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Is your tablet computer “clinical grade”? - HealthBlog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Is your tablet computer “clinical grade”? - HealthBlog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

If you’re a healthcare professional and you are thinking about buying a new tablet computer for work, here are some things I’d recommend you consider before selecting a new device. Perhaps the first question you should ask is this. Is the tablet I’d like to buy “clinical grade”? What do I mean by “clinical grade”? Well it doesn’t necessarily mean a device that is specifically built for use in hospitals and clinics. Such devices are available, but they generally cost a considerable premium over devices that are sold to consumers and general business users. Depending on your role in healthcare and where you work, you may not need a tablet computer that can be thrown across the room or submerged under water and still survive. But there are certain attributes that I would recommend you keep in mind when selecting a device that’s right for you and the way you work.

Clinical grade promises the performance, reliability, and security needed to maximize caregiver productivity and ensure the highest quality of patient care. To achieve that, look no further than the newest generation of tablet computers that are now available from a wide variety of manufacturers, including Microsoft, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Motion.

Using Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 tablet running Windows 8.1 as a great “template” for what we mean by “clinical grade”, here are some of the things I think you’ll want to consider when buying a tablet computer that’s going to be used in a clinical setting.

Clinical Grade Considerations

Why Important?

Surface Pro 2

Other Product ?

  Keeping it Clean

Devices must be easily sanitized to prevent the spread of infections—without damaging the device or voiding the warranty.

Certified for cleaning with Sani-Cloth Plus, CaviWipes, Covidien Alcohol Prep Pads, or any similar wipes with <70% IPA solution.

 

  Intel Core™ Processor

Intensive healthcare software requires enterprise-level processors for better & faster data access to support improved patient outcomes.

Powered by Intel’s core i5 processor to run even the most demanding clinical apps, while maximizing battery life.

 

  Keyboard

Healthcare apps often require keyboards to quickly access menus and allow for free text entry.

Multiple quick-connect keyboard covers and dual-stage kickstand easily convert Surface from tablet to laptop.

 

  Durability

Used all day, every day, devices need to withstand inevitable drops and spills

Solid magnesium casing & impact-resistant glass.

 

  Security

Protected health information (PHI) and personal data must be safeguarded

Enterprise-grade security with TPM, BitLocker drive encryption, & Secure Boot to help keep information safe.

 

  Ports and Connectivity

Needed to connect to peripherals such as external monitors, print documents, and transfer content

Includes a full-size USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, and micro-SD card reader. Can also connect to Miracast displays for wireless screen display.

 

  Screen Size and Resolution

Clinicians need to be able to see multiple apps at the same time – e.g. your EMR and a drug reference

Full HD screen enabling snap mode to run multiple apps and applications at the same time.

 

  Full Versions of Healthcare Apps

When it comes to maximizing clinician productivity, read-only or limited functionality companion apps simply don’t cut it.

Runs full versions of all Windows desktop apps your healthcare business relies on, and enables on-screen keyboard and ink recognition for them.

 

  Stylus and Inking

Capture electronic signatures or write progress notes without compromising interaction with patients

Active digitizer w/ Palm Block for precise stylus input while maintaining face-to-face contact.

 

  Multiple IDs

Especially for corporate-owned devices that may need to be shared across multiple caregivers to maximize the investment

Easily add, maintain, and switch between multiple caregiver accounts with easy device manageability.

 


The above may not include everything you’ll want to consider when purchasing a tablet for clinical use. Depending on your clinical workflow, you may want to think about a convertible tablet or maybe even a light yet powerful, touch-enabled ultrabook. However, the information above should prove helpful no matter what device or devices you ultimately select. Why not print this out and take it along with you when you go shopping for the best device to use in your clinic or hospital.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Did you know that Technical Doctor gets the best pricing in the market for healthcare IT hardware?  Contact us today at inquiry@technicaldr.com to get a price quote on your new hardware!


- The Technical Doctor Team

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Connecting the Dots: Referrals between Medical Care and Community Resources 

Connecting the Dots: Referrals between Medical Care and Community Resources  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Policymakers and providers all agree that addressing patients’ non-medical needs will be critical to improving health, health care, and health care costs, but little progress has been made towards integrating traditionally segmented services. What can and should a health care organization do? Realistically, most health care organizations will not build new lines of social services into their core clinical operations. Instead, leading organizations are connecting the dots by optimizing referrals to existing community resources. Based on phone interviews and site visits with executive leadership, frontline providers, and community partners, we highlight the work of nine innovative health care organizations. Here, we offer practical steps to reflect upon where your organization stands and where it might look to be in a referral model for community resources.

 

Starting point: Does your team have a useful resource library?

Useful is the key word here: we’re not talking about a static laundry list that simply names local community resources on a website or a print out. Useful resource libraries not only catalog existing community resources but also include pertinent details such as eligibility criteria. For example, at one organization we interviewed, health coaches use their electronic resource library to match the patient’s age, income, and residence profile with available community resources. To create the most useful resource library for your organization, we suggest querying your care team about what essential pieces of information would help them effectively and confidently refer patients to community resources.

Importantly, a resource library is only as useful as it is accurate and up-to-date. Organizations will need to identify who will monitor and update the resource library at regular intervals by visiting program websites, calling program contacts, or surveying providers about their experiences with listed community resources. For example, one organization we interviewed created a dedicated committee to appraise over 300 community resources that engage with their providers. Clearly, modifications to the resource library are to be expected, so electronic resource libraries (e.g. in a cloud-based platform or in the EHR) will be more dynamic than binders. Two organizations we interviewed are even using or contracting with companies that have created web-based resource libraries (e.g. Aunt Bertha, NowPow).

