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Posts from the ‘Healthcare’ Category

The Future of Healthcare in One Tweet!

At the recent Medicine X conference taking place at Stanford, I presented my condensed view about the future of healthcare. I could write essays about it, but my goal was to summarize the most important elements in one single tweet message.

E-patient Dave shared a photo of that slide and the response from the Twitter community was excellent. What about your views?

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Stanford Hospital Uses Telemedicine: Steps to the Future of Hospitals

Video consultation with doctors is becoming a routine part of the care offered by the Stanford Hospital & Clinics. The technology behind it is not a real innovation, it was already introduced on the island of Hawaii in 2008, but it’s good to see such a prestigious hospital joining the world of telemedicine.

Patients can schedule video visits through the hospital website, in much the same way as they would schedule a traditional visit and provide information about their symptoms in advance of the visit through the scheduling application. At the appointed time, they meet with the doctor in a Web-based videoconference from a home or workplace computer equipped with a webcam.

Now that we know what elements and points are needed to design a much better healthcare system, what’s next?

A landmark report by the Royal College of Physicians in response to the NHS crisis has outlined 50 measures to modernise the service to cope with the demands of an ageing population, but critics question if there is the political will or money to make it a reality.

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From Doctor to Futurist: Step #6 The Responsibility

After fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a doctor and a geneticist, I decided to make a brave change in my academic career and started discovering the steps needed to become a medical futurist. There is no clear path or course for that, therefore I try to reveal more and more pieces of information about this exciting journey in this series of blog entries.

In the journey so far, I’ve described what it means to become a medical futurist, I’ve been sharing reports about the key trends of technological advances determining the future of medicine and healthcare (part one and two); Stanford Medical School asked me to talk about the future of mobile health in a short film (below), moreover I’m working on a white paper about the future which should be published early September.

 

Recently, I’ve had a chance to talk and share views with Joe Flower, healthcare futurist of over 30 years of experience; and Ian Pearson, futurologist and author of You Tomorrow. What I wanted to discuss with them is the thin line between collecting trends and aspects about the future and working as a futurist; and they shared very important pieces of advice with me.

In a nutshell, the key is responsibility. Providing predictions about the future and assuming that such technologies will be used by people is relatively easy, compilation of trends is even easier, but coming up with concepts and trend waves which determine the real practical future of medicine taking economics and demographics into consideration, well that is the real job of  a medical futurist.

Let me give you an example. In 1950, the hospital of the future was described in this short video featuring baby drawers and lamps in the OR. It underscores the notion that predicting the future of medicine is extremely hard. Some special developments might get finalized in months, while other obvious ones might need decades.

 

Nowadays, we have to deal with issues such as cyborg overlords, simulating brain activity with computers, bionic eye implants,  the ethical dimensions of radical life extension, self-guided intubation robots, or smartwatches.cyborg

It means making accountable predictions requires advanced systems thinking, therefore I’m starting this open course now.

I want to be a medical futurist who not just collects the current trends and compiles them, but comes up with reasoning that lets all stakeholders of medicine prepare better for the future.

In order to strengthen this position, I will launch a daily newsletter about the future of healthcare soon.

The 7th step will be about the methods used by futuristic studies.

Steps taken so far:

20 Potential Technological Advances in the Future of Medicine: Part II.

As I mentioned in the first part of this series, the job of a medical futurist is to give a good summary of the ongoing projects and detect the ones with the biggest potential to be used in everyday medical practices and to determine the future of medicine. Here is the second part of the list of 20 technological advances:

11) Switching from long and extremely expensive clinical trials to tiny microchips which can be used as models of human organs or whole physiological systems provides clear advantages. Drugs or components could be tested on these without limitations which would make clinical trials faster and even more accurate (in each case the conditions and circumstances would be the same). The picture below shows a microchip with living cells that models how a lung works. Obviously, we need more complicated microchips that can mimic the whole human body, but this ultimate solution will arrive soon.

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12) Medical students will study anatomy on virtual dissection tables and not on human cadavers. What we studied in small textbooks will be transformed into virtual 3D solutions and models using augmented reality. We can observe, change and create anatomical models as fast as we want, as well as analyze structures in every detail. Examples include Anatomage, ImageVis3D and 4DAnatomy.

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13) Optogenetics will provide new solutions in therapies. A recent study published in Science reported that scientists were able to create false memories in the hippocampus of mice. This is the first time fear memory was generated via artificial means. By time, we will understand the placebo effect clearly; and just imagine the outcomes we can reach when false memories of taking drugs can be generated in humans as well. The idea is a bit futuristic, but the basics of the method are almost available now.

