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Posts tagged ‘Medicine’

Defining Digital Medicine: New Paper in Nature Biotechnology

There is a new paper in Nature Biotechnology about defining digital medicine and it’s one of the most comprehensive articles I have ever read about this topic. They also have a figure describing many of the devices currently available for measuring vital signs.

Based on the last segment, new pieces will come soon:

There are many opportunities and challenges that will be clarified as this exciting new field emerges and over the coming year; this column will dig deeper into topics, such as the complexities of data sharing, interpreting data for real decision support, the shifting regulatory landscape, new company opportunities and emerging business models.

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How A Startup Tries To Understand The Network Relationship Of Diseases

In the basement office of Jeff Hammerbacher at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, a supercomputer called Minerva named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and medicine was installed in 2013. In just a few months Minerva generated 300 million new calculations to support healthcare decisions. Dr. Joel Dudley, director of biomedical informatics at the Icahn School of Medicine, said that what they are trying to build is a learning healthcare system.

“We first need to collect the data on a large population of people and connect that to outcomes. Let’s throw in everything we think we know about biology and let’s just look at the raw measurements of how these things are moving within a large population. Eventually the data will tell us how biology is wired up.”

From The Guide to the Future of Medicine

When they assembled and analyzed the health data of 30,000 patients who volunteered to share their information, it turned out that there might be new clusters or subtypes of diabetes. By analyzing huge amounts of data it might be possible to pinpoint genes that are unique to diabetes patients in these different clusters, providing potentially new ways to understand how our genomic background and environment are linked to the disease, its symptoms, and treatments.

Analyzing big data is key to the future of healthcare. But it’s not only about computational power, but a new paradigm about how we look at the networks of diseases. I loved the book, Burst, from Albert-László Barabási, the world-known expert of network medicine. It proved there are hidden patterns behind everything from e-mails to science.

I had a chance to meet him in person a few weeks ago and we chatted about his theories of network medicine for an hour. He thinks disease-disease relationships can be predicted and uncovered through the protein network, so-called interactome which is incomplete at this time. He and his team think that there are molecular fingerprints behind diseases and hidden structures which can only be uncovered with smart algorithms and bioinformatic methods.

Map of protein-protein interactions in asthma. The colour of a node signifies the phenotypic effect of removing the corresponding protein (red, lethal; green, non-lethal; orange, slow growth; yellow, unknown).

Map of protein-protein interactions in asthma. The colour of a node signifies the phenotypic effect of removing the corresponding protein (red, lethal; green, non-lethal; orange, slow growth; yellow, unknown).

The system they have been developing is aiming at interpreting gene expressions and genome-wide association study data to drug target identification and re-purposing. The name of Barabasi’s exciting start-up is DZZOM, derived from their map called „Diseasome”. Their approach and tools are certainly offering new opportunities to reclassify disease relationship from a network perspective and molecular level interactions. Obviously, biopharmaceutical companies are the primer targets for their services.

We will see how it transforms the way pharma companies develop new drugs and how it affects everyday medicine. Until then, read the paper published in Science.

Will The Hospital Of The Future Be Our Home?

The biggest part of healthcare is self care which takes places outside the medical system. I need to manage my health and disease not only in the hospital and during the doctor visits, but also at home. Still when people talk about the future of hospitals, they usually depict amazing technologies and really huge devices.

What if the majority of care could be provided in our homes? What if wearable and other devices could measure what needs to be measured in the bathroom or bedroom? What if smart clothes and brain activity trackers could change the way we work from home?

Let’s see what technologies might transform our home to be the new clinic, the hospital of the future.

The bathroom

It could include a smart scale that measures weight, body fat percentage; recognizes you and sends data immediately to your smartphone. The mirror could be a digital one analyzing your stress levels, pulse and mood just by looking at you. It could present news related to these parameters. You could use a smart toothbrush that could analyze whether you are hydrated or not; and give rewards for spending enough time with that activity. Then in the toilet, there could be a little microchip for urine analysis. When you go into the shower, the smart home could bring the temperature down by using the smart device like Nest acquired by Google. Water quality and quantity, cardiac fitness and a bunch of other things simple devices could measure in the bathroom.

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The bedroom

It could include smart sleep monitors which first give you data about what quality of sleep you had and then it could wake you up at the best time to make sure you are energized in the morning. When you go to bed, the smart sleep monitor could let the Nest know it should bring the temperature down because you are about to sleep. Such monitors could include specific music and lights to make sure you are gently woken up. Pulse, pulse variability, breathing and oxygen saturation could be measured to reduce sleep apnoe and snoring.

