Thursday, January 29, 2015

Allstate unveils same-day digital claims payment service

I have some good news if you have a fender bender and happen to have insurance under The Allstate Corporation. Allstate has become the first U.S. company to use a digital payment system for claims.

The idea is to disburse payments quickly using an email address or mobile phone number to policyholders willing to be paid utilizing Allstate’s "Fast Mobile e-Payment" service. According to Allstate, this solution eliminates snail mail and lost checks and is faster than all electronic funds transfers and other existing methods.

"We are proud to be one of the first banks to offer this electronic business-to-consumer payment solution," says Bank of America Merrill Lynch Head of Global Payments Ather Williams. "Allstate and their customers may benefit greatly from the speed and convenience this solution provides."

To participate, customers have to agree to be paid by the Fast Mobile e-Payment service and Allstate will send their contact information to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. After confirmation and registration, the consumer will automatically receive payments into their account.

With this new service, the “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate” slogan is setting the standard for digital claims payments.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Do you know patient portals exist for electronic health records?

Patient portals are becoming important tools for engagement and population health, but patients are largely unaware of the technology.

While patients are generally enthusiastic about viewing their EHR data and engaging with their providers online, a concerning number of patients are unaware of the possibilities of using a patient portal,finds a new survey from Xerox. Among the 64 percent of patients who are not portal users,35 percent did not know a portal was available to them, and 31 percent stated that their providers had never mentioned the technology to them. Despite the widespread lack of knowledge, 57 percent of non-users said they would be more engaged and more proactive in their own healthcare if they had access to their data online.

Read more here: Why Don’t 35% of Patients Know that Patient Portals Exist? |

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ready for this: Kapture will save the last 60 seconds of audio

I think I’m going to like the always-on recording technology that’s coming down the pikes, but I’m not so sure everyone else will wave at it, especially if you’re the one unknowingly being recorded.

That’s what Kapture has in mind with their wearable wristband technology that’ll save the last 60 seconds of anything you hear and deem worth saving.

A Cincinnati, Ohio, company has developed a wristband-like device that you simply tap when you hear something worth saving, which will send 60 seconds of the previous audio to your smartphone via Bluetooth. At the point, you can keep the audio file, or “klip,” for yourself or send along to someone else.

The question of privacy immediately comes to mind, as it is common knowledge that the other person should know on the front end they are being recorded. But the developers take on this issue is the Kapture device comes in several bright colors to be noticeable and an indicator light to signal that it’s on or off.

They also suggest “letting others around you know what’s going on.” Hopefully, the person being recorded will be thrilled they said something profound enough to be worth saving. I’m not sure that’ll be enough to satisfy everyone though.

As I see it, the Kapture wristband recorder can also be used for other tasks beside recording another person. It’ll be handy for practicing music, saving your own random ideas, business meetings notes and for us men, the infamous grocery list in your wife’s own voice. That alone would be priceless.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the Kapture device does in the marketplace after an anticipated debut during the month of December.

In the meantime, the Kapture device can be preordered for around $100 now, which is a savings of $50 for early birds who can hardly wait.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

D-Link offers free Wi-Fi cameras giveaway to military families

On this Veterans Day, D-Link is offering free Wi-Fi cameras to military families who have a service member deployed.

The free cameras will be available during “Military Family Appreciation Month” and include a Day & Night Night Wi-Fi Camera and HD Wi-Fi Baby Camera.

According to D-Link, a leader in remote connectivity, the features of the cameras include a live video view of a house via a PC, smartphone or tablet. In addition to night vision up to 15-16 feet and sound and motion detection, the Baby Camera has two-way audio for listening and talking to a child. D-Link hopes these features will provide peace of mind for service personnel based anywhere in the the world.

"We all owe our military families a debt of gratitude for their selflessness and service," said Daniel Kelley, vice president of marketing, D-Link Systems, Inc. "In honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, we're pleased to offer these cameras to military families, allowing mothers, fathers, pet parents, and homeowners to keep an eye on what's happening at home, no matter where they are serving."

