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Posts from the ‘Medicine 2.0’ Category

Fight Stress Successfully With Technology: Free Guide and Giveaway!

Stress is such a central part of our modern life that we sometimes take it for granted. But it’s also one of our most unhealthy habits. Work, money, insufficient sleep, relationships, even driving in thick traffic have been shown to increase it. Unsurprisingly, roughly 3 of 4 people experience stress-related negative physical and psychological symptoms.

As I’ve battled stress myself, I wanted to help, and put together a Guide to Managing Stress with Technology. The great team behind Pip, the personal stress manager, has agreed to award a device to a lucky person who downloads the Guide. I’m also giving away 10 copies of my latest book, My Health: Upgraded, which helps improve not just stress management, but other areas of your health with technology.

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How technology helped me manage stress

I’ve been quantifying my health since 1997. Through this, I have learnt that stress impacts me the same way it does others – it reduces the level of my focus, leads to bad sleep quality and decreases my emotional well-being. Based on this data, I realized I need to develop personal methods for reducing stress, as giving over 50 keynotes a year, as well as writing and consulting, stress was threatening my health.

First things first, I had to identify the things that make me more stressed, as well as the activities and thoughts that help me reduce anxiety. Then came designing a strategy that helps me pursue my lifetime goals without inducing undue stress. Looking back, managing stress proactively might have been one the best decisions in my life.

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I have been giving simple scores between one and ten to my mental, physical and emotional well-being every single day for years. Using a spreadsheet to track when I was stressed out, I was able to realize when it impacted my life – something that’s easy to miss amid the rush of work, family and social activities. When I purchased the Pip device to actually measure my stress levels, I gained even better understanding of stress in my life, and what activities increased or decreased its levels.

For example, I’ve been playing Lumosity to improve my cognitive skills, but what surprised me was how effectively playing just 10-15 minutes reduced my stress levels. I’ve been using music from Focusatwill.com to work productively, and it turned out my stress level also decreases while listening to its tunes. Realizing that playing football decreased stress levels not during and right after the game, but for another 24 hours convinced me to indulge more in the sport. I’ve included more of the things I’ve learned in the Guide to Master Stress.

The Pip, a device to master stress relief

A few months ago, I started using PIP, a tiny device that was designed to give immediate feedback about my stress levels. Its smartphone app also helps learn how to reduce stress by showing me a winter image which I need to transform into summer by being relaxed. I hold it between the thumb and index fingers to measure skin conductivity for a few minutes and I know I dedicate time to having a less stressed life.

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The longer I can keep my stress low, the faster the scene changes. The task takes me about 15 minutes, while my wife does it in about 4 minutes. Of course it stresses me to think about how much more stressed I am than my wife, at least according to the device. But I am working on it.

If you’re one of the billions of people battling stress daily, make sure to get the Guide to Mastering Stress With Technology, and get a chance to win the Pip device and one of the 10 copies of My Health: Upgraded!

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The brand new Webicina.com: Curating social media for patients and physicians

In 2008, I was a fifth year medical student and had a simple idea. I thought curated social media resources should be available to patients and physicians for free. My sister helped me launch a company and development of Webicina started right away. For six years, I treated it like a startup but eventually realized, making it free from advertisements and promotional content is the only way to make it purely educational.

In the last two years, I sat down with the best designers, developers and content strategists to redesign Webicina. I’m happy to announce that we’ve used your suggestions to transform Webicina into a constant feed of the best medical news and advice online, hand-picked by our experts.

