Tablets making seniors more tech savvy

Recent research has shown the use of tablet computers among elders has helped them break the barrier of the “digital divide.”

Elders who used tablets felt more confident with technology overall, according to a study conducted by Shelia Cotten Ph.D., professor of media and information at Michigan State University.

Not only are tablets small, lightweight and portable, they are easy-to-use at any age. The simple touch screen helps elderly hands maneuver quickly without having to struggle to use a mouse, Cotten explained.  Also, the bigger screens make it easier for them to use than cell phones. Even with little computer experience, seniors caught on quickly, especially with the help of family members, she added.

Aside from reducing tech-anxiety, using tablets is beneficial to seniors’ health. With the Internet at their fingertips, they can access health information, medical records and more. It has also shown to help ward off depression by making it easier to connect with loved ones.

The sample group consisted of older adults in an assisted living community who had tablets, and had participated in a larger technology study, Cotten said. From there, they found other contacts and scheduled in-depth interviews to find out what factors were important, what they learned from tablets and the benefits versus the challenges. 

“One thing that was interesting is that the older adults were a little territorial; they didn’t like to share their tablets,” Cotten said. “But the sense of connection … they felt more connected to the world and not lonely.” 

“The use of tablets is going to increase across older adults in general, and in communities because they are just so much easier to use.”


Information security at nine selected Medicare administrative contractors, at least as of two years ago, was improving, but deficiencies remain, according to a report released by the Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General. 

The April 2015 report’s release comes at a time of heightened awareness in government after a series of highly publicized cyberattacks on the Department of Defense and the White House.

In its analysis for fiscal 2013, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found there were 19% fewer “gaps” in security requirements than the year before. PwC uncovered a total of 119 gaps, which are defined as the difference between the core security requirements and the contractors’ implementation of them. These 119 gaps were consolidated into 67 findings. Contractors are evaluated based on standards established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA).

The majority of identified gaps were in the areas of policies and procedures to reduce risk and periodic testing of information security controls.

PwC identified 42 policy/procedural gaps in areas that included system configuration, patches and malicious software protection. A total of 39 testing gaps were identified, including areas such as system inventories and security configuration issues and weaknesses. In a third major evaluation area — incident detection, reporting, and response — PwC uncovered gaps in log review policies, reporting of scans and probes and undocumented intrusion detection and monitoring procedures.

Perhaps most disappointing were the number of reoccurring findings from fiscal 2012. PwC identified nearly 30% of the 2013 issues as “repeat” findings. More than half of the repeat findings were identified as “high risk.”

Information security requirements for Medicare administrative contractors, fiscal intermediaries and carriers, all of which process and pay Medicare fee-for-service claims, were established under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. Each Medicare contractor must have its information security program evaluated annually by an independent entity, and is responsible for developing a corrective action plan for each finding, according to the OIG report.


Japanese researchers have created “Terapio,” a robot that replaces medical carts commonly used in a hospital. The autonomous mobile robot can track a specified human while avoiding obstacles. 

Terapio also can record personal and vital signs, and display a patient’s health records. Researchers said this allows the human caregiver to have more personal interactions.


The average cost for a data breach is now $3.8 million, according to a report from data security research organization Ponemon Institute. The direct costs related to hiring experts to fix the breach, investigating the cause, setting up hotlines and offering credit monitoring. 


A new chip can test for antibiotic resistance in an hour, which could help physicians pick the most effective antibiotic to treat infections. University of Toronto researchers created a glass chip that flows the sample that contains bacteria through microfluidic wells. They published their work in the journal Lab on a Chip. Their future work will include being able to test different antibiotics at many different concentrations.