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3 key technologies in healthcare that will simplify a doctor’s life

doc - 3 key technologies in healthcare that will simplify a doctor’s life

Technology is a big deal today. It has crawled its way into many professions hitherto unimagined, such as law – a profession where humans have always been essential and irreplaceable. At its current pace, it is impossible to predict what it cannot do.

Technology is increasing disrupting healthcare and medicine as well. With things such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, clinics and hospitals are increasing adopting technologies to increase the quality of patient care. And as this is happening, it is important for doctors to be aware of the effectiveness of these technologies.

Doctors are the key cog in the healthcare space. In a profession where time is often found lacking, doctors have had to make hard choices in the past about prioritizing patients. This can lead to undesirable consequences for a select few patients, but you cannot blame anyone for that. However, the very presence of technology in medicine today is to ensure efficiency. Let us look at the key trends as of today that doctors should be aware of.

Big Data

Healthcare providers store large volumes of data on a daily basis. Often, the extraction of such data can lead to delays and inefficiencies. If you visit your local doctor to treat a vicious stomach bug and he needs 10 minutes to extract your patient record, which is not unusual, it can be dangerous. With the advent of big data and faster data processing, expect to see higher efficiencies in your local clinic.

vr - 3 key technologies in healthcare that will simplify a doctor’s life

Virtual Reality

Overcapacity. An issue that plagues many clinics and hospitals. Onboarding and waiting times when you book an appointment can sometimes be excruciatingly long. This is simply an issue of demand and supply. The emergence of VR has helped in some ways. Today, it is being used in rehabilitations, pain relief through distraction and even surgical procedures. It doesn’t replace the doctor, but substitutes the doctor for certain mundane tasks, thus freeing up time for the doctor to focus on more important tasks.

Internet of Things

Diagnosis is an important function for a doctor. While most clinics and hospitals have established structures wherein the diagnosis is conducted as much as possible before a lead doctor gets involved in a case, it is still time consuming. With IoT so much present in healthcare today, we have apps that measure health, performance, diet intake and so on. Using such data would be useful in saving up a lot of time.

France as a leading medical innovator and the risks in clinical trials

fr - France as a leading medical innovator and the risks in clinical trials

Looking outside the United States, there are a few other nations leading innovations and breaking grounds in medical innovation. One of them is France. As one of the world’s leading economies and a nation with a relatively high life expectance of 82 years, France has pretty much done things right for a while now.

It is general knowledge that Europe is the second large pharmaceutical market after the United States. Within Europe, the leading innovators in medicine are Switzerland, United Kingdom and France. Among the three, France is the very personification of liberalism. After all, they are the ones who gave us socialism and liberalism.

Healthcare in France is either free or heavily subsidized for a vast majority of the population. You may think, how can that be even sustainable. Well, have you ever had a glance at tax rates in Europe? Income tax rates in many European nations go up as much as 60%. However, only the ultra-rich normally fall under such tax slabs.

Now that Emmanuel Macron, a self-confessed far-left candidate is in charge of the nation, one can assume healthcare to be further liberalized. However, in addition to liberalization, France’s higher life expectance is also partly due to a high level of innovations and research in the field of medicine.

fr2 - France as a leading medical innovator and the risks in clinical trials

One thing to keep in mind is that research in medicine often involves lot of risks and setbacks. Medicinal testing involves clinical trials, the morality of which is always being questioned. It is not unexpected to have collateral damage during the rollout of a new drug, for example.

This happened in France recently. In January 2016, a clinical trial of a drug in France led to catastrophic consequences. One person was killed and five others hospitalized. The compound, known as BIA 10-2474, was intended to be used in the fight against neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s. Neurological diseases have always been a complex fight to wage.

Parkinson’s has stumped humanity for ages. A disease that affected 6 million people in 2015, it is something that is dreaded by people as they approach a certain age. The BIA 10-2474 was heralded as a breakthrough in the fight against neurological disorders, before the unfortunate incident happened.

The reason stated by the company that manufactured the compound was that the effects weren’t known before conducting the trials. More studies could have been done prior to clinical trials. While it is completely irresponsible from the part of the manufacturer, we have to understand that people can do only so much to limit collateral damage. At the end of the day, anything new has risks involved.

Why the involvement of youths is crucial to solving Healthcare

img - Why the involvement of youths is crucial to solving Healthcare

Youth are the fundamental pillars of any economy. No matter the advances and disruptions caused by technology, human skill, perseverance and determination are irreplaceable. And the next generation of the workforce need to take responsibility.

