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Posts from the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Virtual Reality Will Change The Healthcare Experience

Virtual Reality or VR is a computer-simulated environment in which we can have the feeling as being in a digital, virtual world experiencing smell, sound, taste, and visuals. VR has been mentioned in many sci-fi masterpieces such as the Necromancer by Gibson, but technology behind that only came to a point where it can become reality now. Therefore I decided to describe some medical implications of virtual reality in the newest video of The Medical Futurist Youtube Channel.

I recently started discovering the options of virtual reality with the Google Cardboard. Putting my own smartphone with the right application into a cardboard can give the feeling of being in a virtual world. My favorite apps so far are Roller Coaster VRCmoar Roller Coaster VR, and Solar System VR. I should start filming the first reaction of people who give it a try.

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Cardboard is just the very first step. Devices such as Oculus Rift acquired by Facebook, Sony’s Morpheus or Magic Leap will make the difference in the coming years. Check how Magic Leap could change the world around ourselves. Let’s see how virtual reality could change the healthcare experience with ever-improving technologies.

  • Imagine that we could use virtual reality for training surgeons. They could be inside the human body based on the patient’s radiology images discovering all the options before opening up the patient during an operation.
  • We could use virtual reality for patients to experience the hospital feeling even before going to the hospital. They could see how a procedure takes place, how much time it takes, what’s going to happen to them by getting a treatment or procedure.
  • We could use that for psychology treatments, for people with addictions to show them different kinds of worlds. One with being addicted to something, and one with not being addicted any more showing them the real differences in life and how it could change if they found a solution for that addiction. The same is used in PTSD or fighting phobias.
  • Imagine that we could use it for stress relief letting people travel to countries around the world and experiencing the real world through virtual reality.
  • We could train people for emergency and disaster situations without risking anybody’s life.
  • Virtual rehabilitation performed at the patient’s home for anxieties, attention deficits or amnesia. The list of conditions in which VR could be helpful is incredibly long.
  • 360 immersive Virtual Reality arrived to the Cathlab chaning Medical Education.
  • If there is no available real cadaver to practice surgery on, VR can help.
  • A new way for motivating people for doing exercises could be merging VR with video games. See this video:

When for the first time I showed Google Cardboard to my 7 years old niece and she checked that out, she asked me, why would people want real-life experience any more when they can have this. So we will face really serious ethical questions in the coming years, but again virtual reality with the devices coming to the market very soon has the potentials to change the whole healthcare experience.

Read more about the future of virtual reality in my new 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.

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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

Portable ‘Blood Test in a Box’ To Become Available in 2016

CNN has a great video report about an Irish company that plans to go against Theranos in the battle for the blood test market. They plan to develop a portable blood test in a box with which a lot of blood markers could be accessed right away at the doctor’s office. In The Guide to the Future of Medicine, I wrote about similar services including Labonfoil therefore there is a reason to believe that lab tests are about to dramatically change.

Excerpts from the CNN report:

One Irish company says it has developed the solution — a “clinic-in-a-box” that can test for a range of diseases or medical conditions in minutes, from just a single drop of blood.

“The physicians were crying out for a simple-to-use device,” Jerry O’Brien, a farmer’s son from Cork who broke with the family tradition to pursue a career in healthcare, told CNN.

“There was a huge unmet clinical need. It was very obvious from the start they wanted a simple device that would test for any condition off a finger-prick of blood within a matter of minutes.”

Watch the report here:

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Top Trends And Technologies Shaping Medicine in 2015!

It was an extraordinary year for technological improvements in medicine & healthcare. Wearable devices measuring our vital signs at home; the 3D printing revolution producing prosthetics and biomaterials; exoskeletons getting FDA approval; brain-to-brain interfaces; artificial intelligence becoming widely available and many more as described in my book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

There are a lot of reasons to look forward to the year 2015, therefore let’s see the top trends and technologies that will shape the year 2015 in medicine and healthcare!

Organ-on-a-chip technique that can mimic the physiology of human organs might be available in the year 2015 which mean that we might soon be able to create the first virtual model of the human body making it possible to run drug tests on billions of patient models in seconds with supercomputers. Keep an eye on: Wyss Institute of Harvard

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In the coming year, digital tattoos as thin as two micrometers might become available making it the ultimate sensor. So I don’t have to use all these gadgets around myself to measure my health data but with one very thin digital tattoo I could measure whatever I would like to measure. Keep an eye on: Takao Someya

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Well, while the year of 2014 was the year of the wearable health trackers, 2015 will be the year of smart clothes. T-shirts and trousers which will be able to measure our health parameters in the most convenient way. Keep an eye on: Hexoskin.

