Bouy determines a person’s medical condition
Doctors and computer scientists in Boston and New York have developed Buoy, a free AI platform. It helps people to use their symptoms to determine their medical conditions and make better decisions. The eHealth tool began in 2014 at the Innovation Laboratory at Harvard. Buoy’s co- founder and CEO, Andrew Le says currently, medical information provided by simplistic web symptom checkers are often risky and unreliable. To overcome these limitations, Buoy leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to provide personalised and accurate analyses and diagnoses to users so they can quickly and easily have more control of their healthcare.
Bouy asks users to enter their ages, genders, and symptoms. It then asks a few questions, such as the severity of their symptoms and their durations. It uses this information to analyse against millions of medical records to generate other important, more specific questions. After two to three minutes of analysis, Buoy has an accurate and detailed understanding of users’ conditions. It will then recommend appropriate healthcare alternatives. If immediate treatment’s needed, it provides directions on how to connect with a nearby healthcare providers.
An article in eHealth news says Bouy’s been through a battery of quality control tests. The result’s that it can accurately analyse a wide range of symptoms, such as common colds, abdominal pains and how a change of running shoes has created muscular or skeletal issues.
The study tried to determine how Buoy interprets a cough compared the top five web-based symptom checkers. It examined 100 standardised cases involving 33 different diagnoses with severity ranging from life-threatening pulmonary embolisma to benign, normal cough. Prevalence was assessed too, ranging from rare histoplasmosis to common cold. Results were that Buoy’s analyses were 92% accurate as compared to WebMD at 56%, Healthline at 53%, Mayo Clinic at 38% and Isabel at 28%. Buoy has over 5,000 users and is available as an app on Apple store and directly from Buoy.
- 1,028 views
- May 15, 2017
- Gontse Ramela
An mHealth app increases smoking cessation chances
Globally, over 1.1 billion people smoked tobacco. That’s an estimate for 2015 from the WHO. Many more men smoke than women. Tobacco is the only legal drug that kills many of its users when it is used exactly as its manufacturers intended. WHO has estimated that tobacco use, both smoking and smokeless, causes about six million deaths a year across the world. Many of these are premature. It includes approximately 600,000 people estimated to die from the effects of second-hand smoke.
Clickotine, is an mHealth app that aims to help reduce the number of smokers. It emphasises the chances of successful rehabilitation from tobacco use. Research in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) shows that a personalised app for smoking cessation can help smokers who wish to quit, but who prefer using less intensive clinical intervention.
An article in mHealth Intelligence says Clickotine offers a user-friendly way for patients to engage with their needs. It is developed with effective personalisation and engagement features of a smartphone app but includes components to support personal intervention complying with US clinical practice guidelines (USCPG). A questionnaire starts up when Clickotine is opened. It probes users to record their smoking behaviours and quitting goals. They also create a user profile with their unique smoking behaviours and input for personalised updates and messages.
A log tool allows users to record smoking behaviours like cravings, sentiments, and number of cigarettes smoked. It is one of the app’s most popular features. An article published in PubMed.gov says people between 18 and 65 used the app to start quitting on their own. About 45% abstained for seven days. Almost 27% abstained for 30 days. It seems that mHealth apps could provide a good step towards smoking cessation across Africa. However, they need more testing. Will this app have the same effect in All Low and Middle Income (LMIC) countries?
- 947 views
- May 12, 2017
- Hlobisile Vilakazi
Medical Aid Films and Econet are transforming malaria health education in Zimbabwe
Roughly 50% of Zimbabwe’s population live in areas with a high risk of malaria transmission. In response to the need for improved awareness about the disease, Medical Aid Films have been working with Econet Wireless on an innovative project to reach health workers and communities with vital information on their mobile phones. With over 9 million subscribers, Econet Wireless is Zimbabwe's biggest mobile operator, reaching over 65% of the mobile market.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to share free, easy-to-access information through animated films, which people can watch on their phones and share again and again, to improve knowledge and save lives.” Mr Douglas Mboweni, CEO Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
Produced with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care and a team of experts, the mobile-friendly animations focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria and are available in English, Shona and Ndebele.
