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Posts from the ‘Health’ Category

Health Trackers Are Changing The Experience of Pregnancy

The revolution of health tracking is getting closer to pregnancy with every new device or gadget that is designed to help expectant mothers measure health parameters about themselves or their babies. With my wife, we are looking forward to having kids as soon as possible and I won’t be able to resist the temptation to measure the baby’s health just like I have been measuring my own for over a decade.

Here are a few innovations and others that are not even available yet that might help others too.

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Wearables during pregnancy

Pregsense (coming soon) provides information during the pregnancy, monitors the fetus’ health and sends the activity to the mother to a smartphone.

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Ritmo Pregnancy provides expectant families with a simple way to safely and effectively deliver sounds.

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Sound Beginnings‘ high quality speakers are designed to keep the volume to a level that is safe for baby.

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Lullabelly is a prenatal music belt that can be used whether the expectant mother is on the go or just relaxing at home. It has a patented hands-free design and is easy to use and safe for the baby.

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Bellybuds are also used to deliver special music to the fetus through the belly belt with high quality speakers.

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MyHealth Bee offers a whole range of devices categorizes by trimesters.

Guardians and baby monitors

BleepBleeps plans to create a whole range of devices for ovulation testing, baby monitoring, a motion alarm, an ultrasound scanner, and even a digital thermometer to use at home.

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iBabyGuard has an award winner baby sleep monitor.

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Teddy The Guardian is the first smart teddy on the market; a personal guard equipped with sensors that monitor the baby’s well-being.

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Smart scales

There are also smart scales for pregnant mothers like Qardio that offers a way of tracking health and it’s clinically validated as a device.

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Another examples is the smart body analyzer from Withings.

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Trackers for the newborn

MySensibleBaby can monitor the child’s position, temperature, and even the movements

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Owlet Care designed smart socks that alert mothers if the baby stops breathing.

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Sproutling is also a baby monitor.

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Pixie Scientific is an affordable and disposable diaper that lets pregnant mothers and even pediatricians monitor the child’s health.

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Watch this video to get a quick summary of these examples and please let me know if you come across others.

The Ultimate Starter Kit For Looking Into The Future Of Medicine

I receive a lot of questions from patients, physicians, researchers, developers, and policy makers after my talks about where they should start in discovering the future of medicine. Which books, movies, TV series or websites would help them understand and get a clear picture about where medicine and healthcare are heading because of new disruptive innovations.

Here are the top choices in each of these categories.

1) Books

Let me show you two books about the future of medicine. The first is The Patient Will See You Now from Dr. Eric Topol. This is the Number One book in digital health. The second is The Digital Doctor from Dr. Bob Wachter. These two books will give you an absolutely clear picture about where we are heading.

Here are nine more books about the future of medicine.

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2) Movies

Regarding movies, Gattaca shows you the non-desired future of genomics. Big Hero 6 talks about how we could measure health parameters at home. And Elysium is discussing the future of radiology and how financial differences will harm society if it comes to health.

Read more in the Top 10 Science Fiction Movies About the Future of Medicine.

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3) Television series

Regarding TV series, The Knick gives a great picture about the first years of modern surgery and how medicine develops over time. And I like Humans which depicts a future with robot companions and what problems on the level of society we will have with them. I also like Star Trek that shows you what people thought about the future of medicine decades ago.

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4) Websites

These are the ones I check on a daily basis.

5) Social Media channels

Regarding social media channels, there are great communities on Google+ (see the image below) and I regularly check the futurology sub-Reddit on Reddit.com.

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What are your choices?

10+1 Commandments For Companies Developing Wearable Health Trackers

I use a dozen health trackers to live a healthy life. I would not go out for a run without measuring data. As a geek, that is my motivation. Throughout the last couple of years, I have tested and used about 40 devices and gadgets that measure health parameters or vital signs.

The #wearable revolution is getting heated now as I described in The Guide to the Future of Medicine, therefore I thought it’s time to share the 10+1 commandments every company developing wearable health trackers should follow. Please feel free to add yours.

1) Don’t provide a value you cannot explain.

When a device shows me values without clear explanations of what they mean, I feel bad as that is a missed opportunity. If you can provide a specific value, assign practical explanation to it. You can show me what period of my running session I spent in power/strenght mode, but I don’t know what it means. Perfusion index sounds great but how could it be applied to my lifestyle? Please only show us things you can clearly explain. The quest is not to measure more and more but to make better and better decisions about how to live healthily.

Good example: Wahoo Tickr Run

2) Don’t make me charge you every day.

