Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Key Trends in the Future of Medicine: E-Patients, Communication and Technology

English: Watson demoed by IBM employees.

English: Watson demoed by IBM employees. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From the 25 October 2012 post at Blogroll


Robots replacing doctors?

I’ve given hundreds of presentations and I teach at several universities about the use of social media in everyday medicine and I always highlight the importance of 1) doctor-patient relationship in person, and 2) good communication skills for doctors, but if I try to think ahead, I have to agree with Vinod Khosla that technology can replace 80% percent of the work of doctors.

Khosla believed that patients would be better off getting diagnosed by a machine than by doctors. Creating such a system was a simple problem to solve. Google’s development of a driverless smart car was “two orders of magnitude more complex” than providing the right diagnosis.

IBM’s Watson is just the perfect example here. They have been working closelywith oncologists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York in order to see whether Watson could be used in the decision making processes of doctors regarding cancer treatments. Watson doesn’t answer medical questions, but based on the input data, it comes up with the most relevant and potential answers and the doctor has the final call. This is an important point as it can only facilitate the work of doctors, not replacing them…

..So what should we expect to see in the next decades? I think we will see amazing developments in many areas, except medicine in which small and slow steps will mark the way towards a more transparent healthcare system in which decision trees are available for everyone, online content and social media are both curated, patients are empowered, doctors are web-savvy, and collaborative barriers are gone forever. A new world in which medical students are trained to be able to deal with the rapidly evolving technologies and e-patients.


A great related graphic at

(WordPress was not responding when an upload was attempted)





October 30, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Futuristic Therapy: Steering Microrobots Through Blood Vessels For Disease Treatment

From the 20 December 2011 Space Daily article

Microscopic-scale medical robots represent a promising new type of therapeutic technology. As envisioned, the microbots, which are less than one millimeter in size, might someday be able totravel throughout the human bloodstream to deliver drugs to specific targets or seek out and destroy tumors, blood clots, and infections that can’t be easily accessed in other ways.

One challenge in the deployment of microbots, however, is developing a system to accurately “drive” them and maneuver them through the complex and convoluted circulatory system, to a chosen destination….

…Article: “Magnetic Navigation Systems for the Precise Helical and Translational Motions of a Microrobot in Human Blood Vessels” is part of the Proceedings of the 56th Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, to be published in the Journal of Applied Physics in April. Authors: Seungmun Jeon, Gunhee Jang, Hyunchul Choi, Sukho Park, and Jongoh Park.


December 29, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Robots and Dogs Necessary to Enhance our Humanness?

This morning I came across two blog items through the Tag Surfer option at WordPress. It made me ponder if reliance on machines and animals for some needs made us more or less human.  These two blog items centered around situations where people lived alone. When people live more communally is there such a need for robots and pets? Should more of our resources be used to build communities of people rather than places where many folks live alone?

One blog (New Siblings for Health Care Robots) described  emotionally intelligent robots which can read human emotions through facial expressions and body language, sending messages for assistance when needed.  These robots can help older people remain independent through helping them stay connected through family and friends . They can also act as reminders in their daily activities (as taking meds).

The other blog item ( Let’s hear it for Fido friendly cities) made a case for more pet friendly cities because pets helped reduce mental health costs, especially in cases where people lived alone.

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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