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Posts from the ‘Medicine’ Category

Why Theranos Will Decide The Future of Medical Innovation

Theranos claims to perform blood tests from a droplet of blood but serious concerns were raised by the Wall Street Journal about their technology. They still don’t have a validation study, they are struggling with decision makers, they need to respond to a government agency, and now they are looking for a writer who can help them solve things.

It’s time to put things into place.

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.

What happens to society if we live beyond 130 years?

The Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment is a project of the European Union. By bringing stakeholders of healthcare together it hopes to design policy, gather technological solutions, and promote awareness of assisting an ageing society. I participated in one of its workshops at which we listened to possible scenarios and then had to come up with ideas about how to help society with technology. I enjoyed it very much. A key question was what would happen to society if we all lived beyond 130.

Life expectancy in classical Greece or Rome was 30 years. Starting in the 19th century it slowly changed. Since 1840, life expectancy at birth has risen about three months per year. This means that every year a newborn lives three months longer than those born the previous year. Sweden, which keeps exceptional demographic records, documents a female life expectancy of 45 in 1840 and 83 today.

When living beyond a hundred becomes a decision, rather than an opportunity, it is going to pose ethical issues to society it has never had before There is a saying that the first person to live beyond 150 has already been born. If it is true, we might be the new generation of super–centenarians.

Read more about it in my new book, My Health: Upgraded.

Crowdfunded Pocket Device Determines Risk for Stroke and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

I have been using dozens of devices to quantify my health and measure health parameters, but the real value is in determining risks for serious medical conditions. So far, it could have only taken place in healthcare institutions. The medical sensor revolution changes this status quo.

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The WIWE pocket device can determine the risk for stroke and sudden cardiac death by doing an ECG analysis and using a smart algorithm, among others. They are currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

Here are their 4 main features:

  1. Easy to use: and easy to wear. It only takes 60 seconds to record your ECG and it’s the same size as a business card holder.
  2. It does it all: you can take ownership of your health with its built in functions like the pedometer, pulse oximeter and calorie counter.
  3. Prevention: at its best. Our main goal is to ask people to take care of their heart and body before it’s too late.
  4. Real time capturing: of your ECG and evaluating the risks of a sudden cardiac arrest and stroke.

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Check out the campaign here and support them to get a big discount on the first devices.

Disclaimer: I have given pieces of advice to the WIWE team.

Paralyzed People Walk Again: A Dutch story

When I saw Amanda Boxtel standing up from her wheelchair and walking around with an exoskeleton around her body, the fact that exoskeletons have become real hit me. For years, movies have featured these robotic structures that carry people in them but still mimicking the movement of the human body. Avatar, The Edge of Tomorrow, Elysium and Matrix III all depicted them in a way it felt like it would always remain science fiction.

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Exoskeletons are robotic structures that are attached to the joints in order to substitute muscle power when it’s needed. It contains a computer in the backpack which can power the robotic components for hours. The prototypes couldn’t really mimic the way we walk but it’s getting better; the elements are getting thinner and the energy source is getting stronger.

A good friend of mine, Remco Hoogendijk, Innovation manager of Sint Maartenskliniek, just told me a fantastic story. They had their first patient taking his exoskeleton home. This basically is the end of an 8 weeks-long training program and the exoskeleton they use is the ReWalk 6.0.

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The patient is Ruben de Sain, a great guy how has had a Spinal Cord Injury ten years ago. That hasn’t stopped him in life. He works as a car salesman in a Seat garage and he loves to go skiing with his friends.

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The device is not yet widely available and costs are high. Some patients turn to crowdfunding the required money for their exoskeleton, while payors might cover it for others. Using such a technology would mean that patients could go back to work and live a normal life without the constant help and supervision of caregivers. With 3D printing methods, the production costs of the elements could go down too. These directions paint a bright future.

Ekso Bionics and ReWalk have been the major players, the latter even having an FDA approval. DARPA presented exoskeleton elements that can help soldiers run tirelessly or jump higher. As this technology keeps on improving, the question soon will not be whether paralyzed people can walk again, but them walking faster than healthy people.

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.

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