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Selecting Targeted Therapies Online: The Future Of Personalized Cancer Treatment?

The word cancer comes from the greek word for crab “karkinos,” so named by Hippocrates who visualized the tumor and its surrounding vessels looking like a crab, dug stubbornly into the sand with its legs. We know far more about cancer today than the ancient Greeks, but the vision of an entrenched opponent, almost impossible to extract whole, appears to be vividly prescient.

What we have realized over the last half century is that removal of the visible tumor is not enough. Even as we learned how to do bigger and more destructive surgeries, the cancer still managed to sneak back in, growing later at different locations. The crab’s legs are still embedded in the patient.

Thus the discovery that certain chemicals could extinguish these rogue cells opened the modern era of cancer therapy and led to the first “cures” from cancer. Many of these compounds were exquisitely toxic. Early experimenters even used nitrogen mustard, quite literally a poison, as Siddhartha Mukherjee tells in his excellent history of cancer, “The Emperor of All Maladies.”

To many, the battle looked grim. For the founder of CollabRx, who himself was living in the shadow of advanced melanoma, this was the signal to take his expertise in internet information technologies and apply it to cancer. Thus a “biomedical software company” was founded, with the mission:

…to save lives by using information technology to personalize cancer treatments and accelerate research.

The rapid proliferation of knowledge about the molecular underpinnings of different cancers, has brought hope for a new age of “targeted” therapies. These drugs are designed to find and destroy cells with aberrant biochemical pathways, while bypassing the normal body tissues. Immense hopes rest on them. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Managing Diabetes In “Real Time”

The cost of managing chronic diseases is the largest portion of healthcare expenditures in developed countries. For example, the prevalence of adult acquired diabetes has been rising in the United States, in concert with increasing rates obesity. The CDC has termed it an “epidemic,” especially in light of the massive costs incurred by the healthcare system due to diabetes.

The deleterious health effects of many chronic conditions can be diminished by behavior modifications. While few would underestimate the difficulty of having patients lose weight or exercise more, good management of blood sugar in diabetes is both objectively measurable and strongly correlated with reduced end-organ damage.

This is among the reasons why Research2Guidance has recently nominated diabetes as the condition most likely to be most targeted by mobile medical software and devices (mHealth). This finding is part of their recently published Global Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015. This is the same report that also predicted that, in the future, medical apps are likely to be distributed by physicians and healthcare institutions.

This time Research2Guidance is highlighting the portion of the survey where they looked into where mobile devices have the most potential to affect health outcomes. While other chronic conditions such as hypertension and obesity have larger populations, the market researchers felt diabetes had the largest market potential due to the huge cost saving potential, the demographic and geographic overlap between smartphone users and people with diabetes, and the real potential to improve blood sugar management using mobile devices. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Interconnected Medical Apps Of The Future

health 2.0 masthead.jpgAt this past October’s Health 2.0 meeting in San Francisco, many great new ideas about the future of healthcare were presented with a special emphasis on technology. For a great overview check out the keynotes by Jeff Goldsmith & Tim O’Reilly. The conference, organized by Matthew Holt & Indu Subaiya started in 2007 and bills itself as the “the leading showcase of cutting-edge technologies in healthcare.” Those not lucky enough to attend the conferences can follow along on the Health 2.0 blog.

Besides exploring the overarching themes of the future of healthcare in general and health IT in particular, many innovative companies, young and old, gave on-stage demos at the conference. One demonstration in particular stood out for me. This was the demo by the Accelerator Apps Network which showed the future of interconnected companies and applications seamlessly exchanging patient information. The Health 2.0 Accelerator Apps Network is a non-profit industry consortium launched by the Health 2.0 company. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Medical Apps: To Come From A Hospital, Not An App Store?

research2guidance.jpgIn the future your medical apps might come from your hospital, not your app store. So says a recently published report by Research2Guidance, a mobile technology research company based in Germany. In their report, titled “Health Market Report 2010-2015″ the market researchers came to the conclusion that the dominant mode of application distribution in the future will be from doctors, hospitals and other care providers.

The report also painted a bullish picture of healthcare app adoption, estimating that the number of users of mHealth apps on smartphone phones will reach 500m by 2015. However, the revenue from this sector will still be driven mostly by device sales and through provision of services, rather than by paid downloads.

The report preview shows it to be organized into three “dimensions”: a) The smartphone market, b) The current state of the mHealth market & c) mHealth outlook to 2015. One would imagine that the last portion will be the most avidly read read as the numerous stockholders in mHealth — telecoms, device makers, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and entrepreneurs jockey to position themselves in this rapidly-evolving land grab. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Bill Gates At mHealth: How Mobile Health Can Improve Healthcare

bill gates.jpg[We reported last week from the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC -- a conference covering the integration of mobile technologies with medical research, information, diagnosis, treatment, and care.]

One of the highlights of last week’s mHealth Summit was the keynote interview of Bill Gates. While inseparable from his history as founder and leader of Microsoft from 1975 to 2008, his current passion is global health.

Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has now given 3.8 billion (with a “b”) of targeted philanthropy into global health since 1994, he and his wife Melinda are helping bring about profound change to the lives of millions around the world. In a meeting dedicated to exploring the power of mobile devices to shape health in developed and developing countries, Bill Gates eloquently refocussed our attention towards the real urgency of saving the millions of our fellow humans who die needlessly for want of vaccinations or the simplest treatments. 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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