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New device could make diagnosing disease as simple as breathing

New device could make diagnosing disease as simple as breathing | healthcare technology |

A range of diseases and conditions, from asthma to liver disease, could be diagnosed and monitored quickly and painlessly just by breathing, using gas sensing technology developed by a Cambridge spin-out.


The highly sensitive, low-power, low-cost infrared emitter developed by Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CCMOSS) is capable of identifying more than 35 biomarkers present in exhaled breath in concentrations as low as one part per million, and is being developed for use as a non-invasive medical testing device and other applications.


In addition to nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, we exhale thousands of chemical compounds with every breath: elevated acetone levels in the breath can indicate poorly-controlled diabetes, asthmatics will exhale higher than normal levels of nitric oxide, and glucose is a sign of kidney failure.

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Social Media and Patient Advocacy

These are the slides from my talk at the 4th Annual Putting Patients First Conference in Mumbai.

If god were to manifest the world using technology, he would first create something like social media. Conceptually provide technology with the ability to understand the thoughts of a population

SocMed leaves behind the old model of 1-to-1 communication – “talking to someone over the phone”  Enables one-to-many communication (via blogs or microblogging) or many-to-many communication (discussion forums, social walls). Now anyone can setup an online community site/portal to represent a small or big offline community.

Further, anyone can setup an online site related to a treatment, a disease, a doctor, a drug , a concept or anything and see it grow into a popular site which in effect is simply the manifestation of a community which exists/ed but which no one ever knew of.

Marie Ennis-O'Connor's curator insight, November 17, 2013 7:09 PM

Thanks so much for sharing your slides - i am looking forward to reading them. 

PatientView's curator insight, November 28, 2013 8:19 AM

We have figures on the scale of soical media intreaction by patient advocates. In countries where the impact of the finanical crisis is at its worst, patient advocates have turned to social media to interact with one another and raise awareness  of the predicaments of their country's healthcare system to place pressure on government when undertaking reforms. 

Plaza Dental Group's curator insight, January 29, 8:53 AM

Great info! I think SocMed  will boost the thought of population and will effect change in local communities. 

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After 9 years of research, Numenta finally has apps that mimic the way the brain works

After 9 years of research, Numenta finally has apps that mimic the way the brain works | healthcare technology |

The path to unlocking the secrets of the brain is a tough one, but Numenta is making progress with apps like Grok.

Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky started Numenta nine years ago to create software that was modeled after the way the human brain processes information. It has taken longer than expected, but the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup recently held an open house to show how much progress it has made.

Hawkins and Dubinsky are tenacious troopers for sticking with it. Hawkins, the creator of the original Palm Pilot, is the brain expert and co-author of the 2004 book “On Intelligence.” Dubinsky and Hawkins had previously started Handspring, but when that ran its course, they pulled together again in 2005 with researcher Dileep George to start Numenta.

The company is dedicated to reproducing the processing power of the human brain, and it shipped its first product, Grok, earlier this year to detect unusual patterns in information technology systems. Those anomalies may signal a problem in a computer server, and detecting the problems early could save time.

While that seems like an odd first commercial application, it fits into what the brain is good at: pattern recognition. Numenta built its architecture on Hawkins’ theory of Hierarchical Temporal Memory, about how the brain has layers of memory that store data in time sequences, which explains why we easily remember the words and music of a song. That theory became the underlying foundation for Numenta’s code base, dubbed the Cortical Learning Algorithm (CLA). And that CLA has become the common code that drives all of Numenta’s applications, including Grok.

Hawkins and Dubinsky said at the company’s recent open house that they are more excited than ever about new applications, and they are starting to have deeper conversations with potential partners about how to use Numenta’s technology. We attended the open house and interviewed both Hawkins and Dubinsky afterward. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversations.

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Case study: Big data improves cardiology diagnoses by 17%

Case study: Big data improves cardiology diagnoses by 17% | healthcare technology |

Big data analytics technology has been able to find patterns and pinpoint disease states more accurately than even the most highly-trained physicians.

The human brain may be nature’s finest computer, but artificial intelligences fed on big data are making a convincing challenge for the crown. In the realm of healthcare, natural language processing, associative intelligence, and machine learning are revolutionizing the way physicians make decisions and diagnose complex patients, significantly improving accuracy and catching deadly issues before symptoms even present themselves.

