Technology to work towards improving hand washing in hospitals

Today on CBC radio I heard this interview and was so impressed by the research and method I wanted to share it with others interested in talking about how technogy is improving healthcare. Here’s what is on the CBC radio site:

There’s a new tool for tracking the spread of infections and diseases in hospitals. Developed by the Canadian company Infonaut in collaboration with George Brown College, this tool tracks the movements of health care workers in hospitals, including if they’ve washed their hands or not! Toronto General will be the first hospital in the world to use this technology. Dr. Michael Gardam is Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the University Health Network in Toronto, and he explains why the data collected will be invaluable, and how they’re ensuring this won’t be a “big brother” type surveillance situation.

Another good e-health blog

I’ve just added a link to eHealth, a blog devoted to eHealth and Health IT. There are some excellent posts and also some excellent links.

The volume of activity happening in the USA since Barack Obama was elected has been unbelievable. We’re hopefully going to see rapid development of excellent online healthcare resources as a result of this. See this post on Cup of Buzz Blog for an example of what’s happening!

Online Healthcare Gets Personal

Health 2.0 and the Healing Power of Supportive Communities

As we know, social networks are gaining widespread acceptance, and people of all ages are accessing the internet not just to get information but also to find, give and receive emotional support.

In a recent report from CarePages, they discuss that scientific studies provide evidence that such support has significant health benefits.

An excerpt from their full report:
For people facing a health crisis or a chronic, debilitating condition, Health 2.0 is not just about innovative technology – although technical advances such as the expansion of broadband have made Internet applications easier to access and use. Technology, however, is only an enabling tool to help these Health 2.0 individuals get what they really want – the opportunity to connect with others who will help them feel better physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually.

This report links with three of my other posts. The first one where I talked about the incredible support my father received from an online support group, after he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, the post I made about “doing being and becoming a blogger, to belong in a virtual world” and one linked to that… about the blogging project we are planning with Edmonton Brain Injury Relearning Society… to facilitate safe blogging with people who have an acquired brain injury.

Web searches feed health fears

BBC News Monday, 1 December 2008

Health information online is breeding a generation of cyberchondriacs – people who needlessly fear the worst diagnosis after surfing the net, say researchers.

A team at Microsoft studied health-related Web searches on popular search engines and surveyed 515 employees about their health-related searching.

Web searches had the potential to escalate fears – like a headache was caused by a brain tumour, for example.

Experts said people concerned about their health should see a doctor.

Self-diagnosis by search engine

Microsoft conducted the study to improve its own search engine.

Roughly 2% of all the Web queries were health-related, and about 250,000 users, or a quarter of the sample, engaged in a least one medical search during the study.

The Web can be a useful tool to find out more information about conditions, but it should not replace talking to an expert

A spokeswoman from NHS Direct

The researchers found Web searches for common symptoms such as headache and chest pain were just as likely or more likely to lead people to pages describing serious conditions as benign ones, even though the serious illnesses are much more rare.

Searching for “chest pain” or “muscle twitches” returned terrifying results with the same frequency as less serious ailments, even though the chances of having a heart attack or a fatal neurodegenerative condition is far lower than having simpleindigestion or muscle strain, for example.

About a third of the 515 Microsoft employees who answered a survey on their medical search habits “escalated” their follow-up searches to explore serious, rarer illnesses.

Although the work does not give firm proof that searching the web increases health fears – users may simply be curious about a condition – the researchers say it is likely in some circumstances.

“Our results show that Web search engines have the potential to escalate medical concerns,” said Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher for Microsoft.

Trusted sources

A spokeswoman from NHS Direct said health information on the Web was no substitute for expert advice.

“It is always a good idea to talk to a clinician who can point you in the right direction if you are concerned about your health.

“The Web can be a useful tool to find out more information about conditions, but it should not replace talking to an expert.”

Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, said trusted patient information websites could be useful resources.

“Paradoxically, the problem in the UK is that many people are still unaware of the symptoms of cancer, and delay in seeing a doctor is one of the key reasons why this country’s cancer survival figures lag behind the best in Europe.

“It’s important to study this area further, but we must also remember that many people still have no access to the wealth of information online, and that health inequalities – including inequality of information access – are widening, not narrowing.”