Youths have been essential to many great movements in the United States. When Martin Luther King Jr. marched on the streets of Selma, Alabama, to protest the vicious racism that was resurging in the Deep South, he marched with an army of youths. Youths full of bravery and fearlessness. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Even today students and youth activists are campaigning actively for change. In Trump’s America, there have been many controversial issues. The famous ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is something that is purely led by youths. In fact, the involvement of youths in politics is refreshing.

Youths were at it again during the Vietnam War protests in the 1960’s and the Tiananmen square democratic rally in the 1980’s. Look all around the globe, and youths are no longer the silent spectators they once were. And we need them today, much more than ever.

med - Why the involvement of youths is crucial to solving Healthcare

We know that the issues facing our country are much more than ever. We have regressed when it comes racial equality, gender rights, income gap, international relations and many more issues. Traditionally considered a champion of human rights and a firm believer in individual potential, the United States has faced recent backlash over the deterioration of many of these so-called American values.

Now we face another major issue – Healthcare. With the repeal of Obamacare, close to 20 million people risk losing their insurance. Regardless of the usefulness of Obamacare and the difference in opinion around it, people losing insurance is no joke. Unless there is a sound alternative from the Republicans, which seems increasingly unlikely, we could be witnessing a catastrophe in the unfolding.

It is now that the role of youths is more important than ever. Healthcare is a basic human right. No man or woman must have to pay over the moon to access basic prescription drugs. No one must have to be asked to spend $5,000 for a pregnancy checkup or diagnosis of a pre-condition. Imagine if the 80% of diabetes population who have prediabetes can be diagnosed and treated in time!

Let us march peacefully and assume our democratic right to protest peacefully for a cause. If we let things continue the way they have been, it could be too late to do anything.

A call to action to the US Government to fix the drug price issue

drug - A call to action to the US Government to fix the drug price issue

Recently there has been an uproar over drug prices in the United States. Many of you must have heard of Martin Shkreli, the infamous American businessman and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who was responsible for a 56-time price hike on the drug Retrophin. In an instant, he became the most hated person in the country.

That, however, wasn’t an exception. Post the financial crisis, our country has had a recurring problem with increasing drug prices. Biotech has been one sector that has rebounded sharp and fast since the GFC. Today, drug prices in the US are the highest in the world. But why is it so? Well, you may be surprised to hear that it is simply just market forces.

Unlike other countries, the US government plays no role in prescription drug prices. This means that after FDA approvals, drugs are rolled to the market without any government oversight. This means that they are simply subject to market forces. And when it comes to pharmaceuticals, demand is always higher than supply, meaning that prices go up.

dru - A call to action to the US Government to fix the drug price issue

There are other nations as well where prices in general are high and unaffordable, such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom. However, due to strict intervention by Governments, prices are controlled and made affordable. The United States, being the ultimate example of pure Capitalism, remains different, undesirably so.

Politicians have come out and called out pharmaceutical companies for their unfair pricing. Even recent politicians such as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have slammed the industry. Imagine, cancer drugs in this country cost $10,000 monthly! That is blasphemous! It requires a bottoms-up effort from government and strict laws to control this spiraling hike.

There is an argument from pharmaceutical companies that the high prices are required to conduct further research and innovation. They say that cost of development is quite high. Qualitatively, it is true considering the United States is the world’s largest spender, by an immense distance, on drug innovation and research.

drug2 - A call to action to the US Government to fix the drug price issue

Quantitatively however, the numbers don’t add up. Profit margins in this industry are excessively high, and cost of development isn’t anywhere close. Even so, pushing the prices higher and making it affordable only to the wealthy doesn’t do these companies any good. What is point of pushing a new drug to the market if now one can afford it!

We are a supporter of capitalism, but we feel like the government needs to do more in this domain. The United States deliberately stays away from most industries to let the market dictate prices. While this is a sound ideology, pharmaceuticals is not your typical industry. It affects lives.

Was Obamacare good or bad? We present an unbiased analysis.

ob - Was Obamacare good or bad? We present an unbiased analysis.

Now that we are living in Trump’s America and seeing with our own eyes institutional reforms taking place around us, we feel like it is a good time to assess the legacy of Obamacare. While we didn’t have it for that long, there have been many heated debates about the effectiveness of Obamacare. It does look appealing from the outside, but how effective is it really?

Liberals and liberal supporters often talk about the fact the Obamacare is required if the poor need to get affordable healthcare. In  world dominated by pharmaceutical giants and with rising drug and insurance prices, the common man needs an outlet. And Obamacare was meant to be that. However, with economists and the intelligentsia questioning the sustainability of the plan, we wanted to take a look at it ourselves.

