Tag Archives: health

Low-cost Anemia Screener Connects to Health Workers’ Cell Phones

Concept: To display test results, the HemoGlobe anemia screening device is slipped onto a patient’s finger and connected with a health worker’s cell phone. [Credit: JHU]
It’s estimated that 600,000 newborns and 100,000 mothers in developing countries die of anemia each year. Biomedical engineering undergraduates at Johns Hopkins have developed a low-cost screening device that works with health workers’ cell phones to help combat this devastating disease.

“This device has the potential to be a game-changer. It will equip millions of health care workers across the globe to quickly and safely detect and report this debilitating condition in pregnant women and newborns. The team members realized that every community health worker already carries a powerful computer in their pocket — their cell phone. So we didn’t have to build a computer for our screening device, and we didn’t have to build a display.”

Soumyadipta Acharya, assistant research professor, Johns Hopkins’ Department of Biomedical Engineering

The noninvasive, “prick-free” device, which goes by the name HemoGlobe, is able to detect and report anemia at the community level. To measure blood hemoglobin levels, the HemoGlobe sensor shines various wavelengths of light through the skin on a patient’s fingertip. The color-coded test results are then displayed on a cell phone’s screen.

The results are also used to create a real-time map that shows the prevalence of anemia, which helps health workers follow-up and distribute additional resources.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/jhu-uic072412.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.


Eye-writing Tech May Help People with Limiting Conditions Communicate Freely

Researchers at Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris have made a new discovery that may help people use eye movements to draw and write in cursive. The technology is described in a paper published recently in the online publication Current Biology.

“Contrary to the current belief, we show that one can gain complete, voluntary control over smooth pursuit eye movements. The discovery also provides a tool to use smooth pursuit eye movements as a pencil to draw, write, or generate a signature.”

Jean Lorenceau, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris

Detail: Examples of drawings generated by projecting one’s visual imagery. (Credit: Lorenceau et al., Current Biology)

According to the researchers, the eye-writing technology could make communication easier for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease or other conditions where arm and leg movement capabilities have been lost.

The technology may also help to improve eye movement for those with conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia, the researchers say. In addition, it could prove useful for helping surgeons or athletes to strengthen eye-based skills needed in such professions.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/cp-wic071912.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

3D Cold Virus Model Gives Researchers New Angles for Defense

This is a surface rendering of the common cold virus. [Credit: Mike Kuiper, VLSCI].
With the help of Australia’s fastest supercomputer, researchers are using 3D simulation technologies to better understand the most frequent cause of the common cold. Their work is helping to pave the way for the development of new drug therapies.

Supercomputer technology enables us to delve deeper in the mechanisms at play inside a human cell, particularly how drugs work at a molecular level. This work offers exciting opportunities for speeding up the discovery and development of new antiviral treatments and hopefully save many lives around the world.”

— Professor Michael Parker, SVI

The team includes researchers from St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research (SVI) and the University of Melbourne as well as computational biologists from IBM and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).

The supercomputer being used by the team, the IBM Blue Gene/Q, is ranked currently as Australia’s fastest. It is also, according to the release, “the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to life sciences research in the Southern Hemisphere.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/uom-3mo071612.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Phone Apps Planned for Stroke Patients, Caregivers

SUNY Downstate Medical Center has received an award to develop mobile phone apps to help enhance stroke patient care.

The federally funded Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded $500,000 to SUNY Downstate Medical Center to develop applications for mobile phones designed to help stroke patients and their caregivers.

…progress has been limited in providing successful mobile technology to help patients manage cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and other illnesses. Nevertheless, there is enormous potential for patients and their caregivers to improve health outcomes through this technology, including among the elderly, minorities, and those of limited financial means, who are often most in need of better care. We are looking to develop a model program that will address stroke risk and disease management that will be applicable to other conditions as well.”

