| Vol. 12 No. 15, July 29, 2015 |
FACTS AND STATS
Consumer Knowledge, Trust of Telemedicine Lacking in the US
Forty-one percent of US consumers have not heard of telemedicine, according to a new survey by HealthMine. The survey included responses from 1,200 consumers.
The participants were asked whether they would use telemedicine if their physician offered it as an alternative to an in-office visit and whether they knew when it would be best to use telemedicine. The answer: "I've never heard of telemedicine" was an option to the second question.
However, when it comes to awareness and acceptance of telemedicine, survey results indicate that age might be a factor, particularly for the younger millennials compared to Baby Boomers. While only 37% of consumers age 55-64 said they would use telemedicine, 58% of 25- to 34-year-olds said they would do so. In addition, 52% of 25- to 34-year-olds believe they understand when it is best to use telemedicine versus just 34% of 45- to 54-year-olds.
Still, a separate nationwide survey of 504 US adults conducted by TechnologyAdvice Research found that nearly 56% of consumers would be uncomfortable conducting a doctor’s appointment virtually and only about 35% of those surveyed indicated that they would choose a virtual appointment. And, approximately 75% of those surveyed reported they either would not trust a diagnosis made via telemedicine, or would trust this method less than an in-doctor visit.
Powered Robotic Arm Uses Shape Memory Alloy Instead of Motors
Powered prosthetic arms typically rely on a series of motors, pulleys, and other mechanical contraptions to make them move. Now engineers from Saarland University in Germany have created a bionic hand that doesn’t have any complex components, relying simply on nitinol wires activated by a current of electricity.
Nitinol, a nickel titanium alloy developed at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, is a shape memory material that can bounce between two configurations depending on its temperature. By running a current through the metal, the wires can heat up and made to flex. The research team harnessed this property and built the wires into a plastic arm to work as tiny muscles that can tug and pull individual fingers to open and close.
JINS SCREEN Glasses Block Blue Light to Improve Sleep, Adjust Circadian Rhythms
Blue light has relatively recently been confirmed as a culprit that can distort people’s circadian rhythms and turn sleeping into a nightly challenge. With the ongoing proliferation of portable electronic devices that feature bright, high resolution screens, more and more people are absorbing large quantities of blue light through their eyes during evening hours when it’s most detrimental. JINS, a Japanese eyewear firm, will soon be releasing in the US a line of eyeglasses that help eliminate significant amount of the blue light before it reaches your eyes.
The JINS SCREEN glasses have a special coating that reflects light with wavelengths around the 460 nm range, while the lens material itself absorbs more of this light. The result is a 25% reduction in light of this frequency reaching the eyes, which has been shown in a clinical study to reduce eye strain. Importantly, unlike similar products that block blue light while turning everything brown, the new JINS glasses are nearly completely clear and supposedly do not significantly change the color of the surrounding environment.
Call9 Connects You to Standby Physicians during Medical Emergencies
In a medical emergency, the 911 operator may not be able to offer the optimal guidance for laymen to help a struggling person, while an ambulance can take quite some time to arrive. Call9, a new startup, aims to connect people in dire need of critical information with on-call emergency physicians. The app is designed for use by nurses and caretakers at schools, nursing homes, and other facilities. In reality, the service is much more than an app, and comes with a medical kit that a facility keeps on hand that may include ECG, ultrasound, and typical emergency supplies.
Essentially, in an emergency, the user starts the app and initiates a call to a physician by simply pressing a button. The app works similar to a video Skype call but allows the physician on the other end to see what the blood pressure cuff or ECG readout are showing. From there, the physician can guide the staff on what actions to take and how to be ready when paramedics finally arrive.
Canada: Digital Solutions Connect Clinicians with Colleagues and Patients 71 Million Times
Connecting Canadians and healthcare providers to each other digitally was the name of the game for the ImagineNation e-Connect Impact Challenge. During the 15-month challenge period, teams generated over 71 million digital health uses, and the top teams are being recognized with more than $500,000 in awards. Fourty-six teams competed in the challenge, which sought to advance digital health adoption and use among Canadians and healthcare providers in four categories: e-Visits, e-Requests for Prescription Renewals or Refills, e-Reports of Services and e-Requests for Services. The Challenge was announced in October 2013 and concluded in March 2015. The teams with the highest percentage growth in their digital health solution use are being recognized with the Overall Awards, while those that the judging panel ranked as having the best reported quality improvements and lessons learned for their digital health solution are receiving the Quality Impact Report Awards.
