Patients suffering from chronic diseases make up a significant portion of patients availing Medicare benefits. Chronic conditions entail long-term expenditure on treatments and rehabilitation. Chronic diseases such as diabetes can also cause other conditions related to blood pressure and the cardiovascular system, which also lead to significant expenditure. Chronic mental problems such as dementia are another matter altogether, with the decrease in the quality of life causing just as many or more problems to the patients as the medical concerns themselves.
Number of Medicare Applications with Chronic Diseases Rising
Of the 57 million Americans on Medicare, close to two-thirds have multiple chronic diseases. These may include any combination of cancer, arthritis, dementia, heart diseases and other cardiovascular concerns, and diabetes. Many of these diseases are also interlinked and are often associated. Chronic health conditions such as these lead to functional limitations, higher healthcare spending, and a notable decrease in the quality of life. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis, depression, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, chronic kidney diseases, autism spectrum disorders, and osteoporosis are some of the other main chronic diseases prevalent in the U.S.
CCM: A Round-the-clock Monitoring Tool for Chronic Patients
Medicare has announced the launch of a new benefit called Chronic Care Management (CCM). The CCM program ensures continuous tracking of the patient’s condition, including additional payments to the doctors responsible for the treatment. The treatment will also be mapped out taking into consideration the extent of the disease and the observed effect of the prescribed medication. Provisions have been made for the inclusion of modern advancements in the healthcare sector such as remote monitoring, which makes the process convenient for both physician and patient.
Availing the benefits of CCM requires patients to be enrolled in Medicare. They also need to have multiple chronic diseases expected to cause functional decline or place you at risk of death in the coming 12 months.
Apple has recently been developing noninvasive sensors for monitoring blood sugar levels in order to cater to the needs of diabetes patients. A whole new species of wearable healthcare devices such as Apple watch and its ilk are on the rise. According to unnamed sources, feasibility trials are in progress at its clinical sites in Bay Area.
Emergence of Cutting-edge Medical Devices to Ramp up Apple’s Portfolio
This development is not surprising, considering the tech giant’s recent moves. In 2016, two new Apple health apps, 3D4 Medical and AirStrip made their appearance. With the introduction of CareKit, ResearchKit, and HealthKit, the evolution of medical devices for diabetes is only an evident advancement in the company’s trajectory.
The acquisition of Gliimpse, a personal health record startup in August 2016 was a strategic groundwork for extending Apple’s presence in the healthcare vertical. Founded in Silicon Valley in 2013, Gliimpse aims to offer ‘personalized and shareable medical records’ to every single patient across the U.S.
IBM Watson Health and Microsoft Emerge as Key Contenders
However, Apple is not the singular entity to plunge into the promising healthcare terrain. In January 2017, IBM Watson Health announced its distinct collaboration with Best Doctors, a leading clinical consultation provider, with the common objective of offering key insights on the available options in the treatment of cancer. On receiving patients’ approval, the Best Doctors team can collect medical records and then feed the necessary data into Watson. Watson will in turn generate a report that will be assessed by the globally renowned oncologists in the network of Best Doctors.
Microsoft has also been targeting healthcare domain by joining hands with two different entities, Twist Biosciences and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
In a recent research finding, traces of genetic material of Zika virus have been found in another mosquito species. Primarily carried by the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, RNA fragments of Zika have been found in Asian tiger mosquitoes during their genetic testing, researchers report.
However, the finding does not prove that Asian tiger mosquito can transmit Zika to individuals. But it certainly necessitates further research for the possibility of other carriers of Zika, as per the author of the study who is an associate professor at Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory at University of Florida. Further commenting via a new release from the Entomological Society of America, the author said that Aedes albopictus may be involved in transmission of Zika virus and is a concern for public health.
Further Research Needed to Ascertain New Carriers for Zika
Aedes albopictus is found across the world with a large number of hosts and has adapted to cold climates. However, the role of this mosquito in transmission of Zika virus is yet to be understood.
For the study part, Asian tiger mosquitoes were collected in Brazil and their eggs were hatched. The scientists found Asian tiger males to test positive for Zika RNA but not live Zika virus. These findings necessitate further research if Aedes albopictus can transmit Zika. These findings also underline the reason why insect scientists and medical researchers need to be extremely cautious while carrying out studies on mosquitoes.
The findings of the study further suggest that mosquitoes collected from areas with high number of Zika cases need to be tested for Zika RNA. In the event if these mosquitoes test positive for Zika RNA, they need to be tested for Zika virus before they are transported to be used in research.
The uses and applications of robotics in the medical industry have significantly increased in the past few years and a number of innovative products in this area are making inroads, at least on experimental basis, in the global market. In a recent development, the famed Japanese carmaker Toyota has announced that it has designed a robotic leg, named Welwalk WW-1000, to help disabled people walk. The device has a mechanical frame, which fits the patient’s leg below the knee. The patients can practice to walk with the help of a special treadmill with the robotic leg.
The new device was demonstrated by the company in its Tokyo headquarters the previous week. Scientists at the country’s Fujita Health University helped Toyota design the robotic leg. The device is to be fitted on one leg of patients who are suffering from paralysis on one side of the body due to a disease or a stroke.
An Intelligent System
The device is attached to patient’s thigh, ankle, and knee using a strap and uses a motor to help bend and straighten patient’s knee. Sensors in the device provide real-time data about what is happening and the medical staff can control the system through a remote screen. Designers of the device state that the action helps barely enough, which is a good thing as too much of help can slow down the recovery for patients.
This device could help common paralysis caused due to health issues such as strokes that can happen to geriatrics. As Japan’s population increasingly ages, with around 26% of the country’s population over the age of 65 in 2015, this device could witness high demand after it hits the market. Toyota expects that the device will be seen in medical centers in the country through a rental program by the end of this year.