How Smartphones Are Improving Health Care

With the rapid rise of mobile health management tools for smartphones and tablets, it’s no wonder that the number of people who’ve downloaded a health app has nearly doubled in one year — from 124 million in 2011 to 247 million in 2012.

Mobile health apps are a growing business expected to reach an estimated $11.8 billion in global revenue by 2018 — that’s according to the online health care education portal Allied Health World, which compiled information from a variety of sources around the web to show how smartphones are making a positive contribution to smart healthcare.

But not all mobile health (mHealth) apps are created equal — which is why the the United States Food and Drug Administration last year began requiring mobile apps making health claims to pass an approval process before being made available to consumers.

The infographic below highlights the availability of more than 40,000 medical apps for smartphones and tablets, like those that count calories, manage prescriptions or even monitor blood pressure.

One U.S. company Happtique, has just launched an mRx pilot program that enables physicians and other health practitioners to electronically prescribe medical, health, and fitness applications directly to their patients — improving care by helping them stay more engaged in monitoring their own health and wellness between office visits.

Mobile technology is transforming the landscape of health care delivery across the globe — the applications quickly taking hold are the ones that provide needed services, and make doctors and patients more efficient.

The mobile health revolution is not hovering somewhere off in the distant future… it’s already here.

Smartphone = Smart Healthcare?
Courtesy of: Allied Health World

Social Voting Tools Come To Cureus

Without self-promotion, PSY would still be bartending on a Korean cruise ship

The best science has to be read in order to be appreciated. Physicians deserve for the world to know what they do in the course of their training and career. You work hard, so don’t be shy about sharing how that hard work is applied.

You don’t have to become a Dr. Mehmet Oz or Dr. Drew Pinsky type of promoter, but it’s in the interest of every medical student and physician to learn how to do some basic self-promotion.

Over the coming months, Cur&#275us will be delivering a host of reputation management tools for medical students and doctors. Today I want to highlight one designed for our poster competition entrants.

You put a lot of hard work into your poster and now you have either entered it into the Cur&#275us Fall 2012 competition or you’re thinking about doing so. (if you are a med student or resident and have posters sitting on your hard drive, you owe it to yourself to enter them…there is zero downside unless fun and money are not attractive)

To provide a little context to the strategy ahead, I’ll note that Fall 2012 competition is off to a very strong start with hundreds of posters already entered from all over the US and Europe. Over 25 medical schools are represented. So, the question is how do you develop visibility for your work? This is similar to the challenge of differentiation at a conference, or when you eventually begin publishing papers in a journal, but each venue and context has to have a slightly different strategy.

Cur&#275us has just introduced “social voting” tools to help you promote your work. When someone votes for a poster, they can share their vote to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or all of the above. The idea is for your peers, professors and family to help promote your poster by inviting their social networks to vote for you. Remember, the winners of the poster competition are selected from the top 10 vote recipients…so in order to possibly finish in the top 3 you need to be able to promote your poster into the top 10.

The starting point is to take the link to your poster (copy the url from your poster information page) and email it to as many people as you know and ask them to vote for your poster. The link brings them straight to your poster page where they may vote. (they can also see how many votes and views you have received) At present, the top posters have earned just over 50 votes….you can do that in a day if you get to it and encourage your friends to leverage the social voting features.

Promoting your poster is just a microcosm of promotion, but it’s a useful exercise to both drive toward some of our competition prizes and get a little exercise in minor self promotion that benefits all

Cureus Gooses Poster Competition With iPhone 5

iPhone 5 or Kindle Fire HD? – NFL replacement referees can’t decide.

Popular posters will now bring you popular devices. Varian Medical Systems has thrown in a new prize incentive for posters with the most votes in our Cur&#275us Fall 2012 Poster Competition.

The highest vote-earner and their mentor will get to choose either a brand new iPhone 5 or a Kindle Fire HD. Being popular isn’t everything… but sometimes it’s pretty darn cool.

“While our competition gives residents, medical and graduate students the chance to win prizes, the long-term benefit is that publishing to Cur&#275us allows valuable poster content to live on and be shared, long after the conference at which they are presented. That’s truly priceless.” said Cur&#275us President, Tobin Arthur.

