Tag: personal health

Smartphones and voice-activated home-assistant platforms help with managing your prescribed medications

Article

‘Alexa, order my meds’ — start-up NowRx pioneers prescription refills through Alexa and Google Home | CNBC

My Comments

There are steps that are taking place to interlink today’s technology with the chore of ordering your prescription medicines from the local pharmacist.

A system that has existed for a few years in Australia and is continuing to run is eRx Express which works with a mobile-platform app and QR codes that are printed on prescriptions. In this setup, a user could send a prescription order to their local pharmacy by scanning that QR code. But they would have to go to that pharmacy to collect and pay for their medicines, unless the pharmacy has established a home-delivery arrangement for the patient.

The main benefit is to allow a person to start things happening for a prescription to be filled from home, work or a shopping-centre’s food court and not have to wait around at the chemist’s while it is being filled. This system is part of an IT solution that is being offered to Australian doctors and pharmacists to improve the prescription-management workflow.

NowRx, a Silicon-Valley startup, have taken this further by providing a Skill for the Amazon Alexa and Google Home so you can use these voice-driven home-assistant platforms to order your prescription medicines. They want to make it feasible for you to request, refill or renew your medications with the last four digits of your prescription number.

Like the rest of Silicon Valley with their approach to traditional business models, they see it as a way to take on the traditional local chemist’s shop by running a robot-driven warehouse and home-delivery service, and at the moment, they have 400 Bay Area doctors as part of their network. NowRx uses Amazon and Google as a facilitation path so that their patients’ medical data isn’t held by the home-assistant platforms; something that is set up to avoid storing that data on systems that aren’t compliant with the US’s standards concerning medical-data privacy.

There are some people who could see these systems as trampling on what the pharmacy is about, including the management of a patient’s medication and the face-to-face interaction with the pharmacy’s customer base. But if these systems are set up as something that augments a local pharmacist’s workflow such as providing an express path for the supply of medication integral to a patient’s continual-therapy requirement, they can be seen as legitimate by most communities. This is more so where pharmacists are able to and encouraged to provide supplementary health-care services like vaccinations or first-aid as well as dispensing medication, a practiced performed in some European countries.

One of the analogies that can be related to with these services is when the financial industry started implementing automatic teller machines. There was the initial fear of these machines were about replacing bank teller staff but they ended up being primarily as an express option or an all-hours option for a customer to withdraw cash. In this case, the eRx and NowRx platforms would serve more as an express path for a patient to get to the medicines they need as part of their long-term therapy requirements.

A call-for-help program has been developed for Microsoft Band

Article

Microsoft Band App Provides Discreet Reporting For Domestic Violence  | SuperSite For Windows

Previous coverage on this topic

Doncare has launched a mobile-phone app to help people in domestic-violence situations

From the horse’s mouth

Band Aid

Home Page

My Comments

Previously, I had given some space to an iOS mobile-platform app written in conjunction with Doncare Community Services in Doncaster to provide domestic-violence survivors access to the necessary information. This app provide the one-stop information shop functionality but could be quickly deleted from a mobile device if the user is in danger of ending up in trouble for seeking help, which can happen in an abusive relationship.

For those of you who are based in the UK, this has recently become a cause celebre thanks to it being woven in to BBC’s “The Archers” radio serial which highlighted an abusive relationship that was taking place in to one of its storylines.

But another project has been finished where a wearable is used as a tool for summoning help in these situations.  This is in the form of “Band Aid” which is an app that works with the Microsoft Band to detect when the wearer is under undue stress and invite them to have the paired smartphone call the national emergency-services number or a user-determined help number like a trusted friend or domestic-violence helpline. The user can override the software to bypass stress-sensing during exercise or similar situations.

There is further development taking place with this software such as working alongside support and refuge centres for domestic and relationship violence sufferers. There is also some work taking place with “social listening” and machine-learning to identify the behaviour of one who is under threat.

The “Band Aid” project has been developed as part of the “HackForHer” hackathon which is a programming challenge for software solutions that can help and enable women. Here, these kind of hackathons can flesh out ways that technology can help particular user groups in particular situations.

