Tech Trends: Telehealth

Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications. In addition to its healthcare service capabilities, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.

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Tyto Telehealth System Brings Doctors Visits Home

Home visits from the doctor are a thing of the past. However, spending hours in a clinic or emergency room to see a doctor when your child has a fever or is showing signs of an infection can be exhausting and oftentimes leads to exposure to more germs. Now, the Tyto telehealth system from TytoCare is helping families connect directly to a physician any time of day. The main unit features a touchscreen display in the front that can interface with various devices and share data with your doctor. The back of the device accepts attachments such as a thermometer, otoscope, or stethoscope. If you need help working the device, your physician can connect with you through a phone or tablet to help guide you through the procedures. So far, the digital stethoscope has been approved by the FDA. Watch the video above to understand more about the Tyto Telehealth System.

(Source: medGadget)

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Fitness Tracker Could Prevent Addict Relapse

addict fit bitA team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester is experimenting with using a fitness tracker to monitor and prevent relapses in patients trying to recover from drug addictions. In a study involving four ER patients who were taking supervised doses of morphine, and a volunteer outpatient who used cocaine recreationally, the team was able to collect information on the different drugs’ effects on the body. For instance, cocaine use caused a “hurricane of movement” with decreased temperature, while morphine increased temperature but decreased movement.

In December of 2015 the team recruited 15 more patients in rehab programs to wear the tracker for 30 days. All of the participants kept their trackers on for the entirety of the study and many asked to see their data at the end. Many asked to continue wearing the tracker in order to hold themselves accountable. While this study saw much of its success due to participants’ desire to recover from their addiction, the researchers saw the promise for dealing with addiction in the future. The team is working on detecting differences in drug signatures in habitual users versus first time users. Additionally, they are working on combining physiological data— which could detect when a person becomes stressed, for example—with GPS data to predict where a person is traveling. Together, the trackers can help develop an algorithm which could identify when a relapse is likely to occur and send a notification to a loved one or doctor.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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Pager App Brings You On-Demand House Calls from Doctors

PagerFor New Yorker’s who dislike the long, crowded wait in doctor’s offices, an app that is being dubbed “Uber for Doctors” is now providing house calls at the tap of a button. The Pager app is free to download, and the first visit is $49, although most insurances cover the cost. Users can request a visit through the app, a doctor calls the user to asses their need, a house call is scheduled usually for the same day, and during the visit, the doctor can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication as needed with prescription delivery available as an option. The doctor then follows up the next day via phone call or text.

The app has been celebrated for its convenience and has received additional funding to begin providing service in other metropolitan areas of the US.

(Sources: Pager; Mobi Health News)

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Swiss Insurance Company Uses Fitness Trackers to Determine Premium Rates

fitbitThis June, a pilot program known as MyStep was launched by Swiss health insurance company, CSS. Over the course of three months, the company has been monitoring the daily step count for 2,000 of its customers through fitness trackers such as the Fitbit or Apple Watch. The information then syncs to the CSS’ online portal where the health insurance provider is able to track the information. The program has been so successful the company is considering making the model standard, charging higher rates for customers who either do not participate in the program, or those who do not meet the daily recommendation of 10,000 steps. The goal is to improve the overall health of its clients, and reducing the number of patients who have to be treated for preventable conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Ultimately, many health insurance companies such as CSS hope that customers will share health data directly with their providers in order to most accurately and fairly determine cost of insurance per patient.

(Source: Popular Science)

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MoleScope Connects Patients to Dermatologists Remotely

molescopePeople often joke that it takes only a matter of seconds for a dermatologist to diagnose moles as being cancerous or benign. This is because a dermatologist’s eyes have been trained to be so discerning they can easily spot variations in mole size, shape, and color, then determine if these variations are a cause for concern. However, in many regions of the world, visiting a dermatologist is a luxury that can take months to plan. This becomes troublesome as most melanomas can be better diagnosed and treated the earlier they are discovered.