In this case study examining the impact of big data analytics on clinical decision making, Dr. Partho Sengupta, Director of Cardiac Ultrasound Research and Associate Professor of Medicine in Cardiology at the Mount Sinai Hospital, has used an associative memory engine from Saffron Technology to crunch enormous datasets for more accurate diagnoses.

Using 10,000 attributes collected from 90 metrics in six different locations of the heart, all produced by a single, one-second heartbeat, the analytics technology has been able to find patterns and pinpoint disease states more quickly and accurately than even the most highly-trained physicians.

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Using Biotechnology to Battle Extinction

Using Biotechnology to Battle Extinction | healthcare technology |

Researchers at the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project, led by William Powell and Charles Maynard of New York University in Syracuse, have created a genetically modified version of the American chestnut that is completely fungus-resistant.

Known as “Darling4,” these homebrewed trees contain the wheat gene OxO, which produces an enzyme that blocks the acid the fungus uses to attack the trees. Even better, after long years of work, the trait appears heritable.

This is a huge step forward. It will hopefully move ecology beyond its too often far-Luddite position and put it in line with current thinking about agriculture—thinking UC Davis plant pathologist Pamela Ronald well-summarized in the Economist:

A premise basic to almost every agricultural system (conventional, organic, and everything in between) is that seed can only take us so far. The farming practices used to cultivate the seed are equally important. GE crops alone will not provide all the changes needed in agriculture. Ecologically based farming systems and other technological changes, as well as modified government policies, undoubtedly are also required. Yet. . . there is now a clear scientific consensus that GE crops and ecological farming practices can coexist, and if we are serious about building a future sustainable agriculture, they must.

This co-existence is critical to the future of the environment as well. And the chestnut is bringing this issue to the fore. Since 2006, scientists have been growing over 1000 of these GE-trees in contained plots, but now they are applying to the US government for permission to move them into the wild. No question about it, the approval process could be sticky.

Not only does the EPA and the Department of Agriculture have to approve this wild-release tree, but because the chestnuts are edible—and because there’s no way for wild chestnut trees to come with the kind of ‘Contains GMO’ labeling that states like Vermont now demand—the FDA will also get to weigh in as well.

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Apple adds a step-counter, caffeine tracking to iPhones with iOS 8

Apple adds a step-counter, caffeine tracking to iPhones with iOS 8 | healthcare technology |

The latest beta version of iOS 8 adds a pair of new health-tracking data points to the Health app and one of them won’t even need manual data entry or a wearable device if you have a newer iPhone.

Apple’s iOS 8 Health app can track dozens of health stats through other apps and devices, providing a full picture of your well-being. Now, it can track two more things and one of them can be measured by the iPhone itself.

AppleInsider installed the latest beta version of iOS 8, which was made available on Monday, and found two new functions for Health. First is a step counter card that works directly with the M7 co-processor inside the iPhone 5s — and presumably the next iPhones as well. Second is a new caffeine intake card. Since the M7 chip can’t track that, you’ll likely have to manually enter your caffeine data or use a third-party app such as Jawbone’s UP Coffee.

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Software Spots Sensitive Traces in Health Records

Software Spots Sensitive Traces in Health Records | healthcare technology |

New software could give people greater control over how their personal health information is shared between doctors and medical institutions—provided that enough health providers decide to use the system.

Today a patient’s data typically stays within a hospital group or doctor’s practice. If you get care elsewhere you are essentially a blank slate unless a special request for your data is made, in which case the entire record becomes accessible. But many patients may not want their entire medical history to be accessible by everyone they see, so there is pressure to develop tools that can be used to limit access. One tricky issue is that redacting details of a diagnosis may not remove all the clues as to that condition, such as prescribed drugs or lab tests.

A new tool developed by computer scientists at the University of Illinois can figure out which parts of a record may inadvertently reveal aspects of a patient’s medical history. The idea is that as data-sharing proposals advance, the patient would decide what parts of his or her record to keep private. A clinician would get advice from the technology on how to amend the record to ensure that this occurs.

The software bases its recommendations on a machine-learning analysis of many other medical records. This reveals what details could be associated with things like mental health episodes, past drug abuse, or a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease when the record is shared with another hospital or doctor. The tool could eventually automatically remove those additional details to keep that information confidential.

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Why medical expertise is a must-have for mHealth tech development

Why medical expertise is a must-have for mHealth tech development | healthcare technology |
When it comes to designing, developing and building new mobile healthcare tools, many of the most successful ventures typically have one factor in common: accredited healthcare expertise.

