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The Avatar Will See You Now: Medical Centers Are Testing New, Friendly Ways To Reduce Office Visits

The Avatar Will See You Now: Medical Centers Are Testing New, Friendly Ways To Reduce Office Visits | Longevity science | Scoop.it

Most patients who enter the gym of the San Mateo Medical Center in California are there to work with physical therapists. But a few who had knee replacements are being coached by a digital avatar instead.

 

The avatar, Molly, interviews them in Spanish or English about the levels of pain they feel as a video guides them through exercises, while the 3-D cameras of a Kinect device measure their movements. Because it’s a pilot project, Paul Carlisle, the director of rehabilitation services, looks on. But the ultimate goal is for the routine to be done from a patient’s home.

 

“It would change our whole model,” says Carlisle, who is running the trial as the public hospital looks for creative ways to extend the reach of its overtaxed budget and staff. “We don’t want to replace therapists. But in some ways, it does replace the need to have them there all the time.”

 

Receiving remote medical care is becoming more common as technologies improve and health records get digitized. Sense.ly, the California startup running the trial, is one of more than 500 companies using health-care tools fromNuance, a company that develops speech-recognition and virtual-assistant software. “Our goal is basically to capture the patient’s state of mind and body,” says Ivana Schnur, cofounder of Sense.ly and a clinical psychologist who has spent years developing virtual-reality tools in medicine and mental health.

 

Using Sense.ly’s platform, patients can communicate their condition to an emotionally reactive avatar through their phone, desktop, or TV. The avatar asks the patient simple questions, and if programmed by a doctor, it can answer questions too—such as what a diabetes patient with high blood-sugar readings should eat that day. The software also collects data from other medical devices that a patient uses, such as a glucose meter, and can capture gestures with a Kinect. The reports sent to the doctor include red-flag notifications to act on right away; charts, graphs, and analytics tracing the patient’s progress over time; and a transcript of the voice interaction.

 

“A physician’s time is always limited,” says Benjamin Kanter, chief medical information officer at Palomar Health in San Diego. “For a long time, we’ve had the challenge of just getting information into the system. Now the system is starting to actually help me.”

 

Schnur says one real advance is the avatar itself, which is important in helping both patients and doctors to trust the interactions. Molly, still a work in progress, can modulate her tone of voice and facial expressions. Schnur says that sometimes patients are more willing to share sensitive information with a nonjudgmental avatar than with a doctor.

 

Patients in San Mateo seem to like the interaction, Carlisle says, and he does too: “I’ve gotten used to the avatar. I look forward to seeing it when it comes online.”

 

The Sense.ly software, currently in beta, is also being tested at an addiction and detox clinic in California, doing patient intake and assessment in a crowded waiting room. Schnur hopes the system will eventually be used for even more complex tasks. The company, a product of the French telecommunication company Orange’s Silicon Valley incubator program, is working to include additional features, such as the ability to interpret and respond to a patient’s facial expressions.

 

Of course, doctors see some risks in such approaches, especially if the software makes an error or misinterprets an interaction. Kanter points out that although electronic systems often reduce errors, any errors that occur can propagate more quickly than those made only on paper.

 

Carlisle, who will enroll 50 to 60 patients by the time the study is done, is looking forward to getting more data. Over time, he hopes, not only will he improve the care of individual patients in their home environments, but what he learns from the data will improve therapy for everyone.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Engineered biomaterial may regenerate damaged skeletal muscle | KurzweilAI

Engineered biomaterial may regenerate damaged skeletal muscle | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Jeffrey Wolchok, right, works with a biomaterial that can regenerate damaged skeletal muscle (credit: University of Arkansas) A biomaterial that can
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Hungarian scientists aim for prototype of cancer surgery device

Hungarian scientists aim for prototype of cancer surgery device | Longevity science | Scoop.it
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Study suggests probiotics could prevent obesity and insulin resistance | KurzweilAI

Study suggests probiotics could prevent obesity and insulin resistance | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Obese vs. lean mouse (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Vanderbilt University researchers have discovered that engineered probiotic bacteria (“friendly”
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Eric Larson's curator insight, July 29, 3:54 PM

Interesting idea.

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Mini simulated cardiovascular system could speed testing of medications

Mini simulated cardiovascular system could speed testing of medications | Longevity science | Scoop.it
When scientists want to find out how a new medication will affect the cardiovascular system, the traditional way of doing so is via animal or human trials. ...
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Noninvasive retinal imaging device detects Alzheimer’s 20 years in advance | KurzweilAI

Noninvasive retinal imaging device detects Alzheimer’s 20 years in advance | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Retina test for future Alzheimer's disease (AD), showing plaques. Upper left: normal retina.Upper right: mild AD. Lower left: Moderate AD. Lower right: Non-AD
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Study paves way for simple blood test to predict Alzheimer's

Study paves way for simple blood test to predict Alzheimer's | Longevity science | Scoop.it
LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists have identified a set of 10 proteins in the blood that can predict the onset of Alzheimer's and call this an important step towards developing a test for the incurable
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Added Layers of Proteome Complexity | The Scientist Magazine®

Added Layers of Proteome Complexity | The Scientist Magazine® | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Scientists discover a broad spectrum of alternatively spliced human protein variants within a well-studied family of genes.
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3D-printed spine cage enables customized spinal fusion surgery

