Depressed? Google Knows

Tech giant Google introduced a bold idea to help those who think they may be suffering from depression but are not yet ready to go to a physician. On the Google page, whenever there is a search for “depression,” a question will appear asking users if they want to take part in a questionnaire. This is a 9-question test that can help determine if the person is potentially depressive or not.

Google has not been spared the flack for their attempt to help depression. This has mainly come from people who think that this is another way that the search giant is invading privacy or using its data to mine information about people.

Depression is a condition that is still not well-understood by the general population. People casually drop the word, as if depression means merely being sad about something. In addition, there is a stigma to depression because it is a mental health condition. There are still some people who believe that if you can get up in the morning without anything physically wrong with you, then you are healthy.

Depression is not quite well-accepted yet because a mental health issue, something the majority of people do not yet accept or understand. Even those who may have depression would rather deny that they are suffering from it—they would rather keep the condition to themselves instead of going to a doctor to have it confirmed and diagnosed. For a lot of people, it is better to be in doubt yet live in comfortable silence than to have it confirmed that you are mentally ill and experience humiliation from peers, friends, and even loved ones.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in America, statistics show that one in five people will have a depressive episode in their lifetime. Of these, only half will reach out for support.

Paving the Way for Mental Health Tech

Google’s approach is discreet, yet it has the research to back it up. NAMI also believes that this is a big step forward in helping those who have depression. The test itself offered by Google is just a first step. It is recommendatory in nature, and is not binding—only a qualified doctor would be in a position to determine depression and to subsequently prescribe medication.

The assistance and support is the key. According to NAMI, it takes an average of seven years between initial onset of symptoms to the time that the patient receives treatment. During that time, there are a lot of hurdles to treatment. First off, those who have depression would usually not want to go to a doctor for a diagnosis. Even after being diagnosed for depression, the patient would often still be in denial. The stigma of mental illness is deep, often preventing the patient from understanding that the condition is treatable.

Clinical depression can worsen and last for months or even years. Getting a proper diagnosis is hard enough when the patient does not want, or is afraid, to be diagnosed. Sadly, the results of depression can get ultimately damaging, with more than one out of every ten people with depression ending up committing suicide.

Google has not been spared the flack for their attempt to help depression. This has mainly come from people who think that this is another way that the search giant is invading privacy or using its data to mine information about people. Objectively, this is one way for such a simple request for information can help an individual.

Doctors are also in a similar dilemma. Most times, the people who notice the symptoms for depression are friends and family; however, they cannot approach the general practitioner to ask about a person’s health, due to confidentiality issues. Family and friends can only ask that their loved one submit to a test from a general practitioner (GP).

Google’s simple questionnaire can streamline the process of diagnosis and subsequent treatment. While what they have is not a substitute for a proper psychiatric assessment, it could eventually lead to a person getting one. This bold idea can save more lives in the long run.

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Oxford Company Impresses In Digital Healthcare

British Member of Parliament Nicola Blackwood visited a pioneering health tech company for a preview of their bold products and services. According to the Oxford Times, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and current undersecretary of state for public health came to see Incuna, one of Europe’s largest digital agencies, to foster the development of digital healthcare through technical transformation.

Oxford is positioned to capitalize on the bold impact of a tech revolution in the healthcare industry. Ms. Blackwood mentioned the recent investment of £113 million in the Biomedical Research Centre under Professor Keith Channon. This is a world-class research institute for medicine and data capabilities. The health official also noted that Oxford has a pipeline of computer science and information technology employees graduating from university which will further their cause of using a technical revolution to innovate the healthcare system.

Founded seven years ago, Incuna is an ingenious firm that creates digital health products and services for specific customer needs. One of their first products is ePatient, a patient platform that has transformed how people with cancer are given the necessary care and medical monitoring. Incuna built this technology from scratch and this allowed them to include patient input and feedback on the patient platform. Medical practitioners and researchers have validated the use of ePatient and it is now in use in 14 countries, helping take care of thousands of patients.

The success of the forward-thinking company has prompted it to create an office in Singapore to address the need of clients in the Asia-Pacific region. It also recently held a hardware hacking workshop for health.