Submit your posters by October 5 and compete with medical and graduate students from around the world in over 40 categories. These categories include all major medical specialties. The sooner you register the sooner you can begin promoting your poster.

Read more details about our Fall Poster Competition.

Interview with Andreas Gomoll, MD

Andreas Gomoll, MD

Q) As one of the younger members of the Cur&#275us Editorial Board (early 40s) and being right in the middle of the professional world that pushes “publish or perish” what attracted you to Cur&#275us?

A) I love the idea of having public free access to medical content…I like the idea of making information more readily available. One of the issues of other public access journals is the fact that authors are charged steep fees. Something should be published because its quality not because I am willing to pay a fee.

Q) Why did you pick the Cartilage Repair Center (CRC)?

A) I trained at Harvard and then went to Chicago for a Fellowship, but I had signed an agreement to return to CRC before I left. The more complex answer as to why cartilage repair… is that I had done research in this area, but in orthopedics at large most of the work is in hip replacements and it can become boring. With sports medicine, there are far more procedures and the spectrum is very interesting. What arthroscopy gives you is a real relationship with patients for years. Sports medicine is of course financial, which is necessary, but I wanted more. You see patients [in sports medicine] for a few months and within a few years they will never remember your name. Cartilage repair is a nice mix of these two…you get long term relationships but also the variety in surgical procedures.

Q) How do you deal with burn-out and repetition?

A) We all feel stressed. Our environment is such that we have a private practice model inside an academic environment. We have to see patients to make money, and we do our academic research at nights and on the weekends. I try to take every other Friday off …. but it rarely turns into an actual day off (like today, I have taught two courses, done administrative work, and now I’m talking to you)… but a day off from seeing patients and the OR gives me a little break.

Q) What are you most proud of on your CV?

A) I am probably most proud of my residency….it was the hardest thing. I came from abroad (Germany) and it is very competitive to get into a top orthopedics residency program. I was lucky in many ways…I certainly benefitted from people I met along the way, but I have always been told luck favors the prepared mind.

Q) What are you most proud of that is not on your CV?

A) I am most proud of my kids. I have two kids…one from Taiwan and one from Korea. Infertility is the best thing that ever happened to me and my wife because it led to two terrific kids.

Q) What percentage of time do you dedicate to clinical and research?

A) 100% clinical and 50% research [laughing]? There is so much I want to do…things on my list, but I don’t have even have time to sit down and start. I really work 4.5 days a week clinically and incorporate the day off every other week. I go home and put the kids to bed and then spend 8 to midnight working on my academic work.

Q) Outside of work and your kids what are your other passions?

A) That’s a tough question…I have no time for anything. I would love to use my treadmill for something other than drying laundry [laughing]. I can’t complain though because I could change my work mix, but right now, I choose not to. If I had the chance I would live in different countries. I did that as a child because my dad was a pilot. If I could I would live in a new country for 6 months to a year at a time so I could get to know the area as a local.

Q) Finally, what would you want to share with our readers related to your experience living and working internationally?

A) As someone who has lived and worked in South Africa, England, Germany and briefly in China, it is worth noting that every country in the world is struggling with the same health care issues as we are. There is no perfect system. The grass is not always greener… I know, because I have been there.

Study Shows Sexting Linked To Unsafe Sex Among Teens

Why are so many teens sexting? Because teens like to show off and watch others show off, one expert suggested.

 

In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that Los Angeles high school students who sent sexually-explicit texts or photos were seven times more likely to report being sexually active, than those who claimed they’d never sexted, according to the findings.

“What we really wanted to know is, is there a link between sexting and taking risks with your body? And the answer is a pretty resounding ‘yes,’ ” Eric Rice, study author and Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, told Reuters.

Some researchers had previously been convinced that adolescents might be “sexting” as a safer alternative for sex in their lives —  but that’s just not the case according to Eric Rice, PhD. In fact, nonheterosexual students were more likely to report sexting, sexual activity and unprotected sex as their last sexual encounter, according to the research.

