Health Innovation
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Dr. Jeff Benabio - Reinventing Physicians

Dr. Benabio is a graduate of Brown University and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He graduated first in his class in medical school and served as chief dermatology resident at the University of California Irvine. He's currently a Voluntary Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSD and partner physician at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA. An award-winning speaker, he has addressed national audiences for Kaiser Permanente, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Telemedicine Association.


For over five years, Dr. Jeff Benabio has been using social media channels to help patients learn about skin health and disease and to help doctors learn about engaging patients more effectively. In his practice Dr. Benabio uses disruptive tools such as telemedicine and mobile devices to improve patient access and reduce medical costs. In his talk he'll show us how we're re-inventing medicine with Twitter and Facebook, and why it's the best thing to happen to medicine since vaccines.

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Big Data Delivers Deep Views Of Patients For Better Care

Big Data has arrived st Seton Health Care Family, fortunately accompanied by an analytics tool that will help deal with the complexity of more than two million patient contacts a year, usually attended by dozens of existing patient record pages and generating more with each visit — some electronic, many notes in phyiscian’s infamous handwriting, some transcribed from dictation and others jotted down on X-rays.


Fortunately, some discussions between IBM and Seton on the transformation of health care has led to a health analytics project for the hospital group.

Fresh from his stunning victory on Jeopardy!, Watson has been dismantled and parts shipped off to Texas under the effective alias: “Content and Predictive Analytics for Health Care.” Who’d ever guess his true identify as he works undercover at Seton, which operates five major medical centers and four smaller hospitals in 11 counties around Austin in central Texas.


Seton, which has been ranked as the top health care system in Texas and among the top 100 integrated health care systems in the country, put IBM’s analytics tool to work on patients with congestive heart failure to see what it could do.


“It’s a tricky condition because it may have immediate implications or it might take 10 years before it starts showing up in extensive hospital utilization and poor outcomes,” said Ryan Leslie, vice president for analytics and health economics at Seton.


A pioneer in reaching beyond hospital walls to provide care, Seton wants to pull together vital patient information and present it to care providers in a way that doesn’t require them to search through pages of records looking for anything pertinent.


“We have experience using a lot of structured data for forecasting and analysis, but about 80 percent [of patient information] is unstructured, such as a physician’s dictation after meeting with a patient. Now that is starting to be electronically transcribed and stored, but only in medical records as a one-off use, so an individual clinician looking at records on an individual patient might have to dig through pages and pages.”


Clinicians needed an aggregated view.


“We had no means of doing that. IBM (Watson, actually) offered the technology that could look into this enormous trove of unstructured data and find things that would be predictive of future negative health outcomes.”...

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Mobile is doctor's helper as technology revolutionises medicine

Mobile is doctor's helper as technology revolutionises medicine | Health Innovation |

Surgeons sporting 3-D glasses, and mobile apps that can share ultrasound pictures with loved ones during a check-up illustrate some of the high-tech gadgetry revolutionising the healthcare sector.


Numerous electronics makers are introducing their innovations to the UAE, where spending on health care topped Dh28 billion (US$7.6bn) last year and is forecast to grow more than 8 per cent this year, according to data from Business Monitor International.


Businesses, including smartphone manufacturers, software developers and insurers, are expected to benefit from a growing number of doctors who are turning to mobile phones in particular to more accurately diagnose and examine patients from afar.

"Mobile-enabled health solutions, known as mHealth, are a critical growth area within the healthcare sector today," said Tom Farrell, the vice president of Nokia in the Middle East. "Its potential for growth in emerging markets, both for consumers and healthcare service providers, is considerable."

This is the first year the Arab Health exhibition, which begins tomorrow in Dubai, will be hosting a conference dedicated to mHealth.


The session will showcase how doctors can monitor aspects of a patient remotely, including blood pressure and glucose levels.


"It's being implemented in the US, and moving into Europe - and we're hoping to bring it to the forefront of people's minds in the UAE," said Lisa Stephens, the executive director of the life sciences division at Informa Exhibitions, which puts on Arab Health.


Companies are now pouring millions of dollars into mHealth research and development - even if they have to give money away to spur new ideas.

Last week, the chip maker Qualcomm launched a global competition - with a $10 million prize - to stimulate innovation relating to medical...

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Microchips Repair Brain Damage in Rats

Microchips Repair Brain Damage in Rats | Health Innovation |
Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease patients may benefit from a controversial experiment that implanted microchips into lab rats. Scientists say the tests produced effective results in brain damage research.


Rats showed motor function in formerly damaged gray matter after a neural microchip was implanted under the rat’s skull and electrodes were transferred to the rat’s brain. Without the microchip, rats with damaged brain tissue did not have motor function. Both strokes and Parkinson’s can cause permanent neurological damage to brain tissue, so this scientific research brings hope.