“Our aim is to demystify the process of creating new health technologies”

Cyan Collier, Incuna’s creative director, said: “Our aim is to demystify the process of creating new health technologies”. The company believes that with the technology in place to support ideas, they can be transformed into reality. Taking bold action to devise new ways of delivering healthcare can help to tackle numerous existing health problems – not only in the UK, but across the world.

Apart from enjoying the support of local politicians like Ms. Blackwood, Incuna is also being backed by the European Cancer Network. This will mean more patients will be involved in the company’s cancer research and be given access to cutting-edge medicine and treatment. These advancements will have a bold impact on society as a whole.

Now more than ever, people have put a premium on health, and receiving quality healthcare has become non-negotiable. Companies like Incuna continue to revolutionize healthcare by using technology to innovate in digital healthcare. At the same time, scientists are developing robot surgeons, rehabilitation robots and hospital robots which have the ability to perform complicated tasks while crunching the patient to healthcare provider ratio, to a more ideal number.

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Smart And Wearable Technology – From Fitness To Healthcare

Smart and wearable technology has made great strides in recent years, developing applications that often go beyond just being able to monitor a person’s physical performance and fitness. Examples of these developments include research into the treatment of diseases, as well as in maintaining health in general, the Managed Healthcare Executive notes.

“In 2016, there were more than 101.9 million wearable devices sold”

The growth of the fitness and health wearable industry has been enormous. The International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that in 2016, there were more than 101.9 million wearable devices sold. This represented a growth of around 29% over 2015. It has been estimated that the market will grow further and sell 213.6 million units by 2020.

Currently, the most common wearables look like wristwatches. However, it is expected that clothing and eyewear devices will gain ground. The clinical application of wearable technology is evolving, as technology companies partner with healthcare organizations with the goal of solving some of the healthcare industry’s biggest problems.

The following are eight wearables in the healthcare industry which are worth exploring:

1 The LIVE by EarlySense is a remote monitor system for bedridden patients. One of the hardest tasks for a caregiver is providing continuous care for bedridden patients. The device collects vital signs and sleep patterns in real time. The data is sent via a mobile app and received by caregivers, nurses and clinicians. The LIVE itself is not something that the patient wears, but is placed under the patient’s mattress. Studies have found that it is 92.5% accurate in monitoring vital signs like heart rate, breathing, movement, as well as sleep patterns and other factors.

2 The Rapael Smart Glove is designed for people who have experienced neurological and musculoskeletal injuries, including strokes or heart attacks. It is used for physical therapy purposes, where it is used to create an exercise schedule with the use of a 30-minute exercise. It makes use of game software where the patient plays table tennis, baseball and other activities on the computer. The activity is given a score which is used to motivate the patient.

3 The Rapael Smart Board is aimed at helping patients with mobility problems with their shoulders and elbows. The Smart Board also makes use of computer games to motivate the patient to play the games which entail moving the affected parts through a wide range of motion.

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4 The K’Track Glucose monitor is one of the simplest glucose monitor for people with diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2). The monitor makes use of micro-needles less than 0.5mm. These micro needles collect fluid right below the skin surface. These are also analyzed to provide blood sugar information. A replaceable cartridge houses the micro needles, and lasts up to 30 days. The cartridge can take an unlimited number of readings during its lifetime. To use the monitor, the patient presses a button, and in within a minute, the results are displayed on the device. The results can also be synchronized with a mobile app.

5 The Fever Scout is a patch that reads the body temperature and sends this information to caregivers and medical health practitioners via a mobile app. Caregivers can remotely monitor the patient’s temperature. The Fever Scout continuously takes temperature readings and sends this data to the mobile app even when its 25 or 30 feet away from the patient.

6 The AccendoWave is a pain management monitoring wearable. By reading the patient’s electroencephalography system (EEG), the device knows if the patient is in pain and tries to distract him away from the discomfort. AccendoWave is in partnership with Samsung and uses a Samsung tablet to entertain the patient depending on the pain level. The patient is also able to rate the device depending on whether the distraction alleviated the discomfort felt.

