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Posts from the ‘Health 2.0’ Category

Race Among Medical Devices and Doctors: Analysis

For some time now, I’ve been forming a think tank that would focus on issues related to the future of medicine. As a first step, we decided to address the issue of the changing world of medical devices and how such changes might affect the lives of medical professionals and patients. Please feel free to comment on this analysis.

If we take a look at the possible scripts of the market competition in the health sector, we can make few predictions on the patients’ experience. The competition among the medical device manufacturers and the globalized competition among the high skilled health workers have significant social effects.

There are heterogeneous, jammed and loud worlds like in the motion picture Fifth Element, where many types of doctors and devices form the healthcare system. There could be a low-end/high end distinct health market, where the wealthy ones could afford a real-life practice, but the other patients are left alone. If some huge brands will cover the whole market, and provide the whole range of integrated services, they could become omnipotent monopolies, thus a standardized service could be provide wherever we are. And as a script we could have an expensive and closed world, where the insurances and the prevention are the tools against high cost.

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Patients left alone

• Cheap devices without standardization

• Expensive doctors

• Need for self-healing increases

• Big difference between the online and real-life practice of medicine

• Popularity of alternative medicine grows

 

The internet based world

• Many doctors & devices

• Big problems with interoperability

• Android world

• Cheap doctors & devices

 

Expensive & closed world

• premium systems

• Healthcare costs take a big part of GDPs

• Active insurance market

• Large efforts in prevention

 

Omnipotent brands

• Device manufacturers attract patients

• Doctor is only the user of devices

• Doctors are global, but patients belong to manufacturers

Gentle Sequenced All My Genes

Years ago, I had two direct-to-consumer (DTC) genomic tests. One with Navigenics and one with Pathway Genomics. Both tests gave me great insights about how this industry works and it was really exciting getting a clear picture about them as a geneticist myself. Although, when I saw the FDA-23andMe battle and the results, I was not surprised.

After these, I came across a new company, Gentle, a few weeks ago and had a chance to give a try to their genomic test. Why Gentle? Well, I had a few reasons:

  • They sequence all my genes, not just 1.9% of them as other DTC companies do.
  • They test me for 1700+ conditions (carrier status, from common to rare genetic disorders).
  • They provide revolutionary iOS apps.
  • I can download my raw data and I own it!

The package arrived, and I provided the required saliva sample. The process was quite simple.

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With a personal note:

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After a few weeks, I got access to my results and I was impressed. Here is the format they used to interpret my data:

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I could take a look at my carrier status and it turned out my genome doesn’t really carry anything serious. A color coded circle let me discover the details and for each condition or disease, I could access a more detailed description.

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The different layouts allowed me to discover the meanings behind the data in the way I preferred. Here is the chromosome view.

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Finally, the genetic counselor scheduled a talk with me about my results and she answered all my questions.

In overall, Gentle told me things about my genome that are backed by scientific evidence; they let me download the raw data and analyze it in my own way and provided me with a lot of details focusing on those carrier statuses. They do everything regulations let them do and they do that by keeping an eye on scientific quality.

Here is a video about the service:

A Comparison of TeleConsultation Websites and Services

The company, HealthQuo, came up with quite a detailed analysis of websites and services offering teleconsultation. Connectivity is truly the key here.

By the way, here is a short description about Healthquo:

HealthQuo is a online health platform in which patients meet verified health care professionals for face-to-face health orientations anyday and anytime. Through telehealth more than 70% of day to day consults can be solved decreasing the cost of the service but at the same time increasing the efficiency and quality of it.

Vision paciente

Genentech and PatientsLikeMe Enter Research Collaboration

Having witnessed the development of the globally known patient portal, Patientslikeme, over the last few years, I was not surprised to see the news:

PatientsLikeMe announced today a five-year agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to explore use of PatientsLikeMe’s global online patient network to develop innovative ways of researching patients’ real-world experience with disease and treatment. The agreement is the first broad research collaboration between PatientsLikeMe and a pharmaceutical company and provides PatientsLikeMe the opportunity to expand its patient network in oncology.

“We envision a world where patient experience drives the way diseases are measured and medical advances are made. Genentech’s leadership and commitment to this mission brings us closer to having patients at the true center of healthcare,” said PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood. “With Genentech we can now embark on a journey to bring together many stakeholders across healthcare and collaborate with patients in a new way.”

