Consumer Health Informatics News

Mobile Health Applications Help People Lose Weight

It’s not a surprise that the mobile apps industry is booming. There are lots of health-related apps out there, including fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, remote health monitoring systems, and so on.

A new set of apps has recently emerged; we are talking about applications that help motivate people lose weight. The weight tracking component is often times included in the application, of course.

In a recent study, the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association analyzed the effectiveness of the mobile health apps, websites and printed journals. The study used close to 100 overweight people who were trying to lose weight, with the goal of determining if mobile health apps can have a significant impact or not.

The results were not surprising at all: people who were regularly monitoring their weight using various mobile apps were more likely to exercise on a regular basis, and thus achieve their weight loss goals faster.

According to the authors of the study, future generations of mobile health apps may allow real-time recording of food consumption. It looks like self-monitoring is here to stay and change the things for the better, at least when it comes to weight loss.


The Internet of Things: Hype or Reality?

The IoT acronym has become famous, but looking back, is there a real value behind it? According to the consultants at McKinsey, IoT are defined as being sensors and actuators that are connected to computing devices by making use of computer networks. The sensors can monitor people, animals or the natural world.

McKinsey has studied about 300 IoT devices, estimating their potential benefits. A useful device can save vehicle owners money by predicting when maintenance may be needed, for example.

The devices were categorized according to their “settings”:

  1. The “Human” setting includes medical devices that are either attached to or placed inside the human body.
  2. The “Home” setting includes devices that are placed inside building inhabited by humans. The Wi-Fi networks were using RP SMA adapters:
  3. The “Retail environments” setting includes spaces where people engage in commerce.
  4. The “Offices” setting includes spaces where people are working.
  5. The “Factories” setting includes standardized production environments.
  6. The “Worksites” setting includes custom production environments.
  7. The “Vehicles” setting includes systems that are placed inside moving vehicles.
  8. The “Cities” setting includes urban environments.
  9. The “Outside” setting includes spaces placed in-between urban environments.

The full report can be downloaded at this link.

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Bingham Memorial Hospital Uses Modern Technology for Bariatric Treatment

Bingham Memorial Hospital, a medium sized hospital located in Blackfoot, Idaho, is not your average rural hospital. The health care unit started its activity about 50 years ago, but it has constantly grown since then, becoming one of the top employers in the entire Idaho state.

This is the list with the Bariatric Surgery procedures that are performed at BMH:

– Laparoscopic Gastric Banding;
– Sleeve Gastrectomy;
– R & Y Gastric Bypass

According to a statement made by hospital CEO Louis Kraml, Bingham Memorial Hospital has become a state of the art community hospital.  Obesity is now considered to be a chronic disease, and one that is gaining more and more importance, as the number of people that are affected by it is constantly growing.

With morbid obesity, serious negative health consequences occur as a direct result of extra weight. People that have a weight that’s greater than 200% in comparison with their ideal weight are suffering from morbid obesity. The same term is used to describe people that have an excess of 100 pounds of more, or have a body mass index value of over 40.

It is important to understand that for people that have a healthy weight, the BMI values will range from 18 to 25, while obese people are divided into five classes, with BMI values ranging from 30 to over 60.

About two thirds of the adult population suffers from obesity in the USA; what’s even more worrying is that a third of our children are overweight, while a staggering number of 10 million Americans are morbidly obese, being in a situation where the excess weight puts their health, and even life, in danger.

Things aren’t looking that good, but hospital CEO Louis Kraml works on a vision of the future, and through bariatric treatment methods, his hospital is making the needed steps in the right direction. But with obesity leading to death for close to half a million US citizens per year, the entire population must be made aware of the risks.

Recent studies have demonstrated that life expectancy decreases dramatically for the persons that suffer from obesity. The average lifespan decrease is seven years, for both men and women. Sitting right next to smoking, obesity is the second cause that leads to death.

Obesity-related co-morbidities include diabetes, respiratory diseases, sleep apnea, depression, high blood pressure, asthma and pulmonary disorder, high cholesterol levels, congestive heart failure, strokes, osteoarthritis, and many more.

So how does the bariatric surgery candidate look like? To begin with, the BMI values must be over 40. As a general rule, the patient should have over 100 extra pounds in comparison with his or her ideal weight. People interested in using BMH’s services should be 18 to 60 years old; there are exceptions, of course, depending on how healthy a particular person is.

Most of all, it is important to be dedicated and prepared to change your lifestyle, as well as be prepared to follow up with your doctor.

