How Doctors Can Leverage the Wearables Revolution?

Did you know? The wearable technology industry is expected to grow to $34 billion by 2020. As the digital world grows with full momentum, you can safely say wearable devices are becoming a humdrum of a daily life. There is so much technology is doing in our lives that most of it are yet to be seen.

Wearables, though, can be used with multiple applications and also have a user-friendly design. With more time, we will see how wearables will revolutionise the way it’s used. Then again it is easy to see how the data from the wearables technology can help in the field of healthcare. Can a doctor really leverage the wearables revolution? Yes. In reality, it’s doing it already.

A Wearable Revolution – or is it?

When you read revolution here, please don’t jump to any conclusions. It’s not pointing to a revolution like the industrial or of the French kind. The wearables technology got into people’s lives so dramatically and it’s really the massive scale at which it’s reaching people is what the revolution is talked about here.

Wearable devices such as Fitbit, Apple Watches, and GoPro got popular in 2014 and it was no wonder that this time was known as the year for wearables. Apple shipped 11.6 million of their watches in 2015! That’s what so revolutionary about it. However, did you know? Wearables technology has been around since the 60’s. It’s only because of the economic scale such as the reach and affordability that has popularised these wearables now.

Technical devices like those mentioned above are exciting to use but you’ll be surprised how much of this is directly affecting the healthcare sector.

Can you imagine shirts that measure your heart rate or socks that record live data of your blood pressure? These are manic inventions hitting the market now. Just so you know that wearables technology is not just for the wrists.

Live Data adds to the excitement

It’s important to eat healthy food, yes. People know this, but how many really follow it or can they afford to follow an organic or vegan diet? Same is the case for exercise. You know exercise is good for you, but do you do it every day like you’re supposed to? That’s why these wearables are so exciting to use.

Wearable devices for fitness, track live data. Whether you are standing, walking, or running, all your data is tracked and recorded. Before the wearable revolution? Only your weight and vitals were tracked, but how effective were they to predict anything…

The live data from devices now measure sleep patterns, your activity or inactivity levels are averaged every day. If you’re into this, then tracking and playing with these numbers will help you improve your health. Something like the Pokemon Go game where players are walking around the area to play the game and get exercise also, etc. The drama unfolds further when you share your fitness numbers with your “fitness pals” and track your progress against others. This way, even if you aren’t feeling up to working out or feeling discouraged, there is a community to help you gather your bearings, per se.

Streamlining Diagnoses with Wearables

Say something bad happens to you and you were to be wheeled into the hospital. How long do you think it will take for the doctors to study the paperwork or look at your previous records? This is easily going to take a while before a thorough diagnostic can be made. It is no wonder that many doctors are leveraging the wearables revolution now. They are using all that live data to make better diagnoses and create effective treatment plans like never.

It is not just about the bands you wear on your wrists or the fitness data tracked on your smartphone. These are wearables that doctors wear and use to quickly accumulate your data and make swift decisions based on it. This is good news because this is a revolutionary new way to be there for patients and save more lives!

Take for instance, if someone was to come to the hospital with an allergic reaction. Allergies need to be diagnosed with tests and it may take a while before any treatment could begin. With wearable devices now, doctors can see the medication history and will gauge if the allergy stemmed from the use of any particular medicines. In a worst case scenario, the timely approbation of the wearable is enough to save that person’s life.

The wearable technology is clearly changing the way we see our health and the way doctors use patient information. It’s a fantastic new avenue for better diagnosis and effective treatment plans. This is because wearable devices have now made patient information more readily available where previously it wasn’t. Patient information was always so sensitive and private, but now technology enables both doctors and patients to share the information together.

As more people are embracing a life with wearables, doctors are leveraging this information to impact lives better and faster. It is also how the devices connect with our bodies is truly making a revolution in the healthcare industry.