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The kitchen

There could be smart forks and spoons that either teach us how to eat slowly; or let people with Parkinson’s disease eat properly again. Scanners could measure the ingredients, allergens and toxins in our food and let smartphone applications help control our diet. There could be 3D food printers using fresh ingredients and create pizza, cookies, or almost any kind of final products just like what Foodini does these days.

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The work desk

You could wear smart clothes measuring vital signs, posture, stress levels and brain activity telling us when exactly to work for better performance. Services such as Exist.io could constantly look for performance tips by finding correlations between our digital habits and health parameters.

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We can use almost all these devices now and looking ahead into the future the best is just yet to come. The quest is to find those technologies that can really change the way we live our lives by bringing the clinical and hospital equipment to our actual homes providing better care without making the distance between patient and caregiver bigger.

What would you like to measure at home? What do you think about the home becoming the clinic with medical equipment and devices measuring our vital signs and making our lives simpler and better?

Please feel free to read more about the future of hospitals in my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine. Thank you!

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What Comes After The #Wearable Health Revolution?

The wearable health trackers’ revolution has been going on producing devices that let us measure vital signs and health parameters at home. It is changing the whole status quo of healthcare as medical information and now tracking health are available outside the ivory tower of medicine.

A 2014 report showed that 71% of 16-24-year-olds want wearable technology. Predictions for 2018 include a market value of $12 billion; a shipment of 112 million wearables and that one third of Americans will own at least a pedometer.

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Now a growing population is using devices to measure a health parameter and while this market is expected to continue growing, devices are expected to shrink, get cheaper and more comfortable. At this point, nobody can be blaimed for over-tracking their health as we got a chance for that for the first time in history. Eventually, by the time the technology behind them gets better, we should get to the stage of meaningful use as well.

Let’s see what I can measure today at home:

  • Daily activities (number of steps, calories burnt, distance covered)
  • Sleep quality + smart alarm
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Blood glucose levels
  • Cardiac fitness
  • Stress
  • Pulse
  • Body temperature
  • Eating habits
  • ECG
  • Cognitive skills
  • Brain activities
  • Productivity
  • I also had genetic tests and microbiome tests ordered from home.

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What else exists or yet to come? Baby and fetal monitors; blood alcohol content; asthma and the I could go on with this list for hours.

The next obvious step is designing smaller gadgets that can still provide a lot of useful data. Smartclothes are meant to fill this gap. Examples include Hexoskin and MC10. Both companies are working on different clothes and sensors that can be included in clothes. Imagine the fashion industry grabbing this opportunity and getting health tracking closer to their audiences.

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Then there might be “insideables“, devices implanted into our body or just under the skin. There are people already having such RFID implants with which they can open up a laptop, a smartphone or even the garage door.

Also, “digestables“, pills or tiny gadgets that can be swallowed could track digestion and the absorption of drugs. Colonoscopy could become an important diagnostic procedure that most people are not afraid of. A little pill cam could be swallowed and the recordings become available in hours.

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Whatever direction this technology is heading, believe me, I don’t want to use all my gadgets to live a healthy life. I would love to wear a tiny digital tattoo that can be replaced easily and measures all my vital signs and health parameters. It could notify me through my smartphone if there is something I should take care of. If there is something I should get checked with a physician.

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But what matters is finally I can become the pilot of my own health.

Right now patients are sitting in the cockpit of their planes and are waiting for the physicians to arrive.

Insurance companies such as Oscar Health have touched upon this movement and offer incentives and rewards (e.g. Amazon gift card) if the patient agrees to share their data obtained from health trackers. This way motivating the patient towards a healthier life.

There is one remaning step then, the era of the medical tricorder. Gadgets such as Scanadu that can detect diseases and microbes by scanning the patient or touching the skin. The Nokia Sensing XChallenge will produce 10 of such devices by this June which will have to test their ideas on thousands of patients before the end of 2015.

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I very much looking forward to seeing the results. Until then, read more about health sensors and the future of portable diagnostics devices in my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

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How Do Medical Students See Future Technologies: Infographics

I just wrote about how our Disruptive Technologies in Medicine university course prepares medical students for the coming waves of change. I also recently published an infographic related to new technologies in medicine.

