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Does mobile technology help in improving mental health?

Does mobile technology help in improving mental health? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As part of a recent study on mobile technology, when a user told Cortana that he/she wanted to commit suicide, the program redirected the user to a web search page while Siri replied with information from a National suicide hotline. S-Voice offered some human touch and responded “I want you to be OK, please talk to me,” but didn’t offer any other outside help.

To questions with respect to depression, these programs only responded with “I’m sorry to hear that” and “It breaks my heart to hear that.”

 

In this study conducted by Northwestern University, Stanford University and the University of California-San Francisco, researchers surveyed the responses of Google Now, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s S Voice to assess questions related to mental health issues or abuse. The results were incomplete and inconsistent responses from these conversational agents. Though most of the people rely on Smartphones to access their health data or information about medical conditions, addressing mental health issues through mobile technology hasn’t made much headway.

 

This study in itself is enough to suggest that tech companies as well as the healthcare sector need to ramp-up their efforts to research about mobile tools for addressing mental health issues. Researchers from the University of Manchester and Lancaster University said that “Previous research has indicated that interventions delivered in this format are acceptable for people with Serious Mental Illness (SMI). However, a comprehensive systematic review is needed to investigate the acceptability of online and mobile phone-delivered interventions for SMI in depth”.

Mobile apps are increasingly being used to track social interaction, moods, human behavior and speech & voice levels to help people suffering from mental issues. These apps can help to reduce instance of negative behavior and can be used as an alternative treatment method for people affected by depression and anxiety. Naturally, experts believe that these apps should be backed by clinical evidence to ensure effectiveness before release to consumers.

 

During the trial of a cognitive behavioral therapy app, Catch It, conducted by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, the University of Liverpool’s Computer Services and the University of Manchester’s School of Psychological Science, researchers found a significant reduction in negative behavior amongst 285 participants in six weeks.

One of the report’s authors, Professor Peter Kinderman, said “This type of therapy cannot remove problems, but it can help people deal with them in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle,”

 

What concerns experts is the limited attention span of patients when using mobile technology to treat mental health issues. The key to improving these patients condition is to keep them engaged throughout the process and, a mobile tool might lack in that area due to the absence of human interaction. To be completely effective, patients would need to use these tools regularly on their own. Unfortunately, technology makes us impatient and shortens our attention spans. Moreover, Users of mobile health apps discontinue its usage after sometime of download confirming the low engagement level of most of the health apps.

 

To successfully treat mental health issues, the Healthcare sector would need to come out with engaging mobile solutions that make patients come back again and again for improved way of thinking to alter their behavioral patterns. While a human touch would still be required, because essentially mental health issues occur as a result of human relationships only, Smartphone apps can serve as a mode to gather passive data for mental health professionals who are unable to track their patients’ behavior.

One way or other, mobile technology is expected to play a significant role in the mental health segment.

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Operating Room Advances: 4 Tech Updates that are Revolutionizing the Surgical World

Operating Room Advances: 4 Tech Updates that are Revolutionizing the Surgical World | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In recent years, the medical field has made astounding advances with the help of modern technology. These improvements have saved countless lives and made illnesses that could not be treated a mere few decades ago either curable or manageable. One of the areas of medicine that has most benefited from technological advancement is surgery. Here are just a few of the dozens of technologies that are changing the operating room and making surgeries safer and more successful. 

  
Surgical Robots

One of the most exciting breakthroughs of recent years has been the incorporation of robots into surgical procedures. Beginning with the Da Vinci surgical robot, more and more operating rooms have begun to use robotic systems to execute delicate surgeries. These robots are still controlled by human surgeons, but thanks to their greater degree of stability and ability to work in very small spaces, the robots can perform operations with a higher degree of precision than human hands are capable of achieving. Fully automated surgical robots for simple tasks like suturing incisions have also begun to make their way into the surgical theater. Many even believe that fully-robotic surgeries may one day be possible, albeit under human supervision. 

  
Electrosurgical Technologies 

Far from the comparatively primitive set of hand tools, stitches and sutures that surgeons once had access to, the modern operating room contains a plethora of complex pieces of electrical equipment. Among these pieces of equipment are electrosurgical tool, which use electrical energy to perform tasks such as making incisions of cauterizing wounds. While these technologies are of considerable usefulness, they also produce hazardous by-products in the form of smoke. To facilitate their increased use in surgery, smoke evacuation technologies have also had to be developed. Smoke pencils and other Smoke evacuation devices, in particular, are quickly becoming a standard tool in operating rooms because of their efficacy in eliminating this common environmental hazard.

Virtual Reality Surgical Planning

One side of surgery that most people never get to see is the planning phase, in which surgeons and support staff determine the best methods and approaches for operations on particular patients. This process can be long and labor-intensive, but the use of virtual reality for visualization has improved in considerably in the past couple of years. Surgeons can now use VR technology, coupled with patient imaging scans, to plan the exact route of the surgical process. This kind of planning is faster and, in many cases, more successful than more traditional methods, allowing for lower delay times prior to surgery and a more efficient operation in the actual operating room. 


Precision Brain Biopsy Needles

One of the most delicate biopsy procedures has always been the brain biopsy. Without extreme caution, a biopsy of brain tissue can cause disastrous complications. New so-called "smart needles," however, are making this procedure much safer for patients and much easier for surgeons. These needles incorporate imaging technology that allows surgeons to directly see blood vessels and other tissue. When combined with software that is capable of recognizing blood vessels, these needles can substantially reduce the risk of accidental vessel damage during a brain biopsy. Similar technologies have been created to reduce the risks associated with other internal procedures.

  

The rapid advance of computational and mechanical technologies in the last several years has greatly benefited surgeons and the medical professionals who assist them in the operating room. As these technologies continue to improve and become more accessible to hospitals, they have the potential to improve surgical performance and save many more lives. For these and other high-tech surgical instruments, the future is looking extremely bright.

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Amazing Technologies Changing The Future of Dermatology 

Your body’s best guard in a hostile world: your skin

Everything is written on your skin. Every wrinkle, spot, and color tells a story, and not only a medical one. This miraculous organ can show you as a litmus paper whether you have a disease. For example, people with few red blood cells may look pale, while patients suffering from hepatitis have yellowish skin color. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The skin protects you against moisture, the howling winter winds, the scorching sun rays, the swarm of germs and toxic substances. It acts as the most reliable thermostat: helps you prevent dehydration and protects you from the consequences of too much heat or cold. It allows you to feel sensations: touching, itching and even pain. As weird as it sounds, the skin also acts as a storage room: its deepest layer can store water, fat or metabolic products. If it is injured, it produces wounds. And while it protects you from an unimaginably huge amount of parasites, bacteria, viruses, and germs, sometimes the price for not letting these disease agents into the organism is its own disease.

Skin cancer is too common

According to statistics from the WHO, currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Data from the US Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that each year over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people only in the US. The annual cost of treating skin cancers there is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for non-melanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma, which is an insanely huge number. And what is even scarier? For example, the fact that according to the estimations One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.

The situation is not a tiny bit better in other countries. In 2014, 15,419 new melanoma skin cancer cases were diagnosed, Cancer Research UK found. The results of their surveys also indicate that incidence rates have increased by 119 percent in the UK since the early 1990s. And if you look at the last decade, this number still reaches 45 percent. International trends aren’t a cause for more hope, either. A study found that the incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma has steadily increased over the past 50 years in predominately fair-skinned populations. Moreover, incidence rates of melanoma continue to rise in most European countries (primarily Southern and Eastern Europe), whereas, in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, Israel and Norway, rates have become rather stable in recent years.

Luckily, digital technologies are on their way to help dermatologists diagnose and treat skin diseases better and more effective. Innovative solutions have a huge impact on healthcare in general, but in case of certain subfields, such as surgery, even the transformation of the whole specialty can be expected. Looking at dermatology, it will probably not experience such a radical turn as surgery, but the shift will still be determining. Technology has been shaping dermatology praxises for years, and this will accelerate in the coming years. Here, I decided to enlist all the digital solutions which help medical professionals truly bring dermatology into the 21st century.

Telemedicine

As you can easily detect if you have a skin problem, and smartphones coupled with super-fast internet connection make it easy to send pictures or footage anywhere, telehealth solutions appeared naturally in dermatology. The options of teledermatology services are soaring. FirstDerm, Spruce, Direct Dermatology, SkinMDnow, Zwivel or iDoc24. They all work based on the same principle: they promise patients to connect them to a dermatologist online for consultation within a very short period of time. Usually, people can load up their photos to a certain platform, and dermatologists give advice based on it.

The popularity of the platforms shows there was an urgent need for this solution. iDoc24 had already more than 7,000 cases submitted from all over the world. It also turned out that the majority of the issues were rather harmless: iDoc24 found 70 percent of all their reviewed cases could be self-treated and they advised the patient to undertake further tests in all the remaining 30 percent of cases. It is a win-win for everyone: patients do not have to wait in crowded waiting rooms for an exam, while dermatologists can deal with the easier cases in shorter time online.

2) Big Data

The analysis of Electric Health Records (EHRs) and other huge data sets allows for the optimization of even such mammoth-like systems as healthcare. Data analytics help improve the quality and coordination of care, reduce the incurred costs and avoid unnecessary use of resources. Dermatologists also recognized the huge potential of big data to bring lasting change to their specialty.

The American Academy of Dermatology introduced a clinical registry called DataDerm in 2016. The database was created by dermatologists and connects data on millions of patients from thousands of dermatologists throughout the US. It eases the pain of reporting and allows medical professionals to demonstrate the quality of care they provide, to payers, policy makers, and the medical community. At the same time, it gives every member a private analysis of his or her practice’s data against national averages – down to the patient level. It is great for setting standards in dermatology, measuring each participant how they perform and ensuring the average quality of care.

3) Robotics

Amazing high-tech machines appeared on the stage of medicine lately. The New Jersey-based company, Canfield Scientific have recently installed the first commercial Vectra WB360 whole-body skin lesionmapping system. It is able to take a 360-degree scan of the entire body and identifies all the lesions on the skin. But what is even more exciting, the potential in robots helping dermatologists, especially aesthetic dermatologists in the future.

Many skin cancer types and other skin problems are treated with laser therapies, and a study found that robots might be able to help there. Researchers compared the accuracy and consistency of laser irradiation treatments carried out by humans and robotic arms, and investigators found the robot-guided treatments to be superior to the manually guided treatments. In the future, we can expect laser therapies to be carried out by “robotic surgeons” with humans controlling the process.

4) Artificial Intelligence

Deep learning algorithms are especially good at recognizing certain images, thus they will certainly have a place in the future of medical specialties dealing with medical imaging, such as radiology or dermatology. For example, IBM decided to let dermatologists leverage on the results of its deep learning platform, Watson in order to diagnose melanoma and other types of skin cancer faster, more accurate and preferably without the need for many biopsies. At the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, experts found that their deep learning system was able to achieve a 76% accuracy at diagnosing melanoma cases based on dermatology images, while the average accuracy for the eight dermatologists on that data set was 70.5%. It is a very promising result!

Researchers at Stanford University carried out a similar experiment. They created an artificially intelligent diagnosis algorithm for skin cancer with the help of an algorithm developed by Google that was already trained to identify 1.28 million images from 1,000 object categories. Then, they made a database of nearly 130,000 skin disease images representing over 2,000 different diseases; and trained their algorithm to visually diagnose potential cancer. From the very first test, it performed with inspiring accuracy. It performed at least as well as dermatologists participating in the research, which is very impressive! Now, the team is considering to make the algorithm smartphone compatible in the near future, bringing reliable skin cancer diagnoses to our fingertips. Mind-blowing innovation in sight!

5) 3D Printing

The answer for organ shortages of all kinds, including skin, as well as to the increasing reluctance to test new cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products on animals, is 3D printing. Many innovators recognized it already and plenty of research is going on. Scientists at the Spanish Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in collaboration with the bioengineering firm BioDan Group have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create an entirely functional human skin. James Yoo and his team at the Wake Forest School of Medicinein the US has also developed a similar prototype that can create synthetic skin. San Diego-based bioprinting firm Organovo teamed up with cosmetics giant L’Oréal in 2015 to supply 3D-printed skin.

3D printing could ensure that critical tissue shortages, which were reported for example in Australia in 2016or in Japan in March 2017, would never again hamper the tasks of medical professionals.

6) Regeneration

Injuries of the skin take a long time to heal. For a 10 mm cut, it takes 1-2 weeks to turn into a scar and then slowly fade away. Researchers are working on various innovations for shortening the healing process and accelerating the natural responses of the human organism for more effective skin regeneration.

Healthpoint Biotherapeutics developed a skin cell spray to improve conventional treatment for leg ulcers. According to a study, applied prior to wrapping the leg with compression bandages, the spray both improved the extent of healing and did it in less time than healing with bandages alone. Another remarkable innovation is ACell’s MatriStem, an extracellular matrix, which helps regrow tissues – it even induced the regrowth of an amputated fingertip in 2010. A very similar extracellular matrix helped treat a US Marine who lost 70 percent of his thigh muscle in a mortar explosion in Afghanistan. Researchers at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh applied a “cocktail of proteins” and growth factors derived from pig bladders. After a few weeks, his leg muscles started to grow back! Simply amazing!

7) Social media

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the social media platforms which everyone with an internet connection knows and uses. They are wonderful communication tools, sources of information and common knowledge, they function as community building platforms and spaces for promoting great causes. It is no different regarding healthcare – or dermatology, for that matter.

For example, Webicina, the first medical web 2.0 guidance service, offers Dermatology and Web 2.0, a free comprehensive resource containing all the web 2.0 tools from quality blogs and communities to online slideshows and mobile applications. It was designed to help medical professionals interested in dermatology find the best resources online. Moreover, La Roche-Posay, a division of L’Oreal, uses social media to promote its SOS Save our Skin campaign, which it does in conjunction with the US Women’s Dermatologic Society. The American Academy of Dermatology launched its 2017 SPOT Skin Cancer campaign, which is encouraging women to check both their partners and themselves for signs of skin cancer. The AAD started the #SpotSkinCancer hashtag on social media and encourages everyone to share their photos or videos to raise awareness how important it is to detect skin cancer in time.

8) Health sensors

As the market for wearables and health sensors is exploding, you can find all kinds of tiny gadgets measuring your vital signs and health parameters. In the future, some of these devices will not only do measurements but offer diagnosis or participate in the treatment of certain diseases. Skin-related conditions might be the first to diagnose or treat with small, sensor-like materials or gadgets. This year, L’Oréal introduced its wearable sensor for measuring sun exposure and notifying the user when they are about to get sunburn. The patch changes color to warn against skin cancer.