“Imagine there’s a small area in the brain that is malfunctioning, and imagine that we understand the architecture of this damaged area. So we try to replicate this part of the brain with electronics,” Matti Mintz, a professor at Tel Aviv University, told the BBC.


Scientists trained rats with and without microchips to blink after hearing a sound it associated with a puff of air to test motor function. Rats with a microchip blinked after the sound played and before the air was actually blown. A rat without a microchip did not blink when it heard the sound.

Watch the video to learn more about the research and to see who is angry about it.

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Ten Brain Science Studies from 2011 Worth Talking About

Ten Brain Science Studies from 2011 Worth Talking About | Health Innovation |
This is the third year I’ve compiled a “top ten” of the past year’s big brain science studies, and each year it gets harder to narrow down the list. Several more studies could be added to the 2011 docket of notables, but these are the studies that grabbed me the most, in large part because of their implications moving forward.


1. Brain Implant Enables Memories to be Recorded and Played Back


Neural prosthetics had a big year in 2011, and no development in this area was bigger than an implant designed to record and replay memories.

Researchers had a group of rats with the implant perform a simply memory task: get a drink of water by hitting one lever in a cage, then—after a distraction—hitting another. They had to remember which lever they’d already pushed to know which one to push the second time. As the rats did this memory task, electrodes in the implants recorded signals between two areas of their brains involved in storing new information in long-term memory.

The researchers then gave the rats a drug that kept those brain areas from communicating. The rats still knew they had to press one lever then the other to get water, but couldn’t remember which lever they’d already pressed. When researchers played back the neural signals they’d recorded earlier via the implants, the rats again remembered which lever they had hit, and pressed the other one. When researchers played back the signals in rats not on the drug (thus amplifying their normal memory) the rats made fewer mistakes and remembered which lever they’d pressed even longer.


The bottom line: This is ground-level research demonstrating that neural signals involved in memory can be recorded and replayed. Progress from rats to humans will take many years, but even knowing that it’s plausible is remarkable.


2. Controlling microRNA Could Eventually Make Brain Cells ‘Death Resistant’


Like tiny toggle switches, microRNA are powerful molecules that silence the activity of as many as two-thirds of all human genes. In recent years they have emerged as key players in neurobiological development and disease. In 2011, researchers made the incredible discovery that microRNA may also be able to make brain cells resistant to programmed death, or “apoptosis.”


A huge amount of the human brain’s neurons die as we undergo normal growth and development. A portion, however, do not die, and they live on for the long haul. No one has been sure why those neurons survive the destructive “pruning” phase that eliminates droves of other neurons. The current research indicates that microRNA are at the heart of neuron survival, acting to essentially turn off the apoptosis mechanism that leads to cell death.


The bottom line: If microRNA can be controlled in the brains of patients with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s, then we may be able to halt the cell destruction those diseases cause and effectively stop the disease before the damage is done. It’s important to note that this research was conducted using mice, but it’s also the first to make this discovery in any mammalian brain and a promising initial step.



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CES Trend: Digital health gadgets galore

CES Trend: Digital health gadgets galore | Health Innovation |
Among the expected rows of new televisions, computers, phones and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show is a growing number of health gadgets. These vary in form and function, but nearly all of them share some common elements: connectivity, mobile applications and social aspects.


These devices are no longer the domain of the geeks and early adopters but are hitting their mainstream stride as prices have dropped on gadgets with more and more sensors to monitor our health. The mobile app revolution and rise of social networks have helped bring such health-related tools to the forefront as well. Here’s a peek at just a few of those sharing floor space with the traditional consumer electronic gadgets...


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Top 10 apps for health, fitness and nutrition

Top 10 apps for health, fitness and nutrition | Health Innovation |
There are apps to track how many calories you've burned, measure your blood pressure and plan meals.


As part of the special report Chasing Cures, CBC News checked with doctors, dietitians and other experts to assess some health and fitness apps.


Their 10 most commonly recommended apps were:



A free tool to help people lose weight by counting calories and tracking physical activity levels. "Research demonstrates that those who record their food intake will achieve greater weight loss than those who don't, so I highly recommend this to all my clients. For those high-tech users, apps are fantastic option," says Jodi Robinson, a registered dietitian and fitness specialist in Toronto.


Lose It! app and

"It's free, it helps you to count and budget calories, plan meals, factor in exercise, and lose weight at a safe, sustainable pace," says CBC medical specialist Dr. Karl Kabasele.



