Medical students invent app that checks your symptoms

Craig Monsen and David Do show off Symcat

Craig Monsen and David Do show off their diagnostic tool for consumers.

Craig Monsen and David Do are fourth-year medical students at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine students. According to this article, they recently created a smartphone compatible website that uses big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to analyze your symptoms and help determine the cause.

Using Symcat (symptoms-based, computer-assisted triage), you enter various ailments (fever, rash, cough, swelling etc.) and receive a diagnosis, prioritizing potential causes by likelihood and color-coding them by urgency. As you’ll see in the video demo below, entering and refining the symptoms and medical history is an iterative process, and the results are quite impressive. At some point, if you decide to see a doctor, the system also recommends local practitioners based on their specific specialty and experience.

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CAPABLE means Home, not Nursing Homes, for Seniors

Source: Newswise (6/26/2012) — Nursing homes do not have to be inevitable destinations for frail older adults. Many—even those with long-term health problems—can remain at home and be independent. All it takes is a little help to change “disability” to “capability”.

A handyman with a few nails to fix a wobbly bannister can make the difference between staying at home and a nursing home stay. Visits from a nurse or occupational therapist can help simplify a bewildering medication regimen or improve the ability to get around the house and neighborhood. Simple, inexpensive steps may change the equation for thousands of seniors, but in reality, services like these are rarely available for many at greatest need—the poorest and sickest older adults receiving Medicare and Medicaid.

CAPABLE, short for “Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders,” and a $4 million Health Care Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is about to change that reality. Read More …

Patients Find and Help Each other in Social Media

A new PwC market research study shows that Consumers use Social Media far more than Health Companies.

Patients are turning to the Internet and Social Media to find solutions to health problems when their doctors don’t know the answers. While some docs are overwhelmed with new literature about medical advancements and resent patients who question their advice, others welcome the self-educated patient who has found treatment alternatives online and wants to discuss them. If you’re one of those e-patients and have used social media to connect with others like you to exchange stories and knowledge, I want to hear how you did it.

mHealthTalk Positioning - at the intersection of important trends and between Support Groups and Technology PagesDid you use an online support group like, and Did you stumble upon a technology solution by landing on a website for a specific product or service? Did you use a smartphone app? Toni Bernhard uses Facebook Groups for this. Do you?

Why I ask… Modern Health Talk is positioned between these extremes, at the intersection of several important trends, including rising costs, aging baby boomers, wireless Internet access, telemedicine, and increased interest in social media, digital sensors, telepresence, and smartphones & tablets. BUT… We’ve found that the good online support groups focus on a single medical condition and NOT the combination of conditions and limitations associated with aging. We so far have been unable to build a vibrant community that engages the elderly in discussions of tech solutions for aging and want to learn from the success of others, potentially partnering with them. So please share your experience by email or a comment below.

e-Patient Katherine Leon

Below, NPR reports on patients with rare diseases who are finding each other online and promoting new research. The story features Katherine Leon, a woman with an extremely rare heart condition who managed to do what many hospitals couldn’t. She set up a virtual patient registry, allowed patients from all over the world to submit their medical records and scans online, and then used the data to convince researchers at the Mayo Clinic to run clinical trials where there was no interest before. Her story became national news. Read More …

How Universal Design is influencing Architecture

Could Universal Design Be the Next Mainstream Movement in Architecture, Planning?

Click on book image, Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments, to learn more at Amazon.comNew textbook provides the first comprehensive introduction to a growing field

Release Date: April 20, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Universal design, which employs design to encourage health and wellness and other quality-of-life improvements, may be poised to become the next mainstream endeavor in architecture and planning, according to two leading experts in the field.  (I hope they’re right. – Wayne)

Edward Steinfeld, director of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and Jordana L. Maisel, the center’s director of outreach and policy studies, are authors of a new textbook, “Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments.”

“We believe we are close to a watershed moment,” the authors write in the preface to the book, which was released on April 10 and includes chapters on housing, interior design, transportation and more. “Whether they know the term or not, the work of leading architects and design firms reflects the adoption of universal design concepts.” Read More …

Healthcare Reform Debate at Supreme Court (UPDATED)

Click this image of protestors in front of the US Supreme Court to read coverage in The Washington Post.

Supporters of the federal health-care law rally in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Charles Dharapak - AP)

My consumer lobbying and healthcare interests explain my attention to this week’s Supreme Court case and the many articles I’ve commented on and tweeted about. Comments generally go something like this:

Without the mandate, we need another way to pay for the Affordable Care Act (opponents call it ObamaCare) or an entirely new alternative to our existing healthcare system. The “affordable” alternative is a Single-Payer system — i.e. Medicare for all — like Thailand adopted, funded by tax revenue and available for all regardless of income. Thailand has exceptional care outcomes and the lowest healthcare costs in the world with a government-run program. Maybe we should adopt their model, since ours is obviously broken.

