Samsung’s C-Lab has just released its latest innovation, a new gadget designed to make early parenthood a little easier.The smart baby carrier, called Dr. Macaron, has several functions that help a parent carry their newborn and know how healthy they are at any minute of the day.Dr. Macaron distributes the baby’s weight away from one part of the parent’s body using a convertible hipseat system that’s adjustable with just one hand.
Via Alex Butler
Pharmaceutical companies are missing out a major opportunity to grow their brands: social media. That’s according to a newly published e-book from McKinsey & Co., Google and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Historic mixes of advertising in traditional media combined with heavy salesforce coverage and ‘push’ messaging are insufficient,” the publication said. “While each of those tactics remains relevant, today’s commercial mix should reflect the fact that people are now viewing digital channels close to 50 percent of the time, and, even more importantly, that those people seek real engagement in regards to their care.”
From the e-book:
The most innovative marketers today are finding ways to solve a problem, delight, inspire, or empathize with patients right in the flow of what they are doing (instead of interrupting to push a message to them). Similarly, more and more HCPs use digital tools and media to confirm facts and as a way to connect with others for clinical advice as well as emotional support.
Indeed, according to the report, one of every 20 Google searches today is for health information, the book said. That’s grown 15 percent a year since 2011.
“As a result, pharma companies need to make a mindset shift from ‘telling’ to ‘listening’ and then (eventually) ‘engaging’ because patients are no longer passive recipients of care. Rather, they are active shapers of their care,” the McKinsey-Google-Wharton team wrote in the e-book, entitled, “Pharma 3D: Rewriting the script for marketing in the digital age.”
“Pharma 3D” stands for discover, design and deliver. “The 3D approach has helped scores of organizations across industries innovate their approaches to digital engagement,” said the lengthy document, which includes numerous case studies. (The authors promised to update the e-book with additional case studies in the future.)
They said that companies with a high “digital quotient” experience twice the rate of revenue growth as those that do not. “The investment in this considerable change is worth it,” the book said.
Researchers at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), the University of Vienna, and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona have achieved a new milestone in quantum physics: they were able to entangle three particles of light in a high-dimensional quantum property related to the "twist" of their wavefront structure. Just like Schrödinger's famous cat that is simultaneously dead and alive, all previous demonstrations of multi-particle entanglement have been with quantum objects in two discrete levels, or dimensions. The twisted photons used in the Vienna experiment have no such limit to their dimensionality, and can simultaneously exist in three or more quantum states. The three-photon entangled state created by the Vienna group breaks this previous record of dimensionality, and brings to light a new form of asymmetric entanglement that has not been observed before. The results from their experiment appear in the journal Nature Photonics.Entanglement is a counterintuitive property of quantum physics that has long puzzled scientists and philosophers alike. Entangled quanta of light seem to exert an influence on each other, irrespective of how much distance is between them. Consider for example a metaphorical quantum ice dancer, who has the uncanny ability to pirouette both clockwise and counter-clockwise simultaneously. A pair of entangled ice-dancers whirling away from each other would then have perfectly correlated directions of rotation: If the first dancer twirls clockwise then so does her partner, even if skating in ice rinks on two different continents. "The entangled photons in our experiment can be illustrated by not two, but three such ice dancers, dancing a perfectly synchronized quantum mechanical ballet," explains Mehul Malik, the first author of the paper. "Their dance is also a bit more complex, with two of the dancers performing yet another correlated movement in addition to pirouetting. This type of asymmetric quantum entanglement has been predicted before on paper, but we are the first to actually create it in the lab."The scientists created their three-photon entangled state by using yet another quantum mechanical trick: they combined two pairs of high-dimensionally entangled photons in such a manner that it became impossible to ascertain where a particular photon came from. Besides serving as a test bed for studying many fundamental concepts in quantum mechanics, multi-photon entangled states such as these have applications ranging from quantum computing to quantum encryption. Along these lines, the authors of this study have developed a new type of quantum cryptographic protocol using their state that allows different layers of information to be shared asymmetrically among multiple parties with unconditional security. "The experiment opens the door for a future quantum Internet with more than two partners and it allows them to communicate more than one bit per photon," says Anton Zeilinger. Many technical challenges remain before such a quantum communication protocol becomes a practical reality. However, given the rapid progress in quantum technologies today, it is only a matter of time before this type of entanglement finds a place in the quantum networks of the future.Publication in "Nature Photonics": Multi-Photon Entanglement in High Dimensions: Mehul Malik, Manuel Erhard, Marcus Huber, Mario Krenn, Robert Fickler, Anton Zeilinger. Nature Photonics, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2016.12.
