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New Withings Wireless Internet Scale Hits the Market

Scales sure have come a long way from the old spring-driven models that I grew up with.  I remember thinking how cool it was when I saw my first digital readout scale.  Compared to what is available now, those old digital scales are about as modern as a stone tablet.

The new Withings Wireless Internet scale offers a lot more than just a person’s weight.  It also instantaneously provides a person’s BMI and provides tracking capability with all kinds of different functions.

The scale can be synced to numerous existing mobile apps to accent fitness tracking, weight management, or even just to keep friends, family, or your doctor informed.  It also has its own app that allows the user to set goals, receive coaching, or generate historical reports.

While this is all very cool the price tag seems a little steep to me.  The Withings WS-30scale is available now from Amazonfor $129.95.  But, for someone who is serious about monitoring their weight, this could be a very useful tool.

November 26, 2012 I Written By

Bandu: Can Monitoring Your Stress Levels Help Lower Them?

The older I get the more stress I seem to have in my life.  Between work, education, family, and hobbies there is always something else I should be doing, but simply don’t have the time for.  The world we live in is increasingly filled with more demands than we could ever possibly meet.

We have amazing new technologies that help make our lives better, but there is little that can be done for how overwhelmed our society has become.  With all of the added stress that our lives bring, maybe the only way to really reduce our stress is to realize where it is occurring and then look to reduce it.

Neumitra is a company that is working to do just that.  They have developed a new wearable device that can monitor your stress levels in order to help you lower that stress and improve your life.

The Bandu looks similar to a wristwatch and tracks your stress levels tying them to specific locations so that you can physically see where your highest stress levels are.  Once you realize where those locations are you can take steps to lower your stress there.  In tandem with tracking your stress the Bandu can also alert you to when your stress level is rising and provide suggestions for ways to lower that stress.

This seems to be the next step in these types of devices.  We have been able to monitor various health indicators for quite awhile, but now these devices are also providing solutions to those problems.

For more information about the Bandu, including screenshots and a demo video, you can visit their indiegogo site.

You can also read an interview with the company’s founder, Robert Goldberg, at MedGadget.com.

October 30, 2012 I Written By

FCC to Act on Key mHealth Task Force Recommendations

Government involvement is often a mixed bag when it comes to the development of new technologies.  There is definitely an upside to having an organization with huge amounts of money to spend supporting your new ideas.  On the other hand it can be quite the burden to wade through new regulations, or to compete with the aforementioned deep pockets.

In this case I think we are looking at a beneficial relationship that should aid in the development of new mHealth technologies.

One of the limiting factors when it comes to any technology is the infrastructure needed to support it.  It is all well and good to have an idea that will change the world, but if the platform doesn’t exist to support it, then it really doesn’t matter.

The FCC has now taken it upon themselves to put their own backing into the development of mHealth technologies.  Steps such as reinforcing the broadband networks in less developed areas, and even establishing a health care director at the FCC to focus on health related issues.

Some of coolest technology that was discussed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is the development of Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) and Medical Micropower Networks (MMN).

MBANs are networks made of wireless sensors as small as a band-aid that can monitor a patient’s vitals and send that data to healthcare providers.  The US is the first country in the world to make spectrum available for this use.

MMNs have the potential to provide even more life-changing results.  They involve low power wideband networks of transmitters that essentially replace damaged or destroyed nerve cells.  This technology could help paraplegics learn to walk again, and even restore vision in some cases.

It truly never ceases to amaze me what the human mind can create, and it is reassuring to see a government agency that is making a concerted effort to try to foster that development.  Opening the door for these technologies is a huge step towards developing technologies that will change the lives of millions.

September 25, 2012 I Written By

iPad/iPhone Restraint and Sedation in the Emergency Room for Kids

Going to the emergency room is terrible.  It is almost always at an inconvenient time, the wait is always terrible, and oh yeah, you or someone you love is seriously hurt.  When that someone is your own child it is even harder to try and calm them down so that the doctors and nurses can give them the help they need.

In the past doctors were forced to use restraints or even sedatives to be able to perform their work.  But, some doctors have found something even better, and far less dangerous for the child: smartphones and tablets.

Distracting children with a smartphone or tablet is not new to anyone with kids.  Rare is the outing that doesn’t involve my daughter using my phone to entertain herself, and in turn make for a more pleasant evening for every at the venue.  But to think that these same devices would be equally as effective as restraints and drugs just blows me away.

Fierce Mobile Healthcare has a few links to the actual case study as well as blog posts from The University of Chicago, who conducted the study, and Dr. Ryan Radecki, who has found this to be a reality in his emergency room.

