Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care
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14 Ways Social Media May Soon Change Your Doctor's Visit

14 Ways Social Media May Soon Change Your Doctor's Visit | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
14 Ways Social Media May Soon Change Your Doctor's VisitMay 16, 2012   inShare

In 2006, Pew Research Forum discovered that 80% of American adults used the Internet to research medical information. By 2011, data (separately) compiled by Frost and Sullivan and QuantiaMD showed between 87% to 90% of physicians used at least one social media site for personal reasons, with a further 67% to 75% opting for more professional postings. LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging, and the like stand poised to change the face of healthcare in the exact same manner it pretty much did for most other industries. Medical professionals — not just doctors — have discovered some creative (and not-so-creative) ways to apply the technology to many different aspects of their field, meaning savvy, Internet-literate patients should stay on the lookout for what might lay ahead.

1. Better information and support


PatientsLikeMe serves as a social media site for individuals with various conditions to connect and share their experiences and treatment options that work and do not work for them. As the site grows, so too does participants’ knowledge of what’s happening to their bodies, making it easier for them to communicate with their doctors about possible treatments, rare and common symptoms, and more. In addition, banding together with others in their situation offers necessary comfort and understanding patients might not necessarily receive from even the most well-meaning loved one.

2. Greater risk of compromised confidentiality


Don’t panic; the vast majority of doctors probably won’t be Alexandra Thran, a Rhode Island physician fined for posting enough information online for readers to recognize her patient. All the same, though, savvy consumers should pay attention to their new and old doctors’ Internet presence for signs of breaking confidentiality. The threat might be minimal, but that doesn’t mean patients should grow complacent when it comes to their health and safety.

3. More balanced drug information


In order to counterbalance Big Pharma’s massive social media presence, doctors such as immunologist and allergist Ves Dimov utilize their Facebooks and Twitters to perpetuate more scientific studies proving and disproving the information advertised. Doing so, they feel, will better educate their patients about what drugs they may or may not need when seeking treatment. Be forewarned that many healthcare professionals receive kickbacks, so stay wary of those who seem to eagerly push one specific brand over another. Researching and asking around will dredge up the most trusted professionals speaking on the subject.

4. Better patient interaction


Outside the office, doctors have been known to use social media to let patients ask broad(!) questions without having to schedule appointments for every last one. Some use printouts with diagrams, charts, and links to other resources — including Facebook and Twitter sites — where they can learn more. Dimov highly recommends this heightened interactivity because it provides a much clearer picture about the conditions in question and a faster forum for educating the ailing. He also thinks blogging holds more than a few merits for medical professionals looking to connect with one another and those they are meant to heal.

5. Increased trust in the patient-doctor relationship


For doctors and medical centers such as La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre, social media means attracting more people. Patient testimonials make their services seem more attractive to potential patrons, nurturing a greater sense of trust in a wider range of consumers. According to US News & World Report, it also hosts polls on various subjects and throws “virtual birthday parties for its doctors.” Such connectivity makes it easier for those considering their services to know whether or not the overarching climate will prove a satisfying fit.

6. More informed doctors


Not only does social media (when used responsibly, anyway) better educate patients about the medical field, it also results in doctors better versed in the latest news and views within their industry. In a post at the well-regarded blog, Dr. Natasha Burgert reflects upon how one year working with Facebook and Twitter greatly enhanced her pediatrics. She lauds the technology as essential to staying on top of research (many leading medical journals now boast a social media presence) that could better benefit her patients and increase the level of trust between them.

7. Details about what to expect from specific procedures ahead of time


Doctors, hospitals, medical schools, and even the National Library of Medicine have all established YouTube accounts with everything from lectures to step-by-step walkthroughs of surgical procedures available. For patients nervous about an upcoming appointment, whether routine or critical, watching everything unfold might ease the anxiety before setting foot inside the facilities. Or at least familiarize them with what to expect once everything begins. The popular site’s offerings also tie into the overarching educational benefits social media grants to professionals and consumers alike.

Continued on next page.

8. More opportunities to participate in clinical research


Men, women, and children who want to do their part in medical research — especially inquiries into rare and serious diagnoses — can take part in polls and studies even faster than before. Rather than going through their healthcare providers, they can search social media sites (PatientsLikeMe has linked up with scientists for Nature Biotechnology before) for opportunities to help save some lives. While this access won’t significantly change doctor’s appointments, it does at least alter it somewhat, especially for the brave souls hoping to help others in any way they can.

9. Check certifications faster


The advent of social media also meant a brand new way for scammers and other sketchy opportunists to separate consumers from their money. Cardiologist and blogger Dr. Wes talks about a colleague offered a fake “board certification” in the industry, which he and his readers quickly identified as a complete fraud. Patients hoping to learn more about what their doctors and potential doctors have to offer have a much faster way of educating themselves about certification claims and other qualifications — or made-up qualifications, as it were. This will help them ferret out medical professionals who aren’t everything they claim.

10. Faster aid


Healthcare professionals working in isolated or impoverished regions, particularly those subjected to natural and political turmoil, use social media to let potential donors know what money and resources they need to better serve their patients. Mashable’s writeup about Floating Doctors discusses how their Facebook and Twitter feeds have proved necessary in helping them establish clinics in Central America and the Caribbean. For some patients, this assistance from abroad might very well mean the difference between life and death.

11. Remote diagnoses


Using social media and resources such as Skype can be a bit dicey in some situations, but in others, Floating Doctors have proven how essential they can be when forging an accurate diagnosis. One story they shared with Mashable involved a Haitian man whose arm was fractured and never properly treated, which resulted in a rare and bizarre condition. Posting videos to YouTube and pictures to Facebook and Twitter allowed other medical professionals to discuss what might have happened and possible treatment options. What resulted was a worldwide effort to get him all the care he needed, and as a result his arm eventually received the right attention from an orthopedic specialist!

12. Group visits


Obviously, scheduling group appointments causes quite a divide within the medical community, but some doctors swear by it as a means of building compassion and empathy between patients with similar conditions. Plus, those in resource-strapped areas or with clogged schedules use the setup in order to make what they have available stretch as far as possible. Social media, while not specifically referenced by the American Academy of Family Physicians, provides a private way for participants to coordinate meetings and discuss what they’ve learned when off the clock.

13. Online scheduling


Beyond online support groups, patients in most major American cities can use the Internet to schedule their appointments quickly and (relatively) painlessly under some healthcare plans. Services such as ZocDoc link up physicians and people in need of their care at no cost to the consumer — doctors pay for listings. USA Today quotes its appointments as comprised of 85% new users and 40% of appointments happening within a day of hopping online. There’s even an Android app available for scheduling with specialists, dentists, and more while out and about.