“Consumers care more about ease of use than trustworthiness when it comes to looking up health information online, according to a Makovsky survey of 1,035 US adults that was fielded by market research firm Kelton.”
Via Bruno Demay, Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
The notion of “disruptive innovation” was first used in 1997 by Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School) to describe an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and then goes on the destroy what went before. Businesses in the sector have to choose between maintaining status quo (risking extinction) or developing a brand new business model to fulfill its clients’ future or unmet needs. In just a few years, digital technology has profoundly destabilized many sectors: The movie and music industries have been seriously hit by illegal online copies V
A new study shows that the microbial communities we carry in and on our bodies—known as the human microbiome—have the potential to uniquely identify individuals, much like a fingerprint. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers and colleagues demonstrated that personal microbiomes contain enough distinguishing features to identify an individual over time from among a research study population of hundreds of people. The study, the first to rigorously show that identifying people from microbiome data is feasible, suggests that we have surprisingly unique microbial inhabitants, but could raise potential privacy concerns for subjects enrolled in human microbiome research projects. The study appears online May 11, 2015 in the journal PNAS under “Identifying personal microbiomes using metagenomics codes” .
“Linking a human DNA sample to a database of human DNA ‘fingerprints’ is the basis for forensic genetics, which is now a decades-old field. We’ve shown that the same sort of linking is possible using DNA sequences from microbes inhabiting the human body—no human DNA required. This opens the door to connecting human microbiome samples between databases, which has the potential to expose sensitive subject information—for example, a sexually-transmitted infection, detectable from the microbiome sample itself,” said lead author Eric Franzosa, research fellow in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard Chan.
Franzosa and colleagues used publicly available microbiome data produced through the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), which surveyed microbes in the stool, saliva, skin, and other body sites from up to 242 individuals over a months-long period. The authors adapted a classical computer science algorithm to combine stable and distinguishing sequence features from individuals’ initial microbiome samples into individual-specific “codes.” They then compared the codes to microbiome samples collected from the same individuals’ at follow-up visits and to samples from independent groups of individuals.
The results showed that the codes were unique among hundreds of individuals, and that a large fraction of individuals’ microbial “fingerprints” remained stable over a one-year sampling period. The codes constructed from gut samples were particularly stable, with more than 80% of individuals identifiable up to a year after the sampling period.
“A team of Japanese scientists has found a species of bacteria that eats the type of plastic found in most disposable water bottles.”
The discovery, published Thursday in the journal Science, could lead to new methods to manage the more than 50 million tons of this particular type of plastic produced globally each year.
The plastic found in water bottles is known as polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. It is also found in polyester clothing, frozen-dinner trays and blister packaging.
"If you walk down the aisle in Wal-Mart you're seeing a lot of PET," said Tracy Mincer, who studies plastics in the ocean at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Part of the appeal of PET is that it is lightweight, colorless and strong. However, it has also been notoriously resistant to being broken down by microbes-what experts call "biodegradation." Previous studies had found a few species of fungi can grow on PET, but until now, no one had found any microbes that can eat it.
To find the plastic-eating bacterium described in the study, the Japanese research team from Kyoto Institute of Technology and Keio University collected 250 PET-contaminated samples including sediment, soil and wastewater from a plastic bottle recycling site.
Next they screened the microbes living on the samples to see whether any of them were eating the PET and using it to grow. They originally found a consortium of bugs that appeared to break down a PET film, but they eventually discovered that just one of bacteria species was responsible for the PET degradation. They named it Ideonella sakainesis.
Further tests in the lab revealed that it used two enzymes to break down the PET. After adhering to the PET surface, the bacteria secretes one enzyme onto the PET to generate an intermediate chemical. That chemical is then taken up by the cell, where another enzyme breaks it down even further, providing the bacteria with carbon and energy to grow.
Vaccines are the best resource in our fight against preventable diseases, and sometimes they work even better than we could have hoped for. This seems to be the emerging case for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine, which was introduced just a decade ago to combat the virus that causes cervical cancer, among others. Although there are more than 100 different strains of HPV, only a small number are associated with cancer, and it is these that the vaccine targets. More specifically, four are high risk for genital cancer.