Common Eye Ailments You Need to Be Aware Of

Eye ailments are cynical if you think about it. Problems in your eyes may not happen just with old age. Those can happen to you even if you are as fit as a fiddle. Either way, eyes are your greatest assets and so, it is important to celebrate them. The most important body feature apart from your teeth! Your eyes are the window to your soul but you also consume the world with your eyes. You eat with your eyes first, no? There is no point in taking your eyes for granted, for common eye ailments. Here is what you need to know so you can maintain your eye health to the T.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is contagious and one of the most common eye ailments. It comes in different forms. For instance, the infection can result from having a cold or other viral infection. Wearing infected lenses also are one of the leading causes of this disease. If you are allergic to animals or pollen, your eyes can get dry and itchy; this is the allergic form of conjunctivitis. Antibiotics are best to treat this common eye ailment.

Myopia

Did you ever have trouble looking at far away things? If you’ve been to an eye doctor’s office, this is a routine test given to patients. The test helps the optician to choose the best prescription glasses for you. Myopia can cause things at a distance to appear blurry. This is also known as a refraction error of the eye, so being near-sighted or far-sighted is a part of it. Age is also a factor and is a leading factor in developing myopia after the age of 40. Although wearing the right prescription glasses, taking vitamins may help prevent myopia, there is not enough evidence to prove this. Either way, wearing glasses or the right contact lenses can help cure the refraction errors.

Cataract

Ok so this one is more common with the aging population, but can happen at any age. Regardless, you need to know of this eye ailment. This way, you can prepare yourself and take better care of your eye health before it is too late. The cataract disease affects your lenses, clouding the eyes. It is the leading causes of blindness in most countries. There are many risk factors of cataract such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, just to name a few. You’ll be surprised to know that overexposure to the UV (ultra-violet) rays is one of the main reasons that cause cataract at any age. Untreated cataract causes severe damage to your lenses, causing vision loss. It’s not all that bad, though. The best way to cure yourself out of a cataract condition is a swift surgery – which is covered by most insurance policies too!

Glaucoma

This one is a silent killer – and it’s hereditary. In the sense, it may not show you any real symptoms or signs. This common ailment affects the nerves in your eyes. The prolonged pressure inside the eye can cause serious damage and even vision loss if left untreated. There is evidence that cancer can cause glaucoma. Although this eye ailment cannot be cured, regular visits to the doctor can help you get started on treatments to prevent further damage.

Keratoconus

Just as a robust steel skeleton holds a concrete building in place, so do collagen fibres in your eyes. These fibres keep the shape of your cornea. This is not a common eye ailment, but it isn’t rare either so that’s why we’re talking about it. You need to know of keratoconus because it can be cured with treatment. Otherwise, there is always a keratoconus transplant surgery for this eye ailment.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Yes, diabetes has serious repercussions and a common eye ailment as diabetic Diabetic Retinopathy is one of them. Diabetes gets extreme amounts of blood sugar in your blood. Prolonged high doses of sugar in your blood causes severe damage and rupture to your eyes. With the fast increasing numbers of diabetic patients in the world, keep your eye out for this common eye ailment. Although there is no cure for this (yet) laser treatments and surgical removal of the damage blood vessels in your eye help improve vision.

Macular Degeneration

This is another age-related common eye ailment. You will not believe it but this common ailment has a “Dry” and “wet” form. The dry form takes at least 10 years to complete vision loss. The wet form is more cynical. It’s bad enough that there is no cure AND factors such as smoking and family history increase the risk factors to Macular Degeneration. Then again, there are treatments available now to delay the speed at which this disease progresses. Make sure to see your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) who can help detect any early signs and help you prevent its progression.

Do you know what these common eye ailments have in common? These diseases can be prevented or even cured if detected early. Remember to keep your doctor’s appointments – especially if you wear glasses. See you doctor regularly to make sure you maintain your eye health regardless of your age.

Mercury Rising – Here is How You Can Avoid Heat Stroke

Summer has come and with it, arrived weather-related illnesses. The weather change may bring slight discomfort and fever in little children but everyone has to know of a potential heat stroke. Did you know? Your body is an amazing machine that manages its temperature by producing its own heat in the winter times and cooling the body by sweating in the summer times. Your body can take care of itself around 37 degrees, but as soon as the mercury rises, your body’s mechanisms to cool may not keep up and it should. So, when your body cannot cool itself down in extreme temperatures, heat-related problems creep up.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Hot environments are a threat to your body. The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke followed by heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is similar and also serious but not fatal like a heat stroke can be. There is a general weakness, heavy sweating, vomiting, partial loss of consciousness or pale skin.

