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Posts from the ‘Health’ Category

Why And How Healthcare Institutions Should Prepare For IBM Watson

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 supercomputer named Watson can process million 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.

Watson is based on deep Q&A technology and gives a set of possible answers as the most relevant and likely outcomes to medical questions. But physicians make the final call. I have to note here that Watson is not there to replace the physicians, but to support them when making decisions. It also interacts with physicians and can suggest which additional tests are needed to generate a higher degree of confidence.

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The MD Anderson Center’s Oncology Expert Advisor

It is built to aid physicians in making evidence-informed decisions based on up-to-date knowledge. The system was designed to have three main capabilities:

  • Dynamic patient summary: Interpret structured and unstructured clinical data to create dynamic patient case summaries.
  • Evidence-based treatment options: Make treatment and management suggestions based on the patient profile weighed against consensus guidelines, relevant literature, and MD Anderson expertise.
  • Care pathway advisory: Provide care pathway advice that supports management of patients by alerting clinicians of adverse events or suggesting proactive care support.

When testing the accuracy of the system to recommend standard of care treatment related to 200 leukemia cases, the system had a false-positive rate of 2.9% and a false-negative rate of 0.4%. The overall accuracy of the standard of care recommendations was 82.6%.

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Oncology Advisor

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s expertise and experience with thousands of patients are the basis for teaching Watson how to translate data into actionable clinical practice based on a patient’s unique cancer. While initially focused only on breast and lung cancers, the work has expanded to more than a dozen other common solid and blood cancers such as colon, prostate, bladder, ovarian, cervical, pancreas, kidney, liver, and uterine, as well as melanomas and lymphomas. Watson digested the guidelines about Lung and Breast Cancer issued by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (roughly 500,000 unique combinations of breast cancer patient attributes; and roughly 50,000 unique combinations of lung cancer patient attributes). Over 600,000 pieces of evidence were digested from 42 different publications/publishers.

How to prepare

There is no doubt it will have a bigger and bigger impact on how we practice medicine worldwide. But all stakeholders in the system must prepare for that:

  1. Medical professionals should acquire basic knowledge about how AI works in a medical setting in order to understand how such solutions might help them in their everyday job.
  2. Decision makers at healthcare institutions should do everything to be able to measure the success and the effectiveness of the system. This is the only way to assess the quality of AI’s help in medical decision making.
  3. Companies such as IBM should communicate even more towards the general public about the potential advantages and risks of using AI in medicine.
  4. Non-English speaking countries should invest in natural language processing (NLP). If the patient information is not in English, Watson needs to understand the content and context of the structured and unstructured information in that language. To do this, it uses the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) and a semantic type recognition. The Watson Content Analytics (WCA) tool that processes NLP and is based on Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) is used for building annotations. WCA then uses a Medical Concept Extraction Tool and a Health Language Medical Terminology Management system that uses standard medical terminologies databases such as SNOMED, ICD-9, ICD-10, RxNorm, etc. And this is where most e.g. European countries miss the point. They don’t have all these systems in all the languages.

The other option is obviously to train physicians and nurses to document everything in English. But we can agree that this will never happen.

It is time to prepare in order to let technology help us do a better job in medicine.

This video provides a great summary about all these:

My Wearable Health Trackers: Tickr Run

In this edition of my series about wearable health trackers that I use, I have already described TinkéAliveCor, Pebble and Withings. When I go out for a run, I use the Runkeeper app on my Android which transmits data to my Pebble watch, but I also like to measure activity by FitBit and Withings Pulse. Although I only measure heart rate with the latter when I stop. Now Tickr Run developed by Wahoo Fitness solves this problem.

It was easy to set it up as it doesn’t even need to be paired via BlueTooth, I just open the Wahoo Fitness app and save the device. I wrap it around my chest and start running. It evaluates my running form with Running Smoothness™, measures stride rate, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, and running cadence.

Now I use Tickr Run to even help me design a good schedule and running program. This way I can finally monitor my heart rate during exercise.

It works with iOS and Android as well! Check it out!

