Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category
The demand for healthcare services is growing at rapid pace due to constantly increasing number of people with chronic diseases. These days approximately every one of two individuals has one or more chronic diseases, and one of four has two or more chronic conditions. At the same time, there are more medical information today about different diseases and their treatment options than ever before.
According to IBM, healthcare data doubles every 2 years. It is also calculated that doctors would have to read 29 hours each workday to keep up with new professional insights. Obviously while dealing with this huge information flow, doctors don’t have enough capacities to decide how appropriate an option might be for a specific patient.
Additionally, the most expensive part of healthcare is the human resources, which adds to the supply-and-demand issues. I guess no one will doubt the fact that professional healthcare is costly.
These insights bring up several questions. How can we benefit from explosion of information in healthcare industry? Is it possible to cut the costs for people who seek healthcare treatment without sacrificing the quality of such services? Or even improving it? How do we find a balance after all?
The answer lies in two words: cognitive computing. It is a system that can handle massive amounts of unstructured data to enable a new class of data interpretation and learning systems. Cognitive systems process information by comparing it to a teaching set of data. So that the more data such a system can analyze, the more it learns, and therefore the more accurate it becomes with the course of time. To mimic the way the human brain works cognitive systems use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing.
The main advantage of these machine-learning systems is their ability to find patterns in datasets too large and complex for human brains to embrace. For doctors this means assistance of paramount importance in keeping track of records and making accurate clinical decisions. IDC predicts that by 2018 somewhat 30 percent of healthcare systems will be running cognitive analytics against patient data and real-world evidence to personalize treatment regiments. What’s more, IDC projects that during the same year physicians will tap cognitive solutions for nearly half of cancer patients and, as a result, will reduce costs and mortality rates by 10 percent.
For patients the ability of cognitive computing to act as an advisor and give an additional opinion allows an extra level of assurance in the service provided by the healthcare sector. Eventually the patients will have more confidence in the service they are receiving. Besides, involving cognitive computing into healthcare means availability of remote check-ups, including areas with relatively little healthcare provision. It is predicted that in the U.S., for example, in the nearest future 40% of primary care encounters will be delivered virtually, which will be possible thanks to cognitive systems.
Summing up, cognitive computing can help:
- Healthcare specialists to manage all the data that is available to make more precise conclusions over the patients’ conditions
- Patients by advising, and providing answers to the questions they have
- Decrease costs for healthcare services
As data becomes more complex and diversified, cognitive computing will have an incredible impact on the healthcare industry.
In conclusion, let me give you one single real-life example. Watson (famous IBM cognitive system used to diagnose patients) was able to determine a rare form of leukemia in an old woman, while oncologists at the University of Tokyo had puzzled for about a year over her illness. After analyzing 20 million research papers Watson came up with the proper diagnosis. It took the system no more than ten minutes. Impressive, isn’t it?
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Programming cells may soon become as easy as programming a computer. Just as computer software designers create programming for computers, scientists have created a programming language that allows them to design DNA-encoded circuits that can give new function to living cells.
Using this language, anyone can write a program for the function they want, such as detecting and responding to certain environmental conditions. They can then generate a DNA sequence that will achieve it.
“It is literally a programming language for bacteria,” says Christopher Voigt, an MIT professor of biological engineering. “You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”
In the new software — called Cello — a user first specifies the kind of cell they are using and what they want it to do: for example, sense metabolic conditions in the gut and produce a drug in response. They type in commands to explain how these inputs and outputs should be logically connected, using a computing language called Verilog that electrical engineers have long relied on to design silicon circuits. Finally, Cello translates this information to design a DNA sequence that, when put into a cell, will execute the demands.
The good thing about it is that it’s very simple, without many of the intricacies often encountered in programming.
“You could be completely naive as to how any of it works. That’s what’s really different about this,” Voigt says. “You could be a student in high school and go onto the Web-based server and type out the program you want, and it spits back the DNA sequence.”
For now, all these features have been customized for the E. coli bacteria, one of the most common in studies, but researchers are working on expanding the language to other strands of bacteria.
Using this language, they’ve already programmed 60 circuits with different functions, and 45 of them worked correctly the first time they were tested – which is a remarkable achievement. The circuits were also strikingly fast, and the whole process promises to revolutionize DNA engineering. Before, it could take months or years to design such a circuit. Now, it can be done in less than a day.
Dr. Voigt’s team plans to work on several different applications using this approach — bacteria that can be swallowed to aid in digestion of lactose; bacteria that can live on plant roots and produce insecticide if they sense the plant is under attack; and yeast that can be engineered to shut off when they are producing too many toxic byproducts in a fermentation reactor.