I’m not in a relationship with the device therefore I don’t want to see and deal with it every day. If you cannot develop something that can survive for days without a battery change or recharge, there are other industries to invest into. My Pebble smartwatch can function for more than 7 days. The Wahoo run tracker has a year of battery life. But when my Withings Pulse started to require charging every day, I stopped using it.

Good example: Pebble Time

3) Focus on one practical thing.

You might be able to develop a device that can measure a dozen things from ECG and oxygen saturation to stress levels and attention. How will you find your target audience, if there is any? Design a device that can help with one important thing. Whether I want to lose weight; get better at paying attention; run more regularly or reduce stress levels; I would rather buy a device that helps me solve that problem than another one intended for everybody under any circumstances. That creates a wrong message.

Good example: AliveCor

4) You need us, users.

It’s impossible that you design something amazing without being in contact with those who will use your invention. You have great ideas, but I’m the one using your device at the end of the day, I suffer from its error messages and enjoy its advantages. Create a social media profile through which we can contact you. Actually, we want to work for you because if you develop better things, our life becomes simpler. Use this free consulting service and let us talk with you. It’s not only about customer support, but general trust as well.

Good example: FitBit

5) Troubled synchronizing can make me stop using what you develop.

A few devices such as Withings tell me I need to synchronize them manually. And even when I do, it doesn’t always work. Others such as FitBit are said to synchronize automatically. And still sometimes data are missing. I don’t want to deal with that. I thought synchronizing would not be an issue by now. Either make it truly automatic or really user-friendly, but this is crucial.

Good example: Pip Stress

6) You lose me without gamification.

I might be a very motivated person, but measuring pure data is not enough. Design a system that makes me hooked on your solution. FitBit sends me weekly summaries about my activities. Lumosity shows me what percentage of people in my age group is better than me. Withings Blood Pressure creates a very clear, color-coded graph about my blood pressure measurements. Make me addicted to you.

Good example: Muse

7) Create our community.

Finding someone to discuss data measured by devices is difficult. I needed to create a social media network of tens of thousands of people for that. Not everyone has this opportunity. You could develop a community of like-minded and motivated individuals either by a community on your website or using a Twitter hashtag you work out. What matters is that developing a device is not enough. And creating such a network is so easy, you should not miss this chance of tying more users to your invention.

Good example: FitBit

8) Measure is not only pleasure, help us.

Interpreting the data can be a huge obstacle. I need to be a doctor, a researcher and a geek to get the most out of my data. Instead, companies developing these devices could provide a clear understanding of what conclusions I can draw from what I measure. Your responsibility doesn’t stop at creating the device. Actually it starts there.

Good example: AliveCor

9) Bluetooth pairing is not rocket science.

Issues with pairing numerous devices via Bluetooth is the Blue Death of the 21st century. I cannot count how many times I had to deal with it either because the device got unpaired by itself; another phone paired with it by chance; or they couldn’t find each other. This should not be an issue at all. I pair the device in seconds once, and that works for as long as I want. Without knowing plenty of tricks about how my smartphone works, I couldn’t have solved many of these issues. The majority of your users haven’t ever heard about these tricks so they will just give up.

Good example: Tinké

10) Not updating apps is like giving up on us.

You develop a device, bring it to the market and I buy it. Whatever the device is capable of, it is going to be the same forever. But apps can change. With many devices, I take more time looking at their apps than the device itself. Build upon this opportunity and update the apps behind your invention as regularly as possible. And please don’t even think about developing something if you can only release an iOS or Android version. If you don’t have both, even as an Android user, I will not buy your device.

Good example: MisFit

+1) You are not doing business, but helping us live healthier.

That is a crucial point. If your major intention is making money, you already lost this battle. People will find this out very soon. If you want to help people live a healthier life, you create a chance of long-term success. Without your inventions, I couldn’t motivate myself to exercise every day. And when I feel that you really want to help me; I become even more motivated. Let’s cherish this relationship and build the pyramid of a “healthy life revolution” with good technologies.

I hope many companies will read this and share what they think. Until then, I grab some of my favorite gadgets and go out for a run enjoying the motivation they provide me with; and dealing with the technical issues they make me face.

A New Wearable For Water Safety

A new wearable is seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo. Kingii is meant to help people who get in trouble in water and provide a sign that can be seen from a distance. It inflates, stays like that for 48 hours, has a compass and a whistle.

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I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Let’s see how it goes.

Dealing With Data From Wearables

I use plenty of devices to obtain data about my lifestyle and health parameters. My only intention behind that is living a better and healthier life. But dealing with the awful amount of data is a struggle. I could improve my sleep, daily fitness or concentration one by one, but combining data requires me being a researcher, a doctor and a geek. It seems I’m not alone with this problem.