To participate, families must submit their story on how they would use the devices, which will allow them to be entered to win one of the 50 cameras. The giveaway is also open to friends of military families, who also are encouraged to to enter on their behalf. Hats off to D-Link for thinking of military families on Veterans Day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Apple unveils iPhone 6 devices with mobile payments technology

Apple appears to have done it again with the debut of the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus. With much fanfare Apple kept the "wow factor" going with the seventh generation of the iPhones that will be available with a 4.7-inch display for the iPhone 6 and 5.5 inches for the Plus model.

Apple is calling the new iPhones the "biggest advance in the iPhone design since the original iPhone," which was introduced in in 2007.

The specifications for the iPhone 6 has been leaked to the hilt over the past several months and there wasn't much left for Apple to announce. But it's just good to get a look at the new, larger iPhone with rounded corners and many new features like an A8 processor with 64-bit architecture, M8 Motion Processor and a new health app. The A8 chip is smaller then previous processors, but also faster with better graphics.

The camera for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is now 8MB and seems to protrude a little from the backside. It also has Autofocus with Focus Pixels, more advanced video capabilities and a new time-lapsed mode. The Plus model comes with Optical Image Stabilization.

Perhaps the biggest news of all and something that Apple fans have been waiting for is the inclusion of the Near Field Communications, or NFC, technology. According to Apple, when shopping and it's time to pay, you'll just hold your iPhone near the retailer's contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID" for a one-touch experience. The merchandise can be charged to one of several participating banks, such as American Express, Bank of America, Chase and Capitol One.

The NFC technology has been around in Android devices and certain other smartphones for a few years, but has failed to gain much traction in the retail arena. Maybe the new iPhones with the Apple Pay feature will bring some much-needed life to mobile payments.

Among the many unique features that the Touch ID sensor will offer, the one that caught my attention is the ability to approve purchases from iTunes, iBook and the App store without having to enter your password. Just a press of the finger will get the job done. To that, I say "hallelujah," as I have too many passwords to remember.

The new iPhones are designed to work seamlessly with your Mac by using iOS 8 and the Mac's OS X Yosemite. The Handoff feature will allow users to share file in Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers and other applications. You'll also be able to answer calls on your Mac or iPad and send video or text messages from any iOS device.

Apple had bragged about the previous iPhone 5 being the world's thinnest phone at 0.30 inches in depth and the iPhone 6 can keep the bragging rights by showing up at only 0.27 inches thick. So it looks like the Samsung Galaxy line of S devices, such as the Galaxy S5, with a thickness of 0.32 inches, will have to keep a back seat for a while longer in the slim competition. As for the weigh-in, the iPhone 6 wins again at only just over 4.5 ounces, while the Galaxy S5 could only slim down to 5.11 ounces.

I'm sure no one is surprised that the Dr. Dre line of Beats headphones are available as accessories for the new iphones. You'll be able to choose from Over-Ear headphones, a Dr. Pill XL Speaker and Powerbeats In-Ear headphones. A couple of specially designed leather and silicone cases are available.

As expected, the iPhone 5 will run on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile with VoLTE support. C Spire has also announced that it well offer both models when available. Some carriers are offering a free iPhone 6 if customers sign a new two-year contract.

The iPhone 6 will come in a silver, gold and space-gray combinations and will be available on Sept. 19 for $199 for 16GB, $299 for 64GB and $399 for 128GB.The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for the 16GB version and tops out at $499 for the 128GB option. Pre-orders will start on Sept. 12. Bargain hunters might consider the previous iPhone 5S, which now moves down to $99 and the iPhone 5C will be free.

All of the new features in these iPhones, such as the enhanced Touch ID Sensor, health and fitness tracker and Apple Pay will be enough to keep you standing in line at the Apple stores.

Time will tell if Apple has a couple of champions in their corner with the larger iPhone 6 devices. I'll call it early; they are winners.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Favorite apps include crowdsourcing, databases, passwords keeper

I have over 100 apps installed on my iPhone and I think they’re all important.