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The first medical tricorders will come to the market due to the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize and Nokia Sensing XChallenges. These will produce little devices that by scanning the body would come up with a few simple diagnostic options or measure any kind of vital signs at once. Keep an eye on: DMI.

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IBM supercomputer named Watson as a cognitive computer will be used in more and more medical practices worldwide and more and more hospitals will buy that as an actual asset to the medical decision making process. Keep an eye on: IBM Watson.

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Blood tests will be revolutionized by making them available with just one droplet of blood at first Walmarts around the US. Keep an eye on: Theranos.

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Food scanning is coming at home and we will be able to finally know what ingredients our food contains by using spectroscopy. Keep an eye on: Tellspec.

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Augmented reality will move away from Google Glass more towards the first digital contact lenses that can measure blood glucose levels from tears as an added benefit. Keep an eye on: bionic contact lenses.

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The first 3D printed biomaterials will become mainstream as this year, the first liver tissues printed out in 3D will be used by pharmaceutical companies maybe making animal testing unnecessary. Keep an eye on: Organovo.

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Empowered patients will attend more and more conferences, they will speak at these conferences and more and more e-patients will be included in editorial boards of peer reviewed journals.

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Direct-to-consumer companies in genomics will deal with the challenges FDA will come up with and we will move towards very cheap whole genome sequencing. Although the cost will not be zero next year, but we will get closer to my prediction that the shipping cost of the sample will be higher than actually sequencing the genome. Keep an eye on: Gentle.

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In areas with doctor shortages, telemedicine will be used at its best. Moreover, the first force-feedback gloves will come to the market making it possible to even feel the handshake form a distance, even from continents away while discussing medical issues through telemedical applications. Keep an eye on: InTouch Health.

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Prosthetics will become more sophisticated and much much cheaper due to the 3D printing revolution. There will be people who will want to replace their healthy limbs for state-of-the-art prosthetic ones. Keep an eye on: Touch Bionics.

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And I think that the first brain-computer interfaces will be used in practice, plus we will more and more be able to measure our brain activities; and to learn how to be relaxed or how to be focused at home. Keep an eye on: Muse and PIP.

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Besides these, privacy and security issues will rule the year as well as an effort to get good mobile health applications and digital services reimbursed by insurers. We will see.

Here are some more lists.

Interview with a Nokia Sensing Challenge Finalist Making Blood Analysis Available Remotely

When the XPRIZE Foundation named the 11 finalists for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, I had a chance to interview a team in which I see great potentials. Here is my short talk with the French team behind ARCHIMEJ TECHNOLOGY, a start-up led by co-founder Francisco Vega, developing technology focused on making blood analysis available remotely at an affordable price.

1) Can you tell me more details about the technology behind your solution?

I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to say much on that topic; everything is confidential for the moment. What I can tell you is that we have completely reimagined the linear process by which the measurement/analysis is performed today, to transform it into a complex multi-factor analysis, which paradoxically simplifies the entire process of testing.

There is 3 important parts in our technology:
– The technology that holds and conditions the sample for the measurement (sample = a drop of blood from finger-stick);
– The technology that performs the measurement (called Spectroscopy 2.0®);
– The technology that analyses the information measured and interprets it in test results easy to understand by the user.

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2) How can it be compared to Theranos which has similar goals?

What Theranos does is amazing! ..I mean, being able to perform hundreds (even maybe thousands) of tests with only a tiny volume of blood is already a huge step from anything existing.

What we do is taking this concept and trying to push it even further. We will not perform hundreds of tests (or at least not for now, maybe in the future), but for the moment we focus on those the most used, the most important ones and in making them available to people directly in their homes.

Our solution, Beta-Bioled, is a comprehensive and integrated platform that allows doctors and patients to get a blood-chemistry panel (10 to 20 tests) from 1 drop of blood, anywhere, in real time, for less than 2 dollars.

This idea of democratization of blood analysis, this.. new way for everybody to have access to medical relevant diagnostic is possible because of 3 factors: the mobility (or portability), the simplicity of use and the cost. If you miss one of those 3 factors the impact will not be the same, you will still be targeting a specific group of people or an elite..

3) How does your innovation contribute to the process of breaking down the “ivory tower” of medicine and making even blood analysis accessible to patients?

Imagine that you could monitor your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your lipids profile.. as if you were in a hospital but from the comfort of your home, with a fast and simple process and paying less in a month that what you pay for a coffee every morning.

It will be a huge step in the democratization of healthcare. Instead of going to check your health status when you are feeling unwell, you could anticipate and prevent. It would change the whole healthcare paradigm: less urgencies, and aggressive medication but smoother preventive treatments or lifestyle adjustments.

