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The ways in which technology benefits healthcare
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The three critical factors wearable devices need to succeed

The three critical factors wearable devices need to succeed | healthcare technology |

Wearables may be the tech du jour, but the next generation of devices and services needs to focus more on keeping users engaged in the long-term. These three factors, based on behavioral science, can help them do just that.

1. Habit formation. Sustained engagement depends on a device or service’s ability to help the user form and stick with new habits. Wearable devices have the potential, all too often unrealized, to make the process of habit formation more effective and efficient than ever before. The best engagement strategies for wearables move beyond just presenting data (steps, calories, stairs) and directly address the elements of the habit loop (cue, routine, reward), triggering the deep-seated psychological sequences that lead to the establishment of new habits.

2. Social motivation. To sustain engagement beyond the initial habit formation, a device or service must be able to motivate users effectively. Social connections are a particularly powerful source of motivation that can be leveraged in many creative ways. In addition to using social connections to influence behavior, social media and networking sites can be exploited to alter habits for positive outcomes.

3. Goal reinforcement. To achieve sustained engagement, a user also needs to experience a feeling of progress toward defined goals. Research shows that achieving several smaller goals provides the positive momentum necessary for achieving bigger goals. Wearable products and services that help people experience continuous progress can do so, for example, through real-time updates that are powered by big data and insights. Facilitating personal progress in this way leads to improved health, user satisfaction and long-term sustained engagement.

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Using Health Information Technology to Engage Patients in their Care

Using Health Information Technology to Engage Patients in their Care | healthcare technology |

Patient engagement, defined as the process of placing patients at the center and in control of their own healthcare, is becoming a chief healthcare priority

Concurrently, a number of national information infrastructure initiatives are targeting increased patient engagement and the design of health information systems that improve the availability of health information and integrate it in meaningful ways for patients.  So far, these technology goals have been advanced primarily through the design of personal health records (PHRs), patient portals, electronic health records (EHRs), and health information exchanges (HIEs).  However, we remain far from achieving the goal of truly engaging patients in their care.

Generation and exchange of health data with patients is a requirement for Stage 3 EHR meaningful use incentives. Patients are entitled to an electronically generated copy of the record of their encounters with providers. 

Sharing provider-generated data with patients is expected to promote patient engagement and accountability, but our own experiences suggest that the data that are being shared are currently a mixed blessing.  For example, one encounter report took the form of a 6-page document in which the vast majority of information was copied and pasted from previous encounters and in which there were several factual errors. The errors will be discussed with the provider during the next visit.

Certainly the report got our attention; whether empowerment will result remains an open question.  On another occasion, although the visit itself had included making decisions about future treatment, the plan was not mentioned in the document, leaving the patient to rely on her own memory and notes.

The National eHealth Collaborative Technical Expert Panel recommends fully integrating patient-generated data (e.g., home monitoring of daily weights, blood glucose, or blood pressure readings) into the clinical workflow of healthcare providers

Although patients want this type of involvement, we have only begun to address their wishes and concerns.  In the next sections, we summarize the current status of several potential building blocks to achieving patient engagement goals and emphasize the role of the nurse informaticist as fundamental to the process.

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Brandi Carney's curator insight, January 23, 2014 6:20 PM

This site helps to encourage patients to be more aware of their health by using different pieces of technology.

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Where’s the value in a smart blood pressure monitor?

Where’s the value in a smart blood pressure monitor? | healthcare technology |

So we’ve all heard the varied stories on these; some people love these things and other think they are not much different from a classic old-style blood pressure device. We wanted to write up a few thoughts on where the value of these things lies.  And if you are hypertensive, pre-hypertensive of just want to be proactive about your health/genetic predisposition then read on.   It’s not just a price comparison, that would be an apples-and-oranges comparison.  In this case, apples and giraffes because they are that different!  

There’s a lot of value in a smart blood pressure monitor and it’s not really but is beyond the single measurement,  it’s about the long term trend collection.  

Here are some real life points to illustrate the point.

1) The value is in the long-term trend data… your own or a family member’s 

2) Reducing inaccuracies by relying on doctors’ offices or one off measurements.

3) Weight tracking integration

4) Alarm driven measurement 

Examples of each of these points can be found at the original :

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A portable device for common kidney tests

A portable device for common kidney tests | healthcare technology |

A lightweight and field-portable device invented at UCLA that conducts kidney tests and transmits data through a smartphone attachment may significantly reduce the need for frequent office visits by people with diabetes and others with chronic kidney ailments.

The smartphone-based device was developed in the research lab of Aydogan Ozcan, a professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute. Weighing about one-third of a pound, the gadget can determine levels of albumin in the patient's urine and transmit the results within seconds. Albumin is a protein in blood that is a sign of danger when found in urine.

Ozcan's lab also developed the opto-mechanical phone attachment, disposable test tubes, Android app and software to transmit the data. The research was published this month by the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip ("Albumin testing in urine using a smart-phone").

"Albumin testing is frequently done to assess kidney damage, especially for diabetes patients," Ozcan said. "This device provides an extremely convenient platform for chronic patients at home or in remote locations where cell phones work."

Patients at risk for diabetes, kidney disease and other ailments must regularly provide fluid samples — sometimes more than one a day — to monitor their health, which requires visits to labs or health centers.

The new device projects beams of visible light through two small fluorescent tubes attached to the device, one containing a control liquid and the other a urine sample mixed with fluorescent dyes. The smartphone camera captures the fluorescent light after it passes through an additional lens.

An Android application then processes the raw images in less than one second and the device transmits the test results to a database or health care provider. The test, which measures albumin concentration in urine, is accurate to within less than 10 micrograms per milliliter, according to the research, well within accepted clinical standards used in diagnosing conditions such as microalbuminuria, the excretion of albumin in urine.

The time it takes to conduct a test, including preparation of a sample using a small syringe to inject the urine into a fluorescent tube, is about five minutes. Ozcan estimates that the device — for which his lab also has developed an iPhone app — could be produced commercially for $50 to $100 per unit.

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