Kinect could help cut U.S. healthcare costs by $30B, researchers say

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Telehealth could be as simple as a video game, with new innovation from Microsoft Kinect. The motion-sensing controller could cut the U.S. healthcare bill by up to $30 billion, preventing the risk of infection and reducing hospital visits by letting physicians to interact with patients remotely, according to new research.

Outlined in the International Journal of Electronic Finance, Janet Bailey of the University of Arkansas is working with Bradley Jenson of Microsoft to explore how gaming technology can be used to "teleport" healthcare workers' knowledge and skills where they're needed. This would cut costs for those who live far from hospitals, in addition to reducing the risk of infection.

"The Kinect allows doctors to control the system without breaking the sterile field via hand gestures and voice commands with a goal of reducing the direct cost of healthcare associated infections to hospitals and patients," the researchers explain in an announcement for the study.

The system works, even where only low-bandwidth and unreliable connectivity is available, according to Bailey and Jenson. The Kinect system, known as Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images, isn't expected to be a silver bullet in telemedicine, they explain. Rather, "it is a powerful tool that can be affordable in virtually any community that has existing technology and communication infrastructure," they say.

In the past few years, researchers at the University of Minnesota examined Kinect's usefulness in diagnosing autism in children earlier. The software, keeping track of children based on shape and color of clothes, analyzed their limb movements and hyper-activism.

Meanwhile in 2011, researchers at the University of Missouri looked into whether Kinect could be used to monitor changes in behavior and routines among patients at an assisted-living facility.

To learn more:
- here's the study's abstract
- read the announcement

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