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How I Completely Re-Wired My Digital Life: 16 Tips

I’ve been massively active online for at least 10 years therefore I have built networks focusing on my favorite topics leading to a point where I invest my time into human intelligence instead of checking hundreds of article titles every day. Although, as others, I often face the problem of being efficient time-wise online as receiving thousands of social media messages a day makes it a real challenge.

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Now I share with you the experience I’ve had in the last 6 months as during that time I have completely re-wired how I use the internet for professional purposes and how I manage my digital life.

Dealing with e-mails: I have to deal with about 200 e-mails a day, the majority of them requiring action from me. I tag e-mails massively in Google Mail and have been teaching Gmail how to categorize my e-mails automatically (important ones, promotions, social media related e-mails, etc.). While some of my colleagues quit using e-mail, I think this is still my information HQ and the official communication channel to me. But I don’t start the morning any more by checking e-mails. Instead, I start the day with reading a chapter in a book. It gives me a great start, plus as my brain is the most active in the early hours, I can learn a lot. After that, I deal with e-mails at specific time periods, otherwise I couldn’t focus properly.

Facebook: I use Facebook for professional purposes and before this time, Facebook was proven to be absolutely useless. But I changed my strategy and unfollowed (hiding their posts from my stream) cc. 1400 out of my 1600 followers. At the same time, I started following about 100 pages focusing on social media and the future of medicine. It means now my Facebook stream is almost free of noise but full of useful information.

Google+: The main streams of my Google+ network are very much hectic, but the communities of Google+ focusing on my areas such as the future, medicine and social media are priceless. Those are the most curated information streams I check every day.

Twitter: This is my key and fastest communication channel. In my experience, people using Twitter can be approached much easier through their Twitter account than via e-mail. As Twitter messages should only contain real information (no garnish), I can respond in seconds. I use Tweetdeck for organizing my streams and get the most important filtered news out of my focused groups easily. Symplur helped me organize topics with new hashtags such as #medicalfuture or #HCSMcourse.

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

Linkedin: This is my most professional channel. I’ve been working on improving my profile there for years which resulted in an “All-Star” profile as ranked by LinkedIn. I paid for the premium service showing me those who check my profile and might be potential clients. It also puts my profile high up in search results. It is connected to my blog automatically.

Blogging: This is one of the activities I enjoy the most even after 7 years (have written over 5000 blog entries). To be honest, I still use bookmarks for storing the topics I would like to write about and dedicate at least 5 hours a week to blogging. Whatever project I come up with, I can reach thousands of very relevant people with only one blog entry. My blog is a golden mine for me.

The Ultimate Online Resource: I thought I had so many online channels I needed a professional website serving as an umbrella above all those channels. Medicalfuturist.com now shows all my active channels featuring Scienceroll.com and Twitter.com/Berci; and the Medical Futurist Newsletter let me build a network of people interested in the future of medicine. This is now my digital public HQ.

Organizing short- and long-term tasks: One of the toughest challenges I face is organizing the many tasks, projects and jobs I have. The reason why is that although I have thousands of meetings a year and travel a lot, I don’t work in an office and don’t have access to an intellectually rich community in my everyday life. Therefore I have to create this ambiance around me. I use a Google Document with color codes and different sections showing me the tasks of today, of tomorrow, of this week and of this month. Every 4 weeks, I sit down and analyze the long-term goals (months-years) and assign new tasks to my everyday life. This is crucial in order to put effort into things that really matter. This system now makes sure I keep being motivated without artificial or external inputs.

Just before deadline

Bookmarks: When you save tens of thousands of links, a traditional bookmark is not enough any more. The links I might need later are saved and categorized by bit.ly (as I shorten almost all the links I share). By creating bundles, it lets me organize these links in a convenient way.

Web browser: About 2 years ago, I switched from Firefox to Google Chrome and I have no idea why I didn’t start using it earlier. All the devices I use (PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone) have Chrome and it automatically synchronizes my settings, bookmarks and browser history. It makes my life easier.