Personally, I would like to see this program be “taken further” to facilitate help in other situations like independent ageing (fall detection), living with chronic illnesses with a high fall risk like diabetes or epilepsy, or living with mental illnesses. The sensors in wearables like the Microsoft Band, the Apple Watch and the Android Wear smartwatches are able to monitor body signs along with the wearable’s gyroscope sensor being able to detect falls and similar situations while machine learning that is part of the software can identify what is normal compared to what is abnormal.

Here, it could detect if one is about to have a diabetic coma or epileptic seizure, or needs help because they as an old person fell. Having this kind of software work with the “Internet Of Everything” can work well for identifying risk-taking behaviour such as a person who is living alone not entering the kitchen to feed themselves or making sure that a person has taken medicines that they have to take.

What is happening is that it is the first time devices in the platform wearables or Internet-Of-Things class, along with the concept of machine learning, are being exploited as a personal-welfare device rather than as a wellness or “keep-fit” device. Here, this avoids the need to wear extra clutter to achieve a goal of ideal personal safety or health.

Microsoft implements Internet of Things to support ageing at home

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Lab Of Things Helping Seniors Who Live Alone | Microsoft Research

My Comments

I have provided a lot of coverage regarding the concept of technology assisting the “ageing at home” principle where older and infirm people can stay at home and live in dignity knowing that the people close to them and their carers can act as a safety net for them.

Here, I had covered technology being used to guide seniors with shopping and food-preparation along with use of existing technology like cameras for medical observation. I have also covered in an article about CSIRO doing research in this field with a view of using the “Internet Of Everything” technology like energy sensors, movement sensors and smart locks to assess whether someone is keeping well such as knowing if they are going in to the kitchen to keep themselves nourished or if they are surfacing and going outside to collect the paper or mail.

Microsoft is working with their research laboratories in China to address the issue of ageing at home in the Asian communities. This is because these communities are becoming increasingly older like most of the world thanks to the good healthcare that is being made available to them.

Here, they are identifying how older people who are living independently at home coping, including factoring in cultural issues. They are also implementing robotics to build a medical-supplies trolley to serve the medicines that these people will need at the proper times as well as shoehorning the Kinect movement sensor as a fall sensor to detect if one is falling or convulsing.

The medicine trolley doesn’t just work with medicines that require regular doses but also can work with medicines that are taken in response to symptoms like asthma attacks and is based around knowing what the symptoms will look like. The Kinect sensor as a fall sensor has to work in a manner to assure personal privacy which is important because of the fact that some of these falls or convulsions can occur when one is using the bathroom or toilet and these devices could be located there.

What I see of this is various technologies that make use of the computer, the home network and the Internet Of Everything are being used to create a safety net for older people or people with chronic illnesses who want to preserve independence and dignity.

A Wi-Fi-based clinical observation thermometer appears on the scene

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Solwise

http://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-cadisense.htm

CadiSense

Product Page

My Comments

There have been some trends taking place to make the home network become part of in-home health care. One of the previous trends was Fujitsu using a digital camera like what is equipped in a smartphone or Webcam as a tool for measuring your pulse. Similarly, another company implemented a set of urinalysis “control sticks” that can be assessed not through a reference chart on the packaging but by a platform smartphone app that uses the phone’s camera to read these sticks.

Now a device has been launched in the UK through Solwise which uses a wireless temperature sensor to provide continual body temperature monitoring using the home network. This device, known as “Cadisense” implements a wireless temperature sensor that attaches to the patient’s nappy (diaper) or undergarment and touches the lower abdomen to measure the temperature. This device sends these temperature readings to a plug-in network bridge that connects to your home network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, with the network bridge keeping a long-term record of these observations that are taken every 30 seconds.

