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Posts from the ‘Health’ Category

9 Ways Technology Helps Manage Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

With all these technological advances, improvements and new devices coming to the market, we could significantly improve the lives of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease patients. They could change the way they eat or they orientate, how they gather information. We could improve their lives all together. In the newest video of The Medical Futurist Youtube channel, I describe 9 examples.

Lift Labs designs a spoon that can cancel the tremor for Parkinson’s disease patients while they are having their meal.

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The Wright Stuff offers a range of products that makes getting dressed easier for anyone who has lost the use of one of their hands. The company has Dressing Sticks, one-handed belt, sock aids, they even one-handed nail clippers for people.

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Wearable cameras and augmented reality glasses could help patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These gadgets can snap hundreds of photos every day from their user’s perspective logging their lives this way.

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Tablet-based applications such as Speak For Yourself put vocabularies of 13,000 words within a few touches on a screen. Plus, as the sound quality is improving, the voice becomes more and more natural.

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MC10 develops a Biostamp that is thinner than a band-aid, and it has the size of just two postage stamps. It can be attached to any part of the body and the sensors monitor temperature, movements, heart rate, all these vital signs which can be transmitted wirelessly to an application, for example.

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Even little ideas matter. A German senior center implemented the idea of using fake bus stops to prevent Alzheimer’s disease patients from wandering off. Because their short term memory is not intact, but while the long term memory works fine, therefore they know what the sign means and they stop. It is a huge success in Germany, now they want to bring it to several clinics.

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Devices could be used for fall prevention to make sure when a patient falls down or there is an emergency situation, this sign could be transmitted wirelessly to the local clinic or hospital.

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A company called Ybrain has built a wearable device based on neuroscience technology to specifically target brain regions using electrical signals that aim to reduce the symptoms of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

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A company called GTX Corp developed a smart shoe with which patients can find the way home and they can orientate quite easily while walking around the street.

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It’s time to significantly improve the lives of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients. If you know about other examples, technological solutions or gadgets, please share those!

Read more about the future of disease management in my recent book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Digital Health Rockstars Who Helped Predict The Future Of Medicine

I was very lucky to have the chance to conduct interviews with dozens of experts when I was writing my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine. I learnt from them and used their insights for shaping my views about how technology will dramatically change medicine and healthcare in the upcoming years. Here is a list of people who and companies that helped predict the future:

  • Professor Steve Mann, one of the first cyborgs
  • Chris Dancy, the most connected man
  • E-Patient Dave drBronkart, e-patient guru
  • Denise Silber, organizer of Doctors 2.0 and You.
  • Lucien Engelen, Director REshape Center for Innovation at Radboud University Medical Center
  • Dr. Catherine Mohr, Vice President of Medical Research at Intuitive Surgical, developers of the da Vinci surgical robot
  • Professor Robert S. Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jack Andraka, inventor, scientist
  • Dr. Rafael Grossmann, surgeon futurist, Google Glass user
  • NerdCore Medical developing educational games in medicine
  • Blake Hannaford, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Co-Founder at Applied Dexterity Inc.
  • Jacob Rosen Ph.D., Professor at UCLA
  • Joel Dudley, Ph.D., Director of Biomedical Informatics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School
  • Edward Abrahams, Ph.D., President of the Personalized Medicine Coalition
  • Professor Takao Someya, Organic Electronics
  • Dr. David Albert, Founder & Chief Medical Officer at AliveCor
  • Professor Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • Organovo, bio 3D printing
  • Michael Molitch-Hou, Author at 3D Printing Industry
  • Ekso Bionics
  • Robert Hester, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Casey Bennett, Dept. of Informatics, Centerstone Research Institute
  • András Paszternák, Ph.D., founder of nanopaprika.eu
  • OpenBCI
  • Interaxon
  • Organizers of the first cyborg Olympic Games, Cybathlon
  • Davecat, the first technosexual
  • Ian Pearson, futurist

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Wearable Predicting When You Need To Go To The Restroom?

I know a wearable revolution is going on, I use 20-30 devices myself, but it seems I can still be surprised. A new wearable that will launch its crowdfunding campaign soon will try to predict when you need to go to the restroom. They want to help elderly and disabled people by giving them enough time to find a restroom. I keep on wondering how it might work if it is not a hoax. An excerpt from the article by Mashable:

The rectangular device appears to be about the size of a business card and is worn over the abdomen, though it’s not clear from the video how users keep it in place.