Automatic updates: There are pieces of information I need to collect through non-structured channels such as search engines. As I don’t have to go back and search for the same things again and again, I use Google Alerts for getting updates about certain topics; and use Pubmed.com‘s Save Search function to get peer-reviewed papers automatically focusing on my areas.

Feedly: While some people think RSS is so web 2.0-ish, I couldn’t live without it as my information resources would be hectic while I need a very much structured way of following resources. Feedly lets me organize websites into categories and now I follow 430 resources easily.

Improving cognitive skills: I’m a huge fan of life-long learning as I believe improving my cognitive skills should be a priority at any point in my life. When I came across Lumosity, I knew I found what I’d been looking for. I’ve been using it for 5 months and I can feel how better I’m at different tasks that require good memory, speed, flexibility or other skills. It only takes 5 minutes a day. When I have to wait somewhere, I grab my phone and use Dr. Newton, a game for improving cognitive skills therefore I always try to do something useful for my brain.

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Focus: Dealing with hundreds of messages and thousands of pieces of information is one thing, but the projects I work on require real focus. In order to make it easier for myself, I use time frames for different tasks (such as checking e-mails or using Twitter) every day and keep other timeframes free for tasks that require real focus. Focus@Will has been proven to facilitate this for me.

Learning new things: No matter, how limited my free time is, I must constantly try to learn new things. As I have wanted to learn to speak Spanish for years, I decided to download Duolingo and follow its instructions as it teaches languages in a gamified and interesting way. I love it.

Physical activities: I cannot work efficiently without living a healthly life and being physically active. I use the wearable Shine to make sure I exercise enough every single day and do include the exercises I have to do every day in my Google Document. I realized I really accomplish things and tasks that are in my time-management Google Document and adding the details of doing physical activities as such tasks to that as well turned out to be a great solution for motivating myself.

I hope this experience of over 6 months will help you be more efficient and successful in your personal and digital lives as well!

Being in The Top 10 Internet-Smart Doctors in the World

It’s a great honor to be included again in the list of the top ten Internet-smart doctors in the world. Here is the full list and here are the details!

Doctors are increasingly using the internet, to communicate, to educate, and to use sometimes as medical devices. And now docs are tackling social media, which a few of the Top Ten do, in spades.   The Top Ten come from all over, from Australia to the Bay area.  There is one from the Netherlands, one from Hungary,, and one from Australia.  The other seven are Yanks.  And they are all MDs.

1) Eric Topol MD
2) Daniel Kraft M.D.
3) Berci Mesko MD
4) Mike Cadogan MD
5) Pieter Kubben MD
6) Peter Diamantis MD
7) Iltifat Husain, MD
8) Wen Dombrowski MD
9) Joe Kvedar MD
10) Larry Chu MD

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My CNN Article: 10 ways technology will save your life in the future

I was invited to write an article about 10 ways technology will save our lives in the future for CNN.com and I was happy to do so. It was featured today on the main page of CNN. I hope you will find it useful. Here is the introduction:

The medical and healthcare sectors are in the midst of rapid change, and it can be difficult to see which new technologies will have a long-lasting impact.

Ideally, the future of healthcare will balance innovative medical technologies with the human touch. Here, I’ve outlined the trends most likely to change our lives, now or in the near future.

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100 healthcare and digital health influencers to follow in 2014

Marie Ennis O’Connor published a useful list of healthcare and digital health influencers to follow in 2014. I’m honored to be included.

Most Popular Medical Stories of 2013: Month by Month

Just like last year, I again collected the most important and interesting news about social media, medicine and the future of healthcare; therefore here are the most popular stories from 2013 month by month.

January

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February

An example of a sensual robot.

March

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April

 

May

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June

I had a chance to wear the Google Glass. It's great but you expect more based on the promotional videos.