There’s hope for wearable devices that actually take the types of measurements that would be helpful for health monitoring. But realizing that hope will probably mean moving on to radically new technologies. And it will certainly mean developing devices that are able to take a wider variety of measurements.

Instead, I would love to use an app or a service that draws conclusions for me based on my wearables. I wrote about Exist.io a few days ago and I decided to give it a try. A long story short, it was not a success.

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Conclusions it provided based on my schedule, sleep quality, daily activities, Twitter and Instagram profiles were not useful and I can draw better ones myself. While I wished such an app could help me in my quest of living a healthy life, but I’m a bit glad it didn’t work out fine. That might be a sign that we should not rely on an app when making decisions about lifestyle. They could help us, but the decision must be ours.

I’m pretty sure Exist will get better and IBM Watson will soon join this market with its smart algorithms. Maybe after the wearable revolution, we will not only get flooded by sensors, but by better apps. And maybe Google’s new wearable might change things. Until then, I keep on thinking about what changes I can make in my lifestyle based on what I measure.

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If you know of such apps, please let me know. Thank you!

Top 10 Health Parameters You Can Measure At Home!

I receive a lot of message on- and offline about what devices I use to quantify my health. Therefore I decided to list the 10 health parameters I measure and the relevant devices I use. I hope you will find it useful.

Health parameter | Name of the device | Website

  1. Blood pressure | Withings Blood Pressure | Withings.com
  2. Brain activities | Muse | Choosemuse.com
  3. Focus or attention | Puzzlebox Orbit | puzzlebox.io
  4. Sleep | Withings Pulse | Withings.com
  5. Pulse | Wahoo | Wahoofitness.com
  6. Body temperature | CheckMe | viatomtech.com
  7. Daily physical activities | FitBit | fitbit.com
  8. Electrocardiogram (ECG) | AliveCor | alivecor.com
  9. Cardiac fitness | Tinké | zensorium.com
  10. Stress | PIP | thepip.com

The Future of Clinical Trials: Video

An excerpt from The Guide to the Future of Medicine:

Today, new pharmaceuticals are approved by a process that culminates in human clinical trials. The clinical trial is a rigorous process from development of the active molecule to animal trials before the human ones, costing billions of dollars and requiring many years. Patients participating in the trial are exposed to side effects, not all of which will have been predicted by animal testing. If the drug is successful in trial, it may receive approval, but the time and expense are present regardless of the trial outcome.

But what if there were another, safer, faster, and less expensive route to approval? Instead of requiring years of “ex vivo” and animal studies before human testing, what if it were possible to test thousands of new molecules on billions of virtual patients in just a few minutes? What would be required to demonstrate such a capability? At the very least, the virtual patients must mimic the physiology of the target patients, with all of the variation that actual patients show. The model should encompass circulatory, neural, endocrine, and metabolic systems, and each of these must demonstrate valid mechanism–based responses to physiological and pharmacological stimuli. The model must also be cost efficient, simulating weeks in a span of seconds.

Such simulations are called computational cognitive architectures, although the current ones actually lack a comprehensive representation of human physiology. A truly comprehensive system would make it possible to model conditions, symptoms, and even drug effects. To order reach this brave goal, every tiny detail of the human body needs to be included in the simulation from the way our body reacts to temperature changes to the circadian rhythms of hormone action.

HumMod is a simulation system that provides a top–down model of human physiology from organs to hormones. It now contains over 1,500 linear and non–linear equations and over 6,500 state variables such as body fluids, circulation, electrolytes, hormones, metabolism, and skin temperature. HumMod was based on original work by Drs. Arthur Guyton and Thomas Coleman in the early 1970’s.

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HumMod is not the only effort in this area. The Avicenna project, partially funded by the European Commission, aims to construct a roadmap for future “in silico” clinical trials, which would make it possible to conduct them without actually experimenting on people. Other projects use real models instead of computational ones. A liver human organ construct, a physical object that responds to toxic chemical exposure the way a real liver does, was designed at the Gordon A. Cain University. The goal of the five–year, $19 million multi­institutional project is to develop interconnected human organ constructs that are based on a miniaturized platform nicknamed ATHENA (Advanced Tissue–engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer) that looks like a CPR mannequin.

It would then be possible to test molecules without risking the toxic effects on humans, and to monitor fluctuations in the thousands of different molecules that living cells produce and consume. The beauty of this project is its plan to connect their working liver device to a heart device developed by Harvard University. If successful, they hope to add a lung construct in 2015 that is being developed at Los Alamos, and a kidney designed by the UCSF/Vanderbilt collaboration by 2016, thus building the first physiological model of a human being piece by piece.

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