An Exciting New AI Application

Better diagnosing lung cancer and other illnesses early.

As the post title indicates an exciting new AI application now exists. It involves better screening for lung cancer and other diseases!

Previously, we offered these posts on artificial intelligence:

Diagnosing Lung Cancer: An Exciting New AI Application

As reported by Denise Grady for the NY Times:

“Computers were as good or better than doctors at detecting tiny lung cancers on CT scans, in a study by researchers from Google and several medical centers. The technology is a work in progress, not ready for widespread use, but the new report, published in the journal Nature Medicine, offers a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence in medicine.”

“One of the most promising areas is recognizing patterns and interpreting images — the same skills that humans use to read microscope slides, X-rays, MRIs,  and other medical scans. By feeding huge amounts of data from medical imaging into systems called artificial neural networks, researchers can train computers to recognize patterns linked to a specific condition. Such as pneumonia, cancer,  or a wrist fracture that would be hard for a person to see. The system follows an algorithm, or set of instructions, and learns as it goes. The more data it receives, the better it becomes at interpretation.”

Click the image to read more.

An Exciting New AI Application
“A colored CT scan showing a tumor in the lung. Artificial intelligence was just as good, and sometimes better, than doctors in diagnosing lung tumors in CT scans, a new study indicates.” Credit: CreditVoisin/Science Source

 

Do We Really Want Patient Portals?

Do you use patient portals. If no, why not?

A patient portal is a secure Web site where people can see test results, health trends, and more about themselves. Due to HIPAA laws, online medical information must require a login. To protect privacy. 

I personally am a big fan of patient portals. They provide me with a lot of medical data and easy appointment setting. And I know it’s private. How about YOU, do you want and use patient portals?

According to recent research for the EY US NextWave Health Survey:

“In the past, health businesses built small bits of an experience to ease particular points of frustration. These point solutions, however, haven’t radically changed the consumer or physician experience, and aren’t highly utilized. Take patient portals  as an example. Patients say they want them, and many provider groups have built them. But the vast majority of people (about 70%) haven’t used them either to make an appointment or to pay a bill. Consumers want to be at the center of their care journey, supported by tools that help them manage their health and their relationship with providers. The point solutions of today clearly aren’t delivering that or improving patient engagement.”

Click the image for a larger view.

Do We Really Want Patient Portals?
 

Smart Speakers Can Aid in Heart Attack Detection

Contactless communication saves lives.

Alexa and other smart speakers have certainly come a long way. They’re no longer just for entertainment and shopping. They can be trained to aid in heart attack detection. From one’s home or other locale with such a smart speaker!

As Sarah McQuate-Washington observes for Futurity.org:

“A new tool for a smart speaker — like Google Home or Alexa — or even a smartphone can detect the gasping sound of agonal breathing associated with cardiac arrest, research shows. Almost 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest, when the heart suddenly stops beating.”

“People experiencing cardiac arrest suddenly become unresponsive and either stop breathing or gasp for air. Immediate CPR can double or triple someone’s chance of survival, but that requires a bystander to be present. Cardiac arrests often occur outside of the hospital and in the privacy of someone’s home. Recent research suggests that one of the most common locations for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is in a patient’s bedroom, where no one is likely around or awake to respond and provide care.”

“‘A proof-of-concept tool,’ which monitors people for cardiac arrest while they’re asleep without touching them and was developed using real agonal breathing instances captured from 911 calls, detected agonal breathing events 97 percent of the time from up to 20 feet (or 6 meters) away, according to a study in Digital Medicine.

“‘A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,’ says co-corresponding author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.”

Click the image to access the full study.

Smart Speakers Can Aid in Heart Attack Detection
 

Knowing YOUR Bone Density

Free testing with Medicare coverage.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Bone density is 

“A measure of the amount of minerals (mostly calcium and phosphorous) contained in a certain volume of bone. Bone density measurements are used to diagnose osteoporosis (a condition marked by decreased bone mass), to see how well osteoporosis treatments are working, and to predict how likely the bones are to break. Low bone density can occur in patients treated for cancer. Also called BMD, bone mass, and bone mineral density.”

