Wired Health

How technology is revolutionalizing personal healthcare

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Pfizer to prioritize mHealth for elderly

Pfizer has partnered with the mHealth Alliance on a series of position papers that highlight mHealth for low- and middle-income countries to support people as they get old.

Patricia Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance, said: “Mobile technology holds enormous potential for people at all life stages and particularly as they age. SOURCE.

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The Microsoft kinect 2.0 sensor platform and future of health technology


Never before a device as revolutionary as the Microsoft Kinect caused such a response from a totally unrelated industry such as healthcare. People are already touting it as the next level in delivery of personalized healthcare solutions, enabling access to cutting edge tele-health platforms for millions of people worldwide. It could be your guardian angel, it could be your health tracker, it could be your lifestyle coach or even your personal trainer. You can monitor your loved ones who otherwise have been incapacitated, or you can have a hearty chat with your doctor without leaving the comforts of your own home. All this is possible due to the revolutionary, and I must say futuristic, amalgamation of technology and foresight that has been put into the Kinect 2.0 platform by Microsoft. To quote the source “Here is a bold statement: No other device, with the exception of the smartphone, will do more for the evolution of health technology than the Kinect 2.0 on the new Xbox One.”

Microsoft has already forayed in to digital health, or e-health, through its online personal health database product aptly named the “Microsoft Health Vault”. It is a cloud based health record database management and tracking platform for individuals who want access to their health information anywhere and anytime. A HealthVault record stores an individual’s health information. Access to a record is through a HealthVault account, which may be authorized to access records for multiple individuals, so that a mother may manage records for each of her children or a son may have access to his father’s record to help the father deal with medical issues. Authorization of the account can be through Windows Live ID, Facebook or a limited set of OpenID providers. HealthVault supports storage of DICOM based medical imaging. Consumers can upload and download medical imaging DVD through HealthVault connection center. Third parties can also upload and download medical imaging to/from HealthVault, for example Candelis. In addition, there has been plethora of HealthVault medical imaging viewers released by the third party to connect to HealthVault even on mobile phones.

Coming back to Kinect, as to what makes it so revolutionary. True, there are many gadgets available currently that can do so much for providing connected health services to individuals. But the magic lies in the software, and not just the sensors. Microsoft has been playing with the Kinect software for more than three years now, and has developed a platform that can be utilized by third party developers to fully utilize the capacity of the said platform. There are real life cases of people being saved in the nick of time by hacked Kinect sensors. It now depends only on the imagination and capabilities of the developer to harness this platform. I do recommend following the links below to read some really awesome article on the same topic, that inspired this post of mine.


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Telehealth for the masses- Is it truly so?

In my previous posts, I have been harping about the advent and progression of tele-health as the next step towards connected personalized healthcare solutions. Truly connected devices will enable accessibility to people that do not have the basic level of healthcare facilities. Remote consultation, video conferencing, tele-prescriptions and what not- the possibilities are endless, and that too at a fraction of the costs. But when we set aside the glamorous aspect of telehealth, several dark spots emerge that may remain hidden beneath its sparkling sheen. One very obvious question arising with respect to tele health is that will the very population for which it was originally designed and thought for- the aged? Read on in this article about how access to tele health can be a daunting task for the elderly and the technologically challenged, and how imperative it is to make healthcare technologies more accessible and convenient to the masses, instead of to the tech savvy.

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Increasing layoffs in healthcare- problem or opportunity?

An article on Forbes has recently claimed that although lay-offs overall are going down, but two industries are leading the fallout brigade- Healthcare being one of them. As an industry, healthcare has always been treated as recession proof. People may stop shopping, they may stop going for the movies, or buy expensive electronics etc; but no one compromises on his health. You may not have a couple dollars for that road side hot dog, but you’ll always have a couple hundred for that doctor’s appointment. So, why is this trend of layoffs cracking the glass wall of the healthcare industry? As per the article, the primary reason is the cutbacks and other control measures provisioned in the more recent Affordable Care Act by the government. To quote the article “John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, attributed the cuts to cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements under the Affordable Care Act and decrease in federal spending from sequestration.”

Now this may seem as a negative aspect of the said act, and it actually is being perceived as threatening and overall bad for the masses. People are confused on who’s going to take care of them, and who’s going to foot the bill. With the average government spending going down and the cost of living going up, one just cannot afford to turn a blind eye towards similar event that directly touch their daily lives. So, should we get angry and protest against these policies? Should we decry our leaders and created general hostility? Or should we, along with the authorities, find a solution- or rather- create one?