Another app to track nutrients, MyNetDiary is free, but also offers a $3.99 upgrade, though that isn't necessary, says registered dietitian Rosie Schwartz. The Toronto-based expert emphasized monitoring food intake — the food, time and amount after you eat. Taking steps to record your food consumption can help limit it, Schwartz advised.


Sodium 101

This Canadian site has an app for the iPhone and iPad that tells you how much sodium is in foods and tracks your consumption. CBC medical columnist Dr. Peter Lin says it's valuable for people with high blood pressure.


Apps can help people to reach their food and fitness goals, but the key is to make a plan and stick to it, says registered dietitian Zannat Reza. Reza suggests My Heart and Stroke Health app for people who want to find out about their risk for heart disease and get heart-healthy recipes that are lower in sodium.



The site maps out your workout route for running, cycling, etc.



A tool to track heart rate, distance, pace and calories burned during exercise.


Pedal Brain

The app has a GPS that tracks where you bike and uploads performance data in real-time to a website where personal trainers and teammates can track your progress, says Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art.


"Apps designed to promote physical activity and healthy eating should be easy to use, allow you to input your own goals or targets, monitor behaviours (e.g., built-in GPS to record and store physical activity) and provide motivational prompts," advises Mark Tremblay, director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research in Ottawa.



An app to help people with diabetes track their blood sugar levels, food consumption and insulin dosage and transmit the data to a network of doctors for feedback, said Goldman.

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A 3-D Printer Makes Customized Human Bones To Order | Popular Science

A 3-D Printer Makes Customized Human Bones To Order | Popular Science | Health Innovation |

We’re already printing organs to order, so why not Cmd+P some customized 3-D bone? Washington State University researchers have tweaked a 3-D rapid prototyper designed to create metal parts to print in a bone-like material that acts as a scaffold for new bone cells. In just a few years, the researchers say, doctors and dentists could be printing up custom bone tissue to order.

Reported in the journal Dental Materials, the bone-like material appears to cause no negative side effects and eventually dissolves. But before doing so, it serves as a scaffold for new bone cells. Placed in a medium of immature human bone cells, the printed structures encourage the growth of new bone that fuses with existing bone tissue.


"If a doctor has a CT scan of a defect, we can convert it to a CAD file and make the scaffold according to the defect,” Susmita Bose, co-author and professor in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, said in a press release.

In terms of potential for regenerative medicine, that’s fairly huge. It opens the door to the ability to create perfect--or nearly perfect--replacement implants for damaged or deformed bone tissue and grow new, corrective bone that is the real thing rather than a ceramic or metal analog. And the procedure is relatively fast. Networks of new bone cells reportedly grew within the 3-D printed structures within just a week of placing them in a culture with immature bone cells.

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iPro2 Continuous Glucose Monitoring Device Receives FDA Approval

iPro2 Continuous Glucose Monitoring Device Receives FDA Approval | Health Innovation |
Medtronic, Inc. has announced FDA approval for company’s iPro2, Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system. The iPro2 has been previously covered on Medgadget . The system comprises a wearable continuous glucose monitoring sensor/data logger and docking station for uploading the recorded data. The technology is tailored for healthcare providers looking to monitor and retrospectively review their patients’ glucose management. The assessments are carried out over a three day period and can help the clinician identify excursions from optimal glucose levels and adjust the patient’s glucose management plan accordingly.
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iPad 2 App from Philips Remotely Measures Vital Signs, Detects Porkies

iPad 2 App from Philips Remotely Measures Vital Signs, Detects Porkies | Health Innovation |
Philips have just released an app for the iPad 2 which can detect heart rate and respiratory rate. The Vital Signs Camera App uses the tablet’s camera to sense small changes facial color, indicative of beat by beat changes in blood flow, to determine your heart rate. Respiratory rate is determined by tracking the movement of the chest during respiration.The video gives a nice overview of the system and true to form, the interface and design would appear to be very much in line with Philips and Apple’s zen aesthethic.


This is not the first time we have come across non-contact measures of vital signs using video processing. Earlier this year researchers from M.I.T.’s Media Lab published a paper on a technique to achieve this using a standard low-cost webcam. However this does seem to be one of the first apps to incorporate this technology with the backing of a major healthcare company.


Philips is careful to state the app is not a medical tool, but it does seem to be a step in the right direction for socializing personal health. The company is also making the algorithms available for licensing so we could well see a host of apps with this technology emerging in the future. Seeing as the Vital Signs App is already 2 parts Polygraph it also opens up a whole world of video interrogation for all you iPad 2 users.

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Cambridge Healthcare wins International Innovation award

Cambridge Healthcare wins International Innovation award | Health Innovation |

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) named Cambridge Healthcare Ltd as the company with the top International Innovation in the IT category, when the results of the 2011 Awards were announced recently in London.