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14) With the growing number of elderly patients, introducing robot assistants to care homes and hospitals is inevitable. It could be a fair solution from moving patients to performing basic procedures. The robot in the picture below is the prototype made by a company based in California that aims at combining robotics and image-analysis technology so then it can find a good vein in your arm and also draw your blood. In the next step, it will also perform analysis on the blood from detecting biomarkers to obtaining genetic data.

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15) Now we wear a FitBit and other devices that measure easily quantifiable data, but the future belongs to digestible and wearable sensors that can work like a thin e-skin. These sensors will measure all important health parameters and vital signs from temperature, and blood biomarkers to neurological symptoms 24 hours a day transmitting data to the cloud and sending alerts to medical systems when a stroke is happening real time. It will call the ambulance itself and sends all the related data immediately.

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16) It is not just about checking and monitoring vital signs but intervention is also the key to a better health. Imagine tooth-embedded sensors that can recognize jaw movements, coughing, speaking and even smoking so it records when you eat too much or smoke no matter what the doctor told you. Again, it’s going to be extremely hard not to keep the doctor’s pieces of advice. Imagine the same wireless technology used in organs providing real-time data.

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17) If wearing thin e-skins or having embedded sensors is not a viable option for us, then let’s make an old dream come true. The concept of the tricorder from Star Trek has been there for decades and we still don’t have it. The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize challenge will hopefully lead to the development of a device that can diagnose any diseases and give individuals more choices in their own health. The competition is hard as devices such as Scanadu are also being developed. What matters is patients will control their own health.

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18) I’ve always been a fan of IBM Watson and seen its potentials as huge opportunities in medicine. Watson will assist physicians in everyday medical decision-making, although it will not substitute humans at all.  While a physician can follow a few papers, maybe a few dozens of papers with digital solutions, Watson can process over 200 million pages in 3 seconds, therefore with the increasing amount of scientific data, it would be a wise decision using this in the practice of medicine.

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19) Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, we have been envisioning the era of personalized medicine in which everyone gets customized therapy with customized dosages. The truth is that there are only about 30 cases when personal genomics can be applied with evidence in the background according to the Personalized Medicine Coalition. As we move along this path, we will have more and more opportunities for using DNA analysis at the patient’s bedside which should be a must have before actually prescribing drugs.

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20) I thought I would put the simplest and most predictable medical advance to the bottom of this list. In the near future, whether it is the right and reliable medical information, dynamic resources or medical records; everything will simply be available to everyone which might not sound that interesting, but this would purely be the most important development in the history of medicine.

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It would be great if you could share your insights about other technological advances in the comment section after the post. I hope you enjoyed these two journeys into the future of medicine.

13 years with homemade dialysis machine?

There is a very interesting story of a Chinese man who has been keeping himself alive for 13 years with a homemade dialysis machine because the hospital is too far away and too crowded. Well, should we complain about the care we receive?

He was a college student when he was diagnosed in 1993 with kidney disease, which means waste  products cannot be removed from his blood.

He underwent dialysis treatment in hospital but ran out of savings after six years. His solution was to create his own machine to slash his costs.

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15 Predictions in Healthcare, Technology and Innovation for 2013

Just like last year, now it’s time to publish my predictions for the new year regarding healthcare, medical technology and innovation. It seems year by year many of these predictions prove to be right which makes me glad. I hope the same thing will happen to these predictions.

  • Flexible mobile phones will be released: Flexible glass makes such developments possible. Medical professionals will love these as they are literally unbreakable. The PC era is clearly over.

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  • Fewer health-related mobile app downloads: Last year a decline in the number of downloaded smartphone apps was reported, but don’t worry, that’s a positive step. Now instead of downloading every medical app just to show them to our peers, we will use them with strategy and will make the right choices.
  • Google Glasses will hit the world market and healthcare: By bringing digital information and data in front of your eyes, it can have a bright future in everyday medicine either in the OR or during a regular examination.

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  • Google+ communities will prove to be better than Facebook groups: Google+ Communities are relatively new, but I discovered more news items and posts which are relevant to my topics in the last few weeks than on Facebook during the last few years.
  • Robotic Exoskeletons will become widely used: It’s time to use all those military and robotic developments to help the everyday lives of paralyzed people in many ways.

