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February - May 2007

Telemedicine in British Prisons
The BBC reports that one of Britain's high-security prisons is using telemedicine to diagnose suspected heart attacks among prisoners.

Managers at Wakefield Prison, which houses some of England's most notorious criminals, say the move has improved public safety and cut costs.

A hand-held electrocardiogram (ECG) device sends a signal by landline to a monitoring centre, where it is shown on a screen and interpreted by clinicians.

The results are given verbally over the phone and followed up with an email.

People experiencing heart problems would normally receive an ECG at hospital.

But the hand-held ECG can be used by people who are not health professionals, according to the makers, Broomwell HealthWatch.

May 23rd, 2007

Bathing Infants in Radiation
Baby monitors could be "bathing the infants in radiation at an age when they are most vulnerable to it," according to British newspaper The Independent.

Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, has been privately pressing an investigation into the effects on children of installing Wi-Fi networks in schools.

Baby monitors are typically placed close to infants, who are particularly at risk from radiation. An inquiry by Sir William into mobile phones seven years ago reported that a one-year-old child could absorb about twice as much per kilogram of body weight as an adult.

Babies are especially vulnerable because their bodies and nervous systems are still developing and because they will have more time to accumulate exposure to the radiation and for any delayed effects to develop.

Professor Denis Henshaw of the University of Bristol said the monitors are "being marketed without any checks and balances or even studies into their effects".

May 23rd, 2007

Telemedicine Is Really Taking Off - But Not in the US
Digital HealthCare & interviews Bill Crounse, worldwide health director for Microsoft:

Other markets — South Korea, Thailand, Singapore — are looking at healthcare as an exportable commodity. Telemedicine is really taking off in other parts of the world where healthcare access is an issue. Not in the U.S. We’re also behind in the way mobile devices are used. In fact, all around the world in healthcare, I’m seeing faster adoption of information technology than here in the U.S. We lag behind much of the industrialized world in healthcare IT and that gap will widen if we are not careful.
May 17th, 2007


The Mobile Phone - Your New Healthcare Terminal
Mobile phones of the future will become "healthcare terminals", incorporating such functions as blood pressure monitors and thermometers, according to Japanese telecommunications giant NTT DoCoMo:

The company is weighing a function, for example, to take a user's temperature using a built-in sensor and record and show it in a graph so that the user can check and manage the data. A mobile phone is also expected to be used for the management of data measured with, e.g., an external blood pressure meter or pulse meter in addition to a thermometer.

On April 17, 2007, NTT Data Corp. announced that it will launch a test of healthcare service using mobile phones. The service tested will store measurement data obtained by external healthcare equipment in a mobile phone. In the future, however, measurement itself is likely to be performed on a mobile phone.

May 4th, 2007


Omron Targets Mother's Day
Omron is heavily promoting various of its healthcare monitors as gifts for Mother's Day. A press release from the company states:

For busy mothers who take care of everyone around them, finding time to manage their most important asset -- health -- can be quite a challenge. The American Heart Association reports that heart disease is the number-one killer of women, yet few American women are aware of the danger heart disease poses, or the increased risk of strokes and heart attacks caused by high blood pressure, physical inactivity and obesity. With Mother's Day quickly approaching, Omron Healthcare is offering Moms easy-to-use products to proactively monitor their health status and activity levels to help reduce these risk factors and stay healthy for a lifetime.

Three products are being promoted:

* Omron HEM-780 Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor

* Omron HJ-720ITC Pocket Pedometer

Omron HBF-500 Body Composition Monitor with Scale

Meanwhile, Omron has reported record sales and profits for the year ending March 31st, 2007:

In Japan, sales of digital blood pressure monitors, body composition analyzers and pedometers increased strongly on the back of expanding awareness of metabolic syndrome and healthcare system reforms that will obligate insurers to provide specified health checkups and health guidance to insured persons starting in fiscal 2008.

Overseas, sales of digital blood pressure monitors, a core product, were weak in the United States, reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending, but sales in Europe were strong overall, led by the digital blood pressure monitor business in Russia and Eastern Europe. In China, the decline in selling prices of blood pressure monitors continued in an intensely competitive environment, but sales increased over the previous fiscal year due to sales expansion in the second half of the period.

