Showing posts with label Health Care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health Care. Show all posts

Aug 8, 2014

Tricorder Xprize

Qualcomm started a global competition in 2012 that will award ten million US dollars to revolutionize digital healthcare. The idea is to stimulate innovation and integration of precision diagnostic technologies, helping consumers make their own reliable health diagnoses anywhere, anytime.

The device it is seeking will be a tool capable of capturing key health metrics and diagnosing a set of fifteen diseases. Metrics for health could include such elements as blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature. Ultimately, this tool will collect large volumes of data from ongoing measurement of health states through a combination of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and portable, non-invasive laboratory replacements. The only stated limit on form is that the mass of its components together must be no greater than five pounds. The name comes from the medical device used in Star Trek.

This week, August 4 is the qualifying round for review and selection of the ten finalist teams. The final award will be held in January 2016.

Mar 12, 2010

Restaurant Healthcare Charge

The next time you eat in a restaurant in San Francisco, take a closer look at the bill. You may see a new line item there, a "health" fee to cover employees’ healthcare.

The idea is to cover the employers’ mandatory contribution to the City’s "Healthy San Francisco" health-coverage system. The charge is levied on employers, but some crafty restaurants are adding a few dollars or percentage points to each customer’s bill to cover this charge.

Their excuse for assessing this charge separately is to let customers know how much they’re paying for employees’ health coverage. That’s the same excuse hotels use when they add "resort" or "housekeeping" fees to unsuspecting guests’ room bills. Caveat Emptor!

Oct 25, 2009

Healthcare Headlines

Couldn’t resist these two headlines back-to-back in an email.

1. Despite economy, overall healthcare employment picture strong
2. WellPoint hit by 61 percent loss in Q4 2008, plans job cuts

Oct 1, 2009

HIFU

Surgeons in Zurich have successfully demonstrated the safety and efficacy of a revolutionary brain surgical procedure. The method allows surgeons to carry out fully non-invasive brain interventions, even on an out-patient basis, using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

HIFU  (pronounced high foo) has been used for the treatment of uterine fibroids and tumors of the prostate gland for several years. However, its application to the brain through the intact skull for non-invasive neurosurgery seemed impossible until now.

The researchers have successfully treated ten patients using transcranial HIFU since September 2008. The new technology opens up procedures for a variety of brain diseases, including brain tumors.

The HIFU beams pass straight through the patient's skull and are focused within the brain into a point 3-4 mm in diameter. This allows the surgeon to guide the ultrasound beam and to then ablate tumor or other diseased tissue at a very precise location in the brain. The ultrasound beam produced by 1024 transducers raises the temperature of the tissue through a sequence bursts lasting 10-20 seconds.

The results can be seen on a live map as the ablation takes place. The procedure can last several hours, but is performed without anesthesia. The patient is fully conscious through the procedure and so can respond to requests to move or speak and allow the surgeon to double-check that healthy brain tissue is not being damaged. It also avoids pre-operative medication risks associated with anesthetics, and reduces the time the patient must spend in hospital following surgery.

Researchers are also investigating the possibility of using HIFU to treat breast, liver, and bone cancers. Although many countries have been using HIFU for years, with thousands of successful procedures completed, the US only has a relatively small number of HIFU clinical studies in process, and it is not completely approved for all procedures, yet.

Sep 18, 2009

National Health IT Week, Sept. 21 -25

National Health IT Week is a collaborative forum now in its fourth year of assembling key healthcare constituents - vendors, provider organizations, payers, pharmaceutical/biotech companies, government agencies, industry/professional associations, research foundations, and consumer protection groups, working together to elevate national attention to the necessity of advancing health IT.

Aug 21, 2009

Health Clinics

The federal government just made $851 million available for expanding and rehabbing community health clinics across the US. This money is part of $2.5 billion set aside in the stimulus law for free and low-cost health clinics for the under and uninsured, and not part of the $1.6+ Trillion for Healthcare reform.

The $851 million will be distributed unevenly, depending on the number of clinics in a state. Grants include $109 million for California, while Utah will get $6 million. I forget - whose pocket is this coming from - and who gets the benefit? How many illegal aliens in Utah? Hmmm!

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice

Heart attack survivors who eat chocolate two or more times per week cut their risk of dying from heart disease about three times more compared to those who never touch chocolate, scientists have reported. Smaller quantities confer less protection, but are still better than none, according to a study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Earlier research had established a strong link between cocoa-based confections and lowered blood pressure. It had also shown that chocolate cuts the rate of heart-related mortality in older men and women.

