PRESS REALSE: MUNICH AIRPORT AND LUFTHANSA START TESTING OF HUMANOID ROBOT IN TERMINAL 2
“Josie Pepper” to provide information to passengers.
February 15, 2018 – She is 120 centimeters tall, with sparkling, round eyes and a pleasant voice: Starting today, “Josie Pepper” the robot will be answering questions for passengers in Terminal 2. Whether they need directions to their gate or want to stop at a certain restaurant or shop – Josie Pepper will look them in the eyes and give them a prompt answer.
With the rollout of Josie Pepper, Munich Airport and Lufthansa are breaking new ground: It is the first-ever test of a humanoid robot equipped with artificial intelligence at a German airport. For the next few weeks, Josie Pepper will welcome travelers to the non-public area of Terminal 2, which is jointly operated by Munich Airport and Lufthansa. In her initial deployment, Josie Pepper, who speaks English, will await passengers at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building. This test phase will be used to show whether Josie Pepper is accepted by passengers.
Josie Pepper’s “brain” contains a high-performance processor with a WLAN internet access. This creates a connection to a cloud service where speech is processed, interpreted and linked to the airport data. What sets the system apart: When this robot type speaks, it does not just deliver pre-defined texts. With its ability to learn, it answers each question individually. Just like a “real” brain, the system gets steadily better at combining questions with the relevant information to provide more precise replies.
IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based, artificial intelligence technologies are behind Josie Pepper’s capabilities. Pepper was developed by the French company SoftBank Robotics. The lady robot was given the name “Josie” by the staff of Munich Airport and Lufthansa when she arrived at the airport.
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Walmart Steps Up and Into the Health Care Fray
By Jenny Deam
HoustinChronicle.com – When United flight 3715 touched down in Houston on Dec. 26, Gordon Warlick didn’t much care that he was part of some grand experiment to turn the American health care delivery and payment system on its ear.
The 63-year-old Walmart truck driver from Oklahoma just wanted his neck fixed.
He balked at the sight of a chauffeur waiting at baggage claim, holding up a sign with his name on it like they do in the movies. But by the time he and his wife, Connie, were settling into the back of the Lincoln Town Car taking them to their Marriott suite, he was thinking he could get used to this.
In two days he would get the operation he needed at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. One of the best neurosurgeons in the nation would be scrubbing in to remove the bone spurs pressing against his spine.
His bosses at Walmart had stepped in just when the health-care system seemed to be failing him.
The corporate retail giant, known for its price slashing and tough bottom line, has cast itself against type by sending employees with specific, serious health conditions to the nation’s most elite medical institutions for what it calls the best of the best care.
Walmart then foots the entire bill, skirting traditional insurance reimbursement models by paying one flat fee for everything. It even throws in limo service. The employee pays nothing.
The company says its Centers for Excellence program is open to any worker who averages 30 hours a week and is enrolled in a Walmart health benefits plan. About 1.5 million people work for Walmart in the U.S., making it the nation’s largest private employer.
In many ways it is a remarkable perk, especially for a company that in the past has taken heat for not providing affordable coverage for some of its workers and their families.
The concept is not new. Other large corporations such as Boeing and GE have embraced similar programs. The reasoning is that by going directly to top-flight medical institutions employees get high quality care with better outcomes so they can return to work more quickly.
For Warlick, there was no time left to waste.
For months he had been locked in a maddening circle, bouncing from one local doctor near his hometown of Owassa to the next. Each one, it seemed, asked the same questions, often ordering the same tests, and then passing him back to get a referral for someone else.
“I need some help,” he told his insurance case worker on the other end of the phone in late October. “I don’t know what’s going on. It’s costing you money, it’s costing me money. I’m just going from one doctor to the next.”
In the long run, companies say, it costs them less by avoiding delayed treatment and there are fewer risks of complications and re-hospitalizations
There are now 12 sites around the country used by Walmart, with marquee names like Mayo and Johns Hopkins. Last May Memorial Hermann’s Mischer Neuroscience Institute was added to the roster. Also on the list is Northeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio.
About 165 Walmart employees around the country have been referred to Memorial Hermann so far.
Once in Houston, patients, like Warlick, who truly need critical surgery get it. But a striking discovery found that about 40 percent who arrive after being told by someone else they needed surgery don’t need it after all.