To help bridge this gap between patients and dermatologists Canadian healthcare technology company MetaOptima developed MoleScope, a new smartphone app for monitoring skin lesions.The app comes with a mini-microscope that is similar to a dermatologist’s dermascope. Patients can use the mini-microscope to take detailed photos of their moles and other skin lesions, then have the mole evaluated by a remote dermatologists. In a 2013 study, smartphone apps similar to MoleScope were found to have a 98% accuracy for diagnoses.The MoleScope will begin a pilot program on June 22, 2015 involving 10 different centers around the world. Dermatologists and general practitioners will use the app to create a more direct line of communication with patients who have a higher risk of skin cancer and melanoma.

Dermatologists caution that though these apps have value in diagnosis, they will not yet replace a doctor. Additionally, the FDA is still vague on how they will handle handle health apps. Nevertheless, the MoleScope is a step forward in communication between patient and doctor.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Nuvo Group Releases Wearable Pregnancy Monitor

PregSenseIsrael-based Nuvo Group has released a belt-like monitor that can be used to track a baby’s development in the womb. The PregSense is equipped with monitors to measure the baby’s kicks, heartbeat, and position in the womb. The device is worn around the belly, and the data collected is transmitted to the user’s smartphone where it can be shared with a physician. The PregSense is unique not only for its wearability and ease of use, but unlike other baby monitors, the PregSense uses passive electrical sensors rather than ultrasound. While PregSense is being developed primarily for in-office use, expecting parents will be able to purchase a commercial version known as Ritmo Beats for $250 in late 2015.

(Source: medGadget)

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New Kinect Games Help Physical Therapy Patients

Close to 70% of patients requiring physical therapy are non-compliant with regard to home exercises. Simple movements such as arm flexes and sitting and standing are considered tedious by most patients, but it is these exercises that speed up recovery and prevent future injuries. Now, researchers from MIRA rehab have developed a series of games to be used with the Xbox Kinect to increase patient participation in rehabilitation exercises. The games are customizable, and therapists can work virtually with their clients, as well as check in on client activity. To watch developer Cosmin Mihaiu’s TED talk about the program

(Source: TED)

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3D Printing Helps Wounded Turtle

3D printing has come a long way in the field of healthcare, helping to create affordable prosthesis and bio-compatible scaffolds for damaged bone and tissue. Now, the advancement has helped to save a wounded turtle found near Turkey. The turtle had been hit by a boat’s propeller–typically a life-ending event for most sea turtles–but was rescued and brought to Pamukkale University’s Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation center in Denizli, Turkey. The center collaborated with Turkish company, Btech Innovation to send scans of the turtle’s wounded jaw and damaged bones. Btech Innovation used the scans to create a 3D printed, titanium jaw for the wounded turtle, then mailed the piece to the rescue site. At press time, the turtle was healing nicely from the injury, and provided its body does not reject the 3D printed jaw, the turtle should be back to its home in the ocean.

The rescue efforts here provide an excellent example of how 3D printing could one day provide emergency aid to those in remote locations with badly broken bones or injuries that required amputation. To learn more about the rescue and how the titanium jaw was printed, click on the video above.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Smart Watch Connects Epilepsy Patients With Caregivers

SmartWatchSeizuresFor over 30% of patients living with epilepsy, medication alone is not enough to control the onset of seizures. Everyday tasks such as driving, going to school or work, or simply going out for a walk can become dangerous if an epileptic experiences a sudden seizure. Now, a start-up company known as Smart Monitor is helping to connect epilepsy patients with their caregivers through the use of its new wearable device, the SmartWatch.

Though not FDA-approved to diagnose seizures, the watch can detect abnormal movements and runs an algorithm to determine if the movements are in line with those of a seizure. The SmartWatch, which is compatible with Android phones through an app, and will be made available for iOS in March 2015, calculates the wearer’s GPS, and sends a text alert to a caregiver if a seizure is suspected. Additionally, the SmartWatch collects data and stores it for use by a patient’s physician. The device is still in clinical trials, but has so far had positive feedback, particularly with parents of patients with epilepsy (currently, roughly 60% of SmartWatch users are children under the age of 21).

