Saturday, May 31, 2014

Samsung Stakes Claim on Wearable Tech That Monitors Health -

In San Francisco, Samsung showed off a prototype device that can track health information in real time.Molly Wood for The New York TimesIn San Francisco, Samsung showed off a prototype device that can track health information in real time.

Smart watches that can predict heart attacks. Personal health information in a database that can give you a "wellness score" of how you're eating, sleeping and exercising. An always-on connection to doctors that gives them a real-time look at your health. Heck, maybe even a prescription wearable.

The next wave of wearable tech and app development is likely to center on personalized health and medicine — and Samsung tried to stake its claim on that field in an event in San Francisco this week.

The company's innovation and strategy team announced plans for an "open" platform so that developers, medical professionals and hardware makers can push forward the idea of "intelligent digital health."

Samsung did not, unfortunately, announce a release date for its new platform other than "later this year," around the time of its Samsung Developer Conference. (The last developer conference was in October 2013, for purposes of speculation.)

The company announced both a hardware platform and a cloud-based storage and analysis concept.

On the hardware side, Samsung showed off a prototype called the Simband, which features smaller, more modular tracking sensors than currently exist, and which supposedly offers better battery life than existing wearable devices. The Simband won't go into production (you're stuck with the Galaxy Gear Fit for now), but is intended to provide a reference for future hardware developers.

Samsung demonstrated how the watch could track things like heart rate, blood pressure and electrocardiography (ECG) in real time.

Samsung's design heavily emphasizes wrist-based wearables, with Samsung's vice president of digital health, Ram Fish, saying the wrist is the only location for a "truly wearable wearable." I find that slightly limited thinking, but if future sensors really are small, modular and have great battery life, I hope to see more personalized wearables along with the personalized health data.

On the storage and analysis side, Samsung revealed a cloud-based platform called SAMI (for Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions, obviously), and said it would act as a sort of bank where people can store the data collected by new health and fitness wearables.

That's the scary part, and Samsung sought to reassure the crowd that the SAMI database would store health and fitness data, but wouldn't own it — emphasizing that individuals need complete control and access to their own health data, which could only be used with their permission. The company promised security, but didn't provide details during or after the event about what kind of security might be used.

There was a whiff of vaporware to the event, given that application programming interfaces (or APIs) for Samsung's cloud storage platform won't be available until the end of the year, and the company hasn't announced a single hardware or software partner committed to working on devices or apps based on the platform.

Samsung has been working with the University of California, San Francisco, since February to develop an innovation lab focused on digital health technology, however. And the company announced a $50 million challenge fund to help spur developers to jump on board.

The company may have hurried its announcement of a major health initiative, given speculation that Apple might announce a health and fitness app calledHealthbook.

If those reports are true, Healthbook could track blood pressure, hydration, glucose levels and take in data like calorie consumption and daily activity. Apple has reportedly met with the United States Food and Drug Administration to talk about mobile medical technologies and has reportedly hired several medical device experts in recent months.

Wearable devices have been looking for a so-called killer app to make them indispensable, and personalized health, fitness and even medicine could be that use case. With the right amount of information, experts say wearable devices can predict problems before a person even feels symptoms.

A new generation of biometric devices — whether wrist-worn wearables or T-shirts like the one mycolleague Nick Bilton recently wrote about — could constantly gather data about us and communicate with apps for analysis and insight or, even better, with our doctors and medical specialists.

That could, as Samsung put it in its San Francisco event, start to push medicine from "reactive" to "preventive health."

I have my doubts that Samsung's open platform will get off the ground, especially since Samsung has a vested interest in apps and hardware that work with its own so-called ecosystem. And security and privacy will be top of mind for skittish users who have already been the subject of far too many security breaches in recent years.

But it's an interesting opening salvo in what's likely to be an intense wave of development and tech dollars. Could we see a health and fitness platform war between Apple, Samsung and maybe Google?

Possibly. If the result is more accessible, personalized health tracking and a more modern medical industry, I'm interested. Start with the security details and we'll go from there.

Friday, May 30, 2014


TEDMED is the independently owned and operated health and medicine edition of the world-famous TED conference, dedicated to "ideas worth spreading." TED Talks have been viewed online over two billion times around the world.

Created by TED's founder, TEDMED convenes and curates extraordinary people and ideas from all disciplines inside and outside of medicine. The result: unexpected connections that accelerate innovation in health and medicine. Best known for our annual event hosted in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA, TEDMED is a year-round global community. 

TEDMED believes that each and every one of us is in a race against time to create the lives we want for our children, for our parents, and for ourselves. TEDMED believes that our future will be transformed as the Information Revolution and Big Data collide with the Age of Biology. Genomic "programming," the rise of patient-driven health, and mobile technology will forever change the landscape.

TEDMED believes that only by creating an inclusive global dialog among people from all cultures and all walks of life, can we begin to see the "big picture" for health and medicine and begin to inspire the breakthrough thinking and insights critical to shaping a healthier tomorrow for our planet's 7 billion people.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

With Special Clinics, Hospitals Vie for Hesitant Patients: Men -

From the gleaming limestone lobby to the chocolate and oxblood exam room walls to the percussive address, 555 Madison Avenue, a new clinic in Midtown Manhattan exudes masculinity, and that is no accident.