What do you think about this rapidly developing revolutionary computer industry? Can it replace drugs and medicine in future? Can it help to cure cancer and AIDS? Will it make a living cell immortal?
Please feel free to share with us your opinion and thoughts here below.
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Electronic Health Record (EHR) Trends: from wearables and telemedicine to cloud computing and big data
Posted April 11, 2016on:
The new trend for many medical practices is obtaining an EHR (Electronic Health Record) system. While there are many practitioners still using files and travel cards, EHR provides better efficiencies for billing, reimbursements, audits etc. Admittedly, there are more systems then doctors but acquiring an EHR allows better practice efficiencies and perhaps more money for the practice.
In this post we highlighted the most important EHR trends to see unfold this year. Thus, we expect wearables, telemedicine and mobile medicine to continue to advance. They’ll be joined by cloud computing, patient portals and big data.
Telemedicine and wearables plus EHR
The telemedicine market is forecasted to exceed $30 billion in the next five years, as providers increasingly see the need to reach seniors and patients in rural areas. Telemedicine offers tons of value to seniors. It improves care by getting it to remote patients who live far from hospitals. It also enables homebound patients to get high-quality care. It makes care cheaper, and allows seniors to stay at home longer. It benefits providers by making their jobs more flexible. And it also eliminates picking up new illnesses in a clinical care setting.
Wearables’ mass adoption has made store-and-forward telemedicine much easier. Devices like Fitbits automatically collect valuable health data. Store-and-forward telemedicine just means that data goes to a doctor or medical specialist so they can assess it when they have time.
EHRs are going mobile
More and more providers want to provide medical care from their smartphones, and more patients want to access data through mobile devices. Contributing factors to the popularity of mobile devices include their affordability, ease of use and portability (meaning they are easy to carry between patient exams to access electronic patient information). One of the other drivers of mobile technology in healthcare is the availability of myriad apps for smartphones and tablets. For each of the major smartphone operating systems, there is now an app for almost every conceivable healthcare need, ranging from drug dose calculators to fully functioning electronic medical records. Healthcare apps play a pivotal role in changing the utility of mobile devices. They’re transforming smartphones or tablets to medical instruments that capture blood test results, medication information, glucose readings, medical images, enabling physicians and patients to better manage and monitor health information. Healthcare apps are clearly taking on more mainstream health IT functions and have moved beyond sporadic use by early adopters.
From these facts we may conclude that EHRs will offer better mobile design and functionality.
More EHRs will move to the cloud
Start-up costs for EHRs can prove burdensome for some institutions, while cloud-based tools offer minimal start-up costs and can make better use of providers’ current resources. The cloud also enables better continuity of care. Cloud-based software means you can access records from outside the office. It makes mobile access possible. It makes transferring records a snap. And it makes updating software seamless for providers.
In the coming year, more and more EHRs will offer cloud services.
More EHRs will provide patient portals
Though patient portal usage got off to a slow start in 2013, in last two years it grew in popularity.
While about half of physicians offer patient portals right now, almost another fifth of them plan to offer one in the next 12 months. In a 2015 survey of more than 11,000 patients, 237 physicians, and nine payer organizations representing 47 million lives, almost a third of patients said they were interested in using a patient portal to engage with their physician, track their medical history and receive educational materials and patient support.
More providers will both offer and promote patient portals. Some may even have patients use the portals during office visits to begin getting their data into the system. And patients will start to see their value. Educating patients on how and why to use portals will be the key to getting them to use it.
Big data will reveal more connections
Personalized medicine enabled by big data is an emerging trend in healthcare. Innovation will continue apace in 2016.
Personalized medicine focuses on analyzing a person’s genome, environmental, social, biometrical, and religious influencers, and determining a treatment for the individual based on that data. It’s about moving from a one-size-fits-all approach to instead creating micro-buckets of patients by analyzing their medical records and genome sequences, and treating patients based on the research and records of how other patients in similar situations have reacted. Big data is working to identify the behaviors, risk factors, and early indicators of disease so doctors can prevent it more effectively.
Big data is only the first step. That data must be cleaned and structured so it can reveal patterns in factors that influence outcomes.
Moving forward, technology will continue to transform the healthcare industry as it plays a key role in new healthcare delivery models. EMR/EHR, mHealth, telemedicine, and many others identified will continue to increase their footprint in this growing industry. Where do you see Healthcare IT over this year? What EHR trends are you most excited about and what trends did I miss? Let me know in the comments!