July

 

August

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September

 

October

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November

Guide to the Future of Medicine Infographic

December

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The CNN 10: Ideas Including Sensor Implants and Mind Control

Every year, CNN comes up with a compilation of the most important trends in technology and sensor implants made this year’s list. Here are the top 10 topics:

  1. Coastal defense
  2. Crowdfunding
  3. Daylight savings
  4. Drones
  5. Flexible displays
  6. Mind control
  7. Self-driving cars
  8. Sensor implants
  9. Thinking tech
  10. The wheel

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Top 12 Movies About The Future Of Medicine

After I published my white paper, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, the feedback was amazing and I had several really interesting (sometimes mind-blowing) discussions. One of these resulted in the idea of collecting those movies that predict, picture and demonstrate the future of medicine. Feel free to add your choices! Enjoy!

1) Elysium (2013)

A futuristic world where there is no sickness mostly due to the multi-functional radiology machine you can see in the trailer as well. It checks your body in seconds, tells you what disease you have and cures you immediately.

 

2) Gattaca (1997)

This movie demonstrated the dark future of genomics with genomically “inferior” people and what happens if we do not prepare the society for the opportunities and challenges genomics will provide in the future.

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3) Blade Runner (1982)

This Ridley Scott masterpiece analyzes the relationship between people and their bioengineered replicants. How will we live together? Will there be a hierarchy between us? Will there be differences between us?

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4) Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s film demonstrated the potential side effects of being able to live far longer than before and how people can become addicted to rejuvenating plastic surgery.

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5) Cloud Atlas (2012)

This very unique film shows the use of a real medical tricorder in action. This small device can analyze, spot and detect diseases as well as, obviously, cure them right there. It also discusses the deep philosophical details of using robots and clones for everyday tasks and what our responsibility will be.

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6) A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

This Steven Spielberg film described perfectly what it is going to be like living with robots that look and live just like people but use artificial intelligence. How they will live together with us?

 

7) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

What if we could erase parts from our memories? Or even add new memories? I’m pretty sure the makers of the film did not have optogenetics in mind back then, but now we are truly moving towards an era when these things become possible.

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8) Forbidden Planet (1956)

Yes, this movie was released in 1956 but you should really watch it as it gives a thoughtful picture of the future (and partially today’s world). The key part of the film is that people become capable of augmenting their own intelligence and it leads to serious consequences.

 

9) Inception (2010)

Will we ever be able to upload or download data from our minds? The movie is about the implantation of another person’s idea into someone else’s subconscious. A mind-blowing film.

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10) Prometheus (2012)

With the advancements of robotic interventions in surgery, it is expected that we will be able to develop robots that can perform operations themselves without human supervision or intervention. It was perfectly demonstrated in this sci-fi. The video contains disturbing scenes.

 

11) Robot & Frank (2012)

In an aging society, it is going to be more and more important and challenging to take care of the elderly population. This movie focuses on a robot with artificial intelligence that can do this job in almost a human way.

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12)  The Fifth Element (1997)

You think 3D printing is a trending topic these days? Now that researchers could print out biomaterials such as kidney or liver issue, we might soon print out organs or the whole human body based on the blueprint (DNA) as pictured by this Luc Besson movie.

The 25 Most Creative Hungarians: In The Same List With The Prezi Founders

For long years, I’ve been working on closing the gap between digital technologies and everyday healthcare globally through innovative services, blogs, books, guides and courses. Now I do that as a medical futurist.

When I realized I was included in the list of the 25 most creative Hungarians, it was a huge pleasure and honor. First, because I’m in the same list as the Prezi.com founders. Second, because I’m the only one in the list from biomedical sciences. And third, Hungary has a reputation of producing creative innovators and it feels amazing at least being mentioned with them on the same page.

I hope this inclusion will serve as an example that in the era of digital technologies, creativity is a must-need feature in medicine and healthcare as well.

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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.

veebot-early-prototype

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.