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  • First humanoid robots to be “born”: I’m not saying such humanoid robots would play any kind of a role in our lives now, but this certainly is going to be a very important step. Be prepared to see them in hospitals in the coming years.
  • FDA does not publish a clear guide about using social media by pharma: A year ago we published our crowdsourced and open-access guide for pharma but we do need the FDA to come out with a clear set of guidelines. Well, they won’t do that in 2013.
  • Windows tablets on the rise: I have an Android tablet, my friends use iPad and iPad Mini so I pretty much know all the pros and cons for these two systems, but when I tried Microsoft Surface, I was amazed. It definitely has a future in healthcare. Elder members in our family can learn how to use a tablet in days, even if they couldn’t learn how to use a computer for years.

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  • Cost of whole genome sequencing goes under $1000: It is possible in many laboratories from Oxford to China to sequence a total human genome for less than $1000 in less than a few hours, but it should be widely available in 2013 as an affordable service.
  • Some smartphone apps get evidence based background: There are more and more studies focusing on whether certain smartphone apps and concepts can be used in medicine and healthcare, therefore as the amount of evidence grows, doctors should be able to prescribe mobile apps for their patients besides drugs and therapies.
  • Robotic telepresence in rural hospitals: When geographical distances cause a serious limitation, we need to turn to digital technologies, but using Skype cannot always be a solution. Robotic telemedical systems should appear in such areas in 2013.

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  • LinkedIn gets close to Facebook and Google+: Regarding the professional use of social networks, LinkedIn is far more useful and efficient than Facebook and maybe better than Google+. Following the right moves and steps, I expect LinkedIn to become the most respected social network.
  • No hospital can live without social media accounts: This has been a clear trend for years, and now it’s time for every hospital manager to accept the challenge and the importance of using social networks to keep in touch with (future) patients.
  • IBM’s Watson in the medical practice. IBM’s supercomputer is being tested now at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and it should become an integrated part of medical decision making this year.
  • Health/medical businesses focus more on Twitter than on Facebook: This comes from my own experience. While Facebook ads can help you get your message to a lot of people, Twitter is more precise in communication. While it requires a different strategy, it can be more successful in conversion.

As usual, please feel free to add your tips in the comment section!

Microsoft Lync tries to improve patient care and clinical workflow

Have you seen the latest innovation of Microsoft? To be honest, I’ve been using Microsoft OS since the first time I used a computer so I watch their developments closely. Now they came up with a solution for improving clinical workflow. I haven’t given Windows 8 a try yet, but it seems it’s going to happen soon.

To help you understand the tools being used by the most progressive healthcare organizations today, we’ve prepared a short video. I think it effectively demonstrates why there’s more to contemporary clinical workflow and patient care than having an electronic medical record at your fingertips. Take a look at the video and then continue reading.

 

Home health nurses are using it to check on clients remotely and lessen the frequency of travel.

Japan considers using social networks in disaster situations: What’s Healthcare is Missing Here?

I just came across an interesting article about how Japan considers using social networks in disaster situations.

Emergency services are embracing technology as new ways to investigatesend alerts and receivereports of crises. And now, the Japanese are looking at social networks to support communication in disaster scenarios, especially when traditional services fail. The local Fire and Disaster Management Agency put together a panel discussion on just that topic, with representatives attending from the likes of Twitter, Yahoo, Mixi and NHN Japan, as well as various government and emergency bodies.

How could it happen? I believe it happened because Japanese authorities accepted the fact that the majority of Japanese people are using social networking sites and other social media tools. I’m wondering when this acceptance would happen in the minds of health authorities dealing with the fact that a lot of patients use online services in their health management and many doctors are getting on the social media train as well as they understand how it can save them time and efforts.

By the time authorities realize the importance of adding social media to the arsenal of communication tools in medicine, we will have our own solutions and this is not going to facilitate the transition.

Solution? The sooner it happens, the better for the stakeholders of healthcare.

Idea of the Week: Fake bus stop keeps Alzheimer’s patients from wandering off

A German senior centre implemented the idea of using fake bus stops to prevent Alzheimer’s disease patients from wandering off (their short term memory is not intact, while the long term memory works fine, therefore they know what the signs mean). As it is a huge success, now they bring the idea to several clinics in Germany.

The idea was first tried at Benrath Senior Centre in Düsseldorf, which pitched an exact replica of a standard stop outside, with one small difference: buses do not use it.

The centre had been forced to rely on police to retrieve patients who wanted to return to their often non-existent homes and families.

Then Benrath teamed up with a local care association called the “Old Lions”. They went to the Rheinbahn transport network which supplied the bus stop.

“It sounds funny but it helps,” said Franz-Josef Goebel, the chairman of the “Old Lions” association.

Social Media in Healthcare: Presentation in Bilbao

Fellow medical blogger, John Sharp, had a presentation about social media and healthcare in Bilbao, Spain and posted the audio online. Enjoy!

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