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Musing on the Interaxon Muse Meditation Headband

"For this calibration, find a comfortable position and take a deep breath". The computer brain interface world is getting int...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Business Insider Intelligence - repost - Digital Health Briefing Iphone Research Kit

BI Intelligence

Apple builds out iPhone as a clinical tool — China's largest insurer touts digital health as the future — Automated claims present $11 billion savings opportunity - CLONE

Nicky Lineaweaver | June 18, 2018
Good morning! DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING is delivered first thing every morning exclusively to Business Insider Intelligence members and BRIEFING subscribers.
Have feedback? We'd like to hear from you. Write me at: lbeaver@businessinsider.com

APPLE TRANSFORMS IPHONE INTO CLINICAL-GRADE TOOL WITH RESEARCHKIT UPDATES: A host of new functions in Apple’s ResearchKit 2.0 update point to an iPhone that could serve as a digital medical assistant. The new version of ResearchKit — Apple’s developer framework that allows researchers to build and maintain apps that track health data — includes features that can collect data from speech, hearing, and vision tests. The latest updates are a part of Apple’s efforts to turn the iPhone and Apple Watch into invaluable devices for the medical community.
For the healthcare community, the ResearchKit framework presents an opportunity to greatly improve clinical trial participation and, therefore, the validity of the results.Developing new treatments is an expensive and lengthy process, with a high failure rate. The average development time for a new drug is 12 years and costs in excess of $2.5 billion, for example. Further, around 90% of medicines in human studies fail. Apps using ResearchKit could help to reduce barriers for participants by adapting the design of clinical trials to suit the daily routine of patients, leading to a more nuanced understanding of the disease being tested and potentially higher success rates in medical studies. One of the biggest benefits of ResearchKit is that mobile apps can provide more accurate data for clinical studies. Typically, patients in clinical trials have to self-report historical health data over a specific time in a diary. However, self-reporting has not been an effective way to track events like seizures — for example, over 40% of generalized tonic-clonic seizures are not reported by patients. Apps built using ResearchKit can more effectively track events during clinical studies.
As Apple expands the capabilities of ResearchKit, it opens the door for a wider variety of experiments to be run, further entrenching the company within the healthcare landscape. For example, in April 2018, pharma giant Novartis launched a new product on Apple’s ResearchKit platform to validate whether iPhones could be used in eye studies. The company hopes the offering will broaden its reach of participants, increasing the validity of the clinical trial.

bii apple researchkit 2.0 update
TOP CHINESE INSURER TOUTS DIGITAL HEALTH ECOSYSTEM AS WAY OF THE FUTURE: China-based Ping An Group, one of the largest insurers in the world, views an ecosystem of digital services as integral to the company’s vision of health, CIO Jonathan Larsen told digital health hub StartUp Health last week. Ping An is looking to expand its telemedicine platform, Ping An Good Doctor, beyond the 192 million registered users it currently serves into new international markets. The company’s also looking at how investing in new tech can add value to its services — like mobile health (mHealth) services that put more patient data in the hands of its telemedicine providers, and AI-enabled diagnostic imaging for use in Ping An clinics. Expanding these digital offerings could help attract more patients to Ping An's services. Moreover, offering patients more digital tools means Ping An can potentially capture more patient data, which it can use to encourage health-improving behaviors that help to cut reimbursement costs.

Infoway - repost -Current and Potential Value of Canadians’ Secure Access to Their Health Information and Digital Health e-Services

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Current and Potential Value of Canadians’ Secure Access to Their Health Information and Digital Health e-Services


In collaboration with the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC), Infoway recently completed a comprehensive study to estimate the evidence-based value of citizen access to their health information and a set of digital health e-services. Grounded by 2016-2017 citizen-reported utilization of four e-services, the study produced quantitative value-based estimates across a set of evidence-based indicators and highlights important areas of opportunity for research and implementation.

Join us on Tuesday, June 26 at 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET to learn about the study results and get the most current access and utilization of e-services stats from our 2018 survey of Canadians.