Still smelling of fresh paint, it is NYU Langone Medical Center's health center devoted to men, one of two such centers opened in the last two years by major New York hospitals, within 10 blocks of each other, and using marketing techniques common to lifestyle companies and luxury spas.

"The glass ceiling has been broken; now there's a health center just for men," goes one NYU Langone advertising slogan, with a tongue-in-cheek hint of transgression. Says another: "It's the gentlemen's club your wife would approve of."

NYU Langone and other medical institutions have long had services devoted to women, an outgrowth of the belief that the male-dominated medical establishment had not paid enough attention to their particular needs.

Now men are beginning to get equal treatment as hospitals try to take advantage of an enormous untapped market: men who, studies show, avoid doctors for virtually anything short of a bullet wound. The new clinics offer one-stop shopping for services ranging from heart monitoring to hair removal to hormone therapy, from the life-prolonging to the life-enhancing, if medically debatable.

More ...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison - @believermag



DISCUSSED: Inexplicable Seizures, An Ailing Plastic Baby, Teenagers in Ponchos, An Endless Supply of Mints, Another Word for Burning, Crippled Rabbits in Love, The Sad Half-Life of Arguments, A Kid's Drawing of God, Praying in the Nook, Major Personality Clusters, fMRI Scans, Adam Smith, Pet Fears, Impulse's Dowdier Cousin, A Broken Arrow, A Bottle of Rain

My job title is Medical Actor, which means I play sick. I get paid by the hour. Medical students guess my maladies. I'm called a Standardized Patient, which means I act toward the norms of my disorders. I'm standardized-lingo SP for short. I'm fluent in the symptoms of preeclampsia and asthma and appendicitis. I play a mom whose baby has blue lips.

Medical acting works like this: you get a script and a paper gown. You get $13.50 an hour. Our scripts are ten to twelve pages long. They outline what's wrong with us—not just what hurts but how to express it. They tell us how much to give away, and when. We are supposed to unfurl the answers according to specific protocols. The scripts dig deep into our fictive lives: the ages of our children and the diseases of our parents, the names of our husbands' real-estate and graphic-design firms, the amount of weight we've lost in the past year, the amount of alcohol we drink each week.

My specialty case is Stephanie Phillips, a twenty-three-year-old who suffers from something called conversion disorder. She is grieving the death of her brother, and her grief has sublimated into seizures. Her disorder is news to me. I didn't know you could have a seizure from sadness. She's not supposed to know either. She's not supposed to think the seizures have anything to do with what she's lost.


SP Training Materials


You are a twenty-three-year-old female patient experiencing seizures with no identifiable neurological origin. You can't remember your seizures but are told you froth at the mouth and yell obscenities. You can usually feel a seizure coming before it arrives. The seizures began two years ago, shortly after your older brother drowned in the river just south of the Bennington Avenue Bridge. He was swimming drunk after a football tailgate. You and he worked at the same mini-golf course. These days you don't work at all. These days you don't do much. You're afraid of having a seizure in public. No doctor has been able to help you. Your brother's name was Will.


You are not taking any medications. You've never taken antidepressants. You've never thought you needed them.


Your health has never caused you any trouble. You've never had anything worse than a broken arm. Will was there when it was broken. He was the one who called for the paramedics and kept you calm until they came.

Our simulated exams take place in three suites of purpose-built rooms. Each room is fitted with an examination table and a surveillance camera. We test second- and third-year medical students in topical rotations: pediatrics, surgery, psychiatry. On any given day of exams, each student must go through "encounters"—their technical title—with three or four actors playing different cases.

A student might have to palpate a woman's ten-on-a-scale-of-ten pain in her lower abdomen, then sit across from a delusional young lawyer and tell him that when he feels a writhing mass of worms in his small intestine, the feeling is probably coming from somewhere else. Then this med student might arrive in my room, stay straight-faced and tell me that I might go into premature labor to deliver the pillow strapped to my belly, or nod solemnly as I express concern about my ailing plastic baby: "He's just so quiet."

Once the fifteen-minute encounter has finished, the medical student leaves the room and I fill out an evaluation of his/her performance. The first part is a checklist: which crucial pieces of information did he/she manage to elicit? Which ones did he/she leave uncovered? The second part of the evaluation covers affect. Checklist item 31 is generally acknowledged as the most important category: "Voiced empathy for my situation/problem." We are instructed about the importance of this first word, voiced. It's not enough for someone to have a sympathetic manner or use a caring tone of voice. The students have to say the right words to get credit for compassion.

We SPs are given our own suite for preparation and decompression. We gather in clusters: old men in crinkling blue robes, MFA graduates in boots too cool for our paper gowns, local teenagers in ponchos and sweatpants. We help each other strap pillows around our waists. We hand off infant dolls. Little pneumatic Baby Doug, swaddled in a cheap cotton blanket, is passed from girl to girl like a relay baton. Our ranks are full of community-theater actors and undergrad drama majors seeking stages, high-school kids earning booze money, retired folks with spare time. I am a writer, which is to say: I'm trying not to be broke.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Brain Canada - Health News

Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization that develops and supports research across the neurosciences. This newsletter is a summary of articles and content of interest related to #brain #research #science #neuroscience.!health