A pinboard by
Nadine Upton

Dr Nadine Upton, Post-doctoral Scientist | Curation made possible by Deep Science Ventures


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Demographic and Indication-Specific Characteristics Have Limited Association With Social Network Engagement: Evidence From 24,954 Members of Four Health Care Support Groups.

Abstract: Digital health social networks (DHSNs) are widespread, and the consensus is that they contribute to wellness by offering social support and knowledge sharing. The success of a DHSN is based on the number of participants and their consistent creation of externalities through the generation of new content. To promote network growth, it would be helpful to identify characteristics of superusers or actors who create value by generating positive network externalities.The aim of the study was to investigate the feasibility of developing predictive models that identify potential superusers in real time. This study examined associations between posting behavior, 4 demographic variables, and 20 indication-specific variables.Data were extracted from the custom structured query language (SQL) databases of 4 digital health behavior change interventions with DHSNs. Of these, 2 were designed to assist in the treatment of addictions (problem drinking and smoking cessation), and 2 for mental health (depressive disorder, panic disorder). To analyze posting behavior, 10 models were developed, and negative binomial regressions were conducted to examine associations between number of posts, and demographic and indication-specific variables.The DHSNs varied in number of days active (3658-5210), number of registrants (5049-52,396), number of actors (1085-8452), and number of posts (16,231-521,997). In the sample, all 10 models had low R(2) values (.013-.086) with limited statistically significant demographic and indication-specific variables.Very few variables were associated with social network engagement. Although some variables were statistically significant, they did not appear to be practically significant. Based on the large number of study participants, variation in DHSN theme, and extensive time-period, we did not find strong evidence that demographic characteristics or indication severity sufficiently explain the variability in number of posts per actor. Researchers should investigate alternative models that identify superusers or other individuals who create social network externalities.

Pub.: 19 Feb '17, Pinned: 24 Feb '17

Health Behavior Models for Informing Digital Technology Interventions for Individuals With Mental Illness.

Abstract: Theoretical models offer valuable insights for designing effective and sustainable behavioral health interventions, yet the application of theory for informing digital technology interventions for people with mental illness has received limited attention. We offer a perspective on the importance of applying behavior theories and models to developing digital technology interventions for addressing mental and physical health concerns among people with mental illness.In this commentary, we summarize prominent theories of human behavior, highlight key theoretical constructs, and identify opportunities to inform digital health interventions for people with mental illness. We consider limitations with existing theories and models, and examine recent theoretical advances that can specifically guide development of digital technology interventions.Established behavioral frameworks including health belief model, theory of planned behavior, transtheoretical model, and social cognitive theory consist of important and overlapping constructs that can inform digital health interventions for people with mental illness. As digital technologies continue to evolve and enable longitudinal data collection, real-time behavior monitoring, and adaptive features tailored to users' changing needs over time, there are new opportunities to broaden our understanding of health behaviors and mechanisms of behavior change. Recent advances include dynamic models of behavior, persuasive system design, the behavioral intervention technology model, and behavioral models for just-in-time adaptive interventions.Behavior theories offer advantages for guiding use of digital technologies. Future researchers must explore how theoretical models can effectively advance efforts to develop, evaluate, and disseminate digital health interventions targeting individuals with mental illness. (PsycINFO Database Record

Pub.: 10 Feb '17, Pinned: 21 Feb '17

Readiness for Delivering Digital Health at Scale: Lessons From a Longitudinal Qualitative Evaluation of a National Digital Health Innovation Program in the United Kingdom.