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CNN examines healthcare issues (SUMMARY)

In 10 lesser known effects of health care reform law, CNN examined the 2,700-page health care reform law, which created more than 90 specific changes, and highlighted 10 of the lesser known changes:

  1. Drug, device & medical supply companies will be required to report payments & gifts to physicians and teaching hospitals, including speaking fees, consulting fees, meals and travel.
  2. Employers must provide a private place for mothers to breast feed or to express breast milk.
  3. Restaurants with 20 or more locations must list calorie content information for standard menu items on menus and drive-through menus.
  4. The law renews $50 million per year funding for five years for state abstinence-only education programs.
  5. Flexible spending accounts will be restricted to prescription drugs and will no longer cover over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.
  6. A 10% tax will be assessed to visits to tanning salons with UV-emitting tanning devices.
  7. Incentives to start wellness programs are extended to small business with <100 employees working at >25 hours/week.
  8. Preventive care services will be fully covered by insurance companies with no copay, including mammograms, physical exams, colonoscopies, and vaccinations.
  9. As a preventive measure, early childhood home visitation is funded for people expecting children and families who have young children.
  10. Health insurers must make it easier to compare one plan to another with concise and understandable information about the plan and its benefits.

As the US Supreme Court this week debates healthcare reform and the individual mandate, you might be interested in these CNN videos that I include here with no advertising. The first video compares US healthcare spending versus that of other leading nations and ranks us dead last. Read More …

Affordable Care Act Turns Two, showing #healthcareworks

Universal Health Care was part of President Roosevelt's proposed Second Bill of RightsIn a Huffington Post article, US Representative Charles Rangel says, “Rather than trying to repeal the healthcare law that that has bettered the lives of Americans, Republicans should join Democrats in finding ways to expand it so that no American is without access to affordable healthcare.” Universal Healthcare was a dream of President Franklin Roosevelt based on The Bill of Rights, which included the right to LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Without adequate healthcare, we deny people the right to Life. Are you for that — denying people a right to Life?

Here’s a video from the article, followed by a video transcript that I captured for blind visitors using screen reader technology.

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Indiana Health Info Exchange adopts AT&T solution

Serving 10 million patients and more than 19,000 physicians in over 80 facilities, the nation’s largest health information exchange organization, the Indiana Health Information Exchange, Inc. (IHIE) is responsible for an ocean of information.

This week IHIE announced that it will use AT&T Healthcare Community Online to scale and expand its business plans. The AT&T solution is a highly secure, cloud-based health information exchange (HIE) that integrates patient data from various sources into a single patient view. It symbolizes the connected and collaborative future of healthcare – where information is exchanged across states, regions, and eventually the entire nation – according to Randall Porter, Assistant Vice President, AT&T ForHealth.

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ZOMM’s Lifestyle Connect wins 3 CES Innovation Awards

ZOMM Lifestyle ConnectZOMM earned 3 CES 2012 Innovation Awards this week for Lifestyle Connect™, a credit card sized accessory for any Bluetooth®-enabled phone, including the one you have right now. With a touch of a button or an alert from wireless sensors, the device can summon assistance from a Personal Safety Concierge™ or your trusted network of friends, family and health professionals. If needed, the concierge will dispatch police, fire or medical rescue personnel to the user’s location.

Lifestyle Connect utilizes Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy wireless technology to connect with Bluetooth Smart devices such as health monitors, heart monitors, glucose monitors, fall detection sensors, and activity trackers.

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GE, Microsoft to Launch Global Healthcare Venture

GE, Microsoft to Launch Joint Venture Aimed at Global Healthcare System Transformation

BARRINGTON, Ill., and REDMOND, Wash. – Dec. 7, 2011 – General Electric Co., through its healthcare IT business, and Microsoft Corp. today announced plans to create a joint venture aimed at helping healthcare organizations and professionals use real-time, systemwide intelligence to improve healthcare quality and the patient experience. Upon formation, the new company will develop and market an open, interoperable technology platform and innovative clinical applications focused on enabling better population health management to improve outcomes and the overall economics of health and wellness.

We notice that Microsoft continues to make inroads into the healthcare field. The Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait” is an internet-based tool [built on Microsoft HealthVault] that makes it easy for you to record your family health history. — Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk

As healthcare providers and payers around the globe shift from episodic single-patient care to continuous population management, new requirements have emerged for integrated care processes, greater insight and engaging Read More …

Qualcomm Life connects Wireless Medical Devices & Cloud

Qualcomm announced this week that Qualcomm Wireless Health is now Qualcomm Life,  a wholly-owned subsidiary whose mission is to define and connect the global wireless health network and bring medical devices to life by securely connecting them to cloud-based services. The encrypted and HIPAA compliant bimetric data is then remotely accessible by device users, their health care providers and caregivers. (video & illustration below)

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eCaring: a Home Care Management & Monitoring System

From Press Release…

eCaring™ Develops Breakthrough Home Health Care Management System

eCaring Creates Easy To Use Web-Based Home Care Management And Monitoring
Systems For Families, Home Health Care Workers, And Doctors

Contact: Robert Herzog, (917)-743-4347 or (347)-946-0080;

NEW YORK, Dec. 7th 2011 – eCaring™ LLC today announced the launch of its new home health care management and monitoring system that enables home care recipients to live at home longer, with better quality of care, at lower cost.  eCaring’s breakthrough web-based system enables everyone involved with home health care—from family members to home care providers to doctors—to receive up-to-date, useful information on the care, conditions, activities and status of home health care patients.  eCaring also announced today that it will offer a 75% discount for life to those families accepted into its beta test.