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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Wishbone Infrared Thermometer for Smart Phones

wishbone-thermometerA Kickstarter campaign has begun to commercially market The Wishbone, an infrared thermometer that can be synced with your smartphone. Infrared thermometers are ideal for f homes where multiple people use the same thermometer because they do not require any contact with human skin; users can simply hold the thermometer near the forehead and the device is able to give an accurate temperature reading. While infrared thermometers have been around for some time, The Wishbone is unique because it syncs with a smartphone app (either iOS or Android) and allows you to log the data over time. Additionally, you can share readings with a health care provider. The device is pocket-sized and requires a low energy battery that can last a little over a year.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Cellscope’s Otoscope Could Simplify Treating Ear Infections at Home

otoscopeAccording to the National Institute of Health (NIH), nearly 80% of all children will have had at least one ear infection by age three and those who become infected are more likely to have more ear infections in the future. These ear infections lead millions of parents to spend countless hours in doctors offices and emergency rooms, waiting for a five-minute test and diagnosis. Now, Cellscope Oto’s clip-on otoscope is aiming to simplify the process of diagnosing and treating ear infections. The Cellscope otoscope is a clip-on attachment similar to the one used by doctors in their office. The attachment syncs with an app (currently only available for iOS, but will soon be available for all smart phones) and allows parents to submit photos and videos of their child’s potentially infected ear to doctors who study the picture and provide a diagnosis. Additionally, doctors can also send a prescription directly to the pharmacy, allowing parents to speedily treat the infection if necessary. Pre-sales for the device are already available in California, and the company is planning to roll out the device in other states as well.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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PEEK Clip-On Could Help Diagnosis Conditions Which Cause Blindness

peek-smartphoneRecent studies have shown that in developing countries, 4 out 5 people who go blind do so as a result of conditions which are preventable or curable. While many conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts can be diagnosed and treated in an ophthalmologist’s office, in remote countries, many of the sight-saving equipment common in the United States and Europe (such as a fundus camera) can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to transport.

Now, a start-up company is developing the Portable Eye Exam Kit (PEEK), which includes a smartphone app and a clip-on attachment for smartphones that supplants both an opthalmoscope and a retina camera. It provides a lens through which the smartphone’s own camera can be used to take a high quality, close-up picture of the retina. No special training is needed to use the PEEK, and images can be sent via smartphone to trained specialist eye doctors anywhere in the world. PEEK will be collecting funds for the device through January 2015, and they are currently working with Doctors Without Borders as well as the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to determine which regions would benefit from the device the most.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Dexcom SHARE Allows Family Members and Caretakers to Monitor Loved Ones’ Glucose Levels

Dexcom has received FDA approval for its Dexcom SHARE device. The SHARE connects with the Dexcom G4 Platinum Continuous Glucose Monitor and uploads the data so that it can be shared with family members and caretakers. Those wishing to view the patient’s data can simply download an accompanying iOS app. The Dexcom SHARE is ideal for parents of diabetic children, adult children of elderly parents with diabetes, or diabetic patients who want to keep a record of blood glucose readings for their physician. For more information on the Dexcome SHARE, click on the video above.

(Source: medGadget)

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Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash Continuous Glucose Monitoring System Gets CE Mark

Freestyle-LibreAbbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash continuous glucose monitoring system has received the CE mark from European authorities, allowing it to be marketed in the European Union. The system contains two parts: a water resistant sensor that is attached to the back of the arm, and a device that copies and displays readings from the sensor. The device takes readings every minute, swapping between 4mm and 5mm filaments that penetrate the skin. Unlike all other sensors on the market, the Libre Flash does not require finger prick calibration, and can record and store glucose readings over an extended period of time, allowing for both users and their primary care physicians to gain a better understanding of their glucose levels on a day-to-day basis.

