PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From an all-in-one health tracking app that has an index of 2 million foods to a personal app that tests the health of your lungs, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 21 october 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 Offers Nutritional Information For Nearly 2 Million Foods
MyFitnessPal, a nutrition and fitness tracking mobile application, has recently entered into a collaboration with global food retailer Sodexo in providing its more than 20 million users with access to nutritional information around select Sodexo recipes. The partnership creates unique codes for all of Sodexo chef-developed products, adding them to a variety of signs, labels and other outputs so consumers can use their MyFitnessPal App scanner to instantly grab and log nutrition information for a wide variety of products. The partnership aims to support users in making healthy behavior changes by providing information in an actionable, all-in-one service.

Smartphone Application Offers Alternate Lung Testing Platform
SpiroSmart is a smartphone application that gives people suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases a cost-effective way to measure lung functions. Developed by the University of Washington, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital, the application detects breath resonances in a person’s trachea and vocal tracts by analyzing sound wave frequencies. These frequencies can be analyzed to determine the intensity and speed of a patient’s breathing at a far cheaper price than a standard medical spirometer. Closer to medical standards than its competitive counterparts, SpiroSmart tested within 5.1 percent of its commercial predecessor, adhering to current medical standards of accuracy. Additionally, its mobile functionality provides patients with an on-the-go screening tool to reduce the number of potential emergency room visits.

Health Concierge Service Improves Medical Care Efficiency
First Stop Health is an online and telephonic medical concierge service for individuals and families that combines 24/7 expert advice and diagnosis through phone access to its more than 250 on-call physicians. In addition to providing unlimited calls to physicians for advice and information, First Stop Health provides an online database of medical information that can be used to a research symptoms, conditions, and treatments and find doctors and medical facilities using search tools and a database of 780,000 physicians and 8,000 facilities. The app helps users save money and avoid waiting for ER treatment only to be informed that their ailment could have been treated with at-home remedies or over-the-counter medicines.

Infographic Illustrates How Mobile Healthcare Apps Are Changing The Industry
Online healthcare education portal AlliedHealthWorld has illustrated the rapid rise of mobile health monitoring tools in an infographic that highlights the positive impact smartphones have had on people’s overall well-being. Among their published findings, is research that demonstrates mHealth Apps offer two times greater access to care and 24% lower administrative costs. mHealth apps are also on the rise in terms of usage, nearly doubling from 124 million users in 2011 to 247 million users today. It is estimated that there are currently about 40,000 mobile health apps available for tablets and smartphones, and over 500 health projects worldwide that have a mobile emphasis.

Adjustable Nebulizer Helps Deliver a More Comfortable Asthma Treatment
JettPak is a unique product designed to help administer nebulizer treatments to asthmatic children while they are sleeping. Created by JettStream, a startup company specializing in products and information to help treat childhood asthma, the device resembles an adjustable desk lamp with a nozzle at the end, which can be positioned near a child’s mouth for continuous medication delivery. The concept allots for periods when nebulizer treatment is required, but the patient cannot remain awake and upright, allowing a clinician, caregiver, or family member to effectively treat the patient without disturbances. JettPak’s usefulness isn’t limited to asthma patients, and can be used to treat patients with cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and other respiratory diseases. The idea stemmed from the fear many children have while wearing a traditional treatment mask at night.

Crowdsourcing Platform Brings Transparency To Healthcare Prices
Clear Health Costs is a crowdsourcing platform and comparison tool that lets users know what other people are paying for healthcare treatment elsewhere in New York. The site encourages its users to share what they’ve paid for a medical treatment, along with the details of the practice where they received the care. Visitors are shown both the lowest and the highest prices for each particular treatment, along with the names of the corresponding providers so they can note discrepancies between healthcare centers. Clicking on a treatment provides all of the data that has been entered for that service, which can be sorted by lowest to highest price and location. In addition, reports about the healthcare marketplace and advice for patients purchasing medical treatment are available on the site.

Artificial Heart Uses Magnets To Mimic the Natural Movement of Human Tissue
New Hampshire-based Suprock Technologies has developed a new pump design for artificial hearts that could prevent damage by mimicking the natural movement of human tissue. Today’s artificial hearts contain pumps whose spinning rotors can damage blood cells, causing clotting which can lead to strokes. The new pump prototype utilizes flexible membranes and a ferrofluid, or magnetic liquid, and is designed to mimic the natural movement of a muscle when an electromagnet is turned on and off. The next step for the prototype is for it to be sent to a medical-device maker and then tested in a living animal.

Study Suggests Public Disease Alerts May Spread Stigmas Around Infected
Hypothetical disease alerts generated by Penn State’s Rachel Smith and Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics demonstrate how public health alerts contribute to creating stigmas around disease. Based on previously existing alerts, Smith formed sixteen different alerts based on a hypothetical virus carried by rodents to monitor how alerts are passed from one individual to another. The alerts provided information covering the four components of Smith’s Model of Stigma Communication: disease symptoms, labels associated with infected persons, perceptions of danger, and responsibility. The four content cues evoke various levels of emotion and responsiveness to the disease and are likely shared to create a social bond between individuals. As a result, the peer communication of the alerts and how they are perceived dictate the likelihood that people will endorse the isolation of those infected. The effective communication of alerts is important when disseminating public information regarding infectious diseases in order to avoid barriers to healthcare created from the stigmas, which are not easily erased once in place.

Kinect Technology Allows Physical Therapy Exercises Customization
Reflexion Rehabilitation Measurement Tool is a rehabilitative therapy program designed to allow physical therapists to customize plans and monitor patients. Developed by the West Health Institute, the program uses Kinect technology to not only monitor adherence to a rehab program, but to also track the motions of rehabilitative exercises to ensure that they are done correctly and to measure progress. West Health Institute researchers hope that the Reflexion will be a fun, relatively low-cost solution that will improve compliance, which in turn will result in better outcomes for patients undergoing physical therapy.Mobile Device

Helps To End Malaria Drug Resistance By Identifying DNA
Researchers at St George’s, University of London are leading a new project, called Nanomal in Europe to develop a handheld device to detect malaria within 15 minutes, distinguishing specific strands and drug resistant mutations. Healthcare professionals draw a patient’s blood by pricking their finger and placing the sample onto a nanowire biosensor that converts the DNA of the malaria into binary code. The code can then be analyzed and shared for real-time monitoring of disease patterns. The group hopes to lower the time and cost of malaria testing, delivering lab quality results in the field within a matter of minutes. Immediate identification will enable healthcare professionals to prescribe the best drugs possible, reducing drug-resistance and improving community resistance.

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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