising revenue isn’t a good place to be in a downturn (see: all digital media companies), if you’re Instragram or Google or Facebook and have already achieved massive global scale, cementing your products in the daily routines of people’s lives is likely more important than short-term declines in advertising revenue.

Big media turns to free

Big media companies are already shifting gears to offer more free content. HBO announced yesterday it was making many of its hit shows free for a month. Fox is allowing anyone to watch cable network Fox News for free. Verizon has developed a free weekly streaming entertainment series in support of small businesses with home concerts from artists such as Dave Matthews and Ryan Tedder. Fios TV customers who don’t currently subscribe to select premium channels are getting access to 30 days of free premium programming, including Showtime and Epix.

Media journalists, analysts and investors have spent years discussing “The Streaming Wars” — the battle between Disney, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, Starz and other media companies for your monthly subscription fee. Outgoing WarnerMedia CEO and current AT&T Chief Operating Officer John Stankey told CNBC last year he suspects four or five streaming services will “win” the streaming wars, with all others failing to survive or make a dent in the public consciousness. 

But “The Streaming Wars,” in a vacuum, simply pits subscription products against other subscription products. It doesn’t consider all of the free video options that also compete with subscription streaming services for time. Netflix famously alludes to this by saying one of its biggest competitors is sleep.

Some subscription streaming services may be better positioned than others for a world when households are looking to tone down discretionary spending.

NBCUniversal’s limited version of Peacock will be free and its beefed up version will be free to Comcast subscribers later this month. Quibi, which debuts April 6 in the U.S. and Canada, will be free to some T-Mobile subscribers for a year. It’s also free for 90 days for anyone who signs up in April. Netflix already has a similar deal with T-Mobile. Disney+ is free for a year for some Verizon subscribers. AT&T subscribers who already subscribe to HBO will all get HBO Max for free. Apple TV+ is free for a year for customers who purchase a new Apple device.

Unfortunately for new competitors, giving away subscriptions for free and then pulling the rip cord to make consumers pay is very tricky. It’s what has plagued Groupon for years — offering products for free can condition people to lower their inherent value of those goods. 

So, while I suggested less than a month ago that quarantines would be good for Quibi, Peacock and HBO Max, the competing hurricane of an economic downturn will test that theory.

The streaming video winners may actually end up being the companies that already have strong install bases — companies that have achieved near utility-like statuses in consumers’ minds. That’s Netflix, more than anyone, with more than 160 million global subscribers and about 60 million U.S. customers. Amazon Prime is a close second with more than 150 million members worldwide. Disney may be in decent shape too, having already hooked nearly 30 million U.S. customers to Disney+ by early February after debuting in November. HBO has about 35 million U.S. subscribers and about 140 million globally. 

That’s four subscription services in a world where Stankey predicted only four or five could survive. 

Maybe the streaming wars should be called the streaming wars of attrition. 

Watch: AT&T’s John Stankey on market swings, coronavirus and HBO Max launch



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Ex-astronaut launches training kit for coping with self-isolation | Science

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Perhaps your flatmate has polished off the last beer in the fridge, diverging tastes in Netflix series have led to simmering tensions, or parental negotiations over home-schooling have descended into hostility.

Life in lockdown can fuel family tensions, sour friendships and drive a wedge between new romantic partners who have opted to self-isolate together. Help is on hand, however.

A former Nasa astronaut, Jay Buckey, has launched an online self-help toolkit aimed at replicating the kind of training designed to help astronauts cope with confinement in small spaces for extended periods.

“It’s challenging to be isolated with a small group of people and to not be able to get away,” said Buckey, who flew on a 16-day Space Shuttle Columbia mission that orbited the Earth 256 times. “Outer space and your own living room might be drastically different physically, but emotionally the stressors can be the same.”

The online training, called the Dartmouth Path Program, was developed to determine how the space programme can manage pressures brought on by long-duration spaceflight. It is already being tested in extreme environments such as research stations in Antarctica, but since social distancing restrictions came into force it has been made freely available to the public online.

