Ameera Hamid

eLearning Specialist and Disruptive Innovator in eHealth

  • Medical apps need better UX and UI

    With the ubiquitous use of smartphones today, mobile users have great expectations from their apps: fast loading time, intuitive workflows, ease of use and aesthetic appeal. Digital health and mHealth organisations hoping to compete successfully in this vivid ecosystem, can no longer ignore user experience(UX) and user interface (UI) design as an essential component of their product strategy.


    So, what is UX and UI? 


    UX is the process of researching, developing, and refining all aspects of a user’s interaction with a product to ensure that it is meeting the user’s needs. UI is more cosmetic and takes into consideration the visual interaction with a product, including the colour schemes, the size and colour of a button, the consistency of a theme and so on.  


    Simply put, UX makes apps useful, while UI makes apps beautiful. Together these aspects play an important role in highlighting the value of your product and creating a lasting connection with your users.  They also have a positive impact on the bottom line, by reducing development time, increasing sales and improving customer retention. 


    With over 318,000 health apps across the most popular app stores, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful mHealth app will lie in the quality of its UX and UI.  The importance of good UX and UI cannot be overemphasized.


  • AI helps to predict cancers’ trajectories

    Many years ago, people in the UK referred to cancers as “a growth.” While it might have lacked scientific precision, it encapsulated cancers’ changing characteristics. The country’s Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital, and part of University College London (UCL), says tumours’ constantly changing nature’s one of the biggest challenges in treating cancer, especially when they evolve into drug-resistant forms.


    It reports that its ICR scientists, working with colleagues at Edinburgh University have used AI to identify patterns in DNA mutations in cancers. The information can forecast future genetic changes to predict how cancers will progress and evolve. The technique, Repeated Evolution of Cancer (REVOLVER), predicts cancers’ next moves so doctors can monitor tumour’s progress and design the most effective treatment for each patient. 


    Three organisations financed the research, published in Nature Methods. They were the Wellcome Trust, the European Research Council and Cancer Research UK. Their support for REVOLVER’s created what’s seen as a powerful AI tool. It’s revealed previously hidden mutation patterns located in complex data sets.


    Teams from ICR and the University of Edinburgh working with colleagues from the  Birmingham University, Stanford University and  Queen Mary Universities London found a link between some sequences of repeated tumour mutations and survival outcomes. It suggests that repeating patterns of DNA mutations could be prognoses indicators. This can help to specify future treatment.


    AI success stories provide material to consider in Africa’s new eHealth strategies, to support leading specialist hospitals to set up a wide range of AI initiatives. They could focus on Africa’s current and emerging health and healthcare priorities.


  • Will AI and Blockchain converge to enhance health analytics?

    While AI and Blockchain are seen by some to offer powerful tools, a view’s emerging that combining them offers significantly more potential for Big Data and health analytics. Or, is it just another dose of eHealth hype? An article in Health IT Analytics  says in the US, AI and Blockchain are now tools of choice for developers, providers and payers in improving their eHealth infrastructure.

    But, it acknowledges that both are near their hype curves peaks. Some providers and payers are reluctant to invest heavily at their maturity stages. Concerns over security, utility and Return on Investment (ROI) are justifications for some organisations to defer investment, leaving others to provide evidence that combining AI and Blockchain can succeed in secure the large data sets and exchanges that Big Data needs for innovative analytics.

    Access to data’s one obstacle. Most data resources are held securely and privately by several institutions. Opening them can create cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Despite this, ideas are fermenting of using Blockchain to produce metadata about the datasets available at several organisations. It can also provide secure, peer-to-peer data exchange. Blockchain can be a pointer to where full data sets are stored, allowing for discoverability without requiring data sets to move each time a transactions completed.

    This strategy enables organisations to keep sensitive data, such as Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) off Blockchain. It’ll reduce risks of breaches. Instead, minimal but sufficient data should be held in Blockchain.

    These comprise complex decisions and projects. It seems premature for Africa’s health systems to pursue combined AI and Blockchain strategies in the medium term. There are other eHealth priorities to address, such as using mHealth to support remote health workers with access to test results and improving their co-ordination with colleagues.

    If the AI and Blockchain are converging in healthcare, Africa’s health systems can watch trajectories and learn from them. If they deliver a significant proportion of their potential, a challenge for Africa’s health systems may be to avoid a sudden disruption to their eHealth strategies and plans. While this can be costly, missing new eHealth opportunities has a cost too, often of missed benefits. 