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Medical Servers

When it comes to health care, it is important to understand that digital information was completely out of question less than 100 years ago. The technological explosion that took place during the last few decades has significantly changed the things for the better, though; many doctors now make use of computers and the medicine as we know it greatly benefits from the latest discoveries in the information technology field.

medical servers explainedBut the computers that are used in the hospitals aren’t (or shouldn’t) be regular computers, which can be bought in a regular computer shop. No matter if we are talking about PCs that are used at the hospital’s reception, computers that are used for administrative tasks or computers that calculate the parameters of the laser that is used for eye surgery, everything must run without any issues, thus preventing any and all of the dangerous situations that could cause problems to the patients.

It is not all about the computers, though. The software that runs on them has to be as error-free as possible. The modern software development methodology teaches the programmers to use fallback techniques, thus making sure that everything is kept under control and no harm is done even if the system errors out.

Then, there’s database connectivity and privacy. The patients’ database must be kept secure; it is best to keep it encrypted, and limit the number of people that know or have access to its password to a minimum.

Often times, a hospital has several branches and a lot of data is exchanged between computers that have a similar role either via a local area network or using the internet. The much better alternative is to use a centralized server and only allow limited access to the clients. As an example, it could be possible to give read-only access to the clients and only make actual database changes on the server. Saving a copy of the database before making any significant changes to it is also recommended.

Since all the records must be kept in-house, the amount of information will be constantly increasing. Not only that, but it is known that many hospital had to face serious issues in the past because their computers were attacked by hackers, or even because their IT personnel was unable to properly take care of the server maintenance.

The conclusion is quite simple: a medical server has to pass with flying colors through much more tests in comparison with a regular computer, and even with a server, because it is a critical mission hardware and software system. Ideally, the server should be kept in a data center facility – lists several providers in each one of the American states and Canada. This way, the hospital will have access to its precious data at all times, because the power requirements, internet requirements, constant temperature, security measures, etc, are all in place.

Critical units have to face all sorts of emergencies, and the patient data has to be input into the system the minute he or she enters the room. Choosing the proper doctor that will treat the patient, prescribing the necessary medicines, deciding on the type of treatment that will be necessary, and even choosing the proper type of food for that particular patient, are just a few of the operations that simply can’t be done without having a centralized server that is able to share data with all the different medical branches of the hospital.

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New Imaging Technique Developed to Speed Up Multiple Sclerosis Research

Researchers from The University of British Columbia are grateful for the development of an imaging technique that is meant to assist them with their study on Multiple Sclerosis. The new approach which is a different take on interpreting Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans was designed to recognize signs of the neurological illness with better accuracy. For more info, see

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

According to Louis Kraml, CEO at Bingham Memorial Hospital, Multiple Sclerosis is an incurable and rare demyelinating disease that affects mostly women who are at their mid-20s. It attacks portions of the nervous system which leads to impairment in abilities to communicate, move, and even think. Those suffering from it experience difficulty in getting almost anything done. Aside from dealing with constant headaches, inexplicable fatigue, nausea, numbness, vertigo, tremors, and irritability, they also fear eventual vision loss and paralysis.

The Latest MRI Method

mri scansWith the new MRI technique, electromagnetic waves’ frequency is analyzed. It is unlike conventional MRI means which focus on the size of such waves and is deemed the more sensitive approach of detecting alterations in tissue structures in the brain. As the results of the scans are found to be way more detailed, radiologists are able to analyze Multiple Sclerosis cases closely which can lead to promising discoveries.

Due to Multiple Sclerosis being a progressive neurological disease, the speeding up of researches that can lead to a cure or even just treatment will be greatly appreciated. Patients diagnosed with it remain optimistic that they’ll eventually see better days. Though they may have learned to cope with their situations, they won’t deny that they are still hoping to be completely rid of the illness.

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Informatics For Consumer Health

Hospitals, clinics and all sorts of medical care institutions started to use medical software long time ago. These programs are created in order to sustain, help and improve the assistance of patients. They may refer to billing, schedules, managing the patients’ records, storing images or medical prescriptions.

As with any other software category, too the offer is wide in this field and some of the medical institutions may encounter difficulties deciding which ones are the best for the needs they might have.

medical softwareA medical institution may be looking for a electronic medical records application, a piece of software that manages the records of the patients. Another category has to do with the medical billing or patient scheduling. There are also software programs dedicated to radiology, picture archiving or medical accounting.

No matter the program the medical institution is going to choose, one thing is certain – the medical assistance is going to get a lot better as a result of using that application, time and energy will be saved, and things will be kept under control. Doctors will have rapid access to records which are always updated and chronologically presented.

But purchasing a medical software package is just the first step of a more complex process. It is very important to know that the creators of these programs will also deliver classes during which doctors, nurses and anyone that will be using the program are taught how to properly use any characteristic of the software that they have bought.

