Research by Johns Hopkins cardiologists suggests that electrocardiograms (ECGs), which are widely used tests to assess the heart’s electrical activity, may have a greater and more profound future role in predicting the risk of death from any cause, not just heart problems.
Digestible microchips embedded in drugs may soon tell doctors whether a patient is taking their medications as prescribed. These sensors are the first ingestible devices approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To some, they signify the beginning of an era in digital medicine.
No one likes going to the doctor. There’s the inevitable wait in the waiting room before eventually being ushered into the office of the harried doctor who spends most of his day dealing with relatively minor complaints or simple follow-up visits. Then, of course, there’s the bill. But what if patients could get a check up without having to actually visit the doctor? A smart T-shirt fitted with various sensors is designed to do just that.
Recently I came across a newer gadget called the FitBit. It is a small clip on device to track your steps, calories burned, miles walked, and flights of stair climbed. The devices uses an accelerometer and a altimeter to determine the steps taken and logs the data to be synced when you are near the base station. This uploads the data to the FitBit site which has a nice SaaS site to monitor and chart progress. You can manually enter food, water, exercise, weight, and other data points. FitBit also offers a robust API to tie in with 3rd party services like Endomondo, which tracks workouts via phone GPS tracking. Another interesting thing the FitBit does is measure one’s sleep by coming with a strap you put on your non-dominate arm which monitors restlessness to get a picture of how much restful sleep one gets.
Personal fitness monitors designed to encourage healthy habits typically involve uncomfortable gear, such as chest straps and armbands, that can discourage people from wearing them. As sensors shrink and software improves, health-tracking systems are becoming less intrusive and capable of collecting more biometric data. One day, users may not have to don any equipment at all.
The young man in this video looks like he’s riding a Segway. But Yusuf Akturkoglu was paralized after falling from a horse five years ago, and he’s being mobilized by an amazing device invented by Turkish scientists. It’s going to change lives.
It was not an unusual death. Kunj Desai, a young doctor in training at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, had seen many that were not so different and were equally needless. Still, this was the one that altered all his plans. “A guy came in, and he had a stab wound,” Desai recalled, “and his intestines got injured.” The operation was delayed, and the wound became infected. “Whatever he was eating would come out of his belly,” Desai said. A carefully managed diet would have helped the man heal, but there were no dietitians at the hospital nor any IV drips of liquid nutrients with which to feed him. “He withered away to probably about 100 pounds when he died.”
It’s not easy to feed a rapidly growing planet, and our appetite for meat and biofuels that take up farmland doesn’t help. If only we could create nutrients at will without arable land, skipping all those intermediate steps of actually growing food and feeding animals.
Essentient, a stealth startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, thinks it can do just that. The company won’t say much in the way of details, but CEO David Berry has an impressive history. He is the founder of Joule Unlimited, a company that claims it can create renewable fuel out of CO2, sun, water, and microorganisms (though said renewable fuel is currently unavailable).
Mobile health platforms are fast emerging in Kenya, where one startup’s newly launched mobile health platform is attracting nearly 1,000 downloads daily, and the dominant telecom, Safaricom, has forged a partnership that will give its 18 million subscribers access to doctors.
A World Bank official sees significant promise from such efforts, pointing to the fact that 50 percent of all Kenyan banking is already done on mobile phones—suggesting that the population is ready to go mobile with health care, too.
Some 133 million Americans suffer from chronic disease, and many would benefit from better home-based monitoring of their condition, but today’s home-health medical machines remain mostly unconnected to the doctors who might want to check the data between visits.
A new platform from Qualcomm aims to solve this with a simple box that detects signals from devices from dozens of makers, and dispatches them by cellular connection to a cloud database that can be accessed by medical staff as well as patients.