We bring you this week’s healthcare and medtech trends, in Boston and beyond:
This year’s mHealth Summit was held in D.C. this week, where numerous high-profile speakers discussed how mobile technology can lower costs and help patients. Several of the keynote speakers were from Boston, including Joseph Kvedar, the Director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners HealthCare, and John Brownstein, an HMS professor who directs Boston Children’s Hospital’s Informatics Program. Brownstein spoke about the success of HealthMap and UberHEALTH, which, as you may remember, we loved. According to Brownstein, those programs effectively helped their users get vaccinated, so expect more vaccination-related health apps in the future.
Two Boston-based organizations, PatientsLikeMe and the Schwartz Center, announced that they’ll be collaborating with the goal of improving the patient experience. More specifically, they’ll be surveying PatientsLikeMe members using a proposed scale that’s intended to measure physicians’ compassion. According to the director of the Schwartz Center, Julie Rosen, “Our research shows that while patients believe compassionate care is critically important to successful medical treatment and can even make a life-or-death difference, only about half of patients believe the U.S. healthcare system is a compassionate one.” The exact scale that will be used is still a work in progress as compassion isn’t easily quantifiable, but we’d certainly like to see a more compassionate – and, by corollary, more effective – healthcare system.
Speaking of metrics and data, a recent article in Bloomberg News stirred fears about our health data – mostly that it’s not as secure or confidential as we think. The article explained that third-company parties can assign patients anonymous codes and track their prescriptions, allowing drug companies to advertise to certain patients based on their records. Pharmaceutical companies are touting this as a good practice because it lessens the burden on doctors, pharmacists, and insurers for information. But if this trend continues, we may soon live in an era of, “Do these weight-loss ads make me look fat?”
As we heard at TEDx Beacon Street, 3D printing is revolutionizing health care. This week, researchers at Princeton have found yet another use for the ubiquitous technology. Using inks that can act as semiconductors, it’s now possible to print electronics circuits. So how is this relative to medicine? These researchers are pioneering ways to combine these electronics with biocompatible materials and living tissue. After some fine-tuning, this technology could potentially be used for all sorts of complicated and self-sufficient implants.
Brendan Pease was MedTech Boston's first ever editorial and events intern. He is now a junior at Harvard University where he studies Molecular and Cellular Biology. He’s also the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Harvard Science Review. Previously, he worked as a Market Intelligence intern at athenahealth and as a research assistant in the Goldberg Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.
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