PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

We bring you the most stimulating and exciting stories from the world of wellness research.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 30 june 2012

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Ten Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.

App Promotes Healthy Living By Offering Rewards To Those Who Walk Or Cycle Around London
The new mobile app re:route uses a reward system to encourage consumers in London to walk or cycle during the Olympic games. Created by New York-based Recyclebank and Transport for London, the app aims to alleviate the predicted influx of volume on the city’s public transportation system. Consumers using the iOS app enter their journey and are shown different travel options—including walking and cycling, with their own bike or Barclays Cycle Hire, and public transport—and can collect points for every journey they make on foot or by bicycle, upon arriving at their destination. Points are redeemable for offers and discounts from Recyclebank partners, including Marks & Spencer, Planet Organic, Champneys, and more. Additionally, re:route informs users of the number of calories burned and emissions saved on each journey.

Intuitive Medicinal Pill Bottles Are Designed Specifically For The Visually Impaired
Two University of Cincinnati design students developed a prototype for a prescription medication bottle called the Capstone that utilizes a simple and inexpensive technology to better serve the blind and visually impaired. The improved bottle includes a child-proof lid on hinges, reducing the number of lost caps; a rectangular body that allows the user to easily retrieve a small number of pills; a distinct texture and deep color on the bottle’s lid that corresponds to a unique medication; and a “fail-safe” audio button on the lid can be pressed for an audio statement on its medicinal contents.  Since other pill container options currently on the market are complex and expensive, the prototype’s simple and inexpensive nature has widespread appeal.

Premature Babies Train Muscles Needed To Suckle By Way Of A Musical Pacifier
The recently available Pacifier Activated Lullaby (PAL) device uses musical lullabies to help infants learn the muscle movements needed to suckle. This technology targets prematurely born babies because premature infants, unlike full-term infants, are born without the neurological ability to coordinate the muscle movements required for oral feeding. The innovative PAL device, sold through a partnership between Florida State University researchers and Powers Device Technologies Inc., can reduce the length of a premature infant’s hospital stay on an average of five days, according to research studies.

Medical Startup Helps Patients Assess Ailment Remotely Before A Trip To The ER
Sherpaa is a medical start-up that allows its clients to connect with primary care doctors on the phone or by email around the clock. Instead of accruing a large medical bill visiting the Emergency Room for non-emergencies, individuals can first connect with a doctor remotely to assess the severity of the wound or illness, and if necessary, the doctor will refer them to make an appointment with the appropriate specialist. This process condenses multiple visits into just one. Sherpaa, which accepts all major insurance plans, aims to lower healthcare costs for companies and strengthen doctor-patient relations. In the future, this initiative could drastically improve efficiency and reduce overhead costs across the healthcare industry.

Surgeons Use 3D Printing Solution To Streamline Face Transplant Procedure
Materialise is Belgian-based 3D-printing company that has devised a virtual pre-operative plan which was used to streamline the country’s first full-face transplant procedure. After taking a CT scan of the patient’s face, engineer Joris Bellinckx and his team used custom 3D-visualization software to render and examine the patient’s facial defects digitally. Based on this analysis, anatomical models of healthy bones were custom-printed and used as a reference during surgery. The team additionally printed a surgical aid to help guide surgeons in cutting and fitting the lower jaw of a potential donor.

Webcam Enabled App Allows Patients To Virtually Connect With A Doctor Anytime
The startup Ringadoc allows users to instantly talk to a real doctor around the clock, for a flat fee. Individuals using the service simply call a toll-free number and record a quick description of the ailment. Then Ringadoc will match them with a doctor who will provide medical advice or a diagnosis, write a prescription, and advise them whether to they should go to a hospital immediately or wait to make an appointment at a doctor’s office. With $750,000 of seed money from Founders Fund’s FF Angel, Ringadoc aims to be “the frontline of primary care.”


Future Medical Imaging Processes Combine Data-Sets For Photo Realistic Results
Researchers at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands are exploring the ways that the huge quantities of data provided by existing imaging technologies can be turned it into ultra-realistic images. Rapid development in computational power and graphics hardware has enabled the interactive rendering of medical imaging data-sets which appear much more life-like. These techniques combine available images to create an accurate rendering of the human body’s internal layers, and allow visualizations to be enhanced with additional realistic detail in order to better communicate this type of information.

Surgeons Rewire Nerve Around Spinal Fracture To Help Paralyzed Man Regains Use Of Hands
Surgeons at the University of Washington School of Medicine performed a bypass procedure that rerouted a healthy nerve that allows patients to flex their elbows and control their hands. Prior to the procedure, the 71 year old patient retained some motility in his arms, but he was unable to pinch or grasp with his hands. After surgery and physical therapy, the re-wired nerve pathways enabled him to flex a few of his fingers and has regained the ability to feed himself. Although it is unlikely that the patient will regain full utility of his hands, this procedure represents a major leap in medical techniques.

Clinic Helps Amputees Athletes Push Physical Boundaries With Customized Training Techniques
Experts at UCSF’s Orthotic & Prosthetic Center assist amputees in their athletic endeavors by offering customized artificial limbs and intense physical training programs. The Amputee Comprehensive Training (ACT) program at UCSF trains amputees to push physical boundaries, beyond just learning to walk again with an artificial leg. By using a host of evaluations and boot camp-style conditioning exercises, as well as training and conditioning patients have gone on to run marathons and fight UFC bouts. Trainers are always available and patients have access to virtually unlimited resources in order to reach the next level of competition.

Hi-Design Touchscreen Insulin Pump Simplifies Medication Doses
Tandem Diabetes Care has released the slimmest, touchscreen insulin pump ever. The 300-unit capacity FDA approved t:slim Insulin Delivery System is the first insulin pump that incorporates a touch-screen interface. Mimicking many common handheld devices, it is recharged using a micro-USB cable. Its glass, chrome, and glossy exterior make it appear more like an Apple product than a medical device. In addition to its aesthetics, the t:slim is safer than conventional pumps, as it delivers micro-doses and auto-senses insulin levels remaining in the pump.

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.


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