Next step: Who is responsible for referring patients?

Remember, the resource library is a tool not the solution. Organizations must lay out what roles will best enable referrals to community resources. Depending on your unique organization, referrals to community resources might be done through an entire team, an individual, or outsourced partners. For example, one larger organization we interviewed developed multidisciplinary teams of nurses and social workers, making specialized referrals and handoffs for particular social service domains (e.g. a housing team, transportation team, and nutrition team). In contrast, another organization used a single, centralized point person to make all referrals into the local community. Alternatively, two organizations we interviewed piloted with external partners (such as Health Leads) whose staff executes the referrals to specific community resources.

In addition to defined roles, organizations must not forget to develop associated workflows. What is the workflow to identify the patients with social service needs? What is the provider’s workflow to connect with whomever will make the community resource referrals? Are there workflows in place to follow-up regarding the referrals made to community resources? While developing these workflows, organizations need to consider what the preferred modes of communication are and which documentation platforms will facilitate the workflows. For example, one organization we interviewed built workflows into their EHR by tailoring the existing social service pathways of the Pathways Hub Model to fit the organization’s particular patient needs, staffing structure, and provider network. By strategically designing roles and workflows that support patient referrals to community resources, your organization shares responsibility for the success of the referral model.

Final move: Are you evaluating the impact?

Evaluating your referral model is crucial not only to intelligently decide what to keep, drop, or adapt but also to assess the impact of your work. All of the organizations we interviewed found it challenging to demonstrate that referrals to community resources directly influenced larger outcomes such as total costs of medical care. More immediately, data points that organizations may want to capture include the number of patients with different types of social service needs and the number of complete and incomplete referrals made to each community resource. For example, one organization we interviewed is tracking their rate of unsuccessful referrals to community resources in order to reveal where gaps in the community persist and subsequently inform advocacy efforts.

Furthermore, evaluating your referral model sets the foundation to build a business case for social service partnerships. A few organizations we interviewed were interested in entering financial arrangements with a curated network of community partners based on quality and other performance metrics, although these were generally still in the early stages of development. As organizations look to harmonize data collection and evaluation efforts, partners will need to agree upon the types of data, preferred reporting formats, and interval of reporting requests. In fact, based on interviews with community partners, we learned that many community partners are motivated to collect and exchange data on shared patients in order to improve their value proposition with grant funders and secure future funding.

Following the lead of innovative organizations, there are valuable opportunities for health care organizations to use a referral model with community resources. Health care organizations that leverage their local communities can more effectively match patients with comprehensive services critical to improving health status. Improving the referral model is a key sPolicymakers and providers all agree that addressing patients’ non-medical needs will be critical to improving health, health care, and health care costs, but little progress has been made towards integrating traditionally segmented services. What can and should a health care organization do? Realistically, most health care organizations will not build new lines of social services into their core clinical operations. Instead, leading organizations are connecting the dots by optimizing referrals to existing community resources. Based on phone interviews and site visits with executive leadership, frontline providers, and community partners, we highlight the work of nine innovative health care organizations. Here, we offer practical steps to reflect upon where your organization stands and where it might look to be in a referral model for community resources.
 
Starting point: Does your team have a useful resource library?
Useful is the key word here: we’re not talking about a static laundry list that simply names local community resources on a website or a print out. Useful resource libraries not only catalog existing community resources but also include pertinent details such as eligibility criteria. For example, at one organization we interviewed, health coaches use their electronic resource library to match the patient’s age, income, and residence profile with available community resources. To create the most useful resource library for your organization, we suggest querying your care team about what essential pieces of information would help them effectively and confidently refer patients to community resources.
Importantly, a resource library is only as useful as it is accurate and up-to-date. Organizations will need to identify who will monitor and update the resource library at regular intervals by visiting program websites, calling program contacts, or surveying providers about their experiences with listed community resources. For example, one organization we interviewed created a dedicated committee to appraise over 300 community resources that engage with their providers. Clearly, modifications to the resource library are to be expected, so electronic resource libraries (e.g. in a cloud-based platform or in the EHR) will be more dynamic than binders. Two organizations we interviewed are even using or contracting with companies that have created web-based resource libraries (e.g. Aunt Bertha, NowPow).
Next step: Who is responsible for referring patients?
Remember, the resource library is a tool not the solution. Organizations must lay out what roles will best enable referrals to community resources. Depending on your unique organization, referrals to community resources might be done through an entire team, an individual, or outsourced partners. For example, one larger organization we interviewed developed multidisciplinary teams of nurses and social workers, making specialized referrals and handoffs for particular social service domains (e.g. a housing team, transportation team, and nutrition team). In contrast, another organization used a single, centralized point person to make all referrals into the local community. Alternatively, two organizations we interviewed piloted with external partners (such as Health Leads) whose staff executes the referrals to specific community resources.
In addition to defined roles, organizations must not forget to develop associated workflows. What is the workflow to identify the patients with social service needs? What is the provider’s workflow to connect with whomever will make the community resource referrals? Are there workflows in place to follow-up regarding the referrals made to community resources? While developing these workflows, organizations need to consider what the preferred modes of communication are and which documentation platforms will facilitate the workflows. For example, one organization we interviewed built workflows into their EHR by tailoring the existing social service pathways of the Pathways Hub Model to fit the organization’s particular patient needs, staffing structure, and provider network. By strategically designing roles and workflows that support patient referrals to community resources, your organization shares responsibility for the success of the referral model.
Final move: Are you evaluating the impact?
Evaluating your referral model is crucial not only to intelligently decide what to keep, drop, or adapt but also to assess the impact of your work. All of the organizations we interviewed found it challenging to demonstrate that referrals to community resources directly influenced larger outcomes such as total costs of medical care. More immediately, data points that organizations may want to capture include the number of patients with different types of social service needs and the number of complete and incomplete referrals made to each community resource. For example, one organization we interviewed is tracking their rate of unsuccessful referrals to community resources in order to reveal where gaps in the community persist and subsequently inform advocacy efforts.
Furthermore, evaluating your referral model sets the foundation to build a business case for social service partnerships. A few organizations we interviewed were interested in entering financial arrangements with a curated network of community partners based on quality and other performance metrics, although these were generally still in the early stages of development. As organizations look to harmonize data collection and evaluation efforts, partners will need to agree upon the types of data, preferred reporting formats, and interval of reporting requests. In fact, based on interviews with community partners, we learned that many community partners are motivated to collect and exchange data on shared patients in order to improve their value proposition with grant funders and secure future funding.
Following the lead of innovative organizations, there are valuable opportunities for health care organizations to use a referral model with community resources. Health care organizations that leverage their local communities can more effectively match patients with comprehensive services critical to improving health status. Improving the referral model is a key step in connecting the dots between medical care and community resources, a small move toward systematically caring for the whole person rather than the discreet set of problems bringing a patient into a given provider’s office.tep in connecting the dots between medical care and community resources, a small move toward systematically caring for the whole person rather than the discreet set of problems bringing a patient into a given provider’s office.