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We now help you solve all 3 of the major problems patients and physicians face when looking for answers to their health questions or browse medical news:

1) There’s too much information out there. People from cancer patients, patient influencers to leading researchers have told us that managing dozens of blogs, newsletters and social media grows old – fast. Webicina collects the latest news from the best, most reliable sources into one, easily manageable magazine. Start browsing your news feed! >>

2) It’s hard to tell facts from falsehoods. Google and other search engines can only gauge a site’s importance based on popularity – and have no way to decide about it’s medical factuality. It’s easy to mistake biased information or plain falsehoods for facts, and this can lead to severe consequences for your health or patients. That’s why our experts sift through thousands of news sites, blogs, podcasts and social media accounts, separating the ones with reliable information from the ones peddling false advice. Select the conditions or medical fields you’re interested in! >>

3) Saving or sharing useful medical information isn’t easy. Each of us want to stay healthy and live better. We all have communities, loved ones or patients we’d like to help do the same. But over time, this can get hectic, and it’s easy to lose important information among dozens of notes and bookmarks. Any information you find on Webicina can be saved, organized and shared with anyone with a click. Start by saving a useful blog post, news articles or tweet that made you think! >>

 

I cannot wait to hear what you think! You’d help greatly by telling me what you love and what we need to improve.

Top 7 Health Technologies at CES 2016

The CES technology show recently took place in Las Vegas. The show, well-known for its gadget news and video games, also featured exciting medical innovations. Forget about another dozen fitness wearables or new generation smartwatches – the top 7 breakthroughs are truly inspiring steps forward.

1) L’Oréal helps prevent skin cancer

A smart patch developed by the cosmetics giant, L’Oréal, measures UV radiation on the wearer’s body. It’s basically a sticker coated in special dye that changes color when light from the sun (or, presumably a UV light source) hits the patch. A smartphone app gauges the exposure and alerts the wearer in case of dangerous UV radiation levels that may raise the risk of skin cancer. A helpful addition to any beach-goer’s pack for the summer season.

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2) Withings speeds up temperature measurements with Thermo

There are more and more smart thermometers out there but none of them is comfortable and accurate enough. Withings released Thermo that has 16 sensors and measures body temperature in seconds by pointing it at the temporal artery. It also has a clean interface and only one button, making it easy to use for anyone. This is the most sophisticated device of its kind so far.

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3) Veta Smart Case for EpiPen to keep track of the allergy medication

The EpiPen is a disposable, pre-filled automatic injection device that administers epinephrine in the event of a severe allergic reaction. The Veta Smart Case was designed to help patients use it properly – which can be challenging during an allergic event, marking the location of the Epipen to find it faster, among other things. It also makes the treatment as digitally quantifiable as possible. Expiration, location and reason of use are all measured and tracked. This way the patient can keep a better record of their treatment history, and doctors can analyze and discuss the case easily.

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4) ReSound brings natural hearing to the hearing impaired

ReSound is launching a hearing aid that mimics natural hearing almost perfectly. The Spatial Sense technology gives a natural sense of where sounds are coming from and helps form a detailed sound picture of the surroundings. The Binaural Directionality technology makes sure the wearer can still understand every word of the conversation. It is smartphone controlled. It can be connected to FaceTime, music apps and more, ensuring their sounds are played back perfectly. This is a truly digital hearing aid for the 21st century.

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5) Quell’s FDA approved Wearable Pain Relief fights pain without drugs

Quell is a wearable technology with intensive nerve stimulation that is clinically proven to help manage chronic pain. It is FDA cleared for use during the day while active and at night while sleeping. Although the Medgadget reviewer didn’t experience significant pain relief, they praised the design and comfortability.

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6) SleepPhones filter out noise to make sleeping easier

The SleepPhones headphones were designed to help the user fall asleep and stay asleep. It filters out sounds such as a partner snoring or other distractions. Having a great quality sleep is crucial for general well-being. Current technologies can help to optimize sleep but didn’t help at all if someone had trouble falling asleep. The technology will be a huge help for those suffering from insomnia.

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7) GymWatch is a true personal trainer for your home

Gymwatch might be the first affordable sensor that guides users through all exercises they need for an athletic body. It can give feedback about pushups, strength workouts, cardio, exercise on machines, and more. The reason why it’s unique is that by measuring strength and acceleration it helps make exercises that do not involve spatial displacement (e.g. running) better. This is a great step forward in wearable technology for those of us looking to stay fit, strong and healthy. I’ve already ordered mine – stay tuned for an in-depth review!

