Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog]“Microwave News” and an updated meta-analysis on mobile phones and acoustic neuroma

From the 8 October 2013 post at OEH Science - Snapshots from the Worlds of Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology and Public Health

cellphone

 I recently published a letter in the International Journal of Epidemiology entitled “The case of acoustic neuroma: Comment on: Mobile phone use and risk of brain neoplasms and other cancers” in reply to a paper by Benson at al. who used the Million Women study to look at cancer risk from mobile phone use. The letter addressed the fact the authors instead of just reporting their findings (both negative and positive) in the abstract (which, lets face it is what most people read), they only reported the non-significant effects. The only statistically significant increased risk they found was for acoustic neuroma, which does fit in nicely with the conclusion of the IARCmonograph working group. However, they only reported this after the effect disappeared after pooling the data with the Danish prospective cohort. As I discussed in my letter, a more transparent, and generally more accepted method would have been to conduct a meta-analysis of all available studies. This meta-analysis (although with a typo) and my letter can be found here (link).

Read the entire article here

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Technology Really Widen the Gap Between Minorities, Poor and the Disadvantaged?

Janice Flahiff:

When I was in Liberia, West Africa a few years ago it was hard not to notice how many Liberians had cell phones.
Have read quite a few articles since then on how just basic cell phones without apps can facilitate better health services, better communication about health prevention, screening, and such, and better health stats

 

Originally posted on health communication source:

I saw this comment posted last week on a federal government health office group page in response to their announcement of their new app, the use of technology and the release of open data and big data on their website:

Screen Shot for Blog

Posts like these are not unique. It is a common argument for not using any technology methods for some health communication campaigns because of limited reach in populations without Internet access. In the case of the example above, reaching migrant workers is a challenge, no argument there. But is it really technology’s fault?

I’m a big advocate of boots-on-the-ground campaigns, but coupling a digital presence is better, even if it takes on a minor role. Of course no one can reach 100% of a population, whether online or offline. But we can improve reaching communities outside of the Internet by using the Internet.

Herd Immunity

While there is a lot said about the shortcomings…

View original 882 more words

July 14, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking

Tantek Multitasking

Tantek Multitasking (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

 

From the 29 January 2013 summary at Full Text Reports

 

The present study examined the relationship between personality and individual differences in multi-tasking ability. Participants enrolled at the University of Utah completed measures of multi-tasking activity, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. In addition, they performed the Operation Span in order to assess their executive control and actual multi-tasking ability.

The findings indicate that the persons who are most capable of multi-tasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. To the contrary, multi-tasking activity as measured by the Media Multitasking Inventory and self-reported cell phone usage while driving were negatively correlated with actual multi-tasking ability.

Multi-tasking was positively correlated with participants’ perceived ability to multi-task ability which was found to be significantly inflated. Participants with a strong approach orientation and a weak avoidance orientation – high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking – reported greater multi-tasking behavior.

Finally, the findings suggest that people often engage in multi-tasking because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task. Participants with less executive control – low scorers on the Operation Span task and persons high in impulsivity – tended to report higher levels of multi-tasking activity.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Phone Scam About Personal Safety Devices

[Reblog from the 16 January 2013 post at As Our Parents Age]

It appears that seniors are receiving phone calls that attempt to scare them into making personal safety device purchases with a credit card, and it feels like a scam. I received one yesterday on my mobile phone.

scamAn urgent voice asks for a senior citizen noting that break-ins, robbers, medical emergencies or falls are scary and a free solution will make them safer. Moreover, the voice offers a solution that’s supported or endorsed by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institute on Aging — three well-known and reputable organizations. To learn how to protect myself from all of these terrible problems the voice asks me to hit a number on my phone.

Well I am not a senior — yet — but I know a fair amount about media literacy, and I’ve spent countless hours telling my parents, my husband’s parents, and various other family members and friends, to hang up when they receive these urgent telephone calls asking them to make a purchase. However … I didn’t hang up because I was too intrigued. I pressed number one.

Next a reassuring woman’s voice explains that the Senior Emergency Care company – with a AAA rating from the Better Business Bureau and endorsements from all of the above organizations — is offering me free equipment and free registration and shipping — equipment that will help me avoid or prevent scary life situations such as crime and health emergencies. The personal safety device that she is selling would, she told me, can be worn around my neck and will make me feel and be safer.

