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The Simple Truth About Cholesterol

The New York Times recently ran a piece that wondered if doctors were treating patients with cholesterol-lowering medication unnecessarily because a web-based calculator over estimated a person’s risk. The program was proudly sponsored by the pharmaceutical roundtable and was available at the American Heart Association.

The implication was obvious. Simple tool determines an individual’s risk for heart attack or death from heart attack. It over estimates risk. Patients treated unnecessarily. To be also clear, the program did underestimate risk as well.

Unfortunately, the article missed an important point. While the simplified calculator may not be as accurate as the more complex algorithm used by the National Cholesterol Education Program, the truth is doctors are likely to be overtreating patients not because the former program is presented by the pharmaceutical roundtable, but for another reason. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Wondering If Mom Is Safe? New System Can Call And Check For You

FineThanx is a new automated phone system that automatically calls your sick or elderly family members at home to check on how they’re doing.

The system can check in with loved ones once or twice a day, and if no one answers or the person is unwell, the system calls a member of his or her ”care circle.”

If everything is fine, the FineThanx system will send you a report by email, so you can continue working or finish those 18 holes of golf, then check in for reassurance on your iPhone or personal computer afterwards.

Listen to a sample call here.

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

How To Reach Your Fitness Goals Wirelessly

I recently come across BodyTrace, a nice way to combine a bathroom scale that wirelessly uploads and displays your weight and BMI and a website where you can track all the changes with visualized solutions. An excerpt from the description:

We are using the GSM network to transmit your weight to our website. We use these measurements to create weight and BMI charts and by combining this information with additional data that we collect (from food tracker, for example) we can better evaluate your progress and give you feedback on how to reach your goals.

They also have a collaboration with DailyBurn. You can read the whole story from the first idea on the blog.

See more examples of how Web 2.0 or social media can be used in fitness here.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Does Social Media Break Down Valid Health Information?

This is the era of evidence-based social media as more and more papers focusing on medicine and social media are coming out. An interesting paper was published a few days ago in the American Journal of Infection Control. Scanfeld et al. tried to reveal the rate of misunderstanding or misuse of antibiotics in Twitter messages in their study: Dissemination of health information through social networks: Twitter and antibiotics.

BACKGROUND: This study reviewed Twitter status updates mentioning “antibiotic(s)” to determine overarching categories and explore evidence of misunderstanding or misuse of antibiotics.

METHODS: One thousand Twitter status updates mentioning antibiotic(s) were randomly selected for content analysis and categorization. To explore cases of potential misunderstanding or misuse, these status updates were mined for co-occurrence of the following terms: “cold + antibiotic(s),” “extra + antibiotic(s),” “flu + antibiotic(s),” “leftover + antibiotic(s),” and “share + antibiotic(s)” and reviewed to confirm evidence of misuse or misunderstanding.

RESULTS: Of the 1000 status updates, 971 were categorized into 11 groups. Cases of misunderstanding or abuse were identified for the following combinations: “flu + antibiotic(s)” (n = 345), “cold + antibiotic(s)” (n = 302), “leftover + antibiotic(s)” (n = 23), “share + antibiotic(s)” (n = 10), and “extra + antibiotic(s)” (n = 7).

CONCLUSION: Social media sites offer means of health information sharing. Further study is warranted to explore how such networks may provide a venue to identify misuse or misunderstanding of antibiotics, promote positive behavior change, disseminate valid information, and explore how such tools can be used to gather real-time health data.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

How Will The iPad Fare In Healthcare?

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBaseThe first iPad reviews are out, and they’re very positive. Here’s a selection of the reviews (compiled by MacRumors):

And here’s a roundup of recent medical blogs commentary on the iPad:

iMedical Apps has a nice review of how 5 medical apps might appear on the iPad, including the Blausten Human Atlas, Visual Dx Mobile, Procedures Consult, OsiriX and eFilm, and Papers.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog features a review of Carter’s Encyclopedia of Health and Medicine, an app designed specifically for the iPad. (This is not an eBook, but a full app with searchable interactive skeletons, etc.)

CareCloud, a new cloud-based EHR, plans to have an iPad version. Epic already has an iPhone app and presumably will have an iPad version available. Allscripts is rumored to have an upcoming EHR for the iPad. (No word on whether other EHRs plan on having an iPad app. If you have any information, please post a comment.)

According to Macworld, 1 in 5 doctors plan to buy an iPad. The Practice Fusion Blog has a discussion of other iPad-related surveys of doctors and healthcare professionals.

Healthcare Technology Online has a discussion of the pros of cons of the iPad in healthcare. Read more »

This post, How Will The iPad Fare In Healthcare?, was originally published on Healthine.com by Joshua Schwimmer, M.D..

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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