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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…

Helen Morant: How should doctors look at patients?

17 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

helen_morantWhen health professionals talk about patient engagement, we express ideas of listening to patients’ voices, understanding their priorities, and changing our treatment models and priorities to focus on theirs. We should treat (in both senses of the word) patients more like people and less like objects we control. We should stop dehumanising patients.

I was challenged to think about how we do just that as I listened to this podcast—it’s worth a listen all the way through. more…

Joyce Lee: Social media, Google, and the internet are medical therapy

2 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

joyce lee largeI have to thank my colleague @SusannahFox for alerting me to this Washington Post article—about a campaign by the government in Belgium to get people to stop Googling their symptoms.

Check out the video that was made (below). In it the narrator states: “I have a deadly disease and I am going to die in six weeks. Or at least, that’s what I thought when I used Google to diagnose my twitching eyelid. I’m not the only one. Instead of consulting a doctor, 75% of the population uses Google to diagnose their symptoms, and on the internet, anyone can be a doctor. Most cures you’ll find online only make things worse. The Flemish government commissioned us to prevent people from making this mistake.” more…

Sarah Welsh: Egg freezing—does this “insurance policy” offer false hope?

14 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

sarah welshEgg freezing is an up and coming trend among hopeful future mothers—hailed as “the new 30th birthday present for British women,” in a recent Telegraph article.

Egg freezing allows women with medical and social reasons to delay having a baby. It may be seen as an “insurance policy” for women who are not in a relationship or who are not ready to have a baby for any other reason. They may freeze their young healthy eggs in order to wait until they are in a loving relationship or ready to start a family. It can help take away the urgency some women feel to find a man for procreation only, allowing them to concentrate on their education or career first. more…

Richard Graham: Is technology changing the brain—how to interpret and advise on the evidence

23 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Richard GrahamThe recent release of a study by the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, which said that it had found changes in the structure of the brain caused by technology media multi-tasking, coincided with a panel discussion about just that at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. more…

Anand Bhopal: Improving clinical consultations—one computer key at a time

30 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

anand_bhopalModern medicine is an increasingly wary place for the digitally illiterate. With medical records turning electronic and computers springing up at the bedside, there is little hiding place for doctors who are averse to the machine. In an attempt to prepare students for 21st century clinical practice, Leicester Medical School recently became the first medical school in Britain to give teaching in e-consultations. This has made me reflect on one core skill at the heart of the modern day consultation: engaging with the computer.

Throughout medical school I saw a wide discrepancy in doctors’ digital abilities. While the single digit typer, forever searching for the next character, is a caricatured extreme, a lot of doctors do not find computers intuitive. Poor navigation of software and slow typing is a waste of doctors’ time, patience, and energy. more…

Helen Morant: Characters welcome

17 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

helen_morantYou’d expect an academic researching the influence of TV and games on children’s development to be presenting some data about violent games as causative factors in school shootings. But Sandra Calvert, a professor of psychology and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, is talking about the role of characters—especially online characters in interactive educational games—in children’s learning.

Elmo is better at teaching young American children math(s) than his (almost identical, but unfamiliar) Taiwanese equivalent. Because they know and love him, presumably. This love is part of a parasocial relationship (the type we have with fictional characters—you know, like celebrities. This stuff isn’t just for kids). 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…

Lavanya Malhotra: The ice bucket challenge—trivialising trend or canny awareness campaign?

28 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

Lavanya MalhotraLately, social media sites have been invaded by videos of people upending buckets of icy water over their heads. The goal behind this watery exercise is to raise funds, as well as awareness, for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. The ALS ice bucket challenge is simple: douse yourself in icy water, record it, post it online—on Facebook or Twitter, for instance—including a message about doing it for ALS research, and donate money to the ALS Association (ALSA) through its donation webpage. In the UK, people can donate to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The final step is to nominate several friends to do the same. This chain reaction strategy has generated publicity and money for ALSA. So far, 1.7 million people have donated, raising $79.7m (€60.4m; £48m). 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…

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