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Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet challenges Apple iPad

Amazon Kindle Fire

See comments for Cautions & Reviews

Amazon Kindle, including the high-end Kindle Fire, is quickly becoming the second-fastest selling tablet in the market. Sales are projected to reach 3.9 million units in 4Q’11, giving it a 13.8% global market share, which is second only to Apple’s 65.6% share, according to IHS Research. In total, 64.7 million tablets are expected to ship in 2011, up 273% from last year and on tract to reach 287.2 million units 2015.

The Kindle Fire is less than half the price of the iPad2, which starts at $499. It does less, but if all you want it for is entertainment (books, music & movies), shopping, and online web browsing, then the $199 price sounds pretty good. Kindle Fire is sold at a loss (less than the $201.70 manufacturing cost) in hopes of making profit from content and online shopping. The purchase price even includes a one year subscription to Amazon Prime, a $79/year service offering free 2-day shipping with any Amazon purchase.
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IBM Software Aims to Extend Seniors’ Independent Living

IBM Software Aids Research Aimed at Extending Seniors’ Independent Living

IBM "Smart CondoEDMONTON, Alberta and MARKHAM, Ontario, Nov. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — [CASCON]

IBM today announced its software is being used to correlate data from sensors capturing patient activity and replicate that in a virtual world with avatars that represent the elderly subjects in a unique pilot aimed at providing health researchers and students with insights on how to care for Canada’s aging population.

Since June, 2011, University of Alberta researchers in collaboration with Edmonton’s Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital have been using IBM software to study elderly clients who volunteer to stay in a model, self-contained “independent living suite” at the facility. The suite is instrumented with sensors and equipped with smart devices collecting information about their daily activities.

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UPnP Forum wants TVs to make you Healthier

UPnP logoStaying Well Connected: UPnP Forum Targets Health and Fitness Networking

It’s True — TV Can Now Make You Healthier and May Lower Your Energy-Bills

BEAVERTON, OR–(Marketwire – Nov 15, 2011) – Leading global home networking standards group, UPnP Forum, has announced the formation of an E-Health and Sensors (EHS) Working Committee. The new body intends to address consumer-electronic (CE) industry opportunities in the areas of home personal health and wellness, as well as the increasing availability of sensor applications to monitor and control devices within the home.

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Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Aging & Independent Living Lab

Mayo Clinic Creates Healthy Aging and Independent Living Lab

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation (CFI) is pleased to announce a new “living lab” within the Charter House, a continuing care retirement community in Rochester. Charter House has 400 residents and is physically located in Rochester and physically connected to Mayo Clinic. Rochester is one of the nation’s best cities in which to reside, according to Money Magazine.

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FDA issues graphic cigarette labels

FDA requires graphic warnings on cigarette packsAccording to USA Today, the FDA will soon require tobacco companies to cover the top half of cigarette packs with very graphic anti-smoking images. Their goal is to encourage the nation’s 43 million smokers to quit and prevent millions more from starting, especially teens. It’s about time, and if this was done 30 years ago, my parents might still be alive.

I grew up in a household of smoking parents but thankfully never started myself. I remember long trips in the car and the smell of ash trays.They each smoked 2-3 packs a day – chain smoking.

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Blood Pressure Monitor for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Connected Blood Pressure Monitor for iPad, iPhone and iPod touchWithings Announces US Availability of its
Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Withings combines sophisticated technology and design to transform an ordinary
blood pressure monitor into an accurate health self-monitoring device

Paris, France June 20, 2011 @ 9:00 AM EST– Today, French technology company Withings announced the US availability of its Blood Pressure Monitor (BPM) for iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch®. This Withings BPM, including blood pressure cuff and companion Withings App, is a modern way to measure and record blood pressure readings in the personal and professional arenas.

With more than 25% of the world’s population* affected by hypertension, Withings has combined advanced technology and sophisticated design to create a medical device that is visually attractive, accurate and easy to use at home, in a professional setting or on the go.
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Apple iCloud has implications for home health care

I amended this post with new information shown in red.

On June 6, at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, CEO Steve Jobs introduced iCloud, a new service that addresses a growing problem of keeping our devices in sync, especially since they now each have the ability to create and store data, images, music, and video.

iCloud stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. The service automatically uploads the content, stores it, and pushes it to your other devices, and it’s completely integrated with your apps. That way everything happens automatically, and there’s nothing new to buy or learn. As Jobs put it, “It just all works.”

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MyPlate replaces Food Pyramid

First Lady, Agriculture Secretary Launch MyPlate Icon as a New Reminder to Help Consumers to Make Healthier Food Choices

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.

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