Having made multiple trips to the emergency room with my kids I know how hard it is to entertain them throughout the whole process.  It is awesome to know that something as simple as a video or app can be even more effective than harmful drugs.

August 23, 2012 I Written By

Detecting Parkinson’s with a Phone Call

Smartphones can do just about anything these days.  I will not be at all surprised when they develop a smartphone to clean your house, and I will also be the first one in line to buy it.  One of the new amazing technologies that is being developed by Max Little, Ph.D. at MIT.

The Parkinson’s Voice Initiative is developing a voice based diagnostic to aid in the detection of Parkinson’s Disease.  Dr. Little is also a TEDGlobal 2012 fellow and you can find his TED Talk on the subject on this page.

You can also find a great interview with Dr. Little by the people at MedGadget on their website.

According to MedGadget at least 5% of Americans over 80 have Parkinson’s in some form.  Obviously the first step in helping these people is detection.  This new technology has a detection accuracy of 98.6 overall accuracy.  That is pretty incredible when you consider the relatively simple concept.

Like so many of these technologies, the smartphone can bring these benefits to people who never could have used them before.  A patient wouldn’t even have to visit a lab to make the recordings, they could simply call in on their phone.

Technology like this can’t help but make me wonder what other diseases we could be detecting and curing that we haven’t even thought of yet.  What diseases do you think could be aided by smartphones?

August 21, 2012 I Written By

FDA Approves Voice Guided Epinephrine Injector: Auvi-Q

I recently went on vacation and stayed with a friend who has a son that is highly allergic to any and all dairy products.  My first thought was how terrible it would be to live without ice cream, cheese, or even a bowl of cereal, but then I realized just how tough it must be.  Dairy is in everything, and is a huge part of what most kids eat.  I can only imagine how hard it must be for them to make sure their son is safe.

Like most people who suffer from severe allergic reactions, they always carry a couple of epinephrine injectors just in case they miss something and he has a severe reaction.  Not being someone who has to deal with that, I don’t have a lot of experience with them, but I can’t imagine that they have actually changed much over the years.  I mean how much can you do to a needle that injects you with epinephrine?

The answer is something very simple, that may very well save some lives.  A company by the name of Sanofi recently received FDA approval for a voice-guided epinephrine injector called Auvi-Q.  This new device provides step by step audio instructions of how to properly use the injector.  It also provides visual cues including an alert light to signal that the injection is complete.  A video demonstration of its use can be found below.

It is entirely reasonable to think that a person having a severe allergic reaction could freak out and not remember how to give themselves an injection, so this device provides a solution to a very real problem.  On top of that, it could also be very useful in the event that the patient needs help from someone else to give the injection that may not be familiar with how to do so.  In either case the instructions are also written on the packaging to help ensure proper use.

In this day and age of new gadgets and apps that don’t really serve a worthwhile purpose, it is always refreshing to see an improvement on a well-known product that could very well save lives.

 

 

August 15, 2012 I Written By

El Camino Hospital Provides a Mobile App for the Family Medical Officer

If you have kids, keeping track of all of their medical history can be an incredible burden. As someone that never once went to an emergency room before I was married, but have since been at least a couple of times a year, learning to keep track of it all has taken some time.

El Camino Hospital, the hospital of Silicon Valley, is now providing Family Medical Officers with an app to make managing family healthcare a little bit easier.  Here are some features of the app:

–  My Family & Me: FMOs can keep track of their families medical history (e.g., diagnosis and other information). Feature is password-protected.

–  Library Resource: Offers access to a comprehensive health library, a drug reference and a health encyclopedia.

–  Emergency Response: Provides current wait times for El Camino Hospital’s emergency rooms in Mountain View and Los Gatos, CA. Users can dial 911 with the touch of a button, as well as view a checklist of things to bring if they require a visit to the ER.

–  Find a Doctor: Users can search for an El Camino Hospital physician by name, specialty or location.

–  Visiting El Camino Hospital: Provides access to turn-by-turn directions to El Camino Hospital facilities, campus maps, visiting hours and other useful information.

It appears to be a relatively useful app, and I can imagine that apps like this will only get better as time and technology improves.  The app is currently available for free on Android and Apple devices.

July 23, 2012 I Written By

SleepRate: Improves Your Sleep by Monitoring Your Heart

Recently, I haven’t been sleeping well.  We all go through times like this where for whatever reason you just don’t sleep well.  You may have trouble falling asleep, the sleep may not be very restful, you may not be getting enough, or you may even be getting too much.  Generally, I have no idea why I am sleeping poorly which is really frustrating because there is not a whole lot I can do about it, other than take some sleeping pills.