Whether you are shopping outside, working in your garden or fields, exposure to extreme humidity and heat impedes your body’s ability to cool off. You may get heat rashes, faint due to heat exhaustion but a heat stroke is a deadly condition. If you don’t get to the doctor on time, it can even be fatal. You should know the warning signs of a heat stroke to make sure you and your loved one get immediate medical attention.

Warning signs of a Heat Stroke

If you were having a heat stroke, you may not know it! it’s funny, isn’t it? Well, knowing these signs will help you recognise the discomfort in your loved ones so you can get them help. While the signs may vary in different people, keep a lookout for these warning signs of a heat stroke:

  • No sweat and dry/hot skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Strong pulse or heart rate
  • High temperature (above 39.4 degrees)
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures

What causes heat strokes?

Knowing the causes will help you do things to avoid heat stroke. Any kind of heat-related disease is because of your body’s failed heating and cooling system. When our body sweats, it is a natural way to cool it down. Working out in hot weather, wearing heavy clothing in the heat, consuming alcohol and dehydration are of the causes for heat exhaustion. Feeling exhausted by overheating for an extended amount of time can lead to a heat stroke. Even though anyone experiencing overheating is at risk for a heat stroke, other factors can also increase the risk of heat stroke.

Who is at risk for heat strokes?

As a general rule of thumb, little children under the age of four and seniors over the age of 65 are more at risk for heat-related diseases. This is because their bodies experience difficulty in regulation at such an age.

Do you or your loved one take medication for high blood pressure? Such medications and heart-related illnesses may cause dehydration which increases the risk of heat stroke.

Are you overweight? If you or your loved one weighs more than normal, your body retains heat more and finds it difficult to cool down fast also.

Planning a vacation to a warmer or cooler climate? If you go to a place with extreme temperature, your body may struggle to keep up and maintain balance. If you going to a hotter climate, your body may not regulate itself which may cause a heat stroke.

Focus on preventing heat stroke

Here are five ways to avoid heat stroke.

  1. Avoid overexposure to the sun: Even if you have to work outside, find a cool place in the shade and away from the heat of the sun. If that is not possible, then make sure you take a lot of breaks or reschedule to avoid working in the heat all together. Use sunscreen.
  1. Stay hydrated: Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of heat stroke apart from extended heat exposure. Drink water at regular intervals even before you feel thirsty. Remember, if you are thirsty, then your body is already dehydrated. Seasonal fruits like sugarcane juice, lemon juice, and all sorts of melons are excellent hydrates of the body.
  1. Wear appropriate clothing: Some people have a tendency to put on extra clothes on babies, even in the heat! Avoid this because even babies and little children need to regulate their body temperatures and are more at risk of a heat stroke. If you have to go outside or work outside, make sure to cover your head with a scarf or a hat. Wear cotton clothes that are loose and airy to help instant cooling of our body in the summer heat.
  1. Avoid heat-y foods: Replace caffeine and alcohol with smoothies, fresh fruit or vegetable juices. Eating spicy food also increases your body temperature. So eat light meals to keep your body cool this summer.
  1. Avoid sitting in a hot car: Don’t leave little children, the elderly or your pets in a parked car. In the hot summer heat, cars tend to heat up quickly and as the mercury rises, they are at most risk of heat stroke.

With heat stroke, it’s so important to focus on the prevention methods. Do you have more tips?

How Technology Can Transform Doctor-Patient Relationship

The doctor-patient relationship is on the cusp of disruption. The increased availability of information, technology adoption, the rise of smartphones, better carrier networks, and increased internet usage are all contributing to the rise of the ‘involved patient’. Susannah Fox entrepreneur in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says, “Consumers only used to get a filtered drip of information. What the Internet did was pull open that funnel and give people more access — not complete access — to health information.