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This year’s CES was full of digital health innovation, bringing solutions for athletes, people dealing with allergy or patients suffering from chronic pain. I cannot wait to see what next year’s event will feature.

There Will Be No “Mars Generation” Without These Technologies

NASA is set to send astronauts to orbit Mars and return them safely by the mid 2030s. And a manned landing on the Red Planet will soon follow. However, this work will be in vain if health technology does not advance.

My parents were members of the Apollo generation. The amazing accomplishment of putting men on the Moon defined their era, stretching the boundaries of what humanity can achieve. But after the last Moon landing, no more exciting breakthroughs emerged. Global attention to space declined. Until now.

Visionaries like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are making spaceflight exciting again – turning our children into the Mars generation. Indeed, NASA is set to send astronauts to orbit Mars and return them safely by the mid 2030s. And a manned landing on the Red Planet will soon follow. However, this work will be in vain if health technology does not advance.

THE HAZARDS OF GETTING MAN TO MARS

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Image credit: NASA

The trip to Mars takes around seven months, which is a only a little longer than the time astronauts spend on the International Space Station; however, counting their mission, orbit around Mars, landing, and return, the journey will take years.

Spaceflight has a serious effect on astronauts. Variations in temperature and radiation levels, motion sickness, losing bone and muscle mass despite doing exercises, disruption of vision and taste…all of these cause health issues, not to mention the psychological consequences of space travel.

Unfortunately, today, our health can only be effectively monitored by sensors that, at the present time, fill a room. Treating an injury such as a broken bone—a simple matter on Earth—requires medical manufacturing capabilities, capabilities that we don’t have on the Red Planet.

The technologies we need to solve the aforementioned issues exist, but they are in their infancy. Telemedicine is inaccurate and unregulated; genome sequencing is used in the rarest of cases and only by top medical institutions; 3D printing in medicine is the playground of citizen scientists, but has yet to advance into a viable and effective method of treatment.

The sad fact is, we don’t stand a chance of getting to Mars without a booming digital health industry. With that in mind, here are the top inventions and technologies we need if we ever hope to make a new home for humanity on Mars.

3D PRINTERS THAT CAN CREATE EVERYTHING AVAILABLE IN A DOCTOR’S OFFICE

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Printing with a 3D printer at Makers Party: Via WikiMedia

As astronauts will be alone and cannot bring all the supplies for a lengthy stay on the Red Planet, they will need printers that can print out medical equipment, prosthetics, and drugs on demand. Bringing the ingredients for these, and printing out what is needed on site, makes more sense than bringing a few types of equipment and drugs which could only help under limited circumstances.

Astronauts could establish manufacturing by designing printers that can print out other printers. The whole idea of 3D printing is going to be essential to them. It has been shown that customized prosthetics can be printed out, some forms of medical equipment, and even drug used in epilepsy. The basic examples are here already or trends seem to be pointing into this direction. So the future is looking bright.

WEARABLE AND IMPLANTED BODY SENSORS

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Credit: Professor Takao Someya

Forget smart clothes and devices that can measure your ECG or pulse with a smartphone. On a trip to Mars, every ounce of cargo matters. Without tiny sensors that can measure every important vital sign and health parameter, crew members will not be able to make medical decisions.

Today’s wearable trackers are big, get discharged quickly, and are hard to work with. Astronauts cannot rely on them. Digital tattoos and implanted microchips could do the job without the active participation of astronauts. These would measure every relevant parameter and let them know when there is something they should take care of. The Japanese Professor Someya has been developing such tattoos with his team; as well as the MC10 company.

