3D Printing and Stem Cells Replace Bone

3D printed skull

Using 3D printing, researchers can create scaffolds to repair/replace bone tissue. Shown here: a 3D printed skull.
Photo Credit: © The University of Nottingham

A major cause for concern among the elderly, and those who love them, is bone degeneration. Particularly susceptible to malabsorption, osteoporosis, and nail fungus, which can eat away at the bone if left unaddressed, aging loved ones lean on their children and spouses for support.

In some cases, bone degeneration can be reversed. In most others, it cannot. In the latter, treatment options are limited, and often very painful.

One such treatment is replacement joint surgery. Replacement joint surgeries are performed to allow damaged tendons to heal, and to improve patients’ quality of life. Unfortunately, many replacement joints, including hips and knees, are constructed of metal. Too often, corrosion occurs, leading sometimes to blood poisoning. In many other cases, the body rejects the metal. When this occurs, patients must be rushed into emergency surgery to avoid further complications.

Fortunately, researchers have begun to hatch less painful, user-friendlier alternatives to joint replacement surgery, bone grafts and prostheses, using 3D printingRead More …

Regulations Not Keeping Up with Technology

Health ReformBy Wayne Caswell

The rapid and accelerating pace of tech innovation has profound implications for healthcare delivery & payment, aging, and disability employment, but regulations that support that are spotty or nonexistent.

The good news

“Durable medical equipment” is a class of assistive technology that can be paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance plans. Motorized wheel chairs most often fall into this category. Read More …

The role of Standards in Telehealth

Standards DilemmaNew market research on the convergence of telemedicine and mHealth suggests that “telemedicine now delivered on proprietary devices is becoming obsolete,” and I agree. I first wrote about the role of standards in telehealth two years ago in an article on Video Conferencing for Home Healthcare and have written several articles on the topic of standards since then, including The Smart Refrigerator & Smart Medical Device.

Platform Standards

Earlier this week I weighed in on a LinkedIn discussion of Tablets used in Video Telemedicine. It morphed into a discussion of HIPPA, so the comment I added applies just as much to HIPPA regulations as to the use of standards in telehealth. Read More …

SIRI and 50 cool things your iPhone can do

SIRI logoSmartphones keep getting smarter, and speech recognition apps like SIRI and Google Now are able to learn more about you personally and act on your behalf, even offering information or suggestions before you even think to ask. But what CAN you ask?

Whether you already use an Apple iPhone or want your parents to have one for FaceTime, telehealth, or other applications, this video helps show what Apple’s virtual assistant can do, beyond just sending text messages and setting alarms. Did you know it can also show you pictures of puppies? Or translate things into Morse code? Or flip a coin? Discover how Siri makes your iPhone more helpful (and fun) than you thought. Read More …

Ageing and Brain Science

Science & Technology ConvergenceThis article explores advances in neural engineering research and is based on my interview with Dr. Metin Akay, Founding Chairman of the new Biomedical Engineering Department and the John S. Dunn professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Houston. His discipline unites the fields of engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics with cellular, molecular, cognitive and behavioral neurosciences.

One expected result of these fields converging is to lower health care costs. Another is to extend life, but as Dr. Akay put it, “While it’s very important to live longer, it’s much more important to have quality of life.” Read More …

Tech Tools That Enable Elderly to Age at Home

Senior Woman Reading BookBy Christopher Wise

Nine out of 10 aging Americans want to stay in their homes as they age, an AARP survey discovered. Furthermore, people who reach age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fortunately, advances in technology are available to help these aging Americans remain in their homes for a longer period of time. Let’s take a look at the top tools helping Americans to remain at home while they age:

Remote Pacemaker Monitoring Device

Individuals with pacemakers usually visit their doctors several times each year to have it checked. Some of these individuals can now send data remotely using a standard phone line and a device called a Carelink Home Monitor. Read More …

Beyond Jeopardy!, What is Watson Up To Now?

IBM Watson plays Jeopardy! and wins.By Dr. Martin Kohn, Chief Medical Scientist for IBM Research

Two years ago, IBM’s Watson computer shocked the world when it beat two past grand champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!

Watson isn’t playing around anymore.

Watson and the technological leaps forward that made it so revolutionary — the ability to understand human speech, make sense of huge amounts of complex information in split seconds, rank answers based on probability, and learn from its mistakes — are being put to work.

