Medical tech allows us to monitor health, get advice and seek care remotely and cheaply.
Barack Obama famously and falsely said, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” But . . . what if you don’t like your doctor?
Let’s say you, like me, are one of the 20 million Americans who work for themselves—no boss, but also no corporate-tax deduction for health insurance. The smart move is to get a high-deductible insurance plan. Now it suddenly matters what doctors charge: $500 to take your blood pressure and bang your knee with a rubber hammer, $1,200 for a blood test that uses pennies worth of chemicals to tell you your hemoglobin levels are fine. Plus four months to get an appointment, and then the doctor asks you to fax an authorization. What? It’s 2019. It’s time to fire your doctor.
Like roughly half of American adults, I’m borderline: hypertensive, high cholesterol, though only “pre”-diabetic. A streak of misdiagnoses has led me and many others to take doctoring into our own hands. I do an annual blood test for $199 through WellnessFX and get results on a smartphone app. A Bluetooth-connected cuff from Omron Healthcare tracks my blood pressure and even notes atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat. A Fitbit scale tracks my weight. Beautyrest Sleeptracker tells me my REM sleep duration. My Apple Watch charts my resting pulse and does a simple electrocardiogram. The more data, the better.
When you do get sick, you still need to see a doctor—they have that prescription pad. But insurance companies tired of overpaying for five-minute doctor visits have begun setting up alternatives. Sutter Health runs walk-in clinics for $129 a visit. Online care is cheaper, so Anthem Blue Cross encourages customers to use LiveHealth, a videoconference platform, for $49. Aetna has a deal with Teladoc, a $4.5 billion public company, for $38 consultations. No pain meds, of course, but almost everything else.
Consumer-driven options have already changed nonvital care. After doing in-home teeth impressions, you can order orthodontic aligners for $80 a month. For acne treatment, you can upload photos of affected areas and receive medicine by mail monthly. Technology is lowering costs and improving care on all fronts.
Technology has moved so fast that several smartphone-based platforms now function like Uber for doctors: Doctor on Demand, PlushCare, Amwell and MeMD are cutting into primary care. These are gig-economy doctors who provide care on demand for, well, gig-economy workers and others without employer insurance coverage. Today I can upload my health stats and connect to my platform of choice 24/7, whereas just recently I could barely get a hold of my doctor by phone, let alone email or texts, because he couldn’t get paid for that time, stuck in a 20th-century pay scheme.
Taking charge of your health care can be complicated and is not for everyone, but it’s doable for most. I’d stick with services that hire doctors from top 25 medical schools. And here’s a warning for hypochondriacs: Consult a real doctor and do not—I repeat, do not—Google your symptoms and convince yourself you have everything from diverticulitis to distomatosis.
If you’re really sick you still need to see a specialist: urologist, gynecologist, gastroenterologist, otolaryngologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist. But by then you’ll have blown through your high deductible, so that’s what insurance is for anyway. And even the specialists will soon realize they can benefit from telemedicine to reduce in-office visits. For now, when you inevitably and repeatedly fill out the prescreening paperwork, specialists always ask for the name of your primary-care physician. I put down “Dr. Webb.”
Doctors don’t scale, so the real future of medicine is digital diagnosis. The best doctor sees one patient at a time, but a clever piece of code can be used by countless people. All the data that patients record is needed for smart artificial-intelligence-based diagnoses. So why not collect more? Current or emerging technologies can enable at-home cholesterol monitoring and better EKGs, easy glucose monitoring, blood tests to find cancer early before symptoms show up, Alzheimer’s screening, thyroid-stimulating hormone tests, even DNA tests that demonstrate a propensity for certain diseases.
Data, data, data—the more the better. As I write this, I have a Fantastic Voyage-like capsule near my stomach transmitting pH levels. How cool is that? As this technology progresses, more tests and more capsules will fill databases with personalized information.
The goal of these measurements isn’t always to give a black-and-white diagnosis saying you have some disease or you don’t, but to build data that can be analyzed over time. As more data is recorded, machine learning will allow programs to detect patterns of known disease progression, and flag them early when treatment is cheap and effective. The revolution is coming. But not from your doctor.
This week at Fullpower Labs (www.fullpower.com), we’ve been thinking about how much we sleep and don’t sleep each day of the week on average; so we did some distribution analysis. Most of our Sleeptracker (www.sleeptracker.com) sleepers have regulated work schedules which bind them to a fixed weekday schedule. However, there are still several differences. And of course, many of us tend to replenish our “sleep budget” on weekends.
The following image displays the statistically meaningful weekday patterns that we represent using the Sleeptracker AI-powered predictive analytics system.
Here at Fullpower Labs, we are thinking about last year’s Berkeley earthquake and have been doing some geographical distribution analysis. That earthquake hit right in the middle of our night, 2:39 am to be precise. Many of Sleeptracker’s users (www.sleeptracker.com) in Northern California were affected.
Here’s a graphical representation using the Sleeptracker AI-powered predictive analytics to show how that developed.
Sleep technology grew at the 2019 CES show and Fullpower’s Sleeptracker® technology platform is the clear leader. Completely non-invasive and non-intrusive, Sleeptracker monitor requires nothing to wear, nothing to charge, and it makes any bed a smart-bed with accurate monitoring to 90+ pct of PSG for two simultaneous sleepers. The Sleeptracker platform is cloud-based and AI-powered with a powerful bolt-on cloud-to-cloud API for rapid integration (learn more about our technology at Fullpower.com). Alexa users have additional features, for example, simply ask Alexa using the new skill: “Alexa, ask Sleeptracker how I slept last night?” With much more under development to be announced soon, the Sleeptracker® Monitor is leading the sleep AI machine learning industry.
Apple’s Beddit comes in second to the Sleeptracker by Beautyrest, which has better features for couples.
One of the criticisms of the Apple Watch is that there is no native sleep monitoring, but that’s not keeping Apple from wanting to measure your sleep. Instead, the consumer electronics giant last year acquired Beddit, a sleep detection device that’s composed of a plastic strip that you put under your bottom sheet, to measure how you sleep. Apple just released the newest version of Beddit (3.5) with an accompanying iPhone app.
As is often the case with new Apple product categories, Apple is not the first to market a sleep detection device that connects to the bed. And, as is sometimes the case, the Apple product isn’t best of the breed. I installed the new Beddit device to compare with the Sleeptracker by Beautyrest monitor that I’ve been using for about a year and prefer the Sleeptracker.
Beddit is available at Apple stores or at Apple.com for $149.95. Beautyrest Sleeptracker lists for $199, but Amazon is currently selling it for $116.14 while Sears.com now has it for only $69.99.
The Apple and Beautyrest devices have a few things in common, but they differ in important ways. First, the Sleeptracker works with both Android and iPhone while Beddit only works with iPhone. Second, a single Sleeptracker product works with two sleepers so, if you share your bed, you and your partner can both get sleep data. You would have to buy and install two Beddit products to measure two sleepers. With Beddit, you need to have the phone in the room, while Sleeptracker connects to your home Wi-Fi network and can work independently of the phone, once it’s set up. During setup, the Sleeptracker app asks if a pet sleeps on your bed to make sure the pet doesn’t affect your readings.
Also, Sleeptracker uploads your data to powerful cloud-based servers, according to Philippe Kahn, CEO of Fullpower, the Santa Cruz company that developed the product for Beautyrest. Kahn said that the data is anonymously compared with data from thousands of other users to give people a basis of comparison. He said that the company adheres to strict European privacy guidelines in all markets, including the U.S.
Having more information about your health – including sleep data – is a good thing
Another big difference is that the Sleeptracker sensors go under the mattress instead of on top of it. I could actually feel the Beddit strip as I was lying in bed. The Sleeptracker sensors are undetectable, except maybe to the protagonist of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Princess and the Pea.”
Larry Magid is a tech journalist and internet safety activist. To read the complete story, please visit the original article in the Mercury News.
This endangered cheetah is wearing a Fullpower AI-pod for research purposes. The pod and its associated infrastructure are an AI-powered sensor-fusion edge cloud solution that learns about the Cheetah’s behavior. The AI-pod is small, waterproof, and rugged. We are in the process of learning a lot about cheetah behavior. For example: “When do Cheetahs really sleep?” or “When to Cheetahs really hunt?” This picture was taken at the Cheetah Conservation Fund based out of Namibia.
Philippe Kahn joins the Mentaltrener podcast hosted by Frank Nilsen. Frank is “the Norwegian Joe Rogan” and the podcast is in English and was lots of fun. The Mentaltrener podcast features interviews with inspiring and successful people from all over the world about their mindset strategies for overcoming fear and various challenges on their journey to success. Visit the link below to listen:
Asleep. We spend about a third of our lives in a state of slumber. Increasingly documented as a key component of human well-being, sleep enables us to recover and regenerate physically and mentally. Getting too little of it or having poor night’s sleep creates an imbalance that has knock-on effects on cognitive ability, mood, and general performance. For example, the coaches and medical staff at Hintsa Performance emphasize sleep as one of the 6 key components of success for high-level athletes and business people, in what is described as the Circle of Better Life. In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington claims, “We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis,” and details the consequences society will face socially and economically if we do not adequately address our sleep habits.
Yet, for all the various tips and tricks proposed to improve sleep it remains a largely obscure state that many of us rarely reflect upon – unless you have a bad night’s sleep. Some of us are more aware of the importance of sleep. Severe sleep disorders afflict as much as 16.6% of the population worldwide, if not more, according to a 2012 Warwick University study. There are a number of challenges in researching sleep disorders; however, new technologies are paving the way for improved means of gaining valuable insights into sleep.
Three innovative areas that ETH Zurich currently investigates could hold the answers to optimizing sleep.
Tracking Brain Activity
The SleepLoop project is developing a device in the form of a headband that measures and analyzes brain waves, subsequently playing a matching sound to stimulate deeper sleep. One of the major impediments to traditional sleep studies is the bulky equipment required to measure the subject, often requiring them to sleep in the lab. SleepLoop’s wearable technology optimizes data collection providing quality results that are faster, cheaper, and affords greater comfort to human subjects taking part in the study. This technology could potentially deliver a cure to sleep disorders without the need for drug therapies and may have applications in the prevention of certain brain diseases.
Don’t Hold Your Breath
Scientists in ETH Zurich’s Organic Chemistry Lab have increased 5-fold the sensitivity of their sleep measuring devices using secondary electrospray ionisation (SESI). “This sensitivity is sufficient for our SESI devices to be used for breath analysis in medicine,” says Professor Pablo Sinues. One of the applications Sinues and his team are investigating is the analysis of exhaled breath in order to diagnose sleep apnea. Their future projects include looking at how to simplify instruments to deploy in clinics and doctors’ offices.
Originally created to study the optimal rocking movements for falling asleep, researchers have reengineered the Somnomat bed to study snoring. In both cases, the Sensory-Motor Systems Lab envisions an autonomous robotic platform capable of monitoring, detecting, and self-adjusting as the user sleeps. By customizing the bed to an individual’s preferred conditions, the bed will be able to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Complimentary to all of these research areas is the work led by ETH Zurich alumnus Philippe Kahn at the California-based company Fullpower Technologies. Drawing on their knowledge of big data, machine learning, and AI, they have developed the Sleeptracker® platform to analyze over 250 million of nights of sleep from millions of individuals worldwide. Their results notably show that there is a genetic predisposition to being a morning or an evening person. According to Kahn, “The challenge is that our modern society tends to force everyone to a schedule inherited from the early days of the industrial revolution. This in turn means that there is about 25% of the population that may not perform optimally on a recommended modern schedule.”
It turns out that in addition to the science of sleep providing solutions to sleepless nights, we may also need to adapt some of our societal parameters to offer more flexibility to account for different sleeping habits and preferences.
Earlier this year, Prof Zicari had the pleasure of interviewing Philippe Kahn, a mathematician, well-known technology innovator, entrepreneur and founder of four technology companies: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf Technologies, Starfish Software and Borland.
“There is a lot of hype about the dangers of IoT and AI. It’s important to understand that nobody is building Blade-Runner style replicants.” — Philippe Kahn
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