Navigating Healthcare – Patient Safety and Personal Healthcare Management

The intersection of Science Fiction, super-pi, and technology innovation

Posted in Uncategorized by drnic on March 14, 2015

Celebrating Pi (3.141592653) 3/14/15 at 9:26:53

Today is super-pi day, a day that comes but once a century and extends to a specific time at 9:26:53 seconds (although when that occurs will depends on your time zone. While pi is an infinite non-repeating decimal, there are still mathematicians and scientists seeking to build computers that can run the computation and see how far they can plot the number. As Spock put it:

 “Pi as we know the value of Pi is a transcendental figure without resolution”

Here’s to those who choose to defy reality and instead envision a future world – a world that ventures beyond even Mr. Spock’s wildest dreams.

The sad news of Leonard Nimoy’s passing has spurred tributes to not only to his life and craft, but to Star Trek, and what it has meant to so many over the years. In talking with my friends and colleagues, it seems that regardless of age, most Trekkies are also techies.

One of the neatest things about working in technology is that you inhabit two worlds. The first is our everyday reality—with all of its joys, frustrations, celebrations, and inconveniences. This world has soft tender moments tempered by harsh truths; it is simultaneously disappointing and inspiring.

But from this disappointment is born opportunity and a vision for the future world. Here is where Star Trek is a reality, where innovators take those every day frustrations and disappointments as ask themselves how things can be done better.

I’m lucky to work alongside some incredibly innovative, talented minds and whether in R&D or client services, at the core, we all share an inquisitiveness that pulls us from one orbit to another.

“I grew up watching Captain Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise crew boldly go where no man has gone before. In the 1980s, Star Trek was big in India and it ignited our collective sparks of creativity and imagination. In fact, as school children, we learned to make “communicators” with matchboxes and rubber bands. When I grew up, I realized this type of voice-activated technology could be a reality, and I have dedicated my career to making that vision something that is accessible to everyone. I still wonder how close our technology today is to what Gene Roddenberry had imagined when he created Star Trek.”

– Vivek Kaluskar, Nuance Natural Language Processing Researcher

“Star Trek introduced me to the idea of being able to talk to a computer, and have it understand and respond. That’s actually what got me into speech-recognition technology: it was that sense of wonder about making technology collaborative—where you could ask a device a question and it could parse through vast amounts of data to help you do something faster.

The show also got me interested in science fiction, which has proven to be an enduring affection. It’s amazing to step back and see many ideas that seemed outlandish, like tractor beams, talking computers, matter transmission, and warp drives, are either becoming a reality, or are being researched and developed. Science fiction, in many ways, has created a technological roadmap for the future. It reminds us to keep dreaming and keep asking ‘why can’t we do that?’”

– Ignace Van Caneghem, Nuance Customer Support Specialist

Finding solutions to seemingly impossible situations is what innovators do. It’s why we wake up in the morning. I’m constantly looking for ways to make health IT more connected, accessible, and more intuitive so physicians can focus on treating their patients.
Working in tech isn’t easy, but some of the most worthwhile pursuits are also the most challenging. Thinking outside the box is the key to solving complex problems. There’s an episode of Star Trek (“Wolf in the Fold,” 1967) where Spock forces an alien entity out of the ship’s computer by asking it to calculate pi to the last digit, an impossible feat. At that time, using speech recognition to control a computer was also impossible.

We are a lot closer to the Hollywood vision that’s been in our minds since 1967, creating innovative technology that continues to amaze us at an incredible pace. It was this sense of amazement, instilled by the creative mind of Gene Rodenberry, which helped open my eyes to the potential for healthcare technology to touch not just hundreds, but millions of patients through innovation.

This Saturday is Super Pi Day, a day that comes but once a century. While pi is an infinite non-repeating decimal, there are still mathematicians and scientists seeking to build computers that can run the computation, see how far they can plot the number. Here’s to those who chase the impossible. To those who know there is a better way to do things and dare to keep asking “how?” They choose to live between two worlds and they are building the future. Super-pi day is for you.

