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The ways in which technology benefits healthcare
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Embracing the Smart(phone) Hospital

Embracing the Smart(phone) Hospital | healthcare technology |

Consumers are immersed in digital communication; it's time for traditional health care organizations to join them.

In just the past few years, the changes in how we communicate with one another and process information are nothing short of amazing.

Between 2010 and 2013, the total amount of time Americans spent online increased 83 percent. In that same period, time spent on smartphones more than tripled, while time spent on tablets increased tenfold. American smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 sent and received an average of 3,853 texts per month each in 2013. As great as that volume is, it has been overtaken by the number of messages sent via apps such as WhatsApp and SnapChat. Digital media has even surpassed the venerable favorite, television, in the share of time that adults spend with media each day.

In no aspect of life is communication more important than in health care. Effective communication between patients and caregivers can be the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, wellness and sickness, comfort and suffering, even life and death.

A large body of evidence shows the importance of effective communication between patient and caregiver in diagnosis, treatment selection, patient adherence to treatment regimen, treatment monitoring, healthy behavior and patient satisfaction. Communication before and after treatment — choosing providers, making appointments, paying for services — is also a critical component of consumer satisfaction and business success.

To manage communication, health care organizations have established and carefully maintained processes for when, where and in what form patients and providers exchange information.

Growing Momentum for Change

Innovative competitors are well-aware of the gap between modern modes of communication and the methods used by legacy health care organizations, and they are actively exploiting that gap. Companies like Teladoc, MD Live and Carena offer access to a doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week via videoconferencing, phone and email. At upstart primary care company Iora Health, the technology platform allows patients to read and submit notes on their medical record. And Apple, Google and Samsung are all developing platforms to aggregate health-related apps.

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Should Physicians Tailor Patient Engagement Based on Age?

Should Physicians Tailor Patient Engagement Based on Age? | healthcare technology |

New patient engagement trends from TechnologyAdvice Research reveals digital engagement is a growing factor in how patients choose healthcare providers.

Quality of care has long been a primary factor in choosing a healthcare provider, but convenience and communication are also becoming key considerations for patients. Still, many physicians do not appear to be offering the digital engagement services that can meet those demands.

According to a new nationwide survey conducted by TechnologyAdvice Research, a majority of patients (60.8 percent) said digital services like online appointment scheduling and online bill pay are either “important” or “somewhat important” when choosing a physician. However, when asked what services their current physician provides, less than one-third of patients indicated they have access to either online bill pay, online appointment scheduling, or the ability to view test results and diagnoses online, which are the top three services that patients report wanting the most.

“Primary care physicians are reporting some of the highest rates of EHR adoption to comply with government regulations and to receive incentives from Meaningful Use, but a significantly lower number of patients claim to have access to these patient portal services,” said TechnologyAdvice Managing Editor Cameron Graham, who authored the survey. “The issue here may not be implementation of digital services, but instead a lack of patient awareness. If physicians are offering these in-demand digital services, a more proactive approach to promoting them is needed and could create an advantage in attracting and retaining patients.”


- If providers wish to gain an upper edge in attracting new patients (especially younger ones), and in retaining their existing patients, they should invest in a fully featured patient portal system. For many primary care physicians this should not be difficult. Most comprehensive EHRs include patient portal features, and dedicated patient portal vendors are making strides in integrating with third-party systems. In particular, prioritizing systems with intuitive online appointment scheduling, online bill pay functionality, and online test results could provide a significant draw for new patients. 

- For practices that already have patient portal systems, they should dedicate resources to making sure their patient populations are informed of the existence of such services. They should also consider prominently featuring these services in their advertising and on their websites. When orienting new patients to their practice, providers need to have a plan for walking patients through the initial portal set-up requirements and making sure they understand the features available to them.

-For particularly tech-savvy practices, a dedicated smartphone app could help set them apart, and attract younger individuals. 

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The FDA will regulate wearables making health claims

The FDA will regulate wearables making health claims | healthcare technology |

Everyone loves the idea of strapping a smartwatch to their wrist and using it to get a bit healthier, but there's a fine line between casual wearables and serious medical devices. It's an important distinction, since while the former can be sold without any sort of oversight, the latter is rightly covered by the FDA's regulations. Since the most recent batch of fitness wearables could be blurring the borders somewhat, the agency has decided to make its thinking on the subject a little clearer.