UK Health Service Nurtures Open Source Communities
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is nurturing a growing number of communities of software developers working on open source solutions. NHS’ Code4Health team is now supporting 17 communities that bring together health care providers, developers and supporters. Examples include Open Odonto, open source software for dentistry, and openMAXIMS, guiding the development of an open source electronic patient record system for the NHS. A third community working with Code4health is openEobs, a project that helps clinicians and managers ensure safer patients, safer wards and safer hospitals. A fourth project is OPENeP, aiming to deliver a suite of medicines management applications to improve the safety and efficiency of prescribing and medicines management.
The Code4Health projects are intended to help NHS improve the usability of software solutions, increase the speed and reduce the cost of modification and integrations, and deliver workable solutions to clinicians.
e-Health Accelerator Hub to Be Launched in Nairobi
Africa’s first healthcare accelerator will be launched in Kenya, courtesy of German companies Ampion and Merck. According to Ampion, the accelerator will take up startups and entrepreneurs venturing in e-health solutions with large scale impact in the society. The launch of the accelerator is a follow-up model for nurturing startups of its Ampion Venture Bus initiative and its fellowship program. The Ampion Venture Bus for instance, collects applications from interested entrepreneurs and start-ups via its website and takes the forty most viable ideas in areas of e-health, finech and greentech among others. The forty entrants are taken on a bus ride across the region where it is taking place for a specific duration of time. The first and only Bus Startup ride in Kenya took five days.
During the bus ride, startups and entrepreneurs interact and network among one another as they receive business mentorship from mentors brought on board by Ampion. Additionally, Ampion helps the startups write business plans. By the end of the ride, each leaves with a viable prototype.
On-demand Doctor Apps Bring Uber Approach to Medicine
It was 8 o'clock on a weeknight and Brooklyn resident Sarah Sheehan was reeling from a painful earache. She wouldn't be able to see her doctor until the next morning, and that would require a 45-minute subway ride uptown. That's when Sheehan, co-founder of an education technology business, remembered receiving a promotional code for a new company called Pager, an Uber-like service that sends doctors to patients' homes.
Pager and similar companies like Heal and Medicast aim to streamline medical care -- cutting out waiting rooms, receptionists and trips to the doctor's office. But some doctors warn there could be drawbacks to convenience-driven medical care, especially if it disrupts an already complex, fragmented healthcare system. As the app makers search for a sustainable business model, however, it appears they are more likely to end up working with traditional medical providers, than against them. House calls were once commonplace in the U.S. Today, 9 out of 10 general practitioners say they do not typically make house calls, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Pager is currently only available in New York City but it will expand to San Francisco in coming weeks. A rival company on the West Coast, Heal, already operates in San Francisco, Orange County and L.A Gaspard de Dreuzy, one of Pager's three co-founders, says the services' typical customers are working mothers ages 30 to 45.
So much so that they are willing to pay a premium. Like other services, Pager is not currently covered by insurance. Customers pay a $50 fee for their first visit and $200 for subsequent visits from one of the company's 40 health practitioners, including doctors, nurses and physician assistants.
Researchers Call for Support for Data in the Cloud to Facilitate Genomics Research
In the journal Nature prominent researchers from Canada, Europe and the US have made a powerful call to major funding agencies, asking them to commit to establishing a global genomic data commons in the cloud that could be easily accessed by authorized researchers worldwide. This would increase access to the data for researchers, reduce the time and cost associated with transferring and storing data on local servers and accelerate genomics research worldwide. Storing data in the cloud has been shown to be as secure, if not more secure, than storing it locally.
With a typical university connection it can take months to download datasets from major international projects like the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and the hardware costs associated with storing and processing those data can also prove quite expensive. With cloud computing a data set from a big genome project can be executed in days, at a fraction of the price.
The authors propose that funding agencies request that major data sets be uploaded into the cloud and that they pay for its long-term storage. Data would then only need to be copied once and researchers would only have to pay for temporary storage while the analysis was in progress. Access would only be provided to authorized researchers.
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