Thursday, 30 April 2015

Innovation in medical technology ... DO try this at home.

"The Little Devices team at MIT develops empowerment technologies for health. We believe that innovation and design happens at the frontline of healthcare where providers and patients can invent everyday technologies to improve outcomes."

This team hack cheap devices such as toys. They take ideas and parts and turn them into medical devices. "Unless you make somebody feel a little uncomfortable you're probably not being that innovative".

I think this is great - I'm going to go into the next toy shop I pass.

How does this type of innovation compare with that offered by corporations seeking to make the next ubiquitous - and patented - health device? Why not find out for yourself? Littledevices offer 7 medical technology projects you can try at home.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Transtheoretical model of behaviour change

Always worth a read this very detailed theory of behaviour change.

I was updating the links to it in our Postgraduate Diploma in Diabetes and noticed it has moved home within Rhode Island. [1]

Detailed overview of the Transtheoretical model of behaviour change. 

Whether it works in practice is another issue. A recent Cochrane review failed to show evidence of its use when applied to weight loss and another review called for more research into single-theory interventions in contraception.

[1] The University of Rhode Island is the home of this theory and you'd think they'd take more care in preserving its links and not give an ugly 404 error.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Journal "Basic and Applied Social Psychology" bans p-values

The often misused p-value is now not welcome at the social science journal.

How significant this might be we will just have to see.

Acquired savant syndrome

Following a head injury whilst skiing this lady now complains of remembering too much.

"I could remember everywhere, like flicking through the pages of a book. Every place I had ever been, but specifically the buildings."

Apparently her doctor is writing it up for a journal. Wonder if it's coming our way at BMJ Case Reports.

Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits

9% of the US adult population eat an apple a day but it doesn't keep the doctor away.

You need to sign in to view the full scientific detail but the abstract says it all.

"Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away; however, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications."

Another example of the relatively low quality research that comes from dietary recall.

Clearly we urgently need a prospective, randomized-controlled trial with placebo apples.

Extrasensory perception vest

"A vest that allows the profoundly deaf to 'feel' and understand speech is under development by engineering students and their mentors at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine."

Picked up this story via Medgadget.

Providing the alternate sensation to the skin is one thing but filtering the speech from surrounding sound with a mobile app and reinforcing it is the real innovation here.

Overcoming an Eating Disorder With Instagram

"Hayley Kremer, a 20-year-old student at Colorado Mesa University, believes that her eating disorder first began in high school—but she’s struggled with body-image issues for much longer. She’s been in recovery for a few years, and sees both a nutritionist and a counselor. But on top of these more traditional recovery resources, she largely credits her Instagram account for the significant progress she’s made in getting better."

Hayl's Instagram feed is pictured below.

Having a conversation about food - even if it is only with yourself - can be helped by the low barrier and immediacy of a social media app like Instagram.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Phrase of the day: pH Low-Insertion Peptides (pHLIP)

Gold nanoparticles significantly boost focus for radiation therapy.

"A team from Brown University and the University of Rhode Island has developed a new technique to radically improve how radiation therapy acts on cancer cells. The method uses gold nanoparticles that are delivered to cancer cells using so-called pH Low-Insertion Peptides (pHLIP), compounds that are attracted to acidic environments. Since cancer cells tend to be more acidic than healthy ones, pHLIPs accumulate around tumor sites."

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Public sector Linux deployment

Interesting Linux story via Slashdot

The Sverigelinux (Sweden Linux) aims at improving large deployments of Linux.
"The objective for the SverigeLinux project is to lower the threshold for deploying Linux in an organization. Deploy a server. Configure, install and change everything from there."
Obviously it is very popular as their public download of the .iso has broken.

A video shows you how to set up a network of machines.

Agile techniqes for learning modules

Thinking of using Agile Methodology for creating learning materials? Stephen Downes comments

... on a blog by Allison Littlejohn about Open University.

Working closely with your media designers using the "module resources (as a 'mediating artifact')" is hardly disruptive but it does reflect some of the jargon-breaking methods and customer focus of Agile. If you don't talk the same lingo then what the professors mean and the media designers mean may be very different.

Small in-house teams would probably approach the production of learning media in this way quite naturally. It is when you become a bigger institution or outsource media expertise that flexibility and shared understanding risk being left behind.

Getting Google Mobile-Friendly Ranking pester emails from web designers?

On April 21st Google will use 'mobile friendliness' as part of the ranking algorithm for people searching using a mobile. This makes great sense as Google wants to improve the quality of the search results for that particular searcher's device.

There are plenty of website designers who are now emailing their customers offering an upgrade. Which is great news for the web design business.

However, if your a little suspicious Google have made a nice mini site explaining it all.

This includes a Mobile-Friendly Test as well. Just type your website address (or your web designer's website address and portfolio of customers if you want to check them out) and Google will give its opinion.

Google is pushing the responsive web design approach over the alternate mobile site which is great. Why maintain two websites when one will do? For many it means completely rebuilding a website designed with a focus on desktops not tablets or smartphones ... and that can be expensive.

The main thing to ask yourself is whether or not your visitors do so on mobile devices? More and more are doing so ... it's about time you asked the question.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Female docs more likely to pass exams and secure training posts.

GMC release exam and recruitment data for doctors.

"Reporting for the first time on exam results and job applications, the data shows that ethnic minority doctors from UK medical schools do less well than their white counterparts. But, they do better than white doctors from a non-UK medical school."

"The data may help identify examples of good practice, where effective support has been given to doctors in training who have found it more difficult to pass exams or progress into specialty or GP training." Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC.

Enrolled on the Improvement FUNdamentals MOOC

Thought I'd enrol and learn more about Quality Improvement through an NHS-supported MOOC.

"Improvement FUNdamentals - your route to improve health and care!"

Since I only work with BMJ these days it's going to hard to reflect on clinical work challenges but I'm always up for trying something out. Don't suppose my recent clinical experience will be of great help.

Was asked to complete this template prior to starting the course:

"As part of the Improvement FUNdamentals MOOC you are asked to identify an area of work or challenge locally that you would like to improve during your time on the MOOC using quality improvement techniques.

Please complete and save this pre-MOOC  template before you begin work on the  Improvement FUNdamentals MOOC."

Hmm. OK so that's going to be tricky.

Will be exciting to read what others are doing and watching their progress. Hope to learn a lot about quality improvement in the process.