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Pros and Cons of a Radiology Information System

Pros and Cons of a Radiology Information System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Pros and Cons of a Radiology Information System

RADIOLOGY INFORMATION SYSTEM

 

It can be extremely difficult to get by with an outdated, paper-based system to manage all the patients you treat in your radiology practice. Owners and managers of radiology-focused practices who fail to computerize their operations run the risk of losing patients as well as staff because most people dislike putting up with inefficiencies when more suitable alternatives are now available.

So, if you have been seeing a decline in your patient population or are having difficulty attracting and holding onto a competent work force, part of the problem might be your antiquated methods for record keeping.

Most healthcare professionals are aware of the need to modernize their methods and work with a state-of-the-art radiology information system or RIS but may not be sure about what a RIS actually is.

 

RIS software has increasingly grown in popularity in practices across the country in recent years because of the efficiency and convenience it brings to the workflow. A RIS helps you keep track of all patient data, including giving staff easier access to images, faster documentation capability, and a more convenient way to schedule appointments.

To help you in the decision making process with your key stakeholders, here are pros and cons of a radiology information system that you’ll want to become familiar with.

Pros of Radiology Information Systems

Before selecting and implementing a RIS at your facility, here are major pros for you to consider:

  • Better communication with referring doctors
    • It’s important to consider the medical professionals outside of your office who may need to be involved in a patient’s care. A RIS can integrate with the referring doctor’s electronic health record or EHR system, so you can access patient data easily and quickly.
    • The result is a better experience for referring doctors, which dramatically increases the likelihood they’ll refer more patients to you. All other things being equal, the medical practice that makes things easier for the referring doctor should expect to get more patients thanks to the RIS.
  • Faster payments
    • A chief benefit of a RIS is that you can use it to verify insurance before a patient visit. The electronic payments you are now capable of receiving means that you get paid faster.
  • Improve efficiency
    • It’s much faster to find, input, and create reports from patient data when the records are computerized. Remember how tedious it is to sift through paper records, especially if they have become disordered.
    • With the information digitized and no longer needing to be entered into records a second or third time, not only are you working more efficiently, your staff is on track to dramatically reduce errors.
  • Meet MACRA requirements
    • The Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA, which congress passed in 2015, has reporting requirements you must adhere to.
    • With a RIS, you get MACRA dashboards that will ensure that you’re meeting the reporting requirements for MACRA. You can remain confident that you’ll get proper reimbursement and avoid penalization for non-compliance.

Cons of Radiology Information Systems

While there are many benefits to deploying a radiology information system, there are a few drawbacks that you and your stakeholders should consider so you can address them head-on once you pull the trigger and select a RIS. Here are the chief cons of any RIS that are worth keeping in mind:

  • Security concerns
    • Anytime you introduce a new computer system to your network, you have to account for hackers trying to break in and steal sensitive patient information. You have a mandate to protect these details, to meet HIPAA requirements. If your system is not properly secured, a computer criminal can breech the RIS in a number of ways. For example, an employee may click on a link in an email or text message that contains dangerous malware that infects your system.
    • Many medical practices are contending with a new type of attack on healthcare IT systems known as ransomware. A version of malware that keeps you from accessing patient records, it’s an insidious attack. The criminals gain unauthorized access to the network and then hold the data hostage.
    • Victims are instructed to send money to the criminals before the patient records will be unlocked. This is risky for patients because of the potential for identity theft, the release of their private details and the draining of their bank accounts. What’s more, it can destroy a practice’s hard-won good reputation in the community and lead to the business needing to be shut down.
    • However, this threat should not deter you in your efforts to install a new RIS. You can alleviate hacker fears if you work with a secure vendor that will ensure your system has the latest software security protocols in place before deployment.
  • Learning curve for staff
    • As with any new technology, when you first implement the RIS, there can be a period where the staff is not used to the software. Mistakes will be made in the beginning, to be sure, no matter how computer-savvy you are.
    • It’s best to go with a vendor with experience in developing RIS software that has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, with everything the employee needs easily located in the menu options and keyboard commands.

