Tag: medical

Top musicians look for medical cures

peter-gabriel-850-100Muscians Peter Gabriel, St. Vincent , Jon Hopkins, and Esa-Pekka Salonen are helping an initiative¬†headed up by former Nokia design head Marko Ahtisaari ‚ÄĒ explore the future of musical medicine.

The four musicians are going to help The Sync Project as advisors, roles that’ll necessitate working with the scientists researching music’s therapeutic properties and helping to raise the project’s awareness.

Gabriel and St. Vincentare art-rock veterans, Hopkins is an accomplished electronic producer, and Salonen conducts the London Philharmonia Orchestra. However Ahtisaari is more interested in their value as thinkers than their musical legends.

He said that he needed musicians and creators who have an active relationship with technology. It wasn’t so much about the contents of the music, or to commission any work, it was because they were creative thinkers.

The idea is to build a biometric recommendation engine for music and create musical treatment programs for medical conditions that match the efficacy of drug-based treatment without subjecting patients to the dangers and side effects of pharmacological programs.

Ahtisaari cites treatment for Parkinson’s disease as an example. Users could contribute data from their streaming service of their choice and sensors from their phones or wearable devices that characterize their physical response to certain music.

Collected in bulk, that data could inform more specific clinical trials testing the effects of various musical qualities on patient mobility.

The final result would be a personalized playlist, one that aids movement and changes with the patient’s activity.

The project’s musical advisors can’t shape its medical aspects, but Ahtisaari is hoping they can help push the conversation regarding music’s therapeutic potential forward among both musicians and listeners.


Watson starts diagnosing patients

IBM is packing off its Watson software to the health industry where it is going to be telling people what is wrong with them.

Watson, which understands natural language, will be trying to make sure that doctors do not make the wrong medical diagnosis.

Watson vice-president of marketing Stephen Gold told a digital health conference in Dublin that at the moment one in five medical diagnoses are incomplete or wrong.

It is not really the doctor’s fault, medical information is doubling every five years and 81 percent of physicians spend less than five hours a month reading medical journals.

Watson navigates through volumes of speech and big data and can provide doctors with a quick analysis. Apparently Watson is being used by oncologists, who hope it will help them improve the speed and efficacy of cancer treatments.

According to the Irish Times,  Watson takes patient information and compares it against thousands of studies and journals. It provides a simple breakdown of the things the doctor should take into account. 

Intel opts for medical experiments in Israel

Intel has teamed up with General Electric to come up with new technology to make people healthy.

Intel’s glorious alliance is specifically with GE Healthcare which is the healthcare division of General Electric. The pair have established a lab in Israel to jointly test new technologies. The lab is not on a mountain top, surrounded by storm clouds and staffed by strange hunchbacks, but fairly close to both GE Healthcare’s offices and Intel’s R&D centre. We guess since General Electric is involved, it will not be necessary to use lightning flashes to animate anything.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the big idea is to align and improve both company’s new products, such as Intel’s microprocessor technologies and GE’s healthcare products that include ultrasound diagnostic imaging systems.

Mike Harsh, a GE vice president and GE Healthcare’s chief technology officer, said that he hopes the partnership between GE and Intel will lead to the development of affordable and advanced healthcare technologies that ultimately will bring better healthcare to more people around the world.

This would be unusual as most developments in healthcare technology usually involve the creation of machines that go ping, which cost an arm and a leg and can only be afforded by rich Western hospitals. 

Medical software could kill Down Under

Aussie boffins are worried that there could be a number of deaths in the emergency departments in New South Wales hospitals as they try to run a computer system that was crippled by design flaws.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald,  the FirstNet system was so well designed that treatment details and test results to be assigned inadvertently to the wrong patient.

So you could go into an emergency room with your knob super-glued to the bog seat and end up having your spleen removed. The bloke with the spleen problem would go home with his eyes stinging a bit.

A review of the system was carried out by looking at the software and interviews with directors of seven Sydney emergency departments. The report is so scathing it said that the $115 million system should be scrapped.

Sally McCarthy, the president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said the report confirmed that the system, loathed by doctors and nurses, was unsuitable for its purpose.

The project was part of a 10-year electronic medical records plan intended to make patient histories, X-rays and test results accessible from any hospital in the state.

However it was pushed through too fast because of the design contract. Doctors were not allowed to influence the development enough.

The potential for records to be linked to the wrong patient raised a serious risk they would be given incorrect treatment, she said, and the inability to compile multiple patient records into reports meant doctors could no longer evaluate new treatments or disease epidemics.

The system came from the US and was written by the US health computing giant Cerner in Missouri. It insisted that doctors stick in stupid information such as asking if male patients were not pregnant. However really important data had to be found by clicking through six screens to find the phone number of a patient’s GP while standing on one foot and humming the star spangled banner.

When doctors complained about the service health department technies sneered and said they were not qualified to see the elegance of the programming, or something similar.

Greg Wells, the chief information officer in NSW Health’s computer support division, said the problems were “known and are being addressed”. So we guess that means that Doctors should stop their whinging, turn the machines off and on again and get on with it.

Hospital took a year to realise computer was unplugged

An IT crowd contractor unplugged a crucial diagnostic computer from a hospital network so he could use the plug for something else,  according to an inspector general report.

Apparently it took the Veterans Affairs Department hospital in Philadelphia more than a year to work out that the computer was not connected.

The computer ran an application called the VariSeed treatment planning system, which oncologists use to focus radiation treatment on cancer hotspots.

VA clinicians performed 17 procedures to insert radioactive seeds that treat prostate cancer. Without the network connection, X-rays showing the location of radioactive seeds could not be transferred to the VariSeed computer, making it difficult for doctors to determine the patients’ response to treatment.

Fortunately no one  died as a result of the gaffe but more than 38 veterans or their wives have filed claims against the hospital for alleged injuries.

Clinicians in the Philadelphia hospital’s Radiation Oncology Service repeatedly reported the computer problem every quarter for a year, but the computer was not reconnected to the network until November 2007.

To make matters worse the inspector general found the VariSeed computer operated outside the Philadelphia hospital’s secure networks and was used by the oncology service staff to check e-mail and access the Internet.