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Vol. 11 No. 16, July 30, 2014


Physicians Say International Telehealth Program is Beneficial
The majority of physicians participating in an international pediatric telehealth program were satisfied with the service and believed it improved patient outcomes, according to a study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health.
In 2010, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh created an international telemedicine service for pediatric cardiac critical care. For the study, researchers at the hospital reviewed more than 1,000 telehealth consultations conducted through the program at three hospitals in Colombia and one in Mexico between July 2011 and June 2013. During the consultations, physicians at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh did not have access to patients' electronic health records, but relevant patient data were provided through a secure database. The consultations were performed in real-time using telehealth hardware.
Overall, the researchers found that in 23% of the consultations, real-time interventions took place, such as: adjustment of pacemaker settings, echocardiography and pharmacologic therapy. In addition, physicians suggested a different diagnosis in 6% of the telehealth consultations.
The survey found that 96% of respondents were satisfied or highly satisfied with the telehealth services and 58% reported high ratings for the promptness and time investment by the consulting physicians. (PDF)


Fly-Inspired Microphone to Make Hearing Aids Smaller, Even Smarter
Hearing aids have been getting smaller and more capable lately, but there’s a lot more that can be done to improve their performance as researchers at University of Texas at Austin are showing. They have managed to mimic the hearing abilities of the Ormia ochracea fly in a microphone only two millimeters in width. The fly is known for its ability to quickly locate chirping crickets, a feat because sound waves are about the size or larger than the insect itself, so detecting the source of waves using two ears that differentiate the timing of sounds coming in is nearly impossible at this scale. The fly instead has a special structure about 1.5 mm long that can detect the phase shift of incoming sound waves as they travel between the left and right ear. This allows the fly to quickly find and land on a cricket. The researchers at UT Austin went ahead and built their own microscopic seesaw that uses piezoelectric materials to convert mechanical motion into an electrical signal. Both the flexing and rotation of the seesaw beam can be measured precisely, which allows the device to identify the direction sounds are coming in much like the Ormia ochracea fly can. The researchers believe the new microphone has great potential in hearing aid applications because of its sensitivity while using very little energy.
Zinger, the World’s Lightest Electric Wheelchair
Electric wheelchairs can be pretty heavy and bulky, requiring vans with ramps or other vehicles to take them where the user wants to wheel around. There’s a substantial cost and hassle associated with this, but there’s a new wheelchair that’s about to hit the market that can fit into a car trunk. The Zinger wheelchair weighs only 38 pounds, including the 6.6 amp-hour lithium ion battery. It can go about eight miles on a charge at 6 mph (10 km/h) and has a tight turning radius. Unlike most other wheelchairs, it comes with tank-like controls with levers on each side of the seat to control that side’s wheels. The Zinger comes fully assembled and easily unfolds from a flat position. Folding it back allows you to throw it in the boot and be on your way. It’s scheduled to be available later this year, but will be marketed not as a medical device, but for “comfort and enjoyment,” according to the company.


Polish Healthcare Industry to Benefit from Specialist Health Data Management Solution
BridgeHead Software and Alstor announced a new partnership. This agreement allows Alstor to extend its existing portfolio to include BridgeHead Software's Healthcare Data Management (HDM) Solution, offering Polish hospitals a software environment to store, protect and share clinical and administrative information, both on-premise, in the cloud or a hybrid configuration. As the first venture into the Polish market, BridgeHead Software selected Alstor as a partner due to its storage expertise and reputation within the marketplace. The partnership will now enable Polish healthcare providers to intelligently manage and protect a wide array of healthcare data, from all manner of hospital applications.

Google to Harness Its Computing Power to Mine for Biomarkers of Disease and Healthy Living
Google is initiating a project to identify a slew of biomarkers that point to the presence of a variety of diseases and other chemical signatures that are related to healthy body function, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. The team will initially collect genetic and molecular information from 175 volunteers using many tests that sample bodily fluids. Later on, the plan is to expand the project, called Baseline Study, to include thousands of people and to identify what a “healthy human” is. This knowledge is aimed at identifying which people should change certain aspects of their lifestyles to account for greater risk of disease, as well as providing new diagnostic tools for physicians to diagnose diseases at their earliest stages.
Apple and IBM Forge Global Partnership to Transform Enterprise Mobility
Apple and IBM have announced a partnership that teams the market-leading strengths of each company to transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps - bringing IBM's big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad. The landmark partnership aims to redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change - grounded in four core capabilities: a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad; unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration; new AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.
Video Games Help Teens Gain HIV Smarts
If you want teenagers to learn about HIV, go to the chief object of their attention - video games, suggested a study presented at the International AIDS Conference. Change in knowledge about HIV/AIDS increased by 3 to 4 points on an HIV knowledge-based test among teens engaged in a role-playing "serious" game compared with almost no improvement in HIV knowledge among control teens who played conventional video games such as Angry Birds (P<0.001), said Lynn Fiellin, MD, of Yale University. After 3 months, mean scores for the game-playing group stood at 14.4 (SD 5.5) versus 12.5 (SD 4.7) for the control group (P=0.04). At measurements taken at 6 weeks, 3 months, and at 6 months, the children in the experimental group engaged in "PlayForward: Elm City Stories," showed greater HIV knowledge than children playing the nonserious games.


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