In health care, Watson is helping doctors tailor medical treatment to every patient’s situation in a time when the amount of medical information is doubling every five years. Read More …

If Air Travel Worked Like Health Care

If the principles of Moore’s Law had been applied to the airline industry…The video below makes fun of the health care industry with a satirical look at what the airline industry would be like if it worked the same way.

Neither industry, however, has shown the same innovation & improvement as the computer industry, which I come from as a retired IBM technologist. To put that statement into perspective, here are some observations.

Moore’s Law and Air Travel

Read More …

Defining Digital Health

Science & Technology Convergence

What’s Digital Health?

According to Paul Sonnier, Head of Digital Health Strategy at Popper and Company, “Digital Health is the convergence of the digital and genetics revolutions with health and healthcare. He sees digital health as empowering us to better track, manage, and improve our own and our family’s health. It’s also helping to reduce inefficiencies in healthcare delivery, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality, and make medicine more personalized and precise.” Read More …

Young Innovators and The Future of Healthcare

Brain InterfaceThis article is about the power of the Internet as a learning and research tool, and the role that young, Internet-savvy innovators are playing as they develop the future of healthcare

Easton LaChappelle

Easton, a 17-year old inventor, spoke recently at TEDxMileHigh about his 3D printing & animatronics project and the future of prosthetic & animatronic limbs. He started this work at age 14 and used the Internet to research and learn about electronics & sensor technologies, programming & modeling software, 3D printing & industrial design, and wireless networking. He’s now living in Houston and working at NASA on robotics projects. Read More …

Moore’s Law and The FUTURE of Healthcare

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk
Which Future

This article examines a future driven by Moore’s Law and the trend of circuits and components getting smaller, faster and cheaper exponentially over time and the eventual blending of science and technology (INFO + BIO + NANO + NEURO). I approach this topic from the unique perspective of an IBM technologist, market strategist, futurist, and consumer advocate. See About the Author and About Modern Health, below, to better understand what shaped this view of the future. You can also see my slide presentation and related articles & infographics at the bottom.

Which Future?

Futurists regularly consider alternative scenarios and examine factors that can steer the future in one direction or another. That way, clients can select a preferred version of the future and know what they might do to make that future happen.

It’s relatively easy to extrapolate past trends, assuming that nothing prevents those trends from continuing at the same rate, but will they? One can also look at what’s possible by tracking research lab activity and then estimating how long it will take to bring those new technologies to market.

But a potentially better approach is to start with a solid understanding of market NEEDS and what drives the development of solutions for them, or factors that inhibit solutions. Changes in politics and public policy, for example, can be a huge driver, with Obamacare as an example, or a huge inhibitor. That’s why I’m so interested in various healthcare reforms that accompany tech innovation. Read More …

The Digital Diagnosis

The Digital DiagnosisAs shown in the infographic below, digital devices with access to the Internet are redefining healthcare and driving a revolution in its delivery systems.

FIRST is the wealth of medical information available online and the tools to find and make sense of it. This helps medical professionals and patients alike, and consumers can now take more responsibility for their own wellness. Realizing they have a greater stake in the game than their physician, they’re regularly engaging in online conversations using social media or searching online websites like WebMD, PatientsLikeMe and mHealthTalk for healthcare information.

NEXT is mobility, with smartphones, tablet computers, and Read More …

Technology Must-Haves for the Over-50 Crowd

Using an iPadBy Dr. Alexis Abramson

When it comes to technology, businesses are realizing that the 50+ demographic — which has at times been overlooked in terms of the marketing of new technologies — is actually extremely interested in innovative “50+ friendly” technology.

As a matter of fact, the marketplace for technology to assist aging adults is expected to grow sharply from $2 billion today to more than $20 billion by 2020, according a report from Aging in Place Technology Watch — and boomers are going to be on the receiving end of the advancements and innovations.