Abstract: Digital health has the potential to support care delivery for chronic illness. Despite positive evidence from localized implementations, new technologies have proven slow to become accepted, integrated, and routinized at scale.The aim of our study was to examine barriers and facilitators to implementation of digital health at scale through the evaluation of a £37m national digital health program: ‟Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale" (dallas) from 2012-2015.The study was a longitudinal qualitative, multi-stakeholder, implementation study. The methods included interviews (n=125) with key implementers, focus groups with consumers and patients (n=7), project meetings (n=12), field work or observation in the communities (n=16), health professional survey responses (n=48), and cross program documentary evidence on implementation (n=215). We used a sociological theory called normalization process theory (NPT) and a longitudinal (3 years) qualitative framework analysis approach. This work did not study a single intervention or population. Instead, we evaluated the processes (of designing and delivering digital health), and our outcomes were the identified barriers and facilitators to delivering and mainstreaming services and products within the mixed sector digital health ecosystem.We identified three main levels of issues influencing readiness for digital health: macro (market, infrastructure, policy), meso (organizational), and micro (professional or public). Factors hindering implementation included: lack of information technology (IT) infrastructure, uncertainty around information governance, lack of incentives to prioritize interoperability, lack of precedence on accountability within the commercial sector, and a market perceived as difficult to navigate. Factors enabling implementation were: clinical endorsement, champions who promoted digital health, and public and professional willingness.Although there is receptiveness to digital health, barriers to mainstreaming remain. Our findings suggest greater investment in national and local infrastructure, implementation of guidelines for the safe and transparent use and assessment of digital health, incentivization of interoperability, and investment in upskilling of professionals and the public would help support the normalization of digital health. These findings will enable researchers, health care practitioners, and policy makers to understand the current landscape and the actions required in order to prepare the market and accelerate uptake, and use of digital health and wellness services in context and at scale.

Pub.: 18 Feb '17, Pinned: 21 Feb '17

Are telehealth technologies for hypertension care and self-management effective or simply risky and costly?

Abstract: Hypertension is a prevalent chronic disease that requires ongoing management and self-care. The disease affects 31% of American adults and contributed to or caused the deaths of 348,000 Americans in 2008, fewer than 50% of whom effectively self-managed the disease. However, self-management is complex, with patients requiring ongoing support and easy access to care. Telehealth may help foster the knowledge and skills necessary for those with hypertension to engage in successful self-management. This paper considers the applicability, efficacy, associated risks, and cost-effectiveness of telehealth for individuals and populations with hypertension. Telehealth is a broad term, encompassing telemedicine and mobile health that is used for physician-patient interactions, diagnostics, care delivery, education, information sharing, monitoring, and reminders. Telemedicine may have considerable utility for people diagnosed with hypertension who have poor access or social barriers that constrain access, but potential risks exist. Telehealth technology is evolving rapidly, even in the absence of fully proven cost-effectiveness and efficacy. Considering the cost of inpatient and emergency department care for patients with hypertension, telehealth is a highly attractive alternative, but there are risks to consider. Incorporating telehealth, which is increasingly characterized by mobile health, can increase both the capacity of health care providers and the reach of patient support, clinical management, and self-care. Telehealth studies need improvement; long-term outcome data on cardiovascular events must be obtained, and robust risk analyses and economic studies are needed to prospectively evaluate the safety and cost savings for hypertension self-management.

Pub.: 08 Oct '14, Pinned: 12 Feb '17

Medication adherence and activity patterns underlying uncontrolled hypertension: Assessment and recommendations by practicing pharmacists using digital health care.

Abstract: This report summarizes the first use of a digital health feedback system (DHFS) by practicing pharmacists to establish evidence-based blood pressure (BP) management recommendations.Fifteen commercial pharmacies and 39 patients in the Isle of Wight participated.The pharmacists were experienced in providing New Medicine Services to patients in their communities.The pharmacists utilized a commercially available DHFS. The DHFS utilized FDA-cleared and CE-marked class 2 medical devices passively captured and shared information about medication-taking using an ingestible sensor, and daily patterns of rest, activity, and exercise using a wearable patch that incorporates an accelerometer.Pharmacists provided targeted counselling for BP management as guided by the digital information.Blood pressure was measured serially, and patient and provider experiences with DHFS use were assessed using satisfaction surveys.The mean change in SBP over the 2-week evaluation period was -7.9 ± 22.1; mean change in DBP was -2.8 ± 12.9. A root cause for persistent hypertension was determined for all of these 34 patients: 68% had pharmaceutical resistance, and 32% had inadequate medication use. Specifically, 29% were found to be capable to achieving blood pressure control on their currently prescribed medications, 68% were found to have a need for additional pharmacological treatment, and 3% needed additional adherence support. Pharmacists found that the DHFD helped in targeting specific recommendations, and to create a collaborative experience with their patients. Patients found the experience to be positive and helpful.DHFS that provides confirmation of medication taking and objective measures of lifestyle patterns can help pharmacists to identify specific factors contributing to uncontrolled hypertension, to make evidence-based prescribing and lifestyle recommendations for achieving treatment goals, and to create a collaborative experience for patients in the management of their self-care.

