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Personalized Medicine – Processing Millions of Health Data Points

Posted on July 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

“When you go to the doctor’s office and they do a blood test, they typically measure no more than 20 things. With the technology out there now, we feel you should be able to measure thousands if not tens of thousands if not ultimately millions of things. That would be a much clearer picture of what’s going on.”

This quote comes from a fascinating article by Jon Cohen called, “Examining his own Body, Stanford Geneticist Stops Diabetes in Its Tracks.” The idea is simple, but extremely powerful. I think it also paints a clear future for healthcare.

Michael Snyder is right that we need to have tens of thousands and ultimate millions of data points to be able to really effectively treat the human body. When I start to think about this, it actually makes me proud that the medical profession can treat a patient as well as it does with such limited information. Yet, it also gives me great optimism that the best advances in healthcare are still ahead of us.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times before, I believe that the body of medical knowledge will become too complex for the human mind to process on its own. In fact, we might already be there today. When you add in thousands and eventually millions of additional data points, then no one could even start to question this idea.

How then will we be able to process all these data points? Despite the human minds amazing characteristics, it will have to be assisted by technology. The human mind won’t likely be taken out of the equation, but computing power will assist the human mind to make much better decisions.

One problem with this idea is that the EHR software of today aren’t designed to handle this type of processing. EHR software is the database of healthcare and some might say that’s even a stretch. Does that mean that we’re going to have to deploy a new wave of software and technology to support this type of smart healthcare data processing?

App Helps Potential Skin Cancer Victims Track Moles

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

The other day, I read an article that stated 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their life. That is a very scary statistic. So when I came across an article about a free skin cancer screening app that was recently released by the University of Michigan Health System, I was intrigued.

Basically, this app is helps people monitor moles and other skin lesions that could potentially turn into skin cancer. The user takes a picture of worrisome moles, it stores the photos and allows you to compare any changes over time. This isn’t the first app of its kind, but one difference is that it sends reminders to the user to monitor their moles on a regular basis. I think that would be pretty handy, as I think I would forget.

One part of this app that I liked is “risk factor calculator”. It asks a few questions, such as region, sex, and a few other things, and determines how many people with those demographics will get skin cancer. For me, it indicated that .55 people out of 1000 with my similar features would get skin cancer in their lifetime.

This app has the user do a full-body survey, and upon completion, a total of 23 photos and 7 poses are taken. The creators of the app feel like this app, if done on a regular basis, would be helpful to take to doctor’s appointments concerning possible skin cancer. In the future, the creators hope to connect doctors to the app that could examine pictures taken. Here are a few screen shots from the app.

It seems to be fairly easy to navigate and make where lesions are. I like how on the front screen (last screenshot here), it tells you when you need to do your next self exam and indicates how many lesions are being tracked. The app also has an “info” section, that gives tips on how to stay safe in the sun.

Another app that is available for skin cancer is called “Skin Scan” for 4.99 through the iPhone. The app takes the pictures of moles and lesions and gives them a rating on how likely that mole is to be a part of skin cancer. It apparently predicts accurately about 70 percent of the time. Having technology determine this, especially when there is a 30 percent chance it is wrong, is kind of scary. I wouldn’t want to be the person who was told by the app that they likely didn’t have melanoma, only to find out later that I did. I haven’t seen the app, but I would hope that there is a warning stating that the results can’t replace seeing an actual doctor or dermatologist.

Overall, I like the idea of this app. Awhile back, my husband had some moles that could have been worrisome, so we monitored them for awhile. However, we had a hard time remembering what the moles looked like previously, therefore not being able to determine if there had been changes. While we could have taken pictures, it would be nice just to have a place that automatically stores them to a specific location.

UMSkinCheck is available for the iPhone, for free, and can be downloaded here. It has an almost 5 star rating, compared to the 2 star rating that Skin Scan has.