What’s more, a group of Indian researchers presented a unique patch for treating skin cancer at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s Annual Meeting in 2012. The patch is infused with phosphorus-32, a radioactive isotope used to treat some types of cancer. The researchers carried out a small study on the effectiveness of the patch and the results were very promising. Ten patients with skin cancer on their faces were treated with the patch, and three months after the treatment, biopsies showed no sign of their tumors. When biopsies were performed again at six months, however, the basal cell carcinomas had returned in two of the patients. I believe it is a great achievement, and I hope to hear about more similar research projects in the future.

9) Nanotechnology and nanoparticles

Nanotechnology proves to be a fertile field in dermatology and especially in cosmetics; as nanoparticles make their way into UV-light absorbing sunscreens and anti-aging products. When properly engineered, nanomaterials may be able to topically deliver retinoids, antioxidants, and drugs such as botulinum toxin or growth factors for rejuvenation of the skin in the future.

Yet, nanotechnology also has to offer a lot in the fight against cancer. Researchers also are reviewing the use of nanomaterials for the treatment of melanoma. In particular, gold, when turned into a nanomaterial called nanoshells, has been shown to be a useful treatment for melanoma in animal studies. So, perhaps skin cancer will be treated by gold in the future. Who knew that everyone’s favorite jewelry material has such beneficial traits?

 

Although the above list certainly has its limitations, it shows the vast potential of digital technologies to change the landscape of dermatology very soon. Thus, a student who wants to become a dermatologist might better become friends with disruptive innovations to get the most out of them when they start practicing.

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Benefit NetwoRx's curator insight, October 25, 10:25 AM
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jeremybdda's curator insight, November 20, 4:11 AM
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AI in healthcare: The unevenly distributed future is here

AI in healthcare: The unevenly distributed future is here | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

AI. Cognitive. RPA. Autonomics. Machine learning. Deep learning.

All these terms fly around in IT organizations today as CIOs, battling marketplace uncertainties and cost pressures, look for ways to enhance enterprise performance. As with most technology trends, the hype tends to overhang reality by a significant margin in the early stages of adoption, much in line with Gartner’s hype cycletheory.

 

Early this year, I wrote a piece that discussed how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain will drive precision medicine this year. Halfway into the year, the signs are that the use of AI technologies has definitely picked up momentum.

 

A recent study by consulting firm Accenture provides us some interesting data points. Artificial Intelligence or AI in healthcare is expected to grow more than 10x in the next five years, to around $ 6.6 billion, at a compounded rate of over 40%. AI represents a $150 billion savings opportunity for healthcare, across a wide range of applications: robot-assisted surgery, clinical diagnosis and treatment options, and operational efficiencies, to name a few. In my firm’s work with healthcare technology firms and enterprises, there is definitely a palpable excitement about the growing demand for AI in healthcare. Before unpacking what that means, it may be worthwhile defining some of the terms that are used interchangeably and synonymously with AI.

 

At the operating levels, autonomics and robotic process automation (RPA) refer to software that runs on pre-determined rules and eliminates the need for human intervention (a good example is fetching benefit eligibility information in a health plan or managing routine IT infrastructure operations). In many cases, these tools – sometimes referred to as “bots” – learn from patterns of requests and remediate/update their algorithms to respond in a more intelligent fashion over time. At higher levels of application, cognitive and AI systems aim to “mimic” humans in terms of reasoning and judgment based on techniques such as neural networks and Bayesian models that help these technologies come close to making decisions in a human-like manner. However, as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty points out, these techniques are more about augmenting human intelligence today, not replacing it (man and machine, not man vs. machine).

 

There is no doubt that these emerging technologies can transform healthcare. There is a rapidly growing body of use cases and successful applications of AI in operational and clinical areas. Here are a few examples of how AI technologies are currently being applied in the healthcare and life sciences sectors.

 

Health plans: There is considerable traction today applying RPA tools and AI technologies for improving productivity and efficiencies in health plans. By codifying workflow rules and enabling self-learning through ontological patterns and databases, these technologies are being used in areas such as provider data management, claim approvals and exception management, fraud detection, and customer service operations.

 

Health systems: AI and automation tools have found wide applications in a range of functions including revenue cycle operations, diagnosis and treatment, and population health management initiatives. IBM’s Watson Health engine, for example, has made significant strides in applying cognitive and AI technologies in the field of oncology and diabetic retinopathy, allowing the search and analysis of vast amounts of data and knowledge to provide clinicians with inputs for targeted intervention options.

 

Life sciences: Pharma companies have started successfully applying AI tools in clinical trial phases of new drugs by automatically generating content required for regulatory submissions and reviews. On the other side of the equation, these tools are being applied in pharmacovigilance for case intake and reporting on the adverse effects of drugs. There is increasing interest in the use of AI for improving efficiencies in supply chain operations. 

 

Across all of these segments, there are several commonly used applications, an example of which is the use of AI technologies for IT infrastructure operations in detecting and remediating network errors and application failures. Another example is the use of AI in patient engagement programs, especially for managing chronic conditions such as diabetes through automated alerts and interventions based on analysis of real-time data gathered through intelligent devices and wearables.

 

As the use of AI technologies gains momentum, more use cases will surely emerge. As healthcare transitions from a fee-for-service to a value-based care era, the need for advanced technologies for everything from precision medicine to increased operational efficiencies and improved patient engagement will drive the adoption rates for these technologies. Many of these initial projects are in pilot phases, and in the broader context, there is a relatively small number of healthcare enterprises that are investing in these technologies and programs. That is par for the course for new technologies in any field. Mainstream adoption may be a bit further away, and in the current environment of policy uncertainty, many of the smaller enterprises are likely to be in wait and watch mode, choosing to stay with business as usual till there is some clarity.

 

To paraphrase the sci-fi writer William Gibson, the future is already here, only it is unevenly distributed. This may be the most accurate summary of AI in healthcare at this time.

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10 Biggest Technological Advancements for Healthcare in the Last Decade

10 Biggest Technological Advancements for Healthcare in the Last Decade | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The reach of technological innovation continues to grow, changing all industries as it evolves. In healthcare, technology is increasingly playing a role in almost all processes, from patient registration to data monitoring, from lab tests to self-care tools.

Devices like smartphones and tablets are starting to replace conventional monitoring and recording systems, and people are now given the option of undergoing a full consultation in the privacy of their own homes. Technological advancements in healthcare have contributed to services being taken out of the confines of hospital walls and integrating them with user-friendly, accessible devices.

The following are ten technological advancements in healthcare that have emerged over the last ten years.

 

1. The electronic health record. In 2009, only 16 percent of U.S. hospitals were using an EHR. By 2013, about 80 percent of hospitals eligible for CMS' meaningful use incentives program had incorporated an EHR into their organizations. "For such a long time we had such disparate systems, meaning you had one system that did pharmacy, one did orders, one that did documentation," says Jeff Sturman, partner at Franklin, Tenn.-based Cumberland Consulting Group. "Integrating these systems into a single platform, or at least a more structured platform, has allowed more integrated and efficient care for patients," he says.

While the EHR has already created big strides in the centralization and efficiency of patient information, it can also be used as a data and population health tool for the future. "There's going to be a big cultural shift over the next several years of data-driven medicine," says Waco Hoover, CEO of the Institute for Health Technology Transformation in New York. "Historically, that hasn't been a big part of how medicine is practiced. Physicians go to medical school and residencies, but each organization has its own unique ways they do things. That's one of the reasons we see varied care all over the country. When data is what we're making decisions off of, that's going to change and improve outcomes of the consistency of medicine delivered."

 

2. mHealth. Mobile health is freeing healthcare devices of wires and cords and enabling physicians and patients alike to check on healthcare processes on-the-go. An R&R Market Research report estimates the global mHealth market will reach $20.7 billion by 2019, indicating it is only becoming bigger and more prevalent. Smartphones and tablets allow healthcare providers to more freely access and send information. Physicians and service providers can use mHealth tools for orders, documentation and simply to reach more information when with patients, Mr. Sturman says.

However, mHealth is not only about wireless connectivity. It has also become a tool that allows patients to become active players in their treatment by connecting communication with biometrics, says Gopal Chopra, MD, CEO of PINGMD, and associate professor at Duke University Fuqua School of Business in Durham, N.C. "Now I can make my bathroom scale wireless. I can make my blood pressure mount wireless. I can take an EKG and put it to my smartphone and transfer that wirelessly," he says. "mHealth has the opportunity to take healthcare monitoring out of the office, out of the lab and basically as a part of your life."

 

3. Telemedicine/telehealth. Studies consistently show the benefit of telehealth, especially in rural settings that do not have access to the same resources metropolitan areas may have. A large-scale study published in CHEST Journal shows patients in an intensive care unit equipped with telehealth services were discharged from the ICU 20 percent more quickly and saw a 26 percent lower mortality rate than patients in a regular ICU. Adam Higman, vice president of Soyring Consulting in St. Petersburg, Fla., says while telemedicine is not necessarily a new development, it is a growing field, and its scope of possibility is expanding.

The cost benefits of telehealth can't be ignored either, Mr. Hoover says. For example, Indianapolis-based health insurer WellPoint rolled out a video consultation program in February 2013 where patients can receive a full assessment through a video chat with a physician. Claims are automatically generated, but the fees are reduced to factor out traditional office costs. Setting the actual healthcare cost aside, Mr. Hoover says these telemedicine clinics will also reduce time out of office costs for employees and employers by eliminating the need to leave work to go to a primary care office.

 

4. Portal technology. Patients are increasingly becoming active players in their own healthcare, and portal technology is one tool helping them to do so. Portal technology allows physicians and patients to access medical records and interact online. Mr. Sturman says this type of technology allows patients to become more closely involved and better educated about their care. In addition to increasing access and availability of medical information, Mr. Hoover adds that portal technology can be a source of empowerment and responsibility for patients. "It's powerful because a patient can be an extraordinary ally in their care. They catch errors," he says. "It empowers the patient and adds a degree of power in care where they can become an active participant."

 

5. Self-service kiosks. Similar to portal technology, self-service kiosks can help expedite processes like hospital registration. "Patients can increasingly do everything related to registration without having to talk to anyone," Mr. Higman says. "This can help with staffing savings, and some patients are more comfortable with it." Automated kiosks can assist patients with paying co-pays, checking identification, signing paperwork and other registration requirements. Mr. Higman says there are also tablet variations that allow the same technology to be used in outpatient and bedside settings. However, hospitals need to be cautious when integrating it to ensure human to human communication is not entirely eliminated. "If a person wants to speak to a person, they should be able to speak with a person," he says.

 

6. Remote monitoring tools. At the end of 2012, 2.8 million patients worldwide were using a home monitoring system, according to a Research and Markets report. Monitoring patients' health at home can reduce costs and unnecessary visits to a physician's office. Mr. Higman offers the example of a cardiac cast with a pacemaker automatically transmitting data to a remote center. "If there's something wrong for a patient, they can be contacted," he says. "It's basically allowing other people to monitor your health for you. It may sound invasive but is great for patients with serious and chronic illnesses."

An article by Kaiser Health News, National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio discussed the effects a home monitoring system had on readmission rates for heart disease patients at Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health. The national average rate of readmissions for patients with heart disease is 25 percent, but after Essentia Health implemented a home monitoring system, the rates of readmission for their heart disease patients fell to a mere two percent. And now that hospitals are being financially penalized for readmissions, home monitoring systems may offer a solution to avoid those penalties.

 

7. Sensors and wearable technology. The wearable medical device market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.4 percent a year, according to a Transparency Market Research report. Wearable medical devices and sensors are simply another way to collect data, which Dr. Chopra says is one of the aims and purposes of healthcare. He says sensors and wearable technology could be as simple as an alert sent to a care provider when a patient falls down or a bandage that can detect skin pH levels to tell if a cut is getting infected. "Anything we are currently using where a smart sensor could be is part of that solution," Dr. Chopra says. "We're able to take a lot of these data points to see if something abnormal is happening."

 

8. Wireless communication. While instant messaging and walkie-talkies aren't new technologies themselves, they have only recently been introduced into the hospital setting, replacing devices like beepers and overhead pagers. "Hospitals are catching up to the 21st century with staff communicating to one another," Mr. Higman says, adding that internal communication advancements in hospitals followed a slower development timeline since they had to account for security and HIPAA concerns.

Systems like Vocera Messaging offer platforms for users to send secure messages like lab tests and alerts to one another using smartphones, web-based consoles or third-party clinical systems. These messaging systems can expedite the communication process while still tracking and logging sent and received information in a secure manner.

 

9. Real-time locating services. Another growing data monitoring tool, real-time locating services, are helping hospitals focus on efficiency and instantly identify problem areas. Hospitals can implement tracking systems for instruments, devices and even clinical staff. Mr. Higman says these services gather data on areas and departments that previously were difficult to track. "Retrospective analysis can only go so far, particularly in places constantly changing like emergency departments," he says, but tracking movement with a real-time locating service can highlight potential issues in efficiency and utilization.

These tools also allow flexibility for last minute changes. "If [a physician has] an add-on case today, do they have instruments on hand, and where are [the instruments]?" he asks. At the most basic level, these services can ensure equipment and supplies aren't leaving the building, and for high-cost equipment and supplies of which hospitals may only have one or a few, being able to track their location can help verify its utilization, he says.

 

10. Pharmacogenomics/genome sequencing. Personalized medicine continues to edge closer to the forefront of the healthcare industry. Tailoring treatment plans to individuals and anticipating the onset of certain diseases offers promising benefits for healthcare efficiency and diagnostic accuracy. Pharmacogenomics in particular could help reduce the billions of dollars in excess healthcare spending due to adverse drug events, misdiagnoses, readmissions and other unnecessary costs.

Before a full-fledged system of pharmacogenomics comes to fruition, the healthcare industry needs a tool that can aggregate and analyze all the big data and digital health information, Mr. Hoover says. "When we really start to have the ability to study a lot of that data, it's going to transfer how we match up that information at the population, individual and macro levels," he says. "The ability to actually compare that information is going to be valuable as we move forward, making sure medications we are taking are going to work for us."