The woman continues the call by explaining how the devices helps by calling emergency responders in any of those worrisome situations, and if I am wearing it I  will also receive a wellness check phone call once a day. While the equipment is free, she said, a monthly fee of 34.95 will pay the people who respond to the emergencies and make the wellness calls. She wanted me to buy my device right then and there and even put a little pressure on me to give her my credit card. I declined. I told the woman I would think about it and also talk with my parents, and I hung up.

Then I Googled Senior Emergency Care, the name she gave me when I asked about the company’s identity, I could not find it. But I did find this story about this phone pitch, Warning Over Personal Safety Systems Pitch, in the December 21, 2012  Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Journal Sentinel. So I also did a quick check of the Better Business Bureau, but could not find the company.

Sounds like a scam to me.

Personal safety devices are available through hospitals, through a variety of senior organization — in fact you can even purchase them at Costco.  Make sure that your family and friends purchase personal safety devices are from a trusted source and not from a cold phone call.

Feel free to share my description with other people who might be interested.

 

If you receive this call you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your state fraud protection agencies.

 

January 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

Got Food Allergies? You Can Now Test Your Meal On the Spot Using a Cell Phone

Looking for a good place that reviews medical apps? Try iMedicalApps. The reviews are largely for health care professionals, but patient centered apps are also included.  The forums section includes a section for medical librarians (which often includes discussions on apps for all of us).

 

From the 12 December 2012 article at Science News Daily

Left: The iTube platform, which utilizes colorimetric assays and a smart phone-based digital reader. Right: A screen capture of the iTube App. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Los Angeles)

Are you allergic to peanuts and worried there might be some in that cookie? Now you can find out using a rather unlikely source: your cell phone.

A team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed a lightweight device called the iTube, which attaches to a common cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. The iTube attachment uses the cell phone’s built-in camera, along with an accompanying smart-phone application that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would….

To test for allergens, food samples are initially ground up and mixed in a test tube with hot water and an extraction solvent; this mixture is allowed to set for several minutes. Then, following a step-by-step procedure, the prepared sample is mixed with a series of other reactive testing liquids. The entire preparation takes roughly 20 minutes. When the sample is ready, it is measured optically for allergen concentration through the iTube platform, using the cell phone’s camera and a smart application running on the phone.

The kit digitally converts raw images from the cell-phone camera into concentration measurements detected in the food samples. And beyond just a “yes” or “no” answer as to whether allergens are present, the test can also quantify how much of an allergen is in a sample, in parts per million.

The iTube platform can test for a variety of allergens, including peanuts, almonds, eggs, gluten and hazelnuts, Ozcan said.

The UCLA team successfully tested the iTube using commercially available cookies, analyzing the samples to determine if they had any harmful amount of peanuts, a potential allergen. Their research was recently published online in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip and will be featured in a forthcoming print issue of the journal….

 

 

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Now Indians Can Compare Prices of Branded Drugs on Mobile Phones

 

Now Indians Can Compare Prices of Branded Drugs on Mobile Phones

From the 19 July article at Digitial Medicine

Consumer mHealth is here. There has been a spurt of entrepreneurship in this field and some Indian phone/ mobile based start-ups have been launched over the past couple of years. Mainly, they have been services meant to connect healthcare consumers with doctors via phone (like Ask a Doctor from Vodafone, Mediphone by Religare technologies,  Dial UR Doctor  and Mera Doctor). Most of these tools are voice based and sometimes don’t even fit the rigid definitions of mHealth. Further, they are all healthcare professional specific and have pointedly ignored patients in any decision making process.

Not that all mHealth projects in India are in the private sector. The government of India has also been active in harnessing the reach of mobile phones in the country with some projects in Public health like in ensuring treatment compliance in DOTS Program and in healthcare reporting at grass roots level. …

..

The latest mHealth project by the government of India looks to strike at the alleged root of costly medical care : the widely variable costs of branded drugs. The Indian government has taken the initiative to use simple messaging services (SMS) to educate the public on drug prices.

Here is how it works: Once the person sends a text message of the prescribed brand of drug to a particular number from his mobile, he will receive two to three options of the same medicine, along with the price differential. Say, a patient is prescribed a popular anti-infective like Augmentin (GlaxoSmithKline). He types in Augmentin and sends the SMS to the designated number. He would get a return SMS, possibly mentioning Moxikind CV (Mankind), which is substantially cheaper. But sources said that all responses would come with a caution: please consult the doctor before popping the alternative (pill).

 

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Cell Phones Make Us Less Socially Minded?

Closeup of a female speaking outside on a cell...