14. Insight into just what doctors do on a daily basis


Lauded physician and social media expert Dr. Kevin Pho of thinks sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube demystify much of the responsibilities doctors face on a daily basis. Removing the shroud marks another strategy for establishing patient comfort. He touts that their knowing exactly how much paperwork his position entails fosters bonding, as it’s something to which so many of them relate. And this relative transparency helps quell some of the nerves that inevitably pop up.


 This post originally appeared at Medical Billing and Coding.

Via Plus91, Laura Chiocciora, Giuseppe Fattori
eMedToday's curator insight, December 14, 2013 12:42 AM

good lists

Zach Owen's curator insight, December 11, 2014 9:53 PM

What do you think will happen to social media and the medical field? Why?

Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care
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89% of US physicians would recommend a health app to a patient

89% of US physicians would recommend a health app to a patient | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

Via Andrew Spong
Scott Normandin's comment, May 16, 2014 10:24 PM
the question begs: is/are applications that make access to health care the domain of the younger generation, or as some would content, are applications an additional level of complication to our senior population. Personal experience from the lens of my parents is that "absent" a vetted and universally adopted application that supports a universal view for all, this may by perceived as the "new best new toy" and fade with time. Our seniors; albeit are digital immigrants, working their way into the development of new technologies clumsily, whereas Gen X/Y find the technology adaptable, available and importantly expendable when the next best thing comes available. What defines consumerization: speed of development and release, or the ability to support end users?
Scott Normandin's comment, May 16, 2014 10:24 PM
the question begs: is/are applications that make access to health care the domain of the younger generation, or as some would content, are applications an additional level of complication to our senior population. Personal experience from the lens of my parents is that "absent" a vetted and universally adopted application that supports a universal view for all, this may by perceived as the "new best new toy" and fade with time. Our seniors; albeit are digital immigrants, working their way into the development of new technologies clumsily, whereas Gen X/Y find the technology adaptable, available and importantly expendable when the next best thing comes available. What defines consumerization: speed of development and release, or the ability to support end users?
Mes Bons PLans's comment, January 22, 12:45 PM
une question qui n'apporte pas toutes les réponses. des profs avaient identifié les thèmes à venir dans leur blog :
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Memorizing medical content using Apple Watch and spaced repetition app

Memorizing medical content using Apple Watch and spaced repetition app | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
You can now do spaced repetition learning on your Apple Watch. The post Memorizing medical content using Apple Watch and spaced repetition app appeared first on iMedicalApps.
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Heart Master is a free app for learning and teaching patients cardiac valvular pathology

Heart Master is a free app for learning and teaching patients cardiac valvular pathology | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
A free medical app you can utilize for patient education and also personal learning. The post Heart Master is a free app for learning and teaching patients cardiac valvular pathology appeared first on iMedicalApps.
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L'E-médecine, antidote à la pénurie médicale? - Journal du CNRS

L'E-médecine, antidote à la pénurie médicale? - Journal du CNRS | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Concepteur d’un médecin virtuel capable d’interagir avec les patients pour diagnostiquer les problèmes de somnolence, le docteur Pierre Philip explique l’intérêt de ces nouveaux agents animés pour la médecine et la santé publique.

Qu’est-ce qu’un «médecin virtuel » ?
Pierre Philip1 : Nous préférons les appeler « agents conversationnels animés ». Il s’agit en fait d’un logiciel d’informatique émotionnelle ou affective computing, un projet sur lequel des équipes travaillent depuis une vingtaine d’années. Le principe consiste à faire interagir des agents virtuels avec des humains réels. Concrètement, vous avez un interlocuteur en blouse blanche, une image animée sur votre écran, qui vous pose une série de questions à voix haute et qui va modifier ses réactions en fonction de vos réponses, que vous donnez aussi à voix haute. Si vous n’avez pas compris sa question, il peut vous la répéter, puis vous l’écrire. Selon le type de logiciel, le langage non verbal, votre visage ou vos postures peuvent être prises en compte dans votre réponse, mais l’essentiel des informations recueillies est verbal.

A quoi sert précisément le logiciel que votre équipe vient de mettre au point ?
P. P. : Il permet le diagnostic d’un trouble du sommeil très répandu puisqu’il touche 10% de nos concitoyens : la Somnolence Diurne Excessive (SDE), responsable de nombreux accidents, et dont le dépistage est un véritable enjeu de santé publique. Notre agent conversationnel animé est destiné à des patients dont le médecin suppose qu’ils pourraient être concernés par cette maladie. Après un échange approfondi avec le patient, le logiciel est capable d’émettre des indications diagnostiques fiables : les tests ont montré, en effet, une grande corrélation entre les diagnostics établis par notre logiciel et ceux d’un médecin spécialiste du sommeil. Ce travail -une première pour les troubles du sommeil- ouvre des perspectives intéressantes et préfigure des médecins virtuels au diagnostic plus large, couvrant d’avantage de pathologies.

Dispositif de «médecin virtuel» sur ordinateur développé par l’équipe du docteur Pierre Philip à la Clinique du sommeil du CHU Pellegrin, à Bordeaux.J. OLIVE/SANPSY/CNRSPartager

Quel est l’intérêt de créer des « agents conversationnels animés » pour la médecine ?
P. P. : Dans la recherche en neurosciences, où l’on sait que les réponses peuvent varier selon l’interrogateur, une méthode permettant la reproductibilité des entretiens cliniques constitue un progrès. Avec le vieillissement de la population s’accroissent les troubles du sommeil et les pathologies neuropsychiatriques, et il faut de plus en plus aider les médecins à diagnostiquer des malades toujours plus nombreux. Aujourd’hui, avec les tablettes, les smartphones et les sites Internet, des outils permettent déjà aux gens de se diagnostiquer. Lorsque vous arrivez chez le médecin, vous pouvez lui dire combien vous avez marché de pas et si vous avez grandi les quinze derniers jours. Les médias, l’économie, l’industrie et le business vont de plus en plus habiller le patient de capteurs. Et, puisque ce sont les patients qui achètent ces outils, on ne les force pas, je pense qu’une évolution conjointe va se faire côté usagers et côté médecins. Mais cette part d’auto-diagnostic a un certain degré de fragilité, car elle ne reproduit pas réellement un entretien avec un médecin. D’où l’idée d’utiliser des agents conversationnels animés avec un interrogatoire composé par des médecins et une apparence médicale avec une blouse blanche.

