| Vol. 13 No. 6, March 23, 2016 |
FACTS AND STATS
Smartphones Could Improve Skin Cancer Detection in Developing Countries
Smartphones can be used as calendars, calculators, radios and cameras. They can also be used as microscopes that have the potential to save lives. These devices are called smartphone microscopes and are reasonably accurate tools for the diagnosis of cancer, according to a study conducted by Jahan-Tigh and colleagues at McGovern Medical School and Harvard Medical School. Their findings appear in the ARCHIVES of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
The incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing in recent decades, the World Health Organization reports. Between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year.
Researchers examined 1,021 slides of specimens, which had a total of 136 basal cell carcinomas, 94 squamous cell carcinomas and 15 melanomas. The smartphone microscope was used to pick up 95.6% of the basal cell carcinomas and 89% of squamous cell carcinomas. Dr. Jahan-Tigh said additional studies are needed to enhance the detection rate.
Activity Monitoring Devices Provide Reliable Records of Activity
Fitbit, the popular physical activity monitoring device, is a valid and reliable way of monitoring physical activity, finds a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Whilst Fitbit-Flex is one of the most popular wearable devices currently available to measure physical activity, very little research has been conducted on its accuracy. The use of such devices also offers significant promise to researchers and clinicians working in cardiac rehabilitation program to evaluate, monitor and encourage physical activity that is integral to recovery.
In order to ascertain the reliability of Fitbit devices and evaluate their effectiveness for monitoring the physical activity of cardiac patients, the researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney evaluated 48 patients and family members participating in community-based exercise programs. The 48 participants wore the device over four days to monitor daily step counts and minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The researchers discovered that: "Fitbit-Flex is a valid and reliable device for activity monitoring specific to predicted attainment of physical activity guideline recommendations (i.e. step counts and minutes of MVPA). It is also useful for monitoring physical activity in cardiac patients and for comparison among individuals. However, caution must be taken when using Fitbit-Flex for research purposes as it slightly over-estimates step counts and MVPA. Nonetheless, Fitbit-Flex is capable of continuously monitoring free-living conditions and for providing valuable physical activity data for clinicians, individuals and researchers to track physical activity levels."
Cyborg Heart Patch Replaces Dead Cardiac Tissue with Combination of Healthy Cells, Electronics
Scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel have developed a “cyborg heart patch” for replacing injured cardiac tissue. There has been considerable research on creating scaffolds seeded with cardiac cells, but simply delivering a bunch of cells in a neat package produces underwhelming results. The new patch developed at TAU integrates electronics alongside the cellular scaffold to both monitor and influence the activity of the cells.
The device can record intercellular electrical activity and deliver pulses to make the cardiomyocytes contract to a defined beat. Additionally, the researchers demonstrated that the electrodes within the patch can be covered with drugs to provide controlled release of medication right to the nearby heart cells.
Australia: e-Health NSW Building Small Site EMR Solution for Rural Healthcare Services
eHealth NSW is planning to develop a business case to adapt its electronic medical record roll-out strategy for small sites such as multi-purpose services in rural and remote areas as part of its $48 million rural eHealth program.
eHealth NSW is just over a year into the program, which will see a number of clinical, corporate and infrastructure solutions rolled out to the six rural local health districts, including phases one and two of the Cerner EMR, electronic medications management, HealtheNet, the new ICU solution known as eRIC, the community health and outpatients system known as CHOC, universal wireless and the Health Wide Area Network (HWAN).
Northern Ireland Launches Digital Healthcare Strategy
A Northern Ireland-wide strategy to cut paper processes and exploit digital technologies in the NHS has been welcomed by the CSP. Tom Sullivan, the CSP’s public affairs and policy manager for Northern Ireland, said: ‘The development of initiatives such as the e-care record, the expansion of systems across the community sector and the development of the e-Northern Ireland single assessment tool should improve patient safety.
His comments followed the publication of the Health and Social Care Board’s eHealth and Care Strategy on March 2nd. This acknowledges that e-health services are limited and that the NHS does not make it easy for individuals to find information about their health and care. The document sets out a range of measures intended to increase the use of digital technologies in health and care services from now until 2020.
WHO Criticizes Europe’s Weak Strategies for e-Health
Many European countries’ strategies and investments for e-health are lacking, resulting in inefficient systems that are putting lives at risk, the World Health Organization has warned.
The WHO said that, while e-health is being successfully implemented in some European countries, elsewhere insufficient funding and weak political commitment, governance, legislation and legal protections are leading to missed opportunities.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said 21st century technologies can revolutionize healthcare delivery and health information, empower patients and challenge the traditional roles of healthcare professionals. However, she continued, while e-health “saves lives and money” and there are “many inspiring examples of progress”, its adoption across Europe has been uneven and stronger investment is needed to meet the objectives of WHO’s 2020 health policy strategy.
For example, 73% of European states do not have an entity responsible for the regulatory oversight of the quality, safety and reliability of mobile health applications. But the use of mobile health for access to patient records and for appointment reminders has increased since 2009, by 25% and 21% respectively. Just under half of all members of the WHO European region, or 22 countries, have government-sponsored mobile health programs, but only three have carried out evaluations of them.
US: Veterans Open to Using Health IT for Mental Healthcare
Veterans being treated for mental health issues show interest in using technology to receive care, with a few caveats, according to research published at Telemedicine and e-Health. Seventy-four patients at a Boston VA outpatient clinic completed a pencil-and-paper survey on their interest in using computers, cellphones and tablets for their mental healthcare. These patients were being treated for conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders. Overall, 86% of the patients had access to an Internet-capable device and 97% reported having a cellphone, though fewer than half reported owning a smartphone. In addition, only nine patients had a tablet and noted they had little interest in health-related communications using the device.
Younger patients were more open to technology-based communications, and most preferred using a desktop or laptop, especially when privacy was a concern or when a small screen might pose a limitation. Using computers, patients were interested in receiving laboratory results (68%), reporting symptoms to providers (63%) and having providers inquire about how they were doing (61%). Nearly half were interested in a live video session with their provider or a video that summarized a therapy session. For cellphones, a little over half were most interested in receiving appointment reminders and medication refill reminders, but they showed little interest in video-related uses. There was little interest overall in reminders to take medication, though previous research has shown that such reminders can improve medication adherence.
SIMPLY THE BEST
University of Toronto Students Recognized with Interprofessional eHealth Award
An innovative Interprofessional Seniors Outreach Program developed by a team of medical and pharmacy students from the University of Toronto is improving care for seniors. The initiative was recently recognized with Canada Health Infoway’s inaugural 2016 Student Interprofessional eHealth Award. The Interprofessional Seniors Outreach Program is a four pillar program. It leverages an online education resource that supports students in enhancing the quality of life of seniors in the Toronto area through patient-centred care. Members of the Student Interprofessional eHealth Award recipient team from the University of Toronto include: Jessica Visentin, Seniors Outreach Co-Director, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, Katherine Steckham, Seniors Outreach Co-Director, Faculty of Medicine.
The award is a component of Canada Health Infoway’s Next Generation: Clinicians in Training and is presented in partnership with the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) and the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). The program is designed to prepare a new generation of physicians, pharmacists and nurses for practice in modern technology-enabled clinical environments.
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