  • Chad Leaver, Director, Performance Analytics, Canada Health Infoway​
  • Christina Hackett, Senior Research Associate, Social Research Demonstration and Corporation
This webinar will be presented in English only.
Register now

La valeur actuelle et potentielle de l’accès sécurisé des Canadiens à leurs renseignements médicaux et à des services de santé numériques

Description :

En collaboration avec la Société de recherche sociale appliquée (SRSA), Inforoute a récemment effectué une étude approfondie afin d'évaluer la valeur probante d'un accès des citoyens à leurs renseignements médicaux et à un ensemble de services de santé numériques. À partir des données relatives à l'utilisation déclarée par les citoyens de quatre services électroniques en 2016-2017, l'étude a permis de produire des estimations quantitatives de la valeur pour un éventail d'indicateurs probants. Elle met également en relief les domaines très prometteurs pour la recherche et l'implantation.

Soyez des nôtres le mardi 26 juin de 14 h à 15 h HE pour avoir un aperçu des résultats de l'étude et obtenir les statistiques les plus récentes tirées de notre sondage 2018 auprès des Canadiens concernant l'accessibilité et l'utilisation des services électroniques.

Présentateurs :
  • Chad Leaver, directeur, Analytique du rendement, Inforoute Santé du Canada
  • Christina Hackett, associée principale de recherche, Société de recherche sociale appliquée
Ce webinaire sera donné en anglais seulement.
Inscrivez-vous maintenant
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

eHealth forever or technology forever?

I have been writing this "ehealth enabled browser" blog on eHealth since after I graduated with a M.Sc. in eHealth in 2012. I will probably be spending a lot less time blogging here. I still enjoy following the various topics and points of interest that I have encountered in digital health.  Recently one of the great health informatics bloggers, Dr. John Halamka - the Geek Doctor - has decided to wind down his blog. Looks like he is taking more to the twitter sphere. I highly recommend you check that out if you are interested in Health Informatics (or life in general).

A little while ago something I read inspired me to think about writing the ebook version of the "ehealth enabled browser" that I have run here on the earthspiritendless URL at blogspot.ca  Turns out I may have received more inspiration than the perspiration necessary to do that. For the time being, I will settle for writing this post. This will try to encapsulate what I think I have learned by following digital health during this blog experience. To start off  - let me try to explain the significance of the title of this post - eHealth forever or technology forever?

I saw a TED talk where I heard that essentially "technology lives forever" (Kevin Kelly - How Technology Evolves). To illustrate this point the presenter used the example of a steel plow, the kind our ancestors not so long ago pulled behind horses or oxen. A schematic or blueprint of this technology would allow anyone with the technology to replicate it - in essence, bringing it back to life. The technology will last many hundreds of years and would still exist in some less than functional form even after the warranty expires. When it is totally broken, you create another one. Maybe the most difficult thing is just preserving the knowledge and information to manufacture it.  Well, biological beings might appear to be in the same category - cloning DNA - but let's face it, we break down more permanently than the technology we have created. Which leads me to the URL name for this blog - earthspiritendless. The final word is going to be that none of this matters and that only the Earth abides. Nothing lasts forever.

I can't remember why I named this blog URL earthspiritendless when it was supposed to be about digital health and the study of health informatics. The title of the blog - "an ehealth enabled browser" - suggests a blog about someone "browsing" or reading about ehealth.  The URL name actually comes from the English translation for a Tibetan name a Tibetan Rinpoche (reincarnated Lama) gave me in Bodhgaya, India. It is not a riff on the sports wear company that makes earthspirit brand running shoes. I always did have some fear that the company would track me down and accuse me of infringing on their brand or something. The fact of the matter is that there is no connection between ehealth and the Tibetan "nom de religion".

Since eHealth has a computer science focus there is always going to be an attraction to future technologies - for as we know - technology evolves. If you want to try to follow where computer technology is going in the future, there would be no better futurologist to consult than Ray Kurzweil, currently Chief Engineer at Google. It was by reading his books and starting this blog that I began to see a convergence in the ideas of transhumanism, the singularity, and health informatics - a future where we need to learn how about the role of the health care system along with life extension concepts and technologies. I also read his weekly Accelerating Intelligence reports on new discoveries in science and technology, and have a link to it on the blog.