Quel est l’intérêt économique de ce dispositif ?
P. P. : Il y a un intérêt de santé publique majeur, en particulier dans le champ des maladies neurologiques et mentales, pour lesquelles le dépistage est essentiel. Si quelqu’un commence à développer une insomnie dans le cadre d’un épisode dépressif, vous pouvez corriger le trouble avec des consignes d’hygiène de sommeil et des interactions cognitivo-comportementales. Si la personne est totalement déprimée, il va falloir intervenir médicalement ou déployer beaucoup plus de stratégies thérapeutiques. Ces outils fiables et précis pourraient répondre de manière très pragmatique à la pénurie de médecins. On a un problème majeur de désertification médicale en France et, si l’on peut, pour les maladies chroniques, déployer des humains virtuels non comme remplaçants mais comme partenaires des soignants pour agir sur site, voire à domicile, on a là un dispositif très innovant.

Existe-t-il des risques par rapport au diagnostic virtuel ?
P. P. : On a toujours un risque, un thermomètre peut se tromper de 2 ou 3 degrés, on peut déclarer à un médecin des choses que l’on n’a pas forcément comprises. Justement, on a comparé les réponses fournies à un médecin réel à celles fournies à un médecin virtuel ; on a constaté que le taux de compréhension et le taux de fiabilité des réponses au médecin virtuel étaient extrêmement élevés. Le logiciel est doué d’empathie et propose, si vous n’avez pas compris une question, de vous la répéter et, si vous n’avez toujours pas compris, il vous l’écrira. Il n’a pas vocation à remplacer les médecins, mais à les assister dans leur démarche soignante. En France, il y a un nombre important de consultations prodiguées à des personnes qui présentent des troubles mineurs, qui peuvent parfois sortir avec des prescriptions de médicaments injustifiées et, dans le même temps, il y a un nombre important de patients réellement dépressifs qui ne sont pas diagnostiqués. Ce projet permet justement aux gens d’avoir un premier avis médical de manière délocalisée avec des humains virtuels.

Scène de «Star Trek» dans laquelle on voit M. Spock tenir un tricorder, un dispositif de diagnostic médical électronique inventé pour la série.PARAMOUNT PICTURES/ALBUM/AKGPartager

La mise en place effective du dispositif pourrait prendre combien de temps ?
P. P. : Notre dispositif est déjà opérationnel, on s’en sert tous les jours en mode expérimental dans notre hôpital et, pour une diffusion plus large, le système peut être rapidement prêt. La question qui se pose est celle du mode de financement qui permettrait de payer ces interventions. On attend, comme pour beaucoup d’interventions de télémédecine, le remboursement et la possibilité de facturer une consultation avec un humain virtuel, sinon le système est déployable très rapidement.

N’y a-t-il pas un risque de dérive vers une politique de soins low cost ?
P. P. : La population vieillit avec une part croissante de maladies neuropsychiatriques, et il faut envisager de nouvelles solutions de prise en charge. Chaque patient dépisté trop tard coûte beaucoup plus cher quand il arrive dans les structures de soins, s’il y arrive, c’est-à-dire s’il n’a pas eu un accident de voiture à cause d’un problème de somnolence par exemple. Au XXIe siècle, nous aurons des diagnostics de proximité avec des outils de qualité, validés, reproductibles, instantanés, intuitifs, connectés à notre environnement technologique.

Quelles sont les maladies les plus indiquées pour cette façon de diagnostiquer ?
P. P. : Ces outils permettent de réaliser des entretiens cliniques. Ils sont adaptés à toute plainte comme les troubles du sommeil, la douleur, la dépression, les troubles de la perception, etc. Ils doivent donc être encadrés dans un dispositif médical, ils ne doivent pas être lâchés dans la nature sans supervision. Il faut qu’on explique bien aux gens à quoi servent ces outils, et leur dire que, si ceux-ci ne leur conviennent pas, ils peuvent toujours se rapprocher d’un vrai médecin. Sachant que le but du dispositif est qu’ils y aillent le plus tard possible, et le moins de fois possible. Ainsi, le jour où ils ont besoin du médecin, ils bénéficient de toute sa disponibilité. Ces outils vont être utiles comme méthode de référence pour l’entretien, mais il reste difficile de vouloir les exporter dans un endroit où il n’y a pas de médecin : ces agents virtuels sont des instruments à l’interface entre le malade et le médecin, ils ne remplacent pas le médecin.

Via amar rouana
Odile Perrin's curator insight, April 13, 2015 5:15 AM

Si la technologie est au service de l'humain, alors d'accord !

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Big Data in Healthcare [INFOGRAPHIC]

Big Data in Healthcare [INFOGRAPHIC] | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
The era of Big Data in healthcare is in full swing. Healthcare costs, pharmaceutical R&D productivity, precision medicine and preventative medicine are all areas where Big Data will continue to have an enormous impact.

Via Sam Stern
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If the patient is at the centre of pharma's act...

If the patient is at the centre of pharma's act... | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Andrew Spong's insight: Poring endlessly over digital health data achieves absolutely nothing for the pharmaceutical industry in terms of its evolution towards the much-talked about but seldom delivered upon theoretical goal of 'patient-centricity'.
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Can software think like a doctor?

Can software think like a doctor? | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
A few days ago, there was a post on NY Times, that really grabbed our attention. The post was titled “Think like a docto…
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Non-invasive Alzheimer's treatment restores memory using ultrasound

Non-invasive Alzheimer's treatment restores memory using ultrasound | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects more than 35 million people worldwide, but pharmaceutical treatment efforts to counter it have not yet proven fully effective. A non-invasive method from the ...
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4 KEY TRENDS IN MOBILE HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGY | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

We are moving into an era of mobile only vs mobile first. I think of how I operate 95% of the time with just my mobile smartphone and a tablet while using a laptop or a desktop occasionally. Now I know there are some people that cannot accomplish their work on their smartphone or tablet; but, as healthcare is shifting towards a retail model mindset, it is the expectation of the consumers/patients and providers. Currently, 73% of healthcare providers are using some form of mobile health while 18% are hoping to incorporate mobile health as part of their delivery method (survey from Modern Healthcare).

