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 | Vol. 12 No. 25, December 16, 2015  |

Electronic Medical Records Use Tripled in Nine Years
More and more Canadian physicians are embracing digital health according to the recently released Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Doctors. The Commonwealth Fund survey findings are based on responses from primary care physicians in 10 countries, including 2,284 Canadian physicians, who participated in the survey. The survey was conducted between March and June 2015.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Canadian primary care physicians report using an electronic medical record (EMR), improving from 23% in the 2006 survey results. More than 70% of Canadian primary care physicians that use EMRs are using them to generate information that can support patient care; this includes information such as lists of all laboratory results and medication lists for patients, as well as pulling a practice-wide list of patients by diagnoses list.
According to the Commonwealth Fund survey, there has been advancement in consumer health solutions, yet there continues to be opportunity for growth. For example in Canada only 15% of physicians’ practices offer patients the ability to e-mail them, and one in 10 the ability to request an appointment or referral online. Also, a separate Infoway-commissioned Harris/Decima consumer survey highlighted that more than 80% of Canadians would take advantage of digital health solutions, if they were available to them.


Drug Releasing Sticky Patch for Pain Relief
Researchers from University of Warwick have teamed up with a bioadhesive company based in Coventry, England called Medherant, to make an ibuprofen releasing transparent patch that can act locally to reduce pain. The patch adheres to the skin, and does not restrict natural movement because of its flexibility. Moreover, 30% of the weight of the patch can be that of the drug – this is a significant improvement to other existing patches that cannot hold beyond 10% of their weight. The novel polymer technology used in the patch was developed by global adhesive company Bostik and is licensed to Medherant for transdermal applications.
Due to the polymer technology used, the patch can also be used for delivery of several different drugs. The current formulation with ibuprofen is expected to be in commercial use within two years.
Canada: York U-CAMH Team Creates App-Based Health Education Tool for People with Autism
York U and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have joined forces with a technology startup to help people with intellectual disability and with autism spectrum disorder to better manage their health and mental health, including dealing with stress and anxiety. The free app, MagnusCards, is used to create e-flashcard decks that serve as easy to understand how-to guides for everyday activities such as cooking, grocery shopping, going to the dentist and picking up prescription medication.
According to Magnusmode, the app’s creators, Magnus the wizard who has lost all his magical powers, needs the help of others to do his daily chores. Using decks of e-flashcards in various categories, people with autism or intellectual disability teach Magnus how to manage money, prepare healthy food, take care of personal hygiene, as well as have fun, and along the way, they learn too. York U team led by Weiss partnered with CAMH, to create a collection of 10 digital card decks focused on health and healthcare, for the MagnusCards app. Scenarios in the card decks include: visiting the eye doctor, the dentist, the emergency department, getting blood work done, going for a health check-up, and dealing with sadness and anxiety.
UK: Dating App Encourages Organ Donation
Dating app Tinder has partnered with NHS Blood and Transplant to raise awareness about organ donations. Users of the app that swipe on a special icon will be made aware that some people are searching for a different kind of a match - a donor match – and encouraged to sign up to donate their organs. Some celebrity Tinder users will have the icon on their profile page with the aim of targeting 18-35 year-old users. Users who swipe right will match with these profiles and receive a message that says "If only it was that easy for those in need of a life saving organ to find a match": then encouraged to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said the partnership with Tinder is about educating and encouraging people to sign up for organ donation.

UE: e-Health App Guidelines Developed to Improve Elderly Care
Growing demand for elderly eHealth and mHealth applications has created an opportunity for SMEs to develop innovative internet, mobile phones and tablets-based solutions along with video games that can improve the health of older people. The EU-funded IROHLA project trialled several of these promising technologies with elderly participants – including those with low health literacy – in order to assuage market feasibility and to create a set of development guidelines. One of the main conclusions was the need for active and continuous collaboration between application developers, healthcare professionals and researchers.
The guidelines developed by the IROHLA project will help Europe’s healthcare sector to tap the potential of eHealth and mHealth innovations, in order to boost health literacy among senior citizens, provide immediate contact with care givers and enhance informed decision making. It is also hoped that IT health innovations will facilitate more targeted public health and medical interventions, as well as remote diagnosis and monitoring.
Danish National Healthcare Portal to Go Mobile in 2016
In 2016, all the services provided by the Danish eHealth portal will be accessible from mobile devices. is the basis of the eHealthcare system in Denmark as it provides a global platform where healthcare professionals and citizens (who are also patients) can exchange and centralize their health information. “By servicing both citizens and health professionals, the portal enables the two to achieve a cooperation based on the same data”, the portal said.
Developed in 2001 and relaunched in 2009, the portal provides a list of services for citizens, including a global view of their treatment and diagnoses from their own hospital patient records, the ability to book an appointment with their general practitioner or to renew their drug prescription. However, one of the most important functions is that they can share a medical profile and their health history with the practitioner. Every citizen has his own personal page which reflects his own situation. Professionals can securely access data from the patients they treat.


Where Are STDs Rampant? Google Wants to Help Researchers Find Out
With sexually transmitted diseases on the rise, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago think they might have a powerful new weapon to fight their spread: Google searches. The nation’s leading search engine has quietly begun giving researchers access to its data troves to develop analytical models for tracking infectious diseases in real time or close to it. UIC is one of at least four academic institutions that have received access so far, along with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers can mine Google data to identify searched phrases that spiked during previous upticks in a particular disease. Then, they measure the frequency of those searches in real time to estimate the number of emerging cases. For instance, a jump in gonorrhea might coincide with more people searching “painful urination” or other symptoms.
Google is the most commonly used search engine in the U.S., with a 63.9% market share in October, according to comScore, a Reston, Va.-based analytics company.
UpToDate Anywhere App Launched in Italy
The health division of Wolters Kluwer announced the launch of UpToDate® Anywhere app in Italy. UpToDate Anywhere enables hospitals and healthcare organizations to provide clinicians with mobile and EHR-based access to UpToDate, the evidence-based clinical decision support resource. UpToDate Anywhere expands the availability of this resource to smartphones and tablets, providing clinicians with fast, consistent access at any location. UpToDate Anywhere users in Italian healthcare organizations benefit in particular from Search in Your Own Language, a customizable suite of multi-language search and navigation tools enabling clinicians to pose clinical questions in several languages, including Italian. The intuitive auto-complete feature of UpToDate search also predicts words or phrases in Italian to deliver faster search results.


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