Proof is evident in the foray the Mayo Clinic has made with mHealth technology, as well as other pilots and deployments led by the healthcare institution and providers.

"Our culture of learning, innovation, and the desire to find answers has allowed Mayo to remain at the forefront of health and wellness, and we want to extend this expertise to people anywhere," Paul Limburg, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions, said in an announcement. "We collaborated with and invested in Better to create a powerful way for people to connect with Mayo Clinic in their homes and communities, wherever they are."

Other top medical institutions are also finding success with mHealth initiatives. For instance, Steven J. Hardy, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at Children's National Health System in the District of Columbia, wants to engage families and patients in conversations about how they're managing illness and use mobile gaming as the tool to do so.

Speaking with FierceMobileHealthcare in an exclusive interview, Hardy discussed a pilot the hospital is conducting for children with sickle cell disease. The kids play a game on a mobile platform (in this case, an iPad) that helps them with an often-overlooked symptom of sickle cell disease--memory loss.

And a Harvard Innovation Lab startup aims to bolster patient treatment by enhancing coordination and communication among caregivers with an mHealth app that lets healthcare teams text, share images and videos and always have a patient list within reach.

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Vigisys's curator insight, June 15, 4:25 AM

De la nécessité d'impliquer les médecins, et notamment ceux qui ont une double compétence médecine - technologies de l'information, dans le design de la santé mobile, applications pour smartphones et tablettes, objets connectés etc. Beaucoup de médecins sont prêts à jouer le jeu, je crois, mais il faut d'abord définir le marché et les filières d'usage.

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A Straightforward Method for Making Wearable Tech

A Straightforward Method for Making Wearable Tech | healthcare technology |

Considering the pace of technological growth in recent decades, the convergence of humans and machines seems a foregone conclusion. Yet, unlike most machines, the body is far too flexible and squishy for modern advanced materials. So it falls on researchers to develop new stretchable technologies that are easily manufactured and relatively inexpensive.

Recently, a biomedical engineering team at Purdue University developed a methodology to generate zigzag patterns out of conventional wire that can extend up to five times in length. The wires can be utilized as conductive interconnects between sensors, allowing for flexible networks or meshes to be embedded or wrapped around 3D objects.

“This compares to only a few percent for an ordinary metal connection,” said Professor Barak Ziaie, leading the research in the press release. “The structures are also highly robust, capable of withstanding thousands of repeated stretch-and-release cycles.”

Even more intriguing, the approach utilizes a standard sewing machine to fabricate the system.

Using water-soluble thread, the technique involves stitching wire in zigzags onto standard transparencies used with overhead projectors.

A commercially available elastomer called Ecoflex is poured over the sheet and allowed to solidify. The thread is dissolved with warm water, allowing the flexible polymer with the embedded wires to be separated from the transparencies.

To demonstrate how their approach could be used for medical devices, the team generated a sensor system that wraps around a urinary catheter balloon - as the balloon inflates, the sensor gauges the strain.

This flexible system can measure much greater expansion than conventional approaches that employ rigid metal films that permit only small percentages of stretching before breaking.

The findings, to be published in a forthcoming paper, were reported at the Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems Workshop.

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DNA Sequencing Helped A Doctor Save This Teen's Life

DNA Sequencing Helped A Doctor Save This Teen's Life | healthcare technology |

Many recent headlines regarding DNA and genetic science have been complex and hard for the average person to relate to. When the technology saves a young person's life, such as what happened recently at the University of California, San Francisco, the science takes on human qualities, and as a public, we can truly grasp just how important and revolutionary this combination of biology and technology really is.

Dr. James Gern, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, contacted Joseph DeRisi for help after his patient, a 14-year-old boy, was hospitalized with encephalitis. The prognosis was so severe that the young  man had been hospitalized for six weeks and put into a medically induced coma, according to a press release.

None of the tests and procedures run so far had managed to point out the cause of the boy’s illness. Gern contacted DeRisi, chair of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF, due to his expertise in new genomic techniques. These techniques involved identifying pathogens that were previously unknown, such as that which caused the young man's illness. According to DeRisi, with this new technology, essentially any pathogen can now be detected with a single test. Once the cause was found, correct treatment could be administered.

The case study can be found published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Using SURPI, a tool used in “next generation-sequencing,” a team of researchers quickly and efficiently found the cause of the young man’s illness.