Here are the 4 trends in healthcare as we move towards a mobile only platform

Smartphones on the rise as the device of choice:

In a survey by GlobalWebIndex, 80% of the folks surveyed globally own a smartphone. If you look at the number of physicians surveyed in 2012 by Booz & Company, 85% use or own a smartphone. I would not be surprised if that percentage is even higher. Let’s think about all of the grandparents that we originally thought would have problems using technology; guess what, they are all using it now to Skype with the grandkids or using Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends. With the generation gap in technology adoption a non-issue anymore, mobile will be the platform of choice with the smartphone as the main access device.

Mobile Health Apps:

Mobile health applications are growing at a tremendous rate. In 2012, there were about 44M mobile health apps in the market with a projection of 144M mobile health apps by 2016 (Juniper Research). That projection is on target since according to the latest stat, there are currently about 100M mobile health apps on the market. CapGemini estimates that 4M mobile apps are downloaded daily. Consumers are downloading mobile apps from symptom checkers to fitness tracking and monitoring. The providers and healthcare system, on the other hand, are creating mobile apps to increase patient engagement, to allow for patient access to their medical information, to e-mail their physician’s office, request appointments, view test results, pay bills, and the list goes on.

Wearable Technology:

Wearable technology is becoming popular and it is becoming part of people’s daily routine. This revolutionary technology will empower patients, doctors, and the clinical staff. As we move towards big data in the enterprises, let’s also keep in mind the data that we will have on our health. We see Fitbit on wrists everywhere to track steps and fitness activities; in addition, we are seeing the rise of trackers to track sleep patterns, calorie food intake, blood pressure, and many others. This is just the beginning as we progress and have data that will allow us to be proactive in our health, with the goal of having relevant data so that individuals can take action.


Virtual medical consultation will be the preferred route for medical treatment in the future. Telehealth, which allows patients to connect with doctors using mobile devices and video chat, is gaining traction as a cost-effective way for patients to receive care and will completely change our view of the traditional doctor’s visit. As technology in telemedicine expands, it will allow us to effectively perform the following:

Monitor and treat patients with chronic conditionsConnect rural parts of the world to provide careRemote ICU monitoring

Mobile healthcare is clearly on the rise and it will be the platform of choice between the provider and the patient. Pew Research conducted a survey in 2010 for the United States and at that time at least four out of five adults own a smartphone aka mini-computer. I expect that number to be higher in 2015 with an upward trajectory. I believe that healthcare will be moving towards a retail model where the consumers have increased mobile transactions and mobile will be the platform of choice. Healthcare will follow as the consumer expects the same level of service with healthcare transactions.

Via Sam Stern, Celine Sportisse, DIRECT MEDICA by Webhelp
Jerome Leleu's curator insight, March 9, 2015 2:53 AM

ajouter votre aperçu ...

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IBM Watson is the Stethoscope of the 21st Century

IBM Watson is the Stethoscope of the 21st Century | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
IBM Watson is the Stethoscope of the 21st CenturyNov 28, 20144,336Views114Likes19CommentsShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google PlusShare on Twitter

In 2011, people witnessed an interesting competition on the television quiz show Jeopardy. It featured the two best players in the history of the show, Ken Jennings, who had the longest unbeaten run of 74 winning appearances, and Brad Rutter, who had earned the biggest prize of $3.25 million. Their opponent was a huge computer with over 750 servers and a cooling system stored at a location so as not to disturb the players. The room–sized machine was made by IBM and named after the company's founder, Thomas J. Watson. It did not smile or show emotion, but it kept on giving good answers. At the end, Watson won the game with $77,147 leaving Rutter and Jennings with $21,600 and $24,000 respectively.

Cognitive computers have been developing rapidly over the last few years following three technological breakthroughs. One is cheap parallel computation due to a new kind of chip called a graphics processing unit (GPU). The second one is accessible big data due to massive databases, web cookies, wearable devices and decades of search results. The third one is building better algorithms due to the services of Netflix, Google, Amazon and the others.

From Stethoscope to Cognitization

People, especially in medicine, do not like change. Moreover, after many of my talks, physician colleagues ask me whether artificial intelligence (AI) might replace them in their jobs and whether algorithms can eventually become better at making diagnoses. Both will happen but the job of physicians will transform into a new role because of that. They finally have more time to deal with patients instead of chasing the information they would need. They will get access to that immediately. Cognitive computers will help physicians diagnose the same way stethoscope could change the medical profession from the early 19th century when René Laennec developed a wooden tube that worked like an ear trumpet to listen to cardiac and lung sounds.

The use of AI does not have to lead to the loss of the human touch. In 1997, IBM's supercomputer Deep Blue could beat Garry Kasparov, the reigning chess grand master that time. He said he could have performed better if he had access to the same databases as Deep Blue. So later, freestyle matches were organized in which supercomputers could play against human chess players assisted by AI (they were called human/AI centaurs). Guess what! In 2014 in a Freestyle Battle, the AI chess players won 42 games, but centaurs won 53 games. The best potential pair is a human with technology. This is the only balance that can lead to a positive future with more and more disruptive innovations including ever-improving cognitive computing but an also ever-improving human intelligence and wisdom. This is the winning combination.

If AI can improve a chess player, it can improve a physician as well.

What even the most acclaimed professors know cannot match cognitive computers. As the amount of information they accumulate grows exponentially, the assistance of computing solutions in medical decisions is imminent. While a physician can keep a few dozen study results and papers in mind, IBM’s Watson can process millions of pages in seconds. This remarkable speed has led to trying Watson in oncology centers to see how helpful it is in making treatment decisions in cancer care. We need to prepare for its use but IBM has taken the first steps. Watson does not answer medical questions, but based on data it comes up with the most relevant and likely outcomes. Physicians make the final call. Computer assistance can only facilitate the work of physicians, not replace it. Just like how stethoscope did.

Read more stories about how artificial intelligence can impact medical decision-making in the new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

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Healthcare Providers warming up to mobile health

Healthcare Providers warming up to mobile health | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

The use of electronic health records has come a long way since 2010, but EHRs cannot stand alone, warns a PwC report. The next challenge is integrating mobile health devices into the EHR and the provider–patient relationship.


The consulting company interviewed 1,000 physicians and physician extenders—nurse practitioners, physician assistants—to discover how they use digital technology and some of the concerns they have about incorporating it into clinical practice (

The number of providers using smartphones and tablets is increasing. For example, in 2010, about 1 in 8 (12%) used mobile devices to check medical records. In 2014, the survey found that almost half (45%) do.