The study focused on self-reported behaviors from more than 1,800 Los Angeles high-schoolers between the ages of 12 and 18, most of whom were Latino. Rice believes if teens talk about their friends’ sexting, there’s a good chance they’re doing it too.

“This is a behavior that a minority of adolescents are engaging in, but that minority is engaging in a group of risky sexual behaviors… not just sexting.”

Rice recommends that parents and teachers use the latest celebrity sex scandals in the media to start discussions with teens about sexting and as a bridge to open dialogue about sexual activity. Especially when teens may be putting themselves into high risk situations.

“Sexting might be an easier conversation for teachers to start having with teens than a full-on conversation that starts, ‘Let’s talk about sex,’ ” Rice added.

Interview – Reflections on Medical Training

Mark Yarchoan, MD

I had the chance to chat with Mark Yarchoan, MD one of the key people behind launching the Cur&#275us International Poster Competition.

Mark is a first year resident at the University of Pennsylvania and is the Director of the soon-to-be-launched Cur&#275us Ambassador Program (medical students and residents).

Q) For a little background, tell us where you grew up and where you went for undergrad and medical school.

A) I grew up in Bethesda, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC. I completed my undergraduate degree at Amherst College and then went on to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Q) What attracted you to pursue a career in medicine?

A) My parents are both physician-scientists, and I think that attracted me to medicine from a young age. While growing up I also loved science class in school. However, choosing medicine was still a challenging decision for me because I was bothered by the idea of following in my parent’s footsteps, and I resisted by searching for alternative careers. I spent a summer living in a tent and catching bats for the National Park Service, thinking that I might want to be a field biologist. I also spent a year after undergrad as a medical reporter. It took me a while to settle on medicine as a career.

Q) As a first year resident, what has been the biggest surprise or most interesting experience so far?

A) I think one of the surprises I’ve come to recognize about medicine mostly since becoming a resident is that in the end, so much of patient care falls into a grey zone. Most of medical education is focused on learning facts; there is a right answer to every test question. However, in practice, there rarely is just one right answer because there simply isn’t specific data for the majority of medical decisions we make. This is partly what makes medicine so interesting, and why I think it’s a bit of an art.

Q) If you were to go back to medical school, is there anything you would have done differently in terms of preparing for/applying for Residency?

A) Medical school has become a multitude of important steps: basic science classes, clinically-oriented classes, tests, clinical evaluations, and then there are the national Step exams; and at each juncture I really had the sense that if I didn’t shine I might fall all the way down the staircase. In retrospect I wish I had spent more time just enjoying the privilege of becoming a doctor. Let me give you an example: I actually went through most of medical school never drawing blood from patients. Blood draws were not something we were expected to do on the wards, and blood drawing skills were never tested on any kind of exam. Instead, I spent time memorizing that Krabbe disease (1 in 100,000 births) is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme galactocerebrosidase because that occasionally showed up on tests. I wish I had just given up my one point on the test for not knowing about Krabbe’s disease and become the best in my class at drawing blood from patients with challenging veins. It’s something that in the end is much more important.

Q) Thinking back to creating your first poster, what is the biggest misconception you had about authoring a poster or what is something you now know that you wished you knew then?

A) Like a lot of other people, I greatly overestimated the time I had to sell my story to viewers. I thought that viewers would spend several minutes reading my poster. Instead, most people simply read the title, or perhaps look through the figures. That experience taught me to make as much information available as quickly as possible to the viewer: clear, concise titles; clean figures; a readable 30-second abstract.

Q) Did you have any good or interesting experiences creating or presenting posters that immediately come to mind?

A) The highlight of presenting a poster, at least for me, has always been meeting people who are in your field who came to learn about your research. This is part of the reason that I’m enthusiastic about Cur&#275us. I think having posters archived online will prolong this period of discussion and increase peer interaction among researchers who might never have otherwise met.

Q) You have parents who are physicians, what is a lesson or two you have drawn from them regarding your medical training or career?

A) One thing my parents have valued throughout their career which I find very inspiring is constant learning. My parents are always reading journals and updated medical textbooks to keep up with innovation and change in medicine. Right now I’m in an environment where I’m constantly being taught by different senior residents, fellows, and attending doctors. However, at some point I’ll be at the top of the education chain and if I want to improve I’ll be forced to mostly teach myself.

