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Blockchain Makes Strides in Ensuring Data Validity

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Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have made a proof-of-concept technique to ensure the integrity of data in different clinical trials utilizing blockchain. Currently, this system creates the immutable audit trial, which makes it easier to find out whether or not the data was tampered with or if the data excluded information about diminishing side effects.

Blockchain technology utilizes the old computer science method called hashing. Hashing creates a rare digital signature for particular blocks of data. These hashes accumulate as new data is changed or entered, and as a result,  information blocks build on top of one another sequentially. The resulting “blockchain” makes one audit trail for the regulators, which is easy to validate and decipher, without even looking at the data.

For example, Daniel Wong is a Ph.D. student in Biological & Medical Informatics at the University of California, San Francisco. He has built this type of system to operate through the web portal. As data is changed or entered within the given trial, the information about the participants, timestamp, receiver, the sender, and file attachments with data accumulate together with the hash from the last data block. While most blockchain applications are decentralized, this new clinical trial prototype relies on containing the regulator along with centralized authority. This technique is used by organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Moreover, data that includes adverse events will be reported to a regulatory agency, which will cause an increase in the efficiency and safety of the clinical trials. While the older version of blockchain created allowances for the data entry or some other mistakes to be error-free, new data will be appended to an existing chain in this decentralized form of blockchain, without having to remove existing information. Now more than ever, it will be extremely clear if data has been corrupted or altered to affect the results of the trial.

In conclusion, blockchain technology might enable trials to be examined under some challenging conditions and will open doors to data exchanges which are secure, efficient, and transparent for the researchers as well as the public. Ultimately, a decentralized version of blockchain has the ability to impact not just researchers but also the public as a whole.

Source

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190222084244.htm

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Digital Health

5 Reasons Virtual Reality is Changing the Game of Medicine

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Virtual reality can truly transport you to a different world. As many people have reported the first time they try out a headset, the experience is incredibly lifelike. Virtual reality today is producing not only more advanced video games that evoke real emotion in people but a solution for the healthcare industry too. Virtual reality is enhancing the patient experience to the process of rehabilitation. Many VR developers including Samsung have stepped up to produce technology over the last decade that is built with patient experience in mind.

VR applications in the medical field are almost limitless at this point. VR technology is working to deliver an immediate benefit in these five sectors of health care:

  1. Training: VR programs have been introduced for clinical skills training support. Medical students can complete surgical skill training in the form of simulations. Doctors can complete full procedures in VR without risking patient health and feel more confident in their abilities going into a real procedure having done the simulation.
  2. Prevention: VR experiences for promoting wellness, managing stress and treating addictive behavior are all occurring today. Specific programs for helping people to manage stress and coping their addiction are working to improve the patient in stressful situations.
  3. Adherence during training: improving patient experience through various VR training and game-like features is helping medical facilities to engage with patients during the treatment process. This can lead to better injury recovery and more.
  4. Pain management: VR distraction experiences are now being used as an alternative to painkillers. These solutions can reduce the overall dosage of painkillers that are required during specific procedures, and they can even eliminate the use of painkillers in situations such as dressing burns and more.
  5. Telemedicine: standalone VR systems and cell phone-based systems can be of use for providing health care access remotely. Connecting with physicians through VR could enhance chronic disease management and help physicians support improved home diagnosis and recovery.

VR applications in healthcare can have almost limitless possibilities such as overcoming phobias in mental health conditions, fulfilling the dying wishes of the palliative care patient, easing stress during procedures like vaccinations and continuing to provide support as an alternative to painkillers.

Many manufacturers are working on dropping the price of their headset substantially. For medical use, there are headsets now available for less than $100 that can be used with most smartphone devices. As a long-term strategy, VR is still an industry that is mostly consumer driven, but as more developers step forward and continue producing products for medical use, we may see more hospitals continuing to implement this technology for their patients.

