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These telemedicine companies are transforming the way doctors will treat patients in the future.

Izunna Okpala

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Telemedicine exploded during the pandemic, after years of steadily gaining popularity. Companies are now capitalizing on this momentum to bring in the next wave of remote health, expanding beyond simple doctor consultations to a high-tech world of healthcare access without ever leaving the house.

Dr. John Batsis, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, remarked that the pandemic “actually promoted new techniques for remote monitoring, production, and development of devices.” “Wherever there is a customer need, there will be startups, equity, and businesses attempting to meet those requirements.”

Tyto Care, an on-demand medical exam company that aspires to duplicate in-person visits with home medical kits, is one company reconsidering televisits. Dedi Gilad, the company’s CEO and co-founder, came up with the idea eight years ago while his daughter was suffering from recurrent ear and throat infections.

Meanwhile, Sanford Health in the Midwest, the country’s largest rural health care organization, has adopted a similar strategy. Rather of adapting devices for remote usage, doctors taught patients how to record their results at home using the same tools they used during in-person appointments.

According to Sanford Health, “home monitoring kits” containing a fetal ultrasound monitor and a blood pressure cuff were distributed to patients with low-risk pregnancies, allowing women to use virtual care for nearly a third of their prenatal care appointments during the pandemic.

Other telemedicine startups, such as Kiira in Los Angeles, are focusing on increasing access to underprivileged areas. The company’s virtual care app, which links women to primary care providers, OB-GYNs, mental health experts, and more through phone, video, and chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week, aims to bridge the healthcare gap for women in college, particularly women of color.

Historically, black and brown people have faced numerous impediments to healthcare, including fees, access to care, and even access to clinicians of color. Students are frequently hesitant to enter because they do not see a provider who looks like them…. One of the things that has been absent for a long time is the ability to see someone who you can relate to and speak with a provider from the comfort of your own home.

Virtual visits can be conducted, prescriptions can be written, and lab tests can be ordered using the app. Kiira’s monthly fee is covered by colleges, so students don’t have to pay for it. It presently serves four universities and approximately 3,000 students, with ambitions to grow to 22,000 students later this year.

Spora Heath, another affordable telemedicine startup, focuses on offering a primary care network for African-Americans. The $10-per-month service compels its physicians, 90 percent of whom are persons of color, to complete “culture-competence training” and workshops in order to better understand and support the communities they serve.

These technologies are going to be integrally important in managing patient’s health now and in the future.

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Facebook is experimenting with prompts that ask users whether they are concerned that a friend is ‘becoming an extremist.’

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Facebook app

In the United States, some Facebook (FB) users are receiving a prompt asking if they are concerned that someone they know is becoming radical. Others are being alerted about the possibility of being exposed to extremist information.
It’s all part of a test that Facebook is conducting as part of its Redirect Initiative, which tries to tackle violent extremism.

This experiment is part of a wider project to see how we can provide tools and help to people on Facebook who have interacted with or been exposed to extremist content, or who know someone who is.

“Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?” one of the notifications reads, a screen grab of which went viral on social media Thursday.

According to a screenshot shared on social media, the alert stated, “We care about avoiding extremism on Facebook.” “Others in your situation have gotten discreet help,” she says.
The user is then directed to a support page by the alert.

Another alert reads, “Violent groups try to use your anger and disillusionment.” “You have the ability to protect yourself and others right now.”
The user is also redirected to a help page as a result of the notice.

Facebook is sending users to a range of resources, including Life After Hate, an advocacy group that helps people quit violent far-right movements.

Over the last few years, Facebook has been blasted by detractors for failing to take sufficient steps to combat extremist content on its platform. For example, in 2020, the firm was chastised for failing to take down a militia group’s Facebook page, which encouraged armed residents to go to the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The company has also committed to do a better job of preventing the spread of false information and conspiracy theories. In May, Facebook’s independent oversight board encouraged the corporation to look into the role of its platform in the January 6 uprising.

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Coronavirus: The Covid Tracker software from Ireland is out

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Ireland’s just-released contact-tracing app this morning, where it joined Germany’s Corona Warn-App, which was released three weeks ago.

Gibraltar recently released its Beat Covid Gibraltar app, based on the Irish code.