 

Tools for big data analysis for pharmacogenomics are still being developed, but data analytics and data aggregation for the purpose of population health may be the next big advancement on the horizon. "Understanding and connecting all these variables is going to be profound as it relates to moving forward in healthcare and designing interventions and analyzing patient populations and ultimately improving the lives and health of the American population," Mr. Hoover says.

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6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care

6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The fact that technology is rapidly transforming health care should come as no surprise to anyone. From robotic arms that perform surgery tonanorobots that deliver drugs through the bloodstream, the days of being tended to by the human country doctor seem to have fully given way to machines and software more in keeping with the tools of Dr. McCoy from “Star Trek.”

 

However, technology’s evolutionary impact on health care isn’t all shooting stars and bells and whistles. Some of health care’s most important changes can slip beneath the radar due to their more pedestrian presentation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as revolutionary as mini robots zipping through veins. Take the burgeoning field of health informatics, for example. A specialization that combines communications, information technology, and health care to improve patient care, it’s at the forefront of the current technological shift in medicine. Here are six ways it’s already transforming health care.

 

1. Dramatic Savings

Health care isn’t just expensive; it’s wasteful. It’s estimated that half of all medical expenditures are squandered on account of repeat procedures, the expenses associated with more traditional methods of sharing information, delays in care, errors in care or delivery, and the like. With an electronic and connected system in place, much of that waste can be curbed. From lab results that reach their destination sooner improving better an more timely care delivery to reduced malpractice claims, health informatics reduces errors, increases communication, and drives efficiency where before there was costly incompetence and obstruction.

 

2. Shared Knowledge

There’s a reason medicine is referred to as a “practice,” and it’s because health care providers are always learning more and honing their skills. Health informatics provides a way for knowledge about patients, diseases, therapies, medicines, and the like to be more easily shared. As knowledge is more readily passed back and forth between providers and patients, the practice of medicine gets better — something that aids everyone within the chain of care, from hospital administrators and physicians to pharmacists and patients.

 

3. Patient Participation

When patients have electronic access to their own health history and recommendations, it empowers them to take their role in their own health care more seriously. Patients who have access to care portals are able to educate themselves more effectively about their diagnoses and prognoses, while also keeping better track of medications and symptoms. They are also able to interact with doctors and nurses more easily, which yields better outcomes, as well. Health informatics allows individuals to feel like they are a valuable part of their own health care team, because they are.

 

4. The Impersonalization of Care

One criticism of approaching patient care through information and technology is that care is becoming less and less personal. Instead of a doctor getting to know a patient in real time and space in order to best offer care, the job of “knowing” is placed on data and algorithms.

As data is gathered regarding a patient, algorithms can be used to sort it in order to determine what is wrong and what care should be offered. It remains to be seen what effects this data-driven approach will have over time, but regardless, since care is getting less personal, having a valid and accurate record that the patient and his care providers can access remains vital.  

 

5. Increased Coordination

Health care is getting more and more specialized, which means most patients receive care from as many as a dozen different people in one hospital stay. This increase in specialists requires an increase in coordination, and it’s health informatics that provides the way forward. Pharmaceutical concerns, blood levels, nutrition, physical therapy, X-rays, discharge instructions — it’s astonishing how many different conversations a single patient may have with a team of people regarding care, and unless those conversations and efforts are made in tandem with one another, problems will arise and care will suffer. Health informatics makes the necessary coordination possible.  

 

6. Improved Outcomes

The most important way in which informatics is changing health care is in improved outcomes. Electronic medical records result in higher quality care and safer care as coordinated teams provide better diagnoses and decrease the chance for errors. Doctors and nurses are able to increase efficiency, which frees up time to spend with patients, and previously manual jobs and tasks are automated, which saves time and money — not just for hospitals, clinics, and providers, but for patients, insurance companies, and state and federal governments, too.  

 

Health care is undergoing a massive renovation thanks to technology, and health informatics is helping to ensure that part of the change results in greater efficiency, coordination, and improved care.

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Six Ways Technology Is Changing Health Care System As We Know It

Six Ways Technology Is Changing Health Care System As We Know It | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Several leaps have been made in our health care industry over the last two decades and technology is considered to be the driving force behind most of these improvements.

A careful examination will reveal how different digital innovations is ushering in an era of democratization of medical care in which patients have more control over their health care. The enormous growth of our communication technology has also made it easier to combat the kind of epidemic situation that seems insurmountable few centuries ago.

Below is a compilation of six different Ways technological advancement is changing the face of 21st Century medical practices.

1. Robotic surgery and Robotic Checkups

Surgical robotics is one of the new technological advancements that are revolutionizing health care. For instance, laparoscopic surgery is turning major surgeries that usually leave scars and keep patients in the hospital for several days into fairly minor procedures.

A recent study by surgeons at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington showed that a supervised autonomous robot could perform soft-tissue surgery better than a human surgeon. This is a big leap on how technology is enhancing health care in 21st century.

Robotic check-Ups is another area of technological advancement in health care. According to a report by Michael MacRae, we now have FDA approved robots with the capacity to patrol hospital hallways, checking on patients in different rooms and also manage patient’s individual charts and vital signs without human contact.

The robot is basically a mobile cart device with a two-way video screen with medical monitoring equipment. It was intelligently programmed in such a way that it could maneuver itself through a busy hospital hall.

2. Technology for Fighting Addiction

Technology is also changing how we treat addiction of different kinds. Technology Assisted Care (TAC) involves the use of technology devices to deliver some aspects of psychotherapy or behavioral treatment directly to patients via interaction with a web-based program.

A number of technology based interventions are proving to be very effective in treating substance use disorders (SUD). An example is Therapeutic Education System (TES), an interactive, web-based psychosocial intervention for SUDs. Another example is “Project Quit“, a web-based smoking cessation program. Many addiction treatment centers all across US are leveraging these technology based addiction treatment modalities to achieve more effective results.

The technology based system simply replicates a therapy program that is already known to work when delivered by a human and they do so with consistency and at a time and place convenient to the patient.

3. The Age of Patient-Centered Care (PCC)

One of the main conclusions of a review study conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University few years ago is that combining patient-centered care principles with health information technology improves overall health care outcome significantly.

The study which was published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2012 reviewed over 300 published articles between 1998 and 2010. Ever since, many other studies have reiterated the significant role advancement in technology is playing in enhancing patient-centered care.

An article published by Dr. Lawrence Rosen in 2013 identified 3 distinct ways IT is improving PCC. One of these is the development of patient portal which now makes it possible for patients to update their health and demographic information, request appointments and prescriptions, receive test results, and communicate via secure messaging.

Such technology has not only increased the efficiency of doctor-patient communication, it’s enabling doctors to spend more quality time with their patients. According to Dr. Jon Ward, a dermatology specialist in Florida, many specialists’ hospitals are now designing their whole operation around this concept of PCC.

4. Ingestible Sensors and Smart Pills

The development of Neuro-stimulation system for addressing chronic cluster headache and Ingestion monitoring systems are some of the ways technology is revolutionizing health care.

Doctors have linked most forms of chronic cluster headache to the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a nerve bundle located behind the nose. Until now, there is yet to be a long term treatment that works on the SPG. The new technology which involves the stimulation of the SPG offers a reversible and adjustable option to control the debilitating pain of cluster headache.

The technology which is under clinical investigation was developed by Autonomic Technologies, Inc (ATI). The ATI Neuro-stimulation system is a patient-powered tool for blocking SPG signals at the first sign of a headache.

There are two components of the system. The permanent implant of a small nerve stimulating device called ATI Neurostimulator, and the handheld remote controller. The whole system works by delivering low-level energy directly to the area of the SPG.

Aside the electronic drug like Neuro-stimulator and Ingestion monitoring systems, the development of Cognitive Enhancement Drugs is also becoming a trend that could shape history and herald a 21st century of neuroscience.

By leveraging both innovative technologies and predictive knowledge, scientists are developing smarter ways to create the kind of drugs that seems impossible 20 years ago. According to a recent article by JonHa Revesencio on HuffingtonPost, smart drugs, like Noopept and Adrafinil, are the secrets behind a lot of the World’s Tech Billionaires.

Although these drugs don’t fundamentally make people smart, they mainly enhance users’s focus, memory, motivation, attention, mental clarity, and problem solving abilities. How much impact these type of drugs have on healthcare and lifestyle are still subject of debate in the academic realm.

5. Technology for Combating Epidemics

Technology is playing a key role in combating outbreak of infectious diseases. One glaring example is the recent Ebola pandemic. During the outbreak, technological tools were harnessed for early diagnosis, early warning communication and messaging, training, real time monitoring, and epidemiological surveillance.

The use of technological tool such as Touch-free infra red thermometer and a virus-killing robot also help prevent the spread of the virus in the United States. This type of technology helped enhance real-time data sharing and collaboration between scientists across different fields. It is also interesting to note that infrared thermometers are now becoming invaluable tools for home use as well.

6. Adoption of Laser Technologies

The word LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The adoption of laser technologies for medical treatment is one of the new ways technological advancement is changing health care system.

A review article by scientist from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston laid out different laser platforms available for medical treatment and how to identify the most appropriate laser for specific issues. Laser technology is now applicable for treating a range of medical issues from cancer treatment to hair removal and toenail fungus.

Technology is revolutionizing the health care industry in very unique ways. The technology is driving healthcare ahead in a way that could deliver great dividends to healthcare providers and consumers.

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Technological innovations in the healthcare industry

Technological innovations in the healthcare industry | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Medicine and Technology

In today’s world, technology plays an important role in every industry as well as in our personal lives. Out of all of the industries that technology plays a crucial role in, healthcare is definitely one of the most important. This merger is responsible for improving and saving countless lives all around the world.

Medical technology is a broad field where innovation plays a crucial role in sustaining health. Areas like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information technology, the development of medical devices and equipment, and more have all made significant contributions to improving the health of people all around the world. From “small” innovations like adhesive bandages and ankle braces, to larger, more complex technologies like MRI machines, artificial organs, and robotic prosthetic limbs, technology has undoubtedly made an incredible impact on medicine.

In the healthcare industry, the dependence on medical technology cannot be overstated, and as a result of the development of these brilliant innovations, healthcare practitioners can continue to find ways to improve their practice – from better diagnosis, surgical procedures, and improved patient care.

Information Technology and Medicine

Information technology has made significant contributions to our world, namely in the medical industry. With the increased use of electronic medical records (EMR), telehealth services, and mobile technologies like tablets and smart phones, physicians and patients are both seeing the benefits that these new medical technologies are bringing.

Medical technology has evolved from introducing doctors to new equipment to use inside private practices and hospitals to connecting patients and doctors thousands of miles away through telecommunications. It is not uncommon in today’s world for patients to hold video conferences with physicians to save time and money normally spent on traveling to another geographic location or send health information instantaneously to any specialist or doctor in the world.

With more and more hospitals and practices using medical technology like mobile devices on the job, physicians can now have access to any type of information they need – from drug information, research and studies, patient history or records, and more – within mere seconds. And, with the ability to effortlessly carry these mobile devices around with them throughout the day, they are never far from the information they need. Applications that aid in identifying potential health threats and examining digital information like x-rays and CT scans also contribute to the benefits that information technology brings to medicine.

Medical Equipment Technology

Improving quality of life is one of the main benefits of integrating new innovations into medicine. Medical technologies like minimally-invasive surgeries, better monitoring systems, and more comfortable scanning equipment are allowing patients to spend less time in recovery and more time enjoying a healthy life.

The integration of medical equipment technology and telehealth has also created robotic surgeries, where in some cases, physicians do not even need to be in the operating room with a patient when the surgery is performed. Instead, surgeons can operate out of their “home base”, and patients can have the procedure done in a hospital or clinic close their own hometown, eliminating the hassles and stress of health-related travel. With other robotic surgeries, the surgeon is still in the room, operating the robotic devices, but the technology allows for a minimally-invasive procedure that leaves patients with less scarring and significantly less recovery time.

Technology and Medical Research

Medical scientists and physicians are constantly conducting research and testing new procedures to help prevent, diagnose, and cure diseases as well as developing new drugs and medicines that can lessen symptoms or treat ailments.

Through the use of technology in medical research, scientists have been able to examine diseases on a cellular level and produce antibodies against them. These vaccines against life-threatening diseases like malaria, polio, MMR, and more prevent the spread of disease and save thousands of lives all around the globe. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save about 3 million lives per year, and prevent millions of others from contracting deadly viruses and diseases.

Medical Technology and The Law

As technology in the world of healthcare continues to evolve, rules and regulations concerning its use must be established and adjusted to adapt to the new methods of administering care. Regulations like HIPAA and its Privacy and Security Act target the concerns about the confidentiality of patient information and the steps that must be taken to maintain privacy in our digital world. Medical providers and healthcare administration must be careful when choosing to implement new products and technologies into their services, and should ensure that all technologies are “HIPAA compliant” before investing in their implementation. Other initiatives, like the 2010 Health Care Reform bill, state the steps that must be taken by hospitals and other care providers to integrate medical technology into their practices.

Technological innovations in the healthcare industry continue to provide physicians with new ways to improve the quality of care delivered to their patients and improve the state of global healthcare. Through technology’s integration with areas like disease prevention, surgical procedures, better access to information, and medical telecommunications, the medical industry and patients around the world continue to benefit.

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7 Ways Health Informatics Transforms Health Care

7 Ways Health Informatics Transforms Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

It is amazing how technology intertwines with the health sector. Just a few years ago, nobody could predict how the development of technology would drive health care innovation.  Now we see that nearly everything in the health care industry derives from these transformations. Health informatics, for example, has had a significant impact on the management, handling, and storage of health care information. It is on the forefront of enabling ease in communication and coordination of activities within health facilities.

Below are some of the reasons to celebrate the impact health informatics has had on health care.

1. Health informatics improve coordination

If you have been to a healthcare facility recently, you probably know that specializations in the medical profession have increased significantly. This increase led to a rise in departmental divisions within hospitals, including telemedicine solution providers. These divisions require record-keeping that is coordinated across departments and easy to update.  Indeed, without health informatics hospitals would be in total chaos. You can imagine what would happen if, for example, you arrived in an X-ray room rather than the referred maternity ward!  Health informatics, through a channel of organized electronic facilities, allows easy transfer of patient information from one department to another for better communication and minimal error.

2. Health informatics is cost effective

Lack of coordination and resulting delays waste a lot of money.  Research has shown that hospitals spend significant amounts dealing with recurring procedures and errors due to inadequate information-sharing. A proper health informatics system minimizes such mishaps. This is because effective communication gives health care facilities the ability to carry out operations between departments without error.  The fact that the communication is electronic also eliminates delays in relaying updates between departments.  Therefore, health informatics systems decrease unnecessary spending.