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Five Expectations For Patients About The Future of Medicine

The waves of technological changes coming towards us will generate new possibilities as well as serious threats to medicine and healthcare. Every stakeholder must prepare for these changes in order to reach a balance between using disruptive technologies in medicine and keeping the human touch. I remain confident that it is still possible to establish that balance and there are reasons for patients to look forward to the next few years in medicine. Here are 5 of them.

1) Health management: The vast majority of people only deal with their health when they get sick. It is due to the fact that it has been really difficult to obtain useful data about our health. Now, the wearable revolution produces a lot of devices that bring health data measurements to our homes. So far, only physicians and hospitals could measure parameters, but today anyone can. Whether it is ECG, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, EEG or sleep, devices which we can order online provide us with the chance of changing lifestyle based on informed decisions.

Such devices will eventually get smaller and cheaper, and we will hopefully only use them when it is of help.

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AliveCor measures ECG with a smartphone.

2) Partnership: Medicine is a paternalistic system with the doctor being on the top making decisions about the patients. The digital revolution has changed it dramatically as now information, devices and even studies became widely available to anyone with an internet connection. This newly formed partnership makes it possible to be equal with the caregiver and play an equal role in making decisions. This will create an ecosystem in which patients get more possibilities to take care of themselves, while physicians will get help from their own patients. Jackpot. Although, a very old system has to be deconstructed for this.

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3) Communities: Social media is not famous for connecting patients, but several stories proved its potential power in connecting patients with like-minded others. We have done discussed our health concerns with our neighbors before. Now we do the same online without limitations and physical boundaries. Blogs, community sites, forums, Youtube and Twitter channels focus on patients and let them have their voices heard. As Kerri Morrone Sparling said, her doctor is an expert but can only understand what she goes through every single day if he/she is diabetic, otherwise he/she can only guess.

internet concept

4) Access to data: The Blue Button movement and E-Patient Dave’s talks encourage people to understand how important it is to own your own health data. It is not only unbelievable but actually outrageous that many hospitals and practices cannot communicate online with each other. Moreover, in others, patients who want to get their own X-Ray image must provide an empty CD disk to get it in the era of digital revolution. As it is not rocket science, we can expect to see major steps forward in this area. Without proper health data, informed medical decisions cannot be made.

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5) Prediction and prevention: Never in the history of medicine patients have had that many opportunities to predict and actually prevent diseases. Anyone can order genetic tests that tell them what rare conditions and mutations they carry and what drugs they are genetically sensitive for. We are not far away from doing a blood test or sequencing genes at home. In this sea of opportunities, the activity and participation of patients are very much needed, In a few years’ time, we will have to deal with the problem of too many choices regarding wearable devices. What is required for making good decisions is knowledge about where we are heading; and skills to make our own assumptions.

If changes happen as expected, patients will benefit the most of a newly constructed and entirely better healthcare system.

My new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, includes more details and an actual guide about how to prepare properly for the technological changes.

The Guide to the Future of Medicine is Available: Download the E-book for Free!

I cannot tell you how happy I’m to announce the official release of my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine which was just made available in black & white paperback, colored paperback and Kindle formats. Moreover, the Kindle format is for free (yes, totally free) until the 6th of September.

It contains over one year of hard work, 70 interviews and 22 trends that will shape the future of medicine including Augmented Reality, Surgical and Humanoid Robots, Genomics, Body Sensors, The Medical Tricorder, 3D Printing, Exoskeletons, Artificial Intelligence, Nanorobots, Virtual–Digital Brains, The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs or Cryonics and Longevity.

Through these, I challenged myself to prove that it is possible to use more and more disruptive technologies in medicine while successfully keeping the human touch.

With Lucien Engelen’s foreword, the many examples and extraordinary stories depicted in the book, you will hopefully get a clear picture where medicine and healthcare are heading at the moment, and more importantly, what we can do as patients, medical professionals or policy makers to prepare for the waves of change.

Please use the #medicalfuture hashtag on Twitter and tell me what you think!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

Withings launches #NoMoreSnooze and Aura: Interview

Withings launched the #NoMoreSnooze campaign to encourage people to not hit the snooze button, as well as their sleep tracker Aura which not only helps improve sleep but how we wake up. I did a quick interview with the founders to find out how it actually works. I wrote about how and why I use Withings Pulse before.