With the help of the technology, the team compared samples of the boy’s DNA to the GenBank databases maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information with awe-inspiring speed, doing in 96 minutes what before took at least a day.

Researchers determined that 475 distinct DNA sequences among the three million DNA sequences obtained in the patient’s cereospinal fluid came from a type of bacteria called Leptospira.

The team was even able to pinpoint the exact strain of Leptospira that they boy had been contaminated with: one native to the Caribbean and warmer climates.

Based on these findings, researchers decided to treat the boy using penicillin without having the diagnosis validated with a clinically approved test.

The antibiotics treatment was successful in ridding the boy’s body of infection, and he was discharged and sent home shortly afterward.

Validation by a clinically approved test could have taken upward of five months to confirm, and by this time the boy may not have survived. 

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The case study can be read at

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Physicians rethinking the progress note

Physicians rethinking the progress note | healthcare technology |

The "SOAP" -- subjective, objective, assessment, plan -- format has been in common use for decades as a way of organizing physician progress notes in medical records, but it was created during a different era, when most everything was written on paper. In the age of electronic health records, some are rethinking the order of presenting information, electing to go with the latter two elements first in what's being called an "APSO note."

An early adopter of the APSO format, C.T. Lin, MD, CMIO of Aurora, Colo.-based University of Colorado Health, explains that physicians often flip right to the assessment page of paper charts to see what previous visits or referring doctors may have found. By this reasoning, it makes more sense to put the assessment and plan first in an electronic note, according to Lin.

Lin was lead author of a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2013 that found that SOAP "translates poorly from paper medical charts to the EHR" because it takes a lot of clicking and scrolling to find the assessment and plan. The article detailed a 2010 study at 13 University of Colorado Health ambulatory clinics that produced mostly positive results from an APSO trial.

For the study, eight of the clinics — six in primary care and two specialty clinics — mandated APSO notes, and the rest made it voluntary. All providers in the locations where it was mandatory and slightly more than half in the voluntary clinics did adopt the APSO format within the two months, according to the report.

The researchers, led by Lin, found that 73 percent of participants were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the APSO format when writing progress notes, and 82 percent said the same about reading APSO notes. A full 75 percent said they "preferred" or "strongly preferred" reading APSO notes, compared to just 8 percent who said SOAP was better.

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Pentagon Seeks Volunteers for Face Transplant Surgeries

Pentagon Seeks Volunteers for Face Transplant Surgeries | healthcare technology |
The U.S. military is looking for candidates to receive face transplants. Over the past decade face transplant surgeries have been done in civilian hospitals, but it has been the U.S. Defense Department, with its obvious interest ...
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Personalized medicine in psychiatry: problems and promises

Personalized medicine in psychiatry: problems and promises | healthcare technology |

The central theme of personalized medicine is the premise that an individual’s unique physiologic characteristics play a significant role in both disease vulnerability and in response to specific therapies.

The major goals of personalized medicine are therefore to predict an individual’s susceptibility to developing an illness, achieve accurate diagnosis, and optimize the most efficient and favorable response to treatment. The goal of achieving personalized medicine in psychiatry is a laudable one, because its attainment should be associated with a marked reduction in morbidity and mortality.

In this review, we summarize an illustrative selection of studies that are laying the foundation towards personalizing medicine in major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. In addition, we present emerging applications that are likely to advance personalized medicine in psychiatry, with an emphasis on novel biomarkers and neuroimaging.

Excerpt From the Conclusion:

The prospect of personalized medicine in psychiatry more or less reflects ideals still largely unrealized. Currently, the field is at the information-gathering infancy stage.

The greatest progress can be expected at the intersections of the categories described above, such as gene × environment and genes × biomarkers, which will poise psychiatry to make biological system-based evaluations. Furthermore, some of the emerging applications, including imaging genomics, strengthen our conviction that the future for personalized medicine is highly promising.


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Biomarkers could tell doctors when concussed athletes are safe to compete

Biomarkers could tell doctors when concussed athletes are safe to compete | healthcare technology |

A protein in the central nervous system could provide a useful tool for diagnosing concussions and allow doctors to assess when it is safe for athletes to return to competition.

Swedish researchers have found, through examining studies in sporting injuries, that a protein in the central nervous system could provide a tool for diagnosing concussions. They published their results in JAMA Neurology.

Previous studies have measured changes in the levels of protein biomarkers present in cerebrospinal fluid or blood in athletes who participate in contact sports.