The device tracks your, err, activity, over time; it will eventually learn more about your habits to provide more tailored notifications, according to the company. “You’ll no longer feel stressed about unpredictable bowel movements,” the video reassures you.

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Here is the video:

Which Wearable Device to Choose? (Video)

As a geek, let me tell you it’s quite simple to fall in love with a gadget or device at first sight. Although the way we try to stay healthy should not be controlled by technology or gadgets but by being proactive in our own health.

As many subscribers asked me about how I choose my own wearable devices for tracking health, I thought I would share the quality features I take a look at first so then you can make an informed decision when purchasing a wearable tracker.

A few things I check:

  • Company behind the device
  • App is updated regularly
  • User reviews
  • Money-back guarantee
  • What do I want to measure
  • How to access data
  • How to export data
  • Is it compatible with my smartphone

Read more about health wearables in The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

Ethical Issues of The Future of Medicine: The Top 10

While I was writing my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, I was constantly thinking about all the ethical issues disruptive technologies will make us face in the coming years. I’m a born optimist and if you look at recent developments in medicine & healthcare, you realize optimism can now be based on facts. Although, without being prepared for the coming waves of change, physicians, patients and all stakeholders will only come across threats, ethical issues and serious problems when they try to implement technology into everyday care.

I remain confident that we are still in time and we can still prepare for the amazing yet uncertain future of medicine. What is definitely needed, among others things such as new skills, is initiating public discussions now. It was my intention when I made a list of 10 potential ethical issues we will all have to deal with soon.

1) Hacking medical devices

It has already been proven that pacemakers and insulin pumps can be hacked. Security experts have warned us that someone would be murdered through these methods any time soon. How can we prevent wearable devices that are connected to our physiological system from being hacked and controlled from a distance?

2) Defending our privacy

We share much more information about ourselves now than we think. Check mypermissions.org to see what services and apps you have given permission to access your personal information already. What if we start using augmented reality contact lenses and get information about people immediately? Kids being born these years represent the first generation of which every life detail is getting logged. While such big data could significantly improve healthcare, how to prevent companies and governments from using these?

3) Scanning ourselves at home

Now physicians are worried because patients do Google their symptoms and treatments and they might take the misinformation they find there to the caregiver. What will be doctors worried about when patients scan themselves, do a blood test and even genetic analysis at home? Will we able to persuade such patients to turn to doctors and not only trust algorithms? If you think that is still science fiction, check the finalist of the Nokia Sensing XChallenge.

4) Healthy people switching to technology

Matthew James was born with dysmelia, a congenital disorder causing deformed limbs. James wrote to his favorite Formula One team, Mercedes, at age 14 that he was ready to display their logo on his prosthesis if they could support him financially. He received £30,000 but was not taken up on his offer of advertising space. This story shows that the implementation of such innovations in the everyday lives cannot depend purely on individual entrepreneurship. As a consequence, what if people start asking their doctors to replace their healthy limbs for robotic ones?

Prosthetic arm

5) Biological differences

Today, societies struggle to fight gender and financial inequality. But from the time technology can truly augment human capabilities, people will get smarter, healthier and faster only by being able to afford them. How do we prepare society for a time when financial differences lead to biological ones?

6) How society changes if we can prolong life

Longevity studies have been going on for decades. Several aspects about the ultimate secrets of long life have been discovered, but we haven’t really got closer to significantly prolong life. Sooner or later, we will. What happens with the basics of society if the majority of us start living for more than 100 years? How can we make sure that ageing doesn’t necessarily get associated with severe decline in health?

7) Bioterrorism due to nanotechnology

In the wildest futuristic scenarios, tiny nanorobots in our bloodstream could detect diseases. After a few decades they might even eradicate the word symptom inasmuch as no one would have them any longer. These microscopic robots would send alerts to our smartphones or digital contact lenses before disease could develop in our body. If it becomes reality, and microrobots swimming in bodily fluids are already out there, how can we prevent terrorists from trying to hack these devices controlling not only our health but our lives?