The citation described Cambridge Healthcare’s as providing “An e-portal for patients and healthcare professionals which features the world’s first healthcare applications store.”


The IET Awards are prestigious and recognise the most innovative companies operating within a wide variety of engineering and technology disciplines – there are 15 categories of Award.


Presenting the Awards, Professor Mike Short – IET President commented “The winners this year come from a wide variety of backgrounds and many have aimed to solve issues that impact our society, from saving lives to helping deliver a brighter and greener future. The IET Innovation Awards offered are an important annual landmark for the IET, illustrating some of the latest and best ideas and designs that align with our core vision of advancing knowledge to enhance and improve people’s lives”


The Cambridge company certainly fits the profile and criteria expressed by Professor Short. The business model itself is highly innovative – since Cambridge Healthcare Ltd emerged after work within the East of England Region of the NHS where the Innovation Council invited company founder Dawson King to join and to work with NHS project teams to design and deliver an e-portal to make possible NHS and government aspirations for a more patient centred NHS in which long term care (which absorbs 70% of healthcare budgets) and patient based health planning together with “shared decision making” (an NHS goal for the patient is “No decision about me without me).


In record time, phase one of the portal has been launched and using the domain name the company is seeing patients and others register to explore and make use of the service – which is being provided free at the point of use to NHS patients – wherever they may be. Clearly the way of operating as well as the technology, providing a “social network of healthcare” is highly innovative.


Future developments will include easy to access on line consultations for patients and practitioners through video links and a variety of information based services for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries – as well as patients and practitioners. Cambridge Healthcare Ltd is entering into an exciting partnership agreement with Microsoft Health Vault. Working together with Microsoft the company expects to be able to accelerate the numbers of very useful applications which can be stored and accessed in a variety of ways.


Across the whole of the range of IT entries (the total entries in the Awards Scheme numbered 420) – to have secured No 1 slot with a Healthcare Innovation should be seen as something special for Cambridge Healthcare Ltd. Innovation in the NHS and Healthcare worldwide is an imperative if health systems are to be sustained as populations grow in number and longevity.


It is worth quoting again the words of IET President Professor Mike Short who spoke at the Awards ceremony of “advancing knowledge to enhance and improve people’s lives”. Cambridge Healthcare Ltd is doing that and will also help save the NHS and health systems around the world significant costs. An outstanding example of a private company working creatively in the “public-private” space.

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Bracelet Tries to Nudge You Closer to Good Health

Bracelet Tries to Nudge You Closer to Good Health | Health Innovation |

Maybe you’ve heard. We Americans are not, ahem, the very models of physical fitness. We’re overweight, underexercised and underslept.

We don’t need more studies to remind us that being so fat, lazy and tired is bad for our mood, productivity and health. What we need is to change our ways.


Where there’s a will, there’s a gadget. Jawbone, the maker of sleek Bluetooth earpieces and colorful wireless portable speakers, now offers a product that’s only distantly related to its predecessors: the Up wristband ($100). The tiny motion sensors inside are designed to monitor your activity and sleep, and, by confronting you with a visual record of your habits, inspire you to do better.


This isn’t a new idea. The active ingredient is the same one found in previous “Get healthier” gadgets like the FitBit, Philips DirectLife and Nike+iPod: an accelerometer, a motion sensor like the one in a Wii remote control.


If you conscientiously wear these devices, they work. The simple act of monitoring your own behavior inevitably encourages you — to climb more stairs, park farther away and bike instead of drive.

The Up bracelet tries to improve on those devices in two important ways. First, its textured rubber exterior, available in a variety of colors and wrist sizes, is waterproof up to (or, rather, down to) three feet. The idea is that you can wear the band 24/7, even when you swim or take a shower.


Second, the Up band uses an iPhone app as its brains and screen. Brilliant! You’re already carrying around a computer with a colorful touch screen; why shouldn’t it work with your glorified pedometer? (An Android version is in the works.)


The band contains a metal spine; it’s flexible but always returns to its closed oval shape when you let go. It’s not a complete circle. It’s more like an overgrown C — the ends shoot past and overlap each other. On one end, there’s a clickable metal button and a couple of tiny indicator lights. On the other, a tiny removable cap conceals the Up’s connector to your iPhone: a headphone minijack...

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Medical Device Innovation: Georgia Tech Develops Technologies to Solve Health Care Problems

Medical Device Innovation: Georgia Tech Develops Technologies to Solve Health Care Problems | Health Innovation |

After peeling off the protective film from one side, the patch – which is about the size of a postage stamp – is pressed onto the forearm of a young child. Hundreds of tiny microneedles located on the surface of the patch painlessly enter the upper layers of the child’s skin, where they quickly dissolve. Made of a medical polymer, the needles carry vaccine particles directly to the specialized cells used by the skin to battle invading microbes.


