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AED Nearby

First Aid Corps, an organization working on helping the public respond to sudden cardiac arrests, has unveiled an iPhone app that can pinpoint the location of the closest automatic external defibrillator (AED) within seconds.

Vía: medgadget

AsthmaMD screenshot

AsthmaMD es un claro ejemplo de como los dispositivos móviles pueden ayudar en las tareas de personalización de la medicina y medicina basada en la evidencia.

La idea es muy sencilla, una aplicación en el iPhone en la que el paciente de asma puede ir guardando su estado y la medicación que toma. Una vez recogida la información se puede transmitir de forma sencilla al centro médico.

Medical doctor and researcher Sam Pejham, UCSF Medical School Clinical Faculty and Director of Tri-Valley Pediatrics is the creator of the new iPhone app. The free application allows users to easily and quickly log their asthma activity, their medications, causes of their asthma in the form of a diary. Users may share the diary and a color graph chart of their asthma activities with their physicians to be included in their medical records.

¿Qué beneficios se pueden obtener de todo esto?

Para el paciente: en  primer lugar  llevar un control sobre su propia enfermedad. Esto le ayudará no solo a conocerse mejor, sino que también le facilita la tarea de comunicarse de forma más sencilla, rápida y eficaz, cuando por ejemplo, visita a su especialista y le quiera contar como ha sido su evolución en los últimos meses.

Para los especialistas: si el paciente va registrando toda información acerca de su estado, de la medicación que toma, etc en su teléfono móvil, esta información se puede transmitir muy fácilmente a cualquier ordenador, de forma que el especialista podría ir siguiendo la evolución de su paciente de forma telemática o utilizar herramientas de ayuda a la decisión que detecten patrones o calculen estadísticas que le faciliten la toma de decisiones. De esta forma un médico dispone de información mucho más completa y detallada en lugar de simplemente esperar que el paciente llege a la consulta y le intente contar  lo que le ha pasado en los últimos 3 meses.

Para la sociedad: avance en la recopilación de una información que hasta ahora era imposible de obtener. Multitud de datos acerca de pacientes. Lo realmente interesante es que a partir de esa información se obtienen relaciones como la evolución de una enfermedad en una determinada región o en una determinada estación del año y se intenta encontrar una relación, por ejemplo entre  el tipo de plantas de la zona, a la humedad, a la comida y la efectividad de un determinado medicamento.  Obteniendo de esta forma un conocimiento mucho más completo y dificil de alcanzar por métodos empíricos. O por poner otro ejemplo, reunir información  acerca de la efectividad de un determinado medicamento sobre los pacientes de una determinada región.

Vía: TechChunch, AsthmaMD Helps Asthma Sufferers, Gathers Aggregate Research Data

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The yealthlife team has been lagging on updating its blog, we apologize to our followers. There’s a reason for this though, the yealthlife team works in a project of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Comission, and we just got done, a little over a week ago, with a technical review at Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, a well known clinic in Pamplona, Spain.

The project (www.perform-project.com) is about developing a comprehensive platform for the management of Parkinson’s disease patients. This includes a set of wearable motion sensors and a wide range of algorithms. The latter are used to identify and assess the severity of motor symptoms, profile the symptom’s patterns of appearance in each patient, keep track of the evolution of the disease and suggest better treatment regimes based on all this information and on the medication intake schedule of each patient.

One of the areas of the Information Society Technologies, one of the areas in which the European Commission invests heavily, consists in optimizing patient care processes for chronic diseases that are expensive to manage through the development of IT systems capable of constantly monitoring the status of the patient, generating alerts and providing advice to physicians on how to improve treatments.

Investing in optimizing healthcare related processes by taking advantage of Information Technologies seems to be a requirement for the long term sustainability of most of today’s healthcare systems. Both the cost and the number of people affected by chronic diseases have been, and will continue to be on the rise, for a long time.

Yealthlife comes into play in a similar niche, as it is similar to PERFORM in the way that both consist on integrating a technological platform (sensors, smart software, communications) to optimize care and improve quality of life for patients. The main difference is that PERFORM has been mainly envisioned as a R&D project, while yealthlife has been thought as going into the market right away, a more pragmatic approach. It’s also a big difference that PERFORM is limited to the frame of motor neurodegenerative diseases (i.e. Parkinson’s, ALS) while yealthlife is a comprehensive platform that addresses a variety sensors, a wide range of chronic diseases and the lifestyle of the user in general, even if he or she is not ill.

Next step: P4 medicine

Hablando sobre el futuro de la salud y de como esta debe actualizase y modernizarse para satisfacer las nuevas necesidades de los usuarios,  nos llega este artículo de Newsweek en donde se explica de manera clara cuales deben ser los siguientes pasos para que un servicio de medicina 1.0  evolucione a la medicina 2.0
Según Newsweek los requisitos para llegar a ofrecer un servicio de medicina 2.0 son las 4P: Personalización, Predictabilidad, Prevención y Participación.
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Medicine will begin to get more predictive and personalized (the first two aspects of P4 medicine) over the next five to 10 years. First, doctors will be able to sequence the genome of each patient, which together with other data will yield useful predictions about his or her future health; it will be able to tell you, for example, that you have a 30 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer before age 30. Second, a biannual assessment of your blood will make it possible to get an update on the current state of your health for each of your 50 or so organ systems. These steps will place the focus of medicine on individual patients and on assessing the impact that genes and their interactions with the environment have in determining health or disease.

