Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 11, 2014

Health TechZone Week in Review: Social Media, Prosthetics and Inner GPS

The world of medical technology is constantly shifting and evolving, bringing new tools to the operating room as well as to the administration that organizes the healthcare system. However, these are not the only places where technological advances are affecting the way medicine is practiced. Mobile devices are proving to be a new frontier for healthcare that places fitness and checkups into the patient's hands, and even allows for mobile video appointments with medical professionals. Below are some of the top stories in the world of healthcare technology, which highlight how mobile devices and social media are affecting healthcare as well as what new technological discoveries mean for the future of medicine.

One social media group that appears to have its eye on healthcare is Facebook. The healthcare industry is worth trillions of dollars in the United States alone, and it now appears that Facebook is trying to determine how to best get a slice of that pie. The rumor comes from a leak by three anonymous sources working directly with Facebook, who say that Facebook is considering providing support communities for users with chronic conditions. This would not only allow those with these conditions to be able to communicate and get in contact with one another, but it also provides a perfect audience for a range of targeted advertisements, all of which can be as broad or as specific as needed.

At the same time, Weight Watchers has decided to release an update to their popular app so that it works better with Apple devices running iOS 8. Specifically, the newly updated app is designed to sync up with the iPhone 6's included HealthKit, which amalgamates information from various fitness apps to provide a one-stop fitness solution for users. Being able to log information from the weight watchers app and compare it against fitness trackers and other health measurements will ultimately provide the app with more data to provide better informed advice.

3D printers have been used by the medical community for several new innovations including customized casts and medical implants, but a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology has used the technology to produce the “Airy Arm” prosthetic device. Elizabeth Jackson, the student who created the prosthetic, says that the device is designed to help those with partial paralysis operate their arms using other controlled movements, such as using the elbow to move their wrists and hands without the need for any electrical components. Because it is 3D printed, the Airy Arm can be customized to fit almost any user's specific needs.

Finally, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to a three individuals who are credited for discovering how the human brain's internal navigation system works. They hope that this breakthrough will not only help determine how people mentally keep track of their locations, but have also found that the same cells that keep track of our own internal 'GPS' systems are closely related to strokes and Alzheimer's.

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