Via Alex Butler, Bart Collet
Jenna Collins's comment, March 25, 2015 11:28 AM

Using electronic records is so much more efficient than the old style of millions of folders and files. While it is much easier to search and find specific files electronically, there is also the possibility of losing records or being hacked.
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Five Ways Analytics in Digital Health Tools Will Change Healthcare

Five Ways Analytics in Digital Health Tools Will Change Healthcare | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Five Ways Analytics in Digital Health Tools Will Change HealthcarePosted on February 8, 2015 by davidleescher       6 Votes


There are many reasons cited why digital technologies hope to improve of patient care as well as the state of healthcare itself. They include improving efficiencies, patient safety, and cost. However, as has been seen with the most ubiquitous face of digital health technology, the EHR, these promises remain unfulfilled. One significant barrier to the utility of digital technology has been the heretofore unlinked status of ‘sterile’ data with analytical tools which can bring it into the world of clinical relevance to both the provider and patient. Analytics have been utilized in other sectors of society including retail, social and finance for decades. They drive efficiencies and outcomes at Amazon, IBM, telecoms, FedEx, financial institutions, and sports. Yet the millions of bits of discrete data amassed every minute in healthcare are warehoused in a contextual vacuum. To add insult to injury, even when utilized in hospital patient satisfaction surveys, bundled payment programs, and physician performance measures, the results are transmitted to healthcare enterprises and providers (who are eager to affect improvement based on these metrics) only after months (and up to a year) later. Analytics can be seen as mission control of digital technologies, putting all the pieces together in order to assure ultimate success of the vision. The filtered data needs to be delivered in real-time and incorporated into operational and clinical workflows without having to be mined. Barriers to the adoption of analytics were identified in a joint study by IBM and MIT. The biggest ones were: inability to get the data, the culture does not encourage the sharing of data, lack of understanding of the benefits of analytics, competing administrative priorities, and lack of executive sponsorship. It should be noted that this study was performed in 2010. Nevertheless it is the opinion of this author that these same barriers remain obstacles today. I will discuss some reasons why analytics will ultimately change healthcare.

Analytics will deliver value to electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs were developed to help improve and integrate the flow of clinical information.  However, they were designed as billing tools which also met regulatory specifications.  They do not follow clinical workflows. The American Medical Association has called for design overhaul of EHRs to improve usability.  Clinical decision support is rudimentary and can vary widely in its breadth and depth of use. The discussion of the utility of analytics with EHRs is not new. I suggested what this might look like in healthcare in a piece I wrote in 2011, with pilot studies using predictive analyticshave been done.Analytics can improve clinical workflow. It is intuitive that analytics can improve workflow. Actually determining this by way of metrics has been a challenge. One interesting study from the University of Michigan “focused on measuring clinicians’ ‘time expenditures’ among different clinical activities rather than inspecting clinical ‘workflow’ from the true ‘flow of the work’ perspective.”Proscribed therapies and digital health tools. Analytics will recommend, based on available data in the EHR (diagnoses, medications, vital signs, results of tests) treatment and discharge plans as well as digital tools for patients (patient education on diagnoses, medication, and follow-up and care instructions. Case managers (as well as the healthcare provider) who have backgrounds in informatics will review these recommendations. This will close the loop as a human element check.Population health management. ‘Population health’ is currently the buzz phrase for healthcare enterprises. It encompasses preventive health, outreach programs including telehealth, and the use of data to drive health outcomes. Analytics will facilitate this by analyzing real-time data gathered by EHRs, social media, genomics, and mobile health technologies including apps and remote patient monitoring. Crowdsourcing data, whether it is derived from a worldwide or single institutional database is very powerful.Analytics will transform Big Data into Actionable Data.Preventing hospital readmissions is becoming a significant focus of healthcare enterprises because of the financial penalties tied to them via CMS. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is becoming a significant tool in preventing these readmissions by providing continuity of patient-derived data with the hospital, recognizing actionable trending data before it results in a trip to the ER and a subsequent admission to the hospital. One of the unmet challenges of most RPM systems is to incorporate analytics with the technology, offering suggested changes in lifestyle, care, or other instructions to patients and/or caregivers, or changes in the therapeutic plan to the provider.  This is a far cry from the provider receiving a deluge of useless data for analysis.  This type of analytics can also incorporate clinical decision support based on evidence-based medicine.Use in clinical trials, post marketing of drugs and devices. Analytics can be extremely helpful in the recruitment and retention of patients in clinical trials. There are a few mobile health technology companies in this space. One not mentioned (by way of disclosure to which I am an advisor) is Parallel6 which utilizes patented technology to keep patients and investigators connected. Post-marketing surveillance of medical devices, new pharmaceuticals, and drugs which transition from prescription to over the counter is critical in discovering adverse reactions and other events not captured during controlled (relatively short-term) approval trials or regulated prescribing.Analytics will be the key to personalized medicine. Only via analytics can we combine the value of population health data and clinical and digital data from an individual patient in an expedited and accurate fashion. Should all patients with the same cancer receive the same treatment regimen? Analytics can potentially readily address variances of diagnosis and/or treatment of a disease based on geography, race, and genomics.Analytics will decrease gaps/bias in care (geographic, socioeconomic). It is well-known that geographic variations exist in healthcare utilization and costs. Analytics incorporated into EHRs can utilize best practices seen vis-a-vis pooled data such as this to ‘level the playing field’ with respect to both quality and cost of treatment.Analytics will decrease the cost of care. The use of analytics is readily seen with its incorporation in apps which provide healthcare cost transparency. Analytics can also help patients interested in medical tourism choose a destination. There are apps which allow patients to compare charges for a given procedure.I do not pretend to deliver the message that analytics is the Wizard of Oz of healthcare, nor that the successful revamping of our broken system lies solely in IT. As described above, barriers to the use of analytics are not technical but cultural. Organizations like Kaiser-Permanente and Geisinger Health System already realize the value proposition of employing high-grade real-time analytics to drive better outcomes and lower costs. It is important for hospitals to realize that remaining in just survival mode is not an option and that a vision of utilizing cost-effective resources such as analytics can be the best investment for success.
Via ChemaCepeda
ChemaCepeda's curator insight, February 25, 2015 11:04 AM

Es posible convertir el Big Data en Actionable Data?

Andre Mouton's curator insight, March 2, 2015 10:02 AM

Better be prepared. The wave is coming

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Stanford launches its HealthKit- and Epic-connected MyHealth app

Stanford launches its HealthKit- and Epic-connected MyHealth app | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

Many large hospitals in the U.S. are evaluating or developing pilot projects around Apple’s HealthKit platform. Stanford Health Care is among the first to actually offer a working app that exchanges data between the Epic patient record system and Apple’s platform.