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

As there are so many amazing things going on worldwide in medicine and healthcare, I thought creating a shortlist of some of the most promising ideas and developments would give us a glimpse into the future of medicine. 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.

1) New disease categories due to the excessive use of virtual reality solutions in gaming and other industries will appear. Examples include virtual post-traumatic stress disorder (v-PTSD) which might be the diagnosis for gamers who participate in large virtual battles wearing VR masks (such as Call of Duty of Battlefield) and experience similar symptoms as those soldiers who fought in real wars. Expect to see ICD codes assigned to such new conditions.

Jeff Ebert

2) Real-time diagnostics should be in the focus for the next few years. The intelligent surgical knife (iKnife) was developed by Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London and works by using an old technology where an electrical current heats tissue to make incisions with minimal blood loss, but with iKnife the vaporized smoke is analyzed by a mass spectrometer to detect the chemicals in the biological sample. It means it can identify whether the tissue is malignant real-time. Surgeons will love this surgical Jedi knife which can significantly reduce the length of operations.

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3) While better and better data input solutions arise, we will probably not even need hardware to add data to a laptop or PC as screens and keyboards will be projected on the wall or on the table making it simple and accessible everywhere in the clinical settings. Holographic keyboards will make us forget about smartphones and tablets, but only small projectors will be needed while the data will be stored only in the cloud.

Laser-Keyboard

4) Medical communication is something that affects all patients and medical professionals worldwide without exceptions. This is one reason why social media has the potential to become a huge “mind machine” making it possible to transmit, share, crowdsource and store medical pieces of information either for e-patients or medical professionals if such social platforms are used in a proper way. Don’t underestimate the power of digital/medical communication.

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

5) By the time Google Glass fulfills its whole potential of leveraging the power of augmented reality, similar contact lenses will be presented which are capable of the same functionalities but without the need for wearing real glasses. Google Glass can be controlled through voice and hand gestures; while the contact lenses will be controlled with brain waves as there are more and more developments in this area.

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6) Ian Pearson wrote in his book, You Tomorrow, about the possibility that one day we will be able to create digital selves based on neurological information. It means we could upload our minds to a computer and live on in a digital form. As Google hired Ray Kurzweil to create the ultimate artificial intelligence controlled brain, this opportunity should not be so far away. We might have been searching for the clues of living forever in the wrong places.

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7) Cyborgs will be everywhere around us including a new generation of hipsters who implant devices and technologies in their bodies just to look more cool. Advances in medical technology will not just repair physical disadvantages such as impaired eye sight but will create superhuman powers from having an eyesight of an eagle to having a hearing of a bat. While a patient wearing implanted defibrillators or pacemakers can also be added to the group of cyborgs, I expect to see more cases when patients ask for the implantation of a certain device without having medical problems.

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8) If guns and other objects can be printed now and the biotechnology industry is working on printing even living cells; why would the appearance of 3D printed drugs be surprising? It will destroy and re-design the whole pharmaceutical world, but regulation will be a huge challenge as anyone will be able to print any kind of drugs that contain patented molecules at home. Bionic ears and simpler organs will be printed at the patient’s bedside.

bionic-ear

9) Adherence and compliance represent crucial issues in improving the patients’ health and decreasing the cost of delivering healthcare. Several start-ups have targeted this issue with different solutions such as a pill bottle that glows blue when a medication dose should be taken and red when a dose is missed (winner of the recent Healthcare Innovation World Cup); or tiny digestible sensors that can be placed in pills and can transmit pill digestion data to physicians and family members. In the future, it’s going to be extremely difficult to lie to your doctor.

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10) Radiology is one of the fastest growing and developing areas of medicine, therefore this might be the specialty in which we can expect to see the biggest steps in developments. One multi-functional machine will be able to detect plenty of medical problems, biomarkers and symptoms at once. Check the machine used in the film, Elysium from the 36th second in the trailer. With one quick check up it tells you what percentage of your cells are cancer free.

Here is the second part!

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