Pub.: 08 Apr '16, Pinned: 12 Feb '17

Data for life: Wearable technology and the design of self-care

Abstract: Abstract Over the last 5 years, wearable technology – comprising devices whose embedded sensors and analytic algorithms can track, analyze and guide wearers’ behavior – has increasingly captured the attention of venture capitalists, technology startups, established electronics companies and consumers. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted 2 years running at the Consumer Electronics Show and its Digital Health Summit, this article explores the vision of technologically assisted self-regulation that drives the design of wearable tracking technology. As key artifacts in a new cultural convergence of sensor technology and self-care that I call ‘data for life’, wearables are marketed as digital compasses whose continuous tracking capacities and big-data analytics can help consumers navigate the field of everyday choice making and better control how their bites, sips, steps and minutes of sleep add up to affect their health. By offering consumers a way to simultaneously embrace and outsource the task of lifestyle management, I argue, such products at once exemplify and short-circuit cultural ideals for individual responsibility and self-regulation.AbstractOver the last 5 years, wearable technology – comprising devices whose embedded sensors and analytic algorithms can track, analyze and guide wearers’ behavior – has increasingly captured the attention of venture capitalists, technology startups, established electronics companies and consumers. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted 2 years running at the Consumer Electronics Show and its Digital Health Summit, this article explores the vision of technologically assisted self-regulation that drives the design of wearable tracking technology. As key artifacts in a new cultural convergence of sensor technology and self-care that I call ‘data for life’, wearables are marketed as digital compasses whose continuous tracking capacities and big-data analytics can help consumers navigate the field of everyday choice making and better control how their bites, sips, steps and minutes of sleep add up to affect their health. By offering consumers a way to simultaneously embrace and outsource the task of lifestyle management, I argue, such products at once exemplify and short-circuit cultural ideals for individual responsibility and self-regulation.

Pub.: 01 Sep '16, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Adaptation and Feasibility Study of a Digital Health Program to Prevent Diabetes among Low-Income Patients: Results from a Partnership between a Digital Health Company and an Academic Research Team.

Abstract: Background. The feasibility of digital health programs to prevent and manage diabetes in low-income patients has not been adequately explored. Methods. Researchers collaborated with a digital health company to adapt a diabetes prevention program for low-income prediabetes patients at a large safety net clinic. We conducted focus groups to assess patient perspectives, revised lessons for improved readability and cultural relevance to low-income and Hispanic patients, conducted a feasibility study of the adapted program in English and Spanish speaking cohorts, and implemented real-time adaptations to the program for commercial use and for a larger trial of in multiple safety net clinics. Results. The majority of focus group participants were receptive to the program. We modified the curriculum to a 5th-grade reading level and adapted content based on patient feedback. In the feasibility study, 54% of eligible contacted patients expressed interest in enrolling (n = 23). Although some participants' computer access and literacy made registration challenging, they were highly satisfied and engaged (80% logged in at least once/week). Conclusions. Underserved prediabetic patients displayed high engagement and satisfaction with a digital diabetes prevention program despite lower digital literacy skills. The collaboration between researchers and a digital health company enabled iterative improvements in technology implementation to address challenges in low-income populations.

Pub.: 22 Nov '16, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Barriers and facilitators to patient and public engagement and recruitment to digital health interventions: protocol of a systematic review of qualitative studies.