The agency has published a draft guidance note that, as yet, isn't legally binding and requests opinions from the public. As far as it's concerned, "general wellness devices," i.e. watches that vaguely encourage people to get fitter, aren't any sort of risk to the public. This means that your Fitbit is okay to tell you to go for a walk, your Aura can coach your sleeping and Lumosity can pretend to make you smarter without any worries. Mostly the FDA is concerned with risk, and there isn't much risk if your smartphone tells you to lay off the burgers one every now and again.

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Why Behavioral Health Acutely Needs EHRs

Why Behavioral Health Acutely Needs EHRs | healthcare technology |
Legislation that incorporates psychiatric care into the acute-care spectrum and extends EHR incentives to behavioral health facilities has been proposed for going on five years now.

A show of hands: Who believes depression or bipolar disorder have no impact on the severity and treatment of a patient’s diabetes and COPD?

It’s an idea no practicing physician would support.

Yet time and again, we act as though mental illness and care can be kept separate from physical ailments.

Take Meaningful Use (MU), for example. The federal government believes healthcare must move into the digital age and is willing to pay hospitals to buy computer systems and electronic health records (EHRs).

But the financial rewards of demonstrated MU only extend to acute care hospitals and clinics, not psychiatric facilities, as though human health can be partitioned and compartmentalized.

While treating patients holistically has been accepted clinically for decades, some behavioral health advocates are turning up the pressure now to finally also bring behavioral health IT into the digital age. 

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Jason Traver's curator insight, February 16, 5:40 PM

A consultant's perspective on Behavioral Health. Pushing Behavioral Health past the red tape in EHR to drive improvements in care.

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Can EHRs power up the fight against epidemics?

Can EHRs power up the fight against epidemics? | healthcare technology |

Government health IT leaders say electronic health record systems can expand information sharing and help public health responders fight the spread Ebola and future viruses.

While the United States avoided a public health crisis from the Ebola virus, the possibility of an epidemic at home got government health IT leaders thinking about how electronic health records might be used to expand information sharing and help public health responders fight the spread of Ebola and future viruses.

There are significant hurdles to clear before the EHRs used in clinical care will be able to really help state, local and federal health officials track and respond to fast-moving outbreaks in real time, according to those at recent Health IT Policy Committee meeting on the potential for using EHRs to fight epidemics.

The problem of interoperability and data transfer between EHR systems, medical laboratories and public health databases is one big issue. More broadly, there is a lack of what experts call "bidirectionality" between health records, preventing health officials – either for technical or privacy reasons – from accessing individual patient records.

Ultimately, broader use of EHRs to detect and respond to epidemics will require changes in technology. The passive surveillance of patient EHRs using analytic tools could give greater velocity to detecting not just viral disease outbreaks, but environmental risks, contaminated food and medicine as well as other large-scale health problems that are clustered geographically or in certain demographic groups.

That’s not to say epidemiology is lacking in high-tech approaches. New York City, for example, was able to use cell phone location information and subway fare card data to conduct contact tracing on individuals that may have come into contact with the Ebola virus while traveling. However, aggregating that information, and making it available at scale through an EHR platform, appears to be a long way off.

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Working Lab-Grown Human Muscles to Serve as ‘Clinical Trials in a Dish’

Working Lab-Grown Human Muscles to Serve as ‘Clinical Trials in a Dish’ | healthcare technology |

A team of researchers out of Duke University recently announced they’ve grown human skeletal muscle in a dish. The muscle responds to electrical impulses, biochemical signals, and drugs just like muscle tissue in our bodies.

It’s hoped that in the future such lab-grown tissues might serve as a way to test new drugs and study diseases outside the human body without risking a patient’s health. They might also be used to provide more personalized therapies.

“We can take a biopsy from each patient, grow many new muscles to use as test samples and experiment to see which drugs would work best for each person,” said Nenad Bursac, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke and a lead researcher on the study.

Bursac and Lauran Madden, a postdoctoral researcher in Bursac’s laboratory, grew the muscle tissue by first adding “myogenic precursors,” a kind of proto muscle cell, to a three-dimensional scaffolding and nutrient gel in a dish. As the cells matured, they lined up and formed working muscle fibers (shown here at the top of the page).

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Can doctors actually keep up with the wearables market to make it worth your while?

