Category Archives: Health

Virtual Reality in Europe

About to attend my first VR conference outside the USA, at VR & AR World in London. It will be interesting to see VR from a European perspective.

Continuing to focus on promoting emotional well-being with XR, to drive interactive content. Some of the healthcare presentations look promising. As always, anything Vive will be of great interest.

XR emotional metrics is a new area with boundless potential in therapy, research, and personal growth. Looking forward to meeting other like-minded participants.

Another way Virtual Reality can change the world

No more Us v Them – with its wars and power strangleholds (mostly by straight white men).
Be comforted and swaddled by a person not of your race and culture, in a haptic jacket of course.

Good For You

Medical advancements continue in the 21st century at an amazing pace, but the rest of healthcare is playing catch up. Only in the last few years have we built a constructive path towards providing affordable healthcare for all U.S. citizens. Also lagging has been the implementation of computer technology, though thanks to a large infusion of government funds as part of the recovery from the Great Recession, electronic health records have finally been implemented nationwide.

So what do we do with all this new technology? What do we do now that healthcare is connected and wired up?

Everyone can avail themselves of new medical advancements, but doing so may not always be a straightforward proposition, as the following anecdote helps illustrate:

When I was a kid, a line of products hit the market which attempted to solve the continuing problem of getting kids to eat their vegetables. The solution: wrap vegetables in french fries! I remember clamoring for my parents to buy these products, catchily named “I Hate Peas”, “I Hate Carrots”, and so on. These weird concoctions didn’t taste as bad as their namesake vegetables, but they didn’t taste as good as french fries either. Quickly passing in and out of our household and likewise consumer culture, their memory remains as part of a recurring theme in my life – I want what is good for me, but more importantly, I want to like it!

And so it goes with devices, apps, and activities that are good for us.

Many of us are overweight, not in good physical shape, overly stressed – in large part because healthy behaviours are not fun or rewarding enough. They seem too difficult.

So how can we use technology and other modern methods to make healthy behaviours more fun and more rewarding?

There are already working examples. The 10000-steps-a-day goal and easy-to-use calorie counters are major motivators for fitness band wearers to learn and practice healthy behaviours.

One area of tremendous promise is Virtual Reality (VR for short). Affordable and lightweight VR headsets are just now hitting the market, along with the first wave of apps. Soon everyone will be able to enter amazing environments which can encourage virtual speedwalking, skiing, and even dancing. Who wouldn’t want to stride through fabulous locations, ski over gorgeous landscapes or join in dancing to our favorite music with wonderful virtual partners?

 Healthcare providers and insurers, who are in the business of promoting healthy behaviours, could offset the cost of VR gear and apps and therefore bring more people to healthier, and yes, fun lifestyles. Even those who use VR without much physical activity can enjoy therapeutic benefits for stress, depression and other mental issues – some without even knowing it! And once people are engaged in new activities using VR, they can continue many activities the old-fashioned way, in the real world.

We are in an exciting time of technological advancements, but it is ultimately up to us to use them to our benefit.

Where Do We Go With Technology?

Since computers have been invented, a primary goal has been Artificial Intelligence – to design computers that “think” like people. A related utopian ( or dystopian? ) goal has been Singularity – where computers surpass humans’ abilities. In theory, computers would teach themselves to evolve much faster than humans to the point of becoming “super” beings with abilities we as humans can only dream of.
 Perhaps a more worthy goal for computers than making them think like people – or surpass people, would be to make computers that can help people be better people.

 By better – not necessarily smarter, bigger, stronger and more accomplished.

Actually happier, healthier, more fulfilled, more ethical and harmonious (with others and our surroundings).

 How can we do this?

 

LOUD and CLEAR

Child Abuse. Rape. Male domination and violence against women, children, the powerless. This shit has been going on for centuries.
Finally, finally it is surfacing like a breaching whale. On video.
Sick brutal behavior being called out.
LOUD and CLEAR

How Well Does Your Electronic Health Record Play With Others?

The long-awaited promise of electronic health records in the Unites States is finally becoming reality.  Most healthcare organizations, if they haven’t yet adopted EHR’s, are well on their way.

The benefits of EHR’s are numerous and profound.  Some benefits will be realized almost immediately – streamlining patient visits, reductions in medical errors and better processing of insurance claims, to name just a few.

Other benefits will soon follow. The vast amount of healthcare data generated by EHR’s will be used  by clinicians to better  diagnose conditions and determine the most effective treatments. This data will also help researchers to discover new cures and treatments. Patients will find a wealth of new medical information on the internet.

One drawback is that the first wave of EHR implementations will result in multiple health records existing for each patient, since healthcare organizations will be maintaining EHR’s only for patient visits within their purview.  At this time, there is no clear path for merging multiple EHR’s into a single record for each patient.  However, there is little doubt that once patients become accustomed to having access to their own EHR’s, they will have the expectation of consolidating their EHR’s into a single Personal Health Record. Doctors and other clinicians will also want to access consolidated EHR’s, instead of scanning between several records brought in from other organizations at the patient’s request.

EHR’s are signed legal documents; therefore, only authorized personnel –  usually physicians – will be able to create or modify them.  Merging separate EHR’s presents legal issues, in addition to technical ones. Patients, unless they are clinicians themselves, will have neither the medical expertise nor legal authority needed to effectively consolidate their medical records.  It logically follows that patients will look to their healthcare providers for help.

Most of the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014, and going by the accelerated pace of consumer technological expectations  (smart mobile devices barely existed until a few years ago), meeting the demand for consolidated EHR’s should be an immediate priority for all healthcare organizations.

This woman is 87 years old