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David Kerr

David Kerr: Doctor Google versus the NHS

12 Feb, 15 | by BMJ

david_kerrApparently one in 20 searches on Google are for health related topics. At the moment typing in a medical condition (such as diabetes) on Google produces links to reputable sites and online patient forums.

However, beyond the first page of a Google search, the quality and accuracy of the listed domains becomes more questionable, with searchers running the risk of encountering various snake oil salesmen, quacks, and purveyors of alternative therapies. Furthermore, trying to find out the potential implications of common symptoms can provoke a wave of neurosis, with Googlers believing that their runny nose, cough, or headache are invariably the first symptoms of some rare and lethal condition. more…

David Kerr: Rise of the medical selfie

22 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

david_kerrAccording to Twitter, 2014 was the year of the selfie. The Oxford English dictionary defines a selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.” Selfies began only a few years ago, but have reached epidemic and global proportions—and a new industry has developed with the creation of selfie sticks to support the phenomenon. more…

David Kerr: An Apple a day keeps the doctor away?

11 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

david_kerrIt might be cool, but will it make a difference to health? This is still the unanswered question after the launch of the latest must-have device from Apple, 30 years after the launch of the original Mackintosh computer in the same building in California. Due to be released next year at a starting price of $349, the Apple Watch (not iWatch) already has the tentative approval of big names in fashion and apparently is causing nervousness among high-end Swiss watch makers. The other potentially significant item previewed by Apple was the company’s plans to “do way with wallets”—it will soon be possible to pay for goods at the supermarket checkout simply by using the Apple Watch device—but only if you also own an iPhone. more…

David Kerr: Self obsessing health technology

14 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

david_kerrHas the health tech industry and those who fund it lost the plot? Apparently, the next must have technology is the connected toothbrush. A “data driven oral health startup” company in the United States has just received a multi-million dollar investment to further develop a smartphone connected toothbrush.

With this toothbrush, an accelerometer measures how long a user brushes his or her teeth, and this information is then transferred to a smartphone that records teeth cleaning trends over time. The device can also play music during the suggested two minutes brushing time “to create a highly engaging user experience.” Whether this will be beneficial for the oral health of the nation remains to be seen, but this type of product is very likely to end up in one or two Christmas stockings this year. more…

David Kerr: Silicon is the new black

1 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

david_kerrRecently the big four titans of technology (Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Google) have, almost simultaneously, thrown their hats into the wearable sensor ring. Apparently, consumers now want to wear devices to record personal physiological data, which can then be synchronized with their smartphones. Through cloud computing, this can then be shared with their doctors and nurses as well. The early adopters of wearable technology are, unsurprisingly, young, wealthy, and tech savvy—while also fashion conscious enough to want the technology to resemble jewelry. more…

David Kerr: Death in America

10 Jun, 14 | by BMJ

david_kerrIn the United States, even the grim reaper is not immune from political interference. Around two weeks ago, an episode of mass murder happened a few miles from where I live. On 23 May, 22 year old Elliot Rodger took his own life after killing six students, and wounding 13 others in the area known as Isla Vista—a campus for students attending the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Despite a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, Rodger had managed to acquire three semi-automatic handguns, and 400 rounds of ammunition, when he shot himself to death. Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims, blamed his son’s death on the US Congress’s failure to pass new gun legislation in the wake of other recent mass shootings, including the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed. more…

David Kerr: Data and diabetes – a not-so-quiet revolution

17 Feb, 14 | by BMJ

David KerrDiabetes teams do not usually perform operations or procedures, and cure is rare indeed, but what they do have in abundance are data. The collection, reporting, and review of data are embedded within the clinical experience of everyone living with the condition and their healthcare providers, and in the UK, diabetes data are converted into hard currency in primary care. more…

David Kerr: Will smart pills help improve patients’ compliance?

15 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

David KerrIn a recent YouTube video the NHS Confederation highlighted that by 2050 one quarter (18 million) of adults in the UK will be living with a long-term medical condition. In my own speciality of diabetes, people living with this condition are prescribed multiple classes of medications including drugs and injections to control glucose levels, two or three that lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as one to deal with the effects of diabetes complications and the psychological distress it causes. In addition, self-monitoring of blood glucose levels on a daily basis is encouraged especially if they are at risk of hypoglycaemia as a side effect of their treatment. more…

David Kerr on Google Glass and big brother medicine

19 Jul, 13 | by BMJ Group

David KerrRecently in the UK, the General Medical Council (GMC) faced a barrage of criticism following the publication of new guidance on the use of social media by doctors. The main point of contention was the recommendation by the GMC that doctors should avoid anonymity on line. This was perceived by critics as an infringement of doctors’ human rights. Unfortunately for the GMC, they are going to have to deal with an even more perplexing problem if the technology behemoth, Google is successful with its latest venture, Google Glass. more…

David Kerr: Signals from the crowd—making a diagnosis

8 May, 13 | by BMJ

David KerrFor very many years making a medical diagnosis was based loosely on the application of the principle of Occam’s Razor otherwise known as diagnostic parsimony—look for the fewest possible causes to explain a patient’s symptoms. However, with the increase in longevity of the background population, Occam’s Razor was eventually superseded by the Hickam’s Dictum which states that “patients can have as many diseases as they damn well please.” Here the idea is to consider that multiple symptoms are more likely explained by a collection of common diseases rather than a single rare one. more…

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