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8) Technological developments vs. evidence based medicine

Over the last few years, technological advances have become so fast, it’s really hard to keep track of them any more. In the meantime, evidence based medicine shapes how we deliver healthcare. The latter is a fundamentally long process. Certain solutions such as simulations with cognitive computers might make them faster but these could never be as fast as technological developments. When patients start seeing the amazing innovations out there not being accessible to them in the everyday care, how will it transform the basic ways of practicing medicine?

9) Transhumanism & Singularitarianism

There are movements and philosophies that highlight one concept or approach even though it is highly unlikely that one solution will lead to a prosperous future. A network of interconnected people, devices, and concepts is intended to solve global issues. It is advisable not to trust just one movement or philosophy such as transhumanism or singularitarians. The most plausible solution will be a mix of all the concepts trying to describe the coming decades. We should be skeptical and analytical before accepting major philosophies about the future. In the history of mankind the number of new philosophies has never increased as fast as it is doing now. But it has never been easier to learn more about them.

10) Sexuality becoming technological

A man named Davecat lives with his wife and mistress, both of whom are Synthetiks––specially designed, life–sized Dolls. Accordingly, Davecat calls himself a technosexual. While some will not understand how Davecat thinks about his partners, his story represents perfectly the diversity of concepts and theories that will arise in the next couple of years. How can we prepare for all these if we cannot even solve today’s issues in sexuality?

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What have I missed? Please leave a comment and start the discussion now!

Read more about the ethical issues of the future of medicine in my recent book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Twelve Things We Can 3D Print in Medicine Now

Kaiba Gionfriddo was born prematurely in 2011. After 8 months his lung development caused concerns, although he was sent home with his parents as his breathing was normal. Six weeks later, Kaiba stopped breathing and turned blue. He was diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia, a long Latin word that means his windpipe was so weak that it collapsed. He had a tracheostomy and was put on a ventilator––the conventional treatment. Still, Kaiba would stop breathing almost daily. His heart would stop, too. His caregivers 3D printed a bioresorbable device that instantly helped Kaiba breathe. This case is considered a prime example of how customized 3D printing is transforming healthcare as we know it.

Since then this area has been skyrocketing. The list of objects that have been successfully printed out in 3D demonstrates the potential this technology holds for the near future of medicine.

Tissues with blood vessels: Researchers at Harvard University were the first to use a custom–built 3D printer and a dissolving ink to create a swatch of tissue that contains skin cells interwoven with structural material interwoven that can potentially function as blood vessels.

Low–Cost Prosthetic Parts: Creating traditional prosthetics is very time–consuming and destructive, which means that any modifications would destroy the original molds. Researchers at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Autodesk Research and CBM Canada, used 3D printing to quickly produce cheap and easily customizable prosthetic sockets for patients in the developing world. 1371558697309.cached

Drugs: Lee Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow, wants to do for the discovery and distribution of prescription drugs what Apple did for music. In a TED talk he described a prototype 3D printer capable of assembling chemical compounds at the molecular level. Patients would go to an online drugstore with their digital prescription, buy the blueprint and the chemical ink needed, and then print the drug at home. In the future he said we might sell not drugs but rather blueprints or apps.

Tailor–made sensors: Researchers have used scans of animal hearts to create printed models, and then added stretchy electronics on top of those models. The material can be peeled off the printed model and wrapped around the real heart for a perfect fit. The next step is to enhance the electronics with multiple sensors.

Tumor Models: Researchers in China and the US have both printed models of cancerous tumors to aid discovery of new anti–cancer drugs and to better understand how tumors develop, grow, and spread.

kidney-feat

Bone: Professor Susmita Bose of Washington State University modified a 3D printer to bind chemicals to a ceramic powder creating intricate ceramic scaffolds that promote the growth of the bone in any shape.

Heart Valve: Jonathan Butcher of Cornell University has printed a heart valve that will soon be tested in sheep. He used a combination of cells and biomaterials to control the valve’s stiffness.

Ear cartilage: Lawrence Bonassar of Cornell University used 3D photos of human ears to create ear molds. The molds were then filled with a gel containing bovine cartilage cells suspended in collagen, which held the shape of the ear while cells grew their extracellular matrix.