The data can be viewed on a Web server integrated in the network bridge that is accessible through the home network or via a remote link like what is used for most network devices that implement “remote access” or “cloud” functionality. The “dashboard” Website hosted by this Web server is optimised for viewing on a regular computer, tablet or smartphone and has the ability for regular-computer users to download the observations to the hard disk as a CSV file to import in to a spreadsheet application or email to their doctor. There are also the mobile-computing apps that work tightly with the iOS and Android platforms

At the moment, this device is focused towards observation-based clinical temperature measurement but shows that this concept can be proven beyond this application. There is a current limitation where the Cadisense temperature sensors can only work with the supplied network bridge but it is made up for the fact that the network bridge is a “3-way” wireless network device that can be either a Wi-Fi client bridge, a Wi-Fi range extender or an infill Wi-Fi access point.

For that matter, Cadisense are on a good wicket with their design because they could work this platform for a lot of in-home health-care applications including “ageing at home”. For example, their network bridge could come in to its own with the Ekahau Wi-Fi Pager Tags to be the core of a network-based “emergency-call” system that is a necessary part of caring for older people.

Once a system like this is built around industry-accepted standards like Z-Wave or Zigbee, it could mean a lot more for at-home health care and wellness applications amongst other applications like security and home automation.

Facebook now exposes suicide-prevention resources to their users through an infographic flow-chart

Article

INFOGRAPHIC: Suicide Prevention Resources On Facebook – AllFacebook

My Comments

I have previously covered the issue of Facebook in relation to the difficult topic of suicide and self-harm with an article about some incidents where a Facebook user sought assistance to handle a suicide attempt across the other side of the world; as well as another drawing attention to teenagers using this service as a counselling resource to reach out to other at-risk teens.

Now Facebook have taken it upon themselves to provide resources to help users worried about a person who is at risk of self-harm or suicide. This is more so where a Facebook status update becomes something to vent one’s feelings as I have seen before many times.

Here, they have exposed these resources and what they can do by showing an infographic flow-chart (PDF) about what they can do to help the user who is worried about their friend. They are exposing this flow-chart using a series of public-service announcements that appear across the Website so everyone who is using Facebook is aware of the resource.

This is in addition to partnering with organisations like Lifeline and Samaritans as well as implementing protocols and procedures to handle these situations especially where it happens in another country. One of the actions can include Facebook drawing the affected person’s attention to their local resources as well as keeping the concerned friend “in the loop” through a special Web dashboard.

As well, they have made a “one-touch” reference list of these organisations in their online help so that anyone across the Internet can be aware of these resources.

What I see of this is that Facebook, due to the sheer number of regular users, has done the right thing to handle this situation and this could open up questions amongst Internet-based online communities about how to handle situations where a person expresses a desire to harm themselves through these communities.

 

Using a smartphone’s camera as machine vision for better fluid analysis using analysis strips

Article

Urine sample app lets users detect diseases with iPhones | Cutting Edge – CNET News

My Comments

I was amazed about the concept of having a smartphone’s camera along with a special app “read” a urine analysis strip to provide a better analysis of diseases and other issues that can be determined through urinalysis. This can allow for the in-home diagnosis that these strips provide but allow for improved accuracy in these tests. The end user doesn’t have to add any peripherals to the smartphone or tablet for these strips to work with the software nor does the device come in to contact with the fluid in question. Rather they use the camera integrated in this device to provide the “machine vision” for the software to do the analysis.

This app could also allow for further analysis for other illnesses and conditions by the developer programming it further for these different conditions.

But I would also like to see the concept taken further beyond health tests. For example, the use of a fluid analysis strip along with an app that “reads” the strip could come in handy as a tool to help with safe partying. Here, a fluid analysis strip could be placed in a hot or cold drink, then read by an analysis app which uses the smartphone camera for machine vision to determine if the drink has been spiked with drugs. The analysis app could also determine if a drink has been “loaded” with too much alcohol, by referring to a device-local or online database of known “alcohol ratios” for many drinks including the mixed drinks and cocktails.

Similar "analysis-stick” chromatography that uses a Webcam, smartphone camera or similar machine vision, can be taken further for consumer and applications like checking the condition of engine and battery fluids in a vehicle which can betray the truth about the condition of that used car he is trying to sell, or checking the condition of the water in a swimming pool so you can keep that pool in order.