The Republic’s Covid Tracker software is also the foundation of an app. Northern Ireland is promising to release within weeks. And now there’s a hint Wales could go the same way.

The focus henceforth would be on building a “decentralised” app with the toolkit offered by Apple and Google, which is also being used by Germany and Ireland among a growing list of others.

On Monday, Baroness Harding gave evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee alongside Simon Thompson, the Ocado executive she drafted in to take responsibility for the app.

Mr Thompson started by saying how urgent it was to get the job done. He went on to stress that collaboration with other countries and with Google and Apple meant that “we have growing confidence that we will have a product that will be good, so that the citizens can trust it in terms of its basic functionality”.

Bluetooth doubts

Now it is true that there is very little evidence that Bluetooth-based apps have so far been successful in tracking down people who came close to someone diagnosed with the virus.

People who point to the success of countries like South Korea ignore the fact that its efforts have been based not on Bluetooth but on the use of mass surveillance data, which would almost certainly prove unacceptable here.

Scientists at Trinity College in Dublin who advised the Irish app development team have produced a number of studies showing Bluetooth can be a very unreliable way to log contacts.

After tests on a bus they warned “the signal strength can be higher between phones that are far apart than phones close together, making reliable proximity detection based on signal strength hard or perhaps even impossible”.

‘Good enough’

Germany has celebrated the fact that in three weeks its app has been downloaded by 15 million people out of a population of 83 million. But there is little or no information about whether it is performing well in its core mission of contact tracing.

Then again, countries like Germany, Ireland and Switzerland have taken the view that an app does not have to be technically perfect, and that if there is any chance of it making even a small contribution to the battle against the virus, it’s worth a go.

Countries like Germany might be tempted to point out that they have had that “cake” in the form of an effective manual tracing programme all along. Incidentally, if public trust is vital to the app’s rollout, the people of the Isle of Wight may have something to say about that.

Following the trial of the original, scrapped NHSX app on the island, some residents have been asking what will happen to their data. We’ve asked too – and have yet to receive an answer.

While the Covid Tracker app has been launched by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the Republic of Ireland, people living across the border in Northern Ireland are able to download it and use it.

Its terms and conditions state that it is intended to be used by anyone living in or visiting the island of Ireland.

They also state that its availability for people living or visiting in Northern Ireland “is intended to help us to inform people living in border areas and to trace cases in those areas”.

Anyone using the app in NI is able to activate the contact tracing facility and can also self-report symptoms using the “Covid Check-In section”.

However, in the section which asks users to enter personal details, including gender and age-range, those living in Northern Ireland can’t add their county of residence. Only counties in the Republic of Ireland are listed – not the six in NI.

It isn’t yet clear what impact this has on the functionality of the app for NI users.

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COVID-19: An update on the success of Coronavirus treatment

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There is hope in the fight against Covid-19. New evidence now exist in the United States of America supporting this procedure. Physicians in the Kansas City area, including Joe Brewer, Dan Hinthorn and Dr. Jeff Colyer, continue to see a lot of patients and some have shown progress. Hydroxychloroquine has been applied to treatment options by major medical facilities including the University of Washington and Mass General.

In addition, before this, according to a study conducted by French researchers on 80 cases who recovered from the virus within six days of treatment, a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has been found effective in treating patients with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial and anti-inflammatory medication used to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, although it has been tested against symptoms of the novel coronavirus with some results.

Bahrain is one of the first countries to study hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 medication, having first used the drug on 26 February, two days after the first case of coronavirus was reported.

Countries around the world are increasing access to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, similar compounds that are synthetic versions of quinine, which derive from cinchona trees and have been used to treat malaria for decades.

Considering the urgent therapeutic need to control this disease with efficient and safe medicines, and considering the negligible cost of both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, we believe that this therapeutic approach should be tested urgently by medical practitioners both to prevent the spread of the disease and to treat patients until serious irreversible respiratory complications.

Even now, medical experts are still questioning the use of chloroquine as a drug. Usage of chloroquine for symptomatic treatment of coronavirus has not been licensed by the World Health Organisation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently researching a way to make the drug available for emergency use in the United States, but in a way that gives the government data about whether it is safe and effective.

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