As more people have access to this technology at home, it could also improve the availability of applications that they could access on their smartphones or VR devices. Patients both in medical facilities and at home will be able to take advantage of the therapeutic effects of this fantastic technology as long as developers keep scaling up their efforts.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/reenitadas/2018/05/31/virtual-reality-the-alternative-to-marijuana-and-opioids-for-pain-management/#6df84d9851d6

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The Connection between Smartphones and Atrial Fibrillation Detection

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After seven years of extensive research and development, a new app created at Turku University, Finland recently revealed that it could detect atrial fibrillation without the use of additional equipment. The phone application has the possibility to save lives across the globe because timely diagnosis of the atrial fibrillation is vital in stroke prevention. This joint research of Turku University & the Turku Heart Centre has studied 300 patients having heart-related issues; half of them were having atrial fibrillation. And, the researchers also identified the patients having atrial fibrillation from another group with the smart mobile. The phone app, which was designed at Turku University, had detected which group members had  atrial fibrillation, that too with a 96% accuracy with few false positives.

Members of the study included those who had ventricular extrasystole, heart failure, and coronary disease. With a wide spectrum of heart conditions, the research at the University of Turku was conducted as blind research, meaning that the hospital sent measurements of data for conducting analysis even without any additional information of specific patient conditions. The complete analyses were then sent back to the University of Turku hospital to further examine the reliability.

Is Atrial Fibrillation always Detected at the Doctor’s Office?

No, atrial fibrillation is not always detected at the doctors office, even if it is in its intermittent stages. Proper detection of atrial fibrillation has been a pertinent challenge in medicine due to its affordability constraints.

During the seven year period, the researchers decided to check whether it’s possible for them to detect the atrial fibrillation from micro movements in the chest along with accelerometers.  In the year 2017 when the research was completed, they ascertained that it is quite possible. This means that everyone who owns smartphones has the potential to detect atrial fibrillation, as most smartphones have an accelerometer.

Therefore, this mobile application not only can direct patients straight to doctors without any further delay but can also lead to significant economic savings.

When will we see the App in the Market?

The researchers aim to make this app available for everyone relatively soon and believe that the app can spread to the world market. The commercialization of this app is quickly advancing. Currently, the researchers have applied for patent protection regarding all the new techniques which are at the initial stages of the research.

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180316100609.htm

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The Best Mental Health Apps for Managing Heartbreak, Stress and Anxiety

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Having access to improved resources for managing mental health can lead to more accessible treatment options for individuals that are struggling. Alternative treatments are becoming easier as technology is continuously advancing, making mental health applications more accessible and inexpensive. Now it is possible to access alternative treatments even if you cannot afford a professional therapist.

Here are some of the best new applications available for a reasonable price or even free that you can use for managing stress, anxiety and even heartbreak:

  • What’s up: What’s up is an application designed for cognitive behavioral therapy. It uses a type of therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy. The overall goal of this application is to help individuals cope with anxiety, stress, and depression. On board with this application is a tracker that can help you with breaking out of negative habits. There are specific pages that can be used to pinpoint some of your feelings and discover patterns that could be having a negative effect on your lifestyle. The applications available for both Android and IOS and it can help with creating positive changes in your life.
  • Mind Shift: This is a free application that’s designed for young adults and teens and their struggle with anxiety. Rather than actively trying to avoid areas where you can experience anxiety, changing your mindset in the way that you think in anxious situations can be a far healthier choice. This app can work almost as an encouraging force inside your pocket and it can teach you mindset approaches that could help you to change the way that you react in stressful situations, as well as face your fears when it comes to anxiety.
  • SAM: Sam is an application otherwise known as self-help for anxiety management. The application is built primarily for sufferers of anxiety and it can help as an ongoing journal for tracking anxious thoughts. There’s 25 built-in self-help techniques throughout the application that you can use to find support in extremely anxious situations. The database also comes with a social cloud where you can connect with other individuals that suffer from anxiety to act as a support group for one another. The online support group and the actionable plans that can be used for managing anxiety make this an extremely popular and powerful app for anxiety.
  • Happify: This application is purpose-built to help individuals that struggle with mood affecting conditions. If you regularly struggle with depression this application can help you to improve your mood with activity suggestions, prompts for gratitude and highly engaging games that can help you turn your mood around. The app is purpose-built to help you overcome negative thoughts and it’s completely free for help when you need it.
  • Recovery record: This application is designed for anyone recovering from negative body image issues or an eating disorder. This application can be used to help you keep records of a meal plan over time and to help you work towards a more positive body image over time.

Keep some of these top applications in mind if you are looking for a free helping hand that you can access on your devices. Let us know your opinion on using these applications!

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