Q) You have been doing some very interesting and specific work related to diabetes…can you elaborate a bit? What drew you to this area of research? Where do you want to see this go?

A) After college I worked as an associate for a diabetes information company, and I came to appreciate the extent that diabetes and obesity have become epidemics of our time. When insulin was first purified in the early 1920s, the NY Times and other newspapers of the time famously proclaimed that diabetes had been “cured.” I think people back then would have been shocked to find out just how many people a full 90 years later are living with diabetes, and more disturbingly, with life-altering complications of this disease. I also find the science of insulin signaling and glucose metabolism to be fascinating. I still don’t know what I want to do with my background in this area, but I do find it to be intellectually engaging and incredibly important.

Q) What has been the response from peers and medical students you have heard from with respect to the Cur&#275us poster competition?

A) I think the whole Cur&#275us model is quite different from the current state of publishing, and understandably it may take some time to catch on. However, my peers – young physicians and medical students – are the least entrenched in the current state of medical publishing and the most open to something truly new and different. And I think the overall response has been very positive.

Supersized Americans Shape Future of Medical Imaging

America is providing an increasingly expanding marketing niche for medical imaging companies – obese people. Today over 28% of Americans are considered obese which presents a challenge to manufacturers of imaging equipment in two interesting ways.

First, excess fat blocks and diffuses penetrating x-rays so manufacturers faced with a challenge of getting clear enough images of plus-size patients.

Thanks to Siemens, I don’t have to go to veterinary clinics for my MRI scans.

This led Philips to develop “CT scanners that reduce X-ray doses in average-sized people by up to 70%.” —  which means that at normal levels of radiation you can x-ray people 70% larger. This is a welcome development because patients are subjected to lower levels of harmful radiation.

The second point of interest is that severely overweight people cannot fit inside diagnostic machines — leading Siemens to develop a larger MRI machine. As their ad notes, they’ve “expanded the bore” so their clients can expand market share.

The bore diameter which was 23.6 inches in 1997 has increased to a whopping 31.5 inches today. (that’s a 98.9 inch circumference). The weight capacity has more than doubled from 300lbs to 660lbs. The Chief executive of Siemens AG’s imaging division, Bernd Montag considers keeping the obese American patient “a design requirement.

“The U.S. is the biggest market for us, so every product we build has the obese American patient in mind,” said Bernd Montag, chief executive of Siemens AG’s imaging division, which makes computed tomography, or CT, scanners to support patients well over 600 pounds, though its MRI machines remain smaller. “It more or less has turned into a design requirement.”

And if this study from the World Health Organization is correct, over half of Americans will be obese by 2030. Which is why Siemen’s, Philips and other imaging companies are doing what they are doing. Catering to their slowly but surely expanding American market.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

 

“Fierce Conversation” the truths of open discourse

A reflection from the High Holidays

Like some of you, I sat in synagogue on Monday and listened.  The message spoken by Rabbi Dan Levin (Boca Raton, FL) struck me on many levels, but the words were so germane to the mission of Cur&#275us that I felt the need to share my interpretation of this message as it relates to medical publishing, and as it relates to all of us.

The essence of his message was that to change the world we need to be willing to listen. If we are truly listening then we can engage in dialog. We can debate.  We can disagree and collectively seek truth.

It is time for a change…to evolve from the anachronistic traditions of bias and prejudice and political strongholds reigning over our scientific ideas. But how does one “be brave” and courageous in the face of such inertia (e.g., traditional peer review, a “perceived” need to chase the ubiquitous Impact Factor, etc.)?

At Cur&#275us, we just introduced the opportunity to share medical posters with the world…one component potentially leading to the future of open and cross-disciplinary medical discourse. Students and residents are our new generation of publishers, of academics, of clinicians, of innovators, and they will blaze a path to new medical knowledge and truths.

Every beginning starts with a first step….and this is our first step.  (Fellows, Professors and other authors submit your old posters, too). Submit those opinion pieces that are full of information, but there is just not enough time in the day to make the papers fit the specifications and “criteria” under the purview of a particular journal.

