IBM Watson Health: Transforming Healthcare

Watson Health: Empowering Patients and Transforming Healthcare

IBM WatsonBy Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP

There was an interesting decision to make within IBM about what to call a new business organization that we’re announcing today [4/13/2015]. Should it be named Watson Health or Watson Healthcare? [emphasis added]

“Health” is an aspiration, for individuals and society. “Healthcare” describes an industry primarily focused on treating diseases.

While healthcare is essential, it represents just one of many factors that determine whether people live long and healthy lives. Some other critical factors are genetics, geography, behaviors, social/environmental influences, education, and economics.  Unless society takes all of these factors into account and puts the individual at the center of the healthcare system, we won’t be able to make large-scale progress in helping people feel better and live longer. So, IBM Watson Health it is. Read More …

Millions of free iPads for Seniors

Can Apple and IBM change Health Care?

Ruth Schoon learns to use the iPad

Ruth Schoon describes how she now uses an iPad to follow her great grandchildren from afar.

That was the title of a recent Forbes article that prompted me to comment, and my comment is the basis of today’s post. Basically, it was reported that IBM and Apple are partnering with Japan Post, that country’s largest health- and life-insurance company, to provide millions of free iPads for seniors with the aim of improving their health and their lives.

My Response

The Apple iPad is truly an amazing device for seniors. When they’re shown how to use it, the benefits go way beyond just extending life (i.e. more revenue from premiums for insurance companies) or improving health (less expense from claims).


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Is American Health Care the Best?

“Is American Health Care the Best?” The answer to that question might depend on whom you ask, but by almost all measures we aren’t even close. That was the message of this article on Vox that says people who believe our health system is the best are “measuring it wrong.” Here’s some measures we should be considering, followed by some supporting graphs and videos and my perspective:

  • Costs: America spends vastly more than any other nation, often more than twice as much.
  • Access: Tens of millions of Americans remain uninsured. Even after Obamacare, we’ll be behind.
  • Satisfaction: Patients here are less happy with their system, and nurses & doctors are too.
  • Mistakes: Hospitals are dangerous places, given the number of infections & medical errors there.
  • Outcomes: Americans live sicker & die younger. Longevity is shorter and infant mortality is higher.

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Sleep Statistics from Sleepless in America

By Wayne Caswell, Intelligent Sleep and founder of Modern Health Talk

This last Sunday, I watched “Sleepless in America,” a 2-hour documentary on the National Geographic channel, and I captured some of its powerful statistics and blended them with my own, forming the basis of today’s article. But first, here’s the 3-min trailer. Additional short video segments are included below, along with a related infographic, and if the full length video gets posted, I’ll include it too.

Sleepless in America – Full Version (1:28:15 min)

Sleep Statistics

How much sleep do we Need?

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BRAINCHANGE with David Perlmutter M.D.

BRAINCHANGEOur local PBS channel (KLRU.org) today aired BRAINCHANGE, a special on Alzheimer’s Prevention that featured Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D.

Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist who gained much of his knowledge about brain science from his dad, who was a practicing neurosurgeon and now has Alzheimer’s. That experience gave him even more motivation to understand why Americans have such a high rate of Alzheimer’s and why that is increasing.

The special served as a PBS fund-raiser but in many ways seemed like an infomercial to sell Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Still, it was factual, thought-provoking, and complements work I’m involved with at Intelligent Sleep, where we see sleep as the third leg of wellness and as important as nutrition and exercise. I could not find an online version of the show, but here are my notes and some summary videos: Read More …

Make it Possible – about overcoming disabilities

Stephen Hawking

Click image for other quotes as Stephen Hawking turns 73.

I’m always inspired by pioneering tech ideas that help people overcome physical or mental disabilities, so the videos that follow caught my attention. They’re about EyeWriter and BrainWriter, which use eye movements and brainwaves to help people with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causes loss of muscle control, including the ability to breathe, and thus leads to early death.

The famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, has helped to bring attention to the disease and what can be done with a severe disability by beating the odds and living past age 70.