I’m often asked about 50+ technology in my Dr. Alexis Approved blog — so I thought I would share a few of the most frequently asked questions.  I hope they help you learn more about the advanced technology (and fun gadgets!) available for boomers, caregivers and seniors. Read More …

The New Era of Connected Aging

I’m happy to promote a new report by the Center for Technology and Aging and include information from its Executive Overview. This organization primarily serves the healthcare industry with a mission similar to ours, described as, “To improve the independence of older adults dealing with chronic health care issues by promoting the adoption and diffusion of beneficial technologies.”
Click to view "The New Era of Connected Aging," a report by the Center for Technology and Aging

A Framework for Understanding Technologies
that Support Older Adults in Aging in Place

The United States is a rapidly aging nation. (Aging is actually a global problem. -editor) A demographic change is quickly outstripping the capacity of family caregivers, providers, and programs and services that serve the aging population. To address the impending increase in the demand for health care and long-term care, new programs must be created that reinforce the ability of older adults to thrive in their homes and communities, and support them in aging independently.

We are at the dawning of “connected aging” in which the growing array of Internet-based technologies and mobile devices increasingly will support older adults in aging in place. Emerging technologies will enable both older adults and their caregivers to address a comprehensive range of medical, health, social, and functional needs. In addition, technology-based solutions that connect older adults to friends, family, and the community are becoming more viable; older adults and their caregivers are growing increasingly tech savvy; technology usability is improving; and price points are descending. As indicated in Figures 1 and 2 older adults’ use of technology, whether it be social networking, text messaging, use of the internet, or use of mobile phones/tablets, is growing at an ever increasing rate.

Read More …

Study: Vision Loss and Assistive Technologies Vary Widely

Magnify ThisLow Vision Survey Results

Guest article by Jared Smith

Results of WebAIM’s recent survey for those with low vision are now available at http://webaim.org/projects/lowvisionsurvey/. A few highlights are found below. The results of our motor disabilities survey will be available soon.

This data underscores that users with low vision are very diverse. The range of vision loss varies greatly, as do the assistive technologies used. The vast majority of respondents use multiple assistive technologies, ranging from screen readers to simply changing text sizes in browsers. There is very high keyboard use in this population, strengthening arguments for ensuring keyboard accessibility. Read More …

Under Skin Blood Test Sends Lab Results to Phone

Under-skin Lab-on-a-Chip has 7 sensors to detect blood compoundsSwiss researchers have unveiled a prototype “lab on a chip” that is surgically implanted in the interstitial tissue just beneath the skin, where it analyzes compounds in the blood, and sends results to a phone or tablet through wireless radio connections.

How does it work? The microchip has seven chemical & molecular sensors and gets inductive power from a patch worn on top of the skin. Every 10 minutes the collected data is sent through the patch and a Bluetooth connection to a patient or doctor via smartphone or tablet.

Although the device will not be widely available for at least a few years, its potential practical applications are widespread and include:

  • Glucose monitoring in diabetics, more frequently and without a finger prick.
  • Post surgery patient monitoring
  • Facilitate predictive medicine, including a pending heart attack
  • Measure metabolism and drug absorption
  • Athletes monitoring fluids & nutrition

Video:  Read More …

Printing Your Own Medicine… and Organs

Chemist Lee Cronin is working on a 3-D printer that, instead of objects, is able to print molecules. It has exciting long-term potential: printing your own personalized medicine using chemical inks. The 3-minute TED talk below paints a fascinating view of the , but a great many issues remain. Following the video are two related TED talks with more near-term impact.

My reaction

I was amused at the comments on TED.com and had to add my own…

So will the use of illegal narcotics and abuse of prescription drugs explode? Where will we buy the “ink,” and can it be ordered online? Will the cartridges be refillable? Will we need a new constitutional amendment to ensure “the right to bear printers” or the “right to buy ink?” Who will profit from this new industry and lobby for the new laws and regulatory oversight (or lack of it)? As with any disruptive technology, there are many new questions, and there will be many incumbents fighting to preserve the status quo. Read More …

Big Data and the Future of Healthcare

Accessible introduction transcript…

  • Every day technology makes new things possible, and some predict that it’s just a matter of time until technology completely revolutionizes healthcare.
  • Some believe that medical diagnosis, general patient care, and medical practices are more expensive and inferior than they need to be.
  • The problem with health care is that it’s often the practice of medicine, rather than the science of medicine, as most medical decisions are simply based on tradition, a doctor’s limited medical knowledge, and the patient’s known symptoms and medical history.
  • The result? Three doctors could diagnose a problem three different ways. This can be a serious issue.
  • Over 40,000 patients die in the ICU in the U.S. each year due to misdiagnosis.
  • The solution? Big Data. Some believe medicine can become more of a science, rather than practice, by relying on technology.

INFOGRAPHIC follows…  Read More …