..Well this is exactly what we do; playing our part in the switch from industrial medicine that treats the symptoms to a personal preventing medicine.

Of course this transition is a process, and that’s why we are prepared to address each step of the transition, in order to speed it up.
– For existing medical facilities, our solution fits the needs of both patients and physician by reducing clinic overload, streamlining the process of performing a blood panel and receiving results instantly and more importantly, onsite.
– For emergency services and NGOs, it becomes an on-the-ground, easy to use ally to quickly make decisions and prioritize treatments.
– For medically underserved regions, either low medical infrastructure or low density of population, it becomes a bridge able to obtain and connect meaningful data to distant medical experts.
– Finally, for the elderly, and more generally for the chronic patients, who intend for more than 20% of all patients in the wealthy country, it brings them the so wanted autonomy and comfort.

My New Book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, is For Free as an E-Book Now!

Download the Kindle version of my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, for free between the 16th and 18th of December! It has already made it to the top 100 overall Kindles on Amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still download and read it online at cloud.amazon.com.

I cannot wait to hear what you think about the book and those 22 trends & technologies that will shape the future! Download here!

Here is the description:

A few short years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that exoskeletons could enable paralyzed people to walk again; that billions of people would rely on social media for information; and that the supercomputer Watson would be a key player in medical decision-making. Perhaps more than in any other field, technology has transformed medicine and healthcare in ways that a mere decade ago would have sounded like pure science fiction.

From his unique vantage as a trained physician, researcher, and medical futurist, Dr. Bertalan Mesko examines these developments and the many more down the pipeline. His aim is to assess how the hand of technology can continue to provide the dose of humanity that is crucial to effective healthcare. The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and the Human Touch is his incisive, illuminating roundup of the technologies and trends that will shape the future of medicine.

Patients, medical professionals, and any healthcare stakeholder will find an eye opening, reassuring roadmap to tomorrow’s potential in this accessible and fact-based book. By preparing for the inevitable waves of change, you can make informed decisions about how technology will shape your own well-being.

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How to keep your job in the coming waves of new technologies?

A lot of medical professionals are worrying about their jobs whether they lose it in the near future due to the coming waves of new technologies. Many of them think they will get replaced by robots and algorithms. My theory about the future focuses on the balance between using disruptive technologies and keeping the human touch. It means we do need to interact with people, although robots and algorithms could perform much better than humans in many areas. But why not combining both?

One of the major obstacles is physicians being resistant to the adoption of new technologies because they are afraid. I think they should not be. Here is how to make sure you will keep your job in the future whether you work in medicine or not.

1) Be a master of information management: Being up-to-date and getting access to the right information at the right time should be a master skill for all of us. Tackling the information pollution is going to be a basic skill but as long as it is not the case, it is going to be a career advantage. You should be perfectly up-to-date in your fields of interest from now on. It requires some efforts but it’s not rocket science.

2) Know more than your decision makers: Having a better knowledge about ongoing and upcoming trends than those making decisions above or for us will be the key in thinking ahead. You should possess all the potentially useful details and pieces of information that allow you to make a step faster than them.

3) Have a new kind of skill set: In different positions before, it was enough to be good at one thing or two, but in the coming era of inter-connected devices, experts and solutions, a network-based approach is very much needed. This new skill set should include digital literacy; advanced problem solving; project management and perfect communication skills on- and offline whatever position you are working in. If you think it’s enough to be good at one thing, you already lost.

4) Exploit the advantages of being human: There might be an algorithm that once will diagnose with a better success rate than people, but there is a range of reasons why the human touch will always be inevitable and crucial. Make sure to bring those skills to the fore that truly leverage the power of the human connection.

5) Improve constantly mentally and physically: Being human in the future will not automatically represent an advantage. This is why we have to constantly improve our cognitive skills, learn new things and keep ourselves sharp. Wearable devices from activity to sleep trackers; and online services such as Lumosity.com or Focusatwill.com could facilitate that.

6) Prepare for future technologies: Do you have all the required knowledge and skills that let you make your own assumptions about the future? You should know about all the trends and technologies that could assist you in your life or job and be able to fast make informed decisions accurately. It does require preparation from now on. Right now, nobody is ready for what is coming next. But soon we all should be.

7) Automate that can be automated: Making tasks and processes around us automated doesn’t mean we become less human. Contrarily, removing inefficient and unnecessary elements of our daily routine gives us a chance to show why being human will always mean something special and will always be an advantage. If we cannot prove that, we deserve to be replaced.

The battle has only begun and we have a lot to do. But if we stick to these rules, it is going to be hard to replace us. Game on.

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