  • Patients rely on health information on the Internet

    Trusting doctors is a crucial requirement of successful healthcare. The Internet has added a variable into the relationship between patients and their doctors compared to the traditional set up. An empirical study by a team from China and the US in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) investigated the effects of the quality and source of Internet health information on patient compliance. It relied on social information processing and social exchange theories.


    Relationship Between Internet Health Information and Patient Compliance Based on Trust: Empirical Study found that the quality and source of health information from the Internet affects patients’ compliance through the mediation of Cognition-based trust (CBT) and Affect-based Trust (ABT).


    Consequently, patients’ compliance can be improved by strengthening the quality of health information management on the Internet. It also suggested that doctors should obtain health information from health websites to expand their understanding of patients’ knowledge of their conditions and their compliance with their treatment regimes.


    More specifically, the mutual demonstration of care and respect in physicians’ and patients’ communication’s important in promoting patients’ ABT in their physicians. CBT doesn’t have any direct effect on patients’ compliance, but directly affects ABT, then indirectly impacts patient compliance.


    For Africa’s health systems, the study emphasises the need to invest in high quality, accurate, sustained Internet health information. Setting up the service with minimal operational resources may be unhelpful and disruptive.


  • Managing and mapping EHRs after implementation's essential

    While EHRs may be a solution, implementing them’s not enough. They need managing effectively to sustain their benefits. A white paper from ServiceNow describes a way to do it.


    Because EHRs are complicated, mission-critical and support high quality patient outcomes, visibility of their reach into all healthcare’s parts enables effective and efficient EHR management. Service visibility: A road map for IT Operations and managing your EHR system says healthcare ICT teams need an EHR  map that shows its infrastructure and the services that rely on it. A service-level view’s needed to. This should show how EHR modules, features and hospital and clinical services are routed over the ICT infrastructure. 


    It’s a considerable project. Automated mapping services can help. A solution should:


    • Automatically map complete services within a few hours
    • Doesn’t need significant input from your domain experts
    • Traces hospital business services across entire ICT and clinical environments, not just a few technology domains
    • Maps custom-built business services, not just standard services such as email or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. 


    Benefits of EHR mapping include:


    • Pinpointing disruptions to EHRs that affect critical hospital and clinical services
    • Identifying root causes of hospital service issues
    • Instantly seeing the impact of planned changes to specific EHR environments, reducing the time needed for manual analysis
    •  Easily optimising architecture of EHR-related hospital and clinical services, saving time, reducing costs and improving reliability
    • Securing and simplifying major transformation initiatives, such as data centre consolidations, upgrades, new modules and migrations. 


    These combine into sustained support for benefits realisation and embedding them into daily clinical and working practices. It’s an essential part of EHR investment that Africa’s health systems should consider to ensure that EHR implementation isn’t the end, but the start of improved healthcare. 


  • Saudi Arabia’s RAH@H aims to improve healthcare quality
      

    Connecting and integrating healthcare resources to improve quality’s a core eHealth goal. In Riyadh, the Remotely Accessible Healthcare at Home (RAH@H) initiative offers a daily, patient centric, connected health model to achieve it. Five themes are integrated: 

    • Educating
    • Empowering
    • Influencing
    • Monitoring
    • Treating. 

    Achieving these depends on RAH@H operating at the centre of a technological hub.

    Available both on Android and IOS, RAH@H uses modern technologies for telemedicine, webinars, and observations from medical devices to serve patients. Healthcare needs of vulnerable communities that don’t have ready access to services. They include pregnant women, especially with complications such as hypertension, gestational diabetes and cardiac conditions.

    Interventions include:

    • Improved nutrition
    • Prevention and protection against diseases and illness.

    These aim for outcomes of:

    • Better life quality
    • Creating satisfied and empowered patients
    • Increased treatment compliance.

    Based in Riyadh, RAH@H’s project custodian’s the Director General of Prince Naif Bin AbdulAziz Health Research Center at King Saud University in Riyadh. It's concept and technology can have a role in African countries and their vulnerable, underserved communities.

  • AI needs faster data access for researchers and analysts

    Maximising AI’s potential for clinical research and breakthroughs needs access to large data volumes to train then deploy AI models. A white paper by International Data Corporation (IDC), sponsored by: Pure Storage, says Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are too slow for the task. It says All-Flash Arrays (AFAs) are faster and more accurate. 


