Category Archives: Technology

Ushering in the Era of Personalized Medicine

The FDA recently approved 10 of the personal-genomics company 23andMe’s screening tests for hereditary health risks and diseases, issuing a press release that reads: “These are the first direct-to-consumer tests…that provide information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that this step “may be the first shot in a health revolution,” allowing patients to make informed decisions about lifestyle choices, and assist healthcare professionals in their advice and discussions. This marks the first time that patients will not have to go through a physician or healthcare provider to receive information about genetic health risks or makeup.

The screening tests include one for Alzheimer’s, and another for a rare blood disorder. Companies like 23andMe and PatientsLikeMe are already developing new technologies and products so that Americans can further manage and monitor their health, studying databases that utilize information from electronic medical records, wearable devices, and patient surveys combined with their genetic codes. 23andMe has formed partnerships with various organizations in the disease research community, spearheading research that explores new potential genetic risk factors for chronic disease.

Embracing this kind of precision medicine will enable us to mine enormous amounts of data and information, in order to further enhance the health of patients across the globe, and possibly halt disease before it develops and progresses.

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Social Media & Longevity—A Strange Twist

Despite the claims and assertions that screen time negatively impacts health, a recent article in The New York Times showcases research that establishes a correlation between time spent on social media and longevity.

Based on a paper published in the journal PNAS, the idea that Facebook can be associated with a longer life is largely due to the theory that an active online social life is likely a mirror of a busy offline social life.

The evidence, culled from 12 million social media profiles made available to the researchers by Facebook and records from the California Department of Health, directly contradicts the long-held assertion that social media negatively impacts health. Moreover, the paper reports that people with larger social networks—or even average networks—lived longer than those with small social networks, a finding “consistent with classic studies of offline relationships and longevity.”

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Tsunami in Technology

The wave of healthcare technology is surging into view, akin to a tsunami: as it rapidly rushes towards the landscape of medicine, the cost of tools are dropping at the same rate that options are growing.

At the Cleveland Clinic’s annual Medical Innovations Summit last week, Daniel Kraft—an oncologist, and chair of medicine and neuroscience at Singularity University—asked his audience a critical question: are the right platforms and infrastructure in place to catch the proverbial ‘wave’?

Kraft described the bridge between medicine and technology: how popular, widely-used and accessible consumer devices can potentially deliver molecular-level disease diagnosis and treatment. A smartwatch can collect all the data that intensive care manages; an ultrasound can be done for a fraction of the price with a device that plugs into a smartphone. Hundreds of apps and startups have produced, and are continuing to deliver, massive amounts of data. With the advent and proliferation of this digital technology, it is possible to make more effective and personalized healthcare the new golden standard.

Yet if digital tools can ultimately solve several of healthcare’s overarching problems, how do we prepare the foundation to most effectively utilize them, and manage the immense quantity of data?

Register for MedTech Impact, and be on the frontline of medicine. MedTech Impact is a conference that gives healthcare professionals the ability to learn best practices and techniques while viewing and learning about the latest emerging technologies in the medical field. Through educational sessions, case studies, keynote addresses, and an exhibit hall that showcases technologies like wearables, biosensors, and 3D printing, attendees can immediately harness the technologies in their practices, and effectively improve patient service.

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