Patients are reassessed and when possible are treated in less invasive ways, such as with injections or physical therapy, said David Bradshaw, Memorial Hermann’s chief strategy and business development officer.
Roughly that same percentage is being replicated at the program’s other sites, officials said.
That suggests widespread over-treatment, or at least faulty diagnoses, across the nation’s health-care system.
“It’s the fragmentation of care that contributes to the waste in the health care system,” said Bradshaw, “We have a lot of work to do as an industry.”
The surgical travel is the flashy part, but the second piece of Walmart’s program is the most controversial. Some doctors aren’t keen on upending traditional payment formulas, fearing they will be left out of the equation.
When Walmart picks a center of excellence, the company uses its formidable bargaining might to pay one price for everything, from doctor to facility to patient travel costs. Called bundling, it is not unlike making one payment for cable, internet and phone. Paying a one-stop-shopping price for several services is typically less expensive than paying each individually and often more efficient.
The medical institution Walmart has picked then doles out individual payments like a general contractor paying subs.
In health-care settings, the theory goes that a doctor who has a particular expertise and does a procedure frequently will likely have better outcomes. The flat fee presumably reduces an employer’s risk and gives hospitals an incentive to keep quality high to reduce future medical complications for which they would have to pay.
Ultimately, higher-quality outcomes drive lower costs, said Lisa Woods, senior director of health care benefits for Walmart. She declined to be more specific on what kind of cost savings her company sees.
Bundling payments is just another slice in health-care reform that seeks to shift away from a fee-for-service model, where every doctor visit and every test ordered is a separate bill to be paid by an insurer, the government or individual patient. Instead, in a “value-based” system payment is based on care quality and results.
“We don’t know what works, but if we don’t go out there and try and share what we’ve found then we have the same system we have today,” Woods said.
While it is unclear how well Walmart’s program would translate to smaller companies with less clout, the time seems ripe for corporate experimentation.
Last month, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced they were joining forces to create an independent health-care company for their combined half-million U.S. employees.
Even though details are scarce, the announcement was met with cautious excitement from health policy experts who welcomed the promise it would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”
Heavy corporate footprints in their employee’s health care are coming from a place of frustration, said Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, a leading national physician search and consulting firm based in the Dallas area.
“I think they’re saying to insurers and providers, We’ve given you plenty of time to fix it on your own and you haven’t,” he said.
Still, not everyone is ready to blow up the status quo.
“The Texas Medical Association has been opposed to bundled payments,” said Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas, a McAllen gastroenterologist and president of the nation’s largest state medical association with 50,000 members.
The group believes most bundled plans leave physicians vulnerable to inadequate compensation, especially if treatment has been difficult and time-consuming.
“We really believe physicians should be involved in the development of these models because it is their services that are necessary,” Cardenas said.
There is also concern that locals are shut out when their patients are flown hundreds of miles away to be treated by a doctor they have never met before.
Travel carries its own risks, said Dr. Arthur “Tim” Garson, director of the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, adding that most patients and their families want to be close to home.
“As a short- to medium-term idea, it is brilliant. As a long-term solution you don’t want every large corporation in the United States deciding that they’re going to send their employees all over the country,” he said. “It behooves the Walmarts of the world to look locally and use those facilities if the outcomes are even close.”
But he applauds Walmart and others for stepping up to find their own solutions.
“It’s shame on all of us that these corporations have to do it. The system should be better than this,” he said. “And shame on us if we don’t learn from this.”
In Gordon Warlick’s telling the trouble started last June while working in triple-digit heat. A sudden and terrible pain shot through his chest and left arm. He thought he was having a heart attack.
The truth is his medical problems had been building in stealth for years, the wear and tear of four decades of loading and unloading heavy freight.
As people age the cushion between the discs, or bones, in the neck deteriorate. Small growths called bone spurs can form. In Warlick’s case bone spurs were pushing against his spine, causing nerve damage that if left unchecked would lead to paralysis.
By the time he arrived in Houston, his left arm was dangling useless, so limp he could no longer slide it into a shirt without help, his fingers too weak to pick up a soda bottle.
His medical merry-go-round in Oklahoma included emergency rooms, trips to his primary doctor, a nerve study, and a meeting with an alarmed orthopedic surgeon who said Warlick was in big trouble. But that doctor also said he didn’t do necks. Warlick would need a referral for a neurosurgeon.
