One of the most interesting people I follow on Twitter is a gentleman called Jody Ranck, who's career in health, development and innovation spans over 20 years. His credentials are so impressive - trust me - it's worth looking them up here. Ranck has just published a book for Kindle available on Amazon called Connected Health: How Mobile Phones, Cloud and Big Data Will Reinvent Healthcare.
In his own words:
Our current healthcare system is in need of a radical reinvention. Traditional approaches have not brought the rapid change required by aging populations and the rising costs of healthcare, and government efforts too often get bogged down in partisan politics and fail to address systemic issues.
Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon. New approaches that embrace game-changing technology — mobile networks, big data, social media, and the Internet of things — could completely disrupt the status quo and transform the healthcare system. For this change to occur, we must create new institutions and collaborative markets and promote a cultural shift in how we think about medicine, health, and the body. Only then will the path to disruptive innovation be able to overcome its many obstacles and reach a future where health strategists are conversant in the tools and technologies of cooperation.
A study of over 9,000 urban minority children shows that sending text messages to their parents can increase the number of children who receive flu vaccinations. The Atlantic reports.
The increase was modest, with the flu vaccination rate rising from 39.9 percent to 43.6 percent. Among parents who actually received the text messages, the vaccination rate rose to 46.3 percent.
Some people even described the text messages as an angel on their shoulder.
Text messaging is becoming more and more valuable as a health tool. In a 2010 study, personalized text messages more than doubled the success of cigarette smokers who were trying to break the habit. Some people even described the text messages as an angel on their shoulder. And while the results from the flu study aren't as striking, they show more success than traditional mail and phone reminders have at increasing the vaccination rate.
Mobile phones are transforming the way HIV test results are being transmitted to AIDS patients in Africa, a study has shown. AIDS is one of the biggest diseases affecting the continent due to limited access to antiretroviral treatment and heath care. All News reports.
AIDS related deaths account for close to 60% of all total deaths annually and mobile phone penetration has doubled over the last 10 years.
It is for these reasons that the World Health Organisation (WHO) embarked on an investigation to determine whether mobile phone technology could be used to transform the delivery of health care services to AIDS patients in Africa.
A WHO backed study published in the agency’s Bulletin, said the time it took to relay HIV test results to patients’ health facilities could be “dramatically” reduced by using mobile phone text messaging.
Scientists who carried out the study in Zambia found that the turnaround times for delivering a diagnosis by SMS were almost twice as fast compared to traditional postal methods.
The average time for a result notification from a testing lab to a health facility fell from 44.2 days to 26.7 days.
... In addition to decreasing turnaround time for HIV testing, these technologies can also improve treatment by getting people onto ART earlier, researchers said in a news statement.
Cell phones with sensors capable of detecting deadly chemicals in the enviornment, or silicon chips that can be embedded in cell phones to detect and map gas leaks are all in development, and have been written up before, but this is the first time someone has come up with the idea of detecting cell phone radiation - with an app. TheNextWeb reports.
tawkon app for Android which launched yesterday at TNW conference in Amsterdam, provides alerts when radiation levels spike and simply suggests you make a quick change — as you begin a call or while you’re in the middle of one. Once you make that change, tawkon confirms that you are once again in low exposure and ready to ‘talk on’.
According to mobile app developer Gil Friedlander, radiation can be affected by such variables as usage minutes, handset placement, distance to the cell phone towers, weather conditions, number of users in a specific cell area and intensity of the cellular signal.
The two key and most straight forward suggestions tawkon provides are changing your location (just a few feet away and the phone radiation can drop) and distancing the phone from head/body — using a speaker phone headset or Bluetooth.
A scientific conference starting in London today will urge governments across the world to support independent research into the possibility that using mobile phones encourages the growth of head cancers. The Daily Mail reports.
The ONS figures show that the incident rate has risen from two to three per 100,000 people since 1999, while figures from Bordeaux Segalen University show a one to two per cent annual increase in brain cancers in children.
Scientists and academics have long argued over the suggestion that radiation from mobile phones causes cancers. Those who believe there is a link say that - with five billion mobile phones being used worldwide - urgent research must be carried out to establish the risk.
But not everyone agrees. While governments, phone companies, and health agencies give precautionary advice about minimising mobile phone use, the Health Protection Agency is likely to conclude in a report due on Thursday that the only established risk when using a mobile is crashing a car due to being distracted by a call or text.
Professor Denis Henshaw, emeritus professor of human radiation effects at Bristol University, is opening the three-day conference in Westminster today.
He has previously advocated cigarette-style warnings on mobile phone packets and urges more independent research.