FULL GENOMIC ANALYSIS TO IDENTIFY ASTRONAUTS’ HEALTH RISKS

Since they won’t have access to proper healthcare for years, knowing what major conditions the Martian astronauts might face would be highly beneficial, indeed, even necessary. A full genome sequencing, assisted by microbiome tests and other lab markers, will let physicians partially predict what major diseases they will probably encounter in their lives and what they can do to try to avoid most of them. This includes what diet to choose based on the types of bacteria they live with and what lab markers to regularly re-check to catch a disease before it would develop.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE THAT CAN DRAW CONCLUSIONS FROM LIVE HEALTH DATA

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IBM’s Watson computer, Yorktown Heights, NY. Via: WikiMedia

No matter how sophisticated sensors are, measurements will not help with day-to-day issues unless there are smart algorithms that can make suggestions. Astronauts will have no constant contact with Earth, and they cannot have all the skills of an experienced physician, researcher, and data analyst.

Algorithms will do this job for them. This will help them get the most out of each day to exploit the theoretical limits of efficiency.

TELEMEDICAL SOLUTIONS THAT ALLOW REMOTE CARE

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Image credit: ITouch

Even though the distance is big between physicians here and the crew on Mars, high quality communication with specialized caregivers on Earth will be an essential part of their care. As was mentioned, the distance and delay in communication will make it tricky, but from time to time, communication with a real doctor will be absolutely necessary.

While the future of smart algorithms used in healthcare is bright, human supervision will still be a crucial part of making sure they are on the right track. InTouch Health is a good example.

THIN EXOSKELETONS TO AUGMENT HUMAN STRENGTH AND POWER

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Fortis exoskeleton. Image credit: FORTIS

Lifting huge weights and working tirelessly for long hours will be must-have features on Mars, as astronauts will need to build a base camp. As exoskeletons get thinner and more comfortable, the crew on Mars will use them as frequently as the first astronauts used screwdrivers. Exoskeletons today can already let paralyzed people walk again; let soldiers not get tired of walking for hours or even run faster and jump higher. As long spaceflights weaken their muscles no matter how much they try to exercise in zero gravity, exoskeletons could supply them with the lost strength.

ENGINEERING IN BIOTECHNOLOGY

Astronauts will need to be able to partially engineer life. By life, I mean bacteria, yeast, and even their own immune system if needed. The new genome editing method, CRISPR, could play a major role in this. Systems involving engineering bacteria to produce hormones, antibiotics, or other materials would allow them to use nature as a manufacturing device, even to filter water or create the desired atmosphere. Community labs currently available in California and the iGem competitions have demonstrated in what a wide range of situations bioengineering can offer solutions.

SURGICAL ROBOTS THAT CAN BE OPERATED FROM A DISTANCE

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Image credit: Weyland

There will be cases, almost inevitably, when astronauts will need to undergo surgery. Current surgical robots that perform big operations are controlled by surgeons through a control panel. The movie Prometheus featured a surgical robot capsule that can perform the whole operation on its own. The Mars generation will require an invention somewhere in between. Surgeons on Earth could pre-plan every step, and the robot could perform those steps while being supervised with the time delay digitally.

I truly believe that humans are discoverers – and the next great enterprise is discovering the cosmos, starting with Mars. At first, the task will fall on a few brave people, and we have to make sure we can keep them safe, healthy, and functioning in an environment that is hostile to human life.

We need to upgrade their health with advancements in digital health to make this possible. Luckily, these breakthrough technologies are all within our reach.

Read more about health technologies we will need to reach Mars and how to start upgrading your own health in my new book, My Health: Upgraded,

Top 10 Medical Technologies of 2016

Every year, I publish my predictions for the coming year. As the Medical Futurist, I’m expected to come up with bright visions and I’m happy to rise to the challenge. Last year my predictions included a digital tattoo, portable diagnostic devices thanks to the XPrize Challenge, IBM Watson’s rise to prominence in analyzing big health data, and brain computer interfaces such as Muse or Thync becoming available to the general public. These visions have since become reality.

It’s time to list the 10 major breakthroughs and trends that will dominate healthcare and medicine in 2016.

1) Virtual Reality

Once The New York Times gave out Google Cardboards with its newspapers, it was clear virtual reality was going mainstream. But now that Facebook’s Oculus Rift just became available for pre-order, virtual reality is going to become a booming industry. With really sophisticated devices on the market, it might have its biggest year ever in 2016. It will be used to let medical students gain realistic experience in examining patients or to let patients see what would happen to them the next day at the hospital for stress release.