May 3rd, 2007

Med-e-Tel 2007
The Med-e-Tel 2007 conference on eHealth and telemedicine opens today, with sessions on such topics as "Homecare Applications and Maintaining Quality of Life for Elderly, Disabled and People with Special Needs", "User Experience Guidelines for eHealth Telecare Services', "International Telemedicine & eHealth Initiatives and Developments" and "eHealth for Developing Countries: Lessons Learned".

Also, check out the conference blog.
April 18th, 2007


Sleep Apneoa on YouTube
The Zerox Machine blogger writes:

Whilst bored at home, I have spent man hours scouring YouTube and found the following videos all about Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, a condition I have suffered from for 10 years or so and have been receiving treatment in the form of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for the last 4 years.
April 11th, 2007


Teleradiology Takeover
Teleradiology leader NightHawk Radiology Holdings has announced the acquisition of The Radlinx Group.

According to a company statement:

The acquisition of The Radlinx Group and its 303 hospitals increases NightHawk's customer base to over 1,300 hospitals nationwide representing 24% of all U.S. hospitals. With the addition of The Radlinx Group, NightHawk significantly expands its presence in key areas of the United States, including Texas, the second largest market in the U.S. Combined with the recent acquisition of Teleradiology Diagnostic Service in California, this acquisition further solidifies NightHawk's position as the industry leader for providing high quality, cost effective radiology solutions to radiology groups across the U.S.

"The strategic acquisition of The Radlinx Group, with their doctors located across the U.S., should help alleviate concerns the industry may have about Medicare interpretations being performed outside the U.S.," said Tim Mayleben, NightHawk Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "While we continue to capitalize on the efficiencies of our centralized approach to interpreting radiological procedures, we are also able to utilize our proprietary workflow to seamlessly distribute images to our U.S.-based doctors."

April 10th, 2007


CPAP Is Best
Reuters Health reports:

People with mild to moderate sleep apnea may benefit more from breathing pressurized air via a facemask at night than from wearing an oral device while they sleep, Chinese researchers report.

In addition, losing weight seems to improve disordered breathing during sleep, but most people can't ease the problem sufficiently with weight loss alone.

...CPAP improved obstructed breathing better than the oral appliance, which, in turn, improved breathing better than conservative measures alone, the researchers report. Moreover, CPAP was associated with significantly better relief from daytime sleepiness.

...Summing up, the researchers conclude: "CPAP produced the best improvement in terms of physiologic, symptomatic, and health-related quality-of-life measures, while the oral appliance was slightly less effective."

April 7th, 2007


Telemedicine is Hot - It Just Needs a Good Branding Campaign
OMMA (the magazine of online media, marketing and advertising) reports:

Think user-created video and music are hot? Meet telemedicine.

Sometimes called digital medicine or remote monitoring, the process of providing health care remotely via the Web is a massive market that is finally beginning to organize.

...“The technology behind the industry has been in place for 15 years,” says [research analyst Harry] Wang. “What holds it back is the lack of understanding of the business between doctors, insurers and patients.”

In other words, a few good branding campaigns could help this nascent industry grow into a real market.

April 4th, 2007


Pedometer - the "Stick a Clock in It" Device of the New Millennium
Gizmodo mocks the Sony Ericsson W580 cellphone for its pedometer, with a YouTube video:

Even though the pedometer has essentially become the "stick a clock in it" device of the new millennium, this video shows that designers actually put some love into the interface. And besides, how else can one track just how many jostles closer their phone is to dying?
April 2nd, 2007


According to Dermatology Times:

When the concept of telemedicine was introduced several years ago with the intent of broadening patient access to a decreasing number of specialists, dermatology was considered possibly the best specialty to use the new system because it is such a visual field.

Dermatology Times talked to several dermatologists around the country who have used, or are familiar with, teledermatology. The doctors discussed development of the program and the problems and advances made within teledermatology. Some of them are in tertiary care centers, others in private practice. Some are finding it extremely useful, others are still waiting for bugs to be worked out, not the least of which is reimbursement.

It's a lengthy and fascinating report.
March 30th, 2007


Sex Breathalyzer
A commentator in Britain's Daily Telegraph discusses a recent judge's ruling on sex, alcohol and consent:

During Monday's ruling in the Court of Appeal, Sir Igor said: "Provisions intended to protect women from sexual assaults might very well be conflated into a system which would provide patronising interference with the right of autonomous adults to make personal decisions for themselves."

