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Latest Posts

iPhone App Can Substitute For Expensive Pulse Oximeter

The Electrical and Computer Engineering in Medicine (ECEM) research group in collaboration with the Pediatric Anesthesia Research Team (PART) at the University of British Columbia have developed a mobile solution to measuring key vital signs — called the “Phone Oximeter”.

The Phone Oximeter uses a traditional FDA approved pulse oximetry sensor, but researchers have modified it to interface with a phone, in this case, your iPhone. Currently the setup is being interfaced with an iPhone for trial studies, but is compatible with Android, and other mobile operating systems.

What makes the Phone Oximeter special is its ability to capture SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation), heart rate, and respiratory rate — then dynamically comprehend the variables using the decision support software, giving medical staff or even laymen individuals key help in making decisions on medical care.

So how would a device like this be useful in the medical setting? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Uncover Your Heart Disease Risk With A Wrist Band Device?

A study published in journal Chest has shown that novel intra-sleep pulse oxymetry can be an effective modality in identifying cardiovascular disease risk in patients. In the study, a modified version of Weinmann‘s SOMNOcheck micro oximeter was used to observe pulse wave attenuation, heart rate acceleration, pulse propagation times, as well as respiration-related pulse oscillations and oxygen desaturation episodes. All the collected data was analyzed by an algorithm, and the prognostic results were checked against European Society of Hypertension/European Society of Cardiology (ESH/ESC) risk factor matrix.

Some details from the study abstract: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Postoperative Care And “The Black Swan”

This is a guest post by J. Paul Curry, M.D.

I was inspired when I lost my best friend 15 years ago to a common medical-error phenomenon: The lack of monitoring patients in the hospital.

Losing Mark altered my entire career in medicine and started me on a long journey of trying to understand how this particular problem happens. The journey has been eye-opening for me for many reasons, and probably most importantly by striving to learn and understand how the human brain can deceive itself into believing that thoughtful, rational, goal-directed tactics are always the solution to finding the answers to highly-complex enigmas.

Actually, the blockbusting solutions that change the course of our culture — how we do things — are most often totally unpredictable and discovered by accident by disruptive innovators, such as Dr. Larry Lynn of the Sleep and Breathing Research Institute, willing to tinker on their own and against the grain of thousands of smart people who dismiss this kind of outlier work as fantasy. To get just how often this happens and why, I’d invite those unfamiliar with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s work to read “The Black Swan : The Impact of the Highly Improbable” and other books of his. This is what we’re up against today.

I was recently operated on, having a significant multi-level back surgery at one of the outstanding university spine programs in the country, supported by one of the elite anesthesia programs. I was told by the resident that I’d be going to the general care floor following my surgery, where I’d be checked on regularly. This was a given because I’m a fitness fanatic, but the resident wasn’t prepared for my followup questions. As I probed for more detail, it became apparent that no one in the organization had any inkling that nursing checks only occurring every four or eight hours on a patient fresh from surgery with patient-controlled narcotics was less than standard of care.

I told them I have mild sleep apnea and wanted pulse oximetry at minimum. I had to be upgraded to telemetry to get it. What’s more interesting is that there was so little understanding of this problem that they put me on pulse oximetry in a room where the only one who could watch it was me — the patient. Read more »

Monitor Your Heart Rate With Your iPhone Headphones

Imagine jogging, listening to music, and being able to keep track of your heart rate without needing a special watch or chest belt — common forms of attempting to monitor heart rates while jogging. Now, imagine not requiring any extra peripherals at all — just your iPhone and a special set of headphones that can monitor your heart rate.

Swiss technology-transfer company CSEM has created the final prototype for their Pulsear device. It’s a tiny device embedded in a regular earphone and it sends infrared signals through the tissues in your ear to see how fast your heart is beating. A photo diode records the results and sends the information to your phone via the earphone wires. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Less-Invasive Science: Not Always Better Science

One of the disturbing trends I have been observing in physiology is the tendency to move away from many of the gold standard, invasive measurements classically described in the scientific literature to non-invasive measures which may or may not accurately reflect the parameter of interest.

One of these non-invasive measurements (which is not used in any of the manuscripts on my desk) that has become the bane of my existence is to use the saturation of hemoglobin in arterial blood (SPO2) as a surrogate for the partial pressure of arterial blood (PO2). SPO2 is measured with a device called a pulse oximeter.

Pulse oximeter

 Figure 1: A fingertip pulse oximeter. This device indicates that this individuals arterial hemoglobin is 98 percent saturated and his heart rate is 73 beats/min. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

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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