I made this announcement to 53,375 members of the Digital Health group on LinkedIn. If you’re on LinkedIn, please do join the group, which allows you to opt in to receiving these announcements in addition to connecting with thousands of other global stakeholders in digital health. Note that I will continue to update this announcement up until sending out the final version via LinkedIn.
University of California at San Diego researchers have discovered that bacteria can communicate electrically throughout the body. This may lead to new electrical-based biomedical approaches to control bacterial behavior and communities. And in separate, but potentially related research, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed the thinnest epidermal electronics ever made. Their graphene health sensor goes on the skin like a temporary tattoo and takes measurements with the same precision as bulky medical equipment. Applications include measuring skin temperature and hydration plus electrical signals from the heart, muscles, and brain.
There’s yet more evidence that sitting is the new smoking. Researchers from Age UK studied 1,500 pensioners and found that elderly people who spent several hours per day sitting age significantly faster than their more active contemporaries. In examining the length of DNA telomeres of 1,500 people, it was found that those who were sedentary for 10 hours a day and did less than 40 minutes of moderate physical activity had the bodies of people 8 years older.
Stanford’s new Center for Digital Health (yes, there’s another one on the global scene! see my list, here) will hand out 1,000 Apple Watches as part of a new health program. Faculty members and instructors will use the devices as part of an investigation into how Apple’s wearable can be used in healthcare.
As I highlighted last week, Illumina CEO Francis deSouza has stated that more than 500,000 genomes have been sequenced. I pointed out to Matthew Herper (author of the Forbes piece in which this tidbit was found) and Antonio Regalado (MIT Tech Review), that I was surprised that this statistic wasn’t reported more often, much less tracked independently by an independent organization of some type. One reason for my surprise was that Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) are a key part of genomics and the more sequences available to researchers the more can be learned about human health and disease. Granted, the sharing of that data is not universal, but it does happen. For those interested, here are the first and related second Twitter conversations with them and other genomics experts.
On a related note, Stanford law professor Hank Greely—who focuses on ethical, legal, and social issues arising from biosciences—was quoted in an article on the need for an international body to regulate genetic engineering. As Hank pointed out on Twitter, he’s skeptical about well functioning international agreements on GM life.
In another Twitter conversation (can you tell I’m active on the platform?!), after I shared an article in the International Business Times on privacy concerns related to wearable tech monitoring for employees provided by a company named Humanyze, CEO Ben Waber replied to me and pointed out that the article contained numerous inaccuracies. A few days later he was interviewed by the BBC Radio. Since the radio interview is only available for a limited time, Ben was kind enough to post a transcript of it on LinkedIn: The Humanyze Approach to Privacy
On the same topic, an article by law professor and sociologist Ifeoma Ajunwa in the Harvard Business Review reminds us that even though employers may not have access to wearables-derived data on their employees, workplace wellness programs could still put your health data at risk. She and her coauthors state that there are insufficient protections for employee health data, which leaves workers vulnerable to privacy invasion and employment discrimination. While wellness program vendors are able to amass health information through questionnaires and medical exams, and laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibit employers from collecting this data, certain rules exempt health data collection by wellness program vendors. Even worse, neither employers nor employees are always informed that this data may be sold by vendors.
HHS announced the winners of their Consumer Health Data Aggregator and Provider User Experience Challenges last week. According to the agency, encouraging and supporting innovation around digital health solutions is a central part of the their mission, and finding new ways to easily and securely integrate health data from different health care providers has the potential to help many individuals in the HIV community.
Follow me on Twitter @Paul_Sonnier for all the news I share each day.
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Keynote Speaker ⋅ Management Consultant ⋅ Social Entrepreneur
Founder, Digital Health group on LinkedIn ⋅ 50,000+ members
Creator, Story of Digital Health
San Diego, CA, USA