It includes training on conflict resolution, mood management and self-assessment tools to be able to monitor signs of anxiety and stress.

For stress, the programme prompts the participant to consider whether they could be over-reacting, catastrophising or making judgments that don’t fit the evidence. Focused breathing and muscle relaxation techniques are outlined for when you are feeling anxious or angry.

The training also covers depression, which can set in when you feel restricted and unable to do the things that normally boost your mood, according to Buckey, who is now a professor of medicine at Dartmouth College.

The programme encourages people to select problems and find aspects they can improve or solve and to brainstorm positive steps they can take. It encourages people to think about a single enjoyable activity that is possible to do each day. “If you focus constantly on what you can’t do or things you want to do or that you’re isolated, that’s not good for mood,” said Buckey.

Keeping a balance between group time and private time is crucial, he said. “You need to allow people their privacy but not to allow them to become isolated and separated from a group,” he said. “If someone’s spending all their time in their room with their door closed, that’s not great. Forcing people to take part in group activities that they’re just not into – that’s not good either.”

According to Buckey, Nasa and other agencies now give psychological training to avoid conflict between crew members, but the problem blighted some missions in the past. The Russian cosmonaut Valentin Lebvedev, who documented his 211-day stay onboard the Space Station Salyut 7 with Anatoly Berezovoy, wrote: “We don’t understand what’s going on with us. We silently walk by each other, feeling offended. We have to find some way to make things better.”

Scientists on Antarctic missions have also struggled with isolation, Buckey said, pointing to the notes of Jean Rivolier, a French psychologist and chief doctor on several Antarctic expeditions, describing the dismal morale of one party in the 1990s.

“One subject returned early to Sydney on psychological grounds, because he was homesick for his family and he became progressively more depressed,” Rivolier wrote. “When the others returned they were humourless, tired, despondent and resentful. None had found the Antarctic experience to be enjoyable, not so much from any rigours of the climate, terrain or personal hardships as from inconsiderate and selfish behaviour.”

Pete Davis, an oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey, said the uncertain length of missions to the south pole, due to weather considerations, was challenging. The “worst thing to do”, he said, was to focus on when isolation would end. “The best thing to avoid is what’s going to happen in three months time when you’ve only just started,” he said. “All you can control is what’s going to happen today or tomorrow.”


Davis, who returned from a three-month Antarctic mission in February only to be plunged back into confinement at home, advised that simple, considerate gestures could help ensure harmony.

“In Antarctica, full-blown conflict doesn’t tend to happen, but the small niggle of ‘that’s so annoying’ does,” he said. “Just things like if you’re going to make a cup of tea, make sure you ask everyone as well. It’s such a minor thing but it can get under people’s skin.”



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Indie Band Combines Zoom Technology and Choreography in Music Video – Variety

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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted daily life all over the country, but Oakland, Calif. artist Thao Nguyen and her band, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, took the hardship as a challenge.

The group set to film a music video for their new single, “Phenom,” in Los Angeles (where Nguyen currently resides) in late March, but plans for the shoot were cancelled as fears over the spread of coronavirus forced a statewide statewide shelter-in-place order for California on Mar. 20.

Nguyen’s manager made the suggestion that they shoot an alternative using the popular video conferencing platform Zoom.  By Wednesday, March 25, Thao had digitally convened with her team for what would serve as the video’s only pre-production meeting.

Directed by Erin Murray (Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX) and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux (PUP, Calpurnia) and produced by Victoria Fayad (Moby), the video features Nguyen performing “Phenom” from home while a rotating supporting cast performs choreographed routines in individual Zoom windows.

Pieced together on March 29 over the course of nine hours, the video was cut and released to the public within 48 hours. Its brilliantly creative use of technology and choreography saw views for the video quadruple in the last couple days.

The track, which Nguyen says takes influence from the post-apocalyptic utopias of writers like Octavia Butler and Ursula Le Guin, is, in her words, a “direct descendant” of her A Man Alive track “Meticulous Bird.” “Phenom” is available to stream now and will appear on the band’s fifth studio album, Temple, due May 15 from Ribbon Music.

Watch the video below:





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