How do Pulse and Aura compare regarding the quality of measuring sleep?
Pulse measures sleep only based on the users movements. The Aura measures sleep based on movement and vital signs (heart rate & breathing), therefore it allows the user to track more in depth sleep cycles including REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when the user is completely motionless except for their breathing. Understanding the user’s sleep cycles is why the Aura is called the smart sleep system and uses data from the sleep sensor to wake up the user at the lightest time in their sleep cycle.

Isn’t the ultimate goal of wearables to make them smaller and smaller?
The Aura is not a wearable, in fact it is better than a wearable because it allows for a completely discrete experience for the user. Once the sleep sensor is placed under the user’s mattress, they never have to worry about it again and it automatically starts tracking sleep without having to touch any buttons. Along with the bedside device, the user never has to think about tracking because they will just automatically receive their sleep data on their smartphone every morning.

So far, I have been setting the Morpheuz app on my Pebble smartwatch to wake me up at the best potential time based on the measurements of Pulse. How would Aura change this habit of mine?
Aura uses scientifically proven light and sound program to drastically improve the user’s wake-up experience. It is not only the data from the sleep sensor but also that it connects to the bedside device to slowly wake up the user in their lightest sleep cycle with soothing rhythm based on their breathing rate and emitting the appropriate wavelengths of light to slowly inhibit the secretion of melatonin (the hormone responsible for our sleep-wake cycle) to wake up the user peacefully ensuring the best overall sleep quality.  

Let me know what experience you had after using Aura!

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Smart Socks, Necklace, Tattoo And Even Water Bottle: When Does It Stop?

Many times I wrote about the wearable gadgets that help me live a healthy life. I know there is a wearable revolution going on but some of the recent announcements make me think whether the list and range of such gadgets ever get rationale. A few examples from the past days:

  • Smart socks as fitness activity trackers
  • Smart water bottle to alert you to keep yourself hydrated: “The Hug solution includes a sensor band that wraps around just about any water bottle to track your H2O consumption, and an accompanying mobile app that reminds you to drink when your hydration levels are low.”
  • Smart ring controlling devices
  • Smart golf gloves and many more.

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The next ones would be smart ear rings and smart nail clippers? Hopefully not.

I cannot wait to reach the point when we get over this phase of hype and start focusing on meaningful developments.

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Let’s Prepare For The Future!

We are facing major changes as medicine and healthcare now produce more developments than in any other era. Key announcements in technology happen several times a year, showcasing gadgets that can revolutionize our lives and our work. Only five or six years ago it would have been hard to imagine today’s ever increasing billions of social media users; smartphone and tablet medical applications; the augmented world visible through Google Glass; IBM’s supercomputer Watson used in medical decision making; exoskeletons that allow paralyzed people to walk again; or printing out medical equipment and biomaterials in three dimensions.

Medical Doctor holding a world globe in her hands as medical network concept

 

It would have sounded like science fiction. Sooner or later such announcements will go from multiple times a year to several times a month, making it hard to stay informed about the most recent developments. This is the challenge facing all of us.

Based on my white paper and CNN article, I decided to demonstrate where the world of medicine is heading in a a book which will come out late August. The Guide to the Future of Medicine will feature 22 trends and technologies that will shape the future.

My mission with the book is to prove that the relation between the human touch in medicine and using disruptive innovations is mutual. By losing the quintessence of practicing medicine, the real-life doctor-patient relationship, we would lose everything. Although without implementing innovative technologies, it is becoming more and more complicated (if not impossible) to provide proper care.

Therefore this new world requires preparation and new skills must also be acquired. I wrote this book to fulfill this mission. 

Here are some of the topics you will be able to read about soon everywhere online before the book comes out.

  • Health Sensors In and Outside The Body
  • DIY Biotechnology
  • Advanced Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence in Medical Decision Support
  • Hospitals of the Future
  • Nanotechnology
  • The 3D Printing Revolution
  • The Rise of Recreational Cyborgs
  • and many more!

Let’s prepare for the amazing yet uncertain future of medicine together! #medicalfuture

 

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