This is one scenario that Georgia Tech researchers envision for using the microneedle-based vaccine patch they are developing with immunology experts at Emory University. The patch, which could be available within five years, might be administered by persons without medical training, providing a simple way to rapidly immunize large populations during pandemics.


Microneedles are just one example of the medical devices under development at Georgia Tech, often in collaboration with institutions such as Emory. By harnessing its engineering, scientific and computing capabilities and its entrepreneurial tradition, as well as the Atlanta medical community, Georgia Tech is advancing the field of medical device design and bringing new devices to market.


Beyond the health benefits, these medical devices...

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As Smartphones Get Smarter, You May Get Healthier: How mHealth Can Bring Cheaper Health Care To All

As Smartphones Get Smarter, You May Get Healthier: How mHealth Can Bring Cheaper Health Care To All | Health Innovation |
Smartphones and tablets are transforming the future of health care. Can we really trust them to save lives?


The average auto refractor--that clunky-looking device eye doctors use to pinpoint your prescription--weighs about 40 pounds, costs $10,000, and is virtually impossible to find in a rural village in the developing world. As a result, some half a billion people are living with vision problems, which make it tough to read and work.

Ramesh Raskar knew fixing this problem would be tricky. It required a new way of thinking about eye tests--and a new kind of device, one powerful enough to support high-resolution visuals, cheap enough to scale, and simple enough to be used by just about anyone. The MIT professor briefly toyed with stand-alone options, which were complicated and costly. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out an unexpected savior: his iPhone.

"The displays had gotten so good, thanks to people wanting to watch episodes of Lost in high definition," Raskar recalls. "I was immediately energized."

By creating an app and attachment for the popular smartphone, Raskar could tap into a huge existing user base and skirt millions in distribution and manufacturing costs. The result: a plastic clip-on eyepiece that uses an on-screen visual test to determine a patient's "refractive error" (a number doctors then use to dole out prescriptions). When his startup, EyeNetra, begins market testing later this year in Brazil, India, and Mexico--and eventually in the U.S.--its tech will deliver all the functionality of an optometrist's costly machine for less than $30.


What Dr. Smartphone can do for you?


This is the thrilling, disruptive potential of "mHealth," the rapidly growing business of using mobile technology in health care. Leveraging the wonders of a device that's fast becoming ubiquitous--two in three people worldwide own a cell phone--a new generation of startups is building apps and add-ons that make your handheld work like high-end medical equipment. Except it's cheaper, sleeker, and a lot more versatile. "It's like the human body has developed a new organ," says Raja Rajamannar, chief innovation officer at Humana. Smartphones can already track calories burned and miles run, and measure sleep patterns. By 2013, they'll be detecting erratic heartbeats, monitoring tremors from Parkinson's disease, and even alerting you when it's prime time to make a baby...

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Good prognosis for region's healthcare market - The National

Good prognosis for region's healthcare market - The National | Health Innovation |
A growing population, new hospitals and advances in medical technology are set to grow the UAE's medical services market to a healthy Dh31 billion (US$8.4bn) this year.


The amount spent on health care in the UAE is forecast to grow 8.6 per cent this year, although that compares with a 9.3 per cent rise last year to Dh28.8bn, according to market research released last month by Business Monitor International (BMI).


"There are some short-term challenges, but in the long term, the UAE is still one of the most promising markets in the region," said Daniel Rosen, an analyst at BMI and head of the company's pharmaceuticals and healthcare coverage for the Middle East and Africa.


A record of about 3,000 companies will be competing for a slice of the industry's multibillion-dollar revenue pie when the Arab Health exhibition in Dubai opens tomorrow, in its 37th year. Of the [top 4,000 buyers at] the show last year, who mainly represented hospitals and government organisations, each spent an average of $5 million on healthcare products and services.


"There's huge potential, certainly, for a number of sectors," said Lisa Stephens, the executive director of the life sciences division at Informa Exhibitions, which organises Arab Health.


Technology manufacturers, as well as insurers, are expected to benefit from advancements in software and hardware devices, she said.


The rising prevalence of so-called lifestyle diseases, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension, is also increasing demand for care, while the need for additional hospital beds is also high. Generally, developed countries average three beds for every 1,000 people, while as of 2010, the UAE had fewer than two beds, "indicating a large room for future growth potential", according to a report from RNCOS, a market research company.


As local healthcare providers try to curb the number of UAE nationals and expatriates who visit other countries as so-called medical tourists, they have been agreeing partnerships with big brands elsewhere. "That's quite important [and is] hopefully going to help stop patients from going outside [the country]," said Dave Panther, a sales director with Informa Exhibitions.


