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Questioning Mobile Health

This is something. Jay Parkinson on the Future Well blog has suggested that health apps are overrated. Then on Twitter came a remark that the post represented “fightin’ words.” While I think the tweet was in jest, I’m sure there are some who will take offense to the less-than-flattering remarks about our coveted health apps.

We love the concept of health apps for what they represent more than for what they really offer us. We want to feel that we’ve got it all in the palm of our hand. After all, technology might do for us what we won’t do for ourselves.

Like Jay I’m underwhelmed, but I don’t think that’ll always be the case. The post’s criticism should start a conversation about what’s real in mobile health and what isn’t. Even the fantasy of Health 2.0 has been questioned, and that’s a good thing. This dialog about reality versus rainbows and unicorns needs to continue.

Youngme Moon in Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd wrote, “The way to keep criticism from devolving into cynicism is to make it a starting point rather than a punctuation mark.” Jay Parkinson’s post is a starting point.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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*

Fire Department App: “There’s A Hero In All Of Us”

Just admit it: Deep in your heart you’ve always wanted to be an emergency medical technician, if at least for a few moments. If you’re located in San Ramon Valley, California, you can now live that dream: The local fire department has released an iPhone app that will alert you of any emergency activity in the area.

The well thought-out application will send out a push notification to users who have indicated that they are proficient in CPR whenever there is a cardiac emergency nearby. In addition, the closest public-access automated external defibrillator (AED) is located by the app. Current response status of dispatched units are shown and incident locations are pinpointed on an interactive map. There’s even a log of recent incidents including a photo gallery. For the old-school ham and scanner lads, it’s possible to listen in on live emergency radio traffic. The app is available for free.

Homepage: Fire Department…

iTunes link: Fire Department…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Text-To-Braille Conversion Via Touch-Sensitive “Thimble”

While Braille can give the blind the ability to read, much of the text one encounters is not available in Braille (and our increasing dependence on touch-screen smartphones isn’t helping.) Two students at the University of Washington hope to solve this problem with their concept device, which they have termed the “Thimble.” The Thimble contains a fingertip camera and an electro-tactile grid which can read text and convert it to touch-sensitive Braille. The device can also interface with a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth for reading online content.

Source: “Thimble”: Another smartphone-enabled concept for the visually impaired

(Hat Tip: Engadget)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Your Hydration Needs Monitored By An Intelligent Water Bottle

Imagine a water bottle that knows how hard and how far you are running, how much you’re drinking, what’s the outside temperature, and, based on all these variables, the device calculates when you need to have a drink. Cambridge Consultants have developed the i-dration bottle that does just that.

From the press release:

Intelligent sensors in the i-dration bottle can be used to monitor the external temperature, drinking frequency and quantity, and this data is then sent via Bluetooth to its user’s smartphone. The phone’s inbuilt accelerometer and gyroscope can measure exercise levels, and by “fusing” the data from a heart rate chest-band and information pre-entered using the smartphone interface (such as height, age and weight), the application can perform an assessment of a user’s hydration levels. The i-dration bottle then responds accordingly by flashing a blue light if the athlete needs to drink more. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

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I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

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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

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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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