This post originally appeared in Whats Next

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Speech and Medical Intelligence – Allowing Doctors to Focus on Patients Not Technology

I spent some time at Medicine 2.0 and participated on the panel Bridging the Digital Divide and will presented: Speech and Medical Intelligence – Allowing Doctors to Focus on Patients Not Technology

This is an exciting time for mobile devices and while we know there is a discrepancy in the accessibility of mobile technology (I’ll be participating on the panel Bridging the Patient Digital Divide) some of this divide in access can be linked to the complexity of this technology. With ubiquitous technology comes ubiquitous complexity – adn this is especially true for doctors who face challenging User Interfaces – captured here in this post: How Bad UX Killed Jenny. As doctors we feel we are loosing touch with the Art of Medicine

Which for many of us was the reason we started on the journey to being a healer. Physicians don’t go to medical school because they want to document and code clinical information. Doctors choose their path because of their compassion and desire to deliver care to patients in need. There are increasing physician frustrations with technology and their struggle to keep the focus on patients and not data entry.

Medicine is part science, part art. The relationship between physicians and patients is at the core of healing. This begins with hearing and understanding but is followed by focusing on the patient not the technology. I will be presenting our prototype “Florence” that combines artificial intelligence and speech recognition to offer innovative new speech technologies that help capture and understand not just what the clinician says but what they mean. With new tools that speech enabled systems we simplify access and empower clinicians to capture information and thoughts as they occur. Through the innovative use of natural language tools, context awareness and the generation of high-value clinically actionable medical information clinical systems become efficiently integrated into care delivery process offering the opportunity for doctors to return to the Art of Medicine and focus on the patient.

Here’s a video showing off Florence

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Dunkirk Spirit: How physicians support patients overcoming adversity

One in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  In 2014 alone, an estimated 295,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed.  That’s approximately 808 cases per day.

That’s ~640 cases per day or a little over 1 case per hour (26 per day)1

But these statistics don’t matter.  Whether it’s one-in-eight or one-in-3 million, the impact of the illness is what matters—not the numbers.  It immediately becomes a reality to you.  We can never forget that healthcare is personal, something my colleague, Melissa Dirth, articulated beautifully in her recent post “When 1 in 8” was no longer just a statistic to me.”

As a physician, sharing unfavorable findings and test results is always a sobering moment, no matter how many times you’ve done it before.  We all struggle to find the right words, and look for ways to be supportive as you allow your patient to handle the shock that accompanies such news.  We all have different viewpoints and our perspective on the disease is colored by our own life experiences and the individual circumstances.

What never ceases to amaze me, however, is the strength of the human spirit.  Despite the hard road stretching before them, so many of our patients face breast cancer with what the British would term “Dunkirk Spirit,” that inner strength that helps patients and their families overcome tremendous adversity.

Dunkirk Spirit

It is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that make cancer sufferers and survivors such an important and compelling tableau of courage.

Unfortunately, one of the essential elements that quickly becomes lost in the morass of technology is the Art of Medicine, and our ability as doctors to spend the time focused on our patient and their relatives.  As clinicians, we intuitively know the statistics associated with the disease and can interpret them to understand the impact the diagnosis we have just communicated with the patient is likely to have, but there is so much more to providing care.  We don’t just treat the condition, the physical body—we are caregivers and healers, and we seek to help the whole patient.

Technology can help in healthcare, but it is not the goal nor should it ever be the focus.  Yet, in some cases, it has detracted from our ability to provide care and compassion.  To deliver on the promise of great healthcare we have to return to the Art of Medicine and enable, not disable, our clinicians with the technology we develop.

To learn more about the role technology plays in the Art of Medicine, read: “There’s no room in technology in end-of-life care decisions

 

This article originally appeared on WhatsNext: Healthcare