The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a multi-speciality hospital that is a partnership between the Cleveland Clinic in the US and Mubadala Healthcare, is scheduled to open on Sowwah Island next year with a facility that can expand from 360 to 490 beds...

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U.S. Doctors Less Likely Than Global Peers To Cite Benefits of Health IT

U.S. physicians are less likely than doctors in other countries to report expected benefits from using health IT, according to an international survey by Accenture, Healthcare IT News reports.

For the survey -- which was conducted between August and September of 2011 -- researchers polled more than 3,700 physicians in eight countries about their perceptions of health IT. The eight countries are:
Spain; and
The U.S.

Comparing U.S. With Other Countries

The survey found that 45% of U.S. physicians said health IT would improve diagnostic decisions, the lowest rate among the eight nations surveyed. Among all respondents, 61% said health IT would improve diagnostic decisions.

The survey also found that:

47% of U.S. physicians said health IT has helped improve the quality of treatment decisions, compared with the survey-wide average of 61%; and
45% of U.S. physicians reported that technology leads to improved health outcomes for patients, compared with the survey-wide average of 59%.


Rick Ratliff -- global lead for Accenture Connected Health Services -- said the survey suggests that "more needs to be done to bridge the disconnect between physician perceptions and the U.S. federal government's goal of increasing the adoption of meaningful use standards."

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Global Findings

According to the study, most doctors in all countries surveyed believe that health IT provides some common benefits, such as:

Better access to quality data for research;
Improved care coordination; and
Reduced medical errors.
Researchers also noted that physicians who routinely use health IT tools rated the overall benefits higher than physicians who use health IT tools less often (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 1/10).

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The Future of Health Care : WHY IT WILL REQUIRE UNLEARNING | Health Innovation |

Why the Most Under-utilized Resource is the Patient?

Futurist Jack Uldrich bends minds and pushes us toward wisdom through unlearning what we think we know about health care. Find out how challenging our assumptions can lead to better treatment.

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DNA Sequencing is Now Improving Faster Than Moore's Law!

DNA Sequencing is Now Improving Faster Than Moore's Law! | Health Innovation |
A “worldwide genomics revolution” is upon us.


The genomics industry marked a new milestone on Tuesday. As Forbes’ Matthew Herper reported in three separate posts and nearly 100 related Tweets, the two leading manufacturers of DNA sequencing instruments announced almost simultaneously at an investors’ conference that they would introduce new machines this year capable of sequencing an entire human genome in a single day. Life Technologies said its forthcoming Ion Proton machine, which processes DNA on a semiconductor chip, will do it for a cost of $1,000 per genome.


These advances are not just big news for biotech and medicine, but exciting for all Techonomists. They’re proof that the pace of advances in genome sequencing technology has exceeded Moore’s Law. The speed of genome sequencing has far better than doubled every two years since 2003, when the first whole human genome was completed in 13 years’ time at a cost of $3.8 billion. Jonathan Rothberg, inventor of the Ion Proton technology, even hammered home the connection between genomics and computing by sequencing Gordon Moore’s genome last year.


The parallel indicates that, just as revolutionary computing and digital electronics applications have transformed society over the past four decades, innovations spurred by widely available gene sequencing could soon do the same. It was difficult if not impossible for most in 1970 to imagine anything like Skype, Facebook, or Siri, let alone what we would do with desktop computers. And it’s tough today for many to imagine uses outside the biotech industry for cheap and instant hand-held genome sequencers. The blogosphere’s been abuzz since Tuesday’s announcements with complaints that more genomic data won’t be useful until science knows what it all means.


But faster, cheaper sequencing is key to uncovering that knowledge, and to catalyzing innovation in the field. Rothberg says greater access to the technology will lead to necessary crowdsourced genomics investigations and stimulate development of killer apps. For instance, he says, in cancer research, widespread access to DNA sequencing will enable patients or oncologists to share the genomic details of their cancer over time, helping researchers more quickly identify links between mutations and various therapeutic responses. “Only the community can build these correlations,” Rothberg says.


Referring to a global, crowdsourced effort to characterize the genetics of a unique antibiotic resistant strain of E. coli that infected thousands in Europe last year, Rothberg says, “We’ve seen what happens when you enable a community.”


At a community portal hosted by the Ion Torrent website, Rothberg encourages users to collaborate on developing new applications for his semiconductor sequencing instruments. “When the global community gets open access to transformative technology, you get a worldwide genomic revolution,” the site declares.