The animations are available to watch for free on the zero-rated Econet Health website, with the link disseminated via blast SMS to all subscribers. They will also be shared with communities across Zimbabwe, supporting training and awareness-raising work of Zimbabwe’s National Malaria Control Programme.
“We are extremely proud to be working with Econet on this project – a fantastic example of the public and private sectors coming together to improve access to vital health information for people across Zimbabwe”. Chair of Medical Aid Films Board of Trustees, Richard Meredith
The films address Malaria Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment.
- 854 views
- May 08, 2017
- Will Sanderson
mHealth can now control diabetes
The change in mHealth emphasis from wearables that monitor to one’s that have clinical benefits, especially for chronic diseases, has taken a big leap forward. A study by a team in Shanghai, China in Science Translational Medicine, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says its produced a device that can help to control diabetes. Smartphone-controlled optogenetically engineered cells enable semiautomatic glucose homeostasis in diabetic mice, includes a Swiss author, has used a combination of genetic engineering and optics with wireless technology to control remotely the release of glucose-lowering hormones by engineered, implanted cells. It’s seen as an “Elegant feat of synthetic biology.”
The technique implants hydrogel capsules that contain engineered cells and light-emitting diode light sources. These provide a semi-autonomous system that maintains glucose homeostasis over several weeks. A custom-designed home server SmartController processes wireless signals so a smartphone regulates hormone production. The eventual result is mHealth for cell-base therapies provided in clinics.
WHO has estimated that some 7 million people in Africa were diabetic in 2000. It expects that by 2030, more than 18 million people will suffer from it, up from about 0.6% of the population to 1.5%, an extra 370,000 people each year. The breakthrough for people’s very important for Africa.
- 1,026 views
- May 05, 2017
- Lesley Dobson
mHealth economics and finance are separate and integrated
As mHealth continues to expand, especially from narrowly focused wearables to sophisticated clinical data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robust economic and financial profiles are more important.
Underlying sequences and profiles over time reveal information than can help to modify existing mHealth services and plan investments. A team from Acfee , the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHU) and Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative has constructed a stage-based process for integrating economic and financial evaluations into business cases and M&E.
Published this month in Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation (CERA), “Defining a staged-based process for economic and financial evaluations of mHealth programs” describes how eeconomic evaluations generate evidence about value for money achieved by a project. Financial evaluations provide evidence on the financing required to initiate, sustain and expand programmes and assess their affordability. Integrated economic and financial evaluation has several advantages. It:Demonstrates how mHealth can be implemented concurrently across lifecycleHelps to manage progressions across stages of maturityImproves the rigour of evidence, optimise allocations of scarce and finite resourcesFacilitates programme planning, implementation, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.
Economic and financial data have some common features. It’s a theme important for Amnesty LeFevre from JHU, She says “There are so few high quality evaluations of digital health solutions, let alone ones that rigorously explore costs and consequences, particularly across sub-populations and geographic areas and consider the financial implications of sustaining and scaling up. Our article aims to promote evidence-based decision-making and encourage decision-makers to rely on a wider range of analyses to inform their decision on optimal resource uses.” It needs six stages:
1. Defining programme strategies and links with strategic outcomes
2. Effectiveness assessments
3. Full or partial economic evaluation
4. Sub-group analyses
5. Estimating resource requirements for expansion
6. Affordability assessment and identifying sustainable financing models.
It recommends analysts:Prioritise activities within these stages based on programmes’ links with health outcomesAlign these with mHealth solutions’ broader stages of maturity and evaluationIncorporate into M&E activities and match outputs to stakeholders’ evidence needsFit to time points of initiations and secure available evaluation resources for each stage.
Acfee’s Sean Broomhead and a report author said “mHealth is a crucial and expanding part of Africa’s health systems. It’s vital we can show it’s worth it, affordable and sustainable. This rigorous methodology has an essential part to play in mHealth’s future.” Adopting the combined methodology will help to improve mHealth’s role in health systems.