In the field of eHealth itself one of my overall impressions is the continual need for research and systematic reviews on the efficacy of eHealth for improving health and quality of life, as well as a return on investment. The latter just means an improvement in the quality of life. This is where the great service of such academic venues as the Journal of Medical Internet Research is focused. If I was to go back 7 years with a serious intent to study eHealth - toward a PhD for example - I would be busy reading, saving and studying journal articles. eHealth is a business, computer science, and health science interdisciplinary work, and it is always important to keep that in mind when reading and assessing journal articles.

I suppose if I was to generalize about what I have reviewed in digital health into categories of most interest to me and this blog, I could come up with something like this:
  1. Careers
  2. Ethics of Technology
  3. Life Extension
  4. Personal Health Records - Toward the Quantified Self
  5. Spiritual machines

A spiritual master was once asked what is man's greatest need and the answer was "having work to do". Sorry I don't have a reference for that or even if I have reworded that correctly, but it really means that we find no real meaning in life unless we do work.  Health Informatics as an educational program is an applied field where internships are developed, so it is career oriented from the beginning. One reason I studied it was the possibility of making a career change into what I perceived was an exciting field that had many new developments on the horizon. This blog was never going to provide me with an income from the google ads ( I made enough to buy a few cups of coffee so thanks for those clicks!). I once thought of extending it as a possible business and I secured an URL called ehealthenabled.ca with the intent of developing a site/service for ways of empowering people to use ehealth technology.

That ehealthenabled.ca site didn't run for longer than a year, and I used it mostly to explore again web development in the suite of web hosting software one finds in Control Panel. I learned that WordPress is better than blogspot for creating content. My problem was that I didn't really know what kind of content to bring to market. I had a vague sort of idea that what we need for public and preventative health were ehealth technology "garages" in every neighbourhood. When cars were mechanically breaking down all the time, every neighbourhood had a repair garage - all gone now as pumping stations have consolidated and cars no longer break down as frequently.  These self-service or consultant oriented ehealth stations would also have exercise equipment and all kinds of mobile ehealth technology available, including DIY ultrasound, tDCS etc - after working through the health, safety and privacy concerns of course. We know now how important exercise is for health and having access to resistance training equipment -and/or health coaches - is a fundamental health technology.

The other and perhaps most interesting aspect about an eHealth career is the current potential for entrepeneurship, start-ups, and innovation. eHealth is an applied field, an application of ideas and technologies to solve ever changing and challenging problems in healthcare. I have participated in several Health Hackathons and it would have been great to get involved in some of these types of activities a lot earlier. I would also like to turn the clock back a few more years so I wouldn't miss the mobile app programming bus! Knew that one was coming - did nothing much about it.

Ethics of Technology

Since I work professionally in an ethics related career ( university research ethics) I naturally have had an interest in technology and ethics. For many years I was more interested in bioethics generally and have some courses and conferences under my belt (including a conference presentation on RFID privacy and security concerns in Healthcare). In the past several years there has been a strong shift towards just focusing on the ethics of new technologies and I trace this back when Demi Hassabis sold his DeepMind artificial intelligence gaming software company to Google. Forming an ethics technology committee was a condition of the sale to Google. There is relevance to eHealth a lot here because at Google, Deep Mind went on to develop Alpha-Go the AI that defeated the best Go players in the world. Alpha-Go is also being used in Healthcare, much like IBM's Watson.

There is a really comprehensive research group that also has an open source journal called the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies -  https://ieet.org/. It is interesting to follow this group. I once tried to interest them in publishing an essay I wrote about Steve Mann but I ended up posting it on my Linkedin page - a version of it at least.

Life Extension

I think I only seriously became interested in how life extension related to eHealth by reading Ray Kurzweil. Medicine is more and more becoming an information science apparently. I think the corner was turned on that once medical reference libraries went digital. Living forever is a serious science fiction theme but if Ray is right and exponential changes is happening in computer power, discoveries in science are going to accelerate.  The idea that we should be trying to stay healthy to live longer is not new, but the idea that we should seriously try to stay healthy in order to possibly benefit by new life extension technologies that will be available after the singularity - in 2030? - certainly is a new deck of cards.  The movie Elysium, one of probably a thousand or so that explore life extension idea sin science fiction had a credible healthcare technology that could cure any disease.

