Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

National Survey Shows Different Bacteria on Cellphones and Shoes

From the June 9, 2020 article at UC Davis

Microbes Mostly Harmless, Include Groups Barely Known to Science

“They found that shoes and cellphones from the same person consistently had distinct communities of microbes. Cellphone microbes reflected those found on people, while shoes carried microbes characteristic of soil. This is consistent with earlier results.

The shoe microbes were also more diverse than those found on a person’s phone.”…

…”Surprisingly, a substantial proportion of the bacteria came from groups that researchers call “microbial dark matter.” These microbes are difficult to grow and study in a lab setting and thus have been compared to invisible “dark matter” that astronomers think makes up much of the universe.

Since they are so difficult to grow in a lab, these dark matter groups have only been discovered as scientists have used genetic sequencing technology to look for microbes in the world around us. Although many of the dark microbial groups come from remote or extreme environments, such as boiling acid springs and nutrient-poor underground aquifers, some have been found in more mundane habitats, such as soil.

“Perhaps we were naïve, but we did not expect to see such a high relative abundance of bacteria from these microbial dark matter groups on these samples,” Eisen said. 

A number of these dark microbe groups were found in more than 10 percent of samples, with two groups, Armatimonadetes and Patescibacteria, being found in almost 50 percent of swabs and somewhat more frequently in those from shoes than those from phones. Armatimonadetes is known to be widespread in soil.  

“A remarkable fraction of people are traveling around with representatives from these uncultured groups on commonplace objects,” Coil said.”

August 13, 2020 Posted by | biology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] My Doctor Just Gave Me His Cell Phone Number … | The Health Care Blog

My Doctor Just Gave Me His Cell Phone Number … | The Health Care Blog.

From the 17 February 2015 post

That’s right…it really happened.

At the conclusion of a recent doctor visit, he gave me his cell phone number saying, “Call me anytime if you need anything or have questions.”

In disbelief, I wondered if this was a generational thing – and whether physicians in their late thirties had now ‘gone digital’.

My only other data point was our family pediatrician, who is also in her late thirties. Our experience with her dates back nearly seven years when my wife and I were expecting twins.  A few pediatricians we met with mentioned their willingness to correspond with patients’ families via email as a convenience to parents.  The pediatrician we ultimately selected wasn’t connected with patients outside of the office at that time, but now will exchange emails.

March 3, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Health Care through Mobile Medical Devices and Sensors

From the 22 October 2013 Brookings Report

Health care access, affordability, and quality are problems all around the world and large numbers of individuals do not receive the quality care that they need. Mobile technology offers ways to help with these challenges. Through mobile health applications, sensors, medical devices, and remote patient monitoring products, there are avenues through which health care delivery can be improved. These technologies can help lower costs by facilitating the delivery of care, and connecting people to their health care providers. Applications allow both patients and providers to have access to reference materials, lab tests, and medical records using mobile devices.

Complex mobile health applications help in areas such as training for health care workers, the management of chronic disease, and monitoring of critical health indicators. They enable easy to use access to tools like calorie counters, prescription reminders, appointment notices, medical references, and physician or hospital locators. These applications empower patients and health providers proactively to address medical conditions, through near real-time monitoring and treatment, no matter the location of the patient or health provider.

In this paper, part of the Mobile Economy Project, Darrell West looks at specific applications and inventions, and discuss how mobile is transforming health care in the United States and around the world. He argues that mobile health helps frontline health workers and health care providers extend their reach and interactions – enabling them to be more efficient and effective in their provision of medical assistance. And in the conclusion, West recommends several steps that will speed the adoption of mobile technology in health care.