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Medtronic mySentry Lets You Watch Your Kid's Glucose Levels Remotely Through The Night

Medtronic mySentry Lets You Watch Your Kid's Glucose Levels Remotely Through The Night | Health Innovation |
Medtronic has released its mySentry device, the first remote glucose monitor for use at home to keep an eye on a loved one’s glucose levels and pump status. Via the mySentry Outpost device that’s placed in the patient’s room, it wirelessly interfaces with Medtronic’s MiniMed Paradigm REAL-Time Revel, a glucose monitor and insulin pump system.


Besides showing regular glucose readings, the mySentry will raise an alarm if preset levels are breached, helping to address commonly occurring problems like nighttime hypoglycemia.


The mySentry system consists of a Monitor with a color screen, a power supply, and an Outpost that transmits information from your child’s Medtronic MiniMed Paradigm® REAL-Time Revel™ System to the mySentry Monitor.


The Outpost enables you to keep watch from up to 50 feet away or greater. This means that your child can be sleeping in one room while you are in another room, observing their insulin pump and sensor information in real-time without having to get up and check the pump itself.


mySentry receives and sounds the same alerts that your child gets on his or her Minimed Paradigm® REAL-Time Revel™ System so that you can take action sooner to avoid dangerous lows or highs. These include predictive alerts, which can warn you up to 30 minutes in advance of low or high events, and threshold alerts that tell you when your child’s preset low or high glucose levels have been reached.


Alarms and alerts sound loudly to awaken deep sleepers, and the volume can be adjusted to your desired level. For added convenience, mySentry also features a snooze button that provides you the option of temporarily silencing alarms.

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How Will Patients, Families and Doctors Handle the Coming Flood of Personalized Genetic Data?

equencing the entire human genome took more than a decade before leaders of the Human Genome Project announced their completion of a rough draft in a 2000 White House ceremony. Finished in 2003, sequencing that first genome cost nearly $3 billion. Today, with advances in technology, an individual's whole genome can be sequenced in a few months for about $4,000.

But knowing just what to do with this knowledge has not kept pace with the gusher of genetic data. People can now have their own genome analyzed—all 3 billion pairs of DNA letters per person—offering clues to their current and future risks of genetic diseases. But what will individuals do with this flood of information? Is some of it information that they prefer not to know? How will knowledge of a child's possible future risks affect the parents' decisions now?

These are just a few of the near-future issues being explored in a new four-year grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the federal agency that sponsored the Human Genome Project. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is one of five U.S. centers, and the only one focusing on pediatrics, to receive a new four-year Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Project award. Children's Hospital will receive $2.2 million per year for four years.

The NHGRI announced the grant today as part of an intensified focus on the medical applications of its flagship Genome Sequencing Program.

The grant recipients are forming a consortium to define social and ethical issues associated with clinical sequencing, and to propose guidelines on sharing, interpreting and using this genetic information. Much of the consortium's work will focus on guiding physicians and genetic counselors in interpreting data for families and patients.

"Currently, when gene analysis helps us arrive at a diagnosis of a child's disorder, we can then counsel a family, providing information about what to expect and what options may be available for therapy and medical intervention," said clinical geneticist Ian D. Krantz, M.D. "But among the thousands of gene variants in someone's genome, only a handful will be clinically significant or actionable—lending themselves to doing something medically—while most will either not be actionable or will of unclear significance."

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Nanotechnology Puts a Medical Lab in Your Hand

Nanotechnology Puts a Medical Lab in Your Hand | Health Innovation |
All the frills in life are shrinking in size. Laptops, cellphones and even big-screen televisions have been getting thinner and thinner. So why shouldn’t necessary technology like medical labs and scientific tools get the same slimming treatment?


Now they are: advances in nanotechnology have made it possible to put an entire medical lab into one high-powered chip, which not only fits in the palm of your hand, but also performs diagnostic tests in a matter of minutes.


Researchers are gradually finding ways to create reliable, nano-sized labs that are able to perform a variety of diagnostic tests, which used to require teams of people and weeks of waiting. The tiny wafers of glass or plastic work by compressing a series of tests. For example, the Guardian reports Professor Tom Duke at the London Center for Nanotechnology is working on a “lab-on-a-chip” to test for HIV.


In Duke’s chip, a drop of blood is separated by nanometer-sized pillars, which then trap larger elements such as blood cells and proteins. Virus particles pass through this trap (which acts like a nano-sieve) where they hit a series of levers coated with antibodies that bend when they are hit. The more they bend, the more virus is present.


This is just one application...

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GE Healthcare Celebrates More New ‘Technologies for Healthier Lives’ Than Ever Before

GE Healthcare today celebrates an incredibly innovative year — with more new products and solutions than ever before — at the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), starting tomorrow. GE’s accelerated investment in product innovation builds on the company’s efforts to enhance care, comfort and usability for patients and providers, as well as productivity for physicians across a wide range of geographical and clinical settings.