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Staying in shape is hard work. As the tech savvy community that we are, we spend most of our time working in front of our computers and mobile devices. As a result, we often let our health take the back seat, never really finding the time to go to the gym or a fitness class and more often than not choosing fast food over much healthier options.
In the past, finding out the answer to these sorts of fitness or nutrition-related queries required going to an expert for advice or trawling the internet in the hope of finding an answer. Nowadays, things are a lot easier thanks to the health and fitness apps available on the App Store or Google Play. Because our smartphones and apps are always with us, they become constant reminders to check your progress, stay the course, and keep your willpower strong.
Here are the top 10 hand-selected health and fitness apps proven to be the most effective in terms of execution and, of course, results.
RunKeeper is a workout-tracking program that offers detailed stats about things like pace, distance, time, and calories burned. Features include detailed fitness plans to help you achieve a variety of goals (lose weight, improve endurance, run a race, etc.); real-time audio coaching to keep you encouraged; and built-in social sharing tools (so you can brag about those workouts with ease).
Cost: Free. Available on iOS, Android
Cyclemeter may very well be one of the most feature complete cycling apps you’re going to find, on any platform. Not only can you track every statistic you can possibly thing of, you can customize over 120 audio alerts to let you know exactly where you are during a certain ride. Cyclemeter also lets you share your workouts online as well as notify friends and family of exactly where you are, whether during a race or just for safety reasons. Cyclemeter has built-in training assistance to help you get ready for any kind of race you may be prepping for.
Cost: Free; $4.99 Elite Upgrade optional. Available on iOS
MyFitnessPal is a mobile app and website that gives you a wealth of tools for tracking what and how much you eat, and how many calories you burn through activity. Of all the existing calorie counters, MyFitnessPal is by far the easiest one to manage, and it comes with the largest database of foods and drinks. With the MyFitnessPal app you can fastidiously watch what you eat 24/7, no matter where you are.
Cost: Free. Available on: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, Web
4. Pocket Yoga
Pocket Yoga is a self-guided yoga practice that you can customize to fit your schedule and experience level. Features include detailed voice and visual instructions that guide you through every pose, 150 illustrated pose images including correct posture and positioning, and a workout log that tracks your progress to encourage consistency.
Cost: Android ($2.99), iOS ($1.99). Available on: Android, iOS
Fooducate helps you eat healthier by scanning barcodes of products and providing a nutrition grade instantly, ranging from A to D. You can read unbiased information of a product, such as the controversy behind food coloring and make better, educated choices for your food intake. To help Fooducate, you can also submit products for analysis and write your own review.
Cost: Free. Available on: Android, iOS
No matter how much water you drink now, you’d probably be recommended by your GP to drink more. Drinking water is a key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle by keeping our skin looking younger, improving natural digestion and removing bodily toxins.
With intuitive gesture-based interaction, iDrated will help keep track of your water intake throughout the day and remind you should you forget to drink in a while.
Cost: $0.99. Available on: iOS
7. Smoke Free
We all know the effects smoking has on our health but giving up the habit can require a lot of willpower that some of us just don’t have.
Having visual feedback from your progress like how much money you’ve saved so far can be used as a big incentive to help us keep going.
Downloading Smoke Free can be the first step to becoming healthier.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS
8. Workout Trainer
Workout Trainer is a fitness training app that comes equipped with thousands of free workouts designed for a wide variety of fitness goals, experience levels, and personal preferences. Features include a virtual fitness consultation to personalize and improve your experience; instructional photos, videos, and audio cues that illustrate every exercise; online support community; and a built-in music player.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS, Android
Fitocracy is an RPG (role playing game)- like app that allows you to earn points and level up during your fitness journey. New friends and accountability buddies will cheer you on in an online social community that’s like Facebook but for fitness.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS, Android
10. iTriage Health
Here’s an app that takes the concept of a medical dictionary to a whole new level. iTriage not only allows you to search symptoms and find potential causes, it suggests treatments and finds qualified facilities and doctors in your area. If you’re having a medical emergency and need to head to the ER or urgent care, this app can provide average wait times.
It also includes numbers for emergency hotlines and physician and nurse advice lines, so you can be connected easily to a real person who will give you feedback on your condition. All of this information can be saved on the app for your convenience.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS, Android
Did you have a chance to try these helpful applications? Which of them did you like most? Let us know using the comments below.
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
The use of health apps has skyrocketed in 2014. Flurry, a mobile analytics company, has followed over 6,800 health and fitness-related apps, and sees a growth of 62% based on measurements of the number of times the app is opened and used. Overall growth rate apps otherwise is 33%.
