• Education

    Awareness of Pharmaceutical Drugs Extracted from Cannabinoid Compounds

    Marijuana is currently classified in the United States as a Schedule I drug; substances which are classified as addictive and dangerous with no medicinal properties. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and medical correspondent for CNN, initially stated he did not see marijuana’s medical potential but has since apologized for contributing to negative attitudes about medical marijuana and changed his stance entirely.

    Quality of Life & Pharmaceutical Drugs

    Marijuana is highly stigmatized as a result of its Schedule I classification and its reputation as a drug used to get high. After meeting with medical marijuana patients all over the U.S., Dr. Gupta discovered that for many of them, the drug improved their quality of life when pharmaceutical drugs failed.

    Not all strains of marijuana result in a high. THC is the component that causes users to become intoxicated, but another cannabinoid, CBD, helps with symptoms such as pain, nausea, insomnia and seizures without producing a high. Therefore, strains high in CBD and low in THC do not have recreational value but can treat patients with a variety of conditions.

    Spreading awareness

    Dr. Gupta produced two documentaries for CNN, titled simply Weed and Weed 2, to share these people’s stories with the public. In his first documentary, he meets with the family of a young girl suffering from Dravet syndrome, which caused her to have 300 epileptic seizures a week. Her parents desperately searched for a cure, and terrified for their daughter’s life, they began considering medical marijuana. When they discovered a strain high in CBD and low in THC and administered it to their daughter, her seizures drastically decreased. A strain known as Charlotte’s Web was named after her and has since been used to treat children with debilitating seizures, but it is only available in Colorado and cannot be carried over state lines. Therefore, several families who need this drug are moving to Colorado. The drug is not inhaled but administered as an oil.

    Dr. Gupta continues to spread awareness of medical marijuana in his recent documentary Weed 2. He begs the public as well as medical professionals to recognize the value of the drug and take it seriously. Nabiximols is a pharmaceutical spray extracted from cannabis and developed in the U.K., and it is recommended for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Currently the drug is not available in the U.S.. As researchers continue to shed light on the benefits of cannabis, other pharmaceutical drugs extracted from the plant may become available to the patients who need them.

    Canadian rulings on use of medical marijuana have progressed a lot further. While earlier a ban on grow-your-own medical marijuana had been planned by the Canadian government, the decisions were reversed after the Federal Court ruled anyone already licensed to be alloweded to grow medical marijuana in their own homes. While marijuana seeds are publicly obtainable via commercial businesses, patients should keep in mind that marijuana is not an approved drug and marijuana is only available through licensed producers. On its website, Health Canada states:

    Dried marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada. The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a physician.

  • Trends

    Wearing your Heart on your Sleeve – New Trends in Consumer Tech

    Health awareness is on the rise and consumer tech companies are jumping into the game. Consumer electronic giants such as Samsung and Apple have been incorporating native apps into their products, ranging from simple trackers to more advanced and innovative technology. Samsung’s Walking Mate on S-Health, for example, is just one of the many simple apps designed to track the number of steps a person walked each day – provided the user had the phone in its pocket.

    But the market is moving beyond these toward more advanced apps. Wello, a smartphone case for smartphones, is designed to constantly monitor a user’s vitals, including their blood oxygen levels, heart beat and pressure, lung performance, all while producing a functioning electrocardiogram.

    Other companies are targeting more of the emotional aspects of health, aiming after ways to detect mood shifts and emotion, including stress. The idea is to capture the changes as they are happening and counteract them with technology that can prevent people from stumbling too deep into depression or anger. Other ideas include the reading of pheromone levels and tracking temperatures to monitor the patterns that people take depending on how they feel. Some of the technology is even being planned to be stitched directly into clothing.

    Because of this, big companies such as Apple and Google are either expanding their hiring into new areas, or reallocating their spending to meet them. Recently, Apple began a hiring binge of physiologists to help with the development of apps. Google’s aims have included researched into newer technology into contact lenses that can improve the lives of people with diabetes. Nestle, the brand so commonly known for its confections and cosmetics has also shifted toward healthcare.

    However, all of this also means potential problems. With identity theft prevalent and more weariness over government intrusion into privacy after the recent discoveries about the NSA, there’s growing concern that these newer technologies could leak personal health-related data which could be used in favor of companies with commercial interests at the cost of a patient’s health. Balancing the desire for better health with the need of privacy will make meeting the demands tough.

  • Uncategorized

    The Future of HIE, Road Blocks & Challenges

    Healthcare data integration

    Across the globe, the Health Information Exchange (HIE) market is booming. According to estimates, the market is slated to grow 9,5 percent from now until 2018, reaching a value of $878 million. In addition, national trends are promising. Data demonstrates that 62 percent of U.S. hospitals exchanged information electronically with providers in 2013.

    At the same time, however, experts predict that the HIE market will meet significant challenges in the future. One source reported an 8 percent decline in provider satisfaction with HIE in the last year. What road blocks does the HIE market face, and what can be done to overcome them?
    electronic-messages-2013

    Health IT Dashboard – healthit.gov

    The challenges the HIE market will face lie in several issues:

    • Vendor competition;
      Vendors often see the HIE market as a zero-sum game.
    • Supply and demand;
      Providers are asking for technology that vendors can’t offer yet.
    • Communication;
      Vendors need to partner with accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to show the value of HIE to more than individual providers.
    • National standards;
      The development of national standards can help in the connection of data systems, but they may be difficult to implement.
    • Sustainability;
      Financial resources for HIE can be slim, especially in small communities.

    According to Nancy Ham, CEO of Medicity, a Salt Lake City-based HIE vendor, however, there is plenty of evidence that HIE works. She, like many others, is convinced that while HIE is technically challenging, it improves outcomes. Experts believe that the most important goals of the HIE market in the future are increasing ambulatory data capabilities, improving patient engagement, and reducing errors and increasing efficiency.

  • Education

    How Medical Informatics make for Better and Safer Healthcare

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has for a long time now supported the development of medical informatics within the healthcare sector. Research into medical informatics mostly deals with efficiently organizing, managing, analyzing and validating information in healthcare.

    Many clinicians have to make use of both old and new knowledge concerning their patients. They have to remember each patient’s individual health status and background. Next to this they have to clearly communicate this with patients, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, and all of this on their respective level of understanding.

    Meeting these expectations is often extremely difficult. Not only because of the massive workload given to one individual, but also because of a lack of systems that specialize in organizing, storing and retrieving medical patient data in a clear and efficient way. Today’s powerful computer systems and information management tools can greatly help with providing a more sustainable working environment for many healthcare professionals.

    A more detailed description on how this will be achieved by making use of computer systems and applications can be found in issue 6 of the Research in Action online journal by the AHRQ.