Certain biomarkers - neuron-specific enolase, S-100 calcium-binding protein B, neurofilament light and total tau (T-tau) - have been shown to increase in boxers, correlating with the number and severity of head blows received. After a rest from boxing, these biomarkers return to normal levels.

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US Military developing brain implants to restore memory

US Military developing brain implants to restore memory | healthcare technology |

The U.S. military has chosen two universities to lead a program to develop brain implants to restore memory to veterans who have suffered brain injuries, officials said at a news conference Tuesday.

The Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program is a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. Department of Defense charged with developing next-generation technologies for the military. The initiative aims to develop wireless, fully implantable "neuroprosthetics" for service members suffering from traumatic brain injury or illness, DARPA Program Manager Justin Sanchez said at the news conference.

DARPA has selected two teams of researchers to develop the implants: The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

Currently, few treatments for TBI-related memory loss exist, but DARPA is trying to change that, Sanchez said. Deep brain stimulation, the use of implanted electrodes to deliver electrical signals to specific parts of the brain, has already demonstrated success in treating Parkinson's disease and other chronic brain conditions. Building on these advances, "we're developing new neuroprosthetics to bridge the gap in an injured brain to restore memory function," Sanchez said.

The UCLA team will focus on studying memory processes in the entorhinal cortex, an area of the brain known as the gateway of memory formation. Researchers will stimulate and record from neurons in patients with epilepsy who already have brain implants as part of their monitoring and treatment. The researchers will also develop computer models of how to stimulate the brain to re-establish memory function.

The University of Pennsylvania team will focus more on modeling how brain circuits work together more broadly, especially those in the brain's frontal cortex, an area involved in the formation of long-term memories. The university is collaborating with Minneapolis-based biomedical device company Medtronic to develop a memory prosthesis system.

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How Personalized Medicine Is Changing: Breast Cancer

How Personalized Medicine Is Changing: Breast Cancer | healthcare technology |

In 2011, a 52-year-old runner and yoga enthusiast walked into the office of Monica Loghin, a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, complaining of numbness and weakness in her lower limbs and difficulty controlling her bladder.

The symptoms were of grave concern, as the patient had previously undergone surgery for breast cancer that had spread to her brain. If such a cancer returns post-surgery, that is often a sign the patient doesn’t have much time left.

An MRI confirmed that the breast cancer had again spread to the woman’s cerebrospinal fluid. Loghin ordered testing of that fluid to see if the patient might have certain biomarkers that could be targeted by existing drugs. (A biomarker is a DNA sequence or protein associated with the disease; different biomarkers can suggest specific treatments, depending on the disease and other factors.) She asked for tests that could detect tumor cells circulating in the blood.

The cancer cells in the fluid bathing the woman’s spinal cord and brain chambers did, in fact, have a lot of the protein that controls a glucose (sugar) transporter that drives cancer cells. The cancer cells in the fluid also had a lot of HER2, a protein associated with aggressive breast cancers but also treatable with a drug called Herceptin (trastuzumab). The drug is usually taken intravenously, but Loghin had heard of a couple of cases in which Herceptin was delivered directly into the cerebrospinal fluid via a flexible tube, or catheter. The patient agreed to this experimental treatment.

It took only a week for the news to improve. After the first infusion of Herceptin, the patient’s cancer numbers were down. Within a few weeks, her cancer cell numbers had fallen so low that her immune system had begun to take over, clearing out the remaining cancer cells. Nearly two and a half years later, the patient is still alive and well enough to do yoga. Another MD Anderson patient who had a similar disease profile and therapy is also alive and well one year after treatment.

This case outlines the dream of personalized medicine: A disease is analyzed at the molecular level. The analysis identifies a drug target. The drug gets delivered where it needs to go. The patient gets better. And while this hopeful scenario has yet to become commonplace, it is becoming more and more the norm for many breast cancer patients.

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EHRs Detect Depression When Many PCPs Can’t

EHRs Detect Depression When Many PCPs Can’t | healthcare technology |

Depression is one of the hardest disorders to diagnose, yet it affects 14 percent of the world’s population. Researchers have found factors in EHRs may be key to predicting a diagnosis of depression.

While depression comes at a high cost to those who suffer from it, the actual price tag in the United States reaches over $44 billion annually. This takes into account, among other things, lost productivity and direct expenses. Depression is a diagnosis that is often missed by primary care physicians, despite the fact that it is the second most common chronic disorder they treat.