By 2017 the app market is predicted to reach 26 billion users. Among its key drivers is the world’s aging population with its increasing need for medical care. In the United States alone, Tighe notes, almost 20 percent of Americans will be older than 65 by 2030, making them more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and other age-associated conditions. This changing landscape is forcing to create new ways to monitor people health and provide assistance with making health wise choices. And here mobile medical apps have already proved efficient and thus are gaining more and more popularity.
This boom has been also supported by most global IT corporations such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. So here are some recent actions in that area showing that these companies treat this market segment really seriously:
- Google recently launched Google Fit and directed towards more consumers within training and nutrition.
- Apple has partnered with the company Epic. Since Epic handles over 51% of the medical records in the US, it gives Apple a very solid position in healthcare sector. Apple has, in iOS8, also included a personal health platform, HealthKit, which integrates other applications and gathers information for the user will appear in Apple Health app.
- Microsoft invests in a separate solution and will with Microsoft Health Vault offer a platform where people can gather, store, share and use health data online.
- Facebook has integrated MapMyFitness so friends can cheer on each other, share results and compete against each other. This has also contributed to the large increase in the use of health and Fitness app, where distribution is large via the social networking channel.
There is even an opinion that the increased use of health and fitness apps will destroy the market for wearables. It’s hard for them to compete with mobile apps, as the number of smartphone users is really big. So when the software is already integrated into smartphones they automatically become efficient devices for collecting health data. To put it short, the benefits of using mobile apps to wearable medical-devices include 1/ cost savings because there is no need to develop a completely new device, 2/ enhancing existing platforms by adding more sophisticated sensing and data capabilities, 3/ using an interface that consumers know well and is already part of their everyday life.
Healthcare IT outsourcing
Health apps are built up not only by global IT companies, but also by healthcare providers to be used by doctors, specialists and by patients, of course. And here healthcare organizations increasingly take over the idea that IT outsourcing can help them bring their apps faster to the market while they could focus on their core activities.
This tendency has also been stimulated by changing government regulations concerning hospitals and clinics in lots of countries. And while some organizations are broadly outsourcing a mobile applications development, others are handing out the responsibility of IT management and overseeing their entire IT infrastructure.
The global healthcare IT outsourcing market is growing continuously. According to an article by Nearshore Americas, a recent study made by the Everest group states that the global healthcare IT outsourcing market is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 12%. This gives us an insight on how much demand healthcare institutions now place on IT outsourcing services. According to TechNavio IT outsourcing in the global healthcare and life sciences sector is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% through 2019.
Among the trends to watch besides going mobile, there is hosting on the cloud by health-related organizations to make their operations safer, using analytics-as-a-service technologies due to growing interest in Big Data, etc. Therefore 70% of healthcare organizations worldwide are expected to invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring, and virtual care.
So the world has been ready for a while to embrace healthcare apps and demand for them is not going to slow down any time soon. Among the top medical apps they call CDC Vaccine Schedules, Family Practice Notebook, ASCVD Risk Estimator, etc.
What health-related apps have you tried and which ones do you use daily? Thank you for sharing!
Posted December 17, 2013on:
Healthcare advances have been occurring at a rapid pace over the past two decades. Advances in technology have impacted all aspects of healthcare. These advances are not limited to only drugs and devices but may also include new surgical procedures as well as new applications of existing technology. But what impact will these changes have on medicine and overall care delivery?
Without doubt, medical technology is very important for people’s health and improvement of quality of their life. It also contributes a lot of money to the economy. There are many advantages that innovative technology brings to the table when it comes to healthcare.
The impact of technological innovations on our life:
For example, the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHR) has resulted in significant savings in health care costs as well as improved patient health and safety. In more and more healthcare facilities, patient files are being kept in databases that can be accessed from anywhere in the facility. This doesn’t only save time but also results in better data coordination and management.
It is also technological innovation that has opened the door to more non-invasive procedures. Diagnostics have never been easier and more accurate, especially due to advancements in areas like nuclear medicine. Nowadays numerous methods of imaging allow technicians and physicians to examine a patient’s anatomy without needing invasive procedures to form a diagnosis.
Minimally invasive surgeries, especially cardiovascular and thoracic surgeries, have also become more common in recent years. The development of better instruments and more advanced technology have allowed surgeons to perform procedures in minimally invasive ways that just wasn’t possible a few years ago.
Technology can also bring hidden dangers if you aren’t careful. The internet in particular is known for this. Though some would disagree, the infinite flow of medical knowledge available online is not always a good thing. Though some websites can be a great resource for living a healthy lifestyle, but they should never be used to replace your physician. Self-diagnosis is a dangerous thing. At best you’ll scare yourself into thinking something is seriously wrong when it isn’t. At worst you’ll misdiagnose yourself and cause serious damage to your health and wellbeing. In the long term, however, it may cost you much more than you ever expected.