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2) Augmented Reality

A Novartis chief announced that the digital contact lens patented by Google would become available in 2016. As it will measure blood glucose from tears, it is supposed to change diabetes treatment and management. Moreover, Hololens from Microsoft also comes out in 2016 which will have a huge impact on fields from medical education to architecture and engineering. It could help medical students do dissections for many hours a day from any angles without the formaldehyde smell.

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3) Fibretronics

2015 was not the year of smartclothes no matter how much we anticipated it. Even the ones with the biggest market potentials like HexoSkin were only traditional shirts with built-in devices in their pockets. But fibretronics are clothing materials with microchips implanted into them. They can react to body temperature or the mood of the wearer, among others. Google has started collaborating with Levi’s to create true fibretronic materials, which could be used to interact with technology through our clothes in novel ways. Imagine this in the OR. As the first promising collaborations in this area came out in 2015, expect to see the first tangible results in 2016!

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4) Smart Algorithms Analyzing Wearable Data

2015 was the year of wearable health trackers. A swarm of devices became available, Amazon launched its Wearable Marketplace and millions of activity trackers were sold. But gaining actionable insights from the constant stream of wearable data is not easy. We need clever algorithms and apps that merge data from several devices and apps, and help us draw meaningful conclusions. It would help lay people put more emphasis on prevention and have a healthier lifestyle. I had experience with Exist.io, one of the earliest attempts, but it still needs to go a long way.

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5) Near-Artificial Intelligence in Radiology

IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been used in oncology to assist medical decision-making. It proved the clear benefits of such a system by making diagnoses and treatment cheaper and more efficient. IBM’s Medical Sieve project aims to diagnose most lesions with a smart software, leaving room for radiologists to focus on the most important cases instead of checking hundreds of images every day.

6) Food Scanners

Food scanners like Scio and Tellspec have been in the spotlight since 2014, but as early developer prototypes have already been mailed to their first users in 2015, 2016 could be the year they become generally available. This would enable anyone to find out what’s really on their plates, providing clear benefits not just to people looking to gain weight or eat healthier food, but people with dangerous allergies as well.  

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7) Humanoid Robots

One of the most promising companies developing robots is Boston Dynamics, acquired by Google in 2013. Since then, they only released teaser videos about animal-like robots and Petman, the humanoid robot. Many technologies they are working on seem to be at a stage where they are ready to become actual products, the first signs of which we’ll see in 2016.

8) 3D Bioprinting

Organovo has been in the focus because of 3D printing biomaterials for years. They announced successfully bioprinted liver tissues in 2014 and they seemed to be 4-6 years away from printing liver parts for transplantation. But first, these bioprinted livers could be finally used in the pharmaceutical industry to replace animal models when analyzing the toxicity of new drugs. If it goes through in 2016, I feel printing actual liver tissue for transplantation could become a commercial service within the next decade.

9) Internet of Health Things At Home

Last year, I released a concept art of a bathroom of the future. All the elements in that image from the smart toothbrush to the digital mirror were partially available in 2015. But an array of sensors will reach the general public in 2016 making IoT a reality in our homes. The long-term goal is to make these devices communicate and learn from each other. This way we would not have to analyze the data of the devices ourselves, but the device manufacturers could merge their findings and share a digestible report with us when there is something to take care of.

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10) Theranos – Thumbs Up Or Down

The end of 2015 saw Theranos embroiled in a scandal. The company claims to perform blood tests from one drop of blood in a transparently priced way. Concerns were raised by the Wall Street Journal about the validity of their claims, and we are waiting for Theranos to reveal the details of their technology.

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Besides these, the new Verily Life Sciences branch of Alphabet and the gene editing method CRISPR might have a big hit in 2016. We will see.

These technologies and trends will create value and have an impact on our lives and the practice of medicine in 2016. To keep an eye on them, subscribe to my newsletter!