Is a RIS right for Your Practice?

It’s difficult to imagine any radiology practice that wouldn’t benefit from an RIS. The sheer convenience that comes from computerizing patient records should be enough to convince any stakeholder. But the ability to schedule patient appointments much faster is another important selling point.

The fact that you can share information on patients with referring physicians in an instant over the network is another clear benefit that is difficult to ignore. You may wind up getting more referred patients once these doctors see how much easier it is to work with you as compared to a practice that has to dust off the fax machine or use messengers to deliver vital documents when time is of the essence.

Running your radiology practice will go much more smoothly when you computerize as much as possible and add a RIS to your system. You will save a great deal of staff time inputting patient records, scheduling appointments, accessing the latest images and sharing information with referring doctors.

Now what remains is for you to select the most appropriate RIS application for your practice and look into training to help bring your staff up to speed on using this important software tool.

Key Takeaway:

  • Trying to get by with an old-fashioned, paper-based method for keeping track of patient records is a hindrance to your practice.
  • Radiology practices that fail to computerize run the risk of losing patients as well as employees who know about more efficient options.
  • Before you decide to implement a radiology information system in your practice, it’s useful to consider the pros and cons.
  • Make sure that your software provider updates the RIS software periodically.
  • You may need to allocate time and other resources to ensure that your staff is properly trained in using the new RIS.
  • Referring physicians will appreciate the convenience you offer by transmitting patient information via a network from the RIS.
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Wearables and HealthIT

Wearables and HealthIT | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The market for healthcare wearables is expanding and is now going beyond smart watches and fitness trackers. In a study by PWC, it was noted that consumers are now showing solid support for wearables, with almost 60% seeing value in connected fitness bands, watches, eyeglasses and clothing. And health remains the No. 1 reason that consumers are buying these devices.

 

In a prediction by Tractica by 2021, healthcare wearables will be worth $ 17.8 billion. This could potentially be true with devices like Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike and the like’s going beyond fitness tracking, typically mounted on the wrist, ankle, or belt—track the physical activities of the wearer, including steps taken, stairs climbed, sleep hours and quality logged, and distance traveled. But wearables are now going beyond all of these fitness monitors.

 

There could soon be medical sensors that could be made to track health from inside, with this new technology patients will be able to ingest the sensors in the form of a pill and once the work is done, the pill will dissolve. The aim behind an ingestible capsule is that make the operation of tapping vitals, a simple task without the need of wearing a band or a device.

 

There are talks of IBM creating chips that are a piece of software that can be implanted into the brain to prevent seizures. There’s also talk of stomach acid being used to power batteries. In reality, there is no telling where this rapidly paced industry will head to next.

With so much happening on the wearables front and a lot of data being generated, the future could see doctors studying both medicine and statistics.

Key benefits of wearables include:

  • Easy monitoring of patients: This is especially true for patients with chronic ailments, who need to be in constant touch with the vitals, they need to be aware of any sudden change in vitals that could impact their health
  • Reduce Care co-ordination: Reducing the demands on family doctors and other primary care providers. The knock-on benefits could be even greater: by improving quality of care, reduced hospital admissions and bed stays.
  • Data analytics and big data: with the use of data so collected, the research work on various diseases and ailments has been expedited. The analytic s allows for an in-depth study of the vitals and helps in making decisions for providers.
  • Reduce costs: with easy patient monitoring and reduced care coordination the costs of hospitalization have reduced considerably.
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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:40 PM
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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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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:41 PM
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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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jeremybdda's curator insight, November 20, 2017 4:11 AM
Nanoparticules et pansements
Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:41 PM
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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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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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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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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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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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The Future of Emergency Medicine: Innovations Making Patients The Point-of-Care 

The Future of Emergency Medicine: Innovations Making Patients The Point-of-Care  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Six minutes before brain damage

Car crashes, home injuries, fires, natural disasters. The difference between life and death often depends on the speed and efficiency of emergency care services. The work of doctors, paramedics, and nurses being in the first line of the battle against early and meaningless death or paralyzation is extremely difficult and inspirational at the same time. Sometimes there are only seconds left to save a patient’s life. In case of high-risk patients, each minute waiting for treatment significantly reduces their chance of surviving. This includes cardiac arrest patients, where brain damage typically starts within four to six minutes.

No wonder that millions of people (including The Medical Futurist team) jittered through more than 300 episodes of Chicago County General Hospital’s ER starting from the 1990s, and that the gig ensured a standing place for George Clooney among the biggest stars. The suggestive power of doctors and nurses saving lives also gave a rise to medical documentaries, such as the BBC’s An Hour To Save Your Life, the American docudrama entitled Untold Stories of the ER with re-enactments of real-life medical stories or the more recent incarnation of ER, entitled Chicago Med.

Patients to the hospital or hospital to the patient?

In spite of the impression through the television screens that the emergency department is one of the most important medical specialties, the field is relatively new and it is mostly the product of the accelerated, globalized world we live in. Some experts say that modern emergency medicine services were first developed in the United States in the 1960s; as a response to the increased traffic accidents due to the boom of cars on the newly built American highways. Later one, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore followed shortly thereafter, developing their respective emergency medical systems in the 1970s and 1980s.