Medical equipment: Already, 3D printing is occurring in underdeveloped areas. “Not Impossible Labs” based in Venice, California took 3D printers to Sudan where the chaos of war has left many people with amputated limbs. The organization’s founder, Mick Ebeling, trained locals how to operate the machinery, create patient–specific limbs, and fit these new, very inexpensive prosthetics.

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Cranium Replacement: Dutch surgeons replaced the entire top of a 22 year–old woman’s skull with a customized printed implant made from plastic.

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Synthetic skin: James Yoo at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US has developed a printer that can print skin straight onto the wounds of burn victims.

Organs: Organovo just announced that their bioprinted liver assays are able to function for more than 40 days. Organovo’s top executives and other industry experts suggest that within a decade we will be able to print solid organs such as liver, heart, and kidney. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are waiting for an organ donor. Imagine how such a technology could transform their lives.

Read more about the use of 3D printing in medicine in The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

10 Things How Artificial Intelligence Could Make Me a Better Doctor

I was watching the movie Her for the second time and I was fascinated again about the scene in which the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix got his new operating system with artificial intelligence (AI) and started working with that. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ways I could use such an AI system in my life and how it actually could make me a better doctor.

Don’t get me wrong, I think empathy and great communication with patients can make a doctor better primarily, but as the amount of medical information out there is exponentially growing; as the time for dealing with patients and information is getting less, it is becoming humanly impossible to keep up with that. If I could devote the time it takes now to deal with technology (inputting information, looking for papers, etc.) to patients, that would be a huge step towards becoming better.

Here are 10 things how AI could make me a better doctor and consequently live a better life.

1) Eradicate waiting time: Not only patients have to wait a lot for their doctors, but doctors lose a lot of time everyday waiting for something (a patient, a lab result, etc.). An AI system that makes my schedule as efficient as possible directing me to the next logical task would be a jackpot.

2) Prioritize my emails: I deal with about 200 e-mails every single day. I try to teach GMail how to mark an e-mail important or categorize them automatically into social media messages, newsletters and personal e-mails, it’s still a challenge. In Her, the AI system prioritized all the 3000 unread e-mails in a second. Imagine that!

HER

3) Find me the information I need: I think I have mastered the skill of searching for information online using dozens of Google search operators and different kinds of search engines for different tasks, but it still takes time. What if an AI OS could answer my questions immediately by looking up the answer online?

4) Keep me up-to-date: There are 23 million papers on Pubmed.com. If I could read 3-4 papers of my field of interest per week, I couldn’t finish in a lifetime and meanwhile millions of new studies would come out. I need an AI to show me what I should really read that day. Now my curated social media networks do this job, although I’m sure it would be much more accurate with AI.

5) Work when I don’t: I can fulfil my online tasks (e-mails, reading papers, searching for information) when I use my PC or laptop, and I can do most of these on my smartphone. When I don’t use any of these, I obviously cannot work. An AI system could work on these when I don’t have any device in hand.

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6) Help me make hard decisions rational: A doctor must face a series of hard decisions every day. The best we can do is to make those decisions as informed as possible. Some of them are still hard to make. I can ask people of whom I value the opinions and that’s it. Imagine discussing these with an AI system that is even more rational than you are.

7) Help patients with urgent matters reach me: A doctor has a lot of calls, in-person questions, e-mails and even messages from social media channels on a daily basis. In this noise of information, not every urgent matter can reach you. What if an AI OS could select the crucial ones out of the mess and direct your attention to it when it’s actually needed.

8) Help me improve over time: People, even those who work on becoming better at their job, make the same mistakes again and again. By discussing every challenging task or decision with an AI, I could improve my overall well-being and the quality of my job. We could do that with people as well, but let’s be honest, it’s practically impossible.

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9) Help me collaborate more: In Her, the AI collected the letters the main character wrote and compiled them into one manuscript which she sent to a publisher that she thought would be willing to publish it. Similarly an AI could find the most potential collaborators and invite them to work on a paper or study I otherwise work on. This way, opening up my networks even more.

10) Do administrative work: Quite an essential percentage of an average day of a doctor is spent with administrative stuff. An AI could learn how to do it properly and do it better than me by time. It could write down my thoughts and compile them anytime just as if I decided to sit down and write them down saving me an enormous amount of time.

Read more about the use of AI in medicine in The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Would you use AI in your work? Please do share! Until then, here is how supercomputers make physicians better:

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