Thursday, 19 January 2017

Run Every Day January – To improve mental health awareness and services

Laura Di Bona (ScHARR / CATCH researcher & occupational therapist) is running every day in January, with three of her friends to improve mental health awareness and support. R.E.D. January was set up to promote wellbeing through exercise and is raising money in aid of MIND (for better mental health).

“We were inspired to take part in R.E.D January because we have long since recognised the benefits of exercise on our mental health. Whilst it’s well documented that exercise benefits physical health, people talk less about how it’s also known to relieve stress, improve sleep and mood. Over the years, running or walking outdoors has helped us cope with bereavements, serious illness and everyday life which includes working in healthcare and caring for children with additional needs. Getting out running with friends gives us a chance to offload our stresses, support each other through the difficult times and most of all, enjoy each other’s company and a good laugh. We’re lucky enough to have beautiful countryside really close to where we live in Sheffield. So, even when we’re too busy to get together, we  can go out alone and still come back calmer and happier.”

“Raising money for MIND is important to us because we see and have experienced the damage that stigma, lack of mental health awareness and negative attitudes towards those with mental health conditions has. We also witness the inadequacies of many mental health services to meet the needs of those who need them. Sometimes dealing with those services is a source of stress itself, not the comfort it should be”.

To find out more about R.E.D January go to:
To find out more about MIND go to:

Written by Laura Di Bona and RED January runners

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Are fitness trackers the future?

Interesting article from the BBC about the accuracy of our fitness trackers.

Click here to access the article.

Monday, 16 January 2017

High-tech, high-touch ways to engage patients, members

Payers and providers have been intent on engaging patients and members. And for good reason: It can foster loyalty, build trust and encourage proactive healthy behavior, which all lead to reduced healthcare costs and lower consumption of healthcare services.

"If we're going to make connected health a widespread reality in the lives of consumers and patients, we have to double down on engagement," says Joseph Kvedar, M.D., vice president of connected health at Boston-based Partners HealthCare.

While an NEJM Catalyst survey reveals that 69% of providers are using patient engagement strategies, the figure should be much higher, says Kevin Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

But even as health information technology programs and platforms advance the cause, there are still some low-tech and high-touch ways to engage patients. The best methods, of course, are a blend of the two. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

2016 a banner year for EHR security breaches

Security breaches of electronic protected health information (ePHI) continue to plague the healthcare industry—and the trend shows no signs of abating.
More than 25 million patient records were reportedly compromised as of October 2016. And then, in November, the cases spiked: There were 57 health data breaches—the most in any one month this year, according to the Protenus Breach Barometer. 
What’s even more concerning is that inside employees were responsible for more than half of November's breaches, a notable increase from past months. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Hospital Impact: EHRs, health IT slouch toward 2017

2016 was a busy year for healthcare information technology in general and EHRs in particular. Electronic health records have matured—in part. Sometimes it seems like the industry takes two steps back for every step forward.

Incentive programs have evolved, but interoperability efforts have been rocky. Data analytics are more robust than ever, but on HIPAA's 20th birthday, cyberthreats are on the rise.

Let's take a look at five of the biggest EHR-related issues of the past year, how they unfolded and where we’re headed in the coming year.

1.       The evolution of the EHR incentive programs
2.       Interoperability: Two steps forward, one step back
3.       Cyberthreats on the rise
4.       A stalemate on EHRs and patient safety
5.       The maturation of EHRs—in part

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Is IBM Watson replacing claim adjusters a watershed for AI?

lThe news is awash about IBM’s Watson Explorer cognitive ‘artificial intelligence’ platform being used by Japanese insurer Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance (FMLI), to automate the work of insurance claim adjusters (see here and here).
Apparently FMLI is laying off 34 out of its 131 payment assessment staff, who deal with activities like checking medical notes, insurance contracts, and other information relevant to calculating insurance payouts. These are professionally qualified people.
Until now, most examples of AI in business processes are where the platform is being used alongside people, to learn from and improve the business process, such as in know your customer (KYC) programmes, financial reporting, or customer communications. Robotic process automation (RPA) is a different matter entirely. Here swathes of low-level back office jobs are already being removed by systems that can mimic human-computer inputs.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

FDA lays out postmarket medical device cybersecurity recs in final guidance.

As our world becomes more interconnected, so do our medical devices: we are connecting devices such as insulin pumps and glucose meters to apps, some of which also have cloud connectivity, enabling patients to share their health data with caregivers and loved ones. But this increased interconnectivity comes with vulnerability to cybersecurity threats.

The FDA published its final guidance on the postmarket management of cybersecurity in medical devices last week. The recommendations apply to medical devices that use software, including programmable logic and software that is regulated as a medical device, including mobile medical apps. The document follows the agency’s final guidance on premarket cybersecurity for medical devices issued in 2014.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Theresa May makes a stand for mental health

Jacob Andrews
Today, Theresa May will give a speech about how her government plans to overhaul mental health services in the UK. This will include increased funding for community mental health services, as well as training for schools and employers about mental health, and improved online services allowing people to check their symptoms online.

This is great news for many who have suffered with inadequate support for mental health conditions, for instance those who have waited weeks, months or years to get access to talking therapies.

It is welcome news too that there is renewed interest in online support. Modern technology offers us many possibilities in terms of educating ourselves on mental health and empowering us to monitor our own wellbeing. Getting it right can be difficult, however. In 2013, the NHS started an online library of mental health apps, which was later shut down after it was found some of the appswere not secure.

Mrs. May will announce the introduction of online symptom checks. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the established tests for mental health conditions are used to produce the new tests. One-time tests for mental health conditions are known to provide biased results - they require test-takers to reflect on their wellbeing over a period of two weeks or more, though memories of pastfeelings are influenced by present experience.

In CATCH at the University of Sheffield, we are exploring how technology can be used ona daily basis to detect mental health problems early, and whether this can be applied for older adults. Mrs. May’s new interest in mental health shows there is appetite for such innovation, and we will be watching how matters progress with interest.

Written by Jacob Andrews, PhD student in CATCH, University of Sheffield