Saturday, January 13, 2018

Live Remote Assistance

Several years ago, I had this idea of enabling live remote assistance using wearable webcams. At that time, mobile webcams weren't ready for the purposes I was imagining. I think they are ready now! Please read the description below and let me know what you think. Are there entrepreneurs ready to run with this?
Live Remote Assistants

As mobile devices become ubiquitous, and as cameras, speakerphone and microphones in these devices become increasingly powerful, the opportunity to provide live remote assistance can now be a reality. Live Remote Assistants can enable people with disabilities a degree of independence never feasible before. Live Remote Assistants can provide remote supervision as never before. Live Remote Assistants can offer assistance to anyone in a fresh, exciting new way. To the extent that this assistance can be provided by people with disabilities, this can represent an entire new job market.
Using live streaming wearable webcams, people Live Remote Assistance can offer assistance that today requires in-person support. Imagine the following scenarios;
  1. A person with visual impairment strolling along wearing their mobile webcam. Their Live Remote Assistant watches everything sent by the mobile webcam and describes the surroundings to the person with visual the impairment.
  2. A person with hearing impairment wearing their mobile webcam can have their Live Remote Assistant translates voice to text and vice-versa. This could also work for anyone needing translation services.
  3. A person with developmental disabilities wearing their mobile webcam can have their Live Remote Assistant act as their job coach instead of having the job coach at the work site.
  4. A person needing emotional or focusing support wearing their mobile webcam can have their Live Remote Assistant act as their coach as s/he maneuvers their way around their home and community.
  5. A person with dementia wearing their mobile webcam can have their Live Remote Assistant act as their guide as they maneuver their way around their home and community.
With video conferencing, Live Remote Assistants can assist people access websites that may otherwise be inaccessible to them. Imagine the following scenarios;
  1. A person with visual impairments can have their Live Remote Assistant read and describe inaccessible websites and videos.
  2. A person with hearing impairments can have their Live Remote Assistant interpret non-captioned videos.
  3. A person with learning disabilities or language difficulties can have their Live Remote Assistant assist them in interpreting websites.
With remote access software, a person that has difficulty using a mouse and/or keyboard can have their Live Remote Assistant navigate websites for them.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Asking the Real Question

Asking the Real Question


“If I go to work, how much can I earn without losing my Social Security?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions received by disability benefits financial advisors. There are websites, online forums, law firms, and agencies devoted to answer this question.

Recently, as I stared at this question. I realized that this actually was not the real question most people with disabilities wanted answered. The real question is, “When I go to work, how will I be able to afford my disability related expenses?”

Disability related expenses, also known as long-term medical expenses, include things such as personal assistant services, durable medical equipment, maintenance drugs, and ongoing therapies. These are often the most important that keep people with disabilities alive, active, and engaged in our communities. These are also very expensive! Few people with significant disabilities can afford them even with 'good incomes'. The high cost of these long-term medical expenses is why healthcare insurers shy away from pre-existing conditions.

We have become so ingrained with the idea that Social Security is the gateway to financing disability related expenses that we too often don't even look for other ways. The Veterans Administration, for example, pays disability related expenses for veterans. In some states, the Department of Health pays for disability related expenses for people with developmental disabilities regardless of income or assets. Private healthcare insurers often offer plans that cover disability related expenses.

Unquestionably, Medicare/Medicaid are the biggest financiers of disability related expenses. Undeniably being a Social Security beneficiary is the easiest way to qualify for Medicare/Medicaid. Indeed before recently I had dedicated my retirement to changing the purpose of Social Security from being a wage replacement function to providing an offset to the high cost of disability. Changing the Social Security paradigm is extremely difficult, especially in today's environment. Expanding Medicare/Medicaid to cover long-term medical expenses is much easier to understand and to be accepted by the public and legislators. In a recent blog, Real Healthcare Reform, I explained how this expansion may be paid for and how I hope healthcare insurers may be our biggest advocates.

When we find ourselves asking the same question over and over again without getting an answer we can live with—perhaps we should ask ourselves whether that is the 'real question'. It may open new ways of looking at a problem and new opportunities to its resolution. Please let me know what you think about enabling Medicare/Medicaid to cover long-term medical expenses. How can/should we move forward?