SHC quietly announced Tuesday the release of its new iOS 8 MyHealth mobile app for patients (no Android app yet).

The app was developed in-house by Stanford Health Care (SHC) engineers, and connects directly with Epic’s electronic health records system, and with Apple’s HealthKit to collect data from consumer health data monitoring devices like Fitbit wearables, for example.

SHC says patients can use the app to view test results and medical bills, manage prescriptions, schedule appointments, and conducti video visits with Stanford physicians.

The app supports Stanford Health Care’s new ClickWell Care, a telemedicine service that connects patients with Stanford doctors online. ClickWell also provides patients with a customized wellness coaching program from a certified personal trainer, who monitors data from the patient’s home health devices.

“We provide care for some of the most technologically sophisticated patients in the country, whose lives revolve around innovation,” said Stanford Health Care CEO Amir Dan Rubin in a statement. “After carefully evaluating all of the available mobile technologies, we recognized that to meet the needs and expectations of our patients we had to develop our own solution that worked seamlessly with our existing electronic health record system,” Rubin added.

The MyHealth app also creates offers a secure messaging platform where patients can communicate directly with caregivers. Using HealthKit, the MyHealth app syncs automatically with whatever consumer wellness devices or clinical home care devices the patient might use. The data received from the devices is automatically added to the patient’s chart in Epic for their physician to review remotely.

“By integrating with companies like Withings, our physicians have access to meaningful patient data right in Epic, without having to ask the patient to come in for an appointment,” said SHC CIO Pravene Nath, MD, in a statement. “We believe this is the future of how care will be delivered for many types of chronic conditions.”

Stanford Health Care consists of a large university hospital, primary care offices throughout the Bay Area, and outpatient clinics in Redwood City and Palo Alto, California.

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Internet based coaching tool can improve quality of life for COPD patients

Internet based coaching tool can improve quality of life for COPD patients | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Internet based coaching tool can improve COPD quality of life. The post Internet based coaching tool can improve quality of life for COPD patients appeared first on iMedicalApps.
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5 ways to close common medical device vulnerabilities

5 ways to close common medical device vulnerabilities | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is no stranger to cyberattacks. In March, roughly 1.2 billion cyberattacks targeted the VA network. Amid all that activity, the VA saw a sharp drop in protected health information breaches in March.
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The Future of Virtual Reality Is Inside Your Smartphone | WIRED

The Future of Virtual Reality Is Inside Your Smartphone | WIRED | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

The first time I ever believed virtual reality might really be the future was at CES 2013, in a parking lot outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center. I put on a huge pair of goggles made of half duct tape, half hopes and dreams, and found myself walking the corridors of a virtual spaceship. I looked up over my left shoulder, and was suddenly staring into a shower of sparks coming from a pipe above me. I can’t remember the exact sound I made, but it was of genuine, abject terror. That was my introduction to the very first prototype of the Oculus Rift.

More than two years after that first trip, the Rift is still the VR industry’s best demo (though HTC’s new Vive may be coming for that throne) and its best-known name. It’s a hugely powerful kind of virtual reality. But you can’t buy it yet. You can’t buy Sony’s Project Morpheus, either, or the Vive. If you have a smartphone, though, you don’t need to.

My own Nexus 5 first became a virtual reality portal at Google I/O, in June of 2014. On our way out of the convention hall, after Google’s epic annual developer keynote, every attendee was handed a small cardboard package. We spent ten minutes confused, and ten more complaining about the crappy swag, but eventually figured out it was a sort of face-dock for your phone. So we folded the pieces together, and dropped the phone into the obvious slot. One pull on the attached magnet, and suddenly I was flying through Google Street View and YouTube videos in virtual reality. Of all the incredible things Google had shown off that day—smartwatches, car software, crazy Rube Goldberg machines—a piece of cardboard was the coolest.

In just 16 months, virtual reality seemed to go from impossible to impossibly easy. And while the Oculus Rift headset has toiled in development limbo, a whole virtual-reality industry has grown around a device that you already have in your pocket.

Via John Royle
John Royle's curator insight, March 27, 2015 5:51 AM

This is an interesting article about the future uses of smartphones and in particular combining virtual reality with smartphones. This may have massive implications on the direction of gaming which is a large market.

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US patients want a deeper digital relationship with their doctors: survey

US patients want a deeper digital relationship with their doctors: survey | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

As digital health becomes more of a reality, a recent survey of over 2,000 US adults finds that most of us -- 84 percent to be exact -- see doctors who provide patient online portals.

One of the survey's most surprising findings is that 61 percent of older adults -- aged 55 and up -- access their health information through the portal, while just 45 percent of their younger counterparts in the 18 to 54 age group do so.

The survey found that 37 percent of those who own a wearable fitness tracker wear it everyday.

Of wearable users, 78 percent who use their devices more than once a month say it's practical for their doctors to access that information.

Sixty-four percent of adults would choose telehealth visits over in-person visits at least some of the time, especially for follow-up visits and for minor concerns such as eye infections and skin checks.

More than one quarter, or 27 percent said they would always choose a telehealth visit instead of an in-person visit.

Of parents with children under the age of 18 living under their roof, 76 percent said they would sometimes choose telehealth visits, whereas only 61 percent of those without children under the age of 18 said they would.

Sixty percent of respondents said they would use the online portal for appointment scheduling if it wasn't already available for this purpose.

The survey was conducted by eClinicalWorks, which also surveyed a group of 2,922 US healthcare professionals separately.

Seventy-five percent of healthcare professionals surveyed said online portals made it easy to share patient information with other doctors and allowed patients to access their medical health record with more ease than before.

Automated alerts and reminders about appointments were among the other benefits they cited at a rate of 75 percent.

Fifty-six percent of healthcare professionals said a top benefit of online portals is the ease of appointment scheduling.

Sixty-one percent of healthcare professionals said they would recommend telehealth visits to patients at least some of the time.

More than half of healthcare professionals said they found it useful to be able to access the information collected by patients' wearable devices.

Via Sam Stern
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How High-Tech Patient Portals Will Revolutioniz...