7 The Ava bracelet monitors women’s fertility and their menstrual cycle. It uses a huge amount of information which show a relationship with female reproductive hormones. It monitors pulse rate, sleep, breathing, skin temperature, and others. The device is only worn at night and synchronizes data with the use of a mobile app. This device has been FDA-approved and has been on sale since 2015.

8 The Omron Project Zero 2.0 is a wearable which looks like a regular wrist watch. It measures blood pressure, sleep, heart rate and other activities. It synchronizes with a mobile app and is powered by a battery which runs for about a week before it needs to be recharged. It was presented to the public at the 2017 Consumer Electronics show.

These latest developments in wearable technology show how technological innovations in one industry such as fitness can be applied to other industries such as healthcare. The Bold Impact of applying technological breakthroughs across industries could greatly improve people’s lives. From wearables in fitness and healthcare, to Virtual Reality in entertainment and education, the possibilities are endless.

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Higher Adoption of Digital Healthcare From Seniors In Australia

The world’s aging population is turning its eyes on robotics and digital healthcare to make everyday life easier. The elderly will benefit immensely from online tools, cognitive assistance and digital monitoring via wearable tech to make the delivery of healthcare more efficient. This will make a bold impact on the lives of senior citizens, their families, as well as their caregivers; improving their quality of living even as they battle sometimes debilitating conditions.

In Japan, for example, robotics is at the heart of their programs to assist the elderly. According to robotics researcher Antonio Espingardeiro of Robotics Tomorrow, the aging population is pushing scientists to develop various forms of assistive technology to expand the levels of human care.

“Without semi-autonomous robotics or other sensory information processing systems, people with disabilities or seniors will not be able to get the care they need or deserve. I’m counting on big data and IoT, robotics and artificial intelligence, in combination, to contribute significantly for a better quality of life for all ages,” Espingardeiro said.

Robots providing assistance to the elderly on a 24/7 schedule will lighten the load of caregivers and will make patient monitoring more accurate and efficient – but only up to a certain extent. The researcher was quick to note that the human senses are still more advanced than machine sensory capabilities. More importantly, robots still lack common sense and emotional intelligence. Eventually though, robots may be programmed with more advanced sensory receptors and they are of course, better at processing big data and quantitative analysis.

Robots can also go with the patients wherever they goes, allowing remote monitoring which can be transmitted to the caregiver or doctors. Video conferencing or video calls can also be set up so the elderly patient can immediately relay how they are feeling.

Espingardeiro sees a future where technology and elderly care will work seamlessly. He said the integration process “must be progressive yet sensitive. The current elderly generation is not tech-savvy and so using basic computers or electronic devices is a foreign concept. However, future generations will have already consumed and appreciated technological innovation at various touch points in daily life. We want to move patients from a spectrum of passive to participative over time. But, to do so, this process requires an ethical approach that establishes trust.”

The digital transformation in healthcare is prevalent in Australia and this development has made consumer-focused technologies a necessity in aging care. According to Accenture’s 2016 survey, the majority of Australia’s 4 million seniors are using technology to manage their health on a regular basis.

This, in turn, creates opportunities for aging care providers, reports said.

“There’s plenty of evidence that populations more generally are using digital technology to help manage their own health but under closer analysis we discovered that digital health has no age limit. This gives opportunities to transform the patient experience to be less reliant on the health system and more reliant on themselves, family and carers,” said Ian Manovel, lead author and Accenture Australia principal director.

Additionally, the survey showed a growing interest in technology which will help patients collect data more efficiently. These include smart phones, wearables and home based monitoring equipment.

The aging population is riding on the wave of digital transformation and healthcare tech to improve their quality of life and lessen their dependence on caregivers. Robotics and gadgets that can monitor their vital signs and transmit reports directly to their healthcare providers will allow them to receive treatment faster. These developments are sure to make a bold impact on the lives of millions of seniors who still want to make the most out of their remaining years.

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How Sweet It Is: Are We Turning Our Kids Into Sugar -holics?

Restricting sugar on the breakfast table may be the best thing parents can do for their children.

Health officials are trying to open parents’ eyes on the sheer volume of instant breakfast treats and sweet cereals. Touted as the most important meal of the day, it is also here that children are fed the highest amount of sugar in the form of cereals, pop tarts, pancakes and syrup, granola bars, and even flavored yogurt.