They all caught my attention in the iTunes App Store, but there are several core apps that I think I can’t live without. I use these day in and day out.

eWallet: If you’re anything like me, you have a gazillion passwords, usernames, account numbers and the list goes on and on. I depend on eWallet to help me remember all these, which means I only have to remember only one password instead of a hundred. Everything can be backed up to the cloud or synchronized with your computer. The eWallet password manager is my buddy and resides on my iPhone's homescreen.

HanDBase: I always been a fan of databases and have extensive experience with the desktop versions of Filemaker Pro and Microsoft Access. For my mobile database, I choose HanDBase, where you can build custom fields and queries to organize just about anything. I have databases on books, movies, medical records and anything else I might dream up. I’m in and out of HanDBase several times a day.

MileBug: I do a lot of running around for charitable purposes that need to be included on my tax forms. I use Milebug to record my trips and mileage and compile a detailed report at the end of the year. MileBug makes it easy by including fields for starting and ending mileage, which vehicle was used, trip purpose and then calculates total miles and cost estimate. MileBug is my year-end tax buddy.

Clear: For grocery lists and any other kind of “do this” list, Clear is my choice because of its simplicity and ease of use. Just enter it, complete it and swipe it off. That’s about as simple as it can get for list management. I'm sure if you try it, you’ll like it.

Waze: I really like Waze for traffic reports. This is a genius of idea and that is executed well in GPS fashion. In a nutshell, you open this app before starting your commute to see if other nearby Wazers are reporting accidents, road hazards or traffic jams. And of course, I report any accidents or hazards I come across for other drivers. Waze has become my navigation companion, with accurate maps and timely traffic reports.

Merriam-Webster: Since I write quite often, I’m constantly using the Merriam-Webster dictionary app to make sure my articles are error free. Although most word processing programs have built-in spell checker, I still find myself accessing this app for synonyms and tricky words that spell check might not catch. I also use it for composing emails and social media posts. This is another one of my go-to apps several times a day.

I like social media and I check them all – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and others – with an element of being surprised every day. For saving notes, Evernote does a fine job. I’m also a newshound and depend on Ap Mobile and USA Today apps for breaking national news stories. But my core apps that are mentioned above get most of my attention.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

AvoiDeer app warns drivers of animal hazards with real-time alerts

Let's say you're cruising down a dark highway and there is a deer smack in the middle the road. Just standing there.

It happened to me several years ago in my little light-duty truck, which caused around $1,500 in damage to the bumper, grille and hood.

With today's technology and crowd-sourcing apps like AvoiDeer, a collision is less likely and could possibly be avoided.

The AvoiDeer app comes to us from Scandinavian developers in Bodo, Norway and Southport, England, where they sought to create a road-safety app to warn drivers of wildlife along highways in North American and Northern Europe.

One of the unique features about the AvoiDeer app is the warning of "real" sighting with a visual and audible alarm. The concept is simple, with real-time reporting of any deer or other wildlife sightings with a simple tap. Any AvoiDeer user in close proximity will receive an audible and visible alarm on their smartphone to warn the driver of potential danger ahead. The warning will remain active for 30 to 60 minutes.

The app opens to a detailed map with your location highlighted. There is button for reporting a sighting, such as a herd of deer or a single animal, and another button for accessing overall reports and your reporting stats.

Once you're on the road, it's a simple matter to tap the "Report Sighting" button to warn other AvoiDeer users. The GPS position is used together with the date and time of the sighting to warn other AvoiDeer users. A convenient zoom feature is handy when your need a closer look at the map.

According to research from UK Deer Initiatives, there are 1.2 million wildlife and vehicle collisions each, which caused up to 500 injuries and 400 deaths. On European roads, deer collisions number in the 74,000 range.

The AvoiDeer app, which grew from a British and Norwegian partnership, launched on March 1 and is now available on the iOS platform for an international audience. An Android version is coming soon.

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