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The First Prescribed Mobile Application Launches

Here is a mobile application that has health implications and is reimbursed by health insurance. With evidence behind the apps, this is how it should work:

“Docs write Rx for App to treat visually impaired children. Treatment and app get reimbursed by statutory health insurance.” This digital health vision is becoming true in Germany these days. Originally developed by University of Dresden, the purely Internet-based Caterna Vision Therapy (www.caterna.de) will be reimbursed by BARMER GEK, a nationwide statutory health insurance with 8.65m Germans insured, in partnership with Ocunet, a nationwide association of eye care centers and practices (www.ocunet.de). Starting 1. April  2014, eye specialists can prescribe a Caterna Vision Therapy.

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Larry Page Talks About Medical Records And Where Google Is Heading

Here is Larry Page, CEO of Google, describing the directions Google is heading at the moment including the issues of electronic medical records or artificial intelligence.

In an era when IBM Watson, the supercomputer, tries to tackle brain cancer, everything is possible:

This morning, IBM and the New York Genome Center announced a partnership to test whether Watson, the computer that won on Jeopardy, can sift through the genomes of cancer patients and help doctors pick drugs. This effort could hold the key to making DNA sequencing for cancer affordable, but there is a vast amount of work to do that will take years at a minimum.

Is Apple’s Healthbook Coming?

For days, large media channels have been talking about the rumors related to Apple’s Healthbook, the ultimate health application. We will see.

Here is the excerpt:

As detailed in the images throughout this article, which are complete recreations of screenshots, Healthbook’s user interface is largely inspired by the iPhone’s existing Passbook application. Versions of Healthbook in testing are capable of tracking several different health and fitness data points. 

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How I Completely Re-Wired My Digital Life: 16 Tips

I’ve been massively active online for at least 10 years therefore I have built networks focusing on my favorite topics leading to a point where I invest my time into human intelligence instead of checking hundreds of article titles every day. Although, as others, I often face the problem of being efficient time-wise online as receiving thousands of social media messages a day makes it a real challenge.

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Now I share with you the experience I’ve had in the last 6 months as during that time I have completely re-wired how I use the internet for professional purposes and how I manage my digital life.

Dealing with e-mails: I have to deal with about 200 e-mails a day, the majority of them requiring action from me. I tag e-mails massively in Google Mail and have been teaching Gmail how to categorize my e-mails automatically (important ones, promotions, social media related e-mails, etc.). While some of my colleagues quit using e-mail, I think this is still my information HQ and the official communication channel to me. But I don’t start the morning any more by checking e-mails. Instead, I start the day with reading a chapter in a book. It gives me a great start, plus as my brain is the most active in the early hours, I can learn a lot. After that, I deal with e-mails at specific time periods, otherwise I couldn’t focus properly.

Facebook: I use Facebook for professional purposes and before this time, Facebook was proven to be absolutely useless. But I changed my strategy and unfollowed (hiding their posts from my stream) cc. 1400 out of my 1600 followers. At the same time, I started following about 100 pages focusing on social media and the future of medicine. It means now my Facebook stream is almost free of noise but full of useful information.

Google+: The main streams of my Google+ network are very much hectic, but the communities of Google+ focusing on my areas such as the future, medicine and social media are priceless. Those are the most curated information streams I check every day.

Twitter: This is my key and fastest communication channel. In my experience, people using Twitter can be approached much easier through their Twitter account than via e-mail. As Twitter messages should only contain real information (no garnish), I can respond in seconds. I use Tweetdeck for organizing my streams and get the most important filtered news out of my focused groups easily. Symplur helped me organize topics with new hashtags such as #medicalfuture or #HCSMcourse.

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

Linkedin: This is my most professional channel. I’ve been working on improving my profile there for years which resulted in an “All-Star” profile as ranked by LinkedIn. I paid for the premium service showing me those who check my profile and might be potential clients. It also puts my profile high up in search results. It is connected to my blog automatically.

Blogging: This is one of the activities I enjoy the most even after 7 years (have written over 5000 blog entries). To be honest, I still use bookmarks for storing the topics I would like to write about and dedicate at least 5 hours a week to blogging. Whatever project I come up with, I can reach thousands of very relevant people with only one blog entry. My blog is a golden mine for me.

The Ultimate Online Resource: I thought I had so many online channels I needed a professional website serving as an umbrella above all those channels. Medicalfuturist.com now shows all my active channels featuring Scienceroll.com and Twitter.com/Berci; and the Medical Futurist Newsletter let me build a network of people interested in the future of medicine. This is now my digital public HQ.