The new study is the first to demonstrate that consuming chocolate can help ward off death after a person has suffered a heart attack. It appears the antioxidants in cocoa are a likely reason. Antioxidants are compounds that protect against free radicals or molecules which accumulate in the body over time that can damage cells and are thought to play a role in heart disease, cancer and the aging process.

The study tracked 1,169 non-diabetic men and women, 45-to-70 years old, during the early 1990s from the time they were hospitalized with their first heart attack. The participants were queried before leaving hospital on their food consumption habits during the previous year, including how much chocolate they ate on a regular basis. The results held true for men and women, and across all the age groups included in the study.

They underwent a health examination three months after discharge, and were monitored for eight years after that. The incidence of fatal heart attacks correlated inversely with the amount of chocolate consumed (the more chocolate, the less deaths from heart attacks). The study did not differentiate between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Thought you chocolate lovers might enjoy this one.

Aug 13, 2009

National ID Cards

You have probably read that the new healthcare bill includes a provision for a national ID in the US. Here is a disturbing fact about that kind of technology from the UK. Its National ID Card was hacked In 12 Minutes. I personally don't think anyone can make an unhackable ID card.

UK National ID cards are currently being used by foreign nationals who are working in the UK. The card features a built in microchip which, according to the Government, makes the ID cards ‘unforgeable’, the problem is that a hacker was able to hack the chip in under twelve minutes using just an ordinary laptop and a mobile phone.

He was able to create a cloned card, change the information on the cloned card, and add a message to the card which could be read by police officers when they scan the card, the message read, ‘I am a te**orist – shoot on site’. (my asterisks) I seem to remember that national ID cards started in Germany in the 1930s to identify all good German citizens. I don't remember if cards created a furor, or they were created by a fuhrer or both. . .

Aug 6, 2009

Kaiser Permanente EHR

How much does it cost to implement the new EHR (Electronic Health Records) systems that are demanded by the government? One group, Kaiser Permanente took 7- years to switch to EHR system and it cost $4.2 billion so far to implement an electronic health records system at all facilities. It is not finished yet. Numbers for EHR implementations are not included in the CBO estimates of cost for the healthcare bill.

Jul 30, 2009

Health Insurance Costs

Most of the time you read about the cost of healthcare, the article really means healthcare insurance, not the cost of care. Healthcare insurance costs have gone up 119% from 1999 to 2008, while salaries went up 34% during the same period.

Jul 21, 2009

Tobacco Smoke Enema


True - From about 1750 to about 1810 the tobacco enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient's rectum for various medical purposes, primarily the resuscitation of drowning victims.

A rectal tube was connected to a fumigator and bellows that forced the smoke towards the rectum. The warmth of the smoke was thought to promote respiration, but doubts about the credibility of tobacco enemas led to the popular phrase "blow smoke up one's a$$."

Counting Calories

A study, started in 1989 involving rhesus monkeys has provided the first strong evidence that caloric restriction slows the aging process in primates.

A diet that's nutritionally adequate, but provides 30 percent fewer calories than normal has been shown to extend life span and delay the onset of age-related diseases in other animals, including flies, worms, and rodents. Because studies on primates take much longer, the benefits had not yet been demonstrated. Researchers at the National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report in July 2009 that in rhesus monkeys that had a caloric restriction diet begun in adulthood reduces risk of the most common age-related conditions, like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and brain atrophy, by 30 percent.

The research involved 76 monkeys, half of them on the diet. The 33 surviving monkeys have reached old age. Thirty-seven percent of the monkeys on a normal diet have died of age-related diseases, compared with just 13 percent of the monkeys on the restricted diet. Reminds me of the Jack Benny line when asked, "Your money or your life?". . . "I'm thinking about it."

Jul 18, 2009

Virtual Humans

A European project called the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) is designed to foster, harmonize and integrate pan-European research in the field of patient-specific computer models for personalized and predictive healthcare and ICT-based tools for modeling and simulation of human physiology and disease-related processes.

It plans a simulation of human organs and new knowledge extraction, methods. The idea is to end of animal testing and eventually even clinical patient drug trials.

There are 13 institutions involved in the VPH initiative and it will allow a wide range of academic, clinical, and industrial researchers to investigate the human body as a single complex system. They will be able to use the VPH network's expanding database of computer simulation data to develop better diagnosis and treatment methods, including using mathematical modelling to suggest solutions to currently unsolved biomedical problems.