    An AFA’s a Solid State Disks (SSD) storage system with several flash memory drives. Instead of searching for data on spinning HDDs, SSDs have no moving parts, so are faster to access. The Tech Republic has an entry-level guide on AFAs. It says they’re disrupting traditional data storage resources. 


    IDC’s white paper emphasises AI as a learning process where researchers and analysts need prompt access to data for clinical projects. It has two main benefits:


    • Shortens the clinical innovation time from desk to bedside
    • Attracting and retaining scarce clinical researchers and data scientists who look for leading-edge AI investment and infrastructure to succeed.

    Improved data response times with AFA benefits clinical teams that need access to clinical data for direct patient care too. Faster response times help to improve their productivity and efficiency. They also help to minimise eHealth frustrations and improve job satisfaction. 


    As eHealth foundations are vital parts of eHealth strategies, Africa’s health systems should consider SSDs along with expanding network capacity and connectivity capacity.  


  • Better eHealth can improve HIV monitoring and surveillance

    Ambitions to eliminate HIV are enthusiastically in place. Achieving them, such as the 90-90-90 goals can benefit from better eHealth. An article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) says questions remain about the sustainability of the programmes and the value of data initiatives. 


    Five principles identified in Sustainable Monitoring and Surveillance Systems to Improve HIV Programs: Review are:


    1. Better quality, local, granular, and disaggregated data to design and support a sustainable responses to ending the AIDS epidemic
    2. Supporting the health services cascade needs a cascade of linked data
    3. Using surveillance data is an intervention in itself, allowing programmes and communities to improve services’ responses
    4. Surveillance needs systematic investment of at least 5 to 10% of programme budgets so that remaining resources address the epidemic and its impact can be assessed
    5. Increased support for routine, integrated, district health data as part of health information systems, including sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis, linked to real-time health decisions.


    The study found that data’s been removed from healthcare settings and communities. It’s part of anonymous testing, national surveys, and modelling. It says that routine data’s part of implementation and an essential part of public health interventions,  packages of prevention and care. Without routine data availability, it’s difficult to achieve an effective public health or community responses. 


    This highlights the need for Africa’s health systems to review their HIV data components to test how they fit the service requirements identified by the study. It seems that some development or resetting may be needed.


  • Wearable heart rate monitors don’t tick the box

    A cynical insight from Napoleon Bonaparte was “If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.” I doesn’t fit wearable mHealth, where reliable results are everything.

    Research in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) says some wearables have considerable promise, but have to do much better at delivery.


    It sees an important role for wearable sensor technology in clinical research and healthcare. Before it can, it must undergo rigorous evaluation prior to market launch and its performance should be supported by evidences. The researchers found that match between three heart rate monitoring devices and an electrocardiography (ECG) reference was weak.


    Many studies have tried to validate wrist-worn photoplethysmography (PPG) heart rate monitors, but contrasting results question their utility. A big problem’s inadequate methodologies.


    Validation strategies should consider the nature of data provided by both the investigational and reference devices. There must be uniformity in the statistical approach to the analyses too. Investigators should test the technology in user populations and in appropriate settings for the planned uses. Developers, suppliers and scientific communities need robust standards to validate new wearable sensor technology. 


    There’s a lot more to do before wearables can become mainstream clinical devices. The findings and recommendations should be considered be Africa’s health systems as they advance their mHealth strategies and plans.


  • GPS tracking finds a role for dementia patients

    Location, location, location’s not just a property agents’ mantra for house hunting and valuations. It’s essential for dementia patients and their health workers and family carers too. Knowing the whereabouts of the patients and loved ones can be supported by GPS. A NHS organisation in Dorset, UK’s testing a tracking device in shoe insoles to know patients’ locations and help to keep them safe.


    It was reported in a BBC Radio 4 programme that alerts are sent to carers’ mobiles when users stray from designated areas. The can be a nursing home yard or garden. The GPS can pinpoint patients precisely to map. When they stray, they can be found, minimising the risk of harm and needing hospital care. 


    Alz Products makes trackers prices at £75 and a £26 monthly fee. They can be transferred to other footwear, so it’s a price per user. 


    A report from the South Central Region of the Dementia Action Alliance South Central Region says there are 670,000 people with dementia in England and 550,000 friends and family acting as their primary carers. Socio-economic costs across healthcare, social care and wider society are estimated at £19b in 2011. It’s more than cancer, heart disease or stroke costs.   


    These kinds of impacts from imaginative innovation offer Africa’s eHealth programmes direct patient and healthcare benefits. They need a significant place in their strategies and plans.