Top 10 Science Fiction Technologies That Arrived in 2015

As a science fiction fanatic, it’s exciting to see sci-fi in real life. Technologies that we have only seen in movies before are now transforming our everyday lives. We’re connected 24/7, across the globe by smartphones; driverless cars navigate safely in traffic; and houses are printed out. The same is happening in healthcare, even if we don’t yet feel this when we go to the GP’s office. Here are the top 10 stories that made healthcare feel like sci-fi in 2015:

1) 3D Printed Cast

Scott Summit from 3D Systems might have been the first patient ever to have a shower with a 3D printed cast on his arm. It is personalized to his arm, really cheap and easily replaceable. A Spanish startup Exovite is turning it into a product anyone can buy. Their cast also includes electrodes to prevent muscles from atrophying under the cast.

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2) Seeing Veins Under the Skin

A new device called VeinVeiwer Vision2 uses near-infrared light to generate real-time imagery of a patient’s veins. Taking blood – without damaging blood vessels or causing excessive pain – won’t just depend on the skill and the experience of phlebotomists.

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3) Kidney Tissue Grown in Lab

Lab-grown kidney tissues were successfully transplanted into animals. This is the first step towards making biomaterials transplantable into patients. Steps such as this make me hope for a near-future without organ donor waiting lists.

4) Cheap Prosthetics For Kids

The E-Nable project brings cheap, 3D printed prosthetics to underdeveloped regions. The parts can be replaced easily and the whole prosthetic device can be assembled by anyone. A lot of regional E-Nable projects were launched in 2015.

5) Augmented Reality in Medical Education

Microsoft will release its augmented reality head-mounted device in 2016 but they published the first videos about how it could be used in medical education and the future of medical training. Imagine studying anatomy by literally looking at 3D body parts in front of your eyes. I wish I was a medical student now.

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6) Pacemaker Without Surgery

A new wireless pacemaker with a battery life of over two decades can be implanted without surgery and was found safe in a clinical study. It is implanted similarly to stents: through a vein in the leg.

7) Hacking The Pancreas

A cute story about a couple showed the merits of empowered patients and citizen scientists. The husband is an engineer and the wife has diabetes. As diabetic patients face very low or very high blood glucose levels during the night, an alarm system for either extreme would be very useful, but is currently not available. They created one with DIY methods. Their solution gained fame, and might be turned into a product soon.

8) The Digital Contact Lens

A Novartis chief announced that the digital contact lens would come out in 2016. The patent about the technology belongs to Google, but the pharmaceutical company teamed up with them to provide better treatments in diabetes by letting the lens measure blood glucose from tears.

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9) Microchip Under The Skin Monitors Vital Signs

A new medical device – in effect a small microchip – can be implanted under the skin and allows for precise, real-time medical monitoring. With this invention, any vital sign or health parameter could be measured and monitored. The patient wouldn’t have to keep anything in mind or actively partake in the process.

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10) Smart Bandages Detect Infections

Next generation bandages include microchips that measure basic health parameters and also detect infections in their early phase. This way bed sores could be prevented in time.

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Hearing these news made me really excited about the future. I’m sure 2016 will bring even more technologies straight out of science fiction medicine, so keep an eye out!

Subscribe to my newsletter to get updates and analyses about important trends shaping the future of medicine.

What To Do With Data From Wearables?

I get this question so many times from people who are about to start using a tracker to improve their lives. I need to be a doctor, a researcher and a geek to analyze my data. There should be apps and services that provide meaningful suggestions about how to change our lifestyle based on the data trackers obtain.

Exist.io aims at filling this gap. Here is what they say about themselves:

We turn numbers into insights. We collect data from the services you already use and find trends and correlations in the results. Start by connecting your fitness tracker, and add other services like your calendar for greater context on what you’re up to.

Exist is a web app that works great on mobile, with companion Android and iPhone apps too.

It’s free for 14 days then it costs $6 per month. I’m starting my trial period today and will keep you posted about how it goes.

Until then, ReadWriteWeb had a detailed article about them.

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