Don Moir: ALS patient, husband, and father

In the video below, watch Don write a love letter to his wife and audibly say “I love you, Lorraine” for the first time in 15 years, thanks to a digital solution by the Not Impossible team, Speak Your Mind Foundation and HP’s #BendTheRules.


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Sleep Deficiency – a Public Health Epidemic

By Wayne Caswell, founder of Modern Health Talk and cofounder of Intelligent Sleep

Honor Thy Sleep

Image source: from the 3:10 min video below.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 70 million American workers suffer from chronic sleep problems, and researchers have associated their insufficient sleep with increased risks of inflammation, obesity, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and early death. That’s why the CDC has labeled sleep deficiency “a public health epidemic.”

Just as important are the positive benefits that getting good sleep provides. It helps improve alertness, attention, concentration, creativity, decision-making, driver safety, energy, focus, judgment, mood, reaction & recovery times, stamina, and working memory. These are all attributes of good performance at school, work and in sports, and who doesn’t want to make better grades, advance their career, or excel in athletics? Read More …

Take Care of Your Heart This Valentine’s Day

Valentine AppleYou can always tell when it’s a month from Valentine’s Day; stores are screaming love and have filled entire aisles with merchandise from red decorations and heart-shaped boxes of delicious chocolates to mushy cards filled with sentimental poems…and hearts…hearts everywhere. All the red heart-shapes make it difficult not to think of your own heart and its impressive job of steadily keeping blood and oxygen pumping throughout your body.

This Valentine’s Day, why not take care of your heart? After all, statistics underscore the need for seniors to cut their risk of heart disease. An American Heart Association fact sheet for 2013 reported that more than 42 million Americans over the age of 60 have cardiovascular disease, and for those between the ages of 60 and 79, just over 70 percent have heart disease. But while these numbers are concerning, the problem is avoidable. With proper care and a focus on prevention, it is very possible to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Not smoking, regular exercise, a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, and adequate sleep can significantly lower your risk by 65% and cut the risk of fatal events as much as 83%. That’s according to this article referring to a large study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Read More …

Transparency in Medicine

Dr. Leana Wen gave an important TED talk about transparency in medicine, but her campaign made other doctors angry and even generated death threats. Thankfully, however, a few hundred physicians have seen the light and joined in. Watch the video and notice the quotes.

“Being totally transparent is scary. You feel naked, exposed, and vulnerable. But … when doctors are willing to step off our pedestals, take off our white coats, and show our patients who we are and what medicine is all about, that’s when we begin to overcome the sickness of fear.” — Dr. Leana Wen Read More …

Precision Medicine vs Prevention & Wellness

Health iconsPresident Obama and the National Institutes of Health have announced a Precision Medicine Initiative that complements other programs for Prevention and Wellness. That’s important because too many diseases don’t have a proven means of prevention or effective treatments.

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How to Make a Smart Bed for your Smart Bedroom

Luna

Here’s you can make a smart bed for your smart bedroom.

Because good sleep so closely tied to good health, I’ve posted dozens of articles about sleep, including many about technology and how artificial lights interfere with our biological clocks and sleep-wake cycle. I’ve also been working with Dr. Bruce Meleski to open Intelligent Sleep, a new sleep wellness and brain health center here in Austin. We’re doing some pretty cool stuff with metabolic, neurosensory, and behavioral therapies, and we’re promoting a vision of the Smart Bedroom. So today’s post is about a new product we hope to carry and that I think you’ll like. (video below) Read More …

Find PURPOSE to Prevent Empty-Nest Boredom

Find PURPOSE to prevent Empty Nest BoredomThe kids are grown and out of the house, leaving you with more time on your hands than you’ve had in decades. While that feeling of freedom can be gratifying at first, after a while, it can also start to feel a little boring, especially if you’ve also retired. In fact, launching your children out into the world is considered to be one of the most difficult life transitions to face.

If your life has gotten rather mundane as of late, instead of sinking further into the doldrums, consider taking part in one or more of these activities that are sure to prevent empty-nest boredom, soothe your soul, and boost your happiness levels. Comment below to let us know about your favorite activity, even if it’s not on this list. Read More …

The Elusive Smart Home

With the annual Consumer Electronics Show starting next week, the news media is filled with marketing hype about the elusive Smart Home market, which is nearly as misdirected today as it was in 1957. Watch this video of the RCA-Whirlpool® Miracle Kitchen and ask how many of those products you can buy today.