3. Health informatics enables population health management

Consistency in keeping health records enables health professionals to analyze and compare common diseases that affect the general population. It also helps medical providers keep track of these illnesses and carefully design strategies to counter potential epidemics. Furthermore, the consistency achieved through health informatics makes it easier to carry out an evaluation of patients with common conditions and thus determine what treatment is most effective for the present, as well as develop procedures for the future.

4. Health informatics increases patient involvement

Through health informatics, patients have electronic access their health records. Electronic records give patients a chance to be more informed of their conditions and consider their health matters more seriously. They also allow patients to be more vigilant about the dos and don’ts regarding their treatment. Patients can interact with health practitioners through online portals, and specialists can have quick one-on-one consultations with a patient, even when the patient cannot be present at the health facility.

5. Health informatics improves efficiency

Improved efficiency is the key achievement of health informatics.  With hard-copy records, you have to wade through piles of paper files to trace records entered only a few days ago.  Using electronic systems to record and store data has proven to be the best way to keep high-quality authentic records that are easily accessible and useful far into the future.  And they definitely take up less space!  Similarly, automation of some activities empowers health professionals to make easier diagnoses and reduces fatigue from repetitive tasks. This allows doctors and nurses more productive time with their patients, resulting in better care.

6. Health informatics increases medical knowledge

Health informatics enables health care providers to gain knowledge systematically through continuously monitoring patients. For example, doctors can use electronic records to evaluate the effectiveness of certain drugs on some diseases and even individuals. This means they can more easily design the best treatment plans after considering a given sample of patients.  Then they can share the results of their analysis and treatment with the other health care providers in their system, facilitating innovations in health care.

7. Health informatics expands the margin of care

Because health informatics uses information about the patient’s medical history stored electronically, it is easy for a new doctor or nurse to understand the patient’s condition quickly. Such records are accurate and up-to-date — updated every time the patient visits the facility. This extends the ability to treat a patient effectively to any available medical practitioner, improving the speed and responsiveness of patient care.

There is no doubt about it, health informatics is steering a revolution that will see systematic improvement in the efficiency and reliability of care that health professionals are able to provide for their patients.

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Niche Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Niche Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Artificial Intelligence has made its way to every field possible, steamrolling the processes along its way. One such field is healthcare. They say healthcare is a field that is not very rules based and a successful doctor is the one who leverages his/her experience to deal with complex and unseen cases. However, there are many low hanging fruits that are already being plucked by AI. This trend is being fueled by increasing digitization in healthcare data and advances in new algorithms. In this piece, we intend to give you a sneak peek into how AI is leading to improved healthcare for humanity. Below are some key examples of research areas and applications.

Virtual Slides Diagnosis

  • The tissue-based diagnosis has seen technological advancement with the introduction of virtual slides. However, virtual slides demand a lot of time and efforts than that for viewing the original glass slides from the pathologists. This is the time taken in the selection of information containing fields of view. Artificial intelligence can automate the tissue diagnosis routine work. Deep Convolutional Neural Networks are already being used in this area. Automated diagnosis would save a lot of time wasted in supervising and the pathologists can focus on the serious cases.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

  • Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is the fastest growing cause of blindness, with nearly 415 million diabetic patients at risk worldwide. If not caught early, it can lead to irreversible blindness. In “Development and Validation of a Deep Learning Algorithm for Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy in Retinal Fundus Photographs“, published by JAMA, Google presented a deep learning algorithm capable of interpreting signs of DR in retinal photographs, potentially helping doctors screen more patients in settings with limited resources.

Skin Cancer Treatment

  • Sebastian Thrun’s lab at Stanford released an AI algorithm which detects Skin Cancer with very high accuracy. This algorithm was tested against 21 board-certified dermatologists. In its diagnoses of skin lesions, which represented the most common and deadliest skin cancers, the algorithm matched the performance of professional dermatologists.

Medical Diagnosis

AI algorithms can aid doctors in medical diagnosis.They can highlight key instances in a person’s previous health history. Incorporating AI into the medical field has the potential to change and vastly improve healthcare in its core. From improved diagnostic accuracy to better-optimized treatment plans, AI could be the key to better medical care for doctors and patients alike.

In August 2016, doctors at a hospital in Japan misidentified a 60-year-old woman’s leukemia. But IBM’s Watson examined a vast database of 20 million research papers and made a successful diagnosis in just 10 minutes. The AI-based system can be utilized to prune out the irrelevant data and help the doctor think more clearly focusing on the vital data.

Risk Prediction

The team of primary care researchers and computer scientists compared a set of standard guidelines from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) with four ‘machine-learning’ algorithms. These algorithms analyzed large amounts of data and self-learn patterns within the data to make predictions on future events which were a patient’s future risk of having heart disease or a stroke, in this case.

The results, published in the online journal PLOS ONE, showed that the self-teaching ‘artificially intelligent’ tools were remarkably more accurate in predicting cardiovascular disease than the established guidelines. This technology is a godsend for insurance companies by helping them do a more effective appraisal of health risks of a customer.

Radiology

Applying AI for Radiology is harder as compared to Histopathology and hence we are yet to see groundbreaking results here. There is, however, a lot of work going on in situations where X-rays, CTs, and MRIs can be analyzed automatically, thereby giving radiologists a quick second opinion to consult with.

AI has already been used for Chest X-rays for direct diagnosis. Some of the other areas where AI aids diagnosis significantly is segmenting hip bones and lumbar vertebra for QCT/MRI in osteoporosis screening.

A Recent release of Stanford Medical-ImageNet is likely to start a revolution like what ImageNet did for normal images.

Automating Drug Discovery

Discovery of a new drug takes years of research, its launch takes even more time and money. Automating drug discovery through AI can tremendously reduce the cost and time as well.The average biomedical researcher deals with a huge amount of new information every day. It is estimated that the bioscience industry is getting 10,000 new publications uploaded on a daily basis from across the globe and among a huge variety of biomedical databases and journals. So, it becomes impossible for the researcher to process the entire information alone. Artificial Intelligence has a vital role to play in elevating the work of drug development researchers.

  • A study published in Cell Chemical Biology reveals a big data-based approach to detecting toxic side effects of a drug before it goes to the expensive clinical testing. In the approach called PrOCTOR, researchers analyze each drug using 48 different features to ascertain its safety for clinical use. The entire process is automated using machine learning.
  • A company named BenevolentBio has been doing research into Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The AI they’ve developed incorporated in the company’s Judgement Correlation System (JACS) reviews billions of sentences and paragraphs from scientific research papers and abstracts. JACS then links direct relationships between the data and regulates the data into ‘known facts’. These known facts are used to generate a large number of possible hypotheses using criteria set by the scientists. Based on these hypotheses, possible drugs are discovered. They have already managed to identify two potential drug targets for Alzheimer.
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10 Ways Artificial Intelligence Could Make Me a Better Doctor

10 Ways Artificial Intelligence Could Make Me a Better Doctor | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Automation through AI, robotics or 3D-printing will make healthcare more efficient and more sustainable. These new digital technologies will improve healthcare processes resulting in the earlier and more efficient treatment of patients. It will eventually shift the focus in medicine from treatment to prevention. Moreover, medical professionals will get the chance to move from repetitive, monotonous tasks to the challenging, creative assignments.

AI has certainly more revolutionary potential than simply optimizing processes: it can mine medical records or medical images in order to come up with previously unknown implications or signals; design treatment plans for cancer patients or create drugs from existing pills or re-use old drugs for new purposes. But imagine how much time you as a GP would have if the administrative process would be taken care of by an AI-powered system. Your only task would be to concentrate on the patient’s problem! Imagine how much time you as a GP could spare if healthcare chatbots and instant messaging health apps would give answers to simple patient questions, which do not necessarily need the intervention of a medical professional!

She could have been a great doctor!

These were exactly the thoughts in my head when I was watching the movie Her for the second time. I was fascinated again about the scene in which the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix got his new, AI operating system and started working with it. I could not stop thinking about the ways I could use such an AI system in my life and how it actually could make me a better doctor.

Don’t get me wrong, I think empathy and great communication with patients can make a doctor better primarily, but as the amount of medical information out there is exponentially growing; as the time for dealing with patients and information is getting shorter, it is becoming humanly impossible to keep up with everything. If I could devote the time it takes now to deal with technology (inputting information, looking for papers, etc.) to patients, that would be a huge step towards becoming better.

Through the following 10 ways, AI could make me a better doctor.

1) Eradicate waiting time

You would think that waiting time is the exclusive “privilege” of patients and doctors do not have any free moment during their overpacked days. However, suboptimal health care processes not only result in patients sometimes waiting for hours in front of doctors’ offices but also medical professionals losing a lot of time every day waiting for something (a patient, a lab result, etc.). An AI system that makes my schedule as efficient as possible directing me to the next logical task would be a jackpot.

2) Prioritize my emails

The digital tsunami is upon us. Our inboxes are full of unread messages and it is an everyday challenge not to drown into the ocean of new letters. I deal with about 200 e-mails every single day. I try to teach Gmail how to mark an email important or categorize them automatically into social media messages, newsletters, and personal emails, it’s still a challenge. In Her, the AI system prioritized all the 3000 unread emails in a second. Imagine if we could streamline digital communication completely in line with our needs and if we could share and receive information more efficiently and more accurately without too much effort.

According to a recent report in the New Scientist, half a million people have professed their love for Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant and more than 250,000 have proposed marriage to it. I have to say, I would probably do the same if it could organize my emails that way. (Also, if Scarlett Johansson were to be the voice of the assistant.)

3) Find me the information I need

I think I have mastered the skill of searching for information online using dozens of Google search operators and different kinds of search engines for different tasks, but it still takes time. What if an AI OS could answer my questions immediately by looking up the answer online?

More and more intelligent personal assistants, such as Siri on iOS or Alexa for Amazon lead us into the future, and there will be soon highly capable, specialized AI-powered chatbots also in the field of healthcare. Bots like HealthTap or Your.Md already aim to help patients find a solution to the most common symptoms through AI. Safedrugbot embodies a chat messaging service that offers assistant-like support to health professionals, doctors who need appropriate information about the use of drugs during breastfeeding.

4) Keep me up-to-date

There is too much information out there. Without an appropriate compass, we are lost in the jungle of data. It is even more important to find the most accurate, relevant and up-to-date information when it comes to such a sensitive area as healthcare. That’s why I started Webicina, which collects the latest news from the best, most reliable sources into one, easily manageable magazine.

On Pubmed, there are 23 million papers. If I could read 3-4 studies of my field of interest per week, I could not finish it in a lifetime and meanwhile millions of new studies would come out. I need an AI to process the pile of information for me and show me the most relevant papers – and we will get there soon. IBM Watson can already process a million pages in seconds. This remarkable speed has led to trying Watson in oncology centers to see how helpful it is in making treatment decisions in cancer care.

5) Work when I don’t

I can fulfill my online tasks (emails, reading papers, searching for information) when I use my PC or laptop, and I can do most of these on my smartphone. When I don’t use any of these, I obviously cannot work. An AI system could work on these when I don’t have any device in hand.

Imagine that you are playing tennis or doing the dishes at home when an important message comes in. With the help of an AI, you could respond to your boss without the need to touch any devices – a toned down version of Joaquin Phoenix’s AI, that arranged the whole publishing process of his book without the need for him to lift a finger.

6) Help me make hard decisions rational

A doctor must face a series of hard decisions every day. The best we can do is to make those decisions as informed as possible. I can ask people whose opinion I value, but basically, that’s it. Unfortunately, you would search the world wide web in vain for certain answers.

But AI-powered algorithms could help in the future. For example, IBM Watson launched its special program for oncologists – and I interviewed one of the professors working with it – which is able to provide clinicians evidence-based treatment options. Watson for Oncology has an advanced ability to analyze the meaning and context of structured and unstructured data in clinical notes and reports that may be critical to selecting a treatment pathway. So, AI is not making the decision per se but offers you the most rational options.

7) Help patients with urgent matters reach me

A doctor has a lot of calls, in-person questions, emails and even messages from social media channels on a daily basis. In this noise of information, not every urgent matter can reach you. What if an AI OS could select the crucial ones out of the mess and direct your attention to it when it’s actually needed.

Moreover, if you look at the patient side, you will see how long is the route from recognizing symptoms at home until reaching out to a specialist. For example, in the Hungarian county of Kaposvár, the average time from the discovery of a cancerous disease until the actual medical consultation about the treatment plan was 54 days. This alarming number has been drastically reduced to 21 days with the help of a special software and by optimizing patient management practices since November 2015. Imagine, though, what earthquake-like changes AI could bring into patient management if the usage of a simpler process management tool and follow-up system could halve the waiting time!

8) Help me improve over time

People, even those who work on becoming better at their job, make the same mistakes over and over again. What if by discussing every challenging task or decision with an AI, I could improve the quality of my job. Just look at the following:

97% of healthcare invoices in the Netherlands are digital containing data regarding the treatment, the doctor, and the hospital. These invoices could be easily retrieved. A local company, Zorgprisma Publiek analyzes the invoices and uses IBM Watson in the cloud to mine the data. They can tell if a doctor, clinic or hospital makes mistakes repetitively in treating a certain type of condition in order to help them improve and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations of patients.

9) Help me collaborate more

Sometimes I’m wondering how many researchers, doctors, nurses or patients are thinking about the same issues in healthcare as I do. At those times, I imagine that I have an AI by my side, which helps me find the most potential collaborators and invite them to work together with me for a better future.

Clinical and research collaborations are crucial to find the best solutions for arising problems, however, more often than not, it is difficult to find the most relevant partners. There are already efforts to change this. For example, in the field of clinical trials, TrialReachtries to bridge the gap between patients and researchers who are developing new drugs. If more patients have a chance to participate in trials, they might become more engaged with potential treatments or even be able to access new treatments before they become FDA approved and freely available.

10) Do administrative work

Quite an essential percentage of an average day of a doctor is spent with administrative stuff. An AI could learn how to do it properly and do it better than me by time. This is the area where AI could impact healthcare the most. Repetitive, monotonous tasks without the slightest need for creativity could and should be done by artificial intelligence. There are already great examples leaning towards this trend.