Is this something I personally want and help strive to attain? Something like this is a foundational and massively transformational (thank you Peter Diamandis for that concept)  movement and revolution in healthcare where the ethics of maintaining quality of life is so vital. What if we as individuals don't have a choice for how long we are going to live if even the dictates of healthcare ethics say we have to be preserved in some form of silicon based artificial intelligence while our biological DNA is being reprogrammed for cellular regeneration. Maybe it will just come down to a duty to care?

Another spiritual master was asked what was the secret to his longevity and health and he replied "Living off the interest of my investments". Sorry - no reference for that anywhere on the Internet at the moment. Maybe I heard that before the internet.

Personal Health Records - Toward the Quantified Self

The ehealth enabled blog explored a lot studies about personal health records. An aspect tangential to that is a concept called the "quantified self". Will collecting a lot of health data in a "do it yourself" sort of way help save us? I found it interesting to read about experiences with fitbit heart rate data, facebook posts on personal health issues, and other such patient lead data collecting activities, that have resulted in some life saving measures.

The really protracted issues that never seem to go away are the problems with data interoperability. It is hard to join an HL7 committee and help advance the work of interoperability (tried that).  Not everyone is cut out to help write standards. New standards then emerge - FHIR for example. Now there is talk about how the blockchain will be used for the "provenance" of information. Who owns my health data, me, my doctor, or the data miners?

My own conclusion here is mostly about usability.  Collecting our own personal health data should be like an ongoing construction or renovation project where the tools are easily accessible.  Are we not building the virtual self? Log ins to health records are cumbersome - so is typing up the data. Just let the healthcare system do it? We have to be able to better track and record our ongoing health concerns - with or without the healthcare system. I also think we need artificial intelligence in the health record in our social media to tell us when to do things, based on our profiles and our precision medicine disposition. Out of nowhere, we should get a suggestion to get a shingles vaccination!

Spiritual Machines

Meditation to me is a form of health technology, and my teachers were like physicians who prescribed the daily practices for my own benefit, and the benefit of all sentient beings. Experimenting with the Muse EEG headband which is designed to induce or teach one how to enter a meditative state was a highlight not only of my blog posting, but of my own meditation experiences. Though I learned meditation in a long, hard, and traditional kind of way, I truly value the potential for technologies like the Muse. Talking AI or virtual doctors aside, exploring our own calm states of mind is going to make us better people in the long run. For then, we will known what we know, and what we don't know.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hamilton Health Hackathon 2018

The Hamilton Health Hackathon is coming up in early February 2018. Highly recommended for anyone interested in eHealth:


Hacking Health Hamilton Hackathon 2018

Event Information


Hacking Health Hamilton Hackathon 2018

McMaster Innovation Park, Feb 9-11, 2018

Event Sponsors

Pitch ideas, form teams, get advice from experts, and build a health app in one weekend. Present your finished product in front of a panel of judges for a chance of winning some fantastic prizes!

Healthcare faces many critical problems. Hacking Health is designed to improve healthcare by inviting technology creators and healthcare professionals to collaborate on realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line problems. Our weekend hackathons are fun, intense, hands-on events where small teams tackle tough problems in a supportive community of peers and mentors.
REGISTER TODAY and join us February 9-11 for our Hacking Health Hamilton Hackathon.
Be part of a global movement bringing innovation to healthcare...right here in Hamilton!

How to participate

Pitch Your Ideas on Sparkboard

As soon as you get your tickets for the hackathon, go to the Hacking Health Hamilton 2018 Sparkboard, a website that we are using for the Hackathon where you can pitch your project ideas, describing them briefly and listing their requirements (designer, developer, medical expert, etc), or find a pitch/project idea that interests you or that matches your skills.
Need inspiration if you're thinking about making a pitch? Check out last year's Sparkboard. You can also visit previous Hacking Health Hackathon success stories.