The Virtual Physiological Human is an initiative that's being funded with 72 million Euros ($100 mil) by the EU. It could revolutionize medical science in the 21st century. It's expected that substantial advances in this field will be made during the next ten years in a range of diseases, from cancer to others. Can you imagine what the US could accomplish if we didn't have to spend an additional $1.6 Trillion on political healthcare issues?

Jun 19, 2009

Breast Cancer

Not a pleasant topic, but this info might help. Having malodorous armpits and wet sticky earwax is bad enough, but Japanese scientists found a more serious problem for women facing these cosmetic calamities.

They found a gene responsible for breast cancer also causes these physical symptoms. The report is from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology June 2009 edition.

"We do strongly hope that our study will provide a new tool for better predication of breast cancer risk by genotyping," said Toshihisa Ishikawa, Ph.D., from the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the senior researcher involved in the work.

Their discovery could lead to practical tools for clinicians to rapidly identify who might have a higher risk for breast cancer and become lifesaving clues to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Father's Day or Mother's Day


This is actually for sale, $29.95. Here is a gift for the person in your family that might have a, uh, problem. Under-Ease are underwear for protection against bad human gas (malodorous flatus) and are made from a soft air-tight polyurethane-coated nylon. To maintain the air-tightness, elastic is sewn into the material around the waist and both legs.

A triangular "exit hole" for the flatus to be expelled is cut from the back of the air-tight underwear, near the bottom. This "exit hole" is covered with a pocket made of ordinary porous fabric sewn over the "exit hole". This unique design forces all expelled gas (flatus) out through the "pocket". Inside the pocket is a high-functioning, replaceable filter. The ad says nothing about sound deadening.Caveat Emptor.

Depression Diagnoses Drop

Depression diagnoses drop after FDA issues drug warnings about the risks of using antidepressant drugs, especially for young people, has resulted in a decline in the number of people newly diagnosed with depression, a study found.

An analysis of data from nearly 100 managed care plans covering more than 55 million patients found the rate of new depression diagnoses among children declined from 5.2 per 1,000 patients in 2004 to 3.5 in 2007. A smaller decline was found among adults. Isn't it amazing how a drug warning causes the disease to drop? Since they can't prescribe this solution - you don't have the problem. Hmmm.

Jun 8, 2009

Stair Climbing Wheel Chairs


Do you remember the nation's first stair-climbing wheelchair? It hit the market with a bang, but fell down on price.

Johnson & Johnson quietly sold the last iBOTs this spring, shuttering manufacturing of a wheelchair that doctors had greeted five years ago as potentially revolutionary, but which failed to sell more than a few hundred a year. Earlier this month, a veteran who lost his legs in Iraq received the last known available iBOT, donated after its initial owner died.

Some iBOT users are joining inventor Dean Kamen, known for his Segways, in lobbying Congress for reimbursement changes that they hope could revive the chairs. They cost $22,000, but Medicare only paid $6,000.

Stomach Rumbling

As food, liquid and gas move through your digestive tract, your stomach muscles and intestines contract and cause rumbling noises, borborygmi is the scientific name. (The word borborygmus (singular form) is an onomatopoeia (words that imitate the sound that they describe.)

Everyone’s stomach makes noise during digestion, but if you have extra-loud rumbles, a teaspoon of olive oil or a cup of herbal tea with lemon may help ease them.

Viagra Developer

Robert Furchgott, a Nobel prize-winning pharmacologist whose work with the gas nitric oxide helped develop the anti-impotency drug Viagra, has died at the age of 92. How interesting nitric oxide is a free radical and Viagra makes radicals free. Hmmm.

Death with Dignity

66-year-old Linda Fleming was diagnosed with terminal cancer and feared her last days would be filled with pain and ever-stronger doses of medication that would erode her mind. She had late-stage pancreatic cancer and wanted to be clear-headed at death, so she became the first person to kill herself under Washington State's new assisted suicide law, known as "death with dignity."

"I am a very spiritual person, and it was very important to me to be conscious, clear-minded and alert at the time of my death," Fleming said in a statement released Friday. "The powerful pain medications were making it difficult to maintain the state of mind I wanted to have at my death. And I knew I would have to increase them."

With family members, her physician and her dog at her side, Fleming took a deadly dose of prescription barbiturates and died Thursday night at her home.