“I was just so sick and tired of getting run around,” he said. “I’m watching my arm disappear and I still don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Although he had insurance, he also knew costs were mounting.
“It was like everyone wanted a piece of the pie,” he said.
He remembered the Centers of Excellence program from some past HR meeting. Sounded almost too good to be true. Soon stacks of paperwork arrived and medical records needed fetching. To qualify he had to be tobacco-free. After dipping Skoal for 35 years he gave it up the next day.
In early December Dr. Daniel Kim, a renowned UTHealth neurosurgeon at Memorial Hermann, told Warlick by phone he could either have the surgery locally or travel to Houston. But he needed to do something quickly.
Walmart gives employees the choice of participation. But if they don’t get treatment at a designated Centers of Excellence hospital their treatment is considered out-of-network and the company’s insurance pays only half. That cemented the deal.
“I’m not going to be bashful. I liked the idea of no cost,” he said.
Surgery in Houston was scheduled for Dec. 28, but when Warlick called his local primary care physician to say he needed some basic pre-operative tests and post-surgical follow-up care, the doctor apparently scoffed.
“Your doctor is not on board. Never has been,” Warlick said the office staff told him. That was four days before he was to leave for Texas.
He scrambled to find another doctor in his network who would cooperate. And then, suddenly, he and his wife were boarding a plane the day after Christmas.
“This ain’t happening,” he thought as they landed. “I’m just a hick from the sticks.”
Two days later Kim sliced open Warlick’s neck to get to his spine. They call it going in through the front door.
“It’s real delicate real estate,” the surgeon said later.
One hour and four minutes later it was over. When his eyes blinked open a nurse did a quick assessment.
“Do you know where you’re at?” she asked.
By the time his wife got back from the cafeteria Warlick was sitting up in bed watching football. The next day he was discharged to recuperate at his hotel. He didn’t even need a neck brace. Movement was returning at remarkable speed.
On Jan. 3 the couple flew home, shuttled to the airport in a Town Car.
“It’s a little ouchy,” he said recently, “but I’m fine.”
And bored. He’s itching to get back to work.
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Shija Hospital to Set Up First Ever ‘Healthcity’ in Manipur
Northeasttoday.com – Shija Hospitals and Research Institute Pvt. Ltd. and Sun and Sands Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. singed a historic MOU for the development of ‘Shija HealthCity’ in Manipur. The historic agreement was signed in the presence of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh which was held at Chief Minister’s Secretariat on Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that such historic moment is an outcome of the NorthEast Development Summit 2017(NEDS 2017). “The government is trying its best to execute a number of MOUs with outside investors in the comings days. After the NEDS 2017, many investors are visiting the State to invest their money in various sectors.”
He further said that” we need to encourage private sector as we can’t accommodate everything in the government sector. We have to encourage PPP model for the welfare of the people. He maintained that such MOU would definitely help those poor and needy people of the State.”
Dr. Palin Kh., CMD of Shija Hospitals said that “Manipur have all the opportunities like human resource, geographical advantage, India’s Act East Policy, Tourism, Powerhouse of Sports and there is a huge demand of our nurses and paramedics in countries like Japan and Singapore.”
Mentioning that over 700 Manipuri students are undergoing MBBS course in foreign countries, Dr. Palin said that “Manipur needs a compensatory exponential infrastructure development in healthcare delivery system to prevent the huge economic drainage from the State due to the healthcare and health related education and rather attract more medical tourists and students from the country and abroad.”
“Singing of such MOU would bring a paradigm shift in the healthcare scenario of the state,” he added.
Rahul Narvekar, CEO of Sun and Sands Enterprises Pvt Ltd. assured that his company would build 100 start-up entrepreneurs from Manipur. He mentioned that Manipur has huge potential in medical tourism. Mentioning that Manipur has largest number of trained nurse in the country after Kerala, he stated that if we provide Japanese language training to them then they could easily get employment in Japan.
Shija HealthCity Manipur is a 200 acres mega project with an estimated project cost of about Rs.3,500 crores. The objective of the project is to bring an inclusive growth based on the healthcare and education.
Major features of the HealthCity are 2300 bedded hospitals, Medical College up to 250 students intake, Dental College, Nursing College, Hotel & hospitality management institute, Cancer Hospital, Drugs and surgical consumable manufacturing plants, Residential Complex, Shopping complex, Ambulance including Helicopter Services etc.
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