“RSNA is an amazing opportunity every year for GE Healthcare to engage with radiologists and other healthcare professionals — demonstrating how our leading technologies meet their increasingly varied clinical needs”


“RSNA is an amazing opportunity every year for GE Healthcare to engage with radiologists and other healthcare professionals — demonstrating how our leading technologies meet their increasingly varied clinical needs,” said John Dineen, president and CEO of GE Healthcare. “We’ve stepped up our product investments in recent years, and the feedback we’re receiving is extremely positive. All the innovations we’re highlighting this year are rooted in GE’s healthymagination strategy — a commitment to help reduce the cost of healthcare while increasing access and improving quality — and we look forward to sharing news on this front throughout the week.”


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The Five Biggest Ideas On The Future Of Health Care Design

The Five Biggest Ideas On The Future Of Health Care Design | Health Innovation |

Every year, the biggest ideas in health care are presented at the Mayo Clinic’s Transform conference in Rochester, Minnesota. I was there this year to present a pre-conference workshop with a Continuum colleague on everyday creativity, and another pair of Continuum designers gave a main-stage talk entitled, “Patient Centricity: A design identity crisis.” Also on the lineup were John Hockenberry and Roger Martin, bigwigs from J+J and GE Healthcare, and practitioners from the top-tier design and innovation firms. Many cutting-edge ideas were presented, along with some spirited debate on the hot topics of delivering care and the role of technology.


Here are my top five conference takeaways on the future design of health care.


First off, I keep running into the fact that…

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Hype Aside, Hope for Stem Cell Therapy May Be Emerging From Hibernation

Two small studies of cardiac stem cells for the treatment of heart failure have shown promise, but ABC News, CBS News and other media outlets are throwing around words like “medical breakthrough” and “heart failure cure.” ABC News correspondent Richard Besser was so enthusiastic that anchor Diane Sawyer commented that she had never seen him “so excited.” The first author of one of the studies, Roberto Bolli, said the work could represent “the biggest advance in cardiology in my lifetime.”


The reality may be somewhat more prosaic. In the first paper, published in the Lancet, Roberto Bolli and colleagues, including senior author Pierro Anversa, report on a phase 1 study still in progress in which 16 patients with post-infarction left ventricular (LV) dysfunction received cardiac stem cells (CSCs) harvested during bypass surgery and subsequently expanded. Seven patients served as controls.

In the treatment group LV ejection fraction (EF) increased from 30.3% to 38.5% 4 months after infusion. There was no change in the EF in the control group. At one year followup in 8 patients in the CSC group the LVEF had increased by 12.3 EF units.


“Although the primary purpose of our phase 1 trial was to assess the safety and feasibility of using this distinct and unique population of cells, the treatment effects are very encouraging and compare favorably with previous trials of bone marrow cells. The present results provide a strong rationale for further studies of CSC treatment in patients with severe heart failure secondary to ischemic cardiomyopathy, who have a poor prognosis,” the authors wrote.


The results “raise new optimism because the study is based on rigorous quality standards and the reported benefits are of an unexpected magnitude,” writes Gerd Heusch in an accompanying comment. “Of course,we will have to see whether further data will meet the promises of the present study…”


In a second study, presented by Eduardo Marbán at the AHA, 31 patients were randomized on a 2:1 basis to intracoronary infusion of CDCs or a control arm. CDC therapy was safe, and the investigators found evidence that it reduced scar and increased healthy heart muscle. The results suggested that regeneration of cardiac tissue had taken place. Positive trends suggesting improved EF and end systolic and diastolic volumes were also observed. The results, the authors concluded, suggest that this could be the “first therapeutic modality to shrink scar while regrowing viable, functional tissue.”

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Toyota robotic technology aimed at helping patient’s ambulate and rehab quicker

Toyota robotic technology aimed at helping patient’s ambulate and rehab quicker | Health Innovation |

Toyota recently announced exciting new robotic technology aimed at helping get people debilitated by strokes, joint disease, vascular disease, and other chronic conditions moving again. New technological advances by the automaker have the potential to aid patients in many ways, from the hospital to the home.


Take strokes for example. There is substantial data that early mobility helps the brain develop adaptive changes, prevents muscle atrophy, and more.

So in addition to the long-term benefits, this kind of assist technology has other potential benefits for patients.


Given that Japan is one of the world’s most rapidly aging nations, Toyota sees medical technology an important business opportunity.


The company aims to commercialize devices such as its “independent walk assist” device after 2013.

Via dbtmobile
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