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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

Reinventing The Medical Curriculum

Medical curriculum worldwide cannot meet the needs of today’s e-patients and technologies any more, therefore there is time for a substantial change. Good examples are sporadic but at least exist. At Monash University, they developed a kit of 3D-printed anatomical body parts to revolutionize medical education and training. I studied anatomy when I was a medical student from books with tiny font sizes and old atlases. Here is how it can be a different experience.

The 3D Printed Anatomy Series kit, to go on sale later this year, could have particular impact in developing countries where cadavers aren’t readily available, or are prohibited for cultural or religious reasons. After scanning real anatomical specimens with either a CT or surface laser scanner, the body parts are 3D printed either in a plaster-like powder or in plastic, resulting in high resolution, accurate color reproductions.

 

3d-printed-anatomy-series

 

Moreover, in the Netherlands, a 3D bioprinting Masters program was just introduced and now they plan to become a global centre of bioprinting. This is how medical schools and institutions worldwide should aim at adopting new technologies. This is what the main organizer said:

“There will be 120 researchers completely dedicated to regenerative medicine and biofabrication. Our main work within the bioprinting facility in the early stages is on cartilage and underlying bones. For this type of biological structures, bioprinting technologies are mature and the development of bioinks is taking off exponentially. Our goal is to create a hub of knowledge focused on Utrecht while reaching out to the international scientific community.”

If we don’t change curriculum worldwide, it will be late to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s world.

 

 

The Dangers of the Future

In my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine coming out this August, I’ll feature plenty of analyses of the potential dangers we will all have to face due to new technologies. There will be new diseases because of the excessive use of virtual reality applications and it will be a real challenge to persuade people not to live an entirely virtual life.

A new article on Techcrunch, Immersive Infections, features some of these threats with a focus on augmented and virtual reality. It’s worth running over the examples it comes up with in order to prepare for the threats of the next few years.

One of the key components of Augmented Reality (AR) tech is its ability to facilitate interaction with the real world in new ways. This means that in order to provide digital content overlayed on the real world, these devices require the use of cameras.

A camera attached to an AR device that is attached to you can be a very dangerous thing. Consider if you will, malware that can use said camera to take pictures during a user’s most private times. These instances are never meant to be seen by the public, but by using the connections to social media these devices will no doubt have available, a cyber criminal can post these pictures onto the user’s social media whenever they want. Of course the most likely scenario would be if the user refused to pay a ransom.

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Monitoring Drivers’ Health With ECG-Sensing Car Seats

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University are working on new kind of car seats that could measure vital signs such as ECG of the driver to prevent accidents caused by drivers falling asleep.

The sensor system can be used to detect heart signals which indicate a driver is beginning to lose alertness, and trigger a warning to pull over. Should the driver choose to ignore the alerts, active cruise control or lane departure technology could be deployed to gently guide the vehicle. The information could also be sent over a wireless network to a control centre to take further action.

This shows the path for new wearable health trackers which would play an immense role in our lives seamlessly measuring key vital signs and actually saving our lives from time to time.

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Read more about the research here.

New Wearable: ChronoDose Delivers Drug Transdermally

This year represents a turning point for wearable health trackers, out of which an obvious next one could be a gadget that delivers drugs through the skin when needed. ChronoDose now delivers nicotine for those who would like to stop smoking but the patches didn’t really seem to be working. Users can teach the gadget when it is the hardest to resist the temptation therefore it can add the next dosage in the right time.

ChronoDose is a programmable transdermal drug delivery system that’s worn as an armband. The ChronoDose will someday offer many different drugs the ability to be programmed, and administered via this transdermal device, but the buzz is all about it’s use as the world’s first programmable nicotine replacement method. ChronoDose’s use with SmartStop™ gives the device the ability to be programmed to anticipate the users cravings, and offer nicotine dosing scheduled to take effect before the urge to smoke strikes.

 

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1 Out Of 5 Americans Don’t Track Any Vital Signs

Without managing our health while being healthy it is impossible to significantly improve healthcare. I’ve already introduced the health trackers I have been using to stay healthy as an attempt of persuading people to do so.

Now Withings has come up with the report of a recent survey that had some worrying results.

  • Although 82% of Americans think tracking vital signs at home is important, one fifth of Americans do not track any vitals outside of the doctor’s office.
  • 75% of people would be open to checking their vitals at home if they were a part of a program that would save them money on health insurance premiums
  • Oddly enough, although 59% of respondents monitor their temperature with a thermometer, only 12% could recall it as a vital sign, unprompted.
  • Over 80% of patients recall their doctors taking body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.  Only 29% remember blood oxygen level being measured at their last check-up.

Obviously, better wearable gadgets are needed which make the whole process comfortable, simple and smooth.

Do you track any health parameters? If so, which ones? If not, why not?

Smart-Activity-trackers

 

Update: Also, here is the infographic Withings has released (click on the image for the original one):

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Google And Novartis Tracking Diabetes With Smart Contact Lenses

A few months ago I discussed the future features of smart contact lenses. Now using these to augment vision or track health parameters is not only a good idea any more, as Google launched a partnership with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to develop smart contact lenses that can track diabetes by measuring blood glucose levels in tears and fix farsightedness as well.

As part of the agreement, Google[x] and Novartis’ eye care division Alcon will create smart lenses that feature “non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics” and focus on two main areas. The first will provide a way for diabetic patients to keep on top of their glucose levels by measuring the sugar levels in their tear fluid, feeding the data back to a smartphone or tablet. The second solution aims to help restore the eye’s natural focus on near objects, restoring clear vision to those who are only farsighted (presbyopia).

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Computer or Human Caregiver?

There has been a long debate whether people would want to get the right diagnosis and the best treatment from human caregivers or algorithms/programs providing the same quality. Every round table or discussion group I have ever been the member of concluded that people need people in interaction and communication, especially when they are vulnerable. However, there is nothing to make us believe there won’t be an algorithm that can diagnose a disease better than a human doctor.

To make this issue even more complicated, new research found patients are more likely to respond honestly to personal questions when talking to a virtual human.

“The power of VH (virtual human) interviewers to elicit more honest responding comes from the sense that no one is observing or judging,” note the researchers, led by Gale Lucas of the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. People have a strong tendency to want to look good in front of others, including doctors; this problematic tendency can be short-circuited using this high-tech tool.

If you think this is something we don’t have to deal with yet, try to convince yourself that the chatbot you are talking with is not a human. Coming up with the right questions to prove that is a good exercise before the era of artifical intelligence. Here are some examples, but not all of these links work all the time.

eugen

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