While the aim of emergency care is the same in every country – providing timely care to victims of sudden and life-threatening injuries or emergencies in order to prevent needless mortality or long-term morbidity –; two different approaches emerged. The Anglo-American model represents the “patient to the hospital” practice, while the Franco-German model means the “hospital to the patient” way of thinking.

 

The latter is used in most European countries, and it means that medical doctors supported by paramedics treat more patients on the scene of an accident or in their homes then bringing them to the hospital, thus emergency care happens on the scene or en route to the hospital. In the case of the Anglo-American model, fewer patients are treated on the spot, and they rather transport the injured to the emergency room as fast as possible for treatment. Currently, countries in the developed world use some practices from both models, but the latest digital technologies will rather push emergency medicine in the direction of the “hospital to the patient” approach. Let me show you how!

We collected the latest innovations making it possible to treat medical and trauma emergencies faster and more efficient than ever before. Dávid Márkus, first aid expert and medical student at Semmelweis Medical School, helped us a lot with finding the relevant directions. He is also the developer of a chatbot on Messengerthat teaches people how to do proper CPR in Hungary.

1) Apps simplifying communication, administration and in-flight emergency care

Pulsara is a Montana-based U.S. start-up whose app simplifies communication in emergency care. It allows paramedics to alert an emergency department before arrival with the patient. It does so not only by calculating the estimated time of arrival based on GPS, but users are able to attach pictures of the ECG, the injury, the medicine list of the patient, send the personal data and the parameters of the patient, etc. Alerting the stroke team/cardiologists or anyone else who might be involved in the treatment of the patient this way allows the ED workers to prepare much better and faster for the arrival of the critically ill patient.

On its website, the team said they got the idea when a group of physicians, fed up with the pitfalls of their current acute care protocols, posed the question at a dinner table “How can we improve patient care in our facilities?” I hope in the future, they’ll have more fruitful dinners like this one.

 

Full Code Pro is a free and easy-to-use app developed by the American Heart Association. It makes it easy to document critical interventions, a „code” during critical events such as CPR or cardiac arrest resuscitation. It not only allows the worker to record events (e.g. shock) with only one tap, measures times, counts down according to the protocol but also helps the team by having a metronome built in to optimize chest compression rhythm. Full Code Pro makes it easy to administer cardiac arrests, and also gives an opportunity to debrief the case so that the team can learn from the collected data as well. Thus, you can fully focus on the patient without sacrificing proper documentation. A win-win situation!

Dr. Ray Bertino, Clinical Professor of Radiology and Surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, worked with a team of aviation experts to develop airRx, the world’s only smartphone app that’s designed to help physicians deal with some of the most common in-flight medical emergencies. The app contains the 23 most common medical emergency situations that could be encountered during a flight, various flight and cabin crew roles, as well as the medico-legal implications for volunteering to assist. It could give a piece of mind for doctors traveling on board of an airplane as well as passengers fearing that something might happen to them while going from San Francisco to Beijing.

2) Video game for practice & 911 chatbot for real situations

Airway EX is a professional video game developed by Level Ex, a Chicago-based start-up applying video game technology to healthcare. The app allows practicing anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and medical professionals to simulate the performance of airway procedures. It provides realistic endotracheal intubation scenarios so that the doctors and paramedics can better prepare for difficult airway management. The app scores the worker’s speed, the caused damage, bleeding and also monitors the virtual patient’s vital signs while the procedure takes place. Moreover, it can be used anywhere – on the subway, at home or on the Bahamas during holidays (but we don’t recommend that).

 

The 911bot, a messenger-based chatbot was developed during a Disrupt Hackathon in New York with the aim to help users in emergency situations. It lets anyone report emergencies to the authorities through a quick image-based interface, which might be a lot faster than making a phone call. And as your report is sent through the system, it offers options to send extra information and pictures or video footage. As most people are frozen when a lethal or serious accident happens, the app gives advice on how to handle the situation well and how not to cause even more harm to the injured or bystanders.

3) Portable ultrasound, ECG & other point-of-care devices

The appearance of pocket-sized, user-friendly and portable diagnostic devices make it easier and faster to treat a patient on the spot. No matter whether its ultrasound, ECG or laboratory testing, behemoth machines are things of the past.

While some years ago ultrasound diagnosis was the privilege of radiologists, nowadays emergency medical specialists have an opportunity to use bedside point-of-care ultrasound devices (PoCUS) to answer some yes-or-no questions (e.g. intraabdominal bleeding). Ultrasound machines such as SonoSite’s or Clarius’ hand-held products allow any doctor to use them easily while working on a code or a critically ill patient.

 

Yet, we all know it’s not only about the size. Not so long ago, it was a huge innovation that a smartphone was able to make a one-lead ECG. However, even if it showed the rhythm, it wasn’t able to replace standard 12-lead ECG. In many cases, if the doctor does not see all the 12 leads, a possible heart attack might be easily mistaken. Now, Smart Heart Pro allows users to make a 12-lead ECG with a smartphone or tablet wirelessly, that is as accurate as a similar standard bedside exam.

Luckily, the long hours waiting for laboratory blood test results will also be over soon with hand-held, lightweight point-of-care testing (PoCT) devices, such as the i-STAT testing equipment. Abbott’s fast and accurate blood analyzer allows doctors to evaluate the patient’s blood sample on the spot and wirelessly transmit the results or the data to colleagues. Invaluable time gain during emergency situations!