(Source: medGadget)

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Implandata’s Intraocular Pressure-Measuring Device Tested in Human Patient

[youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NKW8VSQ99ko&w=525&h=394]

Collecting data on a patient’s intraocular pressure(IOP) is instrumental in diagnosing and treating glaucoma. However, continuous monitoring of IOP is difficult with traditional tools. Now, German company, Implandata, has developed an eye implant that can measure spikes in pressure over time, and wirelessly transmit the data to a patient’s physician. The device was previously tested in New Zealand white rabbits, but in 2011 the first human patient received the implant as part of a clinical trial. The results have been successful, as the implant was not rejected by the host’s body and lasts, on average, three years. Implandata is preparing to expand their trials and include more patients, potentially revolutionizing the way in which glaucoma is diagnosed and treated.

For more information, watch the video above (warning, graphic content).

(Source: medGadget)

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InteraXon’s Muse May Help to Manage Stress and Anxiety

museheadsetToronto start-up, InteraXon, has developed what will be a, “FitBit for the brain.” The company, which has been experimenting with the use of brain-wave technologies since its inception in 2007, says their new Muse device will allow users to measure their brain activity in the same way people now measure caloric intake and steps taken throughout the day. The Muse is a thin, white headset that can be worn comfortably across the forehead. The device measures brain waves in the same way an EEG would, and wirelessly transfers the data collected to a smartphone or tablet, where the information is synced with an app known as Calm.

The goal is that the device will be used daily. The accompanying Calm app utilizes information gathered by the Muse headset to allow users to visually track their stress management. Additionally, the app is equipped with several coaching programs which help users develop controlled, focused thinking, teaches users to meditate, and will also help users to control stress and anxiety. The developers see a wide range of uses for the Muse headset and Calm app, and even envision the product being used to help children with hyperactivity and attention disorders, as well as aiding those in high-stress jobs by sending alerts to employers if a user is showing signs of mental fatigue.

(Source: Popular Science)

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EXOGEN Ultrasound Bone Healing System Now Available in the US

EXOGEN-deviceAlready available in Australia, Canada and Europe, the EXOGEN ultrasound bone healing system is now available in the United States. The device, which helps promote healing in fractures which are not recuperating adequately, delivers low-energy pulsed ultrasound directly to the broken bone. These low-energy waves can promote natural healing of the fracture.

The device also comes with a calendar outlining the treatment schedule and keeps track of when treatment was applied, allowing both doctors and users to track progress. In addition, the device has an accompanying Android/ iOS app which sets reminders and tracks progress. For more information on the EXOGEN bone healing system, watch the video above.

(Source: medGadget)

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HealthPatch MD Earns FDA Clearance

HealthPatch-MDA San Jose, California-based company, Vital Connection, has received FDA clearance for its HealthPatch MD device. The device, which features a disposable patch and reusable sensor that connects to another device via Bluetooth, is programmed to keep track of patient vital signs. The HealthPatch MD is worn across the chest and monitors with one lead ECG, keeps track of heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, and respiratory rate. The device is also equipped with an accelerometer to measure the angle of the wearer’s body to determine if there has been a fall.

The HealthPatch MD, which is ideal to monitor elderly patients who are often alone, can be worn from 48-72 and is attached using either a silicone or hydrocolloid adhesive, depending on the user’s activity level. The device is already available in Europe.

(Source: medGadget)

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First Opinion App Launches New Version

first-opinion-matched-screenThe text-a-doctor service offered by the First Opinion App has launched a new version. The iOS App works by matching users with a physician that can answer a wide range of medical questions. The service– which offers a free consultation monthly or packages starting from $12 that allow for three or more consultations each month– works by having users fill in only their names and e-mail addresses to protect privacy. First Opinion then takes roughly under one minute to match users with a physician who can answer their questions via text. The app was originally designed for preventative care. For instance, expectant mothers would time their contractions and text this information to a doctor who would advise them whether or not it was time to go to the hospital. However, the app has since expanded to include users with insomnia or anxiety disorders. Overall, those getting the most benefit out of the app are patients who would have otherwise experienced “rejection visits”– those where they wait for hours on end to see a doctor only to have the doctor tell them not to come back unless the condition becomes worse.

The newer version includes a greater variety of doctors and employing staff to work during the day and night so that patients can receive a consultation at their convenience.

(Source: TechCrunch)

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