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EMR And The Pathologist: A Winning Combo

A pathologist uses the EMR to find out just a little more about the patient whose cerebro-spinal fluid she has under her microscope — and changes her diagnosis:

This patient had a diagnosis of plasma cell myeloma with recent acute mental status changes. So the lone plasma cell or two I was seeing, among the lymphs and monos, could indicate leptomeningeal spread of the patient’s disease process. I reversed the tech diagnosis to atypical and added a lengthy comment – unfortunately there weren’t enough cells to attempt flow cytometry to assess for clonality of the plasma cells to cinch the diagnosis. But with the information in the EMR I was able to get a more holistic picture on a couple of cells and provide better care for the patient. I cringe to wonder if I might have blown them off as lymphs without my crutch.

The much-hoped-for improvement in quality due to the adoption of EMRs has been elusive to date, so anecdotal experiences like this will be important evidence to consider in judging the impact of the EMR on healthcare outcomes.

Kudos to pathologist Gizabeth Shyner, who writes over at Mothers in Medicine and her own blog, Methodical Madness,  for “thinking outside the box.”

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

IBM’s Watson Could Revolutionize Healthcare

If you’ve been watching Jeopardy! over the past couple days, you probably know that IBM’s highly-advanced artificial intelligence software, Watson, has been competing against Jeopardy!’s most successful contestants (and as of Tuesday night, took a commanding lead over the humans, despite having some trouble with United States geography).

Besides the amazing ability to power through “Daily Doubles” and answer random trivia in the form of a question, IBM researchers believe that Watson could revolutionize the healthcare industry. From diagnostics to informatics, Watson could quickly search through medical records, clinical documents, and research information for precise answers that would benefit both doctors and patients.

Check out the video below to see physicians explain how Watson’s technology could transform medicine.

Also watch the webcast of Dr. David Ferrucci (Principal Investigator of the DeepQA/Watson project at IBM), Dr. Herbert Chase (Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons), and others discussing the Jeopardy! challenge and the impact the technology behind Watson could have on society.

More information on Watson from IBM…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Disease Detected In Exhaled Breath?

A new sensor developed at Stony Brook University may become a clinically useful tool for detecting disease biomarkers in breath. The nanoprobe-based technology is currently able to detect acetone, but should be modifiable to spot other compounds.

From the study abstract:

This paper describes a sensor nanotechnology suitable for non-invasive monitoring of a signaling gas, such as acetone, in exhaled breath. This is a nanomedicine tool comprised of a selective acetone nanoprobe working on the principle of ferroelectric poling sensing, and a microelectronics circuit for comparing the actual sensor signal to a predetermined threshold value, displaying the result using LED signals. This on/off type non-invasive diagnostics platform technology is based on nanotechnology, gives a fast response, it is simple to operate and inexpensive to manufacture, and may truly revolutionize personalized medicine.

Full story: New Sensor Nanotechnology Developed by Stony Brook University Researchers Simplifies Disease Detection…

Abstract in Sensor Letters: Nanosensor Device for Breath Acetone Detection

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

A Skin Cancer-Detecting Camera?

Yanko, the design blog we highlight occasionally, shows us a device design by Antonia Haaf meant to automatically detect melanoma, called Black Skin Cancer.

Details are vague, as they usually are with concept designs, but the device is meant to be placed over a suspected legion and “[analyze] 2D and 3D characteristics from melanocytic lesions with just one shot. Using a secret algorithm, the device recognizes critical lesions such as the nodular melanome.”

While pretty, commenter Widepers on the site points out: “Frankly, a magnifying glass and the skin doctor’s email might do the trick just as well.”

Yanko Designs: Detector VS Black Skin Cancer

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Detecting Depression In Online Text And Blogs

In a Thought Police kind of way, a new computer program can detect depression through your online writing.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Beer-Sheva, Israel, have developed a program that detects depression in text without obvious terms like “depression” or “suicide.” In a sample of 200 positively-identified texts out of 300,000 which were screened by the program, there was a 78 percent agreement between the program and a panel of psychologists. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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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