IBM launched another algorithm called Medical Sieve. It is an ambitious long-term exploratory project to build a next generation “cognitive assistant” with analytical, reasoning capabilities and a wide range of clinical knowledge. Medical Sieve is qualified to assist in clinical decision making in radiology and cardiology.

 

Many fear that algorithms and artificial intelligence will take the jobs of medical professionals in the future. I highly doubt it. Instead of replacing doctors, AI will augment them and make them better at their jobs. Without the day-to-day treadmill of administrative and repetitive tasks, the medical community could again turn to its most important task with full attention: healing.

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The Top Five Digital Health Innovations For Food Tracking and Eating

The Top Five Digital Health Innovations For Food Tracking and Eating | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Almost 700 million people have some health problem with food or eating

For some, eating is the most natural process on Earth. You are hungry, you get some nice food and some company, you sit down and have the meal making you happy and full. These people do not know how lucky they are. Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children or roughly two in every classroom. According to some estimations, 1-5 percent of the whole population of the EU has a type of food allergy.

Although it is not easy to measure it, some analysts say that there could be as much as 70 million people worldwide affected by various eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating disorder. There are also concerning numbers when we look at the WHO statistics concerning obesity. According to the UN organization, in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight; of theses over 600 million were obese. Moreover, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

All these issues need to be addressed. Although digital devices, food trackers, calorie counters, etc. cannot offer alone long-term, comprehensive solutions, they could support eating healthily and reduce the harm we do through food to our bodies.

1) Smart utensils

It is not easy to find time for a long meal in our mad, mad world, but I’m sure that you also experienced that eating too fast leads to poor digestion and poor weight control. The HAPIfork, powered by Slow Control, is an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast.

But what if you experience eating as a living hell? Imagine, that you cannot enjoy your food no matter how great it looks and smells. Your hand is shaking so intensely, you cannot lift your spoon or fork to your mouth without dropping it to the ground. There are many people out there with Essential Tremor, Parkinson’s Disease, or other motion disorders. For them, eating is a torture due to their condition. Designed by Lift Labs which was acquired by Google Life Sciences, Liftware is a stabilizing handle and a selection of attachments that include a soup spoon, everyday spoon, and fork. Liftware is specially designed to improve the lives of those with such motion disorders.

 

2) Food scanners

There are many uncertainties around eating. Usually, we have no idea what we are eating. Where did the chicken come from that was on your plate at the Indian restaurant last week? Where were the beans or the carrots packaged? What does the pre-packaged tiramisu on the supermarket shelf contain? Many burning questions of 21st-century living, as most of us, urban dwellers, are unfortunately not living near enough to our food sources. The solution might come from food scanners. Canadian TellSpec has developed a hand–held food scanner that can inform users about specific ingredients and macronutrients. The company brings together spectroscopy and a unique mathematical algorithm in a revolutionary system that can analyze the chemical composition of food.

The Israeli company, SCiO, uses a technology similar to TellSpec’s but is designed to identify the molecular content of foods, medicines, and even plants. The company says that in milliseconds the ingredients and molecular make–up of the foodstuff will appear on the user’s smartphone. However, their promises have yet to be fulfilled, as the scanner, they introduced on the market does not exactly deliver what the demo did.

The Nima gluten-sensor (already on the market!) was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2015. It is a portable, nicely designed gadget. The Nima is able to tell you from a small food sample within two minutes, whether the food on your plate contains gluten. The firm also aims to apply its technology to detect other food allergens, including peanuts and dairy. They plan to introduce their peanut sensor in fall 2017.

 

3) Nutrigenomics

It is a brand-new cross-field combining genetics and nutrition science. The basic idea behind nutrigenomics is that our genome reveals valuable information about our organism’s needs, which we should map out and utilize in order to lead a long and healthy life. After having your DNA sequenced (perhaps already at home!), a smart app could let you know which food you should eat and what you should avoid at all cost. As we are all genetically different, our diet should be personalized.

For example, the California-based start-up, Habit, plans to use genetic markers to identify the ideal meal for each of its customers and send that meal directly to their doors.  You only need to send back their required blood sample kit, do their so-called “metabolic challenge” and provide a series of body metrics like height, weight, and waist circumference as well as lifestyle habits like how often a person walks, runs, or exercises. All of this analysis leads to a personalized meal plan of foods that works best for the user’s body.

 

4) Calorie counters

Finding the ideal weight is a challenge for many people; while there are as many bits of advice regarding healthy eating and diets as sand in the desert. While there is a lot of debate around calories as well, it is common knowledge that if you reduce your calorie intake to a certain amount, you will lose weight. You should obviously not forget about the quality of your food while cutting on calorie intake to make sure you feel good and ultimately shift the fat in the long term – not just the weight in the short term.

But first things first. If you want to know your eating habits better and see how much you are really eating, you might want to use a calorie tracker. Similarly to counting steps and following your fitness activities closely, there are plenty of trackers on calories on the market. For example, you definitely know Fitbit and the Fitbit Surge as your fitness companion; but you should also consider the Fitbit Charge 2 as your choice for the best of what the company has to offer for calorie counting. Although if you do not want to have a separate wearable just for calories, you can choose from many apps whose goal is to help you log your meals. If so, let’s try MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, Calorie Counter Pro, HAPIcoach or Noom Coach.

My favorites are MyFitnessPal and HAPIcoach. Both are great for diet management and calorie counting. MyFitnessPal has over 5 million food items in its database and it is super easy to log what kind of food or drink you had during the day. Moreover, the counter can be synced with various health apps, fitness bands or smart scales. With HAPIcoach, you can take a photo of your meals for 5 consecutive days; then send them back to a real nutritionist, who will give you advice on how to adjust your diet to the ideal. It’s a great way to acquire your very own, personalized diet.

5) Food chatbots

Has it ever happened to you that you stood in the middle of a supermarket wondering about where the tortilla chips with jalapeno dip are and whether they are very far away from shampoo so that you have to make another round in the store again? Has it ever happened to you that you had no idea what to eat or what to cook tomorrow that does not involve asparagus which you have been eating for the whole week already?

Food chatbots might be here to help you. In 2016, Whole Foods announced the launch of their very own chatbot developed by Conversable. It lets customers browse through the store find products, and then, with a few taps in a Facebook Messenger chatbot, find recipes for an upcoming meal. So, you just select a tomato emoji, and the chatbot will find you great recipes for spaghetti bolognese for example. The Food Network TV Channel launched a similar chatbot: you can search for various recipes by ingredient, meal type, your favorite chef or show. Both sound like a lot of fun and a great way to explore new ways in cooking.

 

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3 Ways Technology has Changed Healthcare

3 Ways Technology has Changed Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Technology is considered to be the driving force behind improvements in healthcare and, when you look at the rate of change and recent innovations, many find it hard not to agree with that observation.

Graduates of health informatics will no doubt agree that technology is impacting many aspects of our lives as breakthroughs in data collection, research and treatments allow medical providers to use new tools and find fresh and innovative ways to practice medicine into the future.

Better and More Accessible Treatment

A number of industry analysts have observed that increased accessibility of treatment is one of the most tangible ways that technology has changed healthcare. Health IT opens up many more avenues of exploration and research, which allows experts to make healthcare more driven and effective than it has ever been.

Improved Care and Efficiency

Another key area that has grown and continues to do so is patient care. The use of information technology has made patient care safer and more reliable in most applications.

The fact that nurses and doctors who are working on the frontline are now routinely using hand-held computers to record important real-time patient data and then sharing it instantly within their updated medical history is an excellent illustration of the benefits of health IT.

Being able to accumulate lab results, records of vital signs and other critical patient data into one centralized area has transformed the level of care and efficiency a patient can expect to receive when they enter the healthcare system.

An increased level of efficiency in data collection means that a vast online resource of patient history is available to scientists, who are finding new ways to study trends and make medical breakthroughs at a faster rate.

Software Improves Healthcare and Disease Control

The development of specific software programs means that, for example, the World Health Organization has been able to classify illnesses, their causes and symptoms into a massive database that encompasses more than 14,000 individual codes.

This resource allows medical professionals and researchers to track, retrieve and utilize valuable data in the fight to control disease and provide better healthcare outcomes in general.

Software also plays a pivotal role in tracking procedures and using billing methods that not only reduce paperwork levels, but also allow practitioners to use this data to improve quality of care and all around efficiency.

Doctors report that they are deriving enormous benefits from the drive toward a total system of electronic medical records; patients enjoy the fact that software has created a greater degree of transparency in the healthcare system.

We have seen many positive changes in health IT and expect to continue witnessing more exciting developments in the future!

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Are Wearables Dangerous for Health?

Are Wearables Dangerous for Health? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

It’s been repeatedly stressed by healthcare practitioners how beyond a balanced diet and exercise, getting sufficient sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing.

 

There are wearables that can already track our daily activities such as heart rate when we exercise and even the number of steps we have walked that day and the distance. In addition to that, some wearables can monitor your sleep patterns.

 

But how accurate are they and are they good for you?

 

Sleep specialists at Rush University Lab in Chicago reported an increase in patients who were complaining about sleep disorders. However, it was observed that those who wore wearables that tracked their sleep started to develop an obsession over getting enough sleep.

 

As most people are aware, eight hours is what is commonly referred to as the “right amount of sleep.” And because of this, people who tracked that they were getting less than that started to develop anxiety over not getting enough sleep, and the strain resulted in disrupted sleep.

 

Furthermore, sleep trackers cannot differentiate between light and day and could be tracking the wearer as asleep when they are in fact just resting. Ultimately, it has been observed that sleep trackers aren’t always accurate.

 

Remember that sleep trackers like other activity trackers are wearable digital devices that measure, amongst other things, your arm movement with a detector called an accelerometer. So it is entirely possible that the sleep tracker is indicating you are asleep when you are in fact, not.

 

If you are struggling with a sleeping disorder such as insomnia, a sleep tracker will only tell you how much sleep you didn’t get and is not sensitive or sophisticated enough to diagnose the problem. Ultimately, it may keep people from seeking the medical attention they need to fully diagnose if they have a sleeping disorder that may be detrimental to their overall health.

 

Furthermore, those who are tracking that they are getting a full eight hours of sleep may be misled that they have no sleep disorder, when in fact, they do. Their tracker may indicate they slept for eight hours, but it will not always accurately track if they were restless or had brief moments of awakening.

 

The bottom line is that too many people may be relying too much on the numbers that their wearables are recording and not on the actual quality of their sleep. Are they waking up refreshed and feeling restored? Are they energised or did they wake up more tired than before they slept because their sleep was restless and disruptive?

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How Technology Is Changing The Medical And Healthcare Fields

How Technology Is Changing The Medical And Healthcare Fields | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Astonishing Advantages In Technology

Heart attacks are terrible and can kill you, but assisted cardiology methods today are saving lives across the world. This is just one example of technological advancement, but there are quite a few different changes which you may even be surprised by.

  

Let’s start with IoT. The Internet of Things is creating a network wherein common devices are connected continuously to the internet. This provides several advantages. One, information is uploaded regarding network and device operations such that optimization can occur. Hospitals can additionally monitor patients directly and proactively.

  

The second thing that happens is a sort of “floated” cloud—a cloud on the cloud, if you will. Cloud computing is a network of servers that function together as a whole. Edge computing outsources processing to individual IoT devices, so they function similar to how the cloud does. Here’s the thing: IoT has many more devices than the cloud. It can potentially be more effective.

  

Between cloud computing and the internet of things, information can continuously gather identifying trends that are negative, and curtailing them. Outbreaks can be caught and treated earlier. Pandemics can be contained with greater speed. Additionally, lifestyle choices resulting in extended lifespans can be found and studied almost collaterally.

  

Additional Areas Of Tech Development

 

Something else that’s characterizing the medical industry today is innovations which reduce operational expenses over time, allowing for expanded outreach, development, and innovation.

  

A substantial cost-reducer in terms of research comes from automated mouse ear tags; according to RapIDLab.com, these tags: “Are the newest, most humane miniature automated mouse ear tags available…[these are] the most cost-effective automated lab animal identification on the market.”

  

Basically, imagine a tattooed barcode instead of a clip through the ear. It takes less time to apply the tag, and it takes less time to scan the tag. Instead of writing each individual number down, researchers can use a barcode scanner and just run down the line. What took hours will now take minutes. Hours are worth hundreds, often thousands, of dollars to research facilities.

  

If fifteen hours are saved a month, that works out to 180 hours a year. At $100 an hour, that’s $18,000 a year. At $1,000 an hour, that’s $180,000 a year. How much does it cost an hour to run your research operation? Many operational managers will likely find even greater savings through such solutions.

Component-Specific Production And Maintenance

Another game-changer in the medical technology industry comes from Weiss-Aug.com; according to the site: “Whether a part requires stitching of terminals, molding of multiple inserts simultaneously, laser welding or wire attachment, we can help you with the proper assembly methods for your program.”

  

Now medical institutions can outsource business needs which previously could only be accomplished through skilled employees sourced internally, or who require a regular service agreement. This can substantially curb expenses while simultaneously expediting technology advancements which are often life-saving.

  

Increasing Tech Innovations Define A Zenith In Medicine

Many medical businesses are called “practices” for a reason: as much as medicine has advanced in the last several decades, the human body seems to have become more mysterious, not less. For example: we know what DNA is, and we have some idea as to its inner-workings. But it’s an example of three-dimensional code more complicated than deliberately designed computer code—it’s beyond mankind’s ability for design.

  

Even though there are greater opportunities today in medicine than ever before, perhaps the most interesting feature of this situation is that these developments have revealed even greater potential than could have been imagined.

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Top Five Digital Transformation Trends In Health Care

Top Five Digital Transformation Trends In Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Technology is changing every industry in significant ways. To help frame how, I’m starting a new series discussing top trends in various markets. First up: health care.

No one can dispute technology’s ability to enable us all to live longer, healthier lives. From surgical robots to “smart hospitals,” the digital transformation is revolutionizing patient care in new and exciting ways. That’s not all. National health expenditures in the United States accounted for $3.2 trillion in 2015—nearly 18% of the country’s total GDP. It’s predicted that the digital revolution can save $300 billion in spending in the sector, especially in the area of chronic diseases. Clearly there is value—human and financial—in bringing new technology to the health care market. The following are just a few ways how.

