Technology

True Prevention

True Prevention

Presenters and vendors at the 2015 mHealth Summit in DC shared in a more somber, mature position this year, one that applauded how far technology has come as it relates to health and healthcare, but also explicitly described remaining pain points across our system. One of my favorite conversations was how collaboration was being pitched more and more as opportunity for better success (IBM Watson and Walgreens definitely led the charge here). Still, there seemed a lot that was missing. Specifically, there was very little technology dedicated to mental health, women’s health, and in my mind most significantly, kids and young adult health. Granted, I didn’t…

Kintsukuroi – A Beautiful Fracturing

Kintsukuroi – A Beautiful Fracturing

Susannah Fox wrote an inspiring post about the quilt she has hanging on her wall in her new office as CTO of Health and Human Services. She talks about how that thumbed and warn fabric made by her ancestors and the act of weaving itself is a reminder of technology’s history and how from that realization, we see how often modern technology is subjected to myopic definitions and applications. To further illustrate her point she shows textile as technology and the motion that directs this early technology’s manifestation, the creative process where needle and thread lead to complicated symphonies of color and texture, as early programming….

Quantified Self Labs

Quantified Self Labs

Everyone had a story at the Quantified Self Labs Conference and Expo in San Fransisco. One QS speaker delivered a narrative about tracking her emergent love for her current husband, or another shared how the weight of his beard whiskers over time became indicators of higher or lower testosterone, and how those moments correlated with certain emotional states. The hardware collecting these stories came in all sorts of forms, and were mostly combinations of DIY, experimental, and commercial. The Quantified Self Labs was founded by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly as a means to serve the quantified self community. Reaffirming…

On Immunity and Paternalism

I was reading Eula Biss’ collection of essays before the Disney Land measles outbreak. I appreciate the way she rotates subjects around as if they are a critical element in an interior decorating project: holding the subjects up close, then further away, squinting one eye, setting it aside a few objects, and then a few others, adjusting, tweaking and inverting as she proceeds. I switched over to her book, On Immunity: An Inoculation to see how she turned this topic around in her palm. I have not been disappointed. Her voice is protective, curious, and authoritative. She reviews the history of vaccination in…

Informed With Personalized Data

Informed With Personalized Data

Iodine, a San Francisco-based start-up, provides personalized information to individuals about medications we use to ease pain, calm anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression, or soothe a common cold. Founded by Thomas Goetz and Matt Mohebbi, and led by a team of scientists, designers, and medical professionals, Iodine is quickly becoming one of the most user-friendly, user-reviewed drug databases around. “The Yelp of medicine is here,” says a Time review posted on Iodine’s site. In 2010 Goetz spoke about simple design tweaks that could be applied to the medicine bottle. In many ways, Iodine itself is a realization of this initial talk. It…

Challenges and Progress, now and later

Challenges and Progress, now and later

Telemedicine company American Well developed an app called AmWell. It was the most downloaded health app in 2014 and will play a big part in Apple’s HeathKit. At it’s most basic level, AmWell is a doctor in your pocket that makes access to health care professionals seamless, easy, and inexpensive. You bring your phone everywhere, so you bring your access to top-notch clinicians everywhere. Despite the convenience, however, telemedicine  has still not reached its potential. What this technology might look like in the near future is fairly easy to imagine.  For example,  your smartphone can be equipped with cheap diagnostic tools that would help you and your doc figure out…

Co-Operating Burdens of Choice

Co-Operating Burdens of Choice

I remember a while back two articles were released in the New Yorker and the New York Magazine about reproductive medicine and the impact it has on our nation’s overall health care budget. Both articles approached the idea of aging mothers, fertility clinics, and premature birth sensitively and though different, both equally eloquent. What struck me most about each article was the element of choice, especially in premature birth. With medical advancements, a “viable” pregnancy (limit of viability) has shifted to 24 weeks gestation. Yet the survival rate, and then the complications and resulting disability rates are high.  The expecting family is…

Nudged Toward WellBeing: Digital vs Manual Tracking

Nudged Toward WellBeing: Digital vs Manual Tracking

The brown envelope arrived at my door just a few days after my call with Jon Cousins, founder of MoodNudges. Inside was a small sheet of paper with a hand-written note from Jon telling me that he had enjoyed our chat and hoped I found value in his company’s product, WellBee. The product itself was also small – a hexagonal tin with a yellow honeybee sticker affixed to it. Within the tin was a neatly folded piece of paper with a graph and clear instructions for using the twelve hexagonal cards. WellBee is a physical – not digital – tracking…

Fertility Trackers Cut Infertility Costs

Fertility Trackers Cut Infertility Costs

Fertility trackers are hot right now. Reports of major investment in fertility applications abound, and as other applications and wearable devices report faltering engagement statistics or a fall-off rate that suggests tremendous need for improvement, fertility application consumers are addicted. Ovuline investor Bill Pescatello of Lightbank states in a TechCrunch article that Ovuline numbers are “almost like Candy Crush.”  Paris Wallace, Ovuline’s co-founder and CEO supports this claim, telling us that of all who download the Ovia Fertility application, 50% either report pregnancy and go on to download their Ovia Pregnancy app, or are continued monthly users. Engagement levels certainly drive the hype (and investment) around fertility applications. But tracking…

Innovating for Underserved Communities Pays

Innovating for Underserved Communities Pays

“There are a lot of myths in the market today,” says Unity Stoakes, co-founder of StartUp Health, a leading global entrepreneurship program for health and wellness innovators. One of those myths is that there aren’t viable business models for designing products or services for underserved or vulnerable communities. As a result, the patients and the providers needing the most support are bypassed or avoided. StartUp Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) seek to change this. Together, they plan to bust that myth wide open. In December 2013, RWJF announced a two-year $500K grant to StartUp Health in support of its Health…

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