Whirlpool was wrong 58 years ago when it introduced its Miracle Kitchen, and I think it’s wrong about home automation today too. All the company did was offer a Smart Home vision that never crossed the chasm to mass-market adoption. The problem wasn’t a lack of sensors, actuators, electronics, or network standards, but marketing and the inability to understand consumer needs and wants, or the ability to show a value proposition or deliver a solution with ease of use and affordability.

I still have seen no company that “gets it” or knows how to deliver the smart home vision — not Whirlpool and not Apple or Microsoft or Google or Philips or BestBuy. A lot of innovation has occurred in the last 50-some years that is getting us closer to that vision, including smartphones and the Internet of Things, but there are still many marketing barriers that these companies don’t seem to understand. Read More …

Music as Medicine

I’ll be home for Christmas

Henry has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home, and is mostly unresponsive and depressed, but watch what happens when he’s introduced to music. The part of the brain that recognizes music is usually one of the last parts affected by Alzheimer’s disease; but not only does the music awaken that part; it improves Henry’s communication and memory too. He remembers the words AND the artist.

Having seen this reaction before, I became interested in the healing powers of music and met Sean Maher, an award-winning musician and music therapist at Intelligent Sleep who uses vibration, sound and binaural beats to help people entrain their brains to reduce stress, focus, or improve creativity. I also discovered Lisa’s article below and got permission to repost it.

Music as Medicine

Bad to the Bone

Click on image to hear George Thorogood’s classic, “Bad to the Bone” on YouTube.

by Lisa Suennen

It happens every time. I hear “Bad to the Bone” on the radio and suddenly all is right with the world. I love music and I have learned that if I choose the correct genre and tempo  I can improve a depressed state or calm a hyper one. I have song lists on my iPod called Cranky and Stressed, F the World, and Happiness, all designed around my various moods. Music can have a profound affect on my state of mind. I think this is true for most people, actually.

The therapeutic value of music has long been known to the medical world. Famed neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks used music to engage his patients (this was dramatized in the movie The Music Never Stops, where a brain-damaged patient is able to recall memories otherwise lost when he hears the favorite music of his youth). And I saw an article this week, courtesy of my BFF, which stated this:

Doctor playing the violin“One hundred years ago, Pennsylvanian surgeon Evan Kane penned a brief letter to JAMA in which he declared himself a rigorous proponent of the ‘benefic [sic] effects of the phonograph within the operating room.’ To Kane, it was an optimal means of ‘calming and distracting the patient from the horror of their situation.’ Of course this was before effective anesthesia so anything would have helped.” Read More …

MiniTrends affecting Telehealth

Skype TranslatorOverlapping MiniTrends affecting Telehealth include

  1. health reform,
  2. the Internet of Things,
  3. speech recognition & synthesis, and
  4. real-time language translation.

I’ve written a lot here about health reform, telehealthmedical tourism, the Internet of Things, and the overlap of healthcare MiniTrends, but today I saw a video that evolves my thinking further. It’s about Microsoft’s Skype and their newest Skype Translator Preview.

The Skype Translator video below gave me a glimpse of what telehealth might be like in 5 years or so. This vision includes the Internet, video consultations, smart sensors, and the trend of medical devices becoming smaller, cheaper, easier to use, and widely used among consumers for telemedicine. But the video consultation may be done from anywhere, in any language, and that could dramatically increase competition and result in much better outcomes at lower prices.

As you watch, imagine that it’s a conversation between you and a doctor in Costa Rica, where you went for your knee surgery and recovered on the beach in a 4-star hotel, paid for by your insurer because the outcomes were better than most any U.S. provider. It’s the sheer volume of procedures they do that led to their world-class expertise and efficiency.  Read More …

Cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves

Google's Driverless Car

EDITOR: When seniors can no longer drive a car, they lose their independence and become dependent on others for the simplest things — shopping for groceries or Christmas gifts, getting a haircut, going the bank or doctor or the movies, and more. That can be devastating and even force them into institution care, ultimately shortening their lifespan. So it’s why I’m a fan of the autonomous, self-driving car, and Google, the company that’s so far leading the way. And it’s why I’m happy to republish this article by Zachary Shahan at FIX.com about cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves.