  • Policymakers should encourage the use of mobile devices for health care. Moving to electronic systems for service delivery will save money, improve access, and provide higher levels of quality in both developed and developing nations.
  • Nearly three-quarters of medical expenditures takes place on a small number of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma. We should encourage the use of mobile systems that monitor patient symptoms and provide real-time advice on treatment and medication because they have the potential to control costs, reduce errors, and improve patients’ experiences.
  • We should work to remove barriers to adoption of mobile applications that aid in chronic disease management and make these tools much more widely available.
  • With growing knowledge about diseases, genetics, and pharmaceutical products, the practice of medicine has become far more complicated. Health providers need access to as much accurate data as they can get on how to treat various ailments.
  • One of the barriers to cost containment and quality service delivery has been the continued reliance in many locales on paper-based medical systems. In a digital world, one cannot imagine a costlier way to run a health care system.
  • On the issue of government regulation, the FDA has finalized its guidance on how mobile applications and regulated mobile medical devices are to be treated in an effort to clarify some of the ambiguities and help further innovation. Having clear rules that encourage desirable behavior is the best way to move forward in mobile health.

Editor’s Note: This paper is released in tandem with the panel discussion: The Modernization of Health Care through Mobile Technology and Medical Monitoring Devices on October 22, 2013.

 

October 23, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[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

Mobile Healthcare Information For All

This is one noble cause!  However, I think that education should go hand in hand with this.
It is one thing to have access to healthcare information. Another thing to understand and be able to use information.

Still, I am hoping that telecoms get on board, and give back to their communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 31, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curbing Malaria Spread With Cell Phone Data

From the 14 October 2012 Medical News Today article 

 

Cell phone records may be a valuable source of data that if used correctly, could help control and eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers from the USA and Kenya reported in the journal Science.

Even though malaria-carrying mosquitoes do not fly very far, the disease still manages to spread over very long distances. Infected humans can carry malaria to faraway places rapidly; as fast as a plane or car can take them. A significant percentage of infected humans have no symptoms; they can unwittingly be carrying the parasite during their travels and infecting hundreds of other people.

Humans do not infect other humans directly. An infected human may arrive to a new area and be bitten by an malaria-free mosquito. The human infects that mosquito. The mosquito, now infected, bites another person – and the disease spreads on and on…..

Malaria’s ability to spread rapidly makes it a challenging infection to eliminate, especially in parts of the world with limited resources for health care. Sub-Saharan Africa, where Malaria is endemic, is a huge area with very limited resources.

Of the one million people who die from malaria each year globally, 90% are children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, earlier this year revealed thatmalaria incidence and mortality globally was much higher than experts had thought. The disease threatens 3 billion people around the world.

A team of researchers in Kenya has demonstrated how cell phone records may be utilized to identify regions that should be targeted in order to optimize malaria control and elimination efforts…

English: Life cycle of malaria, NIH, http://hi...

English: Life cycle of malaria, NIH, http://history.nih.gov/exhibits/bowman/SSmalaria.htm not very many people have lived through Malaria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | 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

10 dumb things you do at the doc’s office

From the 26 May 2011 CNN article

This is your health we're talking about. Other calls can wait. Turn the thing off.

 

(CNN) — As much as she would like to, Dr. Lissa Rankin, a gynecologist, will never forget the woman who planned her wedding while lying naked on her examining table.

“Every 15 seconds, her cell phone was going off, and she was answering it!” Rankin recalls. “It was like, ‘That’s not the cake I ordered,’ and, ‘No, it’s the other gown,’ and I said to her, ‘Is this a bad time? Should I come back later?’ ”

 

Read the article (with the list of 10 don’ts)

 

 

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Texting & public health

 

 

From the 16 August 2011 posting at Public Health–Research & Library News

According to a story in today’s New York Times, a study conducted by reaserchers from the University of Oxford and the Kenya Medical Research Institute demonstrated that texting treatment tips to healthcare workers increased the number of cases that they handled correctly and six months later, the effect was still there.

“Since each text cost less than a penny, every nurse in rural Kenya could get reminders for $39,000, the study said. That is far cheaper than sending trainers or brochures, neither of which improved care much, the authors said.”

The original report was published in The Lancet.

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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