Types 16 and 18, for instance, cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.
According to a new study, published in Pediatrics, in the last 10 years the prevalence of the virus, or more specifically these four types, in teenage girls has fallen by 64 percent in the U.S., concomitant with the release of the vaccine. The study also highlights that among women aged 20 to 24, who had on average lower vaccination rates, the most dangerous strains of the virus fell by 34 percent. The vaccine is usually administered before puberty because HPV is sexually transmittable.
As always people have questioned the protection given by the vaccine, but the evidence for it is overwhelming. In Australia, the vaccine is offered for free to schoolgirls and that accomplished a 92 percent reduction in genital warts in women under the age of 21 over the period 2007 to 2011.
In the United States, the vaccine is largely optional and the debate is often linked to underage sexual activities rather than cancer prevention. Dozens of cancers centers, as well as pediatrics associations, are actively endorsing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“Multiple studies have shown the importance of a strong provider recommendation for increasing vaccination coverage,” said to the New York Times Dr. Lauri E. Markowitz, a medical epidemiologist at the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, a division of the C.D.C., who led the research for the latest study.
The patient is the most important stakeholder in any health debate, and the digital innovations coming from doctors must always be geared toward helping those in need, rather than using technology as an end in itself.
Somebody who understands this better than most is Michael Seres, an evangelising ePatient passionate about the ability of new technologies and social media to help him, his condition and his well-being.
Michael has been diagnosed with the Crohn's disease but his condition grew worse, and he later required a small bowel transplant after suffering from intestinal failure.
Now in his 40s, he requires life-long medical help, and represents many chronic patients who require constant monitoring and doctor visits.
Speaking to PME Digital Doctors, Michael says: “For me, digital health has played a massive role in managing my conditions. Skype, text, email and social media are all as vital as my doctor and my clinical notes.”
He says that in 2013 the clinic at his transplant unit started using Skype, which allows people to talk to each other face-to-face over the internet.
Michael says for a chronic patient, this sort of thing is invaluable. “There was no need to travel 90 minutes for a routine follow-up appointment when Skype did the trick,” he explains. “This was then followed by texting blood results again, all with my consent, but it enabled me to manage my condition as I would manage any other part of my life.
“We use technology as part of every day life - why would we not do the same with our health. Take my blog [www.michaelseres.com] for example: as a direct result of this, four patients have successfully undergone transplants that their medical teams don't even know existed.”
Pharma is a vital part of any healthcare conversation. To me, I would like them to be in the room when I talk about my medications with my doctor
Doctors and social media More and more doctors across Europe are turning to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and direct, doctor-only sites like Doctors.net.uk and Sermo, and private clinical message boards run by The BMJ, are growing in size each year.
Doctors are now - although tentatively - also looking to engage more with patients online, and Michael says this can produce better clinical outcomes.
He says: “I managed to teach my transplant surgeon the value of Twitter and for a while, he would tweet me my results. He also conducted a couple of tweet chats where patients could engage directly with the surgeon online.
“Now, I often use Facebook Messenger to convey a comment or query when I see they are online.”
But this is still a tricky area for doctors, and Michaels says: “There is a fine line here though, which patients must not cross - and that is remembering and respecting that they are still talking to their doctor.
“There are boundaries and while social media are not for everyone, as long as the same respect is shown online that is shown face-to-face, then why not use it?”
Uptake of digital Michael has long thought that in the UK and Europe there is a cultural lag in adoption of new technologies, but believes that European patients are keener to use these platforms more eagerly than across the Atlantic.
“At the moment, we [in the UK] are still incredibly slow to adopt technology that we use in everyday life. Emailing your doctor is not common practice, and nor is texting - so why are we focusing on new technologies when we do not even use the existing ones properly?
“That said, I actually think that in many ways we lead the way in the UK, and that is down to patients. We are often braver at trying new things, but then slower to adopt at scale that say those in the US.”
The role of pharma online When it comes to medicines, Michael says he would like to be able to talk online with pharma, and have more access to information about the drugs he is taking.
He explains: “Pharma is a vital part of any healthcare conversation. To me, I would like them to be in the room when I talk about my medications with my doctor.
“They would then understand what it is like to be a patient taking one of their medicines. Only when they truly understand that can they have a proper conversation. The commercial side doesn't bother me, it never has.
“Pharma can make as much as money as they want, as long as they channel it back into medicines that might save my life, or to help me live my life.”
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