Healthcare and Technology news
37.9K views | +8 today
Follow
Healthcare and Technology news
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scoop.it!

High-tech contact lenses zoom with a wink of an eye

High-tech contact lenses zoom with a wink of an eye | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Swiss researchers are developing contact lenses that contain tiny telescopes to boost vision and zoom in and out with the wink of an eye.

The new, 1.55 millimeter-thick contact lens contains an extremely thin, reflective telescope, which is activated by winks.

First released in 2013 and fine-tuned since then, the prototype was unveiled by Eric Tremblay from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in California on Friday.

The lenses come with smart glasses that respond to the wearer's winks -- but not blinks -- so that the user can switch almost effortlessly from normal to magnified vision and back.

The wearer winks with the right eye to activate the telescope, and with the left eye to deactivate it.

"We think these lenses hold a lot of promise for low vision and age-related macular degeneration," a vision disorder that affects older people, Tremblay said.

"At this point this is still research, but we are hopeful it will eventually become a real option for people with AMD."

The device magnifies objects 2.8 times, meaning AMD patients can read more easily and better recognize faces and objects with its help.

Funded by the Pentagon's main research arm DARPA, the lenses were originally meant to serve as a form of bionic vision for soldiers.

"Small mirrors within bounce light around, expanding the perceived size of objects and magnifying the view, so it's like looking through low magnification binoculars," the researchers said in a statement.

- 'Huge leap' -

Tremblay was careful to stress that the device was still at the research stage, though it could eventually become a "real option" for people with AMD.

"It's very important and hard to strike a balance between function and the social costs of wearing any kind of bulky visual device," he said.

"There is a strong need for something more integrated, and a contact lens is an attractive direction."

The contacts are made using large, rigid "scleral lenses," unlike the soft contacts most people wear, but are nonetheless safe and comfortable, Tremblay said.

Several precision-cut pieces of plastic, aluminum mirrors and polarizing thin films form the lens, along with biologically safe glues.

Because the eye needs a steady supply of oxygen, the scientists have worked on making the device more breathable, using tiny air channels that are approximately 0.1 millimeter wide within the lens.

The research team, which includes the University of California, San Diego as well as experts at Paragon Vision Sciences, Innovega, Pacific Sciences and Engineering, and Rockwell Collins, described its product as "a huge leap" forward, compared to glasses already on the market for people with AMD that have mounted telescopes but tend to be bulky and awkward to use.

Unlike the older models, which require the user to tilt his or her head and position the eyes just right in order to use them, the latest products can actually track eye movement, making them easier to use.

- Other advances -

Scientists also unveiled other research at the AAAS conference involving the latest advances in vision aids -- some of which could potentially help the 285 million people worldwide with some form of vision impairment.

For one study, researchers developed camera-equipped glasses to aid vision for the blind and visually impaired.

Daniel Palanker from the University of Stanford in California discussed the project, for which the glasses are outfitted with a camera to send images to the retina via hundreds of nerves stimulated by photovoltaic cells.

These nerves could convert light into electric impulses, and transmit signals to the brain, allowing the user to "see."

"Our chips are already working well in animals," Palanker said, noting that researchers have so far been able to restore visual acuity to half the normal level in blind rats.

But "there is currently no solution for patients with macular degeneration," he added.

Palanker hopes to begin clinical trials in 2016 in France in collaboration with Paris-based Pixium Vision.
more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

5 digital trends to watch in 2015 | Healthcare IT News

5 digital trends to watch in 2015 | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The year 2014 goes down in history as a breakout year for digital healthcare, according to a recent report from StartUp Health, whose stated mission is to help 1,000 health startups reimagine and transform healthcare over the next 10 years.

StartUp Health's calculations show that some $6.5 billion was invested in digital health in 2014, a 125 percent increase over the $2.9 billion invested in 2013.

"Signs of a maturing market continue as investors place larger bets on fewer companies," according to the report, which lists the market's top deals and investors.

