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Vol. 11 No. 7, March 26, 2014


Northern Europe Leads the Way for Digital Healthcare
In Europe, the use of e-Health is starting to take off, with 60% of GPs using eHealth tools in 2013, up to 50% since 2007. Top performing countries for e-Health uptake in hospitals are Denmark (66%), Estonia (63%), Sweden and Finland (both 62%). When it comes to digitalizing patients’ health records, the Netherlands takes gold with 83.2% of digitalization; while the silver medal goes to Denmark (80.6%) and the UK takes home bronze (80.5%). However, only 9% of hospitals in Europe allow patients to access online their own medical records, and most of those only give partial access.
Commenting on the survey, Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "We need to change the mentality in the healthcare sector rapidly. Six out of 10 GPs using e-Health shows that doctors are taking its temperature, but it's time for fever pitch! And only 9% of hospitals allow patients access to their own digital records? Come on! I want governments, high tech innovators, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and hospitals to join forces and create an innovative and cost-efficient healthcare system -with more control and transparency for the patient."


Allergia Phototherapy Device for Hayfever Showed Positive Results in Pilot Trial
Hay fever, clinically known as seasonal allergenic rhinitis, is normally treated with meds. But they all have potential side effects and their optimal effectiveness can be lacking for many people. A new device from a company just coming out of stealth mode hopes to change that completely. The Allergia device from Allergia Medical delivers bright light into the nostril with the hope of stopping the sneezing, congestion, and runny nose that plaques allergy sufferers. So far the device has been tested in a pilot study with 14 patients at the Asthma and Allergy Center of Chicago. The device was used for only six seconds per nostril per day, resulting in a 31% improvement in patients’ Total Nasal Symptom Score (TNSS) versus the baseline, while no side effects were observed. Moreover, “results superior to antihistamines” were recorded.
Urinary Catheter Can Flush Itself to Prevent Biofilm Infections
Urinary catheters are notorious hosts for bacterial colonies, forming biofilms that resist easy removal. Now researchers at Duke University have created a new catheter that can be easily cleansed of biofilms formed on its interior with a bit of pressure. The catheter developed at Duke instead uses physical forces to dislodge bacterial biofilms which are then flushed out along with the urine. The silicone catheter has an additional channel within it that can be expanded by pumping air or a liquid through it. While the first prototype has shown the ability to remove 90% of biofilms grown in the catheter’s interior, the team has plans to modify the device’s design to help make sure everything is removed.


Point-Click-Book: Infoway Helps Clinics Introduce e-Booking
Patients of eligible clinics who participate in Canada Health Infoway’s new e-Booking Initiative will soon be able to book appointments online or with a mobile device. Nine in ten Canadian adults surveyed say that they would likely use this type of service if available; and research summarized in a recent Infoway white paper shows that e-booking offers many potential benefits including improved productivity, fewer appointment no-shows, and enhanced patient and staff satisfaction.
Launching on April 2, 2014, the Infoway e-Booking Initiative encourages eligible licensed physicians and nurse practitioners in community-based or ambulatory care settings to adopt e-booking and offers financial support to help offset costs associated with implementation and participation.
UK: Informatics Profession Gets a Federation
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, the UK Council of Health Informatics Professions and the Institute of Health Records and Information Management are working together  to create a new federation for the informatics profession. The collaboration was announced at the HC2014 conference in Manchester and aims to ensure that UK health informatics is recognized as a valued profession. The federation will be open to all other informatics professional bodies, the private sector, the home countries and lay representation.
Finland: First Public Version of the Open Data Portal Becomes Available
The first public version of the government’s open data portal became available in March 2014. When completed, the service will provide a one-stop access to Finland’s open data, and will promote the interoperability of tools and guidelines, as well as public administration service information. The Ministry of Finance's open data program has ended the use of information barriers and has created incentives and conditions for the opening up of information and the development of content and services. The data portal constitutes part of the implementation of this program and facilitates the finding and exploitation of information resources.

The Human Brain Project Just Got Bigger
One of the biggest EU-funded initiatives, the Human Brain Project (HBP), announced the beneficiaries of its €8.3 million competitive call for new partners. 32 organizations from 13 countries will join the partnership. This represents a 40% increase in the number of partners in the HBP consortium. The HBP @HumanBrainProj began in October 2013 with the aim of creating the world's largest experimental facility for ground-breaking research into the structure and functions of the human brain; the causes, diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases; and the development of new computing technologies such as low energy, brain-like computing systems.
Twitter Proves Effective for Flu Tracking in New York City
Twitter is a host to an unlimited amount of chit-chat, gossip, and poorly written sentences. Having access to all the tweets can be handy if you have the computers and software to parse, process, and analyze all this information. Case in point is a project from Johns Hopkins University to track the spread of influenza from online tweets. Previously the team managed to track how influenza progressed on a national level, but the reality is that there are great regional and local differences in how the disease spreads. This led them to focus on one city, New York, to see whether local variations can also be discovered. Turns out that by querying billions of tweets and pulling out only ones originating from New York City that actually mention the writer’s own incidence of the flu, they showed that their results tracked closely with traditionally gathered data on the 2012-2013 flu season.

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