Can doctors actually keep up with the wearables market to make it worth your while? | healthcare technology |
With the wearables and health apps markets booming, where do doctors stand in terms of actually making use of the information?

So you are being proactive about your health by purchasing wearable devices and apps, but how helpful is it really if your doctor isn’t up to speed with the technology or able to interpret the data?

Dr. Paul Abramson, a primary care doctor in San Francisco told NPR that as much as these new devices are promoting good health generally, it’s not necessarily practical for doctors to interpret all of the data.

“Going through it and trying to analyze and extract meaning from it was not really feasible,” he says. “I get information from watching people’s body language, tics and tone of voice. Subtleties you just can’t get from a Fitbit or some kind of health app.”

Part of the issue is that FitBits and Apple Watches aren’t regulated by the FDA – they are considered “low-risk devices” and don’t require approval because they aren’t used for diagnosis or treatment. For that reason, it’s challenging for doctors to treat the data like valid information.

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BBC launches WhatsApp Ebola service

BBC launches WhatsApp Ebola service | healthcare technology |

The BBC has launched an Ebola public health information service on WhatsApp, aimed at users of the service in West Africa.

The service will provide audio, text message alerts and images to help people get the latest public health information to combat the spread of Ebola in the region.

Content will be limited to three items a day, and the service will be in English and French.

To subscribe, send 'JOIN' via WhatsApp to +44 7702 348 651

To unsubscribe, send 'STOP' via WhatsApp to the same number.

Due to the volume of requests, it may take a little time to be added or removed from the service.

As the biggest "chat app" in use in Africa, the platform is being used as a means of reaching people in the region directly through their mobile phones.

The response to Ebola is now the BBC World Service's biggest health information drive since its reporting on HIV/Aids in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to the WhatsApp service, the BBC is offering a range of content on radio, online and TV, including special Ebola bulletins in several languages.

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nrip's insight:

This is an excellent example how we can help spread information and awareness to help contain epidemics using simple , everyday use tools. For the many who like the over use of popular keywords - well this is mobile health (#mHealth) being applied effectively :)

Fatima Zunara's curator insight, October 19, 2014 11:59 AM

mhealth --> mobile health 

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How big data is beginning to change how medicine works

How big data is beginning to change how medicine works | healthcare technology |

The face of medical care is rapidly changing thanks to major advancements in the capture, proliferation, and analysis of medical data. Technologies like the electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs) are drastically improving the way data is aggregated and shared.

Now the hope is that big data analytics will help to make sense of seemingly endless streams of medical information.

As many doctors are painfully aware, outcome-oriented care is no longer a buzzword but a reality. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has started to implement a program where payments are based on the ability of providers to meet key National Quality Strategy Domains (e.g. care criteria). Public payers are testing this new methodology, and private payers are expected to soon follow.

These big data analytics applications can also be relevant for the FDA, which may want to see how drugs perform in a non-test environment to ensure the appropriate patient populations are receiving the drug. I also expect pharmaceutical companies to actively scour this data to track drug efficacy post-release or identify markets that could “benefit” from increased penetration.

I am eager to see how the data evolution improves outcomes for doctors and patients.

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Google trial lets you chat with doctors when you search for symptoms

Google trial lets you chat with doctors when you search for symptoms | healthcare technology |

Searching the web for symptoms of illness can be dangerous -- you could identify a real condition, but you also risk scaring yourself for no reason through a misdiagnosis.

Google might have a solution that puts your mind at ease, though.

The company has confirmed to Engadget that it's testing a Helpouts-style feature which offers video chats with doctors when you search for symptoms. While there aren't many details of how this works in practice, the search card mentions that Google is covering the costs of any chats during the trial phase.

You'll likely have to pay for virtual appointments if and when the service is ever ready for prime time, then. That's not ideal, but it could be much cheaper than seeing a physician in person.

more...'s curator insight, October 15, 2014 4:15 AM

The problem is that virtual appointments can never replace the actual "physical" interaction between doctors and patients. Doctors use (and should continue to do so) their sight, touch, perception, laboratory and histology assessments. Maybe in some medical fields this "remote" appointment may work but I cannot imagine how a good doctor proceeds with diagnosing appendicitis "remotely" without being able to touch the patient´s stomach. My opinion is that we should carefully select medical fields and diagnosis, which could be made remotely and restrict those, which can increase the risk for the patient of being misdiagnosed.