- 965 views
- April 28, 2017
- Lesley Dobson
Vodacom Siyakha launches mHealth for expecting mothers
Siyakha means ‘we are building’ in isiZulu. It’s also a platform used by Vodacom South Africa, and offers prepaid customers free access to a range of zero-rated sites, including:Vodacom insurance productsFree health content from the TV series Hello DoctorVodacom’s infotainment platform Video PlayEducational portals and careers and jobs websites.
Vodacom Siyakha has an mHealth service for pregnant mothers too. Mum and Baby builds on Siyakha’s health service to offer maternal support to pregnant mothers. It provides educational articles videos and health information containing stage-based pregnancy information and advice. An article in IT News Africa says Mum and Bay also provides free health information and videos for childhood development too, extending across children’s first five years. Expecting mothers receive three weekly SMS’s to keep them undated on the progress of their pregnancies. These videos and SMS’s cover a range of health topics including:Sexual and reproductive health Breastfeeding Immunisation Early childhood development Mother and child bonding Nutrition HIV/AIDS.
A publication at My News Room, says Mum and Baby’s available in several languages, making it more accessible. The solution targets expectant mothers who lack easy access to healthcare facilities, It can be used by family caregivers too, who’ll be empowered with information and tools to use in their daily work setting.
Vodacom customers can access Mum and Baby by dialing *111*88#, a prepaid number, or visiting the Siyakha mobi site.
- 1,574 views
- April 26, 2017
- Gontse Ramela
mHealth good practices can reduce avoidable readmissions
Many people don’t like the prospect of being admitted to hospital. It’s tolerable when it’s unavoidable. Being readmitted when it’s avoidable’s not a pleasant step, both for patients and their families and friends. A report from Mobile Smith, an app platform provider, says about 70% of the US’s hospital readmissions are avoidable. It’s hard to find equivalent numbers for Africa’s health systems.
How Mobile Apps Can Reduce Preventable Readmissions sets out efficient app strategies that lead to quick impact on reducing avoidable readmissions. They’re:Effective discharge communication to minimise poor communication with patients and families members at discharge, a main reason for readmissions arising from confusion about follow-up care and prescribed medications Better discharge procedures that include education, communications with patients and families, support after discharge and fewer unresolved medical issues needing action after discharge, all of which result in lower readmission and improved patient outcomesUse an app for post-discharge with interactive functions that includes promoting self-reliance, empowering patients to take charge of their health, connections to EHRs’ messages, managing appointments, access to educational articles and storing documents and notes Improving prescription adherence, including knowledge of the purposes of their medications and interactions, to improve health outcomes by tracking medication doses and intervals receiving medication reminders and recording reactions.
There are six good practices:Research, know and understand target patient groupsStart simple and iterate oftenPolish user interfaces and experiencesKeep apps freshEstablish secure data exchangesEmbrace analytics to track utilisation and understand positives and negatives.
These are valuable requirements for all mHealth initiatives. Africa’s developers and users can benefit by adopting them.
- 925 views
- April 26, 2017
- Tom Jones
MapMyIndia and VISIT launch mHealth for Inida’s Swastha Bharat
As mHealth moves towards more sophisticated services, collaboration between suppliers creates opportunities to move ahead. A report on India’s Outlook news scroll says MapMyIndia, a digital map, GPS and tracking service, and VISIT Internet Services, provider of a range of getvisit apps are working together to support the government’s Swastha Bharat, a video and radio health magazine available through 30 regional kendras, types of charitable trusts. Doordarshan and All India Radio are the broadcasters.
It’s an mHealth service for people living in smart cities and, those with populations between 50,000 and 99.999, the tier-2 towns and villages. They’ll be able to access health services such as emergency ambulance services, finding nearby hospitals, clinics, labs and pharmacies, and a way to consult doctors and specialists by chatting, phoning and video.
The new app’s powered by mapping technologies and AI-enabled telemedicine platform, respectively. VISIT developed the live chat service. It’s backed by India's top doctors who regularly review the information provided to users. It includes health recommendations about the most chatted issues, adjusted for users’ demographic data and past history. The aim’s to help them avoid health concerns. The chat assistant also provides updates on local epidemics and any preventive steps that users need to take.
