REPOST: Healthcare technologies in the new digital era

As with most other industries, the healthcare sector’s evolution will be defined by technology. Read the article below from The Telegraph to know how digital tech is taking traction in this field:

Research 2.0: obtaining patient consent via an app would pave way for studies on an industrial scale

As we ride the wave of the fourth industrial revolution, it is amazing that Britain’s National Health Service continues to be one of the biggest users of fax machines in the world and still spends £79m a year on second-class stamps rather than emailing people.

However, healthcare is facing a digital overhaul in the new “open economy”, driven by mobile tech and connected devices. It could re-energise medical research and save lives, time and money, according to two leading British experts.

Mobile devices can help deliver care to patients in their own homes, speeding up the way healthcare professionals and patients communicate, according to Mark Howells, founder and managing director of Konnektis. “Our system runs on Samsung tablets that replace the pen-and-paper notes currently used in home care,” he says.

“These mobile devices have data connectivity and become the hub for health professionals, formal carers and family members to access, record and share information easily and securely. As a result, we can all collaborate in real-time to deliver the highest standards of care.”

Building the Konnektis system involved “significant” input from users to ensure that it met their needs, says Mr Howells. “Konnektis becomes the individual’s hub to access information about their care.

“Technology that is accessible and easy to use can provide people with better information, greater choice and more control. At its core, health and social care will always be about people. Technology is simply an enabler, whether it is improved care co-ordination in the home, more effectively supporting people in rural communities with video consultations or the power of predictive analytics.”

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The three countries with the healthiest people

Image source: welldoing.org

 

Nobody can predict how long we’ll live but in this world of modern technology, there are various factors and ways to prolong man’s life. In some countries, the average life expectancy has been increasing over the past few decades. You might be wondering how these nations live longer than others. Economically speaking, a healthy population is essential to productivity. The healthier the people, ideally, the more they can produce goods or services. Below is a list of the countries considered to be the healthiest in the world:

 

  1. Monaco

This small principality in the Mediterranean is the second smallest nation but one of the wealthiest in the world. In this country, there’s no such thing as income tax, however, most of the residents are millionaires and billionaires. For decades, Monaco is known for its Monte-Carlo casino, Monaco Grand Prix, and yacht-lined harbors which became the country’s main sources of income.

Aside from being rich, the inhabitants of Monaco are also very healthy. One of the reasons is the healthy Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of veggies and seafood, especially fish which is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, Monaco has state-funded health care system that provides excellent-quality health care services to all its people. The average life expectancy in the city-state is almost 90 years old.

 

  1. Japan

Most travelers consider Japan as one of the best places to live in. Apart from possessing impressive natural scenery and electrifying urban landscapes, the country also offers unique cultural traditions such as tea ceremony, social conventions, as well as martial arts, among others. They are undoubtedly one of the most technologically advanced nations on earth.

Japan ranks second worldwide on life expectancy, with its citizens capable of reaching the age of 87, according to World Health Statistics. Japanese diet is most likely their number one secret to such longevity. This eating pattern is based on consuming foods with less calories but has high amount of antioxidants (such as fish, seaweeds, and vegetables). In addition, all the residents of Japan are covered by a mandatory health care system, in which 70 percent of the hospital costs is paid by the government.

 

  1. Macau

It is widely known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” which is now the 4th wealthiest territory and the biggest gambling enclave in the world. A tiny SAR (special administrative region) of China, it is the most densely populated place on the planet. It primarily earns from its vibrant casino industry, bagging large revenues that are being used by the government to provide free high-quality public services such as health care. Recently, the World Health Statistics has put Macau’s average life expectancy at 84 years. Healthy (and sumptuous) Macanese food and active lifestyle also contribute to such long life span.

 

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REPOST: Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

Is diversity the key to improving the healthcare industry? David Russian shares his views on this subject, and more, through HeraldNet.com:

Our health care system is a Rube Goldberg machine: Complicated, with lots of parts moving in different directions, producing unpredictable, frustrating results.

Some of the parts are well-designed and produce great outcomes. We have amazing medical research in our universities and hospitals. The Puget Sound region is a leader in discovering new drugs, treatments and devices that save lives. We must preserve the environment that makes the area an innovator in health care.

This is also a healthy place to live. Compared to the rest of America, we eat better, exercise more, and weigh less.

So we’re healthier, and our health care costs are lower than the rest of the country.

Our community has seen consolidation of big players, and the entry of large corporations.

Providence assumed control of Swedish — it’s one big system. DaVita, a for-profit company, purchased The Everett Clinic. Kaiser Permanente took control of Group Health. Consolidation can lead to efficiencies of scale. Elsewhere in the country, consolidation has led to increased costs and decreased choice. We need to guard against that.