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4 ways EHR vendors are building better systems

4 ways EHR vendors are building better systems | healthcare technology |

Physicians continue to express dissatisfaction with the usability and the workflow features of electronic health records (EHRs), yet these information systems don’t seem to improve.

One reason, experts say, is that vendors have poured most of their research and development budgets into meeting the requirements for meaningful use (MU) and the International Classification of Diseases-10th revision (ICD-10).

Despite all of this, however, some innovations are starting to enhance the usability of EHRs.

These include

  • refinements in natural language processing,
  • advances in EHRs designed for mobile devices,
  • the addition of context to clinical decision support (CDS),
  • and the spread of direct clinical messaging.

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'Instagram for doctors' takes off

'Instagram for doctors' takes off | healthcare technology |

An app which enables healthcare professionals to share photos is to be rolled out across western Europe by the end of the year.

The app was designed to enable doctors to share pictures of their patients, both with each other and with medical students.

So far, more than 150,000 doctors have uploaded case photos with the patient's identity obscured.

However, some experts have expressed concern about patient confidentiality.

Patients' faces are automatically obscured by the app but users must manually block identifying marks like tattoos.

Each photo is reviewed by moderators before it is added to the database.

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Are Health Wearables Evangelists Fools?

Are Health Wearables Evangelists Fools? | healthcare technology |

Late last month, TechnologyAdvice released an interesting study looking at whether most people want to use health wearables such as fitness trackers and other tools for health purposes.

Here are the top-line results of this study:

- 75 percent of U.S. adults do not track their weight, diet, or exercise using a health tracking apps or devices

- 43.7 percent had no specific reason for not tracking their fitness 

- 27.2 percent won’t use these devices due to lack of interest

- 25.1 percent of adults are currently using either a fitness tracker or a smartphone app to monitor their health, weight, or exercise.

This sounds like pretty bad news for those who believe the era of health wearables is here. But, this study also raises another question: Are health wearables evangelists fools?

Fard Johnmar, Founder of Enspektos explains why relevancy is the key to boosting the adoption of health wearables.  


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Language on Twitter Tracks Rates of Coronary Heart Disease

Language on Twitter Tracks Rates of Coronary Heart Disease | healthcare technology |

Twitter can serve as a dashboard indicator of a community’s psychological well-being and can predict county-level rates of heart disease, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of theAssociation for Psychological Science.

Previous studies have identified many factors that contribute to the risk of heart disease, including behavioral factors like smoking and psychological factors like stress.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated that Twitter can capture more information about heart disease risk than many traditional factors combined, as it also characterizes the psychological atmosphere of a community.

The findings show that expressions of negative emotions such as anger, stress, and fatigue in the tweets from people in a given county were associated with higher heart disease risk in that county. On the other hand, expressions of positive emotions like excitement and optimism were associated with lower risk.

The results suggest that using Twitter as a window into a community’s collective mental state may provide a useful tool in epidemiology:

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Top mHealth apps as rated by doctors

Top mHealth apps as rated by doctors | healthcare technology |
HealthTap published a survey of the top physician-rated apps for both iOS and Android, and breaks it down into 30 separate categories.

HealthTap founder and CEO Ron Gutman said the company's goal is to give clinicians and consumers a guide to choosing apps that have been approved by doctors, rather than resorting to the user ratings found in app stores (HealthTap's AppRx app, by the way, has a healthy 4.72 star rating in the Apple App Store, he said). The apps are judged on three standards – ease of use, effectiveness and medical accuracy, validity and soundness. They're not given a number rating, but are ranked solely based on how many doctors would recommend them.

Top 10 Health and Medical Apps for Android

1. Weight Watchers Mobile (Weight Watchers International)

2. White Noise Lite (TMSoft)

3. Lose It! (FitNow)

4. First Aid (American Red Cross)

5. RunKeeper – GPS Track Run Walk (FitnessKeeper)

6. Emergency First Aid/Treatment (Phoneflips)

7. Instant Heart Rate (Azumio)

8. Fooducate – Healthy Food Diet (Fooducate)

9. Glucose Buddy – Diabetes Log (Azumio)

10. Pocket First Aid & CPR (Jive Media)

Top Health and Medical Apps for iOS

1. Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker (

2. Weight Watchers Mobile (Weight Watchers International)

3. Lose It! (FitNow)

4. White Noise Lite (TMSoft)

5. First Aid (American Red Cross)

6. Runkeeper (FitnessKeeper)

7. Stroke Riskometer (Autel)

8. Emergency First Aid & Treatment Guide (Phoneflips)

9. Instant Heart Rate (Azumio)

10. Fooducate (Foducate)

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Few Doctors Use Personal Smartphones for EHR Access

Few Doctors Use Personal Smartphones for EHR Access | healthcare technology |

A new report finds that while nearly all physicians have a smartphone, few said they would use their personal phone to access electronic health records. Meanwhile, 70% of physicians said hospital IT organizations are not making adequate investments in physician mobile computing and communication.

