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Latest Posts

Camera Phone Clip-On Device Can Diagnose Cataracts

Researchers at MIT have developed a cheap and easy to use system, called Catra, that uses a cameraphone clip-on device to map out cataracts.

The technology functions by sweeping the eye with a beam of light and using the phone’s camera to detect fuzzy spots. It can provide both a map of the cataracts and maybe help make an overall assessment of whether surgery might be necessary.

From MIT News:

While the standard test for cataracts in an ophthalmologist’s office assigns a score on a scale of 1 to 4 — from no cataracts to completely blocked vision — the new, inexpensive test actually provides much more information. Media Lab graduate student Vitor Pamplona, a member of the team developing Catra, explains that it “scans the lens of the eye and creates a map showing position, size, shape and density of cataracts.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Free Medical Apps Are Usually Paid For By Big Pharma

The medical app industry is a big business, but the apps are no longer the product – the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers who use them are. In the first part of this series, we examined some of the financial forces driving the medical app industry. Our focus then was Epocrates, the veritable founder of the industry. As is clearly stated in their recent SEC statement, Epocrates primary revenue stream has become the pharmaceutical industry and as such a key goal has become to further grow their user base by enhancing their free offerings.

Now, one might be tempted to say that this is just one company or even that it is just limited to free apps. An expected counter-example would be Skyscape, which probably has the largest cache of apps of any developer and nearly all for fee. As a private company, there isn’t much financial data available nor is the website particularly forthcoming, but it does appear that the company has been enjoying some success. A deeper look however suggests they in fact have more in common with Epocrates than you may think. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Counter-Intuitive Results: Several Cancer Screening Tests Don’t Improve Health Outcomes

Nearly forty years ago, President Richard Nixon famously declared a “War on Cancer” by signing the National Cancer Act of 1971. Like the Manhattan Project, the Apollo program that was then landing men on the Moon, and the ongoing (and eventually successful) World Health Organization-led initiative to eradicate smallpox from the face of the Earth, the “War on Cancer” was envisioned as a massive, all-out research and treatment effort. We would bomb cancer into submission with powerful regimens of chemotherapy, experts promised, or, failing that, we would invest in early detection of cancers so that they could be more easily cured at earlier stages.

It was in the spirit of the latter that the National Cancer Institute launched the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Screening trial in 1992. This massive study, which eventually enrolled more than 150,000 men and women between age 55 and 74, was designed to test the widespread belief that screening and early detection of the most common cancers could improve morbidity and mortality in the long term. Not a few influential voices suggested that the many millions of dollars invested in running the trial might be better spent on programs to increase the use of these obviously-effective tests in clinical practice.

They were wrong. As of now, the PLCO study is 0-for-2. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Are Tele-ICUs The Solution To The Critical Care Crisis?

America’s ICUs are in crisis. Consider these staggering statistics: Today’s ICUs Serve 4 million patients annually, with roughly 20 percent mortality rates among those treated. On average, every patient admitted to the ICU suffers 1.7 potentially life threatening errors every day and estimates show that patients only receive half of the therapies that they should. And 50,000 patients annually die in the ICU from preventable deaths.

But research indicates that ICU patients have lower risks of death and shorter ICU and hospital stays when an intensivist is on duty in the ICU and oversees patient care. The mortality reduction has ranged from 15 to 60 percent lower than in ICUs where there are no intensivists. However, the Committee for Manpower for Pulmonary and Critical Care Services predicts a shortage of 10,000 ICU physicians, called intensivists, who have extra training to specialize in the care of the ICU patient. This   national shortage of intensivists makes it extremely difficult to find intensivists that can provide 24/7 care for today’s ICU patients.

The answer to solving this crisis has emerged from the world of telemedicine. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

There’s An App For That: Helping Medical Students Master The Abdominal Exam

1 A strong abdominal exam is a must-have clinical skill for an aspiring healthcare professional.  Diagnoses spanning cirrhosis, appendicitis, hernias, peritonitis, aortic aneurysms, and cholecystitis, for example, can be suspected and even made via abdominal exam.

Unfortunately, secondary to factors which include an increasing dependence on imaging and other diagnostics, time constraints in the practice of medicine, and fewer chances for bedside instruction in medical education with work-hour regulations, physicians rely increasingly less on their physical exam skills today than has been the case in the past.

In that manner, here we review the Answers in Abdominal Examination App, released in May 2011 by Answers in Medicine.  Answers in Medicine, which specializes in presenting medical content via short modules in audio or video format for healthcare professionals, has developed a number of medical apps, including Answers in Alcoholic Liver Disease, Answers in Ulcerative Colitis, Answers in Crohn’s Disease, Answers in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Answers in Dyspepsia, to name several. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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