Medical informatics is a disaster. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are a part of doing business. They are clunky, time-consuming and do not talk to each other. They keep doctors and nurses away from their patients. They are expensive. They don’t transfer data from one EMR to another. Despite the cost, time and frustration, EMRs do not improve health outcomes. The Steve Jobs of EMRs has not yet been born.

The payment system is broken. Reimbursement to hospitals and providers has not kept pace with inflation. But pharmacy and device costs have skyrocketed. We’ve allowed health care costs to be corrupted by lobbyists. There have been a few big winners, but increased costs for all.

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The three diets you’ve probably never heard of

Image source: medicalxpress.com

Many of our certified nutritionists have created a large selection of easy-to-follow dietary guidelines that are designed for people who don’t want to follow a strict meal planning in order to achieve a fit and healthy lifestyle. Here are three diet plans you may not have heard of yet that may actually work for you:

 

  1. Shangri-La Diet

Image source: drhealthbenefits.com

A very eccentric weight control regimen, Shangri-La Diet, was created by Professor Seth Roberts. This unusual method of diet can change your eating habits which allows you to eat anything without gaining those extra pounds. In doing so, you need to consume 100-400 calories daily by consuming light olive oil and/or fructose water (a water with sugar) between meals.

According to Roberts, consuming flavorless foods will diminish your appetite, thus, makes you less hungry. The theory of Shangri-La Diet is that your body will regulate itself to keep your body fat at a certain time depending on the amount of weight you want to lose. Hence, if you don’t want to suffer and follow strict diet plan, this dietary regimen might work well for you.

 

  1. Dukan Diet

Image source: bbcgoodfood.com

A French physician, Dr. Pierre Dukan is the creator of the famous Dukan Diet. His best-selling book about this diet was published in France in 2000 and sold over 7 million copies worldwide. The Dukan Diet plan is based on a high protein, low carb, and low fat diet. It is divided into four phases –attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization.

The Attack phase consists of pure protein and strictly no carbs for one week, while Cruise phase involves alternate days of eating pure protein and days of protein with unlimited vegetables. The third phase, consolidation, allows you to eat starchy foods, cheese, whole grain bread, and fruits. Its main purpose is to achieve and maintain your true weight. Lastly, the stabilization phase, aims to stabilize your true weight for the rest of your life following three simple steps: (1) consuming pure protein every Thursday (2), eating 3 tablespoons of oat bran every day, and (3) choosing to take the stairs instead of escalators or lift whenever possible.

 

  1. Blood Type Diet

Image source: healthylivingassociation.org

According to Dr. Peter D’Adamo, a naturopathic physician, each blood type represents genetic traits of our ancestors, including which diet they evolved to thrive on. In his diet plan, he suggests to eat essential foods that are compatible with your blood type. Type O people are supposed to eat more high-protein foods such as meat and fish. For type A’s (agrarian) must follow the vegetarian diet. Type B’s (nomad), meanwhile, should avoid eating corn and wheat but are encouraged to eat green vegetables and low-fat dairy. Type AB blood (enigma) calls for dairy, tofu, and green veggies. Finally, type O’s (hunter) are encouraged to stick to a meaty diet high in protein, dairy, beans, grains, and vegetables.

 

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REPOST: Virtual Reality Is A Growing Reality In Health Care

The virtual reality (VR) phenomenon is transcending the realms of video games and entertainment as it is now being seen to be just as useful in the health care industry. This Forbes article explains how this is going to be possible:

Pictured here at the Games for Change festival is Kognito’s simulation game. (Photo: Courtesy of Ron Goldman/Kognito)

 

Back to reality … sort of. Recently, I attended the Games for Change Festival at the Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City. The 14th installment of this annual event that brings together people who make video games to help society, people, and health also included a one-day Virtual Reality (VR) for Change Summit on August 2. And this VR Summit showed just how much of a reality VR for health care is becoming.

 

As Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change, explained, “The VR portion of the Festival is new. The Games for Change Festival started with 40 or so people in a conference room who realized that video games offer a way to connect with audiences and reach audiences that are tough to reach. Now we have over 1100 people attending.”

 

The festival concluded with a cocktail reception at VR World NYC that included VR games, sushi, and beer…which for some people is the definition of Nirvana.

 

Indeed, the prospect of playing video games to help people may seem sort of like eating healthy molten lava chocolate cake. Combining indulgent fun with health benefits is just desserts for anyone who was told while growing up that playing video games is bad for you. Previously, many gamers have had to argue the indirect benefits of playing such as improving hand eye coordination (as described in this study published in Psychological Science) and problem solving skills while stealing cars (Grand Theft Auto), gathering abnormally large mushrooms (Super Mario Brothers), avoiding a massive gorilla who seems to have an endless supply of barrels (Donkey Kong), or saving the Universe (Halo). Note: the saving the universe argument doesn’t work with parents.