At its essence, Obamacare wanted to ensure that the 40 million odd people who didn’t have any insurance coverage were able to sustain themselves. While it is beyond this post to get in too much detail on the plan, it aimed to provide subsidies (tax credits) or extend Medicaid coverage to more people. Prior to that, Medicaid was limited only to senior citizens and people below the poverty line.

The main controversy was that the government was forcing people to spend on insurance. It was seen by some as an infringement on individual freedom to decide. What they failed to recognize is that spending on heavily discounted policies would eventually lower gross medical spending and bring down costs for everyone. Pretty much basic economics.

ob2 - Was Obamacare good or bad? We present an unbiased analysis.

A key tenet of the plan was that companies were forced to pay health insurance for employees. Considering America’s low unemployment rates, the idea was to use this as a way to benefit everyone. Companies that didn’t have employee health insurance plans were subject to heavy taxes. This forced their hand, in a way.

On the other hand, the criticism that was aimed at Obamacare focused on two aspects – higher cost for businesses and intrusion on personal affairs. Businesses would incur higher costs due to the added insurance expenses, which in turn could stop them from adding jobs, and the Government intruding on people’s decision making was undemocratic.

In our opinion, we agree that Obamacare isn’t perfect. In fact, no policy can be perfect. All of them will have some intended and some unintended consequences. However, it is fair to say that the pros tend to outweigh the cons, not just in terms of quantity but in terms of overall social and economic impact to Government and the people. So, from our view, Obamacare is a win.

A brief look into the dangerous effects of Diabetes in the US

diab2 - A brief look into the dangerous effects of Diabetes in the US

Everyone in the United States is aware of one existential threat that exists today – Diabetes. The disease has ‘eaten’ (pun intended) the lives of many and continues to do so at an alarming pace. While it is hereditary in some cases, it is definitely brought about by man made causes in the others.

Worryingly enough, as per the latest CDC report, more than a 100 million Americans suffer from Diabetes today. That is almost a third of the population! Although, about 80% of that is prediabetes, which can become type II diabetes if not treated within the next few years.

dia - A brief look into the dangerous effects of Diabetes in the US

Diabetes affects people of all colors and ages. It doesn’t discriminate its victims., although African Americans and Hispanics have a proportionately higher risk of being affected. Diabetes, in turn, is classified into type I and type II diabetes. Type I is caused by genetic and environmental factors, whereas type II is purely a result of diet and weight control.

We have always had a problem in the United States with the prevalence and easy accessibility of food loaded with sugar, salt and saturated fats. Food items such as hamburgers, pizza, soft drinks and other processed meat often triggers obesity. Unfortunately, this is the type of food that is available on the cheap.

Perhaps, that is the reason why obesity is most prevalent in the Southern states, where there is a higher percentage of people living in poverty. It will take a concerted effort from both governments, corporations and people themselves to solve this issue. There is a cheaper alternative to such food that involves vegetables, fruits and non-fried meat.

We also ask America’s sweethearts such as McDonalds, Burger King and Coca-Cola to join this fight against obesity and put aside shallow considerations about profits aside. After all, they will not have clients left if obesity continues to devour lives at this rate.

Why the government remains crucial when it comes to healthcare

b1 - Why the government remains crucial when it comes to healthcare

Healthcare is a layered issue. It affects billions of people around the world, and is a national issue where accountability is key. The role of governments, states, local councils, private corporations and activists is key to ensuring the smooth running of healthcare services.

Naturally, the first entity that is held responsible is the central government. The Government is perhaps the only entity that has the resources to tackle such a complex matter. In most countries around the globe, the provision of healthcare services is privatized, meaning that healthcare is susceptible to the daily movements of the common market.

What does this all mean to you? It is quite simple. Most of the institutions you engage for your daily healthcare needs, such as drug companies, private hospitals, insurance firms and sanitary product manufacturers such as P&G are all listed in the stock market. When any company is listed in the stock market, its first responsibility is to its shareholders. Essentially, to profit making.

hea - Why the government remains crucial when it comes to healthcare

As a result, there is a large conflict of interest. Healthcare is not a luxury for which you want to spend excessively, and is often an undesirable cost. It can also be excessive in many cases. This is why the role of the Government is so crucial. In any nation, the only entity that is set up purely to service people is the Government and its various associated institutions.

In today’s age, it is important for governments to recognize the importance their role is in ensuring the basic welfare of their people. Politics is second to this, and political agendas should be kept on the side whilst devising healthcare related policies. Sadly, that doesn’t often happen.

Socialism is not really a bad thing when it comes to healthcare. The concept of universal healthcare is something that has debated endlessly among economists, and has been tested in some Scandinavian nations. That is a topic for another post, though.