We are anticipating quite a year in the world of health care. Reenita Davis writes in Forbes, “technology will continue to flourish and will have unprecedented impact on healthcare in terms of building some of the foundation blocks towards a connected home and healthcare ecosystem.”
What can we expect in the coming months?
A New King: The Consumer
Technology will thrive as it continues to impact the foundation blocks. A more connected home and tech ecosystem must address the needs of the people using this technology; the consumer. After all, consumers are the ones who are being treated in the health care industry.
The economic downturn and recession tightened regulatory oversight over the past five years. Early-stage companies in the healthcare industry anticipate new streams in funding for healthcare technologies as the global economy improves.
Blockchain technology is a permanent record of online transactions or exchanges. It emerged in 2009 as the foundation for trading the digital currency bitcoin. The resources have serious potential to tackle some of the most difficult battles in healthcare information management.
AI-enabled support tools help make clinical decisions support all over the health care world. In 2017, AI will participate in diagnostic imaging by assisting radiologists with advanced interpretation and imaging informatics supports.
Pressure from around the globe on the control of surging drug prices will influence health authorities to increase transparency. From both public voices and political entities suggest transparency around drugs pricing where more low-cost generic competition is gaining market acceptance.
Christine Kern writes in Health IT Outcomes, “91 percent of respondents say they take advantage of mobile apps when offered, and 80 percent actually prefers mobile to a traditional office visit.” Healthcare organizations must have an agile operating model to keep pace with today’s technological needs.
If you look at the retail and banking industries, consumers eagerly use their phones and are eager to use technology. When it comes to change, health care would greatly benefit from learning how to adapt to these new technologies.
Jiea Rutland Simpson lives in Harlingen, Texas with experience in the hospital system and developed her interest in the use of electronic medical records within the healthcare industry. Follow Jiea Rutland Simpson on Twitter, @jiearutlandsimp and on Tumblr, @jiearutlandsimpson
A team of researchers at the University of New South Wales have developed a new system that can potentially lower the cost of cancer treatment as well as reduce the risk of cancer spreading by cleaning cancer from the blood.
The new cancer treatment uses biochip filters that identify and remove cancer cells. The team refers to the technique as “dialysis for cancer.” For patients who are in the early stages of cancer treatment, the process can be used to lower the chance of cancer metastasizing by using the method to cleanse the blood of circulating tumor cells.
“We are simply getting the blood from the patient, it’s a mixture of normal blood cells and cancer cells,” describes Dr. Majid Warkiani, who leads the team of researchers. “We put it inside one of our biochips and the cells go under migration, and they get affected by hydrodynamic forces. Under those forces that we are applying to the cells inside the chip, the bigger cells go up to the cancer cell outlet, and the smaller cells get pushed down and essentially they get fractionated, they get separated.”
Cancer patients require regular scans to ensure that their tumors are shrinking; these scans tend to cost around $700. This new producer, using the biochip to track and monitor the level of cancer cells in a patient’s blood, could offer patients the same level of efficiency at a fraction of the price: costing anywhere from $50 to $100.
This revolutionary method comes on the heels of a different cancer-research development that can hopefully provide a way to effectively manage, if not eradicate, the disease.
“There is still a long way to go – including securing money and support in Australia – before this is possible,” Warkiani adds. With proper funding and support, it is expected that the study will be rolled out in Australian hospitals within a couple of years. The team is hopeful that this discovery can make inroads in cancer research and management.
Scientists have discovered a new treatment for leukemia that has the potential to provide a much better alternative to existing methods of treatment. The cancer breakthrough allows us to fight cancer without killing any of the healthy cells.
Researchers from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne are responsible for developing the new treatment, which could soon be available for one of the most aggressive cancers: acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
This news is incredibly promising, but it will need to undergo rigorous testing before it can get approval from the Food and Drug Administration, as is the case with any medical breakthrough. Although there are no guarantees that this treatment will get approved or implemented, the discovery is certainly exciting news for the medical community.
What exactly does the treatment involve?
The scientists identified a protein that is crucial to stopping the spread of the blood cancer called Hhex protein. When they are able to effectively cut off production of the Hhex protein in laboratory conditions, the results show that cancer can be stopped from spreading uncontrollably.
The use of the Hhex protein is especially beneficial because it is not required in healthy blood cells. This makes it a great alternative treatment to typical AML treatments that normally have damaging side-effects.
“Most existing treatments for AML are not cancer cell-specific, and, unfortunately, kill off healthy cells in the process,” said one of the studies researchers, Matt McCormack. “Hhex is only essential for the leukaemic cells, meaning we could target and treat leukemia without toxic effects on normal cells, avoiding many of the serious side-effects that come with standard cancer treatments.”
The researchers are now looking at whether or not the same results can be recreated in humans.
“Hhex only regulates a small number of genes and is dispensable for normal blood cells,” stated McCormack. “This gives us a rare opportunity to kill AML cells without causing many side-effects. We now hope to identify the critical regions of the Hhex protein that enable it to function, which will allow us to design much-needed new drugs to treat AML.”
Time will tell if this treatment becomes readily available for cancer patients. But if clinical trials prove to be successful then widespread use may be just a few years away.
Moximed, a California and Zurich-based company, has recently been awarded the European CE Mark to introduce its Atlas Knee System. The device is a knee joint unloader, which helps to lower pressure applied to knee joints and possibly delay costly and inevitable knee replacement surgeries. The technology is similar to the shock absorbers found on vehicles.
The knee system will also be extremely beneficial to patients suffering from knee injuries to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle while reducing pain and minimizing repeat surgeries.
The company believes that they will be able to help lessen damage to the knee cartilage, allowing it to last longer than it naturally would. However, the device will require surgery to fix the implant correctly in your knee and it will need a period of rehabilitation to allow patients to regain strength and flexibility.
The device has the capacity to unload up to 13 kg; it is clinically proven to provide pain relief and preserve knee joints.
According to the website, the system is made from “advanced biomaterials and has passed durability and biocompatibility testing.” The device is perfect for anyone who suffers from pain on the inner side of the knee (particularly during activity), wants to improve physical activity, wants to regain full range of motion, or suffers from medial compartment knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Although it was not designed to provide a cure, the device does have the potential to provide relief. Regardless of whether or not the device is used as a preventive measure or to address certain knee conditions, it should be able to restore the join to normal loading conditions and alleviate a great deal of pain.
From the announcement:
The Atlas System design was evaluated in a 40 patient, prospective, multi-center clinical study. One of the study investigators, Konrad Slynarski, MD, of Lekmed Szpital in Warsaw, Poland commented, “My practice treats many young, active patients with mild osteoarthritis. I was amazed at the overwhelming patient interest in receiving joint unloading therapy, and I was very happy with my patients’ consistently rapid recovery and return to daily activities. I have already shifted my practice patterns to offer the Atlas System to patients.”
Another of the investigators in the study was Willem van der Merwe, MD, FCS (SA) of the Sports Science Orthopaedic Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, who noted, “I enrolled my full allotment into the study and could have enrolled additional subjects. I believe the Atlas System could be a pre-arthroplasty treatment solution for people who are too young or not ready for joint replacement, and I look forward to adding the service as a regular part of my practice.”