Times of India reports on a vaccine box that sends you an SMS everytime the temperature in it rises, threatening the quality of vaccines in it. Indian scientists are calling it "a thermometer with a SIMCARD in it"
In what will greatly reduce vaccines going bad due to temperature fluctuations - a phenomenon that could endanger the life of a child injected with the vaccine, the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is just four weeks away from field testing a unique temperature measurement system which will sense the temperature in the vaccine box and on an hourly basis send an SMS to a server in charge of temperature reading.
... "We have tested the technology before and recorded results with close to 100% accuracy," said Kanav who has worked with Nobel laureate Dr Lee Hartwell at the Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute on creating persuasive technology.
The convergence of two fields—genomics, marked by the rapidly plummeting cost of sequencing a person's entire genetic code, and wireless, with its flurry of innovative health-care apps—led Dr. Topol to write "The Creative Destruction of Medicine," a book that offers an illuminating perspective on the coming digitization of health care. It's also a reminder that while medicine is one of the globe's premier drivers of innovation, it is also a conservative culture that now finds itself buffeted by transformational change.
Nilsson is an investigative reporter who in 2011 uncovered the industry connections of Swedish epidemiologist Anders Ahlbom, leading to his resignation from the IARC meeting classifying carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation. The Washington Times Communities reports.
A new project called PhoneSoap is attempting to “start a clean phone revolution” with a device that both charges and simultaneously sanitizes your phone. [via Mashable]
PhoneSoap a KickStarter project, does its cleaning using UV-C light. UV-C is a type of ultraviolet light that’s used in hospitals, and penetrates the cell walls of bacteria, disrupting its DNA and effectively killing it.
During the cleaning process a UV-C light shines on your phone from the bottom and top of the box, surrounding it in light and killing any present bacteria. The UV-C light is only on for 3-5 minutes, so you don’t run the risk of damaging your phone while you’re getting your clean on.
While you’re cleaning your phone, the box also charges your handsets via either an Apple connector or Micro USB cable.
Text messaging is often rapped for promoting reckless driving, but it could be good for people who feel stressed out, isolated or alone. IANSlive reports.
Adrian Aguilera, professor of social welfare, University of California, Berkeley, and clinical psychologist, said his patients report feeling more connected and cared for when they receive text messages asking them to track their moods, reflect on positive interactions, etc.
... The project began in 2010 when Aguilera developed a customized "Short Message Service (SMS)" intervention programme, with the help of his California colleague Ricardo Munoz, according to a California statement.
Aguilera's patients were sent automated text messages prompting them to think and reply about their moods and responses to positive and negative daily interactions.
To study the effects of cell phones on the human body, researchers have created a virtual body that is unmatched in its richness of detail. LiveScience reports.
"AustinMan" is a virtual receptacle for radiation, an ultra-high-resolution, three dimensional map of the human body; he is helping researchers understand more about the potential health-related effects of wireless devices.
He was born of a National Science Foundation grant, the hard work of University of Texas at Austin researchers and students, as well as a publicly available, extremely high-resolution scan of the human body made possible by a man on death row who donated his body to science.
Weekly mobile phone text messaging may help patients with HIV adhere to antiretroviral therapy (ART) that is often associated with difficult side effects, according to a study published online March 14 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Modern Medecine reports.
High-quality evidence suggests that weekly text messages may enhance ART adherence, so investigators reviewed 2 randomized controlled trials from Kenya including a total of 966 adult patients with HIV. One trial compared short weekly text messages against standard care. The other trial compared short-daily, long-daily, short-weekly, and long-weekly messages against standard care.
Patients receiving standard care in each study received a mobile phone but did not receive any study-related mobile communication.
Those assigned to intervention in the first study were sent brief text messages, such as, “How are you?”, and were expected to respond within 48 hours. In the second study, patients assigned to intervention received daily or weekly short text messages, such as, “This is your reminder,” or daily or weekly long text messages, such as, “This is your reminder. Be strong and courageous. We care about you.”
At 48-52 weeks, combined data from both trials demonstrated that any text messaging was associated with greater ART adherence, weekly texts of any length were associated with adherence, and short weekly text messages were associated with adherence. In the first trial, short weekly texts were also associated with viral load suppression at 52 weeks.
If you are gathering sensitive health data over completely clear text and insecure SMS, somebody’s HIV status, sensitive information protected by HIPAA standards in this country, completely unregulated by development organizations, they don’t self-regulate. Countries certainly don’t have any privacy or data protection stipulations…If we are talking about mobile telephony and mobile phones in development, we need to talk about how we protect the data that we are gathering, the information that we are distributing…”
Data privacy is an important, yet undiscussed topic. As Katrin mentioned, an individual’s health information is extremely personal, especially because it can be used against the person to make them a social outcast. But there is little talked about how patient information is being protected, especially the structure and framework of data protection on a large scale.