Abstract: Patients and the public are beginning to use digital health tools to assist in managing chronic illness, support independent living and self-care, and remain connected to health and care providers. However, engaging with and enrolling in digital health interventions, such as telehealth systems, mobile health applications, patient portals and personal health records, in order to use them varies considerably. Many factors affect people's ability to engage with and sign up to digital health platforms.The primary aim is to identify the barriers and facilitators patients and the public experience to engagement and recruitment to digital health interventions. The secondary aim is to identify engagement and enrolment strategies, leading if possible to a taxonomy of such approaches, and a conceptual framework of digital health engagement and recruitment processes.A systematic review of qualitative studies will be conducted by searching six databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus and the ACM Digital Library for papers published between 2000 and 2015. Titles and abstracts along with full-text papers will be screened by two independent reviewers against predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. A data extraction form will be used to provide details of the included studies. Quality assessment will be conducted using the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist. Any disagreements will be resolved through discussion with an independent third reviewer. Analysis will be guided by framework synthesis and informed by normalization process theory and burden of treatment theory, to aid conceptualisation of digital health engagement and recruitment processes.This systematic review of qualitative studies will explore factors affecting engagement and enrolment in digital health interventions. It will advance our understanding of readiness for digital health by examining the complex factors that affect patients' and the public's ability to take part.CRD42015029846.

Pub.: 04 Sep '16, Pinned: 12 Feb '17

Optimizing Combination Therapy for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Using a Phenotypic Personalized Medicine Digital Health Platform: Retrospective Optimization Individualizes Patient Regimens to Maximize Efficacy and Safety.

Abstract: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a blood cancer that is characterized by the overproduction of lymphoblasts in the bone marrow. Treatment for pediatric ALL typically uses combination chemotherapy in phases, including a prolonged maintenance phase with oral methotrexate and 6-mercaptopurine, which often requires dose adjustment to balance side effects and efficacy. However, a major challenge confronting combination therapy for virtually every disease indication is the inability to pinpoint drug doses that are optimized for each patient, and the ability to adaptively and continuously optimize these doses to address comorbidities and other patient-specific physiological changes. To address this challenge, we developed a powerful digital health technology platform based on phenotypic personalized medicine (PPM). PPM identifies patient-specific maps that parabolically correlate drug inputs with phenotypic outputs. In a disease mechanism-independent fashion, we individualized drug ratios/dosages for two pediatric patients with standard-risk ALL in this study via PPM-mediated retrospective optimization. PPM optimization demonstrated that dynamically adjusted dosing of combination chemotherapy could enhance treatment outcomes while also substantially reducing the amount of chemotherapy administered. This may lead to more effective maintenance therapy, with the potential for shortening duration and reducing the risk of serious side effects.

Pub.: 07 Dec '16, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Annual Research Review: Digital health interventions for children and young people with mental health problems: a systematic and meta-review.

Abstract: Digital health interventions (DHIs), including computer-assisted therapy, smartphone apps and wearable technologies, are heralded as having enormous potential to improve uptake and accessibility, efficiency, clinical effectiveness and personalisation of mental health interventions. It is generally assumed that DHIs will be preferred by children and young people (CYP) given their ubiquitous digital activity. However, it remains uncertain whether: DHIs for CYP are clinically and cost-effective, CYP prefer DHIs to traditional services, DHIs widen access and how they should be evaluated and adopted by mental health services. This review evaluates the evidence-base for DHIs and considers the key research questions and approaches to evaluation and implementation.We conducted a meta-review of scoping, narrative, systematic or meta-analytical reviews investigating the effectiveness of DHIs for mental health problems in CYP. We also updated a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of DHIs for CYP published in the last 3 years.Twenty-one reviews were included in the meta-review. The findings provide some support for the clinical benefit of DHIs, particularly computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT), for depression and anxiety in adolescents and young adults. The systematic review identified 30 new RCTs evaluating DHIs for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders and PTSD. The benefits of DHIs in managing ADHD, autism, psychosis and eating disorders are uncertain, and evidence is lacking regarding the cost-effectiveness of DHIs.Key methodological limitations make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions from existing clinical trials of DHIs. Issues include variable uptake and engagement with DHIs, lack of an agreed typology/taxonomy for DHIs, small sample sizes, lack of blinded outcome assessment, combining different comparators, short-term follow-up and poor specification of the level of human support. Research and practice recommendations are presented that address the key research questions and methodological issues for the evaluation and clinical implementation of DHIs for CYP.

Pub.: 13 Dec '16, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

IntelliCare: An Eclectic, Skills-Based App Suite for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety.