Image via Wikipedia

A week ago my husband and I were in the backseats of a van.  The driver carried on an extensive conversation via cell phone. It was a very jovial conversation, he was much less tense than in most conversations with us. So, did the cell phone provide a much needed escape from us? or create a less social atmosphere overall??
(Goes without saying how nervous we were about his driving while talking on the cell phone!)

From the 21 February 2012 Medical News Today article

A recent study from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business finds that even though cell phones are generally thought to connect people with each other, they may make users less socially minded. The findings of various experiments conducted by marketing professors Anastasiya Pocheptsova and Rosellina Ferraro with graduate student, Ajay T. Abraham have been published in their working paper The Effect of Mobile Phone Use on Pro-social Behavior. ..

…Their findings revealed that participants were less likely to volunteer for a community service when asked after a short period of using their cell phone, than those in the control-group and were also less persistent in solving word problems, despite knowing their answers would result in a monetary donation to charity.

The cell phone users’ lower interest in others also persisted when asked to simply draw a picture of their cell phones and think about how they used them.

The researchers referred to earlier studies in explaining the key cause of their findings, saying:

“The cell phone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong.”

This leads to a lower desire to connect with others or to be empathic towards others. It also decreases pro-social behavior, which means wanting to act in order to benefit another person or society as a whole. …

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Even Limited Telemedicine Could Improve Developing Health

 

English: Cell phone tower near the village of ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 2 January 2012 Science Daily article

…Until now, there have been no viable models for overcoming the limitations inherent in existing communications infrastructure in Africa, and elsewhere. Leach suggests that a relatively low- cost solution makes use of existing communications channels, computing equipment, text messaging via cell phone, medical personnel and technical support service personnel and says that parts of the system are relatively easy-to-implement, at least from a technical perspective. The approach also exploits the daylight time difference between Africa and the US to utilise bandwidth on communications satellites at a time when US users are least active. There is in asynchronous telemedicine no need to network the computers just to provide each with access to the information via available satellite channels.

A nine-step example shows how asynchronous telemedicine might benefit a patient who is seen by a local healthcare worker or can reach a rural clinic.

1 The healthcare practitioner makes a preliminary analysis of the patient’s condition and enters identifying information into a laptop or cell phone.

2 The healthcare practitioner connects a cell phone or laptop over underused satellite networks to the electronic healthcare records, EHRs, database stored somewhere in the cloud of servers in the USA.

3 The healthcare practitioner queries the EHRs database for information on this patient or on local outbreaks of relevant diseases. …

Read the entire article

January 2, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Health Slideshow and Infographics (with related resources)

From the November 28th 2011 Science Roll blog item by Dr. Bertalan Mesko

Since around 2009, it has been quite clear that mobile phones would not only change the way we check healthcare information online, but the way we do anything online so relevant statistics and analyses are crucial in order to be able to analyze the situation and draw useful conclusions. I’ve recently come across a great presentation focusing on mobile health by Daniel Hooker, health librarian.

And Andrew Spong shared an infographics by Manhattan Research that presents the state of mobile health. 85% of people use social media for health-related reasons on mobiles. Click on the image for larger version.

Related Resources 
  • Health Apps (free and low cost) at jmflahiff.wordpress.com

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Researchers Turn A Smart Phone Into A Medical Monitor

From the 10 October 2011 issue of Medical News Today

 team led by Ki Chon, professor and head of biomedical engineering at WPI, has developed a smart phone application that can measure not only heart rate, but also heart rhythm, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation using the phone’s built-in video camera. The new app yields vital signs as accurate as standard medical monitors now in clinical use. Details of the new technology are reported in the paper “Physiological Parameter Monitoring from Optical Recordings with a Mobile Phone,” published online, in advance of print, by the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

Read the article

October 15, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Wireless devices will dramatically change how medicine is practiced

From the 8 August 2011 KevinMD.com article by STEPHEN C. SCHIMPFF, MD

I interviewed about 150 medical leaders just a few years ago for my book The Future of Medicine – Megatrends in Healthcare. Not one mentioned wireless devices as a coming megatrend. How fast the world changes! Nowadays everyone has a cell phone and we rarely stop to think that just two decades ago almost no one had them. We have a laptop or tablet computer that can access information from the web at very high rates of speed; again it is hard to remember when this wasn’t so. And those with smart phones have numerous “apps” – to check traffic conditions, find the nearest Starbucks, or play games. But these and other devices that use wireless technology will lead to major changes in the delivery of health care in the coming years. This is another of those coming medical megatrends.
Read the rest of Wireless devices will dramatically change how medicine is practiced on KevinMD.com.

August 10, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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