It’s an mHealth initiative that Africa’s health systems could adopt for their towns and cities. From experiences in these locations, it may prove beneficial for some remote areas.
- 860 views
- April 25, 2017
- Tom Jones
mHealth to test male fertility
Infertility’s an important health challenge. Globally about 15%, 48.5 million, couples are affected by infertility. A study shows that underlying fertility issues are often associated with sperm abnormalities. A unique view on male infertility around the globe says that social stigma and lack of access to testing meant that many men never pursue diagnosis evaluation.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts have developed an mHealth device that can accurately diagnose mens fertility by testing sperm counts. The innovative smartphone app and device pairing is fast, highly accurate and affordable. It could become as prevalent for male fertility tests as the at-home pregnancy test is for women.
A device for semen analysis and rapid infertility diagnostics attaches to a smartphone to count sperm numbers and measure motility, the markers for infertility. Fortune publications has reported that the combination can accurately measure sperm concentration and linear and curvilinear velocities using a small volume, less than 35 ?l, of unwashed, unprocessed semen samples. Using the solution requires drawing semen samples into disposable microchips plugged into the side of phones’ attachments, similar to a USB. In less than five seconds, analysed results are displayed on the screen.
Recently, the mHealth device was tested in comparison to lab equipment. Results in the journal Science Translational Medicine show 350 semen samples of both infertile and fertile men were analysed and found to be 98% accurate in identifying abnormal sperm samples. The device could also help to test sperm count of men who recently underwent a vasectomy to determine if the procedure was successful.
The team’s currently performing additional tests to gain approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). An article on ehealth news says the device will cost about US$50 when it’s ready to go to market.
- 1,168 views
- April 19, 2017
- Gontse Ramela
There’s an mHealth generation gap
Technology adoption’s becoming shorter. Larry D Rosen said technologies that used to take dozens of years to become mainstream now achieve it in three to five years. Radio took 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million. Television took 13 years. Personal computers took 16 years. The Internet took a mere five years. Within these changes, different generations use technologies in different ways. Their questions, choices and web navigations aren’t the same.
Research in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) aimed to learn more in the context of chronic conditions, an increasing challenge for people and healthcare systems. Smartphones and health apps are promising tools to change health-related behaviours and manage chronic conditions, but they may have different roles across generations. The study explored:The extent of smartphone and health app useSocio-demographic, medical and behavioural correlations of smartphone and health app useAssociations of app uses and characteristics with actual health behaviours.
A survey of 4,144 Germans aged 35 and older identified socio-demographics, presence of chronic conditions, health behaviours, quality of life, health literacy and the use of the Internet, smartphones and health apps.
About 61% of the sample were smartphone users. Younger users undertook more Internet research net, were more likely to work full-time, have a university degree, engage more in physical activity, ate low fat diets and have a higher health-related quality of life and literacy.
Almost 21% of smartphone users also used health apps. They were younger, less likely to be native German speakers, undertook more research on the Internet, more likely to report chronic conditions, engaged more in physical activity, ate low fat diets and were more health literate than people who used only smartphones.
The profile of their health apps was:
· Planning 51%
· Smoking cessation 44%
· Healthy diets 39%
· Weight loss 23%
· Reminders 36%
· Prompting motivation 34%
· Providing information 34%.
There were significant associations between planning, health behaviour and physical activity. Equivalent links were found between feedback or monitoring and physical activity, and between feedback or monitoring and adherence to doctors’ advice.
Two overall findings emerged. One’s that there were many smartphone and health app users. The other’s that a substantial proportion of the population was not engaged. The difference is attributed to age, socio-economics, health literacy and health disparities in mHealth use. A recommendation’s that health app developers and researchers should include the needs of older people, people with low health literacy and chronic conditions in their innovative endeavours. As Africa’s population increases and the demographics slowly change, this will be important to maximise the benefits.
- 921 views
- April 19, 2017
- Tom Jones
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