According to EHR Intelligence, researchers from Stanford University have worked to use EHR systems as a tool to help predict depression diagnoses. In the study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers say valuable information already stored in the EHR can be used to predict depression up to a year in advance.

“Depression is a prevalent disorder difficult to diagnose and treat. In particular, depressed patients exhibit largely unpredictable responses to treatment,” explain researchers. “Many depressed patients are not even diagnosed … primary care physicians, who deliver the majority of care for depression, only identify about 50 percent of true depression cases.”

The Stanford team used EHR data including demographic data, ICD-9, RxNorm, CPT codes, progress notes, and pathology, radiology, and transcription reports. From these, they used a model which factored in three criteria: the ICD-9 code, the presence of a depression disorder term in the clinical text, and the presence of an anti-depressive drug ingredient term in the clinical text.

These factors were then compared to predict a diagnosis of depression, response to treatment, and determine the severity of the condition.

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What is the Future of Population Health Management?

What is the Future of Population Health Management? | healthcare technology |

If you believe that Population Health Management is about reporting and analytics then you only know half the story. Yes, having the right Population Health Management tools eases the pain associated with delivering performance or compliance reports, demonstrating Meaningful Use and meeting Patient Centered Medical Home requirements. The right tools will also allow you to view and analyze data from targeted populations and compare your organization’s performance against others in your peer group.

The next evolution of Population Health Management, what I refer to as Population Health 2.0, will demand a greater focus on these three key truths:

  • Data is the new currency.
  • Data enables smarter decisions in real time.
  • Data makes a care team more efficient.

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Jay Ostrowski's curator insight, July 9, 10:46 AM
We are quickly moving into this paradigm.
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Personalized Immunotherapy for Leukemia Named Breakthrough Therapy

Personalized Immunotherapy for Leukemia Named Breakthrough Therapy | healthcare technology |

A University of Pennsylvania-developed personalized immunotherapy has been awarded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Breakthrough Therapy designation for the treatment of relapsed and refractory adult and pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The investigational therapy, known as CTL019, is the first personalized cellular therapy for the treatment of cancer to receive this important classification.

In early-stage clinical trials at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 89% of ALL patients who were not responding to conventional therapies went into complete remission after receiving CTL019.

The investigational treatment pioneered by the Penn team begins by removing patients' T cells via an apheresis process similar to blood donation, then genetically reprogramming them in Penn’s Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility. After being infused back into patients’ bodies, these newly built “hunter” cells both multiply and attack, targeting tumor cells that express a protein called CD19. Tests reveal that the army of hunter cells can grow to more than 10,000 new cells for each single engineered cell patients receive.


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Scientists threaten to boycott Human Brain Project

Scientists threaten to boycott Human Brain Project | healthcare technology |

Researchers say European commission-funded initiative to simulate human brain suffers from 'substantial failures'

The world's largest project to unravel the mysteries of the human brain has been thrown into crisis with more than 100 leading researchers threatening to boycott the effort amid accusations of mismanagement and fears that it is doomed to failure.

More than 80 European and international research institutions signed up to the 10-year project.

But it proved controversial from the start. Many researchers refused to join on the grounds that it was far too premature to attempt a simulation of the entire human brain in a computer. Now some claim the project is taking the wrong approach, wastes money and risks a backlash against neuroscience if it fails to deliver.

In an open letter to the European commission on Monday, more than 130 leaders of scientific groups around the world, including researchers at Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and UCL, warn they will boycott the project and urge others to join them unless major changes are made to the initiative.

The researchers urge EC officials who are now reviewing the plans to take a hard look at the science and management before deciding on whether to renew its funding. They believe the review, which is due to conclude at the end of the summer, will find "substantial failures" in the project's governance, flexibility and openness.

Central to the latest controversy are recent changes which sidelined cognitive scientists who study high-level brain functions, such as thought and behaviour. Without them, the brain simulation will be built from the bottom up, drawing on more fundamental science, such as studies of individual neurons. The brain, the most complex object known, has some 86bn neurons and 100tn connections.

Sir Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the University of London, who is not one of the signatories to the letter, said: "It's important that the review should be thorough and, if necessary, critical. But it would be unfortunate if this high-profile project were to be abandoned. There's enough flexibility in the plans to allow the project to be refocused and re-energised.