My blog is dedicated to spread the word on how technology can enable us to take control of your own health, with the means available. Here also, I see a window of opportunity to create a lasting solution that may end the over-dependency of the masses on government aids and subsidies. Yes, you guessed it right- connectivity! With increasing population and rising healthcare costs, it has become imperative for us to find out a solution that is cheap, easily accessible and provide the level of quality that has now become associated with US healthcare. Concepts such as e-Health, Electronic Medical records, Healthcare portals, tele-health, remote consultation, connected devices, clinical decision support, etc. are now the need of the hour. True, all these solution require an initial capital investment to setup, but once done will let loose a domino effect that’ll snowball into better, more efficient and accessible services far more cheap than current healthcare setups.

Here we are talking about the US healthcare scenario. In third world countries like India, there is no or minimal support from government, that diminishes even more as it reached further into the masses due to poor execution and the sheer numbers of individuals in need of it. Here, healthcare connectivity solutions are set to play a very important part in bringing the masses up to par with a select few who are fortunate to receive premier healthcare facilities. IF the recent trend is not a wake-up call to accept technology, then I do not know what else it would take to wean people off government support and take ownership of their own health.

Please leave your comments below. Source.

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Connected health: A genuine security scare or paranoia?


Deloitte has published a report on the numerous security risks that come associated with the growing levels of technology penetrating the healthcare networks worldwide. As more and more healthcare organizations hop on the connectivity bandwagon and adopt the guidelines laid down by HIPAA and FDA, a growing concern is being expressed by the naysayers on the aspects of patient data security. The report deals with threats ranging from virus or trojan attacks disabling individual devices or even the entire networks to intentional sabotaging of life support systems by organized criminal organizations to target VIPs and various dignitaries.

This report truly paints a scary picture of the future of healthcare and forces us to ponder over the way we could achieve the desired level of connectivity and automation without compromising on device security and patient data protection. Read on HERE.


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Telemedicine in rural landscape: Indian perspective

India paints a perfect picture of a lost land in transition. One can literally witness the constantly changing facets of everyday life going about in every part of it. This country is a mosaic of rapid and chequered urbanization, portraying a contrasting view of modern cities with all everyday amenities and a rural landscape lacking even the basic of facilities. Healthcare here is no different. Despite being the harbinger of medical tourism on a global level through ultramodern super specialty hospitals managed by world renowned doctors and administrators, India blatantly fails to extend even the basic level of healthcare facilities to its villages and small townships. And as the population swells out on a fairly aggressive rate, inaccessibility towards basic healthcare is going to be a big blot on the otherwise healthy growth of medical industry here. Not to mention the abysmally low doctor to patient ratio. So, how do we open hundreds of super specialty hospitals and train thousand of doctors over a few years to bridge the widening gap? Simple, we don’t.

Telemedicine has come to the rescue where there was a need to balance out technology and economics. By promising first class healthcare and consulting at a fraction of the costs, telemedicine or telehealth has brought in a revolution that was much needed for more than 80% of the global population. Not just in the third world, but telehealth has major applications in the developed nations also that are burgeoning under their heavily subsidized healthcare programs. All in all, telehealth, and its offshoot- mHealth, are the two work areas that are going the change the face of personalized healthcare in the very near future. CLICK HERE to read a case study on pioneering work done by World Health Partners in Indian villages using telemedicine. Its amazing!

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Calico: Google on quest to discover immortality

“Calico is in line with Page’s oft-stated belief that the company should be aiming not just to make the world a little better, but a lot better”. This is an exact quote lifted from an article by Times on Google’s new venture- Calico, that aims to basically cure ageing by finding out and uprooting its causes. The latter may include physiological conditions and genetic factors. The company will be headed supposedly by Genetech chairman Art Levinson. Although Google has previously tried to venture into healthcare though “Google Health” that failed to take off. Larry’s optimism for this new venture may be fueled from his vulnerability to the very basic law of the nature, perhaps reflecting in his admitting to his rare nerve disease that limited the movement of his vocal cords and briefly sidelined him from public speaking. He also said he had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a thyroid inflammatory condition he said gives him no trouble. So, call it an attempt brought on by self realization of human mortality, or a strong desire to propel a greater cause for humanity.

I am mentioning this news on my blog for two reasons. First, it is just awesome! To quote another website- “It would have been crazy if it weren’t Google” just shows how insanely ridiculous this idea is. Secondly, it is the way Google’s going to put its plan into action. You cannot expect Google to set up wet labs and R&D centres. No, Google is not the real world’s umbrella corporation. Rather it would let a partner do all the wet work and provide its enormous data processing and number crunching faculties to the task. Google will bank upon its core strengths to achieve its new found dream. Click here, here and here to read some of the article published online on this news.