PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From getting fit on Facebook to ultrasound pills that eliminate the need for shots, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

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.

GE Makes Exercise Social By Adding Health Goals To Facebook Timelines
Facebook is partnering with GE to launch HealthyShare, an app that allows people to add health and fitness goals to their Facebook timelines through a range of fitness and diet challenges, some even sponsored by Olympians. Since people are more likely to follow through if they have a support system, the act of making these goals public will enable participant’s friend’s to motivate them to reach their goals. The app’s launch coincides with the athletic fever of the Olympics, so that people will be further inspired to get healthy and fit. To make it more effective, HealthyShare integrates both social insights from Facebook researchers and internal anthropologists in order to best leverage the social platform as an accountability system for dieting and health programs.

New Moms Turn To Facebook To Deal With Parenting Stress [STUDY]
According to a study by researchers at Ohio State University, mothers of newborns use Facebook more than fathers and also increase their online activity after the transition to parenthood, which may determine how well they adjust to their new role. For new mothers, higher levels of parenting stress are associated with more frequent visits and more frequent content management on Facebook. On the other hand, fathers who also interact with Facebook friends in real life tend to adjust to parenthood better. For stressed-out parents, Facebook is a way to seek support from friends and receive positive feedback about the increased responsibilities of new parents.

Health Startup Spots Medical Billing Errors To Help Consumers Save Money
Health startup Simplee aims to eliminate the billions of dollars that are wasted each year due to medical billing mistakes by providing consumers with an easy way to manage their healthcare financials, while identifying errors and areas for saving. Simplee provides consumers a platform for storing, managing and paying healthcare expenses, and includes a new system that automatically detects errors in users’ medical bills. Co-founder and CEO Tomer Shoval believes there is a discrepancy between rising deductibles of health insurance and how much people know about where their money is going. Simplee’s mission is to make healthcare expenses more transparent and help people save money from billing errors.

New App Lets On-Call Doctors Communicate With Patients ‘On-the-Go’
The new app DocBookMD allows doctors to send and receive secure HIPAA-compliant patient information – X-Rays, lab results, or EKGs – directly from their iPhone or iPad, and get a response from another doctor-user in minutes. This innovation assists doctors in better serving their patients because even though most medical issues for which doctors are called in to the hospital are non-emergency and only involve a quick consultation, since the current protocol requires that doctors consult in person for all questions when on-call, they waste time travelling for, often, a simple diagnosis. This app allows doctors to more effectively treat patients and also improves the lifestyle of physicians by improving and expediting communication.

Ultrasound In A Pill Could Replace Daily Injections
Biomedical engineering company Zetroz has created the uPill, a pill with ultrasound technology that can speed up the drug absorption process and deliver drugs as efficiently as a shot – without the discomfort. Ultrasounds work because they heat up molecules in skin tissue, which creates larger permeable spaces for drugs to pass through for absorption. The uPill would allow a person to swallow the pill (coated in the necessary drug for his or her condition) and ultrasound waves would prime the stomach for absorption before it passes through the digestive system. Currently going through animal testing, the uPill may not reach the market for several years.

Scientists ‘Outsmart’ the Immune System to Ensure Acceptance Of Organ Transplants
Anthony Atala, a stem-cell specialist at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, has conceived of a new way to match patients in need of organ transplants with organs that are grown from healthy stem cells. The new technique would reduce the possibility of a patient’s body rejecting the implanted organs by using extreme precision to grow a “close-to-exact” organ match for 90 percent of Americans. Atala and his team have begun collecting stem cells from amniotic fluid and placentas for a stem-cell bank that will contain more than 100,000 unique samples. The first of these organ samples won’t be available for another five years and it will take even longer before they are able to serve people with rare DNA profiles.

How Insurance Companies Insurance Are Linking Junk Food Purchases To Health Insurance Rates
Since the future health of people is difficult to predict from a few short medical tests, insurance companies are increasingly interested in data mining. Not only do insurers check out public data on social networking sites, but they can also buy information about individuals from marketers, such as records from prescription drug and retail sales, warranties, consumer surveys, magazine subscriptions, and even credit card spending. Kevin Pledge, CEO of Insight Decision Solutions, an underwriting-technology consultancy, predicts insurance companies will begin to analyze grocery purchases for clues about current or potential policyholders. Out of consideration for his own privacy, Pledge no longer uses his supermarket loyalty card on junk food and only pays for fast food in cash.

Can The FDA Keep Pace With Changes In Healthcare Technology, Especially When It Comes To Medical Apps?
While medical smartphone apps have flooded the market – allowing consumers to check their heart rate, identify a mysterious pill, examine moles for skin cancer, or possibly get an EKG with just their smartphone – it is not without a cost. FDA approval takes months and can potentially cost app developers millions of dollars to bring a new medical solution to consumers. Congress recently approved a plan for the FDA to define exactly which apps require its attention. This introduces an opposing force of regulators in charge of safeguarding the public’s health against the warp speed of the tech industry. While medical apps present a cost-saving potential for the healthcare industry, their reliance on devices such the iPhone or Android software-based devices that could possibly have defects presents a dangerous or potentially life-threatening problem. To balance these opposing incentives, the FDA plans to limit regulation to a small, higher-risk slice of the market, which does not count low-risk apps such as calorie counters or pedometers.

On A Scale Of 0-100, How Healthy Is The Food You’re Eating?
iFood.tv founders Alok Ranjan and Vikrant Mathur launched NutritionRank, a nutritional search engine and database that aims to be the web’s go-to source for dietary health information. Although many nutritional resources and databases of US Department of Agriculture data already exist online, NutritionRank will add valuable context to this already-available data by ranking all the foods we eat. With an algorithm created in collaboration with nutrition scientists, NutritionRank assigns a value from 0 to 100 (a higher number being better) for any individual ingredient, recipe, food item, or restaurant dish – as long as there are ingredients or nutritional information available about the item – and allows users to compare individual foods or dishes side by side. Although the database is currently focused on packaged foods and chain restaurant dishes for which nutritional information is readily available, the company plans to expand its breadth of food items.

How Delivering Three Crucial Vaccines To The Poorest Children In The World Could Save $63 Billion [Infographic]
The Gates Foundation breaks down how 3 crucial vaccines delivered to children living in the world’s 73 poorest countries could equal a $63 billion savings. Costs related to giving vaccines for HIB, Pneumococcall, and Rotovirus are broken down into a colorful, easy to digest infographic.

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