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Taking Fear Out of Healthcare: Videos

Last week, I had a chance to give some short interviews about the future of medicine to TopLineMD and I enjoyed those discussions very much. Here is a video and please see the links to the others below.

The Future of Medicine

Genomics and Future Hospitalization

2020 – Human or Robotic Docs?

Proactive Patient

10+1 Commandments For Companies Developing Wearable Health Trackers

I use a dozen health trackers to live a healthy life. I would not go out for a run without measuring data. As a geek, that is my motivation. Throughout the last couple of years, I have tested and used about 40 devices and gadgets that measure health parameters or vital signs.

The #wearable revolution is getting heated now as I described in The Guide to the Future of Medicine, therefore I thought it’s time to share the 10+1 commandments every company developing wearable health trackers should follow. Please feel free to add yours.

1) Don’t provide a value you cannot explain.

When a device shows me values without clear explanations of what they mean, I feel bad as that is a missed opportunity. If you can provide a specific value, assign practical explanation to it. You can show me what period of my running session I spent in power/strenght mode, but I don’t know what it means. Perfusion index sounds great but how could it be applied to my lifestyle? Please only show us things you can clearly explain. The quest is not to measure more and more but to make better and better decisions about how to live healthily.

Good example: Wahoo Tickr Run

2) Don’t make me charge you every day.

I’m not in a relationship with the device therefore I don’t want to see and deal with it every day. If you cannot develop something that can survive for days without a battery change or recharge, there are other industries to invest into. My Pebble smartwatch can function for more than 7 days. The Wahoo run tracker has a year of battery life. But when my Withings Pulse started to require charging every day, I stopped using it.

Good example: Pebble Time

3) Focus on one practical thing.

You might be able to develop a device that can measure a dozen things from ECG and oxygen saturation to stress levels and attention. How will you find your target audience, if there is any? Design a device that can help with one important thing. Whether I want to lose weight; get better at paying attention; run more regularly or reduce stress levels; I would rather buy a device that helps me solve that problem than another one intended for everybody under any circumstances. That creates a wrong message.

Good example: AliveCor

4) You need us, users.

It’s impossible that you design something amazing without being in contact with those who will use your invention. You have great ideas, but I’m the one using your device at the end of the day, I suffer from its error messages and enjoy its advantages. Create a social media profile through which we can contact you. Actually, we want to work for you because if you develop better things, our life becomes simpler. Use this free consulting service and let us talk with you. It’s not only about customer support, but general trust as well.

Good example: FitBit

5) Troubled synchronizing can make me stop using what you develop.

A few devices such as Withings tell me I need to synchronize them manually. And even when I do, it doesn’t always work. Others such as FitBit are said to synchronize automatically. And still sometimes data are missing. I don’t want to deal with that. I thought synchronizing would not be an issue by now. Either make it truly automatic or really user-friendly, but this is crucial.

Good example: Pip Stress

6) You lose me without gamification.

I might be a very motivated person, but measuring pure data is not enough. Design a system that makes me hooked on your solution. FitBit sends me weekly summaries about my activities. Lumosity shows me what percentage of people in my age group is better than me. Withings Blood Pressure creates a very clear, color-coded graph about my blood pressure measurements. Make me addicted to you.

Good example: Muse

7) Create our community.

Finding someone to discuss data measured by devices is difficult. I needed to create a social media network of tens of thousands of people for that. Not everyone has this opportunity. You could develop a community of like-minded and motivated individuals either by a community on your website or using a Twitter hashtag you work out. What matters is that developing a device is not enough. And creating such a network is so easy, you should not miss this chance of tying more users to your invention.

Good example: FitBit

8) Measure is not only pleasure, help us.

Interpreting the data can be a huge obstacle. I need to be a doctor, a researcher and a geek to get the most out of my data. Instead, companies developing these devices could provide a clear understanding of what conclusions I can draw from what I measure. Your responsibility doesn’t stop at creating the device. Actually it starts there.

Good example: AliveCor

9) Bluetooth pairing is not rocket science.

Issues with pairing numerous devices via Bluetooth is the Blue Death of the 21st century. I cannot count how many times I had to deal with it either because the device got unpaired by itself; another phone paired with it by chance; or they couldn’t find each other. This should not be an issue at all. I pair the device in seconds once, and that works for as long as I want. Without knowing plenty of tricks about how my smartphone works, I couldn’t have solved many of these issues. The majority of your users haven’t ever heard about these tricks so they will just give up.

Good example: Tinké

10) Not updating apps is like giving up on us.

You develop a device, bring it to the market and I buy it. Whatever the device is capable of, it is going to be the same forever. But apps can change. With many devices, I take more time looking at their apps than the device itself. Build upon this opportunity and update the apps behind your invention as regularly as possible. And please don’t even think about developing something if you can only release an iOS or Android version. If you don’t have both, even as an Android user, I will not buy your device.

Good example: MisFit

+1) You are not doing business, but helping us live healthier.

That is a crucial point. If your major intention is making money, you already lost this battle. People will find this out very soon. If you want to help people live a healthier life, you create a chance of long-term success. Without your inventions, I couldn’t motivate myself to exercise every day. And when I feel that you really want to help me; I become even more motivated. Let’s cherish this relationship and build the pyramid of a “healthy life revolution” with good technologies.

