Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Cardiologist Discusses Upcoming mHealth Summit

Post image for Dr. Eric Topol discusses this “extraordinary time” in medicine #mHS11

Dr. Eric Topol

It is hard to easily comprehend the depth and breadth of Dr. Topol’s career. He has been a major figure in cardiology, genomics and wireless health while also assuming leadership positions in landmark institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic and the Scripps Institute in La Jolla.

As chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, he led the program to become number one for heart care. He was lead investigator on numerous national & worldwide cardiovascular clinical trials and started a medical school at the Clinic. He was also among the first physicians nationwide to call attention to the potential cardiac dangers of Vioxx. His very public criticism of Merck and the FDA brought to light the intimate but not always visible connections between the pharmaceutical industry and academic medicine.

Later he moved to San Diego, where he currently serves as director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, Chief Academic Officer for Scripps Health and Professor of Translational Genomics. He has been a leading proponent of wireless medicine for more than a decade. He co-founded the West Wireless Health Institute with Gary and Mary West who contributed the initial $45m gift to start the Institute and have since committed an additional $100m to found a not-for-profit venture fund for wireless health companies. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Institute which is dedicated to “innovating, validating, and advocating for the use of technologies including wireless medical devices to transform medicine.” Be sure to check out our recent interview of WWHI chief executive Don Casey.

Dr. Topol is delivering the opening keynote for the mHealth Summit on December 5. His new book “The Creative Destruction of Medicine” is also making its debut at the Summit as an e-book, available to meeting attendees. Read below to hear his thoughts on the mHealth Summit and wireless platforms’ potential to improve health & transform the practice of medicine.

Why are you participating in the mHealth Summit? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

The Myriad Uses Of The iPad In The Operating Room

Post image for Future Uses for the iPad in the Operating Room: a Game Changer ?

As we discussed in the first of this two part series, mobile devices are already entering the world of the surgeon. Currently, it is mostly downloadable apps that promise to help surgeons with the informational portions of their tasks, such as tracking the cases they have done, e.g. Surgichart or helping in the consent process, e.g. Surgery Risk

While apps that are dedicated to the technical aspects of surgery, such as the excellent AO Surgery Reference, are becoming available, in the future we will see the iPad (or its brethren) actually in the operating room. Why ? Because the iPad has many characteristics that make it a great an advanced surgical instrument.

First is its small size. Every modern operating room has stacks of electronic equipment hanging from the ceiling or in large cabinets for patient monitoring and controlling in-field devices. Since the iPad already supports a bevy of standard wireless communication protocols, many of these large boxes’ functions could likely be off-loaded to an iPad with clever engineering. One immediate advantage would be that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

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*

What Is Telebaby?

There are more and more premature babies, and the situation for their parents is dramatic. They would love to be with their newborn 24 hours a day, but in most cases they obviously can’t.

At the Dutch UMC Ultrecht, they’ve launched a project under the name Telebaby, in which cameras were installed at the incubators and parents can watch their child live 24 hours a day — even through a mobile device.

The system is password protected, of course, so only the parents can access the specific video channels. Isn’t it great? A very human but not that expensive idea — a really Dutch approach.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Newt Gingrich’s Take On Facebook Saving A Woman’s Life

I’ve seen at least half a dozen links to the op-ed coauthored by Newt Gingrich and neurosurgeon Kamal Thapar about how the doctor used information on Facebook to save a woman’s life. (It was published by AOL News. Really.)

In brief, a woman who had been to see a number of different health care providers without getting a clear diagnosis showed up in an emergency room, went into a coma and nearly died. She was saved by a doctor’s review of the detailed notes she kept about her symptoms, etc., which she posted on Facebook. The story is vague on the details, but apparently her son facilitated getting the doc access to her Facebook page, and the details posted there allowed him to diagnose and treat her condition. She recovered fully.

Newt and Dr. Thapar wax rhapsodic about how Facebook saved a life, and sing the praises of social media’s role in modern medicine. (I’m not sure how this really fits in with Newt’s stance on health reform, within his 12-step program to achieve the total replacement of the Left…but, hey, nobody has the patience these days for so many details anyway.)

Regular readers of HealthBlawg know that I would perhaps be the last to challenge the proposition that social media has a role to play in health care. However, I think Newt got it wrong here. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »