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September 28, 2011

Gamers Solve Medical Problem

Never say your kids are wasting their time with online gaming again. On the Foldit site gamers resolved the structure of a protein that had foxed scientists for 15 years in only three weeks.

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July 03, 2007

Growing Patient Power

Picture of a mother and babyGoogle has set up a panel of experts to enhance its ability to respond to those of us seeking health information: Google Establishes Panel Of Health Care Experts . The ready availability of healthcare information has shifted the clinician patient relationship irrevocably. Now some doctors even encourage patients to become better informed and to challenge diagnoses.

One such is Jerome Groopman who in How Doctors Think tells of Rachel who adopted baby Shira in Vietnam. US doctors held Shira was suffering from SCID, an acronym for severe combined immonodefficiency disorder. Rachel researched SCID and was unconvinced. She thought Shira had a nutritional deficiency and insisted tests were redone. Rachel was shown to be right.

February 11, 2006

Healthcare IT: past, present and future

rbbh.JPGYesterday evening I went to a leaving do for my friend and former colleague Roger. He leaves the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading after 12 years in the IT Department to join NHS Connecting for Health.

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January 26, 2006

Telemedicine: changing the way healthcare meets

telemedicine.jpeg I did not know it was so isolated. The nearest referral centres to the north, south and east are more that 2 hours drive away. To the west the nearest is across the Irish Sea in Dublin. But Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth, Wales overcomes distance with telemedicine.

At a seminar in Slough, UK on Tuesday held by Multisense Communications Ltd. clinicians from Bronglais described (online, of course) how they manage cancer cases at the hospital using multi-disciplinary teams (MDT) and virtual consultation. Telemedicine combines live video with diagnostic data, images and even access to the Web.

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December 26, 2005

Healthcare and the Internet: Dr. Google

In November 2005, Google and--within a year of its release--Google Scholar are the top referers to the British Medical Journal (BMJ). If this is a general trend I have an idea why it may be so.

My wife is studying Physiotherapy and attempts to use the user-hostile Athens to find relevant material in databases such as Medline and Cinahl to read and cite.

Her fellow students express disdain when she tells them she prefers Google to find her sources. Enduring the pain of academic search engines is, it seems, essential in the quest for the same knowledge. Or is this learned academic snobbery?

Dean Giustini, the author of the BMJ article, thinks that Google ought to create a medical portal. Fortunately, the National Electronic Library for Health (NeLH) already provides an excellent interface to a number of databases for clinicians and laypersons and my wife and I recommend it, together with Google as a general source.

The power of the internet in the hands of laypersons was amply demonstrated in 2004 when a 15-year old boy used the internet to track down his genetic father using a sample of his own DNA and on-line facilities.

Medical knowledge is no longer the domain of the few.

December 23, 2005

Internet has further to go in healthcare

The NHS Direct website is a popular resource in the UK. While in the US recent research indicates that patients trust their doctors but frequently use the Internet.

As access in the UK increases, more laymen will use the Internet to inform themselves about their condition, drugs, treatments. That shift in knowledge will fundamentally alter the relationship between clinician and patient.

But there is more to come. On-line consultations and routine monitoring will become normal, reducing the need for sick patients to wait and share infections in the GP's waiting room. It will also ease the GP's workload, making home visits less necessary.

Recent research indicates that about half of people in the UK have Internet access. Increased access may have a more profound effect on care than the whole of Connecting for Health's National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

I wish you a peaceful Christmas time and a successful New Year!