The report found that doctors prefer to use consumer text messaging for clinical communication over secure messaging applications because it is simpler to do so.

Eighty-three percent of respondents expressed frustration over using an EHR system for clinical communication due to:

  • Inadequate messaging capabilities;
  • Limited usability; and
  • Poor interoperability

However, while 96% of physicians said they use smartphones, only 10% of those who do so said they would use them to access EHRs.

Meanwhile, 70% of respondents said they "believe that hospital IT organizations ... are making inadequate investments to address physician mobile computing and communication requirements at point of care."

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nrip's insight:

It would have been surprising if the report found it otherwise. The majority of todays EHR's are still clunky and have unfriendly workflows. Mobile users (including doctors obviously) will require interfaces which are clean and easy to navigate, and the mobile usage workflow must be extremely simple.

With a number of firms promoting their newer shiny EHRs with separate Mobile Specific versions , it will be interesting to see the results of such a study 24 -36 months down the line.

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What technologies can hospitals look forward to in 2015?

As practices look to integrate newer and hopefully advanced technologies to help them reduce readmission rates and improve outcomes, there is a lot to consider.

Buzzwords abound, like big data and coordinated care, but what those things actually mean vary largely from one place to the next.

ECRI Institute’s 2015 Top 10 Hospital C-Suite Watch List discusses a blend of novel, new, and emerging technologies that will demand attention and planning over the next 12 to 18 months, plus important issues and programs affecting care processes and delivery in 2015 and beyond.

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Standardization vs. Personalization: Can Healthcare Do Both?

Standardization vs. Personalization: Can Healthcare Do Both? | healthcare technology |

Can we standardize and personalize healthcare at the same time? James Dias, CEO and Founder of Wellbe shares how we can do both to improve patient care.

Usually when personalization is mentioned in the world of healthcare thoughts jump to genetics and personalized medicine with custom cancer drugs and medical devices. However, there is another type of personalization that can be applied to healthcare, to make each patient feel like an individual, rather than just “one of the masses.”

The world of ecommerce discovered the value of personalized online experiences a decade ago and the additional revenue/branding/loyalty that can be generated from it. For example, the NikeiD website offers customers the ability to customize their own shoes. Who can forget the “Elf Yourself” campaign from Office Depot, where you could stick your friends’ and family’s faces on to happy dancing elves? With the new year upon us, fewer people are opting to buy regular old glossy calendars when a dozen photo sites will let you make a custom one from your personal photos.

Personalization is all around us, from the recommendation engines of Netflix and Amazon, to the custom radio stations you can create on Pandora. Smart programs have figured out what’s relevant to each of us and help filter the signal from the noise in today’s massive universe of information. As consumers, we engage and respond much more positively to these personalized experiences, which encourages loyalty and repeat business.

The psychology of personalization shows that engaging the customer in the process helps build a psychological and emotional attachment to their purchase. In addition, increasing customer participation boosts feelings of control and ensures satisfaction at the point of sale.

Similarly, by offering a personalized digital healthcare experience, we can increase patients’ ownership of their health and outcomes. Often it seems that patients feel they have no control over their outcomes, when actually the opposite is true. When they feel like active participants in their health journeys, it is more likely they will achieve the outcomes they desire, and they will feel like they got better value for their dollar.

Inforth Technologies's curator insight, January 21, 9:12 AM

We have been preaching personalizing the NextGen EHR for years.  Not just personalization for patients, but for physicians and their practices.

Kim Kubiak's curator insight, January 21, 11:40 AM

"As consumers, we engage and respond much more positively to these personalized experiences, which encourages loyalty and repeat business."

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Health IT-Related Adverse Event Reporting Needs Improvement

Health IT-Related Adverse Event Reporting Needs Improvement | healthcare technology |

Improved and standardized reporting across healthcare organizations is needed to better understand the impact of health information technology (IT) on adverse events, according to a report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).  