StartUp Health executives also reveal the five trends they will be watching closely in 2015:

  • Healthcare reform continues to spur innovation: As incentive structures change and new penalties come into effect in 2015, providers and payors look to entrepreneurs to create effective solutions. The unmet need is evidenced as big data and analytics ($1.5 billion); population health ($1.1 billion); and healthcare system navigation ($975 million) net the largest amounts of private funding in 2014.
  • Acceleration of chronic disease & aging population leads to increased consumerism: Rising costs continue to be the second largest catalyst for innovation in healthcare. Patients are not only encouraged, but enabled through mobile technology, to manage their health through preventive measures. Consumer health companies raised $880M in 2014.
  • Clinical decision support & personalized medicine gain traction: With the advent of the $1,000 genome, truly personalized medicine is in our reach. Genomic companies raised $632 million and diagnostics $962 million this year. This data, coupled with $624 million that went into clinical research companies will revolutionize the way that diseases are treated.
  • Convergence of technology in clinical settings: Mobile and wireless technology has permeated not only our daily lives, but those of professionals in clinical settings. Practice management tools allowing physicians to focus on treatment, rather than admin tasks, raised $783 million, while those focusing on improving workflows raised $681 million. Payor-related toolkits raised $699 million.
  • Innovation globalization: More than 7,500 startups around the world are developing new solutions in digital health, based on data from the StartUp Health Network. Even within the U.S., areas outside of the Bay Area, New York and Boston are seeing an uptick in the number of companies obtaining funding.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Computers Replacing Doctors, Innovation and the Quantified Self: An Interview with Atul Gawande | The Health Care Blog

Computers Replacing Doctors, Innovation and the Quantified Self: An Interview with Atul Gawande | The Health Care Blog | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Atul Gawande is the preeminent physician-writer of this generation. His new book, Being Mortal, is a runaway bestseller, as have been his three prior books, Complications, Better, and The Checklist Manifesto.

One of the joys of my recent sabbatical in Boston was the opportunity to spend some time with Atul, getting to see what an inspirational leader and superb mentor he is, along with being a warm and menschy human being. In my continued series of interviews I conducted for The Digital Doctor, my forthcoming book on health IT, here are excerpts from my conversation with Atul Gawande on July 28, 2014 in Boston.

I began by asking him about his innovation incubator, Ariadne Labs, and how he decides which issues to focus on.

Gawande: Yeah, I’m in the innovation space, but in a funny way. Our goal is to create the most basic systems required for people to get marked improvements in the results of care. We’re working in surgery, childbirth, and end-of-life care.

The very first place we’ve gone is to non-technology innovations. Such as, what are the 19 critical things that have to happen when the patient comes in an operating room and goes under anesthesia? When the incision is made? Before the incision is made? Before the patient leaves the room? It’s like that early phase of the aviation world, when it was just a basic set of checklists.

In all of the cases, the most fundamental, most valuable, most critical innovations have nothing to do with technology. They have to do with asking some very simple, very basic questions that we never ask. Asking people who are near the end of life what their goals are. Or making sure that clinicians wash their hands.

Once we’ve recognized the recipe for really great performance, the second thing we’ve discovered is that our most important resource for improving the ability of teams to follow through on those really critical things is data. Information is our most valuable resource, yet we treat it like a byproduct. The systems we have – Epic and our other systems – are not particularly useful right now in helping us execute on these objectives. We’re having to build systems around those systems.

The third insight is that, for the most part, the issues have less to do with systems than with governance. The people who are buying these systems, installing these systems, and determining how they’re to be used… What are they responsible for? What are their objectives? We’re having to figure out how to get quality and outcomes higher on the list of priorities of everybody running health systems.

Our dumb checklist, or our incredibly sophisticated predictive analytics algorithm, or that incredibly expensive EHR system… none of those change that fundamental failure – the failure of governance. And none of them can, no matter how you design them.

Gawande raised the example of hospitalists. He asked me about my group at UCSF, which has – by focusing on performance improvement as our core mission – become a key innovation engine at our institution.

AG: I think your hospitalist example is really important. Over and over again, it’s the pattern I see: a powerful idea creates a momentum of its own. When you’ve shown that there’s an obvious better way to take care of people. It’s controversial, and hospitalists can be used in ways that destroy the original intent. I’m sure you think about this all the time.

But when it works, it forces the leadership change. Leadership didn’t create hospitalists. Hospitalists created leadership. I think that’s the way it happens.

The same kind of thing happened with anesthesia. People didn’t say, “Oh, we have to find a better way to manage the pain of patients, because surgery is causing horrible suffering.” Somebody came up with an idea, and demonstrated that you could relieve this problem. But it required incredible system change. You had to double the number of people working in operating rooms at a time when the United States had a lower GDP than China does today. “We’ve got a better way of doing surgery. Oh, and it will involve doubling the number of physicians you have providing the care?” Is that a great model? It was dismissed as totally non-viable, can’t work. But it didn’t matter. It was too important, and it became the driver of leadership change, rather than the other way around.

A similar thing happened with Paul Farmer. There were debates for a decade about whether you could treat HIV in poor patients. Oh they don’t have watches, they can’t take the drugs, they can’t do this, they can’t do that. Farmer is like, “Fuck it!” I am going to Haiti, and I’m going to do it in a little old clinic in the middle of nowhere. And no, they didn’t change a whole country … but they changed a paradigm.