4) Medical drones

Drones have great potential in making the transport of drugs, vaccines or medical aids faster. Thus, they could greatly support the work of emergency services. Google, the tech giant with a significant medical portfolio, patented a device that can call for a drone in emergency situations to fly in with life-saving medical equipment on board. You would push a button, and a drone would appear on the spot. How amazing would that sound?

And what about drones delivering automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) directly to people who have just suffered a heart attack? Researchers from the University of Toronto are already experimenting with the ideabased on their inspiration from ambulance drones in the Netherlands. AED-carrying drones have also been tested in Stockholm with promising results: it arrived at the patient within a quarter of the time that ambulance took to arrive. And drones are not simple transporting machines: they can provide instructions to the bystanders on providing CPR, using the AED and they also allow the dispatch team to give feedback via its own video connection. It is estimated that within 1-2 years this lifesaving innovation can take place in the daily routine in Sweden, and hopefully other countries as well.

5) Driverless ambulances

As the development of driverless cars continues, the potential for turning cars into points-of-care and the use of their unmanned driving capacity will become more and more obvious. There are already some governments considering driverless ambulances as technology taking some of the strain off the emergency services. These ambulances would work as “medical taxis”. They would pick up low-risk patients and transport them to the nearest hospital or clinic for treatment. With the introduction of these ambulances, the need for paramedics to respond to every call – regardless of severity – would be greatly reduced. Although it might be less comfortable for people to get into a driverless car to the hospital at first. Could you imagine sending your wife in labor to the emergency unit in a driverless ambulance? We’ll probably have to get used to the idea!

Concerning “moving ambulances”, in the future, the car will be a place to measure vital signs passively and store the recorded data in clouds. Then it will either notify the patient if there is something wrong or keep a finger on the pulse on the long-term. Mercedes-Benz salesman Rob Tinkham described how one of their cars can already tell if the driver has become too tired to drive. He added that the seat belt, the steering wheel or practically anything the driver might touch, can be used as a biometric sensor to gain information about the driver. It could help detect a drop in blood sugar or an imminent heart attack. Perhaps, our driverless car will notify the emergency services and the robot receptionist of the hospital in the future if there is an urgent matter to handle.

A possible emergency scene from the future

Digital technologies not only help patients receive care quicker and in a more efficient manner, but they can also support emergency care units to handle situations safer and more confidently. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security published an imagined scenario about how technological innovations would help the work of emergency service providers 15 years from now.

Their clothing made of smart, light materials would protect them from gunshots or punctures. They might easily turn on the high-visibility mode of their clothing if they go to dark places or work at night. Sensors and wearables would monitor their own health and fitness while providing their location. Using self-driving ambulances, first responders would have the time to prepare for situations and receive patient data already on the way to the scene. This could help bring exactly the right equipment to the patient in need. It would be easier to access patient data and monitor vital signs through various sensors, wearables – or digital tattoos. Moreover, with the help of exoskeletons, first responders could lift patients with less effort.

 

The future of emergency services looks more streamlined, data-based, efficient and faster than ever before, while both taking the needs of the patient and the limitations of caregivers into consideration. So, hopefully, within a couple of years, no one will have to wait for an unnecessarily long time until getting proper care. Yet, knowing what to do in an emergency situation or how to do CPR will come in handy anytime, so check out this video and keep stayin’ alive!

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The Future of Vision and Eye Care

The Future of Vision and Eye Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

More than 80 percent of perception comes through vision

Researchers estimate that 80-85 percent of our perception, learning, cognition, and activities are mediated through vision. Compared to that, our hearing only processes 11 percent of information, while smell 3.5 percent, touch 1.5 percent and taste 1 percent. Don’t you think that’s possible? Renowned scholars, L.D. Rosenblum, Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps explained these numbers with the following, rather convincing story.

Imagine you are in an open field, the sun shines on you, with the bees humming softly in the air. How far can you see and hear? When it comes to vision, it’s around 50 miles, talking about hearing, it’s only 1-2 miles at best! What about the smell of the flowers? Without the wind blowing, only 10-20 meters. How about touching or tasting? Well, it depends on your arm’s length, but obviously not further than that. And the same goes for your tongue and tasting.

It is almost a cliché to emphasize the importance of the eyes and vision, but it’s a luminous example to illustrate how the eyes are our most important sensory organ. Hence, if you catch an eye disease or have to face a serious eye condition, you feel very motivated to get better immediately.

 

Eye conditions affect way too many people worldwide

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness estimated in 2015 that 36 million of people are blind, and 217 million people suffer from moderate or severe distance vision impairment. It is a hopeful tendency that the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment combined has dropped from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.37% in 2015. The decrease can be attributed to progress in technology, for example in surgical techniques and concerning treating eye infections.

Yet, digital health still has a lot to do for lessening plenty of suffering which comes from not being able to see the world clearly. In the last couple of years, it actually started to undertake the task to transform the field of ophthalmology, offering its innovative solutions for the broadest spectrum of eye conditions. Treating less serious ailments gets faster, more targeted and more efficient, while the means for curing more serious and life-altering illnesses improve. Here, I outlined the way technology delineates for the future of eye care and vision.

 

With “bionic eyes” for reversing blindness

Disruptive technologies gave a huge boost to the creative minds of ophthalmology. Types of conditions causing blindness, such as AMD or retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye condition causing loss of sight gradually and causing blindness for an estimated 1.5 million people worldwide, have been treated successfully with mind-blowing innovations.

