By Ajay Royyuru
A physician once told me that “your genes load the gun. Your lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
We were talking about how genetics play a role in the likelihood of a disease manifesting itself – and how the way we live also influences that likelihood. And it’s getting easier and faster for doctors and scientists to precisely understand which genes influence which diseases, and by how much.
This improved access and understanding of the genome, though, brings up challenges to the notion of ownership, consent, and privacy. Should a patient ask her siblings, parents and grandparents for permission to reveal genetic information? How much of a person’s genome should be tested, disclosed, or archived, per analysis? Continue Reading »
Major (Ret.) William Lyles
I have always wanted to work in an area that requires athletic skills. From original aspirations of being a baseball player to my eventual calling as a member of the U.S. Army and Green Berets, I have always loved physical activity.
Unfortunately, in the summer of 2010, my unit came under heavy fire in Afghanistan. During the attack, I stepped on an improvised explosive device. As a result of the explosion and infections that followed, I had to receive partial amputations in both legs. I am now a bilateral above-the-knee amputee, restricting my physical activities.
I am incredibly grateful to the Military Health System (MHS) for saving my life. And much of my experiences with the system over the past 11 years have been positive. However, I have also seen firsthand areas that could be improved with a more advanced electronic health record (EHR) system. Continue Reading »
By Dr. Bertalan Meskó
Simply having access to the information that patients or medical professionals actually need could be the biggest milestone in the history of medicine.
Even in the modern era, we are struggling to find the right information either about lifestyle or therapeutic decisions. Is this the right diet or exercise regimen for me? Is this the only study I should read about this patient’s case? This could change with cognitive computing.
What even the most acclaimed professors know cannot match cognitive computers. As the amount of information they accumulate grows exponentially, the assistance of computing solutions in medical decisions is beginning to take off. Continue Reading »
By Dr. Patrick Parfrey
Research within the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland is about to enter a new era.
For decades, researchers at our facility followed traditional routes to answer their research question with the hope of finding a sometimes elusive answer that could affect change. Conventionally at the end of the project, with luck, a good research paper was published in a high-impact journal. And for a substantial amount of time these findings didn’t move in the direction of change the researchers had hoped.
The Translational & Personalized Medicine Initiative (TPMI) is a program that will support the broader goals of health system reform through the creation of a sustainable health system by reducing inappropriate utilization, increasing efficiencies, improving cost effectiveness, and improving patient outcomes. Continue Reading »
By Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire
The current outbreak of the Ebola virus is the largest in history, and has been described by the World Health Organization as “the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.”
While previous outbreaks have ended when the disease was contained and disappeared from the human population, the scope of the 2014 outbreak raises the possibility that the virus, rather than disappearing again, could become endemic – permanently persisting in human populations in one or more areas. Continue Reading »
By Osamuyimen T. Stewart, Ph.D.
The World Health Organization estimates that almost 10,000 cases of the Ebola virus disease have been reported since the latest outbreak was first reported in March 2014, resulting in more than 4,800 deaths. According to the WHO, widespread and intense transmission is occurring in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while localized transmissions have occurred in other countries, such as the U.S.
Of the many daunting challenges facing local governments and aid organizations as they try to contain and manage the virus is the collection and analysis of information — current and insightful data about the situation on the ground, such as the needs of affected people, the supplies and services they require and the need for education to address socio-cultural obstacles.
If we can map all the data, we can figure out what needs to be done and who we need to partner with to get it done. Continue Reading »
On Aug. 5, a group of open data mavens and government officials from Africa gathered in Washington, D.C., to launch an initiative called Africa Open Data. The goal was to help African countries tap open data as a means of addressing health, infrastructure and economic challenges. In a shocking turn of events, members of the Sierra Leone delegation simultaneously received text messages alerting them that their flight back home had been canceled due to the rapid spread of Ebola. Suddenly, they were citizens cut off from their country.
“They had looks on their faces of total panic, fear and trauma,” recounts Steven Adler, IBM’s open data evangelist and an organizer of the the event. On the spot, Steve and other participants started brainstorming ways they–and data–could help . They banged around ideas and began emailing and texting friends and associates they thought could lend a hand. Continue Reading »
By Jia Chen, PhD
In the most popular eldercare home located in the heart of downtown Beijing, there are more than 10,000 applicants waiting for one of its 1,100 beds. The waiting list is currently 100 years long as only a few beds open up each year.
By the end of 2013, there were more than 200 million people over the age of 60 in China, accounting for 20% of the elderly population worldwide, making it the country with the most senior citizens in the world.
China is also the country with the fastest growing aging population. It’s projected that the elderly population will grow by 10 million per year in China and reach over 400 million in the next 20 years. It took the United States 79 years to double its elderly population from 7% to 14% of the total population. It will take China only 27 years to achieve the same growth. Continue Reading »
The world of healthcare is revolving and evolving ever faster as new technologies and approaches to care take shape. Watching the transformation from the front row is Cynthia Burghard, a Research Director with IDC’s Health Insights. The Smarter Planet sat down with Burghard this week at the IBM Health and Social Programs Summit to learn more about holistic care as well as the rising role of such technologies as cloud, analytics and mobile.
Smarter Planet: Why are we finally beginning to take a holistic view of each individual in the context of their environment?
Cynthia Burghard: Many studies have identified a wide range of factors that are not clinical as determinants of health. It used to be thought that lifestyle and genetics were the key determinants of health but it has been shown that factors such as socio economics, behavioral, spiritual and environmental factors all contribute to health and disease.
By Ronan Rooney
There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of health care and many suggestions about how we can improve population health.
Traditional models of care focus on individual episodes and they work really well for people with simple clinical, behavioral or social challenges. Where they fall down is when they’re applied to people who have multiple or complex challenges – the people we consider the most vulnerable.
As part of IBM’s Curam Research Team, we’re very focused on finding new ways to help those vulnerable citizens who are responsible for a disproportionate amount of healthcare expenditure – the top 5% of spenders drive 45%-50% of total medical spending. Continue Reading »