| Vol. 12 No. 18, September 9, 2015 |
FACTS AND STATS
An App Twice a Day Keeps the Dentist Away
Research published in the British Dental Journal shows that Brush DJ, an app designed to encourage youngsters to adopt and maintain an effective oral health care routine using evidence-based techniques, is effective in its aims. The app plays music for two minutes - the optimum time for brushing teeth - taken from a playlist or randomly from the user's own device or cloud. As well as encouraging tooth brushing for two minutes, it also reminds users to spit out after brushing but not to rinse, sets reminders to brush twice a day, use a mouthwash at other non-brushing times of the day, sets alerts for dental appointments and reminders to change toothbrushes once every three months.
The British Dental Journal research was carried out by a team including a general dental practitioner and NHS Innovation Accelerator Fellow from York, a consultant orthodontist from Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust and a lead dental researcher, educator and Foundation Dean of the Peninsula Dental School from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. The research showed that 70% of respondents reported their teeth felt cleaner since using the app and 88% said that Brush DJ had motivated them to brush their teeth for longer. Ninety percent said they would recommend the app to their friends and family.
The research team concluded that not only had Brush DJ contributed to greater motivation for young people to care for their teeth more effectively, but it also has huge potential as a way to convey important oral health messages and information. Indeed, a recommendation from the study suggests that it would be reasonable to prescribe such an app in the same way in which fluoride toothpastes are currently prescribed in the UK.
Rapid Molecular Diagnostic Device Spots Pathogenic DNA within Four Minutes
Quantitative polymerase chain reaction is a technique used for spotting specific DNA molecules by amplifying samples and performing detection at the same time. The amplification process is repeatedly activated by heating and cooling the DNA in the samples. After a sufficient number of cycles, there appear enough DNA molecules to be seen or detected using one of many existing techniques. Currently, diagnostic devices available on the market require between about 18 and 30 thermal cycles before detection is possible, but researchers at the University of Arizona have unveiled in journal Scientific Advances a new technique that can perform qPCR within just four thermal cycles and has a “sample-to-answer” time of around three and a half minutes.
The technique is called droplet-on-thermocouple silhouette real-time polymerase chain reaction (DOTS qPCR). It relies on measuring how the surface tension changes within a drop of water within which the DNA is amplified, that itself sits suspended within an oil. The researchers believe that this technology may soon be translated into clinical practice for performing highly accurate rapid bed-side molecular diagnostics.
Implantable Electrical Stimulation Therapy for Treating Scoliosis
Some scientists believe that in many people scoliosis develops because of the unequal pressure that muscles on the sides of the spinal column tend to exert. While strong muscle contractions occur on one side, since the other does not provide an equal pull, the spine bends over time in one direction. A team of European researchers has developed a special implant designed to actively stimulate muscles near the spinal column to train the weak side to catch up with the strong one. It features wireless charging and data transmission, as well as the ability to program it for individual patient needs. The implant has a set of electrodes leading to muscles on the weak side of the spine, as well as a few that are snaked to the healthy side to compare the activity. After implantation it’s used on a regular basis with patients undergoing stimulated contraction for up to ten seconds followed by ten minutes to let the body adjust. This is to be done for hours at a time, though there are no clinical trials that have confirmed this therapy or how to use it properly.
UK: London to Roll-out eRedbook
A handful of London trusts are about to start trialling the eRedbook child health record, ahead of a capital-wide roll-out over the next couple of years. Three or four London trusts will test the electronic version of the ‘Red Book’ given to all new parents, in which immunizations, tests, and key developmental milestones are recorded. The eRedbook was accredited by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in November last year, and was strongly supported by health secretary Jeremy Hunt this summer, as part of his call for an overhaul of NHS working practices.
US: Surveys Differ on EHR Satisfaction Among Physicians
Are physicians happy or miserable with their electronic health record (EHR) systems? The answer depends on which survey you look at, which physicians you ask, and whether the system is server- or cloud-based. Physicians in large-group practices are having better EHR experiences, a new survey by Black Book Market Research states. More than two thirds of surveyed physicians report satisfactory experiences in the second quarter of this year. Only 8% of physicians felt that way in 2013, the survey shows. Similar gains were seen in practice productivity (from 7% in 2013 to 68% this year) and physician documentation (from 10% in 2013 to 63% now).
Small and solo medical practices also are reporting more satisfaction. Improvements in web-based EHRs have "reversed overall satisfaction from barely 13% meeting or exceeding expectations in 2012 to 81% overall contented small practice users this year," the report shows.
The Future of Mobile Health: Wearables, Implantables and Electronic Health Records (interview)
Wearables, implantables and electronic health records are all top of mind for Grey Healthcare Group managing partner and chief engagement officer Erin Byrne, who sees mobile spurring profound changes in the way health and wellness are managed. Byrne spoke recently with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin and explained why mobile is critical for managing consumer health and communications between healthcare providers and patients.
SIMPLY THE BEST
UK: Mental Health Apps Given Prize Fund
A £650,000 prize fund to develop new mental health apps for the NHS has been announced by UK’s life sciences minister George Freeman. The plans, which were initially billed as a ‘kitemark’ for health apps, were first announced in November 2014, as part of the ‘Personalized Health and Care 2020’ IT framework for the NHS. The development of the endorsement model has been taken forward by the National Institute for Health and Social Care Excellence, Public Health England, and the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Freeman told the Expo that the work should be piloted this month, and rolled-out in 2016. NHS England already operates an Apps Library on NHS Choices, but this recently came under fire from privacy group MedConfidential. It flagged 60 apps that it argued failed to meet the stated criteria for inclusion, which is that apps should be safe, relevant to the UK, and compliant with the Data Protection Act.
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