In preventive medicine (the third P), researchers will use systems medicine to develop drugs that help prevent disease. If, say, you have a 50 percent chance of developing prostate cancer by the time you’re 50, you may be able to start taking a drug when you’re 30 that would reduce substantially reduce that probability. In the next 10 to 20 years the focus of health care will shift from dealing with disease to maintaining wellness.

Participatory medicine acknowledges the unparalleled opportunities that patients will have to take control of their health care. To participate effectively, though, they will have to be educated as to the basic principles of P4 medicine. New companies that can analyze human genome variation, like 23andMe and Navigenics, are already planning to provide patients with genetic information that may be useful in modifying their behavior to avoid future health problems. In the future, patients will need not just genetic data but insight into how the environment is turning genes on and off to cause disease—just as smoking often causes lung cancer and exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer.

 

Una parte muy importante del futuro de la medicina y la salud no se podrá ver a simple vista.  Desde hace décdas el sector tecnológico lucha por conseguir dispositivos que ofrezcan más funcionalidades, que cuesten menos, que ocupen menos espacio y que consuman menos.

La solución a todos estas necesidades surge es la tecnología de MEMS:

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through microfabrication technology. While the electronics are fabricated using integrated circuit (IC) process sequences (e.g., CMOS, Bipolar, or BICMOS processes), the micromechanical components are fabricated using compatible “micromachining” processes that selectively etch away parts of the silicon wafer or add new structural layers to form the mechanical and electromechanical devices.

En resumen, los MEMS son pequeños dispositivos, en la escala de las micras y de los nanometros que funcionan como auténticos dispositivos electro mecánicos de tamaño natural. Este tipo de dispositivos combinados con la microfluídica permiten elaborar complejos dispositivos para por ejemplo análisis clínico, lo que se denomina el lab-on-a-chip:

 

Design, fabrication and cell-handling of microfluidic device for single cell electroporation


En este video se muestra un dispositivo MEMS que permite la realización de la  electroporación en una célula individual. La electroporación es un significativo aumento de la conductividad eléctrica y la permeabilidad de la membrana plasmática celular causado por un campo eléctrico aplicado externamente. Es habitual en biología molecular como forma de introducción de diferentes sustancias en células, como por ejemplo sondas moleculares, un fármaco que puede cambiar las funciones celulares o un fragmento de DNA codificante, como puede ser un plásmido.

 

DNA microarrays


Otro uso de los MEMS y la microfluídica es la de manejar dispositivos como estos microarrays en los que con una sola gota de sangre se puede estudiar la expresión o no de determinados genes.

 

DNA Lab on a Chip


Researchers at Duke University foresee devices no bigger than a wristwatch replacing the table-top sized machinery now used for monitoring enzymes in the bloodstream or measuring harmful chemicals in the environment. Learn more athttp://research.duke.edu/microfluidic/.

The EyeWriter

The EyeWriter is a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus & custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to draw using only their eyes. In 2009, the GRL, openFrameworks, TEG and the FAT Lab collaborated with TEMPT One, legendary LA graf writer and ALS suffer to make the first prototype of the EyeWriter. Check out http://eyewriter.org for more information.

Why we love this?

I took the following excerts from a post by Eric Ries, a serial entrepreneur and author of the blog Startup Lessons Learned.

While in an academic R&D lab, creation for creation’s sake will often get you praise, in a startup, it will often put you out of business.

So why become an entrepreneur instead of developing technology in an R&D lab? Three reasons: change the world, make customers’ lives better and create an organization of lasting value. If you only want to do one of these things, there are better options. But only startups combine all three.

But in order to do that [succeeding at relaunching an initial failure], they’re going to have to keep two seemingly contradictory ideas in mind at the same time: that their vision is going to change the world, and that their vision is also horribly flawed.

Attempting to hold two contradictory ideas simultaneously is known in psychology as cognitive dissonance. Most people go out of their way to avoid this sensation. That’s a perfectly normal reaction; our brains are supposed to experience pain when we try to do the possible and the impossible at the same time. Entrepreneurs are wired differently, however. It’s not that they don’t experience pain — trust me, creating a startup is extremely painful — but that they care more about realizing their vision. And there are much easier ways to get rich.

Nothing extremely new in the excerpt but the idea that entrepreneurship is not the fast lane to get rich. I also liked the concept of “cognitive dissonance.” Its like falling in love with your startup, you have to put the heart into it, but at the same you have to be ready to pack the stuff and redefine the whole thing as the process advances. When is the right time? that’s probably what tells successes from failures.

In any case, more than elaborating on my personal interpretation of the excerpt, the idea is to relate the nice post by Mr. Ries to what yealthlife is about.  yealthlife is about the three things that ditinguish a need for a startup from a need for a research project inside a lab.

yealthlife is about implementing existing technologies to change the world of healthcare. Make it more efficient, practical and synchronized with today’s technological and personalized world.

It’s also about making customer’s lives better. Allowing people to better follow up their chronic diseases or their health related habits can really improve their quality of life.

And well, an organization of lasting value. If you are about changing the healthcare paradigm and empowering people to improve their own health, you are obviously not  thinking about getting it over with by tomorrow. Redefining an outdated and archaic  model is sure about imprinting a permanent change and creating something lasting and worthwhile.