  • Give the new generation examples…share your ideas from the past and present
  • Submit, submit, submit, and let the world engage, dialog – learn.

Only through free flow of information, debate and discussion may we “pivot” and change and evolve. There is nothing wrong with theoretical opposition and heated discourse. Real debate and dialogue (i.e., “fierce conversation,” a phrase coined by author Susan Scott) interrogates reality, and in the process creates openness and honesty, rendering us available to consider truths and allowing us the opportunity to question our answers. Providing a “safe space” allows us not only to “talk” about what we know but also, and perhaps most importantly, to listen to (thereby acknowledging) that which we do not know.

Rabbi Levin reminded us of the words of the Greek philosopher, Epictetus (AD 55- c. 135): “We have 2 ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”

Cur&#275us creates this “safe space” … a platform for honest and open discourse in all of medicine.  It is time for a change, and to change, we must act. We must publish!  We cannot be hindered by traditions, indolence and fear.  To act is to start somewhere, and to embrace the newness of a challenge, a willingness to accommodate something different, an acceptance of the journey we are on now, and who we might become, refusing to limit ourselves by the stories of our past and “who we have been.”

To understand “truths,” we need to listen with open curiosity and with integrity, rather than to speak with criticism and preconceived prejudices based on familiar, albeit limited knowledge.

Together we begin this journey with Cur&#275us, let us listen and be willing to hear.  Let us be curious.

 

 

Doctors in Sweden perform first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants

A team of specialists at the University of Goteborg in Sweden have performed what doctors are calling the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.

The pioneering procedures were completed “without complications” by more than 10 surgeons over the weekend at Sahlgrenska University Hospital according to a CNN report.

Doctors were quick to caution that they will not consider the operations successful unless the women give birth to healthy children.

“So far, the procedures have been a success, but the final proof of success will be the birth of a healthy child,” Michael Olausson told CNN.

The university cited that one of the unidentified women had her uterus removed many years ago due to cervical cancer, while the other was born without her uterus. Both woman who are in their 30s, will undergo observation for one year before doctors attempt in vitro fertilization (IVF) with their own frozen embryos.

“The operations were the first live-donor uterus transplants from mother to child,” Olausson said.

According to the university, in Sweden alone, between 2,000 and 3,000 women of childbearing age cannot birth children because they lack a uterus. In the video below — researchers from the University of Gothenburg describe how the transplantation is performed.

 

Read the entire story at CNN

Lessons Learned From Winning a Poster Competition

Competing For Eyeballs of Those Passing By

    1. You are competing with everyone for the attention of a few (1 minute of their time – MAX)
    2. Catchy titles! Lure in the reader with a title that stands out from the crowd
      • E.g., One title I used was “The Panic Disorder Patient who Cried Wolf.” Clearly, this is not the title for the manuscript I eventually published (which was about information-processing biases and auditory perception in anxious individuals), but, it certainly piqued the curiosity of convention-goers.
    3. BIG PRETTY GRAPHS ROCK!!!
    4. Bullet-pointed text (similar to a talk). A few points of interest or “talking points,” but let the quality of your tables and graphs/images speak to the quality of your data!
      • No one has the time to read tiny text boxes (if the reader has to squint…you lose)!
      • Consider leaving out the abstract (so many words, and these words are redundant with what your poster will convey LOUDLY AND CLEARLY, also the abstract will be published in the Conference Proceedings anyway. On Cur?us, the title of your poster will be directly linked to your published abstract.  In essence, your poster IS the abstract plus some cool graphic design effort!
    5. What to include?
      • Background and Rationale
      • Specific Aims and Hypotheses
      • Methods/Design
      • Results
      • Graphs/Tables
        • Summarize results in bullet pointed text
        • Don’t add a single bullet under a point. What’s the point in the bullet if the bullet IS the point?
      • Conclusions/Discussion
      • Implications/Future Directions

Most of all, have fun with your work, have confidence in it, and BE CREATIVE!

Poster Sample (above): Spinal Chordoma by Stefan Norbert Zausinger