 

But now there are more and more video games explicitly being designed to improve health. For example, I wrote previously for Forbes about how Amblyotech and Ubisoft are introducing Dig Rush to help kids with “lazy eye” or amblyopia. Now, while there isn’t yet a “rush” to develop video games for health (certainly compared to the much larger overall video game market), efforts are growing.

 

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These countries spend the most money on healthcare

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Countries around the world allocate their national budget depending on the demand and priorities of their population.  For instance, among the list of the standard and highly important expenses that government focus on are education, military, infrastructure, and most importantly, healthcare.

Because of the varying needs of these sectors, administrations have to prioritize some over the others. This list gives you the countries with the highest allocated budget on healthcare in the world.

United States

As one of the wealthiest and most culturally diverse countries in the world, the United States’ annual spending on healthcare ranks as the first and top compared to other countries with similar life expectancy, allocating 17.1 percent (based on 2014 data) of the GDP on health services. That’s equivalent to an average of over $9,000 dollars per person. Looking at the data from 1995, there was an increase in budget distribution in 2014 and it can be credited to the Obamacare reforms that opened more opportunities and benefits for healthcare services.

Sweden

Did you know that per 1,000 people in Sweden (based on 2013 data), there were four practicing physicians available? This is thanks to the country’s jump in health spending that has reached 11.9 percent in 2014.  Furthermore, these changes have boosted their population’s life expectancy to 84.7 years (2014).

Switzerland

With 11.7 percent of GDP allocated to healthcare, Switzerland became 2013’s second highest spending country ($6,325 per person) in the world with a life expectancy of 82.9 years. The country has been topping rankings among many others, revealing a 66 percent increase in health expenditure from its 1995 to 2014.

Haiti

According to the 2014 expenditure statistics, Haiti recorded a 13.2 percentage of GDP expenditure per capita—that’s $61.50—and as the World Health Organization (WHO) noted, the country’s annual spending has more than doubled from its 1995 budget of 6.6 percent.

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REPOST: Mark Cuban sees a model for fixing health care — and he didn’t find it in the United States

Can billionaire Mark Cuban’s healthcare structure proposal ‘fix’ the current system? Instead of relying on insurance companies, he suggests using federal funds to boost medical staff numbers and make care more widely accessible. CNBC has the full story:

Billionaire Mark Cuban has proposed scrapping insurance companies from the U.S. health-care system and instead using federal funds to boost medical staff numbers and make care more widely accessible.

In a series of tweets late Sunday, which appeared to advocate parts of the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), the tech titan and philanthropist weighed in on President Donald Trump’s beleaguered health-care reform agenda, saying that insurance companies were draining U.S. funds with “artificial” and inflated costs.

“Dear politicians. Let me ask a question. If every person in our country had health insurance, would we be any healthier?” Cuban posited in the first in a series of tweets.

He then went on to criticize the U.S. system, which relies on individual health insurance policies, and claimed that eradicating the role of private insurers could reduce costs by 50 percent or more. This would bring the U.S. system closer in line with the U.K.’s NHS or Australia’s Medicare, which are largely state-funded.

“No chance a system where you give an ins (insurance) comp $, then beg them to spend it among limited options is the way to optimize our healthcare,” Cuban insisted.

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Someday, wearable techs are going to save your life

Image source: foxnews.com

 

Wearable technology may sound straight out of science fiction but in recent years, such innovation has gradually become a reality and may even soon become more mainstream. In fact, experts predict that more than 400 million smart wearable devices—worth an incredible $34 billion—will be sold worldwide by the end of the decade. Indeed, the future is here and in the very near future, we’re going to see major changes in systems and processes involved in different sectors and industries—most especially in the medical industry.

So what are the present and possible roles of wearable tech in the medical setting? Let’s start with the most common type of this innovation that any ordinary person can easily access in the market.

 

Technology for the active lifestyle

Image source: one2s.com

 

From smartwatches, smart apparels, and fitness trackers, wearable tech in this category can help you keep track of your fitness levels. These devices easily and perfectly blend in with any fashion style so it’s been popular among active individuals from different walks of life without feeling and looking a little bit ‘nerdy’.

 

Wearable tech for physicians

Image source: smallbiztrends.com

 

Wearable tech’s huge jump from a commercial device to a more medical and expert-oriented tool is what we’re going to expect in the years to come.  In fact, it’s going to change everything about the medical practice and the industry as a whole. Possible features of this future tech include providing doctors and health practitioners with an activity tracker for patients and in turn, the collected data will give physicians a better idea of the overall physical status of patients with all accuracy and honesty.