The California-based firm, Second Sight, the German company, Retina Implant AG, and French venture, Pixium Vision, develops implantable visual prosthetics to restore vision to patients who are blind as a result of the rare condition of retinitis pigmentosa. In 2016, The Guardian reported that a blind woman suffering from it was fitted with the implant labeled “bionic eye” in the UK as part of a trial at the Oxford Eye Hospital. She has spoken of her joy after she was able to tell the time for the first time in more than six years. That must have been truly amazing!

In 2015, surgeons in Manchester, UK have performed the first bionic eye implant for an AMD patient using Second Sight’s innovation. The 80-year-old Ray Flynn lost entirely his central vision, but with the help of the retinal implant, he could make out shapes on the computer screen. Researchers say that the implant cannot provide any highly detailed vision – but it can help patients detect distinct patterns such as door frames and shapes.

 

Brain implants and artificial retina instead of bionic eyes?

As Second Sight’s current Argus II device for helping people with retinitis pigmentosa only restore minimal vision and cost $150,000, they only sold 250 of them so far. A while ago, the company started to develop a modified version of its innovation, which completely leaves the eye out of the procedure and instead mobilizes the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information, the visual cortex. Delivering electrical pulses here should tell the brain to perceive patterns of light. The company hopes that this new innovation could help about 6 million people in the future who are blind due to other causes, like cancer, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or trauma. The company hopes to begin enrolling patients for trials in October and do its first implant by the end of the year. We can’t wait to know more about it!

Instead of “bionic eyes” that stimulate brain cells with lights coming from a tiny video camera or stimulate the visual cortex directly through electrodes, the Italian Institute of Technology has developed a new approach for treating retinal degeneration, with a prosthesis implanted into the eye that serves as a working replacement for a damaged retina – basically an artificial retina. Their research showed promising results for lab rats, and they plan to carry out the first human trials in the second half of 2017 and gather preliminary results during 2018.

 

The miraculous CRISPR and other gene therapies for regaining vision

CRISPR-Cas9 or as used in plain language, CRISPR, the breakthrough gene editing method, has already shown its potential future use in eye care. Experts even say the eye is an ideal place to start for the first clinical use of CRISPR. Compared to other parts of the body, the eye is easy to access for surgery, readily accepts new tissue and can be noninvasively monitored.

Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Iowa used CRISPR to repair a genetic mutation responsible for retinitis pigmentosa in induced pluripotent stem cells derived from a patient with the disease. The team reported a 13 percent success rate at converting the mutated gene variant into the normal one which is way better than previous studies. In February 2017, experts at the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) reported the use of CRISPR in performing “gene surgery” in the layer of tissue that supports the retina of living mice. After the intervention, the mice showed signs of improvement from AMD. It is a ground-breaking experiment suggesting that CRISPR can not only be used to correct mutations causing hereditary diseases but also in the case of non-hereditary degenerative diseases.

Beyond CRISPR, other gene therapies also have a great chance to become a common treatment method for specific eye conditions in the future. Early October 2017, the FDA’s advisory panel approved a gene therapy called Luxturna, which targets a rare condition called Leber congenital amaurosis. Thus, the treatment method got one step closer to full FDA approval. The agency will make its final decision by next January. If the verdict is positive, the gene therapy will be the first approved treatment in the US to correct an inherited genetic trait – but it might be followed very soon by much more.

 

Eye care patients will also become the point of care

With the advancement of smartphones and other smart gadgets at lightning speed, it is only a matter of time before portable devices will appear on a large scale in ophthalmology as well. The tiny, well-designed and connected instruments and the accompanying apps make it possible to undertake eye examinations anywhere in the world – making patients the point of care.

For example, Peek Retina is the flagship product of Peek Vision, a UK-based company and foundation, a portable ophthalmoscope that enables you to view and capture retinal images on your smartphone wherever you are. The venture also offers smartphone-based vision eye tests, e.g. for measuring visual acuity. It greatly helps physicians in remote areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa diagnose and treat patients.

The MIT-spinout company, EyeNetra developed a diagnostic device for signaling refractive errors fast and accurately. The device, called Netra, is a plastic, binocular-like headset to be used with an app which calculates the difference between what the user indicates as “aligned” and the actual alignment of various patterns. This signals any refractive errors, such as near-sightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The app then displays the refractive powers, the axis of astigmatism, and the pupillary distance required for eyeglasses prescriptions. EyeNetra will make school or workplace eye examinations in the future a lot easier than today.

 

Are 3D printed and digital contact lenses the future?

Digital contact lenses sound as science fiction: the translucid layer on your eye transmitting special information about your body to an outside device. Yet, it might be a reality soon. For example, Google teamed up with Novartis, to produce digital, multi-sensor contact lenses which are designed to be able to measure blood sugar levels.

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. However, in March 2017 Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt talked down the chances of the project bringing visible results in the next couple of years. I truly hope this is just a temporary setback.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Washington have created a contact lens with an LED display built into it – with the help of a 3D printer! While it is really difficult to manufacture a contact lens, which is one-third of a millimeter in diameter, a 3D printer sandwiches together different layers of interacting material, which makes it easier to place together so tiny pieces. While it was only an experiment, the research has important implications to improve the display technology of small devices. Maybe Google will 3D print the next generation of digital contact lenses, who knows?

 

Healing the eye faster

Innovation in regenerative medicine is flourishing: dentistry, dermatology, ophthalmology. A few specialties which can take pride in healing injured or diseased body parts faster and in a more efficient way.