How High-Tech Patient Portals Will Revolutioniz... | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
BOB WACHTER: As the health-care world finally shifts from analog to digital, increasing numbers of patients have access to a patient portal–a site that allows them to schedule appointments, email their physicians, refill medications, and check the...
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iCub, A Humanoid Robotic Child That Is Capable Expressing Emotions Through Its Face and Speech

iCub, A Humanoid Robotic Child That Is Capable Expressing Emotions Through Its Face and Speech | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
iCub is a humanoid robotic child created by the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia that is capable of communicating emotions through its facial movements and speech patterns--such as the joy and frust...
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Mount Sinai turns to telemedicine to cut ED use, readmissions

Mount Sinai turns to telemedicine to cut ED use, readmissions | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
As reimbursement for telehealth care grows more ubiquitous, hospitals increasingly are taking advantage of the technology to improve patient care.
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Healthcare spending up 5 percent in 4th quarter, Census says

Healthcare spending up 5 percent in 4th quarter, Census says | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
In total, the Census said healthcare spending was $2.23 trillion in 2014, the first full year that the Affordable Care Act health exchanges were open.
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The collaborative healthcare honeycomb: an infographic

The collaborative healthcare honeycomb: an infographic | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

HT @Scr1v

Via Andrew Spong, ChemaCepeda
Marc Senterre's curator insight, March 6, 2015 2:11 AM

Interesting view ...

Sunnie Southern's curator insight, March 7, 2015 5:08 PM

Interesting way to think about and visualize health care collaboration.  

Art Jones's curator insight, March 13, 2015 10:49 AM

The collaborative health honeycomb is a vibrant mashup of compelling concepts and technologies.

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#mhealth: Effect of SMS, Mobile Health Technology on Patient Adherence

#mhealth:  Effect of SMS, Mobile Health Technology on Patient Adherence | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Effect of SMS, Mobile Health Technology on Patient Adherence

Posted by admin+ / March 6, 2015

March 4, 2015

Of all the forms of mobile health technology used to promote adherence of patients to chronic disease management (mAdherence), text messaging continues to exceed on others in terms of its availability, frequency of use, and effectiveness. This is one of several conclusions reached by authors of a recent study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Hamine et al. conducted a review of mAdherence literature between 1980 and 2014 and identified 107 articles that met their criteria for studies featuring the use of mHealth technology in the treatment of chronic disease patient populations.

Short message service (SMS) was the most commonly used mAdherence tool, featuring in 40 percent of studies. The remaining types of mHealth tools used in mAdherence fell into four categories:

23%: Phone plus software or application
18%: Wireless or Bluetooth-compatible device
13%: Phone plus specific instrument
4%: Other (e.g., pager, interactive voice response, electronic medication monitoring)

Not only the most commonly used, SMS also proved to have other benefits across these mAdherence studies although shortcomings were also apparent.

Able to be used by those with little technology experience or familiarity, SMS can be made available relatively inexpensively on any mobile phone, and can be automated, personalized, and easily integrated into existing health systems. However, it is highly operator dependent, relying on the active engagement of patients and providers to monitor symptoms and exchange information, and there is clearly room for improvement.

Usability, feasibility, and acceptability featured prominently in more than half of all mAdherence studies (57.9%), generally demonstrating the potential of mHealth technology to prove beneficial to this kind of population health management.

“Future mHealth tools will be able to draw on the knowledge generated when discrete hypotheses around the relative importance of, for example, patient-provider communication, optimal user-interfaces, or targeted motivational messages are tested,” write Hamine et al. “This could lead to better mAdherence tools that deliver improved health outcomes.”

According to the authors, this is especially for underserved patient populations, who were a recurring target audience for many of the mAdherence studies. “There is a clear recognition that mHealth tools have the potential to impact patients who are less inclined to engage traditional health services,” they observe.

One roadblock, however, is cost. Hamine et al. found that many mAdherence studies did not consider the limits that costly mHealth technology would impose on the ability of researchers to scale their mAdherence solutions to a larger patient population.

“Of note, few studies take seriously the issue of cost. In many of the small pilot studies, expensive devices or vouchers were given to study participants,” the authors conclude. “When implemented at scale, interventions that use patients’ existing mobile devices rather than relying on gifted devices will go further toward explaining feasibility and improving adherence.”

The developing world, the authors claim, can provide insight into reducing costs and expanding outreach in mAdherence as well as challenges presented by limited mHealth availability and connectivity constraints.

What’s more, the use of mAdherence solutions needs to work as a complement to existing adherence programs in order to be effective.

“mHealth tools are communication platforms and delivery mechanisms, not solutions in and of themselves,” argue Hamine et al. mAdherence will only work where there is already a functioning adherence program in place. Our review demonstrates that mAdherence can play a key role in translating mHealth technologies into better health outcomes. This role is becoming more explicit as mHealth research moves forward.”
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Statistics on mobile health mean little

Statistics on mobile health mean little | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Statistics on mobile health mean little

“Nobody has figured out how to make consumers — patients — care about mobile health technologies. “And if we don’t [figure that out], m-health will be another tech bubble”. Dr. Joseph Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health.

Surveys have found that half who use mobile fitness trackers to keep tabs on their workouts or diets stop using the programs within six months,” said a recent Los Angeles Times story on smartphones in healthcare.  All these wearable and mobile products, touted as “disruptive,” “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking” by so many vendors and Silicon Valley cheerleaders still haven’t proved value to healthcare providers or large number of consumers.

A number of recent studies have identified [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@richmeyer” suffix=””]medical apps that failed to measure up[/inlinetweet].  In 2011, pharma giant Pfizer recalled a rheumatology calculator app after the company found that its swollen-joint measurements—calculated using self-reported data—were off by as much as half. Even most simple pedometer apps don’t count your steps correctly, a 2012 study found. For a 2013 paper, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tested four skin cancer diagnosis apps—similar to the one Hudak used on her kids—and three of them missed at least 1 in 3 melanomas.

So let’s look at some of the hype…I mean stats around mobile health..

Close to 75 percent of adults do not use a fitness device or app to track their weight, diet, or exercise, according to a survey of 979 US adults conducted by research firm Technology Advice.86 percent of the general population going online for health, half are mobile health users. Two thirds of people doing online searches use social media to seek health information, and one third communicate with doctors. (Manhattan Research)[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@richmeyer” suffix=””]About 20 percent of patients say that mobile is essential[/inlinetweet] for managing their care, the article said. That holds true for 32 percent of people with diabetes, and 39 percent of people with MS, according to the article.More Millennials (56%) than those 66 and older (45%) said they would be motivated by data showing the medication was more effective, or by fewer side effects (55% vs. 43%), while more people 66 and older (49%) than Millennials (43%) would be motivated by the recommendation of a healthcare professional.

Now what does all this mean?  Nada. Zilch. Zero.  Statistics don’t mean a thing until we understand why consumers are accessing mobile health and where.  Is it, for example, after being exposed to a DTC spot?  A symptom? A doctor’s recommendation?  The truth is that it varies by each disease state, and medication.  If you believe that someone is going to a website because they are bored you need to stop drinking.