 

Telemedicine

Even back in 2015, 80% of doctors surveyed said telemedicine is a better way to manage chronic diseases than the traditional office visit. Why? Telemedicine offers patients and health care providers both a new wave of freedom and accessibility. For the first time, a patient’s care options are not limited by geographic location. Even patients in remote areas can receive the highest quality of care, providing they have an internet connection and smart phone. Telemedicine can also save both time and money. Patients no longer have to schedule their days around routine follow-up visits (and long office waits). Instead, they can hop on a conference call to get the prescription update or check-up they need.

Nowhere has telepresence been more useful than in the mental health field. Now, those seeking emotional support can find access to a therapist or counselor at the click of a button, often for far less than they would pay for a full office visit. Internet therapies, for instance, “offer scalable approaches whereby large numbers of people can receive treatment and/or prevention, potentially bypassing barriers related to cost, location, lack of trained professionals, and stigma.” Telemedicine makes it possible.

 

Mobility And Cloud Access

Have you ever played phone tag with your doctor while waiting for important test results? It’s so nerve-racking! That’s why mobility and cloud access have been such a tremendous help in increasing accessibility for patients and doctors alike. By 2018, it’s estimated that 65% of interactions with health care facilities will occur by mobile devices. Some 80% of doctors already use smartphones and medical apps, with 72% accessing drug info on smart phones on a regular basis. Gone are the days of paper charts and file rooms. Hospitals, insurance companies, and doctor’s offices are now storing patient medical records in the cloud, with patients able to access test results online 24/7.

Given HIPAA laws relating to patient privacy, it’s probably no surprise this has also led to an increased focus on data protection and security. According to one report, “the black-market value of medical data is greater than even that of financial information.” Believe me when I say: No industry is more focused on virtualization security right now than health care.

 

Wearables And IoT

I remember the days when going into the local grocery store and getting my blood pressure read at one of those prehistoric machines seemed exciting. Imagine: A machine that helped me manage my own well-being without setting foot in a doctor’s office. Now, mobile devices as small as my cell phone can perform ECGs, DIY blood tests, or serve as a thermometer, all without even leaving my house. With help from automation, patients can even be prompted to check their weight, pulse, or oxygen levels, and enter results into mobile patient portals. Even better: They can transmit the results to my doctor in real time. Those details, when entered regularly, can help predict one’s risk for heart disease and other illnesses, ultimately saving lives. This is far more than cool. It’s life-saving.

 

Artificial Intelligence And Big Data

Big data is king in the digital world, and health care is no exception. Yes, it can be gathered to measure customer satisfaction. But perhaps more importantly, it can be used to automatically identify risk factors and recommend preventative treatment. Even more exciting: with the rise of the Internet of (Medical) Things (IoMT), mobile and wearable devices are increasingly connected, working together to create a cohesive medical report accessible anywhere by your health care provider. This data is not just useful for the patient. It can be pooled and studied en masse to predict health care trends for entire cultures and countries.

 

Empowered Consumers

All of the above have led to an entirely new trend in healthcare: patient empowerment. While many of us have come to associate health care with high costs and long waits, patients are now in the driver’s seat, with better access to higher-quality doctors, and higher satisfaction rates overall. It’s a healthy new way to look at health care, and one that holds promise for all of us with easy access to the digital landscape. My blood pressure is already lowering just imagining the possibilities.

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Presenters's curator insight, October 24, 4:16 AM
Al pensar en tecnología recurrimos a  muchos avances relacionados con la comunicación, educación... pero pocas veces nos planteamos que hay otros campos en los que también tiene una gran influencia. La industria tecnológica también está ayudando a cambiar el panorama de la salud. ¿Quieres conocer algunos de los avances tecnológicos más significativos en este campo?
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Wearable Technology Devices and Apps Take Patient Care to the Street

Wearable Technology Devices and Apps Take Patient Care to the Street | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Wearable technology has evolved beyond fitness bracelets and now enables patients to receive healthcare services on the go.

Similar to fitness bracelets and apps, sensors embedded in wearable devices record patients’ daily activities, and companion apps display personal healthcare data that’s programmed to respond to each patient’s specific conditions. While in operation, these companion apps transmit a patient’s data to his or her medical team, keeping them informed and the patient connected.

Below are three wearable technology devices and apps that take patient care to the street, monitoring the patient’s vital signs, medication and even pain levels.

 

HealthPatch MD
The sensors in the HealthPatch MD disposable patch, when adhered to the patient’s chest, can track a patient’s vital signs and body position to monitor and alert caregivers for concerns. The ECG sensors track heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature and respiration, while the accelerator sensor monitors physical activity, as well as records body position, and alerts a patient’s medical team if he or she falls.

Because it collects and streams your information in real time, the resulting record shows how each of a patient’s separate body systems are functioning in context with all the others. Bluetooth technology connects the patch to the related app that transmits the data to a patient’s medical office.

 

Helius
Some patients struggle with remember when to take their medications and how much they should take, but they may find the Helius smart sensor pills alleviates some of the medication guesswork. Swallowing one of these digital pills places a sensor in a patient’s stomach to register when and how often medications are taken. In the stomach, gastric fluids complete the electrical circuit within the pill and the sensor then alerts the companion smartphone app  when it detects the presence of the medicine. Helius sensors can also track related physiological activity, such has how the body responds to treatment.

In July, Helius pills were cleared by the FDA to be used as an aid in the measurement of medication adherence but faces privacy challenges when combined with other medications.

 

Quell Relief
Chronic knee pain affects 14% of Americans over the age of 24, and that number rises to 34% over the age of 65, but many refuse to take pain medication to relieve it. The Quell Relief knee brace may provide relief to knee pain sufferers, as it stimulates sensory nerves, which carry neural pulses to a patient’s brain. These neural pulses block pain signals in your body.

The product looks and acts like a standard knee brace, but has a small electrode on the inside. After calibration to your particular pain tolerance, the device delivers neural pulses over time. The Quell app keeps the record of your therapy over time and can also monitor your sleep quality.

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The digital hospital: Streamlining workflow to improve care

The digital hospital: Streamlining workflow to improve care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Hospitals are complex ecosystems with hundreds of clinical and business processes. In this guest post, Brendan Ziolo, head of large enterprise strategy at an IP networking, ultra-broadband access and cloud technology company, gives hospital executives a glimpse at how digitization and automation of processes are key to streamlining workflows to enable providers to spend less time on non-care related tasks and more time on patients.

 

Patient care teams handle multiple patients and care management tasks. The result is a multifaceted web of workflows that can be prone to decision bottlenecks or missed/delayed tasks that can impact patient safety and care quality.

If properly integrated and automated, these processes have the potential to seamlessly unite patients, doctors, staff, assets and information throughout the hospital.

Digital strategy

But, it’s not just about adopting new technology; hospitals must have a clear digital strategy across their entire organization and IT infrastructure. To become a digital hospital, processes must be streamlined and reengineered to create paperless automated digital workflows.

Many functions within hospitals are already on their way to becoming digital. For example, electronic health records (EHRs) are being widely implemented to help track patient health data and support medical decisions. Digital medical imaging systems are quickening the process of reviewing medical images by physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Hospitals are extending workflow through mobile health (mHealth) initiatives, which enable physicians and patients to use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to record and find the right information and resources anytime from any location. In fact, according to the 2014 HIMSS Analytics Mobile Devices Study, more than half of U.S. hospitals are using smartphones and/or tablets and 69% of clinicians are using both a desktop/laptop and a smartphone/tablet to access information.

In addition, hospitals are eliminating distance barriers with telemedicine through the use of network and communication technologies to provide broader access to standard or specialized care, regardless of location. Other functions and processes that are being digitized and automated include delivery robots that can handle a number of fetch-and-deliver tasks, and real-time location systems (RTLS) are used to locate equipment, patients and staff.

Duplication of processes

Progress is being made, yet most digital information and processes in hospitals reside in disparate systems or devices that must be interconnected and integrated to truly improve workflow and quality care. Duplication of information and processes must be avoided to eliminate unintended consequences.

Often you can find staff doing double data entry or pulling information from different systems, and jumping through hoops to pull together the knowledge required for the best patient care. There are many tasks throughout the hospital that staff spend time on every day just to get their jobs done. The goal in a digital hospital is to automate as many of these tasks as possible to improve staff efficiency, information accuracy and overall cost savings.

By standardizing procedures and breaking down processes into their component parts, digitizing, connecting and analyzing them, hospitals can realize unprecedented efficiency. Once processes are well understood, technology solutions can be leveraged to streamline these processes and integrate disparate elements. Essential to this integration is the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure that interconnects all aspects of care delivery and hospital administration.

The big picture

The use of mobile, cloud and new communication technologies can create a platform that can capture data from disparate sources, such as EHRs, wearables, clinical information systems, mobile devices and more.

Pull it all together and a caregiver is given a holistic and real-time view of a patient’s health on any device that is accessible to the patient, or other specialists as needed, for the best ongoing care.

This is just one view of how a digital workflow could look and the impact it might have on both the patient and provider. But it’s clear that the only way healthcare providers can meet the growing expectations of the healthcare consumer is with a streamlined, digital workflow that not only improves care but still meets critical compliance and security regulations.

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5 Technologies Changing Healthcare

5 Technologies Changing Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing! It’s no coincidence that the healthcare revolution aligns with the Digital Era, and how we approach our well-being, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, is getting faster, better and more accessible thanks to technology. It might seem like the healthcare industry is behind others when it comes to tasks like digitizing documents for a paperless environment, but that’s not the case. With regulations like HIPPA ensuring security compliance, it just takes healthcare a little longer to get fully on board with special technology that’s much more comprehensive and advanced than what’s readily available to other industries.

We take a lot of technology for granted, but consider these five technologies that are changing healthcare, and it’s easy to see how far we’ve come:

1. Fitness trackers. Whether you couldn’t imagine life without your Fitbit, heart rate monitor in spin class or Apple’s health app, how we track, compete, encourage ourselves and promote our fitness has shifted drastically thanks to these devices. They’re not perfect, and in some cases fitness trackers have been linked to negative practices such as orthorexia, but for most devotees they’re fun and easy ways to help move more and encourage healthy eating. When you know exactly what you’ve consumed, how long you’ve worked out and to what degree, and your tracker is telling you to get up and move because you’ve been sitting too long, it’s like having a 24/7 personal trainer at a very small fraction of the cost.

2. DietSensor. It’s another app, but one with a new approach to a healthier lifestyle. This recent development, and others like it, can scan nutritional labels to instantly gauge how an item fits into your diet (keeping in mind that a diet is something we all have, for better or worse). Learning to read nutritional labels is a skill that’s gone by the wayside. However, whether you teach yourself to be a better label checker or prefer to rely on the quick scan of technology, it’s a critical part of choosing a healthier lifestyle. Reading nutritional labels isn’t a skill that’s taught at school, and it’s rarely taught at home—often because those who should be teaching it are clueless, too. Nutritional labels have become increasingly confusing in recent years with ingredients we can’t pronounce and additions to labels to include items like “sugar alcohols.” A great app can be personalized so you’re getting the information you both need and want. For example, maybe you’re embracing a carb-cycling lifestyle and need to know net carbs instead of just a breakdown of carbohydrate types.

3. Healthcare data storage solutions. Embracing a paperless environment isn’t just kind to the environment, though you may get extra brownie points for that. It’s also a means of minimizing human error and double work. With cloud storage available, patient files (and more) can be instantly uploaded, downloaded, shared and viewed with those granted access anywhere in the world. Even with the threat of security breaches, soft copies of files are generally more secure than hard copies. Data storage designed specifically for healthcare can also help sync a patients’ many healthcare providers including GPs, mental health experts, physical therapists, nutritionists and even personal trainers.

4. New glucose monitoring systems with no prick. There are a few on the market, but a popular option in Europe and Australia is the Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. Instead of daily finger pricks previously required of those with diabetes, it’s a sensor that you wear for 14 days that tests blood sugar levels 14 times throughout the day completely discomfort-free. Overall, technology is revolutionizing medical tests and routine precautions making approaches easier, more flexible, and more comfortable than ever. Those with diabetes aren’t the only patients who need frequent blood tests, but they make up the majority of such patients.

5. Virtual reality. VR options were big on Santa’s wish lists during the past holiday season, but they’re more than just fun and games. Virtual reality can help medical students “experience” future situations in a much more realistic fashion, and VR can also help the elderly or those with agoraphobia and PTSD slowly re-immerse themselves into a space that’s safe and accessible while mimicking the real world. There are a variety of VR offerings available, and doing your due diligence to find the right match for you is critical to having a successful experience.

Another technological breakthrough that’s been around for a while is being able to connect with healthcare professionals virtually. There’s been a boom in the number of physicians, mental health experts, and other healthcare professionals “meeting” with patients via video conferencing. It’s a faster, easier, and sometimes more affordable way for patients to get the care they need. As an added bonus, patients who are immobile, in rural areas, or for other reasons that have trouble seeing a medical professional in person suddenly has instant access to the help they need.

Technology is far from perfect, and there’s no telling what kind of medical technology breakthroughs we’ll experience in the coming years. However, with every offering there’s a chance to learn, grow and make sure the next breakthrough is even better. Technology can only improve if tested, though. For those in a position to try out new technology solutions, do so, and share your experience. It just might help drive the next generation of medical technology.

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5 ways technology will change the future of healthcare

5 ways technology will change the future of healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Companies preparing to launch their health business ventures under the Trump administration's policies have met a state of flux around insurance and regulations.

But this is nothing new for businesses to grapple with, according to Mike Strazzella, a federal government healthcare attorney at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC. Our healthcare system has been in a state of flux for the past eight years, Strazzella said, with former president Barack Obama's commitment to reshaping the healthcare delivery system with the Affordable Care Act.

Back in the early 2000s, healthcare providers such as hospitals would put together five-year strategic plans. Now, the field changes so rapidly that they can only build one- to three-year plans, Strazzella said.

However, technology advances faster than the government can keep up, Strazzella said. "While the industry will have an appetite for more, entrepreneurs have to be ready for slow public sector progress, which is always a frustration," he said. "I think we're going to see the FDA implement processes and regulations to spark greater competition, whether that's a generic medication or a device."

Strazzella recommends businesses stay in touch with the latest trends within the industry, and build relationships with customers to gain a better understanding of their needs. He also advises business leaders to keep up with the happenings in Washington, DC, as much innovation in healthcare is driven by government regulation.

"We're still in flux," Strazzella said. "As long as people continue to think outside the box, and try and shape the policy debate around the delivery of healthcare, it will without a doubt trickle down to new ideas and concepts to try and help make health more effective."

Here are five predictions from Strazzella on the future of healthcare technology.