The committee indicated that there was sufficient evidence for effectiveness of these interventions in increasing tobacco abstinence among people interested in quitting smoking. It made its determination based on findings from “six studies in which mobile phone-based interventions were implemented alone or in combination with Internet-based interventions.
These include three areas transmitting information from the periphery of the health system to malaria control managers and three areas transmitting information to support management of malaria patients.
... The study reviewed 34 SMS applications (excluding those not launched in developing markets or that focused on disease prevention) but only five had made available evaluation study findings.
The researchers stated that most of the applications they reviewed were pilot projects “in various levels of sophistication” with “modes of intervention varying between one-way or two-way communication, with or without incentives, and with educative games.”
Of those five SMS applications that did have evaluation findings available, the researchers said that the “primary barriers identified were language, timing of messages, mobile network fluctuations, lack of financial incentives, data privacy, and mobile phone turnover.”
Efficacy studies for all mobile health services — not just those for developing markets — is shaping up to be one of the big trends of 2012.
The "Nuvola It Home Doctor" system developed by Telecom Italia is enabling chronic patients who are being treated at the Molinette Hospital in Turin to monitor their physiological parameters via mobile phone from their own homes. Cellular News reports.
Following a joint trial, the service is now available to chronic patients under treatment in the Molinette Hospital Geriatric Unit and the Molinette Home Hospital Unit and will be gradually rolled out to the cardiology, pneumology, neurology, haematology units and some areas of internal medicine.
... Telecom Italian expects that the service will be taken up by other hospitals in the region to monitor as many as 5,000 patients from their own homes.
To evaluate the possible health effects of cell phone radiation, as with any other environmental hazard, scientists must consider different types of scientific evidence, including animal toxicology studies.
n sensu stricto animal toxicology studies, animals are exposed to a large overdose of tested chemical or radiation, beyond the levels normally encountered by human beings in real situations, and examined for any detrimental health effects. In another type of toxicology studies, animals are exposed to the potential hazard for their life-time and examined for the impact of the hazard on their health and on the health and development of the offspring.
However, in case of the studies of cell phone radiation, there is a limitation that precludes the use of toxicology to the fullest.
It is impossible to perform toxicology studies exposing animals to large overdoses of cell phone radiation. Large overdoses of cell phone radiation (microwaves) will heat animals, impacting animal health. Moreover, it is impossible to transfer this information to humans, because current cell phone safety standards are set at levels that do not cause heating.
What is the value of animal studies showing no effect for the human health risk analysis? It is very minimal, at the best. Certainly it is not proof of human safety.
The incidence of glioma - the most common form of brain tumour - is not increasing in the Nordic countries, contradicting the claim that mobile phone use is a cause of the disease. This according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet published in the scientific journal Epidemiology. Press release via Medical Express reports.
The analyses presented by the researchers also show that the increased risks previously reported to be associated with mobile telephony in a few individual studies should have been observable in the general cancer statistics if mobile phone use had indeed been associated with a true risk increase.
In Kenya, the ratio of patients to doctors is 6,000 to 1, and the dearth of health professionals isn't the only challenge to accessing decent health care. Unlicensed impostors hand out expired medicines to people who don't know any better, and a shortage of public information on health services makes it easier for quacks to lure victims. Good.is reports via @mobileactive
... More than 25 million Kenyans have mobile phones, making apps a logical way to disseminate essential information about health. MedAfrica, a new smartphone app, has positioned itself as the go-to service for wired Kenyans in search of reputable health care. The app operates like a mobile yellow pages for medical services, providing basic listings of professionals in the area. Additional features include a symptom checker for patients to compare their ailments with different diseases and make decisions about seeking medical attention.
Smartphones and tablets are transforming the future of health care. Can we really trust them to save lives? FastCompany reports via @jranck.
... "mHealth," the rapidly growing business of using mobile technology in health care. Leveraging the wonders of a device that's fast becoming ubiquitous--two in three people worldwide own a cell phone--a new generation of startups is building apps and add-ons that make your handheld work like high-end medical equipment. Except it's cheaper, sleeker, and a lot more versatile.
"It's like the human body has developed a new organ," says Raja Rajamannar, chief innovation officer at Humana. Smartphones can already track calories burned and miles run, and measure sleep patterns. By 2013, they'll be detecting erratic heartbeats, monitoring tremors from Parkinson's disease, and even alerting you when it's prime time to make a baby.
At stake is the future of health care--and a share of the $273 billion medical-device industry, which is dominated by the likes of GE and Philips. Although today's mHealth market barely tops $2 billion, experts predict that number will skyrocket over the next decade as smartphones get smarter and patients lose, well, patience with the high costs and hassles of health care.
