The use of wearable sensor networks and mobile phone applications are being tested by scientists and technologists in Spain to manage Parkinson’s symptoms.
The research from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is focused on the development of low-cost wearable sensors to continuously collect and process the accelerometry signals to detect and quantify the symptoms of the disease.
The idea is that once this patient-centric data has been collected it can be digitally collated and sent directly to a hospital. A review of daily data trends will provide an alert to a medic of any outlier, allowing for a speedier examination and the early start of treatment.
Parkinson’s disease is triggered by alpha-synuclein aggregates, which are protein formations that lead to loss of dopamine-generating cells. With the disease brain cells exhaust themselves and die prematurely. The cells die because they generate and accumulate too many waste products. This explains why the disease affects some regions of the brain and not others.
The Spanish researchers have been looking at the design and development of new mobile phone applications combined with wearable sensor networks to allow for the continuous non-invasive monitoring of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
This ties in with a wider European Union project called the PERFORM project (A soPhisticatEd multi-paRametric system FOR the continuous effective assessment and Monitoring of motor status in Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases).
Central to the technology is the detection of accelerometry signals. This is because subjects with Parkinson’s disease display instances of tremor at an early stage of the disease and later on develop gait impairments and postural instability. By using statistical analysis and machine learning techniques researchers can find the most significant features of the disease and design treatment program. Such data can be most effective when collected in ‘real time’, which is where the new wearables come in.
The researchers are looking to commercialize the technology and also at the application of aural stimulus some that patients with Parkinson’s disease carry out exercises and to improve some motor aspects.
The new technologies have been outlined in the journal Sensors.
North America’s first digital hospital launches second generation Command Centre
Do the words ‘command centre’ make you think of huge rooms with NASA scientists, expertly making sure a Mars rover lands safely on the Red Planet?
What if a command centre could revolutionize the patient experience in one of the busiest hospitals in North America, bringing a new standard of patient-centered, quality healthcare?
Combining Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and professional expertise, Humber River Hospital in Toronto has launched the world’s first clinical analytic applications, in partnership with GE Healthcare Partners (GEHC).
Displayed on large-screen monitors at HRH’s 4,500 square-foot Command Centre, these four new applications or analytic ’tiles’ use “standardized early warning systems, predictive analytics, real-time information from multiple digital systems,” alongside the professional expertise of experienced nurses.
Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Canadian Institute for Health Information data shows that 1 in 18 hospital stays in Canada involved at least one harmful event. This addition to the Command Centre means quicker alerts for clinical staff, and better protection for patients with conditions that make them vulnerable to risks of adverse events, or adverse outcomes.
The Humber River Hospital is the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) largest acute care centre, serving a catchment area of more than 850,000 in the city’s northwest. Opening in 2015, it was also North America’s first fully digital hospital.
Just two years later, HRH opened the first generation of its Command Centre, a data-driven ‘mission control’ offering real-time insight on patient flow, via advanced algorithms and predictive analytics. As a result, the hospital has “unlocked” the equivalent of 35 additional beds — and the ability to treat thousands of additional patients.
Get an inside look at HRH’s Generation 2 Command Centre:
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
Canadian startup Deep Genomics uses AI to speed up drug discovery
One of the biggest challenges pharmaceutical companies face is with the time taken to discover new drugs, develop them and get them to market. This lengthy process is punctuated with false starts. Startup Deep Genomics uses AI to accelerate the process.
Canadian startup Deep Genomics has been using artificial intelligence as a mechanism to speed up the drug discovery process, combining digital simulation technology with biological science and automation. The company has built a platform which uses machine learning to delve into the molecular basis of genetic diseases. The platform can analyze potential candidate drugs and identify those which appear most promising for further development by scientists.
The drug development process is dependent upon many factors, such as those relating to combining molecules (noting the interactions between hundreds of biological entities) and with the assessment of biomedical data. The data review required at these stages is highly complex. For these reasons, many researchers are seeking algorithms to help to extract data for analysis.
According to MaRS, Deep Genomics is addressing the time consuming element involved in the initial stages of drug discovery. The artificial intelligence system that the company has designed is able to process 69 billion molecules, comparing each one against around one million cellular processes. This type of analysis would have taken a conventional computer (or a team of humans) many years to run the necessary computations.
Within a few months, Deep Genomics AI has narrowed down the billions of combination to shortlist of 1,000 potential drugs. This process is not only faster, it narrows down the number of experiments that would need to be run, saving on laboratory tests and ensuring that only those drugs with a high chance of success are progressed to the clinical trial stage.
This type of system goes some way to addressing the lengthy typical time to market, which stands at around 14 years for a candidate drug; as well as reducing the costs for drug development, which run into the billions of dollars per drug.
Health service partners with Alexa to provide medical support
The U.K. National Health Service (NHS) is to partner with Amazon’s Alexa in order to provide health information. This is being piloted as an alternative to medical advice helplines and to reduce the number of medical appointments.
While the U.K. NHS is much admired around the world as a free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare system, health officials are always keen to find ways to reduce the strain on the systems, especially relating to medical visits where the process of booking appointments and waiting times for sessions with doctors can be lengthy. The average time to obtain a non-medical emergency appointment with a general medical practitioner is averaging around two weeks.
Although a non-emergency medical helpline is active (accessed by dialling 111), plus an online system, health officials are keen to explore other ways by which the U.K. population can access medical services. For this reason, NHS England is partnering with Amazon.
The use of Alexa voice technology not only offers an alternative service for digitally-savvy patients, it provides a potentially easier route for elderly and visually impaired citizens, as well as those who cannot access the Internet through a keyboard, to gain access to health information. This fits in with a new initiative from the U.K. Government called NHSX, which is about the NHS Long Term Plan intended to make more NHS services available digitally.
As PharmaPhorum reports, Alexa can now answer questions such as “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?” and “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?”
Outside of the U.K., Amazon is working with several healthcare providers, including digital health coaching companies, in order to launch six new Alexa healthcare ‘skills’. According to Rachel Jiang, head of Alexa Health & Wellness: “Every day developers are inventing with voice to build helpful and convenient experiences for their customers. These new skills are designed to help customers manage a variety of healthcare needs at home simply using voice – whether it’s booking a medical appointment, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, checking on the status of a prescription delivery and more.”
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