What’s a DTC Marketer to do?

1ne: Analyze web analytics to determine percent of traffic from mobile, including platforms.

2wo: Find out, via testing and research, where and why people are accessing your site on mobile.

3hree: Provide the best mobile experience where and why your audience is accessing your site.

4our: Don’t fall into the “app” trap.  It’s costly and won’t provide any good to patients unless you test it with your audience and continually have a budget to upgrade/update it.

Mobile devices may cannibalize any desktop-based big screen Internet usage, but, for most companies, not a whole lot. Mostly, they’ll just increase overall usage. And they will enable consumers to interact with their favorite digital brands and services for all of their waking hours instead of just their hours at work.

These “mobile” users, moreover, won’t want to interact with their favorite brands and services ONLY on mobile, or even necessarily MOSTLY on mobile (It depends on the service: Mobile music, for example, is huge, as are some mobile games). They’ll want to interact with them everywhere.

Citing data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Washington Post breaks it down: While 88% of Americans have a cell phone, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@richmeyer” suffix=””]only 10% have downloaded health-related mobile apps[/inlinetweet].

Via Celine Sportisse
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Web therapy: 4 startups overcoming mental health taboos with technology

Web therapy: 4 startups overcoming mental health taboos with technology | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

For a new generation of patients, could the laptop — or even cellphone — replace the stereotypical shrink’s couch? A crop of new startups wants to take psychotherapy into the 21st century.

About one in five Americans will experience a mental health challenge during their lifetime, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association. But experts say that 60 percent of them will never seek help. The lack of available care, inconvenience and cost are all barriers to access, but so is the fear of prejudice and discrimination from friends, family and even employers.

“Stigma and shame is a huge factor – maybe the most important one,” said Oren Frank, founder of mental health startup Talktala. “People who have been to regular therapy are less ashamed of it, but people who are newcomers are paralyzed by fear.”

Online options enable people to receive therapy on their own turf and terms, without needing to update others on their whereabouts – and they offer the benefit of anonymity.

For example, a study released last month from Case Western Reserve found that while many new moms suffering from postpartum depression wouldn’t seek help because of the stigma or lack of time, they would go online for support if providers were available and they could communicate anonymously.

It’s still a new and relatively small field — therapists may worry about liability issues or misdiagnoses, patients may harbor concerns about privacy and security online and getting insurance to cover it is a challenge — but it’s gaining support among patients and providers.

Here are four startups leading the way:

Launched last month, TalkSession’s goal isn’t just to provide online therapy; it has big plans to bust the stigmas surrounding it. “There are actually two stigmas — first the stigma against mental illness and then the stigma within the community against technology,” said founder and CEO Melissa Thompson.

Through regular livestreamed online conversations with top experts in the field, policymakers and other medical and mental health leaders, the startup plans to start by tackling sensitive issues in mental health. And it intends to launch a digital magazine to give leading mental health providers a place to share best practices and build an online presence.

Once it has established a strong network of providers, Thompson said, TalkSession plans to launch an OpenTable-like service to help patients find and book online therapy appointments. Already, the site has recruited 100 therapists and patients can complete a quiz that will help match them with their ideal therapist, but receiving the online therapy is still a little ways off.

People readily tell friends (and even strangers) about relationship troubles or problems at work, but once you start dropping clinical terms, they’re often likely to clam up, said Talktala founder Oren Frank. That’s why his site is trying to build online therapy options that meet people where they are, in the language in which they want to speak.

Instead of offering services tagged with terms from the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), Talktala invites users to join online chats and forums with friendlier titles like “Relationships are complicated – some advice” and “How to communicate better with your partner?”

In the forums, patients can speak freely and anonymously with others experiencing similar challenges, but a therapist hosts the discussion. During the chat, he can guide conversation in productive directions and if he observes anything significant, he can follow-up with patients individually.

Patients can view any number of online forums and ask a limited number of questions for free, but if they want additional support — from asking unlimited online questions to participating in private and group chats or privately texting with therapists — they can pay up to $30 a month in subscription fees.

Frank said the site isn’t trying to be a solution for people with serious mental health issues and it doesn’t provide services that are reimbursable by insurance. But the service appears to be attracting positive attention — he said it currently has 250 vetted therapists on the site and recently partnered with the Huffington Post’s GPS for the Soul initiative.

iCouch launched as a service for U.S. patients and therapists but in the three years since its launch, co-founder and CEO Brian Dear said it’s actually attracted a strong international following. Not only has it recruited 165 therapists worldwide (from countries including the U.K., China and Australia), 30 to 40 percent of its clients are based outside the U.S.

Through the site, people can search for therapists according to specialty and gender, scan each therapist’s bio and price and then book online appointments. Via computer or iPhone, they can they videoconference with vetted therapists through the site’s HIPAA-compliant system.

The site helps people who want to receive therapy sessions in the privacy of their own homes but, Dear said, it can also be an advantage for people who live in areas where the culture may not be receptive to their particular issue. For example, the service has several clients from the Middle East who speak with their therapists about gender identity issues or homosexuality — topics that may be taboo in their cultures, he said.

“It breaks down the geographic barriers — it allows people to go into another culture that may be more accommodating to their concerns,” he said. It also enables expats to receive care that might be more difficult to receive in their new home countries, Dear added.
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(While most therapists are only licensed to practice in a given state, Dear said that it’s not illegal for therapists to conduct inter-state or international sessions.)

One of the earliest startups to bring mental health services online, Breakthrough is only available to residents of California for now, but it plans to expand to Texas and other states soon. Through its site, patients can connect with a network of certified mental health professionals and conduct appointments via chat, email, phone or a custom HIPAA-compliant video system.

But while other services may not prioritize working with the insurance system, Breakthrough — which is backed by angel investors such as former Square COO Keith Rabois, PayPal director and former eHealth exec Avery Kadison, Charles River Ventures and others — aims to make online mental health services more mainstream by working with health insurers. Magellan, one of California’s largest health insurers, for example, last year agreed to extend coverage to Breakthrough.

In addition to showing real-time available appointment slots for therapists (ZocDoc-style), the company shows which doctors are online now and plans to enable on-demand, off-hour services.

Image by bloomua via Shutterstoc

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The best medical apps released in 2014 - iMedicalApps

The best medical apps released in 2014 - iMedicalApps | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
A review of the best medical apps released this past year.

Via Philippe Marchal, Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
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