Weekend at a Glance

Pitch ideas and form teams on Friday night, get expert advice throughout the weekend, fuel up on the breakfast, lunch and dinner we will provide (see Event Schedule below), and present your finished product to our judges for a chance at winning several fantastic prizes!


Attendees are aware that photographs and video will be taken over the course of the weekend.
If you have any dietary or mobility restrictions, please inform us when you register.

Questions or Comments?

For more information, visit our website at http://hackinghealth.ca/city/hamilton-canada.
Email: hamilton@hackinghealth.ca
Twitter: @HHHamOnt

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Future of eHealth

A Health Research Methology graduate course in the MSc eHealth program at McMaster University has a class on the future of ehealth. It was one of my favourite classes when I was a student 8 years ago, and I was asked to be the tutorial facilitator for it for the past several years. Part of the course content was a video scenario of what a future patient physician encounter will look like.  I will embed the video I just found on Youtube:

The encounter is very humanistic in spite of the technology and involves a lot of artificial intelligence in the form of voice interaction. There is also plenty of newer user interfaces - transparent augmented reality medical records - and instant appointment and medical record searching.

Another article to read for that class is by Vannevar Bush called "As We May Think", written in July 1945. Dr. Bush was the Director of Scientific Research and Development for the United States Government. He writes about something he calls a "memex" which would be very much like the computers we are using today.  At that time, there was an explosion of scientific knowledge around the world but there was no way to organize that knowledge or search on it. It is an interesting article to read if you try to imagine what someone writing the article today would have to say about technology or medicine 70 years from now, and actually coming to close to painting an accurate picture about it. If technology is changing exponentially, will that even be possible?

The explosion of knowledge has continued since then and we collect, distribute and analyze it daily as it arrives in our twitter and facebook feeds. A lot of the information that can be gleaned about the future of eHealth is thus kind of "grey literature" and not something that you can search and find on PubMed. These days I find viewing video stories on futurism.com the best ways I know to become excited about the future. "The pull of the future is greater than the push from the past" - I am still trying to find out which famous philosopher or scientist said that.

Here are just a few of the sources suggestive of the future of eHealth that I have been following with interest.  The first is Ray Kurzweil and his Accelerating Intelligence website.  Ray is a computer scientist and inventor who believes in transhumanism and indefinite life extension.  His group is always following the latest scientific advances and inventions of all kinds, and not just ones related to health technology. For example, I just read today a story they posted about a new kind of RFID tag for patients. This tag:
The RFID tags measure internal body motion, such as a heart as it beats or blood as it pulses under skin. Powered remotely by electromagnetic energy supplied by a central reader, the tags use a new concept called “near-field coherent sensing.” Mechanical motions (heartbeat, etc.) in the body modulate (modify) radio waves that are bounced off the body and internal organs by passive (no battery required) RFID tags.

The modulated signals detected by the tag then bounce back to an electronic reader, located elsewhere in the room, that gathers the data. Each tag has a unique identification code that it transmits with its signal, allowing up to 200 people to be monitored simultaneously.

A recent news feed I have been following is the Medical Futurist, Dr. Bertalan Mesko. Recently Dr. Mesko has had some involvement consulting with the Government of Canada, as you may read in his article: "Canada Brings Automation to Healthcare: An Example for Governments to Follow". Really worth following on Twitter or Facebook.

Another group that is interesting, but they are more about the current state and the breaking trends of Medicine and eHealth, is the Exponential Medicine group lead by Dr. Daniel Kraft- a part of the Singularity University. Similarly, there is the ongoing work and research of Dr. Eric Topol. Most of the students in my eHealth class that I was facilitating hadn't even heard of Dr. Topol so I was a bit taken aback.

In short, if you are not interested in the future of eHealth, I don't think there is any way that one would appreciate the changes that are currently going on.  In fact, the guest lecturer at the McMaster future of eHealth class, Dr. Ted Scott, Vice President Research & Chief Innovation Officer, did not talk about the future so much as he did about current innovations that are starting within the Hamilton Health Sciences. And this just made me think of something I learned when I was a student of anthropology many years ago, that yesterday's pseudo-science and magic is todays science.