In 2009, researchers at MIT gave a dorm full of students smartphones and tracked where they went, who they called and texted, and at what times they communicated. The researchers found that the data pouring out of the phones could reliably tell when a student was ill: Those stricken with the flu moved around much less, and those who were depressed had fewer calls and interactions with others. Business Week reports via @jranck.
Anmol Madan, the PhD student who led the study, concluded that the findings might be useful outside of dorms. There are now more than 60 million smartphones in the U.S., and they’re “incredibly powerful diaries of a person’s life,” he says. So in November 2010, Madan and his classmate Karan Singh, both 29, started Ginger.io to mine those diaries and provide the kind of detailed, persistent health monitoring that doctors and researchers have only dreamed of. “There hasn’t been large-scale, real-world data about how people behave” before now, he says.
Because cellphones are nearly ubiquitous among American adolescents, the study said, this technology can give family, friends and providers new ways to keep connected to homeless youth, a population that is highly transient.
Unlike adults who are homeless, teenagers have fewer mental-health and substance-abuse problems that can stop them from getting off the streets.
A leading researcher says digital technologies are about to make health care more effective. But is so much data really beneficial? MIT Technology Review via @jranck.
Nanosensors patrolling your bloodstream for the first sign of an imminent stroke or heart attack, releasing anticlotting or anti-inflammatory drugs to stop it in its tracks. Cell phones that display your vital signs and take ultrasound images of your heart or abdomen. Genetic scans of malignant cells that match your cancer to the most effective treatment.
In cardiologist Eric Topol's vision, medicine is on the verge of an overhaul akin to the one that digital technology has brought to everything from how we communicate to how we locate a pizza parlor. Until now, he writes in his upcoming book The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, the "ossified" and "sclerotic" nature of medicine has left health "largely unaffected, insulated, and almost compartmentalized from [the] digital revolution." But that, he argues, is about to change.
Mobile health platforms are fast emerging in Kenya, where one startup's newly launched mobile health platform is attracting nearly 1,000 downloads daily, and the dominant telecom, Safaricom, has forged a partnership that will give its 18 million subscribers access to doctors. MIT Technology Review reports via @jranck.
.. Many Kenyans have serious health problems; for example, according to the World Health Organization, more than 30 percent of children under age five show stunted growth. At present, only 7,000 doctors serve a nation of 40 million people. But Kenya is rich in mobile phones, with 25 million subscribers (Africa has more than 600 million of them).
The new app, called MedAfrica—available for smart phones and less powerful feature phones—is the product of Shimba Technologies, a Nairobi-based company founded by two locally educated entrepreneurs, Stephen Kyalo and Kezia Muoki, with $100,000 in seed money from a European VC.
MedAfrica is platform that provides a suite of health services (health widgets) such as symptom checkers, first-aid information, doctor & hospital directories as well as relevant alert services.
When we used text-messaging to collect drinking data and to offer immediate feedback and support to young adults discharged from the emergency department, they drank less," said lead study author Brian Suffoletto, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in Pa.
"Each day in the U.S., more than 50,000 adults ages 18 to 24 visit hospital emergency departments and more than a third of them report current alcohol abuse or dependence. If not addressed, hazardous or binge drinking can lead to high rates of avoidable injuries and death.
A total of only 831 studies (as of Dec. 3, 2011) has been performed using cell phone radiation. This is a very small number, considering that different research groups used different experimental models and a broad variety of exposure hardware and exposure conditions. This in turn makes the comparison of the results very difficult or nearly impossible to draw any reliable health risk conclusions.
... We hear disputes about human health risk and the claims of its absence where we do not have studies examining effects of cell phone radiation on humans at the molecular level where any effects would start. That is a big reason for doing more research.
Handheld gadgets could one day diagnose infections at the push of a button by using the supersensitive touchscreens in today's smartphones. New Scientist reports.
Many believe that in the future collecting samples of saliva, urine or blood could be performed using a cheap, USB-stick-sized throwaway device called a lab-on-a-chip. The user would inject a droplet of the fluid in the chip, and micropumps inside it would send the fluid to internal vessels containing reagents that extract target disease biomarker molecules. The whole device would then be sent to a lab for analysis.
But Hyun Gyu Park and Byoung Yeon Won at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology in Daejeon think touchscreens could improve the process by letting your phone replace the lab work. Park suggests the lab-on-a-chip could present a tiny droplet of the sample to be pressed against a phone's touchscreen for analysis, where an app would work out whether you have food poisoning, strep throat or flu, for example.
A Swedish man who sometimes wears a silver-coloured suit to protect himself from mobile phone mast radiation had demanded that local officials in Dalarna in central Sweden create a “radiation-free zone” to protect his health that may leave half the county without mobile phone coverage.