Hands-Free Driving: Google’s New Driverless Car

One of the biggest tech stories of the year is definitely the unveiling of Google’s driverless car. The general story is this: Google is manufacturing some completely self-driving cars – no steering wheels, accelerator pedals, or brake pedals. But the details are pretty fascinating, and even more interesting are the broad societal implications. Read More …

Snooze or Lose – TODAY Show series summary

Snooze or LoseOn November 9th, TODAY launches a weeklong “Snooze or Lose” series with a commissioned survey exploring why Americans can’t sleep. Highlights with the best statistics and videos are shown below, but more can be found at the link to today.com.

Sleep Statistics

Americans feel so sleep deprived that almost half of adults — 65% of women — prefer a good night’s sleep over sex.

  • 72% of adults see sleep as one of the great pleasures of life, but 46% say they don’t get enough. It’s even worse for women; 58% fall short of their ideal goal of just over eight hours a night.
  • 33% of young adults 18-34 believe to get ahead in their careers, they must survive on less sleep; while 19% of 35-54 year-olds and just 6% for seniors  think this.
  • 40% of young adults, 33% of older adults, and over 11% of seniors believe they must sacrifice sleep to care for their families.
  • 64% of young adults, 49% of older adults, and 35% of seniors agree that being able to survive on less sleep would be an advantage.
  • 32% of young adults say work makes them fret throughout the night.
  • 31% say their children cause sleepless nights.
  • When it comes to children, interrupted sleep seems unavoidable and 42% of people with a child under 18 report inadequate sleep.

Read More …

Digital Sensors, Activity Trackers & Quantified Self

FUTURE OF YOU is a 27-min video by KQED and QuestScience about digital sensors, activity trackers and the Quantified Self movement. From wearable activity trackers to personal genetics, it explores the new digital health revolution that is transforming the field of health care and scientific research, and is radically changing how we take care of ourselves and manage our health information.

About Operating Room Safety

 Make Sure You’re in the Safest Possible Operating Room

Operating Room

The Hazards of Hospitals

We all think of the hospital as a place we go to get better, but hospitals in the United States are making people sicker at alarming rates. Between overtired interns, germ-covered doctors,  haphazard record keeping, and equipment failures, you might find yourself in more trouble than you were when you checked in. Here are some alarming statistics, followed by some patient recommendations.

  • 1.7 million infections are contracted in hospitals each year.
  • 1 in 5 patients suffer harm from medical errors, and 99,000 die from them.
  • You’re 30,000 times more likely to die from a hospital visit than a plane crash.
  • And more die from infections each year than from car accidents, breast cancer or aids.

High Anxiety

The simple mention of having a medical procedure brings out anxiety in most people. It’s human nature to become fearful when preparing to undergo a surgical procedure that requires in-patient treatment, sedation and operating rooms, as it is associated with pain and mortality. Read More …

What is Functional Medicine?

3-legged stoolI first encountered the term Functional Medicine a few years ago during a lecture by Dr. Lane Sebring at a World Future Society dinner. In keeping with the focus of this organization, he titled his talk The Future of Medicine is … Not Medicine, which links to my notes and a video of the 71-min lecture. Dr. Sebring looked to anthropology to understand why, even with modern medicine, many of our diseases today didn’t even exist about a century ago when Heart Disease was almost unknown and Cancer was rare, not even making the top 10 as a cause of death.

The more he looked into the cause of illness, the more he became disillusioned and frustrated with modern healthcare and the traditional practice of providing “sick care” and just another pill in a “disease management” system that profits from illness. To focus his practice on health & wellness, he became an expert in Functional Medicine, which he describes as a form of evolutionary, integrative, holistic, or alternative medicine. Read More …