Do YOU know your own bone density? And your proneness to osteoporosis?

Do you know that Medicare covers bone density testing every two years? Or more frequently if needed? Click on the image to visit the Medicare bone density measurement Web site. And then access the resources.

Knowing YOUR Bone Density
 

How Much Do YOU Want to Know About YOUR Health?

More versus less info. Which is better?

Interesting topic, right: How Much Do YOU Want to Know About YOUR Health? Especially regarding our future life expectancy. 

Recently, B.J. Miller and Shoshana Berger wrote a valuable op ed piece for the New York Times on “Don’t Tell Me When I’m Going to Die. Prognoses are more of an art than a science. Maybe it’s better not to know.”

Here are a few of their observations:

“Prognoses are based on the average experiences and life spans of patients who came before you. But any physician will tell you that coming up with one is more of an art than a science, and doctors are often wrong. Studies have long shown that physicians are particularly prone to overestimating life expectancy — especially when they like their patient.”

“Still, choosing not to know your prospects is surprising in this golden age of data. But the choice not to know can also be liberating. You can say, ‘No thanks, I opt out.’”

According to Miller and Berger:

“Steve Scheier, an expert in organizational decision making, devised a Prognosis Declaration. And it allows patients to choose among a few options. WHERE DO YOU FIT?

        • Tell me everything.
        • I’ve not decided what I want to know about my prognosis, so ask me over the course of my treatment.
        • I want to participate in my treatment, but I don’t want to receive any information on my prognosis.
        • I don’t wish to know any information about my prognosis but I authorize you to speak with [blank] about my case and for you to answer any questions that this person may have about my likely prognosis and treatment.
    • Click  the image to read more.
How Much Do YOU Want to Know About YOUR Health?
Photo by Lucy Jones

 

The Value of Vitamin D in Cancer Care

Fresh research to help us live longer.

Earlier this month, we posted about Be Careful with Supplements. Nonetheless, some supplements may be valuable in cancer care. One of them seems to be Vitamin D.

A recent study by researchers at Michigan State found that:

“Vitamin D, if taken for at least three years, could help cancer patients live longer, say researchers. New findings suggest that the vitamin carries significant benefits other than just contributing to healthy bones. A paper on the work was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.”

“‘Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer, but unfortunately it didn’t show any proof that it could protect against getting cancer,’ says Tarek Haykal, a lead author of the study and an internal medicine resident physician at Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.”

“Researchers looked at data related to disease prevention from more than 79,000 patients in multiple studies that randomly compared the use of vitamin D to a placebo over at least a three-year period. Haykal and his team zeroed in on any information that involved cancer incidence and mortality. ‘The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population,’ Haykal says. While these findings show promise, Haykal cautions that the exact amount of the vitamin to take and what levels are needed in the blood are still unknown. He also says that it’s unclear how much longer vitamin D extends lifespan and why it has this result.”

Click on the image to read the full paper.

The Value of Vitamin D in Cancer Care
 

Understanding Cognitive Aging

Further research on how we age.

Last week, we had a post on How Old Do YOU feel? “The study considered 92 diseases and conditions in 195 countries and territories.”

Let’s continue with that topic. In new research by Lee Ryan, et al., the authors discussed “Applying Precision Medicine to the Field of Cognitive Aging” in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience:

“The current ‘one size fits all’ approach to our cognitive aging population is not adequate to close the gap between cognitive health span and lifespan. In this review article, we present a novel model for understanding, preventing, and treating age-related cognitive impairment (ARCI) based on concepts borrowed from precision medicine. We will discuss how multiple risk factors can be classified into risk categories because of their interrelatedness in real life, the genetic variants that increase sensitivity to, or ameliorate, risk for ARCI, and the brain drivers or common mechanisms mediating brain aging. Rather than providing a definitive model of risk for ARCI and cognitive decline, the Precision Aging model is meant as a starting point to guide future research. To that end, after briefly discussing key risk categories, genetic risks, and brain drivers, we conclude with a discussion of steps that must be taken to move the field forward.”

Click the image to access the full article.

Understanding Cognitive Aging