With children consuming more than 50% of what should be their daily sugar intake in just one meal, nutritionists say they’re becoming “sugarholics” – the equivalent of alcoholic adults – since it can be seriously damaging their livers and brains, The Guardian revealed.

Fructose, one of the two molecules which make up dietary sugar, is metabolized in the human liver in the exact same way as alcohol. High doses of fructose is toxic to the liver, making children develop fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes even while they’re young. Additionally, frequent intake of sugary drinks such as iced tea, sodas, and juice boxes are causing behavioral problems in children. They exhibit being “hyper” and uninhibited, which are traits usually associated with being under the influence of alcohol.

Dangerous Treats

In 2011, the US Environmental Working Group identified 17 breakfast cereals with exceedingly high sugar contents. Four years after, the EWG reported that none of these brands made an effort to lower the percentages in their products. Even something as seemingly innocent as raisin bran is filled with 19 grams of sugar per serving. While the raisins are already sweet, they are still dipped in a sugary solution to make them even sweeter. Flavored yogurts also contain 19 grams compared to plain yogurt which only has 7 grams which all come from lactose.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end with breakfast. Infant food and snacks and even pasta sauces have been found to contain more sugar than commercial pizza or fast food fare.

The Sun reported a study made by DW Fitness Clubs on regular supermarket-bought pasta sauces revealed as much as 7.3 grams of sugar 100 grams of sauce. Take note that this just added sugar and doesn’t factor in the natural quantities from other ingredients. The American Heart Association has set the ideal sugar consumption to no more than 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men. This runs to about 6 and 9 teaspoons per day, respectively. In reality, the average American consumes up to 17 teaspoons, and that adds to a lot of problems over time.

Cutting back not only contributes to weight loss but also cardiovascular health. This would mean withholding some of your kids’ favorite treats in favor of natural and healthier alternatives.

One Woman’s Crusade

Former dentist and University of California- San Francisco researcher Cristin Kearns has revealed a conspiracy against making the harmful effects known to the public. Unlike salt, sodium, and tobacco, which have all been tagged as “harmful” and come with a warning to take with caution, sugar has been left alone for decades.

The Pacific Standard ran Kearns’ story and proposed that the sugar industry has been hiding the real effects on people’s health.

“If sugar industry efforts skewed research about sugar’s harmful health effects, then national and international guidelines about sugar consumption are, in fact, based on flawed science. Until recently, federal organizations such as the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration had never officially recommended caps on the amount of sugar a person should eat, even though caps for nutrients such as fat and sodium have existed for more than 20 years,” the report said.

The sugar dilemma is prevalent all over the world, not just in America. It’s affecting not only adults, but kids as well, turning them into “junkies” with adverse effects on their bodies and brains. While it is impossible to ask for global action, parents can make the bold initiative and limit the amount they serve at the breakfast table and make healthier choices when shopping or dining out. The battle can be fought one day at a time.

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Beyond Nutrition: Understanding the Psychology Behind Eating

Nutrition is about more than simply eating to stave off hunger pangs, it is of course about the quality of the food eaten. However, researchers are also presenting a bold concept when it comes to nutrition, suggesting that other factors should be considered and encouraging people to take a long hard look at when, how, and why they eat.

According to the Seattle Times, understanding the underlying psychology behind eating will help people follow better nutrition. It negates the notion that food is food, and that proper nutrition depends only on the food a person consumes.

1. What Time You Eat is Important

It is important to keep to a schedule when eating in order to train your body to eat at regular times. The body becomes hungry just before it is time to eat. However, if you have an irregular schedule, your body rhythm gets messed up. You would either eat too much or not at all. Either way is not good for your health.

2. Your Reasons for Eating Affects How Much You Eat

Stress eating can lead to overeating. Depression, food cravings, boredom, a need for comfort, as well as impulsiveness also contribute to overeating. If you find yourself in this predicament, you would not be mindful of what you eat, nor notice that you are already full. Stressful situations have a profound impact on overeating or for consuming sugar-rich and salty fare. Everyday Health reports that this has a direct effect on the continuing rise of obesity in America.