Predictions for How IT Will Impact Healthcare in 2014
Undoubtedly, information technologies have had an immense impact on the current state of healthcare and their influence is only increasing. And what could we expect from the next year for the healthcare IT sector? Is it going to be a big year for upheaval in it? Current research reveals exciting possibilities as technology and healthcare continue to advance. Here’s a look at some technologies revolutionizing the medical field:
- Tablet use and healthcare apps will continue to grow
As well as doctors’ shifting from paper toward an electronic era, the use of tablets will continue to increase. Mobile devices have optimized practices throughout the country, and their capabilities are ever growing. Quoting Bill Ho, the president of Biscom (a company that provides enterprise fax and secure file-transfer technology), “Doctors and other healthcare professionals will not only be able to access patient records, but they’ll be able to sign off on treatments and prescriptions without being tethered to their offices or the hospital”. Similarly, healthcare apps are becoming increasingly popular amongst both patients and physicians. These apps allow patients to find local physicians or hospitals, learn about symptoms and treatments, and exchange healthcare questions and answers. In today’s digital age, the use of both tablets and apps for healthcare will continue to grow and flourish.
- Practices will travel to the cloud
Many practices have chosen to take all of their digital information to the cloud while choosing an EHR system. These cloud-based EHRs are easier to integrate into a practice’s existing workflow. Cloud technology will enable healthcare providers to improve services and more easily share technology without needing to invest in hardware infrastructures and maintenance. The technology will contribute to the access and sharing of patient data and records between healthcare professionals in real-time. Patient care will become more personalized and thorough as healthcare providers can focus less on accessing data, and more on patients themselves.
Telehealth is health-related services or information being delivered through telecommunications technologies. This can range from physicians speaking amongst themselves, or to patients via the phone, to robotic surgeries being performed between facilities in different parts of the world. In a time in which medical additional payments increase in cost, many corporations have begun to encourage their employees to connect more easily with physicians through telehealth services. Also, for patients willing to pay for convenience, virtual visits via video increased in quality and accessibility. Telehealth has grown to focus not just on the curative aspects of healthcare, but also to the preventative and promotive aspects of medicine.
- 3D printing:
California-based research company Organovo has printed human liver tissue to test drug toxicity on specific sections of the liver. Although printing organs for transplants may still be far off, this technology could be used in the near future with individual patients to test their toxicity reactions to specific drugs.
- Artificial intelligence:
IBM’s Watson (an artificially intelligent computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language) is just the first step toward using artificial intelligence in medicine. The supercomputer, which defeated two human champions on the quiz show “Jeopardy!” in 2011, is now being used to diagnose and manage lung cancer treatment. Imagine a computer that could evaluate and analyze a patient’s entire genome, biometric data and environmental and personal data, including diet and activity level. The quantity of information could be too much for a person to analyze efficiently, so adding an artificial intelligence component could help achieve a new level of understanding.
- BCIs and BBIs:
As brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) become more advanced, healthcare will incorporate more complex human-computer connections. The uses range from helping people manage pain to controlling robotic limbs. Harvard University researchers recently created the first brain-to-brain interface (BBI) that allowed a human to control a rat’s tail — and another human’s movements — with his mind, proving that controlled robotic limbs have far-reaching possibilities for patients.
Robotics are quickly advancing medical treatment. Ekso Bionics (the company which develops and manufactures intelligently powered exoskeleton bionic devices that can enhance the strength, mobility, and endurance of soldiers and paraplegics) has already launched the first version of its exoskeleton, which enables paraplegics to stand and walk independently. This revolutionary technology allows a person who has spent 20 years in a wheelchair to stand on her own. This holds huge promise for the next generation of robotics.
Advances in technology have already made healthcare better, easier, more accurate and more efficient for physicians, patients, hospital staff and administrators. All these advances translate into one main objective: improving patient outcomes. With access to more powerful tools that are cheaper, faster and better than their predecessors, patient outcomes are certain to improve. People will become increasingly responsible for their own health. This will lead to more effective care, as people will be able to detect problems much earlier in the process. Patients will no longer put off appointments for years because personal health will be ever-present. This will reduce healthcare costs on several levels and change the type of medical professionals the industry needs most. We can’t even anticipate much of what will come after all of this, but the possibilities for technology and healthcare really are endless.
And where do you see Healthcare Technology standing in the next year and beyond? What are your point of view about the challenges and opportunists of Healthcare IT Industry in the coming years? Please feel free to share your thoughts!