Technologies to Measure Emotion

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we were to gain a heightened awareness of our emotions by tracking our emotional and cognative states?

Affectiva, a company with roots at MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing group has recently announced a National Science Foundation grant “to develop an online version of its technology that enables computers to recognize human expressions and deduce emotional and cognitive states.”

Affdex not only allows more accurate understanding of an important aspect of human communication — emotion — it helps democratize emotion research by making it accessible, user-friendly and affordable for large and small corporations. The goal is a technology service that truly transforms the way customers and businesses communicate aabout product experiences.

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Source: Institute For The Future; Feb 01, 2011; by Rachel Hatch in The Future Now Blog

Electronic Personal Health Records as Self-Management Tool

A growing trend in many countries is to offer patients access to their health information through the use of electronic personal health records (PHRs). PHRs are seen both as a strategy to make healthcare more patient centered and as a tool for self-management. These electronic health records can assist patients in managing their health condition through individualized care plans, graphing of symptoms, passive biofeedback, tailored instructive or motivational feedback, decisional aids, and reminders.

However, the value of any self-management intervention is influenced by its acceptability and usability. For PHRs to be effective in promoting self-management, patients need an adequate level of health literacy and a software health record program that is a good match with their health literacy level.

To learn more about PHRs, CLICK HERE.

Source: Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Sept 2010

Mobile Technology for Health Behavior Change

Weight loss and healthier eating habits are nearly universal New Year’s resolutions and keeping a daily journal is an excellent way to manage our weight. Nowadays mobile apps make it easy to keep a diet journal and manage our weight. For example:

PhotoCalorie is both a visual food journal and nutrition search engine that simplifies the tedious task of nutrient enumeration and calorie counting. PhotoCalorie provides a new “right brain” visual approach to diet management in addition to the traditional “left brain” calorie-counting approach of other diet diaries. Also, its’ search engine technology allows users to search for their entire meal in one step,

Lose it! is an impressive iPhone weight loss journals and offers a number of features to track your diet, exercise and weight changes over time. Lose it! also provides a way for users to join discussion forums of people with similar goals. The app’s motivators section lets you set reminders to enter your foods right before your meal, and receive daily or weekly emails summarizing your progress.

LIVESTRONG Foundation provides a calorie-tracker and workout log. LIVESTRONG is similar to Lose it!; in addition, the platform offers access to health tools for managing diabetes, quitting smoking or learning new exercises, and more. It also offers online educational material about nutrition, fitness and health.

For more information about these platforms, CLICK HERE.

Source: Medpage Today by Michele R. Berman, MD; December 27, 2010

Smart Pills: chip-on-a-pill

Earlier this month, Swiss pharma giant Novartis announced it will be seeking regulatory approval of “smart pills” embedded with microchips within the next 18 months. The chip-on-a-pill, developed by Proteus Biomedical will transmit data from the body to doctors, helping them to track med intake and tweak dosage.

If approved, smart pills can play a major role in reducing the cost of healthcare; as well as a big leap towards providing personalized treatments. To figure out who takes what drugs, when, and in what doses would help in reduction of the skipped doses by patients and the prevention of drug abuse.

In addition, treatments could become fully customizable in real-time. That could mean patients wouldn’t need to wait weeks to determine if a drug was compatible, or have to switch medication several times. If you were in the 2% who will experience a particular side effect, your doctor could know before it kicked in. The promise for customizable treatments is a powerful one, and it’s already a driving force in biotech.

To learn more about how does it work, click here.

Source: Singularity Hub, December 6th, 2010 by Drew Halley

Patient Self-Management Tools

Technologies used by patients to manage their health issues outside of medical institutions are gaining momentum.  The explosion of the technological innovations, concerns about the cost of healthcare, shifting patient habits and the expectation for shared decision-making with their doctors, and political interests in stimulating competition among providers are some of the reasons for this surge of interest.

Self-management tools can be categorized by patient roles and the complexity of the technologies:

    Subordinate: tools such as video monitoring or home surveillance sensor systems provide limited patient discretion beyond agreement to use the tools.

    Structured: these are tools that provide more active self-management, but in highly defined ways. Examples include sound and text reminders from a tabletop appliance or perhaps a personal digital assistant or telephone, or devices allowing a patient to transmit data such as blood pressure readings.

    Collaborative: this category includes decision support aids, online interventions, chronic disease management aids, and patient education materials.

    Autonomous:  tools for autonomous roles do not require regular participation or input from professionals. Internet sites such as eDiets and home heart defibrillators are examples of this category of tools. 

Tools that support subordinate roles offer added convenience, greater precision, fewer errors, and less stress;  tools for structured roles still require  adoption by clinicians; collaborative tools are preferred and mostly used by better educated patients and the aspiration of some doctors; and tools supporting autonomous roles don’t require doctor participation and their use depends on patient preferences and personal circumstances.

Source:  California Healthcare Foundation, June 2010

What Does a Healthy Future Look Like?