I think that’s the cool thing, that it’s not the technology. It was the values and the core idea that demonstrated you could accomplish this, that got you there.

I asked Gawande a question I asked most of my interviewees: Will computers replace physicians?

AG: The variousness of the healthcare world is pretty extreme. When we look at the way that disease presents itself, we’re moving increasingly away from science. When it turned out that lung cancer is not one disease, but rather that it’s four or five different histologic subtypes, that made it more complicated. Now we know there are 47 – and the number is growing – genes that, in different combinations, govern the behavior of those cancers. Forty-seven genes, and then you look at the multiples of different ways that people have these genes. Now we learn that the epigenetics and the expression of those genes are incredibly dependent on the environment. Did they smoke, how did that affect the genes? Did they have any kind of industrial exposure? How old are they at the time that the cancer appears?

Our cells on our little Excel spreadsheets are getting smaller and smaller and smaller. We’re getting back to the world of the 18th century “art of medicine,” where everything is becoming an “eyeball test.” The danger is that it becomes actually increasingly data-free – that every single person becomes a case of one. That becomes impossible to learn from. Period.

Where we’re moving, I think, is towards saying, “I have a class of people. I’m going to try Process A on this class of people who have some combination of these different genes,” and stuff like that. And then, does that process lead to better outcomes? The processes will be things like, “I’m going to watch them for three months. Then if X happens, I’m going to do an operation. If Y happens, I’m going to give them chemotherapy.” That increasingly becomes the way we learn.

RW: In your work as a physician, do you think care is getting better or getting worse?

AG: I think it’s massively better.

RW: Why?

AG: It’s fundamentally because of values, more than technology. I think we’ve changed our values over time. That patient suffering matters. I remember as a surgical trainee, I was expected to inflict levels of pain that today are just not acceptable. In my first month as a resident, I went into an operation to do a rib removal on a young girl. I’d never done one before; I had a month of operating experience. A fellow was standing at the door in his scrubs, saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, cut there.” The attending is in another room. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

The culture was, even to suggest that was a problem, meant you were weak.

Gawande asked me how I perceived the training environment today – particularly the tension between the patient and the technology.

RW: The residents’ instinct about teamwork is much better than mine was. I mean, the idea of my caring about what the nurses thought just wasn’t on my radar screen. And the residents’ instinct to get back to the bedside – when they’re spending all their time on the computers, they feel this loss and I think they’re trying to reconnect with their patients. We’re trying to create structures to allow that to happen.

But it’s hard – the residents feel they’re caught up in this world where everything they need to know is on the computer screen. That’s creating angst in their day-to-day life. You go up to the floor of the medical service in my hospital, and there are no doctors there. They come, they see the patients, and then they escape to this tribal room where all 15 residents hang out together, each doing his or her computer work. That means that many of the informal interactions that used to occur between the docs and the nurses, or the docs and the patients and their families, have withered away.

AG: Everything that they’re measured on and that defines their success happens outside the patient’s room.

RW: Correct.

AG: There’s a difference in surgery training. Everything that you’re measured on and that matters happens in the operating room. Although the patient’s asleep, the residents are having to work on their people-to-people interactions. How do you handle yourself with the nurses? How do you handle yourself with the doctors? What are your skills? They’re trying to figure it out and navigate it. It’s often a complete mystery to the students, and for a long time to the residents, too.

But except in the most egregious cases where you really piss off a patient, their success – being labeled an A versus a B – relates to “how much do I really know this patient?” It’s not getting my to-do list done for the day. Yet getting through the to-do list is the dominant task.

And we’ve both contributed to discoveries that indicate that all these little steps on the to-do list matter. It’s become an endless list of details that really, really, really matter. Do you have the right combination of antibiotics? Is the head of the bed at 30 degrees? When I think about the to-do list that I had when I was an intern, and the to-do list that the residents have today – today’s is just massively longer.

I closed by asking Gawande about the concept of the Quantified Self – patients wearing sensors and accumulating all kinds of personal data. While he is generally supportive of the concept, he has a concern, one that echoes the central theme of Being Mortal.

AG: I worry that we could become tyrannized by a combination of experts and sensors that have no close relationship to our priorities. That’s why I just keep coming back to the values. We’re here to alleviating suffering. I think it’s about this deeper connection we all have to something important.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

10 Wearables Totally Changing the Medical Industry

10 Wearables Totally Changing the Medical Industry | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
These 10 medical wearables are about to significantly impact the future of breast cancer, smoking and more.
more...
No comment yet.