Yesterday, I gave a talk to medical students about what kind of trends and technologies might shape the future and I was very curious what they think about these. Therefore I asked them to give a score between 1 and 3 about how beneficial or advantageous those can be for society; and a score between 1 and 3 about how big threats they will pose to us.

They also gave a score between 1 and 10 about how much they look forward to using a technology in action. See the full size infographics here.

Preparing them for the future is a real challenge but I remain confident that we need to to that and it is still possible.

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Disruptive Technologies in Medicine: Preparing Medical Students For The Future!

At Semmelweis Medical School in Budapest, we launched a new course, “Disruptive Technologies in Medicine” with Professor Maria Judit Molnar MD, PhD, DSc, the scientific Vice Rector of Semmelweis University in 2014. I’m very happy to share that we launched it again this semester.

Our plan is to prepare medical students for those future technologies they will face by the time they start actually practicing medicine. We need to give future physicians skills that help deal with the coming waves of technological changes in a way that they will learn how to improve the human touch with better technologies.

Here are the topics we cover with experts.

  • How Exponential and Disruptive Technologies Shape The Future of Medicine
  • Personalized Medicine – Genomic Health
  • Point of Care Diagnostics
  • The Future of Medical Imaging
  • Social Media in Medicine
  • Harnessing Big Data in Healthcare, Cognitive Computers
  • The Future of Hospitals
  • Biotechnology and Gene Therapy
  • Mobile Health, The Wearable Revolution and Telemedicine
  • Regenerative Medicine, Optogenetics and 3D Printing
  • Medical Robotics, Bionics, Virtual Reality, and Future of Medical Technologies

We are teaching them offline and online at the same time with plenty of assignments and interesting projects such as collaboration with the students of the course of Kim Solez at University of Alberta.

Students compete against each other in a Facebook challenge by answering questions about the topics we cover in the lectures every single day.

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Virtual Reality Will Change The Healthcare Experience

Virtual Reality or VR is a computer-simulated environment in which we can have the feeling as being in a digital, virtual world experiencing smell, sound, taste, and visuals. VR has been mentioned in many sci-fi masterpieces such as the Necromancer by Gibson, but technology behind that only came to a point where it can become reality now. Therefore I decided to describe some medical implications of virtual reality in the newest video of The Medical Futurist Youtube Channel.

I recently started discovering the options of virtual reality with the Google Cardboard. Putting my own smartphone with the right application into a cardboard can give the feeling of being in a virtual world. My favorite apps so far are Roller Coaster VRCmoar Roller Coaster VR, and Solar System VR. I should start filming the first reaction of people who give it a try.

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Cardboard is just the very first step. Devices such as Oculus Rift acquired by Facebook, Sony’s Morpheus or Magic Leap will make the difference in the coming years. Check how Magic Leap could change the world around ourselves. Let’s see how virtual reality could change the healthcare experience with ever-improving technologies.

  • Imagine that we could use virtual reality for training surgeons. They could be inside the human body based on the patient’s radiology images discovering all the options before opening up the patient during an operation.
  • We could use virtual reality for patients to experience the hospital feeling even before going to the hospital. They could see how a procedure takes place, how much time it takes, what’s going to happen to them by getting a treatment or procedure.
  • We could use that for psychology treatments, for people with addictions to show them different kinds of worlds. One with being addicted to something, and one with not being addicted any more showing them the real differences in life and how it could change if they found a solution for that addiction. The same is used in PTSD or fighting phobias.
  • Imagine that we could use it for stress relief letting people travel to countries around the world and experiencing the real world through virtual reality.
  • We could train people for emergency and disaster situations without risking anybody’s life.
  • Virtual rehabilitation performed at the patient’s home for anxieties, attention deficits or amnesia. The list of conditions in which VR could be helpful is incredibly long.
  • 360 immersive Virtual Reality arrived to the Cathlab chaning Medical Education.
  • If there is no available real cadaver to practice surgery on, VR can help.
  • A new way for motivating people for doing exercises could be merging VR with video games. See this video:

When for the first time I showed Google Cardboard to my 7 years old niece and she checked that out, she asked me, why would people want real-life experience any more when they can have this. So we will face really serious ethical questions in the coming years, but again virtual reality with the devices coming to the market very soon has the potentials to change the whole healthcare experience.

Read more about the future of virtual reality in my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine!

The Guide to the Future of Medicine ebook cover

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