"The most important thing is that the goals should be realistic. If they promise the politicians cures for dementia or miraculous breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, but don't really deliver them, it might have a negative impact on the whole funding of neuroscience in the future – and that would be a disaster.".

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Pilot programs give school nurses access to EHRs to help kids manage chronic diseases

Pilot programs give school nurses access to EHRs to help kids manage chronic diseases | healthcare technology |

Coordinated care for chronic diseases in kids is now part of the school nurse's terrain. In some states, nurses are getting access to EHR data.

Although the school nurse is a familiar figure, school-based health care is unfamiliar territory to many medical professionals, operating in a largely separate health care universe from other community-based medical services.

Now, as both schools and health care systems seek to ensure that children coping with chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma get the comprehensive, coordinated care the students need, the schools and health systems are forming partnerships to better integrate their services. In these projects, some funded by the health law, school health professionals gain access to students' electronic health records and/or specialists and other health system resources. Such initiatives currently exist or are on the drawing board in Delaware, Miami and Beaverton, Ore., among other locations.  

School nurses today do a lot more than bandage skinned knees. They administer vaccines and medications, help diabetic students monitor their blood sugar, and prepare teachers to handle a student’s seizure or asthma attack, among many other things.

A 2007 study found that 45 percent of public schools have a full-time nurse on site, while 30 percent have one who works part time. In addition to school nurses, 12.5 percent of school districts have at least one school-based health center that offers both health services and mental health or social services, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2012 Schools Health Policies and Practices Study. School nurses often work closely with school-based health centers, referring students there as needed.

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Digital health is going to need medical approval and a great UI

Digital health is going to need medical approval and a great UI | healthcare technology |

So far the internet of things hasn’t made much headway into patient care in the medical setting, but consumers are buying wellness devices for a variety of reasons. Will the medical world embrace that data?

The intersection of healthcare and connected devices was thrown into high relief these last few weeks as both Apple and Samsung unveiled ecosystems to take consumer health data and turn it into actionable intelligence.

But this week’s guests at the Weekly podacst at GigaOm are confident that as advanced as consumer-grade consumer grade health devices get, they won’t become something doctors are hot on for years to come — if ever.

In this week’s podcast Stacey Higginbotham discusses medical connected devices and where it may meet the consumer with Rick Valencia from Qualcomm Life. Will doctor’s prescribe our apps or devices? 

Vigisys's curator insight, June 15, 4:22 AM

Un podcast intéressant qui évoque les freins à l'utilisation médicale des objets connectés. On y évoque le besoin de valider les usages avec des études cliniques et d'adapter les interfaces à un usage professionnel. Que du bon sens !

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Medicine's Big Problem with Big Data: Information Hoarding

Medicine's Big Problem with Big Data: Information Hoarding | healthcare technology |

Information that may offer medical insights has been locked away in the filing cabinets of doctors' offices.

Researchers at IBM, Berg Pharma, Memorial Sloan Kettering, UC Berkeley and other institutions are exploring how artificial intelligence and big data can be used to develop better treatments for diseases 

But one of the biggest challenges for making full use of these computational tools in medicine is that vast amounts of data have been locked away — or never digitized in the first place.

The results of earlier research efforts or the experiences of individual patients are often trapped in the archives of pharmaceutical companies or the paper filing cabinets of doctors’ offices.

Patient privacy issues, competitive interests and the sheer lack of electronic records have prevented information sharing that could potentially reveal broader patterns in what appeared to any single doctor like an isolated incident.

When you can analyze clinical trials, genomic data and electronic medical records for 100,000 patients, “you see patterns that you don’t notice in a couple,” said Michael Keiser, an instructor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

Given that promise, a number of organizations are beginning to pull together medical data sources.

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Coming Next: Mandated Mobile and Digital Medical Devices for Chronic Conditions

Coming Next: Mandated Mobile and Digital Medical Devices for Chronic Conditions | healthcare technology |

“Over the past five years, we’ve more than doubled the adoption of Electronic Health Records for physicians, so that means they can track what’s going on better and make fewer mistakes.”

“New technology startup companies are coming up with new inventions to monitor patient health, prevent infections. There’s innovation going on all across the country.”

What’s next for the Affordable Care Act?

In the United Kingdom, NHS England, in an effort to improve quality of care and control health care costs…  

“Everyone with a long-term condition or disability must have a digital personalised care plan accessible online or via a mobile phone app by 2015.”