No longer are patients passive consumers of healthcare. Today, they want to manage their own health journeys, make their own health choices, keep track of their wellbeing and access clinical support that they feel is right for them. Almost 90% of the millennial generation look for medical information on social networks before they make their healthcare decisions – it is a testament to the fact that the locus of control is moving from the hands of the physician alone and into the hands of the individuals seeking care. With the help of technology, healthcare providers too, are looking at improving patient engagement along with increasing efficiencies and improving operational costs.

Physicians today are looking at mobile phones to boost patient engagement and optimally utilize their time in between commutes. A report from Research2Guidance shows that almost 80% of physicians now use a smartphone or medical app. Since an increasing number of mobile apps are now being developed keeping the regulatory and compliance requirements in mind, the healthcare community comprising of doctors, private practices and hospitals are now finding it easier to use mobile devices across the healthcare spectrum. James Avallone, Director of Physician Research at Manhattan Research aptly states, “As we move to an outcomes-based model of healthcare provision…, remote monitoring and telehealth are going to drive an extension of the point of care. We’re seeing physician attitudes really align with policy.”  In this blog, we take a look at how technology is helping doctors and patients foster a better working relationship.

Health Information Management

Given that most patients have online access, they can leverage technology to access their health records. Technologies such as cloud give both the physician and the patient access to health records such as scans, X-Rays, pathological reports, patient history etc. anytime and anywhere. This ensures that neither the patient nor the doctor wastes any time looking for and filtering the right healthcare information when they need it. With health information management systems, doctors can get a comprehensive view of a patient’s health history and are aware of any problems or issues that the patient might have forgotten to mention during a consultation. Such technologies make sure that the consultation time is used productively which make doctor-patient interactions smoother and more effective.

Improved Communication

Technology is also helping doctors and patients improve interactions with each other. With more access to their health-related information, patients feel more in control of their care as they are able to understand their conditions better.

  • Post consultation updates that can be automated and sent via SMS’s ensure that patients have access to all vital pieces of information that are essential for managing their health.
  • Improved doctor-patient interactions not only impacts the patient’s experience with the doctor but also make sure that they follow their practitioner’s directives better.
  • Access to health data also gives patients the chance to ask relevant and more focused questions to their doctors and helps them gain an understanding of what their health data is saying from the physician.
  • With technology, patients can now discuss their medications, side effects, alternative medicine, lifestyle changes etc. with their doctors more accurately.

The role of the doctor thus has evolved from being an authoritarian care provider to one who is more of a mentor and an advisor. The doctors too are able to facilitate these interactions easily as getting access to current and updated patient data and records are at their fingertips owing to smartphones.

Pre and Post-Operative Care

Technology goes a long way in advancing patient outcomes by improving pre and post-operative care and improves the surgical pathways.

  • Doctors can use technology to help the patient understand risks and benefits of a particular surgery before an operation with the help of evidence-based suggestions.
  • With the help of direct messages, doctors can intimate the patient on the necessary precautions and measures they need to take before a surgery.
  • Health information exchanges can become more streamlined when clinical data in the form of medical records and investigation results can be efficiently shared with the right stakeholders before surgical intervention making the pre-operative process smoother for both the patient and the doctors.
  • Doctors can also use technology to deliver tailored post-operative care plans which include expected length of stay, post-operative care, self-managed symptoms, and side effects etc.
  • They can complete symptom assessments electronically that can help in effective discharge planning and send electronic alerts to their patients regarding medicines and consultation reminders once they are discharged from the hospital to make health management easier and effective.

Chronic Disease Management

Technology goes a long way in chronic disease management. Mobile health applications help people with chronic diseases become more accountable towards their health. Interoperable applications enable doctors to gather healthcare data to track their patient’s behaviours and send out timely reminders to help them manage their conditions better and decrease hospital readmissions. With such technology, medical staff can send out educational interventions by providing objective data and helps the patients manage their condition better.  Almost 93% of doctors believe that mHealth applications can improve a patient’s health and 40% of doctors believe that mHealth technologies can reduce the number of visits to a physician.

Risk Management

Mobile health applications also give physicians access to health-related data which helps them identify potential candidates who are ‘at risk’ of a particular disease. For example, accessing health data to identify patients who have been susceptible to the flu at a certain time of the year can help the doctor take a more preventive approach towards healthcare. The same data can be put to use to even identify patients who are at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary diseases etc.  and preventive steps can be taken to reduce risk and promote better health.

