PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From doctor prescribed health care apps to a smartphone-enabled prosthesis, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 8 september 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.

For Boomers, Doctor Knows Best When It Comes To Apps
A recent poll conducted by Mitchell Research and Communications revealed the power that doctors have in recommending apps for chronic and life threatening diseases. The 600 Baby-boomers surveyed said they are more willing to download a health and wellness app based on their doctor’s recommendation. Mobile users that responded to the survey were much less likely to download an app recommend by their family or friends, 18 and 5 percent respectively. Patients with chronic or life threatening conditions were 70 percent more likely to download an app to track their medical issues, while only half of users would download an app looking for general information or weight loss help. The survey should help prove how influential doctors can be in helping patients monitor their own health and extending their patient’s lives and quality of living.

image via Iburiedpaul

Can Thinking You’re Fat Make You Fat?
Research findings have found that normal-weight teens who perceive themselves as fat are more likely to grow up to be overweight as adults. Findings out of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology show that the stress associated with gaining weight can cause teens to radically change their daily eating habits and sometimes skipping entire meals – behavior which can lead to obesity. Research was conducted on a group of nearly 1,200 normal-weight teenagers of both sexes between 1995-1997, with a follow up between 2006-2008 when they were between 24-30 years old. Nearly 60% of participants who felt fat as teenagers became overweight in adulthood.

Voice Activated Camera Ring Lets Visually Impaired Point At Objects For More Info
MIT researchers have developed a camera-equipped ring meant to help the visually impaired find objects and read text. Users wear the EyeRing on their pointer finger, which allows them to simply point at any object they wish to identify. The EyeRing snaps a picture of the object and beams it to the user’s Android smartphone via a Bluetooth connection, where an app processes and identifies the image aloud through a digital voice for the user to hear. EyeRing can identify text, colors, currency and prices on price tags.

Digital Bracelet Detects If Medical Staff Need To Wash Their Hands
Israeli startup company, Hyginex, has developed a simple system to reduce healthcare risks around hospitals and medical practices. The company has created digital bracelets that work alongside sensor-embedded soap dispensers to detect if the user has washed their hands properly. The non-intrusive bracelet has a tiny red LED light to also remind the medical practitioner to wash their hands between patients. The technology works via a wireless connection and the hygiene regime is tracked and passed on to hospital managers. According to the CDC, poor hand hygiene lead to infections that are responsible for over 90,000 deaths per year in the U.S., a cost of over $30 billion.

Electronic Glove Helps Doctors Diagnose Breast Cancer
Med Sensations is prototype for an electronically-enhanced glove to empower physician’s touch during physical evaluations, marrying human interaction with the effectiveness and sensitive of sensors. The glove has pressure sensors for each finger, as well as vibration, sound, accelerometer and eventually micro ultrasound sensors. The glove would be helpful in breast cancer and other sub-dermal diagnoses as the doctor would be able to use their amplified sense of touch to understand the internal conditions of their patients. The glove would also be helpful in the education setting, letting instructors set off buzzers alerting students to instances when they are applying too much pressure or not enough. Harvard medical student Andrew Bishara, and a pair of engineers, Elishai Ezra and Fransiska Hadiwidjana, created the glove helping doctors to quantify touch as part of Singularity University’s 10-week Graduate Studies Program.

New Tool Could Replace Needles For Closing Surgical Sutures
A team of undergraduate students from Johns Hopkins University have developed a device called that FastStitch that is designed to make the process of sealing up the fascia, the layer of muscle located below the skin over the chest and abdomen, after surgeries much easier. Closing up these wounds has been likened to pushing a needle through a piece of leather, and if not taken care of properly, it can result in potentially lethal complications. The single-use disposable tool is constructed mainly from ABS plastic, and is described as being a cross between pliers and a hole punch. When the device is squeezed shut, an integrated spring-loaded clamp drives the suturing needle from one arm, through the muscle layer, and into the other arm: a process that can be repeated down the length of the incision. FastStitch also has a built-in visual guide, to help surgeons place their stitches an even one centimeter apart.

Small Eye Implant Partially Restores Vision For The Blind
German biotechnology firm Retina Implant AG has developed a microchip that provides artificial vision to patients who have been suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease affecting 15 million people in the US and Europe. By implanting a small chip just below the retina, doctors are able to electrically stimulate nerves in the optical tissue, recovering some form of the patient’s lost vision. The chip is able to generate a resolution of 38 x 40 pixels and while it does produce some degree of vision, it is not the same as normal sight – appearing more as objects and colors that patients must learn to interpret. Researchers plan on increasing the output resolution of the device and to study whether the chip can help people suffering from other degenerative eye conditions.

Voice-Guided Epinephrine Injector Gives Caregivers Step-by-Step Instructions
Sanofi, developers of a range of healthcare products, has received FDA clearance for the Auvi-Q epinephrine injector, a device that provides step-by-step voice guidance on how to use it if you’re experiencing a serious allergic reaction. The Auvi-Q, which is the size and shape of a credit card and the thickness of a cell phone, begins delivering its life saving instructions once the device is pulled out from its case. Tiny sensors detect that each step has been taken and a voice prompt is played on what to do next. Auvi-Q provides users with both audible and visual cues, including a five-second injection countdown and an alert light to signal when the injection is complete. In addition to being an auto-injector, Auvi-Q features an automatic retractable needle mechanism to help prevent accidental needle sticks.

image via Diavolaki

Self-Injectable Flu Vaccine Could Prevent A Pandemic Outbreak
The Seattle-based Infectious Disease Research Institute and a Canadian biotech company Medicago are testing a self-injectable flu vaccine available at scale that could be readily manufactured in the event of an outbreak. The solution is designed to be given as a traditional injection into the muscle, and provides the maximum antiviral protection possible at low doses, and The innovation could make it possible for people to inject themselves at home, and alleviate panic in the event of a flu pandemic. The researchers have gotten clearance from the FDA to start clinical trials the vaccine against the H5N1 form of influenza, also known as the avian flu or “bird” flu.

New ‘Smart’ Prosthetics Can Adapt To Different Conditions
Orthocare Innovations, makers of next-generation prosthetics, is aiming to release the Magellan, a high-tech device that more closely mimics the human ankle by year’s end. The device includes a microprocessor, sensors and hydraulics that allow users to make adjustments and monitor the device with a smartphone. With a smartphone app, users can adjust the prosthetic when they change shoes, which generally require changing feet to adapt to a taller heel. The Magellan also automatically adapts to different conditions, such as when the wearer walks from a level surface to an incline, as opposed to the wearer having to compensate. The new technology can provide performance data via the smartphone app, information that was previously only communicated subjectively, as well as making it easy to check battery life, a process that now often requires removing and disassembling a prosthesis.

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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