With all of the apps and gadgets flooding the market, there are tons of things you can buy now that will monitor your sleep and claim to help you sleep better in some way.  One of these devices takes an interesting approach at improving your sleep: it monitors your heart.

SleepRate is a cloud based mobile service that allows customers to monitor their sleep using many widely available heart-rate monitors.  Using the ECG that these monitors can detect, SleepRate can analyze your sleeping patterns, and help suggest solutions to improve your sleep.

I love that the system is “device agnostic” as they like to refer to it.  You are not tied to their one offering that may not fit your exact needs.  They simply provide a service using devices that many people already have, and their compatibility list for both iOS and Android devices is growing everyday.  They just recently announced compatibility with Zephyr, RunKeeper, Wearlink, and Wahoo ANT+.

Sleep is one of the most essential parts of our lifestyle, and it is really no surprise that your heart could provide vital information to how well you are sleeping.  Now with the SleepRate system you can have access to that information to improve the way you sleep, and help improve your overall health.

July 18, 2012 I Written By

Control Your Dreams With the Remee Sleep Mask

How many times have you woken up after a good nights rest with the remnants of an amazing dream in your mind?  Your heart aches to go back to sleep for just a few more minutes and enjoy whatever it was that you were dreaming about.  Whether it was flying, memories from your past, or fantasies for your future, it just sucks when it suddenly comes to an end.

While there isn’t much you can do about waking up when your alarm goes off, there is a new device that is designed to help you control your dreams.  The Remee Lucid Dreaming Mask from Bitbanger Labs, looks a lot like your traditional sleeping mask, but it aims to do a lot more than just keep your eyes in the dark.

Lucid dreaming is an interesting skill that the developers claim can be developed over time.  According to their website it is a pretty simple process:

– Put on the mask before you go to sleep.

– The mask senses when you enter REM sleep activating 6 red LEDs in certain patterns.

– This alerts your mind to the fact you are sleeping while not waking you up.

– With practice you can train your mind to dream about whatever you want.

They go into much more detail on their website, but that is the general gist of it.  While it is interesting to think of controlling your dreams in fun ways, it could also serve a practical purpose.  Someone with a difficult problem to solve, or a piece of music they are writing, or any number of other issues may be able to find solutions while their mind is at ease dreaming.

It would be interesting to see how well this device works, and at $95 it really isn’t that unreasonable.  They are currently taking pre-orders, and they should be shipping in August.

I would definitely want to try something like this because I have a whole lot of things that I would love to dream about, and it is always fun to play with a new toy.

June 22, 2012 I Written By

Is Meaningful Use Slowing the Growth of mHealth?

mHealth is cool.

There are cool apps, cool gadgets, and a ton of random devices that can do just about anything you can think of, and a few things you would have never thought possible.  There are so many tools out there that could be an asset to people with any number of conditions if only they knew about them, and their hospitals used them.

So why aren’t more people using these amazing devices, and why aren’t hospitals adopting them more rapidly?  If you take a look at EHR/EMR adoption it is not that difficult to see why.

Believe it or not, the very first electronic medical records were created in the 60’s.  Obviously, computers were not widely accessible at the time, so it was not until much later that they became practical on a large-scale, but the point is that the idea existed more than 50 years ago.

Numerous hospitals developed their own versions of digital medical records, but there was really no widespread adoption until meaningful use incentives were offered.  In what is a surprise to no one, doctors in hospitals big and small immediately started to implement EHR/EMRs so that they could get some free money.

Now that is all many doctors are interested in doing to further their practice because they want the money, and also to avoid penalties for not doing so.  There is very little incentive for them to do anything in the area of mHealth so they don’t.

Unfortunately, I think many doctors will never appreciate the value of mHealth until they are forced to do so by the government, or given some large financial incentive.  This lack of implementation by doctors will also directly influence the number of quality offerings from developers.

I realize that doctors are working in an environment where they must be very selective with where they spend their money.  With the rising costs of insurance in all of its many forms, doctors have to do what is best for them and their practice which means that mHealth may just have to be put on the back burner for the time being.

Hopefully, doctors will start to see the value of these technologies all by themselves, but based upon past history I would venture to guess that it will take free money, or the threat of penalties, to make widespread adoption a reality.

What impact, if any, do you think meaningful use is having on mHealth?

June 11, 2012 I Written By