The Health Information Technology Adverse Event Reporting: Analysis of Two Databases studied the Common Formats used to encourage adverse event reporting in 2 Patient Safety Organizations: UHC and ECRI Institute.   After analyzing hundreds of thousands of adverse events from all causes reported from since January 2011 for UHC and October 2009 for ECRI, ONC found there are definite areas of improvement.  

“Healthcare organizations and health IT developers, working with PSOs, can use evidence like this to focus their efforts to use health IT to make care safer and to continuously improve the safety of health IT,” Kathy Kenyon, JD, senior policy analyst for ONC, wrote in a blog post.  

For instance, in the ECRI database, the Yes/No question on health IT involvement was answered only 4% of the time. UHC did better, although the question was still only answered roughly half of the time.  

An analysis of UHC’s database found the most common contributing factors to health IT-related events were communication among staff and team members (40%-42%), staff inattention (33%-34%), and accuracy of the data (21%-23%). Furthermore, a third of health IT-related events were medication-related, making them the most common type.  

However, despite the usefulness of UHC’s database, more than half of the health IT-related events were categorized as “other,” which makes it difficult to determine the clinical problem involved in these events, according to Ms Kenyon. -

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Desire For Portals Spans Generations

Desire For Portals Spans Generations | healthcare technology |

Millennials and Baby Boomers alike want more from their EHR, especially access through portals.

Last year’s annual EHR survey from Xerox found patients desired more information on EHRs and thought their providers should give more EHR education. This year, Xerox reports their 2014 annual EHR survey finds patients desire access to their records through portals - and it’s not just younger patients who are looking for digital access.

Health Data Management reports about a third of patients said simple knowledge of portals was lacking. Of those who said they did not use portals, 35 percent did not even know a portal was available and 31 percent said their physician had never spoken to them about portals.

A second study by Technology Advice found 40 percent of patients don’t know if their provider offers an online portal, even though a third study showed simply taking to patients about portals increases their use.

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Use of Mobile Phone Text Message Reminders in Health Care Services - #study

Use of Mobile Phone Text Message Reminders in Health Care Services - #study | healthcare technology |

Background: Mobile text messages are a widely recognized communication method in societies, as the global penetration of the technology approaches 100% worldwide. Systematic knowledge is still lacking on how the mobile telephone text messaging (short message service, SMS) has been used in health care services.

Objective: This study aims to review the literature on the use of mobile phone text message reminders in health care.

Conclusions: We can conclude that although SMS reminders are used with different patient groups in health care, SMS is less systematically studied with randomized controlled trial study design. Although the amount of evidence for SMS application recommendations is still limited, having 77% (46/60) of the studies showing improved outcomes may indicate its use in health care settings. However, more well-conducted SMS studies are still needed.

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Should we diagnose rare diseases with smartphones?

Should we diagnose rare diseases with smartphones? | healthcare technology |

An object in your pocket could help diagnose rare diseases like Ebola, finds David Robson – and one day it might even replace the doctor’s surgery too.

As fear of the Ebola virus escalates, Eric Topol thinks that we’re missing an important weapon. And you just need to reach into your pocket to find it. “Most communicable diseases can be diagnosed with a smartphone,” he says. “Rather than putting people into quarantine for three weeks – how about seeing if they harbour it in their blood?” A quicker response could also help prevent mistakes, such as the patient in Dallas who was sent home from hospital with a high fever, only to later die from the infection.

It’s a provocative claim, but Topol is not shy about calling for a revolution in the way we deal with Ebola – or any other health issue for that matter. A professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in California, his last book heralded “the creative destruction of medicine” through new technology. Smartphones are already helping to do away with many of the least pleasant aspects of sickness – including the long hospital visits and agonising wait for treatment. An easier way to diagnose Ebola is just one example of these sweeping changes.

So far, however, few doctors have embraced these possibilities.  “The medical cocoon has not allowed a digital invasion,” says Topol, “while the rest of the world has already assimilated the digital revolution into its day-to-day life.” That’s not due to lack of demand: many patients are already monitoring their health through their phone, with apps that check your skin for cancer from a selfie, for example. These programs are not alwaysdesigned with the accuracy most doctors would require, however – and some fear that by missing a diagnosis and offering a false sense of security, they could cost lives. “The slower the healthcare system is in exploring these things, the more people are at risk by doing the exploration on their own,” says Estrin.