I hope many companies will read this and share what they think. Until then, I grab some of my favorite gadgets and go out for a run enjoying the motivation they provide me with; and dealing with the technical issues they make me face.

Virtual-Digital Brains

An excerpt from The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

The brain is a unique organ, the most developed organ in the universe with some very interesting features based on psychological studies. In a classic study, students found a boring task more interesting if they were paid less to take part. The unconscious mind reasoned that if they did not do it for money they must have done it because it was interesting. Multi–tasking skills, hallucinations, obedience to authority (e.g. the Milgram Experiment), and the placebo effect all underscore what a special system we have to deal with when researching the brain.

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Japanese scientists could map one second’s worth of activity in the human brain with K computer, the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world. It has 705,024 processor cores and 1.4 million gigabytes of random access memory (RAM) at its disposal. Simulating the neural network of 1.73 billion nerve cells and 10.4 trillion synapses requires such petascale computers; simulating the whole brain at the level of individual nerve cells and their synapses will probably be possible with exascale computers within the next decade.

Stanford University announced that it has been working on a circuit board that can mimic the behavior of the human brain. The so–called Neurogrid circuit is now able to replicate the processes of 1 million human neurons, resulting in computer chips that are 9,000 times faster than a desktop computer. The human brain consumes only three times as much power as NeuroGrid with 80,000 times more neurons than that. Their long–term goal is to develop this technology further so that its prosthetic interaction with the human mind could look like science fiction. One of the lead researchers said that due to exponentially powerful technologies which are transforming our sphere of possibilities, we are no longer subject to Darwinian natural selection. We will be able to extend our reach.

The Human Brain Project, funded by the European Commission, aims at building a completely new computing infrastructure for neuroscience and brain–related research, catalyzing a globally collaborative effort to understand the human brain and its diseases and, ultimately, to emulate its computational abilities. The project involves hundreds of researchers and will cost an estimated €1.1 billion. Sebastian Seung and his team work on mapping the brain’s connectome under the OpenWorm project. Their mission is to simulate a nematode worm in a computer. In 2014, European scientists produced the first ultra–high resolution 3D scan of the entire human brain. In the US, President Barack Obama recently approved a $100 million brain mapping initiative. These examples show that the pace at which brain research is moving forward is extraordinary.

IBM’s Cognitive Computing Group has developed chips that can simulate how neurons and their connections work by being able to simulate the creation of even new connections. A chip called “SYNAPSE” can simulate 256 neurons with about a quarter of a million synaptic connections. The project’s long–term goal is to simulate 10 billion neurons with their 100 trillion connections, representing approximately the power of the human brain but using less and less power.

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In the 19th century, punch cards were used to control automatic textile looms, enter data and commands into computers from 1896 and were used well into the 1970s. Keyboards were only introduced in the 1960s, as well as the first mouse in 1963 containing a block of wood with a single button and two gear–wheels. The first optical mouse appeared in 1980, multitouch was introduced in 1984; and natural user interfaces such as the Nintendo Wii or Microsoft Kinect were released in the 2000s. These are the ways we have been expanding our minds in the form of communicating with digital devices. The next logical step is designing brain–computer interfaces that could be controlled by thought.

We are getting closer to understand in detail how the brain really works. It is the biggest quest humanity has ever gone on. Simpler obstacles and almost unsolvable technical difficulties are on the way.

Get your copy here!

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What Does The Theranos FDA Approval Mean?

Elizabeth Holmes left Stanford and founded Theranos in 2003. The company is based on an invention related to cheap and fast blood tests. It is said to require only a droplet of blood. I would be the happiest person if it could work like they state but the company has refused to reveal details about the technology because of business secret. They already have available services though in Walgreens over the US.

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Now, out of nowhere, the FDA approved its Herpes virus test.

As part of the approval, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the company are also making public for the first time details about precisely how the famously secretive business performs the particular test being approved—in this case, an assay to detect the sexually transmitted disease herpes simplex virus (HSV-1).

Theranos is fighting in the front line of the battle of digital health and biotech innovation, but it’s hard to follow them with trust without knowing what weaponry they have. A company that is ready to take responsibility in this battle would provide information to the scientific community. At least, something to chew on.

The Medical Futurist: Weekly Introduction

Working as a speaker and consultant with medical technology, pharmaceutical and web companies; as well as universities and governments worldwide, my mission as The Medical Futurist is to make sure the advances of technology lead to a better healthcare for everyone!

I publish a daily newsletter about the future of medicine, manage a popular Facebook page about the future; launched a Youtube channel and share related news almost every hour on Twitter.

Here is my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine:

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I’m also the author of Social Media in Clinical Practice handbookand the founder of Webicina.com, a service that curates medical content in social media for medical professionals and e-patients.

I launched The Social MEDia Course, the e-learning format of my university course focusing on medicine and social media for medical students, physicians and also patients with Prezis, tests and gamification.

I hope you will enjoy reading Scienceroll.com!

Why Predicting The Future Of Medicine Is Hard – Video

Science fiction movies sometimes show us a great future, but in medicine, they almost always make a huge mistake. There are 3 major reasons why predicting the future in medicine & healthcare is hard, if not impossible.

Please do share what you think.

A New Wearable For Water Safety

A new wearable is seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo. Kingii is meant to help people who get in trouble in water and provide a sign that can be seen from a distance. It inflates, stays like that for 48 hours, has a compass and a whistle.

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I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Let’s see how it goes.

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