One suggestion, apparently, has been some kind of ''sex breathalyser'' which will tell a woman when she is past the point of being able to give consent. Is the drunk potential rape victim supposed to self-test? Should nice boys carry them to make sure the consent is copper-bottomed?

March 29th, 2007


Telemedicine - ECG Results to Your Doctor's Mobile Phone
Engadget reports on a new telemedicine device:

There's a growing number of devices that not only monitor one's health, but can also transmit pertinent information back to remote caregivers, but SHL Telemedicine's latest gizmo takes things a step further by beaming your ECG results directly to your physician's mobile phone. The oddly-named CardioSen'C is a portable heart-monitoring system that gathers information from twelve electrodes strapped to one's chest and upper body, and once activated, transmits the results of the electrocardiograph instantly to a user-selected handset.
March 28th, 2007


Nine Best Pedometers
The website tested 38 pedometers and presents (pdf file) profiles of the nine best of these. They are Acumen Jog Mate, Omron HJ-105, Accusplit Eagle 1720, Highgear Via, Yamax SW-200 Digi-Walker, Sportline Fitness Pro Pedometer 360, Oregon Scientific Talking Pedometer with FM Radio, New-Lifestyles NL-2000 and WalkStyles DashTrak.
March 28th, 2007


Breathalyzer Story of the Day
From the Ananova news service:

A Bulgarian school is reporting an improvement in student grades after introducing a breathalyser test for teachers.

The headmaster of Hristo Botev school in Vratsa brought in the tests for all teachers after students complained they were turning up smelling of beer and the local home-made spirit rakia.

Headmaster Victor Krastev said: "At first the teachers thought I was joking but they soon got used to the test, and it works perfectly - now they are all as sober as babies and we have seen a 15% improvement in grades."

He said he planned to pass on his experiences to other headmasters who claim they have the same problems with staff.

March 20th, 2007


Polar Or Garmin - Which Heart Rate Monitor Is Best?
Polar is one of the leading names in heart rate monitors, for athletes and others. Garmin is also popular, with a range of monitors, some of which not only measure heart rate but also use global positioning system technology to track speed and distance covered. Both companies have their fans. But which is best?

The website carries a
comparison from road racer Josh Trisler:

Polar is the most trusted name in heart-rate monitors. Polar has now released a line of running computers that use a foot-pod speed and distance sensor along with their heart-rate function. Foot pods use inertia devices known as accelerometers to calculate speed and distance.
Continue reading "Polar Or Garmin - Which Heart Rate Monitor Is Best?
March 19th, 2007


Report on Four Pedometers
In its "Gear" section the Los Angeles Times carries a report, "Pedometers Catch Up To The 21st Century", with a brief look at four products.

They are:

- High Gear VIA Wrist: Combination pedometer and wristwatch. "Wristwatch does double duty."

- Oregon Scientific Pedometer with Pulse Meter: Combines a pedometer and a streamlined heart-rate monitor. "Counts steps and heartbeats."

- Omron Pocket Pedometer: Deluxe model that can download your workout information to a computer. "Work out, then geek out by analyzing data."

- Sportline 345: Basic flip-up, waist-belt ped with popular distance and calories-burned features. "Simple model with popular features."
March 13th, 2007

"Competitive Runners Shouldn't Bother With It"
The TidBITS website carries the longest review I've seen for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. In essence, the writer doesn't really like it. Here's the first paragraph:

I've been putting this review off, because it doesn't thrill me to warn even a subset of people away from a popular product. But that's exactly what I have to do - in short, although the Nike+iPod Sport Kit can be a fun addition for anyone who runs with an iPod or wants a bit more encouragement to run, competitive runners shouldn't bother with it. It simply isn't worthwhile as a training aid for anyone who values distance and pace accuracy.
March 12th, 2007


Remote Heart Monitors - Telemedicine in the News
The Food and Drug Administration's rejection of Medtronic's remote heart monitor has been big news - probably because it was reported in the "newspaper of record", the New York Times.

According to the report:

Medicine's march toward remote monitoring of patients hit at least a temporary roadblock yesterday.