What will we have done to our bodies, networks, and environments to improve our collective wellness? The following is a list of ideas collected by IFTF when they asked the world:

1. The Fecanator! Synthetic bacteria designed to help humans life on less food and produce less waste.

2. Thermo/visual gamma wave feedback monitor to help deepen meditation practices.

3. An easier-to-use operating system to help fight senior loneliness.

4. Heart Helper glove that squeezes hands to assist the heart in moving blood around.

5. A network of local fitness specialists that compete for your needs.

6. Condoms for Africa that incorporate features of traditional amulets.

7. A plan for expanding the practice of daily hugs to improve well-being.

8. Safer hospitals infected with good bacteria to out-compete the bad ones that often breed in hospitals.

9. A social, smart phone application to collect data and analyze personal health trends.

10. A videogame-style display to help people manage stress and maintain a healthy life.

11. Reversible Fertility Vaccine based on synthetic bacteria living in the reproductive system.

12. Paleo Approved Label to facilitate the practice of ancestral eating.

13. Simple adoption of bowing instead of shaking hands to reduce flu spread.

14. Software that can create 3-D cell-organ models from MRI data.

15. Healthy homes that include smart refrigerators, toilet analysis, and glucose meters.

Source: IFTF

Demand For Genetic Testing

The demand for genetic testing in the United States continue to grow. According to Bradley Kreit of IFTF, It’s likely that getting a genetic scan will become a routine part of growing up–not too different from an eye exam or a physical.

However, the direct-to-consumer genetic testing are more difficult and time consuming to explain, since with only a handful of exceptions, genes don’t predict disease, but instead offer probabilities that certain diseases are more or less likely. As a result some think that the test results are misleading and of little use to consumers.

The FDA has also started notifying genetic testing companies that direct-to-consumer genetic testing qualifies as a “medical device” which could potentially subject genetic testing to federal regulation. Whether or not these tests get regulated–and what those regulations could look like–are obviously open questions.

At the same time, it’s unlikely that even the strictest regulations would spell the end of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. In other words, the future of regulating genetics is up in the air, but demand for testing in the United States–regardless of what regulatory decisions get made–is likely to continue to grow.

Daniel MacArthur, who just launched Genomes Unzipped with Vorhaus, has a very insightful take about where we might see this demand finding its supply: Singapore and China!

It’s no more difficult to send a vial of saliva from Texas to California than it is to send one from Texas to China. Which is another way of saying that the genetic testing will be around, regardless of what happens in the regulatory sphere in the United States. You won’t take your kid to a community center or school to find out those genetic risk probabilities; you’ll walk over to the computer and Skype over to India or China for a counseling session….

Source: Bradley Kreit, IFTF July 26, 2010

Personalized Health Solutions

According to Dr. Kvedar of Healthrageous, Inc. “given the right tools and the right information, individuals can be their own best care providers.”

Launched in 2010, Healthrageous, Inc. designs and delivers highly effective, personalized, interactive, motivational self-management solutions that help individuals shed unhealthy habits, improve their adherence to medical advice, and embrace healthy lifestyles.

Healthrageous’ solutions can be packaged as workplace benefit for large employers, health plans and insurers, specialty care and disease management companies, provider health systems, pharmaceutical makers and clinical trial sponsors, pharmacy benefit managers, device makers, and consumer wellness retail and fitness brands.

Healthrageous’ technology platform is designed to interface with most major manufacturers of biometric sensors and telemedicine devices, smart phone operating systems, popular social network media, leading direct-to-consumer outbound telephonic call systems, and emerging Web-based personal health record (PHR) systems.

The company’s solutions are based on technologies developed at the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare, founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, teaching affiliates of Harvard Medical School. Healthrageous, Inc. is headquartered in Massachusetts.

Source: PR NewsWire, June 2010

Improvement Map

The sheer volume of often conflicting demands placed upon hospitals — coupled with a deteriorating financial climate—can make the notion of improving care quality seem like an idealistic improbability at best, an impossibility at worst. Many healthcare executives are pretty skeptical that quality improvement is a realistic goal in current healthcare landscape.

In response to the current situation The Institute for Health Improvement (IHI) has designed an “improvement map” to help hospital leaders sift through myriad regulations, measurements, and demands to hone an essential set of processes and craft an organization-specific plan for quality improvement.

The Improvement Map™ is an interactive, web-based tool designed to bring together the best knowledge available on the key process improvements that lead to better patient care. It offers clear guidance helping hospitals set change agendas, establish priorities, organize work, and optimize resources.

View The Gap Analysis Chart

View The Introductory Video

Source: The Institute of Health Improvement

Pentagon Virus Detector

Imagine a sensor attached to your telephone, that instantly diagnoses viral agents and transmits that to a central community database. That’s the potential of an ongoing Pentagon-funded research project, spearheaded by geneticists at Duke University. Since 2006, they’ve been hunting for a genetic signature that can accurately assess, well before symptoms appear, whether someone’s been infected with a virus. Eight months into a $19.5 million grant from Darpa, the Pentagon’s out-there research agency, the expert behind the program is anticipating a tool with implications far beyond military circles.

What’s realy exciting is tha the benefits of this Darpa initiative goes beyond that. Not only have the researchers found a specific genetic signature that indicates viral infection, but the team has concluded that viruses and bacterial infections trigger different genes. Which means physicians could one day know whether to prescribe antibiotics, which can treat bacteria but not viruses. The drugs are so overused and wrongly prescribed, experts at a recent congressional hearing warned that Americans face “a post antibiotic era.”

The privacy and regulatory aspects will be a barrier to make these devices available for use, but one day they will be!

Source: Katie Drummond, May 13, 2010 Wired Magazine