1. Advances in data mining and record keeping

 

"I think we're going to find that there will be a much stronger need for data mining and record keeping by a lot of people along all providers that touch the delivery system," Strazzella said. That includes information on a patient's income, Medicaid, and citizenship eligibility. "We're going to see more requirements put on places within the delivery system, and checks and balances of whether somebody should be receiving the type of insurance they're receiving, or if they're better suited for another option," Strazzella said.

2. Tailoring the health plan to the patient

"We're starting to see health plans gear people toward the right type of insurance for that person," Strazzella said. "We're starting to see them looking toward tech companies with that information, and how to parcel it out, and either gear future products that are the right fit for people based on that information, or try to help the patient move toward an existing product."

3. Moving to a fee-for-service system

Strazzella predicts that we will move toward a fee-for-service, value-based outcomes system in US healthcare, based on how successful a provider is at treating a patient. That might mean testing a medication to see if it works in three days instead of six days, for example. "It's going to require more metrics as we move to this, so there is going to be high demand on the IT side of things, and higher levels of competition," Strazzella said.

4. Electronic health records that talk to each other

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is going to transition away from investing in electronic health record infrastructure, Strazzella said. Instead, meaningful use will be more about the interoperability of these systems. "We'll see systems that are user-friendly and will minimize time spent interacting with EHRs versus patients," Strazzella said.

5. Rise of telehealth

"Telehealth is starting to get its deserved recognition for how it can help save on costs to the healthcare system and patients in terms of hard dollars, time, and accessibility," Strazzella said. The field is growing in terms of care for patients in neurology, behavioral health, dermatology, and remote monitoring of chronic conditions. "As those tech advances advance, we can see those services can be removed from face to face encounters, and will progress a lot faster," he said.

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4 Important Ways Healthcare Technology Improves Your Patient Care

4 Important Ways Healthcare Technology Improves Your Patient Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare technology continues to be a hot topic of conversation, as the world that we’ve long visualized gets closer to being our reality.

It’s changing how healthcare providers diagnose, treat, manage and monitor. Health tech has the potential to save lives, improve quality of life, and completely redirect the downward trajectory of hard to manage patients.

Let’s explore how 4 important health techs are improving patient care.

Predictive Analytics & Machine Learning

Physicians today utilize predictive analytics & machine learning to better identify high risk patients and put the right interventions in place to:

  • Prevent admissions
  • Prevent readmissions
  • Reduce decline and relapse
  • Improve medication compliance
  • Speed up recovery
  • Help patients respond to triggers
  • Better engage patients in between visits

Patients today want more personalized care Health tech like this helps give patients what they want as it improves patient care and patient outcomes.

Continue on see more.

Wearable Technology

For patients suffering from chronic conditions, wearable technology provides a better way for patients to meet their health metrics.

This is because they receive immediate feedback about their health, current state of being, and behaviors that will impact those metrics. In many cases, the data can even be accessed by their physician in real time.

Wearables provide tools patients need to track and adjust behavior on a moment-to-moment basis rather than waiting until they have a doctor’s visit.

Today doctors are using wearables to:

  • Help patients be more active
  • Keep patients informed about day to day heart health
  • Help those with musculoskeletal injuries and physical developmental delays regain or gain mobility, including paralysis of the lower extremities
  • Track sleep patterns
  • Better understand mood disorders
  • Painlessly monitor glucose levels
  • Relieve chronic pain

The potential of remote monitoring to improve care has long been studied, but more recently we are finding it within our reach.

Virtual Reality

Medical students today can use virtual reality (VR) to get hands-on without a real patient in sight. This allows for more in-depth training and real time feedback that doesn’t include your patient screaming when you make a wrong move.

Furthermore, doctors today use VR to help treat patients with:

  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Phobias

Through systematic desensitization, patients can face their fears, anger and sadness in a controlled setting. Before VR, such “facing of fears” would have been much more logistically challenging and less controlled.

Telemedicine

As part of the patient’s desire for more personalized care, they’re looking for healthcare services that align with their personal needs. This goes beyond medical treatments.

Telemedicine does this in several very effective ways.  For example, telemedicine:

  • Provides ultimate convenience to patients who think they don’t have time to see the doctor, so patients don’t delay seeing the doctor.
  • Meets the needs of the elderly and other individuals who may be home-bound or even bed-ridden.
  • Eliminates that boring waiting room experience.
  • Helps keep patients with immune disorders out of medical facilities that, despite best efforts, become breeding grounds for infections and even superbugs.
  • Delivers most of the benefits of face to face, especially when combined with wearable technologies.
  • Provides a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform on which doctors and patients can connect.

Healthcare Technology Makes a Big Difference in Patients’ Lives

Whether you’re a doctor, nurse or other medical services provider, you understand that it’s not about medicine. It’s about people.

Through healthcare technology, you can make sure every patient gets the care that they deserve. You can tear down barriers to care, expand your reach, and improve patient outcomes.

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Technology benefits the elderly, but can it help those with dementia?

Technology benefits the elderly, but can it help those with dementia? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The buzz is building about technology’s ability to enrich the lives of the elderly, effectively turning back the clock and opening up new possibilities. The statistics back it up, with 67 percent of adults over 65 accessing the news on mobile devices and 77 percent of adults over 65 owning a mobile phone. Anecdotally, I hear it all the time: So many people talk about how their parents or grandparents initially resisted the adoption of technology, but after learning to use iPads and other devices, their lives are transformed.

Still, amidst all of the valid excitement over technology’s positive effects on the aging population, huge gaps and opportunities remain in the space. Much of the technology is dedicated toward the concept of “aging in place,” with the goal of keeping older adults as independent and healthy for as long as possible. These products are aimed at keeping people connected and brain-fit, as well as enhancing wellness and longevity. These are all valid endeavors, and it’s fascinating as every year goes by to see what’s on the horizon.

 

However, in the wake of that well-justified enthusiasm, folks dealing with cognitive decline, and in particular dementia, can be left out of the equation. Arguably, those experiencing cognitive decline have the most to gain from adopting technology of any group. And the good news is that finding ways to help this group through technology isn’t very complicated.

 

The right technology for the right person

It’s important to realize that the dramatic impact we have seen with technology and dementia over the years has not usually come from new and groundbreaking technologies. Instead, it typically comes from repurposing tools already at our fingertips. Many of us have become blasé about new technologies. While our lives are changed through these tools, it happens incrementally, so the novelty and astonishment can wear off. Not so for those living with dementia. Do you know what it’s like for a 93-year-old with mid-stage dementia to see the house she grew up in via Google Earth? Or a grandmother in Iowa watching her granddaughter get married in France via Skype? Or how about a Korean War pilot reliving the experience of flying simply by navigating a joystick with off-the-shelf flight simulation software? The Jetsons weren’t so far off! We have these tools and many more at our disposal every day; it’s just a matter of integrating them into the dementia landscape. Of course, we must account for the cognitive and physical realities of each individual person, but that reality does not change the human desire we all feel to stay connected and to stay relevant.

 

Fortunately, we’ve had hundreds of providers over the years help us with thousands of ideas as to how to change the paradigm and make technology more accessible to the aging. What these valued partners have taught me is that what matters is not technology for its own sake, but searching to find the right technology that is most relevant to that one person. To the geography teacher, it’s putting together a puzzle of the United States; to the priest, it’s hearing the rosary, to the farmer, it’s being immersed in multimedia videos of farming, and to me, it’s hearing my daughter, Perrin, sing! We all have our own quirks and interests, and the communities that do it right are the ones that proactively look for technology solutions that match the needs of each person. It’s a fun, rewarding puzzle to put together.

 

Our journey into technology for the aging population is just beginning. Thanks to the promise of virtual reality, augmented reality, voice activation, holograms and more, the future is bright, and full of endless possibilities. So, if you are part of an organization that works with older adults, keep looking for technology that will keep the folks you serve as healthy and independent as long as possible. It’s without question a noble endeavor. But I guarantee you will be blown away by the outcomes if you also look for ways to benefit the folks that seem like they are the hardest to reach. The smiles you get back will make it worth the effort!

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The Future of Diabetes Management

The Future of Diabetes Management | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
One in eleven persons has to cope with diabetes worldwide on a daily basis 

According to the latest estimates of the WHO, 422 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide – and the number is growing steadily. It means that one person in eleven has to manage the chronic condition on a daily basis, which might lead to stroke, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure or amputation. There are two types of diabetes: when the body does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) and when the organism cannot utilize the generated insulin (type 2 diabetes). While the latter can be prevented with conscious lifestyle choices, the former is a mystery to the medical community. But if someone has diabetes, that means having a constant companion.

In both cases, the treatment of the symptoms requires constant blood glucose control, which usually requires a kind of insulin intake at regular intervals, as well as blood pressure control and/or foot care. It is a truly technologically dependent condition: you need to monitor your blood glucose level, your blood pressure, your weight, follow a meal plan, test your blood every now and then. Luckily, there are so many digital health innovations for diabetes patients out there that diabetes management has been improving for years steadily – and it will significantly change in the coming years.

But technology in itself is insufficient: you need people to utilize it – and diabetes patients do. It is one of the largest and most motivated communities both online and offline, sharing their experiences on social media and other platforms. I believe one of the most amazing development is due to the diabetes community: the #wearenotwaiting movement advocated the absolutely efficient DIY artificial pancreas for so long and so successfully that the FDA approved it! Democratized healthcare at its finest!

1) Digital Contact Lenses

Although Google stopped developing its augmented reality glass, Google Glass, they did not give up on combining vision and technology. The search engine giant and Novartis signed an agreement in order to cooperate on the development of the digital contact lens patented in 2014. According to the plans, through the lens, you can get more information from the digital world plus it can measure blood glucose levels from tears as an added benefit.

Google and Novartis said the lens would contain a tiny and ultra slim microchip that would be embedded in one of its thin concave sides. Through its equally tiny antenna, it would send data about the glucose measurements from the user’s tears to his or her paired smartphone via installed software. Originally, the companies promised to put the digital contact lens around 2020 on the market, but Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez in 2015 said that the contact lens would be on track to begin testing that year – and backtracked later.

Since then, there has been no news about the state of progress. However, in March 2017 Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt talked down the chances of the project bringing visible results in the next couple of years, which is not very promising. [It’s] a long-term project, not something where we were expecting a breakthrough in the first couple of years. We certainly haven’t seen such a breakthrough. We don’t expect anything incredible in the next three to four years, Reinhardt said.

2) Gamification

Isn’t it more fun to make the diabetes monster happy than to boringly measure blood glucose level? There are already companies leveraging on your inner child. There are amazing applications for smartphones that can help you manage diabetes efficiently. MySugr, an Austrian company, released several applications that can add a little bit of gamification to the traditional diabetes management apps.

The company also developed the mySugr Junior App designed for kids to learn how to manage diabetes properly. It also enables parents to keep control over the therapy when they are not around the kid. The app looks like a game in which the children get points for every entry and the goal is to score a particular amount of points every single day.

3) Patient empowerment with big data

I have been quantifying my health for decades, I have even done so before the start of the wearable revolution: in an excel spreadsheet. But it’s not just l’art pour l’art data collection, I want to know everything about my organism in order to live longer and healthier in full mental, physiological and psychological capacity. So I am always happy to see inventions aiming to do the same.

Doug Kanter collected data about himself for a full year – blood sugar readings, insulin doses, meals, sporting activity etc. His company, Databetes was born out of his own experiences with diabetes. It helps patients better manage their condition by providing a good way for logging and measuring data, as well as a revolutionary concept to analyze the big data behind one person’s disease. Patients can support each other through social media channels and become coaches for each other. Look at sixuntilme.com for best practice examples.

4) Artificial pancreas

The bionic or artificial pancreas basically replicates what a healthy version of the organ does on its own, and it enables diabetes patients to live an easier life in a sustainable way. The device can measure blood glucose levels constantly and decide upon the insulin delivery itself. Engineers from Boston University have developed a bionic pancreas system that uses continuous glucose monitoring along with subcutaneous delivery of both rapid-acting insulin and glucagon as directed by a computer algorithm. However, it was not in commercial use.

As there was no single device on the medical market, which was able to monitor blood sugar and supply insulin automatically, creative persons invented a DIY version from existing technologies. Aas I mentioned above, a grass-root (social media) movement called #wearenotwaiting grew out of the initiative, who campaigned for the introduction of such artificial pancreas on the market for years persistently. One of the leading figures of the movement, Dana Lewis told me how an artificial pancreas eases everyday life. She has been using the device for almost two years by the time the US Food and Drug Administration finally approved it.

5) Food scanners

Currently, we have absolutely no idea, what we are eating – not to speak about what we should. Food scanners promised they will be able to tell how many grams of sugar a piece of fruit contains, or what the alcohol percentage of a drink is. Canadian TellSpec announced its aim is to develop a hand–held food scanner that can inform users about specific ingredients and macronutrients, but the market launch is unfortunately in delay. The Israeli company SCiO  uses a technology similar to TellSpec’s but is designed to identify the molecular content of foods, medicines, and even plants. The company says that in milliseconds the ingredients and molecular make–up of the foodstuff will appear on the user’s smartphone. However, their promises have yet to be fulfilled, as the scanner, they introduced on the market does not exactly deliver what the demo did.

The Nima gluten-sensor (already on the market!) was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2015. It is a portable, nicely designed gadget, which is able to tell you from a small food sample within two minutes, whether the food on your plate contains gluten. The firm also hopes to apply its technology to detect other food allergens, including peanuts and dairy.

6) Pocket-sized gadgets

When you live with diabetes, you get used to carting around with plenty of things such as meters, test strips, lancing devices. Therefore a pocket-sized gadget combining many meters and strips can mean change in life quality. The personalized, pocket-sized, all-in-one glucose meter called Dario can offer you that comfort. Moreover, it comes with a robust real-time mobile app to manage diabetes quickly, efficiently and accurately.

For over 25 years, Medtronic has been helping people with diabetes with its complex insulin pumps. With its latest, personalized, hybrid closed-loop system it seems to get a step closer to build its own artificial pancreas. In 2016, Medtronic announced its partnership with IBM Watson. The company introduced a demo for a new app at CES 2016 that will eventually give patients detail information about the rate of insulin delivered, the constantly fluctuating glucose level and carbohydrate intake information, alongside with information from wearable trackers or calendar details.