Organizing short- and long-term tasks: One of the toughest challenges I face is organizing the many tasks, projects and jobs I have. The reason why is that although I have thousands of meetings a year and travel a lot, I don’t work in an office and don’t have access to an intellectually rich community in my everyday life. Therefore I have to create this ambiance around me. I use a Google Document with color codes and different sections showing me the tasks of today, of tomorrow, of this week and of this month. Every 4 weeks, I sit down and analyze the long-term goals (months-years) and assign new tasks to my everyday life. This is crucial in order to put effort into things that really matter. This system now makes sure I keep being motivated without artificial or external inputs.

Just before deadline

Bookmarks: When you save tens of thousands of links, a traditional bookmark is not enough any more. The links I might need later are saved and categorized by bit.ly (as I shorten almost all the links I share). By creating bundles, it lets me organize these links in a convenient way.

Web browser: About 2 years ago, I switched from Firefox to Google Chrome and I have no idea why I didn’t start using it earlier. All the devices I use (PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone) have Chrome and it automatically synchronizes my settings, bookmarks and browser history. It makes my life easier.

Automatic updates: There are pieces of information I need to collect through non-structured channels such as search engines. As I don’t have to go back and search for the same things again and again, I use Google Alerts for getting updates about certain topics; and use Pubmed.com‘s Save Search function to get peer-reviewed papers automatically focusing on my areas.

Feedly: While some people think RSS is so web 2.0-ish, I couldn’t live without it as my information resources would be hectic while I need a very much structured way of following resources. Feedly lets me organize websites into categories and now I follow 430 resources easily.

Improving cognitive skills: I’m a huge fan of life-long learning as I believe improving my cognitive skills should be a priority at any point in my life. When I came across Lumosity, I knew I found what I’d been looking for. I’ve been using it for 5 months and I can feel how better I’m at different tasks that require good memory, speed, flexibility or other skills. It only takes 5 minutes a day. When I have to wait somewhere, I grab my phone and use Dr. Newton, a game for improving cognitive skills therefore I always try to do something useful for my brain.

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Focus: Dealing with hundreds of messages and thousands of pieces of information is one thing, but the projects I work on require real focus. In order to make it easier for myself, I use time frames for different tasks (such as checking e-mails or using Twitter) every day and keep other timeframes free for tasks that require real focus. Focus@Will has been proven to facilitate this for me.

Learning new things: No matter, how limited my free time is, I must constantly try to learn new things. As I have wanted to learn to speak Spanish for years, I decided to download Duolingo and follow its instructions as it teaches languages in a gamified and interesting way. I love it.

Physical activities: I cannot work efficiently without living a healthly life and being physically active. I use the wearable Shine to make sure I exercise enough every single day and do include the exercises I have to do every day in my Google Document. I realized I really accomplish things and tasks that are in my time-management Google Document and adding the details of doing physical activities as such tasks to that as well turned out to be a great solution for motivating myself.

I hope this experience of over 6 months will help you be more efficient and successful in your personal and digital lives as well!

My CNN Article: 10 ways technology will save your life in the future

I was invited to write an article about 10 ways technology will save our lives in the future for CNN.com and I was happy to do so. It was featured today on the main page of CNN. I hope you will find it useful. Here is the introduction:

The medical and healthcare sectors are in the midst of rapid change, and it can be difficult to see which new technologies will have a long-lasting impact.

Ideally, the future of healthcare will balance innovative medical technologies with the human touch. Here, I’ve outlined the trends most likely to change our lives, now or in the near future.

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MD Anderson Cancer Center to Use IBM Watson

Do you remember what I predicted for 2014? This is what I wrote:

2) IBM Watson’s first commercial use by hospitals: IBM’s supercomputer has been tested by US clinics for months and it has proven its validity and value in medical decision-making processes. The first hospitals that make their doctors understand that Watson does not replace them, instead, it assists them, will buy the service in 2014.

Now the MD Anderson Cancer Center made an important step:

A few weeks ago, after I started one of my leukemia patients at MD Anderson Cancer Center on a standard course of chemotherapy, my patient developed a potentially life-threatening complication that sometimes occurs during leukemia treatment. It’s called tumor lysis syndrome. If not treated proactively, it can cause kidney failure, a heart attack and even death. A computing system based on IBM’s Watson technology that we’re currently piloting alerted me to the situation. I took action immediately. He’s okay now.

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