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nrip's insight:

My associates and I have built a mobile Ebola diagnosis and data collection prototype. If interested in exploring possible uses of the same for your organization, please drop me a message.

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Where Will Healthcare's Data Scientists Find The Rich Phenotypic Data They Need?

Where Will Healthcare's Data Scientists Find The Rich Phenotypic Data They Need? | healthcare technology |

The big hairy audacious goal of most every data scientist I know in healthcare is what you might call the Integrated Medical Record, or IMR, a dataset that combines detailed genetic data and rich phenotypic information, including both clinical and “real-world” (or, perhaps, “dynamic”) phenotypic data (the sort you might get from wearables).

The gold standard for clinical phenotyping are academic clinical studies (like ALLHAT and the Dallas Heart Study).  These studies are typically focused on a disease category (e.g. cardiovascular), and the clinical phenotyping on these subjects – at least around the areas of scientific interest — is generally superb.  The studies themselves can be enormous, are often multi-institutional, and typically create a database that’s independent of the hospital’s medical record.

Inevitably, large, prospective studies can take many years to complete.  In addition, there’s generally not much real world/dynamic measurement.

The other obvious source for phenotypic data is the electronic medical record (EMR).  The logic is simple: every patient has a medical record, and increasingly, especially in hospital systems, this is electronic – i.e. an EMR.  EMRs (examples include Epic and Cerner) generally contain lab values, test reports, provider notes, and medication and problem lists.  In theory, this should offer a broad, rich, and immediately available source of data for medical discovery.

DIY (enabled by companies such as PatientsLikeMe) represents another approach to phenotyping, and allows patients to share data with other members of the community.  The obvious advantages here include the breadth and richness of data associated with what can be an unfiltered patient perspective – to say nothing of the benefit of patient empowerment.  An important limitation is that the quality and consistency of the data is obviously highly dependent upon the individuals posting the information.

Pharma clinical trials would seem to represent another useful opportunity for phenotyping, given the focus on specific conditions and the rigorous attention to process and detail characteristic of pharmaceutical studies.  However, pharma studies tend to be extremely focused, and companies are typically reluctant to expand protocols to pursue exploratory endpoints if there’s any chance this will diminish recruitment or adversely impact the development of the drug.

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Best EHR systems of 2014: Physicians rank 5 key performance areas

Best EHR systems of 2014: Physicians rank 5 key performance areas | healthcare technology |
The performance of an electronic health record (EHR) system can mean the difference between a thriving practice and a struggling one. These systems impact every aspect of medical care, from the car

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6 Ways Technology is Helping to Fight Ebola

6 Ways Technology is Helping to Fight Ebola | healthcare technology |
As Ebola continues to ravish Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, people from all around the world are working together to stop the disease. In addition to the life saving work of medical staff, logisticians and community organizers, information and communication technology (ICT) is also playing a vital part in supporting their work. Below are six examples showing how ICT is already making a difference in the current Ebola crisis.

1. Tracing outbreaks with mapping and geolocation

2. Gathering Ebola information with digital data collection forms

3. Connecting the sick with their relatives using local Wi-Fi networks

4. Sharing and receiving Ebola information via SMS text messages

5. Mythbusting for diaspora communities via social media

6. Supporting translations of Ebola information remotely online


nrip's insight:

Adding to this list, my associates and I have built a mobile Ebola diagnosis and data collection prototype. If interested in exploring possible uses of the same for your organization, please drop me a message.

Lauren Silva's curator insight, October 8, 2014 8:06 PM

In an age where social media and technology affects the everyday human often, it is beneficial to view an article that details the benefits of technology in the world. This article doesn't specify how technology may stop ebola, it focuses more on how it can spread awareness, hope and understanding. The article doesn't pretend like the epidemic isn't happening, but instead focuses on the ups of what is. Family members can still communicate, awareness is spread, and information is reached all through technology.

nrip's comment, October 9, 2014 3:36 AM
@Lauren Silva Thanks for your comments
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, October 10, 2014 2:31 AM

The spread of Ebola is a worrying trend

which has gotten the attention of President Obama


WHO statements about the transmission of Ebola and the current status of the outbreak is scooped here:


Innovative means of using technology to curb the spread is welcome indeed.

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