For example, researchers in Turkey developed a regenerative medicine, that can heal the front of the eye in as little as two days after surgery. The drug called Cacicol stimulates faster tissue repair, appears to relieve eye pain, burning, and light sensitivity following an invasive intervention. Scientists treated with Cacicol patients suffering from a rare disease called keratoconus who went through a surgery known as corneal cross-linking. The drug helped decrease the initial healing from 5 days.

 

Artificial Intelligence for detecting eye conditions in time

Image recognition algorithms have the capacity to transform diagnostics based on medical imaging. In 2016, Google developed an eye-scanning technique for looking at retinal images and detecting diabetic retinopathyas well as a trained ophthalmologist. The disease is quite common among diabetes patients, and if it is not spotted early enough it may cause blindness. The machine-learning algorithm uses Google’s method for labeling millions of Web images as it examines photos of a patient’s retina to spot tiny aneurisms indicating the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. A year later, the search giant announced they have begun working on integrating the technology into a chain of eye hospitals in India.

 

Google is not the only one working on A.I. solutions for eye care, though. A teenage girl from India, whose grandfather in India was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, developed a smartphone app that can screen for the disease with the help of a specially trained artificial intelligence program and a simple 3D-printed lens attachment. A truly disruptive innovation: smart, cheap and potentially life-changing!

 

Eye conditions through augmented reality

Patient education is key in prevention and it also gives the best chance for physicians arriving at the most accurate diagnosis based on their patients’ explanation of their symptoms.

The use of Orca Health’s EyeDecide could bring exactly this result. The innovative, Utah-based mobile software company’s medical app uses an augmented reality camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision. EyeDecide can fully demonstrate the consequences of cataract or AMD and thus help patients understand their actual medical state.

 

Cyborgization is upon us?

I’m hopeful that eye conditions, visual impairment, and blindness will be entirely treatable in the future, even if that would mean their replacement with fully capable technologies. I believe the biggest ethical challenge of eye implants or devices replacing visual functions could be that it might facilitate cyborgization.

What if healthy people would like to live as Neil Harbisson? As someone whose vision is extended through an external technology? What if the average user will ask for bionic eyes as it does not get tired, you can zoom with it, browse and search online, even take photos that no one else could see?

Neil Harbisson is actually an artist born with achromatopsia or extreme colorblindness meaning he could only see in black-and-white. Harbisson received a 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. In his view, cyborgization might start with a third eye on the back of the head or an implanted sensor indicating whether there is a car behind you.

 

If you are entirely freaked out by now, I have to tell you, we are rather far from implanting third eyes into people. However, we have to start to contemplate about the possibilities of such scenarios as we will arrive at the boundaries of privacy, ethics – and the ultimate merging of the human body with technology. We have to be ready for that!

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Precision Medicine: The Future Of Health

Precision Medicine: The Future Of Health | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As science and technologies advance and demand continues to grow, healthcare systems have to evolve into a more sustainable model that maintains people’s wellness rather than just treating illness once it has occurred. Through a combination of proactive human interventions and decisions – supported and enabled by rich data and intelligence – that model will be more effective by being much more precisely directed at the individual.

Precision Medicine is based on four key pillars of care: Predictive, Preventive, Personalised and Participatory. A good illustration of how these four pillars work is the story of Dr Martinez, based on The Case for Personalized Medicine, Personalised Medicine Coalition, 3rd edition.

 

  • Dr Martinez is sitting down with his laptop. On the website that he uses to manage his practice, an alert pops up warning him that several new mutations found in 10 percent of people have been discovered to be associated with the likelihood that they might convert to type 2 diabetes. All of his patients have had their entire genome sequenced and entered into their electronic medical record. He conducts a quick search of this 2,000-patient database and finds about 80 who are at risk (Predictive care).
  • To half of those patients, he sends a strong reminder and advice on diet and lifestyle choices they can take to avoid the disease (Preventive care).
  • For the other half, whose medical records reveal pre-diabetic symptoms, he sets up appointments to consider more proactive treatment with drugs that can prevent the onset of the disease (Personalised care).
  • Patients can download an app certified by the healthcare system that will allow Dr Martinez to remotely monitor their glucose blood levels (Participatory care).

 

As that example shows, Precision Medicine depends on clinicians and citizens being proactive and working together to look after health and wellbeing. The success of that partnership relies on the healthcare system’s ability to transfer breakthroughs in data analysis across into healthcare settings – ‘from the bench to the bedside’. Massive volumes of raw, complex and heterogeneous data have to be acquired, validated, stored, processed and analysed using high performance computing systems. They then need to be interpreted and presented (through dashboards and reports) in meaningful ways to clinicians. Individual citizens can become more proactive in starting specific preventive treatments, or make lifestyle changes that prevent the onset of the disease or minimise its impact.

 

In this democratisation of medicine, genomic testing plays a very relevant role. DNA sequencing technologies are being adopted as part of routine practice as a powerful tool for early diagnosis and for personalised treatment. Getting access to the molecular profile of patients and correlating this data with phenotypic information (the expression of specific traits, such as stature or blood type, based on genetic and environmental influences) is an enormous cultural shift. This fast-evolving, immensely powerful new diagnostic tool is revolutionising healthcare and supporting clinicians, citizens, carers and society to work together in new ways to make predictive, preventive, personalised, participatory health and social care a reality for all.

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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, 2017 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?
Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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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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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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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.

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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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