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Med-Tech Roundup: Telemedicine, Texting Pills, and Stem Cells, O My!


The news recently had stories about three more interesting med-tech advances that might make health care both more efficient and more affordable down the line. First, a new study finds that doctors do a better job treating children when they have telemedicine at their disposal than when they don’t. The study looked at children who received consultations with specialists via telemedicine, and found better outcomes for them. Reuters explains why telemedicine is especially important for child care:

Seeking expert help can be especially vital for emergency treatment of children, [the head of the study Dr. James] Marcin added, because rural ER doctors may see only a handful of pediatric patients a year, and guidelines on how to care for them are lacking. “For a three-month-old that comes in for wheezing or for a six-month-old that comes in for a fever, there are very few evidence-based guidelines,” he said […]

In addition to improving the quality of care, Marcin added, it’s likely that telemedicine can sometimes lower unnecessary costs, too. For example, he explained, the expert consultant can help determine whether a patient needs helicopter transport to a higher-level trauma center.

Second, the Advisory Board highlights a new pill sensor that also improves tracking: the sensor, which can be put into pills and tablets, texts your doctor when the pill has been ingested. Given how many re-admissions happen, and how much money is wasted, because people forget to take their medicine on time, a better tracking system like this could rationalize the process a lot.

Third, researchers have taken a major step forward in being able to grow heart tissue—or even a whole heart— from non-embryonic induced pluripotent stem cells. Scientists have now created a beating mouse heart from human tissue, and applications for humans might not be far away. It’s exciting to see ethically non-controversial pluripotent stem cells start to make real progress.

[Hospital technology image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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