 

Overall health tracker

Image source: castleconnolly.com

 

One day, wearable techs will enable medical experts to track the most serious health problems and help keep up with patients suffering from chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and other challenging ailments.  In addition, patients will be encouraged to comply with their doctor’s diet and workout instructions.

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REPOST: As You Age, Here’s How To Steer Your Health Care

Is it possible to model one’s healthcare plan after his or her lifestyle and personal preferences? In a person-centered direction, perhaps? Here’s an article from Forbes for some discussion:

 

Say you have a preference about the kind of treatment you want from your doctor. Maybe you dislike the cost, the risk of side effects or just the idea of depending on prescription medications and building your day-to-day routines around them. You want to give priority to alternative treatments like walking, yoga, nutrition or meditation whenever that makes sense.

Or maybe there’s something important in your life — a family event, a sport you want to pursue, a craft — and you want to keep your health issues and your health care from interfering with it if you can.

 

 

How do you make sure that your preferences and priorities get on the agenda with your health care providers? And how do you make sure they stay on the agenda beyond a single office visit?

“You have a right to ask” for that, says Dr. Phyllis Hayes-Reams, chief of the department of geriatrics for Kaiser Permanente of Southern California. Ideas like patient preference and quality of life tend to get linked to end-of-life care, but health care providers “want to move the conversation upstream” she says, to all the years that come before end of life.

 

What You Want Is Person-Centered Care

“It’s the things that aren’t said that cause us to go down the wrong path” sometimes, Hayes-Reams adds. “Most physicians would welcome the opportunity to know what’s important to the patient, because it gives them some guidance.” She acknowledges that time-constrained appointments can make this a challenge on both sides of the conversation.

Dr. Debra Saliba served on an American Geriatrics Society panel a couple years ago that pinned down a definition of person-centered care and the central role that people’s individual preferences and goals should have in shaping their care. In short, the definition said that:

  • providers should ask about a person’s values, goals and preferences
  • they should use that information to guide all aspects of the person’s care
  • and they should do so in a coordinated and collaborative way as a health care team, including coordinating with the patient and other people the patient may want to include in the care relationship.

Saliba, a physician in the Los Angeles Veterans Administration health system, is also director of the University of Southern California Los Angeles/Jewish Home Borun Center for Gerontological Research and the new president of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). The definition of person-centered care mirrors a focus on quality of life that geriatricians have had for years, she says. But in her field and across the health industry as a whole, there’s still a long way to go before the AGS definition of person-centered care is a reality in patients’ experience of care.

“I think it’s aspirational for the health system,” Saliba says.

 

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Three important medical developments to emerge in the last decade

The health and medical industry is arguably one of the most crucial businesses in the world, not only for its economic importance but more so because of its role in keeping the human race alive. Like food production and power generation, it will never get obsolete but would instead, continue to evolve.

 

For many years, the advancement in technology has led the way to outstanding growths in different fields and industries, not only improving our way of life but also promising new and better things to look forward to in the centuries to come. In fact, several advantages from these developments shaped a better world and their benefits can be seen most especially in how the combination of technological feats and healthcare research revolutionized medicine in the last decade. Let’s discuss some of the most innovative healthcare developments in the past 10 years.

 

3D Printing in medicine

Medical 3D printing is probably one of the most industry-changing technologies of the century. This type of three-dimensional printing initially made headlines because of its innovations in manufacturing and production until its popularity took another spotlight when scientists achieved the impossible and successfully created human organs and simple body parts using 3D printers.

Image source: ibtimes.co.uk

 

Cancer fingerprinting

Another breakthrough in medicine contributed to the necessary development in cancer therapies is through cancer fingerprinting. This approach analyzes the how particular cases of this disease react to specific treatments. According to experts, each cancer case displays a unique identity code and the process of “fingerprinting” can allow medical staff to observe and study the mutated genes of tumors, letting them measure the sensitivity of specific cancers to different types of chemotherapy.

Image source: express.co.uk

 

Synthetic hormones

Heart failure is one of the leading causes of death around the world but recent progress in research related to this disease provided hope for people suffering from serious heart conditions through a new synthetic version of relaxin, the “serelaxin,” a type of hormone that can boost survival rates in patients by 37 percent. This type of treatment can open up blood vessels and have shown anti-inflammatory effects on the human system.   Although several medical trials are still being conducted, this is one of the strongest candidate to finally pave the way to new and advanced avenue of research.

Image source: mymasc.com

 

Truly, we have come so far in our search for a more optimistic and healthier life and these developments will go on to lead a brighter and healthier future for all of humanity.

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