Continue reading "Remote Heart Monitors - Telemedicine in the News"
March 5th, 2007


I Spent an Entire Spinning Class Just Watching the Calorie Count Go Up and Up
Leslie Garcia is 49 years old for two more weeks. She's in training for a marathon. She and some fellow runners reviewed five heart rate monitors. Read the full story here. And here are the conclusions:

Polar RS200SD - "I’m hooked. If I forget to put it on, I feel like I’ve forgotten my socks."

Polar F11 - "I liked the watch itself. I’m not so sure about the strap."

Multisport t3 Sports Watch by Suunto - "If you’re looking for an HRM that’s durable, water-resistant, looks good on your wrist and has every feature a professional athlete could want, this is for you. If you hate reading directions, choose another product. It is impossible to program this just by looking at the screen."

Garmin Forerunner 305 - "The buttons make sense to me. I find I don’t forget how to work it."

Polar F6 - "Most of my workouts are in a class environment, where teachers don’t always cue you to test your heart rate. This was an easy way to track my heart rate without missing a beat in class. Also, I love the calorie count on this watch. I spent an entire spinning class just watching the calorie count go up and up."
March 3rd, 2007


Tanita's Great Leap Forward
Tanita has announced its new Innerscan BC-545 Segmental Body Composition Monitor, capable of giving individual analysis of five separate body areas - each arm, each leg and the body trunk.

According to Gizmag:

We’ve written about Tanita’s Innerscan previously, but the newly released Tanita BC-545 is such a leap forward in technology that it deserves more than just a mention....As the device includes a calendar function, it can track the changes over time for you, so you can create comparison graphs showing a history for each segment of the body and for each of the body composition readings, so that you can see your progress, day by day, week by week and month by month over a three year period.

Read more here.
March 3rd, 2007


Telemedicine from Garmin and the Mayo Clinic
Garmin subsidiary Digital Cyclone has partnered with the famed Mayo Clinic to launch a promising new telemedicine venture, offering medical advice by cell phone.

According to a
Mayo press release:

Using Mayo Clinic InTouch, wireless phone subscribers have a rich health resource directly on their phone. A few keystrokes give consumers immediate access to:

- Step-by-step first aid tips

Continue reading "Telemedicine from Garmin and the Mayo Clinic"
March 1st, 2007

Can You Keep a Homing Pigeon Inside the Watch?

Gizmodo is not especially impressed with the MainNav MW-705 GPS Watch. Nor are its readers.

Here's Gizmodo:

The MainNav MW-705 isn't just an extremely bulky sport watch. It's an extremely bulky sport watch that features SiRF Star III GPS....Between Bluetooth and GPS, we'd recommend packing an extra battery, or four...along with a compass. That is, if we can get this bad boy in the US at a decent price.

And some reader comments:

* This product is rather ridiculous. Why would anyone buy this instead of a dedicated GPS
unit, a PDA with integrated GPS, or a Bluetooth GPS receiver + a PDA.

* Doesn't the Garmin 305 watch have all of that already (minus the bluetooth)? The Garmin's rechargeable batteries also last 10 hours and the watch itself looks a lot better. This thing looks as ugly as Garmin's first generation device.

* Can you keep a homing pigeon inside the watch?

February 19th, 2007


Navigates Like a Pro -  But So Do Sea Captains
Wired magazine's Gadget Lab likes the performance of the Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS sports device. It's less keen on the aesthetics:

The 305 provided the fastest fixes and most accurate location, speed, and distance readings of the units we tested. But there’s the obvious aesthetic trade-off: It navigates like a pro, but so do sea captains, and we’re not eager to strap one of them to our wrist, either.

February 6th, 2007


High-Tech Toys for Fitness Buffs
Kiplinger's Personal Finance looks at "high-tech toys for fitness buffs":

High-tech toys can lead us down the path to a sedentary lifestyle, so it's only fair that some high-tech toys help reverse the trip. These devices record and measure your workout and even provide a much-needed shot of motivation.

It recommends three devices:

- Highgear Pulseware Duo - "if you want sweet and simple";

- Polar F55 - "functions like a personal trainer";

- Garmin Forerunner 305 - "for those who like to exercise outdoors".
February 5th, 2007




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