3. How You Eat Determines Your Satiation Levels

If you eat with a mindset to enjoy the food, you would eat only until you are full. Being mindful of your eating and the food you eat helps to keep you from consuming more than what you need. Instances where you are surrounded by junk food also trigger a need to eat, even if you are not hungry. According to a Huffington Post article, mindful eaters have been proven to have healthier body weights, were less susceptible to eating disorders and had a more developed sense of well-being compared to those who simply wolfed down their meals. People are encouraged to chew their food slowly in order to explore and fully appreciate the taste, smell, texture and combination of flavors.

4. Carefully Choose Where You Eat

When you eat at your desk, amid clutter, or any reminder of stress, you are distracted from the primary activity. In this environment, you might miss clues telling you that you have had enough food. There is also a feeling of well-being when you eat well in a good environment, surrounded with intelligent conversation, in clean surroundings. British researchers revealed that the location where one eats impacts awareness, memory, and attention. Being distracted when eating also causes people to eat more and eat more frequently afterwards.

5. There are Patterns to Eating

Keep a journal to keep tabs on all these details. In order for your journal entries to be effective, you have to keep track of what you eat, what time, what you were craving, how much you ate, how you felt, and what your motivation was. With an objective journal, you would be able to see patterns of behavior or triggers for specific behavior. Bad behavior or eating habits can be seen beforehand and you can change your habits when you recognize these patterns.

Taking a long, hard, and honest look at a person’s eating behavior and patterns is a notable suggestion which will make bold impact in people’s health over the long run. Americans are growing heavier and becoming more unhealthy as the years pass due to increased food consumption and lack of physical activity. These two are truly a lethal combination and steps, no matter how small, must be taken to prevent this from getting out of hand.

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National Stress Free Family Holiday Month (December)

December never fails to be the happiest of all months in the entire year, but it also bring forth the biggest stress we will have as compare with the other 11 months. The past months have been stressful enough and we need to start the healing process to start the New Year on the right note.

Here are some tips to ensure that we are stress free this December:

1. Family Gathering

The Yuletide season always brings family together whether they like it or not. It has been a tradition that everyone dreads, may it be that family dinner where you have to sit and pretend to listen to your brother’s latest exploit, or your grandmother’s incessant need to keep you fed and full until your belt bursts, or your parent’s possibility of interrogating you on what happened to your last relationship. Whatever reason it may be, a lot have been hesitant on attending these events. To be stress -free this Holiday month, make sure to keep an open mind be a little forgiving, and focus on what’s important. It is inevitable that these that may touch a sensitive nerve will occur much like a comment on your recent weight gain, it will help to acknowledge that they did notice something and your family is entitled to their opinion. Remember, this season is all about healing and celebrating your loved ones, do not let conflict get the most of your experience.

2. Gifts and Expenses

The month’s most awaited times are the dinner where the family sits and eat their fill, and the morning after where everyone rushes to open their presents. This is all about balancing everything financially from the shopping list to the family demands and your desire to please everyone because it gives you utter joy. The first thing to counter this stressor is to keep things simple. We always forget the saying “It’s the thought that count”. More often than not, people remember the emotion they felt and not the gift that was given. This month is all about joy and love and we should focus on what would really call about such to avoid getting bankrupt when the bill comes. Next, if you have to make a list, make a grocery list. Allow yourself to make new traditions this holiday season that is well within your yearly budget and experiment on new recipes that are not as complex and expensive.

3. Schedule

I bet this is not your first December Holiday season and you are now well aware of the hustle and bustle of this season. Prioritize! We all know that our schedule does not differ from the rest of the year, but it does have some new ones like family reunions, year-end parties, and a couple more school events. We already have our usual schedule plotted, all we have to do is list down all the appearances we have to make for this month around those that have been previously plotted. If there are several that fall on one day, make sure to prioritize or delegate. While scheduling this month’s events and activities, do not forget to schedule a downtime in between to recharge and energize you for the next events to come.

No matter how stressful and hectic your life is, take the time to sit back and relax. Home, and in the company of the ones you hold most dear to you, is truly where your heart lies.