7) Wireless blood glucose monitor

Glucose monitors usually work like this: you prick your finger, you apply the drop of blood to the glucose strip, and soon you will get the results. For someone, who requires glucose monitoring more than 3-4 times per day, it is a troublesome process.

The medical company Abbott released a FreeStyle Libre wireless monitor especially for them. It is the first of a new class of glucose monitoring devices that use “flash” technology. The user has to wear a sensor on the upper arm, which measures glucose in the body water known as “interstitial fluid”. The FreeStyle Libre is very accurate, as it can do the measurement every minute!

8) Digital tattoos

Doctors have been searching for ways how to spare patients from the pain and trouble of blood glucose monitoring for years. Beyond wireless monitors, researchers have created an electronic skin patchthat senses excess glucose in sweat and automatically administers drugs by heating up microneedles that penetrate the skin. The prototype was developed by Dae-Hyeong Kim, assistant professor at Seoul National University and researchers at MC10, the company experimenting with all kinds of microchips and biostamps that can measure numerous vital signs simultaneously.

I hope that the technology will spread around soon and it will bring the era of wireless diabetes management to every patient.

So there are more and more technologies that can help people manage diabetes properly besides potentially future therapies such as new drugs or islet cell transplantation but it’s really time to manage diabetes in a gamified and comfortable way and I believe that the best gadgets and the best technological solutions are just yet to come.

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The World’s Most Famous Real-Life Cyborgs

The World’s Most Famous Real-Life Cyborgs | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Tiptoeing around humans with machine parts
People imagine cyborgs usually as mean creatures combining some human and superhuman features in a robotic body. Movie characters such as the Terminator, Darth Vader or the Borgs in Star Trek come to mind. But you do not have to go as far as Star Wars to get in contact with cyborg-like features or characteristics. According to the usual definition, a cyborg combines organic and mechanic body parts. Yet, some scientists stretch this understanding. They include people with cochlear implants, cardiac pacemakers or even contact lenses. In a way, it is valid: the human body is augmented with technology, and the two works together to improve human capabilities.
 
As technological innovations in the field of medicine and healthcare multiply day by day, it will be more and more usual to augment our bodies with the help of machines. It makes us faster, stronger or more sensitive to the environment. This means that the boundaries of “human-ness” are stretched raising serious ethical questions. Here, I introduce you real-life cyborgs, who show us the current boundaries of the coexistence of man and machine in one person. And they might also mark the way how to find a balance between the two.
1) Neil Harbisson

With an antenna implanted into his head, he looks like a giant ant led from behind by a piece of bread on a stick. Coupled with his light mop haircut he looks like the main character would in a Wes Anderson sci-fi if he ever directed one. Harbisson is actually an artist born with achromatopsia or extreme colorblindness meaning he could only see in black-and-white. At first, he received his specialized electronic eye, his “eyeborg” to be able to render perceived colors as sounds on the musical scale. He is capable of experiencing colors beyond the scope of normal human perception: Amy Winehouse is red and pink, while ringtones are green.

Harbisson has been living as a cyborg for more than 10 years already. He believes that humans have a duty to use technology to transcend themselves and that it will happen in the future. It will start with a third eye on the back of the head or an implanted sensor indicating whether there is a car behind you.

2) Dr. Kevin Warwick

He has been known as “Captain Cyborg” and teaches at the University of Reading as a cybernetics professor. Warwick has experimented with different electronic implants since 1998 such as installing a microchip in his arm which lets him operate lights, heaters or computers remotely. As dedicated as he is, Warwick also gave an implant to his wife, so that when someone grasped her hand the man was able to experience the same sensation in his. It is jaw-dropping and awkwardly scary at the same time.

He is the founder of Project Cyborg using himself as the guinea pig on a mission to become the world’s most complete cyborg. Beyond his work on himself, he is involved in AI research. He faced serious criticism in 2014 over claims that the “supercomputer” called Eugene Goostman passed the “milestone” Turing-test for Artificial Intelligence.

3) Jesse Sullivan

Sullivan worked as an electrical linesman when in May 2001, he suffered a life-threatening accident: he was electrocuted so severely that both of his arms needed to be amputated. This, however, led to him to become the world’s first “Bionic Man”. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago offered him to replace his arms with robotic prosthetics, which opportunity he gladly took. He was fitted with a bionic limb connected through a nerve-muscle grafting.

He has control over his limb with his mind: when he thinks about lifting an arm, for example, certain muscles in his chest contract instead of muscles in his original arm, and the prosthetic replacement interprets this contraction as an instruction to move in a certain way. Moreover, he can also feel temperature as well as how much pressure his grip applies.

4) Nigel Ackland

He worked as a precious metals smelter until his accident at his workplace involving an industrial blender. This led to a severe crush injury of his right forearm. He underwent six months of operations and infections before deciding to have a below elbow amputation.

Over the years, he tried several prosthetic types, but finally, he received a bebionic3 hand. With its help, he can independently move to grip even delicate objects. He controls the arm through muscle movements in his remaining forearm. The range of movement is truly extraordinary. He can independently move each of his five fingers to grip delicate objects, or even pour a liquid into a glass.

5) Jerry Jalava

The Finnish programmer had a terrible motorcycle accident when he lost his left ring finger. It was just a week after he bought his new motorbike that he accidentally hit a deer. Right after it happened, he lit a cigarette when he realized that he misses the upper half of his finger.

Then he decided against a traditional prosthesis and rather went for something “useful”: a 2GB USB port was embedded into his prosthetic. It doesn’t upload any information directly into his brain though. He is the perfect example of how you don’t need to be a robotics mastermind to become a cyborg…

6) Cameron Clapp

Until his life-changing accident, Cameron lived the life of the “California teens”: he loved to surf, skateboard and hang with friends. He was 15 when he wandered over to some railroad tracks near their house and passed out after drinking with his brother moved by the 9/11 tragedy what happened around that time. When a train passed, he, unfortunately, lost both of his legs plus an arm.

He got fitted with a couple of prosthetic legs controlled by his brain with the help of a microprocessor. Since then, he has become an athlete and an amputee activist. His advice to struggling patients? “Surround yourself with good people… good doctors, therapists, family, and friends. Set reachable goals, work hard and maintain a good attitude.”

7) Professor Steve Mann

The Canadian tech-crazy professor designed a headset that is outfitted with a number of small computers and through it, he can record and play video and audio. He was one of the, if not the first, cyborgs in the world. Mann definitely experimented first with wearable computing in high school in the 70s. At MIT he literally bristled with equipment, wearing 80 pounds of computing equipment to class.

Mann was allegedly also the victim of the world’s “first cybernetic hate crime” in 2012: he was at a McDonald’s restaurant in Paris with his family when three different McDonald’s employees attempted to forcibly remove his “Digital Eye Glass” from his head.

8) Claudia Mitchell

Mitchell is the first woman to have a bionic arm and just as in the majority of the listed cases, her transformation into a cyborg life was also due to an accident. Although she spent four years in the Marine Corps she did not lose her arm during military service but in a motorcycle accident. She lost her left arm completely.

She told several newspapers that she used to peel bananas using both feet and one hand before she received her bionic arm. The robotic limb comes from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago just as in the case of Jesse Sullivan and was developed for $3 million. She cried when she first peeled a banana one-handed. 

9) Stelios Arcadio

He is also known as Stelarc. He is a performance artist who believes that the human body is obsolete. To prove this, he has had an artificially-created ear surgically attached to his left arm. In another show, he hooked up electrodes to his body to allow people to control his muscles through the Web.

He has his particular views how humans should look at technology and the symbiosis of the two. In an interview, he said that “we shouldn’t have a Frankensteinian fear of incorporating technology into the body, and we shouldn’t consider our relationship to technology in a Faustian way – that we’re somehow selling our soul because we’re using these forbidden energies. My attitude is that technology is, and always has been, an appendage of the body.”

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The 10 Best Health Technology Innovations at CES 2017

The 10 Best Health Technology Innovations at CES 2017 | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For geeks and gadget-lovers the year does not usually start with the 1st January, but a couple of days later, when CES opens in Las Vegas. It is even more exciting this year, since the exhibition celebrates its 50th anniversary – so it is obviously bigger and better than ever before.

It’s almost impossible to collect and analyse every novelty appearing at the fair, and I’m certainly more interested in the coolest health sensors and trackers than the announcement of T-Mobile making customer bills much simpler (although that’s relevant, too), but there are some palpable trends. Here are the two most important.

 

  • Tech companies and start-ups jumped eagerly on the ‘smart’-train, so your phone’s sensor might actually tell you which strawberry is sweeter or what is hiding in your fridge, but I do not think that creating smart apps, gadgets or technology for the sake of data is enough. I believe that instead of the tech version of l’art pour l’art, companies and start-ups should rather strengthen behavioral change. So smart objects and apps do not only gather information about the users or the environment for the sake of data, but in order to (ultimately) achieve a better life.
  • Looking through the latest technologies presented at CES – I have to emphasize that not every product was introduced at the tech gathering, but they certainly get here the most attention -, I believe real innovation is missing. According to the most trending chart created by CES, one of the most used buzzword (next to spidermanhomecoming) was “upgrade”. It is obvious, isn’t it? Instead of impacting, long-lasting, real innovation, tech companies are mostly upgrading their already existing products. Which is also quite exciting and requires a lot of work, it just indicates more of a gradual than a disruptive process.

However, no matter how the big picture looks like, there are still truly inspiring and forward-looking innovations out there with great potential for medicine and healthcare.

Here, let me show you the best health technologies to find at CES 2017!

 

1) Smart watch against sleep apnoea

No, apnoea is not an exotic snake type. It is actually a very dangerous health condition. It means that breathing stops periodically during sleeping. Apnoea might generate hypertension, heart disease, brain attacks, diabetes or somnolence. Neogia offers a smart solution for recognizing the problem and normalizing sleep. Its wearable, MOTIO HW detects sleep apnoea and improves sleeping quality via a personalized artificial intelligence that learns about the user.

 

2) Monitoring temperature easily

If you have a small child, you know how difficult it is to measure the sweet little baby’s temperature. There are always some movements, plush animals or bodily fluids involved. Now, the struggle is over. TempTraq offers a patch-like smart device, which monitors body temperature 24/7. It continuously senses, records, and sends temperature data to mobile devices so caregivers can keep track without unnecessarily disturbing the child. It is amazing due to its double effect: it will calm the mom down, while letting the baby sleep.

 

3) Chest strap to monitor your hearth

QardioCore promises a discreet as well as easily usable hearth monitor without patches and wires. The FDA-approved, medical-grade wearable uses sensors to record clinically accurate continuous ECG, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and activity data, which can be shared with medical professionals or synced to the free Qardio app or Apple’s Health app on iPhone or iPad. It was first introduced at CES 2015, and the first batch of these smart and tiny chest straps will be shipped to their lucky users as early as April 2017.

 

4) Mio Slice: if step count is not enough for you!

What if reaching 10 thousand steps a day is actually great for your annoying co-worker, Nathan, but bad for your health? Every single person has a different body in need of a personalized fitness plan and health solution. And Mio Slice wants to take that into account. At first sight, it looks and acts like a fitness tracker. It measures steps, calories burned, distance, all day heart rate and sleep. However, it adds to it its very own Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) index. PAI provides you with a personalised target score which reflects your body’s response to physical activity based on heart rate. It can reform the market of fitness trackers!

 

5) Smart glasses for the visually impaired

If you’ve ever been to any of the invisible exhibition series, you already got a limited impression how difficult it is to navigate through the world if you cannot see your surroundings. Aira is eager to help everyone who has problems with vision. Using a pair of smart glasses or a phone camera, the system allows an Aira “agent” to see what the blind person sees in real-time, and then talk them through whatever situation they’re in. It would be a bit easier crossing a busy street, shopping for dinner or finding the light switch. You could even help the company by becoming their agent! Stunning technology!

 

6) Keep calm and measure contractions

 

Expecting a baby comes with a lot of worries and stress. Is the little one healthy? Safe? Am I doing okay? Is my wife or girlfriend doing okay? Bloomlife wants to help every concerned parent-to-be out there. They developed a “pregnancy wearable”, a patch with a small device that sticks to the baby bump and measures contractions by reading the electrical activity of uterine muscle. It sends the information to your smart phone and lets you read and interpret the data. This way, you can make a difference between false alarms such as Braxton Hicks contractions and the real thing. Also, one of the most awesome idea of the start-up is that you do not need to buy the wearable. Since it is useful for you only for a limited time, the company is leasing the product instead of selling it. Great marketing, guys!

 

7) Falling asleep without the need for counting sheep

Okay, if you dread to think of panpipe music, this app will not work for you, but in most cases 2breathe’s sleep inducer has a pretty good success rate. It combines a Bluetooth sensor, a smartphone app and some soothing panpipe melodies. The wearable around your waistanalyses your breathing patterns, and then your phone gives out guidance in the form of smooth, lilting melodic tones to prolong exhalation and reduce brain activity, thus making you sleepy. It’s pretty easy. And believe me, you do not have to count sheep anymore before falling into a sweet dream.

 

8) One to rule them all – the ultimate fitness ring

Do you find fitness trackers and wearables too big, too visible, too uncomfortable and never matching your outfit? For a long time, companies and start-ups are experimenting with the idea of stuffing all their features into a tiny ring. Now, I believe Motiv succeeded. Its ring acts like a fitness tracker – with step counter, heart rate monitor or sleep tracker. It also withstands the elements – so you can wear it during swimming as well as on the North Pole. The ring is elegant, stylish and tasteful.

 

9) Take care of your skin wisely!

Your facial skin is one of the best indicator of your health due to its sensitivity. It responds to your mood, stress level and changes in the environment. Thus, it needs your peculiar attention. S-Skin wants to help you achieving it. It is made up of a microneedle patch and a portable device that can help analyse your skin, give you solutions and even suggest products that you’ll be able to use. Through the LED light, it can measure your skin’s dryness, hydration, redness, or melanin and then save the information on the app so you can track its changes.

 

10) Monitoring vital signs from your ear

Bodytrak is a unique wearable and vital signs meter. It measures biometric information from your ear. It is not well-known that the ear is actually a great spot for measurement, but I believe when the hype around the wrist will calm down, start-ups and tech companies will find the ear irresistible for their innovations. Although by that time, Bodytrak will be way before them. Its device measures body temperature, heart rate, VO2, speed, distance and cadence – continuously – and all in real-time. Moreover, since it fits nicely into your ear, you can listen to music and make telephone calls as well. What a win-win situation!

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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