It is important to know that some of the software packages come also in demo modes and will run for a limited number of days, so that doctors can evaluate the performance of the applications and decide for the best solution that will fit their needs. Here are a few examples that might be useful for hospitals, clinics, and so on.

All Practice Management software help the doctors better manage the administrative side of their work. These are the programs that schedule patients, create bills, can output various reports etc.

NextGen Practice Management is a program that provides the user the possibility to schedule patients and take care of the billing; it is a piece of software that has ranked in the top ten KLAS Awards, under the “physicians” subset. An interesting component of the package is the WorkLog Manager, which allows the user to receive details about what is the next best solution in case that an appointment has been cancelled.

AthenaHealth deals with billing the patients and offers consistent reports to the doctors. It’s a niche piece of software, but it does its job quite well.

eClinical Works is another complex software that includes billing, scheduling and data storage. The programs that the company has created along the years have won several prizes, and for this reason its maker has been considered to be the largest and fastest growing medical software company in the world. Since this particular program covers a lot of ground, it is quite complex, so it should be tested by all doctors in order to make a correct decision related to the actual software package that they are going to be using in the end.

The list may continue with programs like McKesson: Horizon Practice Plus, Allscripts PM, GE Healthcare: Centricity Group Management 4.0, Epic Practice Management, Vitera Intergy, Cerner Powerworks, and so on.

When it comes to billing and getting the right software to manage all patients’ bills, there are several aspects to consider. First of all, and this is considered by many as the most important aspect, is to see if the software that you are interested in handles multiple tax identification numbers, if it has an audit trail, and if it automatically verifies insurance and provide financial reports.

These are aspects that will guarantee a correct billing process, during which neither the medial institution nor the patients get to pay less or lose money. It is important to know if the software vendor provides upgrades and patches, as well as proper training for the personnel that will use the software; this way, you will ensure that the application is going to be used correctly and at the right parameters.

Among the most popular pieces of software that address the medical institutions needs, MediTouch EHR represents a complete electronic health record solution. Created using modern technology, the application also offers a touch screen interface, so the software is very easy to use. There are numerous aspects the software addresses, among them being allergy checks, lab tests, document management and medication management.

The program is web based, so the user does not have to install anything on the computer. Basically, any user that has an electronic device which can access the Internet can use the software. It is good to know that the program has an interface which was designed especially for iPad users. Also, the software patches are applied online, so you will always be able to run the latest version without having to think about updates, patches, and so on.

The Kareo software program is used in the U.S. by thousands of doctors for billing patients, making schedules, insurance confirmation, storage of patients’ documents and reports. The main feature which makes this software special is the fact that it is very easy to be used, providing the user a very intuitive interface.

This software is web based as well, has an affordable price and can be used by all types of medical specialties. It is a program that the creators recommend for small to medium practice institutions.

Waiting Room Solutions represents one of the first software packages dedicated to medical institutions, a pioneer when it comes to web storage. The 2013 version of the application can help all the doctors, especially with medical billing, managing the scheduling of the patients or prescriptions, just to name several of its functions and capabilities. The simplicity coupled with performance of this software has made it win several prizes. The software price is affordable and includes upgrades and support.

Created back in in 1998, Greenway Medical Technologies has managed to remain, year after year, among the best software providers for ambulatory care and clinical research. The popular GreenWay PrimeSUITE application offers a lot to the users. The soft is useful in medical practice of any kind, be it independent medical associations, regional centers, etc.

Used by more than 20,000 members, WebPT has proved efficiency especially in rehab therapy. Due to the way it has been created, the software provides easy and rapid access to information stored on the web, from any place in the world where internet access is available. The software can be used by clinics of any size.

When the medical center has more than a few doctors on the staff, one of the solutions that can dramatically improve the quality of the medical assistance can be Vitera Intergy, which is a complete suite that includes practice management, health records, patient portals, and has already won several awards.

Vitera Healthcare solutions, including Vitera Medical Manager and Vitera MedWare, is used by more than 400,000 healthcare individuals, among them being 80,000 physicians. Last year Vitera launched two programs dedicated to iPad users. The last upgarde was made last year, and it was meant to be an important step forward, especially for radiologists.

CareCloud is another modern piece of software dedicated to medical use, which has an accessible price for the medical institutions. Appointments can be manages more rapidly, billing is correctly done and claims are processed more accurately when CareCloud is installed and used by the medical staff.

These are just some of the programs that are highly appreciated by individuals looking for very easy to use medical software, people that want to use web based software instead of the old style software packages, which must be installed on the computer, updated, and so on. A simple internet search will reveal more applications like these, so do your job and find one that suits your needs perfectly.

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