Innovation is happening. Mandates to use these innovations are coming. Innovations are happening not only across the United States, but throughout the world. Mandates to use these innovations will spread beyond England to the United States and other government-supported health care systems.

Without question, health IT and mobile health applications play a significant role in delivering quality health care while controlling costs of health care.

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Constructing a large network of multiple infections to determine how multiple parasites interact within humans

Constructing a large network of multiple infections to determine how multiple parasites interact within humans | healthcare technology |

Imagine going to the doctor with an infection and being sent home with a course of drugs. Unknown to your doctor you actually have two infections. If you take the drugs will the other infection go away by itself? What if you take the drugs and the other infection gets worse? This quandary faces those treating patients with multiple infections.

A new study led by former University of Sheffield PhD student Dr Emily Griffiths, in collaboration with the universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Zürich, has taken a novel approach to understanding this problem, shedding light on how multiple parasites interact within humans.

The study compiled a list of many of the parasites that infect humans, another list of the parts of the body consumed by each parasite, and also information about how the immune system responds to each parasite. This information was used to construct a large network of multiple infections in humans - a bit like a food web of infections inside the human body.

Building this network revealed some previously unknown patterns, something that could pave the way for new treatment strategies which help tackle multiple infections. For example, groups of parasites often share similar parts of their host, and these groups are prime candidates for coordinated treatment.

Dr Griffiths, who carried out the research during her PhD in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: "After studying the fascinating range of hundreds of different infections that can occur in the same person at the same time, we've shown that we could better treat patients if we know what parasites are eating inside our bodies.

"Our web has revealed the ways hundreds of parasites could live together, which means that we can develop new coordinated treatments that help fight more than one infection.

Beverly Morgan's curator insight, March 18, 9:41 AM

More than one infection in your body can be the reason your not getting any relief from your meds....more research to come but this is a great start on how diagnosing the multiple infections can help identify coordinated treatments! 

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Health researchers see unique opportunity in self-tracker data

Health researchers see unique opportunity in self-tracker data | healthcare technology |

As the number of self-tracking health and fitness tools available to consumers continues to climb, a persistent question has been whether the data they collect might be useful to health researchers. Along with that: Are people who self-track comfortable sharing their data with researchers?

A new, must-read report from San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explores these and other questions.

Based on a survey with hundreds of self-trackers, a majority — 57 percent — said one critical assurance they would need before agreeing to make their self-tracked, personal health data available to researchers was that their privacy would be protected. More than 90 percent also said it was important that their data remained anonymous. Respondents said they’d be more comfortable sharing data if they knew it was only going to be used for “public good” research.

One open-ended survey that the report’s researchers posed to self-trackers found that 13 percent of respondents specifically mentioned an aversion to commercial or profit-making use of their data, according to the report. One respondent wrote: “It depends who gets it. Research using these data will be instrumental in the future of personal predictive services, but also for that reason are likely to be exploited by marketers and the politically short-sighted. Thus I would like transparency for who has access to my data.”

Among the almost 100 health researchers interviewed for the report, 46 percent said that they had already used self-tracking data in their research previously. Some 23 percent reported that they had already worked with digital health companies that offer apps or devices to consumers to track their health.

Overall, the researchers interviewed for the report were “generally enthusiastic” about the prospect of using self-tracking data in the future — 89 percent agreed or strongly agreed that such data would prove useful to their research efforts. Almost all of those researchers surveyed said that kind of data could answer questions that other data could not.

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New Apple pedometer patent may hint at a future iWatch

New Apple pedometer patent may hint at a future iWatch | healthcare technology |

A newly published Apple patent application that details ways to improve a wrist-based pedometer could represent another piece of evidence pointing to an iWatch.

The application, “Wrist Pedometer Step Detection,” came out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today. This is part of the standard patent process toward issuance. It details ways to improve step detection when someone is wearing a pedometer on a wrist.

In the patent application’s implementation, the pedometer might be able to “automatically determine that the pedometer is being worn on a user’s wrist.”

Pedometers, the application points out, are often attached to a user’s trunk – on the waist or pants or shirt pocket. A commonly used algorithm to measures steps, however, doesn’t work as well when the pedometer is on a wrist, because the arm’s movement can interfere with the measurement of acceleration.

Apple’s patent application would overcome this by filtering the measured movement or inferring steps from previous measurements, leading to more accurate step counts and distance estimation. Additionally, the document notes, “users do not have to specify where the pedometer is being worn” because the software will compensate.

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