— Steven R. Levine, MD, professor of neurology and emergency medicine, SUNY Downstate

The planned smartphone apps will make possible better identification and make it easier to manage healthcare needs and risk factors. The award is part of PCORI’s Pilot Projects Program, whose mission is to support research designed to offer patients, caregivers, and clinicians information to make better healthcare decisions.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/sdmc-sdr070912.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Interactive Website Helps Improve Parents’ Asthma Treatment Compliance

Parents of children with asthma can find it challenging to comply with medical treatment guidelines. However, the results of a new study from Seattle Children’s Research Institute show that online tools can help.

In the study, parents used an interactive web site called “My Child’s Asthma” to help them keep track of their child’s medication usage.

The vast majority of families enrolled in our study liked using ‘My Child’s Asthma,’ and wanted to continue using it. Sustainability is always an issue. But there are numerous benefits from this type of website for the child who has fewer asthma attacks and, subsequently, less hospital and emergency room visits. Parents will have fewer worries about their child’s medical care and the site provides cost savings for the insurer.”

—Dr. Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

The researchers found that with the help of the web site, parents’ compliance with asthma controller medication usage guidelines improved.

“My Child’s Asthma” web site user interface. (Photo: Seattle Children’s Research Institute.)

Goals for the site included increasing positive beliefs about asthma management, optimizing care by increasing provider-prescribed controllers for children with persistent asthma, and promoting controller compliance among children on controllers.

The study was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/sc-wth061312.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

App May Help Improve Heart Failure Patients’ Odds of Survival

For adults in North America, heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalization. Studies have shown that while around 40% of heart failure patients with cardiac symptoms may safely return home from a visit to an emergency department, one of every 11 patients who are discharged dies the following week.

Doctors estimate the risk of heart failure patients in the emergency department based on best clinical judgment which may include different factors depending on their prior experience. However, doctors may overestimate or underestimate the risk of death because the prognosis of heart failure patients may not be clearly apparent by a clinical assessment at the bedside. For those in very poor health or reasonably good health, physicians do a good job, but it’s the middle group where the most improvement can be made. Some of these patients are dying at home or spending days in a hospital bed that they don’t need to be in.”

—Dr. Douglas Lee, cardiologist, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre

To improve patients’ odds of survival, Dr. Lee and other cardiologists at Canada’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre are developing smartphone and web-based applications that can help emergency department physicians determine patients’ risks in real time. Their solution, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is an algorithm, “Emergency Heart Failure Mortality Risk Grade” (EHMRG), which uses 10 simple indicators of potential heart trouble.

Ambulance in Canada
Future plans include web and smartphone applications for seamless integration in the field in Canada and beyond. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The EHMRG risk model provides a diagnostic tool that emergency physicians, consulting cardiologists, or general internists can use to help them decide if the patient’s short-term risk of death warrants continued time in hospital. Future plans include web and smartphone applications for seamless integration in the field, including in developing countries.

To view the EHMRG calculator, click http://www.ccort.ca/EHMRGTerms.aspx

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/uhn-eda060412.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Access to Scientific Research In Developing Areas Grows Significantly

Since 2002, four public-private partnerships have been working together under the collective name of Research4Life to help people in the developing world gain access to vital scientific research.

In May, the partners announced that the content available has increased significantly since 2011. The number of items available has reached 17,000, which includes peer reviewed scientific journals, books, and databases.

The developing world benefits enormously from the online book collections made available by our publisher partners. The new content is a significant addition, more than doubling Research4Life’s information resources previously accessible to researchers and practitioners in low- and middle-income countries.”

— Kimberly Parker, Programme Manager, HINARI (a Research4Life partner organization)

To help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals through access to critical scientific research, Research4Life is providing researchers at over 6,000 institutions in more than 100 developing countries and territories access to peer-reviewed scientific research.

The material is provided by some of the world’s leading science publishers for free or at a low cost online.

A culture of evidence-based practice can no longer be an option but the rule. The publishers involved in the HINARI project should be praised for their commitment to improving access to information to students, researchers and practitioners in some of the poorest countries in the world. Elsevier appears to be leading the way and our hope is that other publishers will follow suit and help achieve the target of ‘Health Information For All by 2015’.”

— Dr. Patrick Kyamanywa, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Rwanda

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/e-rge051612.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.