Clearly, technology has been a big influencer in the changing doctor-patient dynamics. However, while leveraging healthcare technologies, it is essential that the application fosters interoperability between the patient and the doctor, is easy to use and is secure. Technology is allowing both patients and practitioners more control over health by offering reliable data, access to clinical support, and high information levels. This is helping patients get closer to medical science and health management than ever before by increasing transparency and participation and is helping doctors improve the quality of their patient interactions, reduce wait times and better patient outcomes.

 

Ladies- Are You Paying Enough Attention to Your Bones?

You are a woman of today. You may eat the right food and get a decent amount of exercise. You check your blood pressure levels and take expensive tests to check your cholesterol levels. Thanks to the many breast cancer awareness programs and the pink ribbon displays in December, you are well aware of the importance of breast cancer screenings too. While all this is good, the one area where you may not be paying as much attention is to your bone health.

A startling statistic says one in two women will break a bone after the age of 50. This is because of Osteoporosis which is a degenerative disease that eats away your bones, makes it brittle, and increases the risk for fracture. Women are more susceptible to this disease than men since your bones are smaller compared to men. Besides, a drop in estrogen during menopause also affects your bone health. Estrogen keeps the bones healthy and decreasing levels of it reduces the bone protection. That is why it is very important to pay enough attention to your bones from a young age to prevent bone loss at a later stage.

Another reason to consider is the disease of Osteoporosis doesn’t give you visible signals. From as young as 35 years of age, most people lose bone density. If you don’t prevent or stop this from happening to you then the symptoms eventually lead to Osteoporosis. Certain lifestyle habits such as smoking, too much alcohol use, and eating disorders can also lead to Osteoporosis. Besides, if either of your parents has it then there is a 50 percent chance you would inherit it too. So what can you do? Thankfully, there are many ways to keep your bone density levels steady at any age.

Know Your Bone Density

If you want to prevent it, you must know where you stand first. You can know your bone density through a test like a Dexa Scan. Don’t worry, it’s like taking an x-ray; not an invasive procedure. This specific scan reads into your bone health. It is advisable to take this scan as soon as you or your loved one starts menopause. Once you know your point range, you can take effective steps to prevent bone loss.

Increase Your Calcium & Vitamin D

Since your body can’t make calcium on its own, it important to replenish all the calcium you lose daily. Vitamin D is important because it improves the absorption of calcium in your body. If you are under the age of 50, then you should get about 1000 mg of calcium every day coupled with 400-800 IUs of Vitamin D. If you are older than 50, then aim for 1200 mg of calcium and double the amount of Vitamin D. You may not achieve these goals through diet alone. So speak to your doctor about taking proper supplements or change your diet to accommodate it all.

Take in bone-rich nutrition

If you want to meet the calcium and vitamin D from diet alone then you need at least three servings of calcium in your daily diet. Milk is a great source of calcium and so are milk products such as yogurt and cheese. If you are lactose intolerant or find that you have trouble digesting milk after a certain age, then consider eating more servings of dark leafy vegetables like spinach, ladies finger, broccoli, etc.

Replace the fracture-risking drugs

Certain medicines increase the fracture risk. So be open to your doctor about what medications you are taking. Are you wondering which medications might those be? The long-term use of medications such as steroids, some of the cancer medications, and others used to treat thyroid problems are risky. If you’re a frequent user of an antacid that has an aluminum coating, then you are at higher risk of fracture too.

You must move it, move it!

If you think moving around too much will increase the fracture risk, think again. Even if you grow older, your body needs to move. You need to exercise as much as four times a week. You can also go for walks every day to stay active. If you are in a job that keeps you seated most of the day, take a break every 40 minutes to an hour to get up and get moving. If you feel like any part of your body is beginning to get stiff, stretch it gently for five minutes.

Most importantly, pay attention to your lifestyle. If you are a smoker, this is another reason to cut down or quit this bad habit. If you are a heavy drinker, stick to just one or two glasses a day or keep it to a minimum. Get ample amount of rest, nutrition and remember to exercise regularly keep your bones fit and healthy!