3D-printed spine cage enables customized spinal fusion surgery | Longevity science | Scoop.it
3D printing has given rise to a new breed of patient-specific surgeries and treatments. Following in the footsteps of recent high-tech solutions such as pri...
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Google partners with Novartis to produce glucose-monitoring contact lens

Google partners with Novartis to produce glucose-monitoring contact lens | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Earlier this year, Google announced that it was testing a glucose-monitoring contact lens. The lens is aimed at helping people with diabetes better manage t...
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Ghrelin, a stress-induced hormone, primes the brain for PTSD

Study finds that ghrelin, produced during stressful situations, primes the brain for post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Proteins could take the place of fats in diet cheeses and cakes

Proteins could take the place of fats in diet cheeses and cakes | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Dieters take note! It may soon be possible to buy low-fat cakes and cheeses that have the same taste and texture as their waistline-increasing counterparts....
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Combining aerobic, resistance exercise may be best for diabetes

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Sunshine vitamin D boosts survival chances in bowel cancer: study

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Google Glass app aims to improve surgeon training in Stanford University Medical School | KurzweilAI

Google Glass app aims to improve surgeon training in Stanford University Medical School | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
CrowdOptic app lets a user see what another user is seeing simply by looking at that person (credit: CrowdOptic) CrowdOptic is working with the Department
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A ‘nanosubmarine’ that could deliver drug molecules to cells | KurzweilAI

A ‘nanosubmarine’ that could deliver drug molecules to cells | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Nanocarriers transport donor and acceptor molecules across cell membranes with fluorescence activation (credit: Francisco Raymo) Researchers at the
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How to prevent diseases of aging | KurzweilAI

How to prevent diseases of aging | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it

By 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple globally, which could come at great cost to individuals and economies.


Unfortunately, medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop, researchers writing in the journal Nature say. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.


By treating the metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, it may be possible to help people stay healthy into their 70s and 80s, they suggest.


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Substantial Health And Economic Returns From Delayed Aging May Warrant A New Focus For Medical Research

Substantial Health And Economic Returns From Delayed Aging May Warrant A New Focus For Medical Research | Longevity science | Scoop.it

Recent scientific advances suggest that slowing the aging process (senescence) is now a realistic goal. Yet most medical research remains focused on combating individual diseases. Using the Future Elderly Model—a microsimulation of the future health and spending of older Americans—we compared optimistic “disease specific” scenarios with a hypothetical “delayed aging” scenario in terms of the scenarios’ impact on longevity, disability, and major entitlement program costs. Delayed aging could increase life expectancy by an additional 2.2 years, most of which would be spent in good health. The economic value of delayed aging is estimated to be $7.1 trillion over fifty years. In contrast, addressing heart disease and cancer separately would yield diminishing improvements in health and longevity by 2060—mainly due to competing risks. Delayed aging would greatly increase entitlement outlays, especially for Social Security. However, these changes could be offset by increasing the Medicare eligibility age and the normal retirement age for Social Security. Overall, greater investment in research to delay aging appears to be a highly efficient way to forestall disease, extend healthy life, and improve public health.

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Eric Larson's curator insight, July 29, 3:55 PM

Another approach.

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Human blood platelets grown in bone marrow-replicating bioreactor

Human blood platelets grown in bone marrow-replicating bioreactor | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Scientists have already successfully coaxed stem cells into becoming red blood cells. Now, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have also created fun...
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Ulcer-forming Bacteria Target Tiny Traumas | The Scientist Magazine®

Ulcer-forming Bacteria Target Tiny Traumas | The Scientist Magazine® | Longevity science | Scoop.it
A new study finds that Helicobacter pylori home in on small lesions in the stomach and promote ulceration within minutes of epithelial injury.
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MIT adds two robotic fingers to the human hand

MIT adds two robotic fingers to the human hand | Longevity science | Scoop.it
MIT's supernumerary robotic fingers extend from either side of the user's dominant hand, and are attached to a device that's worn around the wrist. The id...
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Fundamental research is paving the way for development of first vaccine for heart disease

Fundamental research is paving the way for development of first vaccine for heart disease | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Researchers at Wayne State University have made a fundamental discovery and, in subsequent collaboration with scientists at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, are one step closer to the goal of developing the world's first T-cell...
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One injection stops diabetes in its tracks: Treatment reverses symptoms of type 2 diabetes in mice without side effects

One injection stops diabetes in its tracks: Treatment reverses symptoms of type 2 diabetes in mice without side effects | Longevity science | Scoop.it
In mice with diet-induced diabetes -- the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans -- a single injection of the protein FGF1 is enough to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days.
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Eric Larson's curator insight, July 29, 3:56 PM

This is cool.

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A neural device to restore memory | KurzweilAI

A neural device to restore memory | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to
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Red-light-sensitive protein enables noninvasive neuron studies | KurzweilAI

Red-light-sensitive protein enables noninvasive neuron studies | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
(Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT) MIT engineers have developed the first light-sensitive protein molecule that enables neurons to be silenced noninvasively.
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Red-light-sensitive protein enables noninvasive neuron studies | KurzweilAI

Red-light-sensitive protein enables noninvasive neuron studies | KurzweilAI | Longevity science | Scoop.it
(Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT) MIT engineers have developed the first light-sensitive protein molecule that enables neurons to be silenced noninvasively.
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