Abstract: Digital mental health tools have tended to use psychoeducational strategies based on treatment orientations developed and validated outside of digital health. These features do not map well to the brief but frequent ways that people use mobile phones and mobile phone apps today. To address these challenges, we developed a suite of apps for depression and anxiety called IntelliCare, each developed with a focused goal and interactional style. IntelliCare apps prioritize interactive skills training over education and are designed for frequent but short interactions.The overall objective of this study was to pilot a coach-assisted version of IntelliCare and evaluate its use and efficacy at reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.Participants, recruited through a health care system, Web-based and community advertising, and clinical research registries, were included in this single-arm trial if they had elevated symptoms of depression or anxiety. Participants had access to the 14 IntelliCare apps from Google Play and received 8 weeks of coaching on the use of IntelliCare. Coaching included an initial phone call plus 2 or more texts per week over the 8 weeks, with some participants receiving an additional brief phone call. Primary outcomes included the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) for anxiety. Participants were compensated up to US $90 for completing all assessments; compensation was not for app use or treatment engagement.Of the 99 participants who initiated treatment, 90.1% (90/99) completed 8 weeks. Participants showed substantial reductions in the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 (P<.001). Participants used the apps an average of 195.4 (SD 141) times over the 8 weeks. The average length of use was 1.1 (SD 2.1) minutes, and 95% of participants downloaded 5 or more of the IntelliCare apps.This study supports the IntelliCare framework of providing a suite of skills-focused apps that can be used frequently and briefly to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. The IntelliCare system is elemental, allowing individual apps to be used or not used based on their effectiveness and utility, and it is eclectic, viewing treatment strategies as elements that can be applied as needed rather than adhering to a singular, overarching, theoretical model.Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02176226; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02176226 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation/6mQZuBGk1).

Pub.: 07 Jan '17, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Digital Health: Tracking Physiomes and Activity Using Wearable Biosensors Reveals Useful Health-Related Information.

Abstract: A new wave of portable biosensors allows frequent measurement of health-related physiology. We investigated the use of these devices to monitor human physiological changes during various activities and their role in managing health and diagnosing and analyzing disease. By recording over 250,000 daily measurements for up to 43 individuals, we found personalized circadian differences in physiological parameters, replicating previous physiological findings. Interestingly, we found striking changes in particular environments, such as airline flights (decreased peripheral capillary oxygen saturation [SpO2] and increased radiation exposure). These events are associated with physiological macro-phenotypes such as fatigue, providing a strong association between reduced pressure/oxygen and fatigue on high-altitude flights. Importantly, we combined biosensor information with frequent medical measurements and made two important observations: First, wearable devices were useful in identification of early signs of Lyme disease and inflammatory responses; we used this information to develop a personalized, activity-based normalization framework to identify abnormal physiological signals from longitudinal data for facile disease detection. Second, wearables distinguish physiological differences between insulin-sensitive and -resistant individuals. Overall, these results indicate that portable biosensors provide useful information for monitoring personal activities and physiology and are likely to play an important role in managing health and enabling affordable health care access to groups traditionally limited by socioeconomic class or remote geography.

Pub.: 13 Jan '17, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Effects on Engagement and Health Literacy Outcomes of Web-Based Materials Promoting Physical Activity in People With Diabetes: An International Randomized Trial.

Abstract: Developing accessible Web-based materials to support diabetes self-management in people with lower levels of health literacy is a continuing challenge.The objective of this international study was to develop a Web-based intervention promoting physical activity among people with type 2 diabetes to determine whether audiovisual presentation and interactivity (quizzes, planners, tailoring) could help to overcome the digital divide by making digital interventions accessible and effective for people with all levels of health literacy. This study also aimed to determine whether these materials can improve health literacy outcomes for people with lower levels of health literacy and also be effective for people with higher levels of health literacy.To assess the impact of interactivity and audiovisual features on usage, engagement, and health literacy outcomes, we designed two versions of a Web-based intervention (one interactive and one plain-text version of the same content) to promote physical activity in people with type 2 diabetes. We randomly assigned participants from the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Taiwan to either an interactive or plain-text version of the intervention in English, German, or Mandarin. Intervention usage was objectively recorded by the intervention software. Self-report measures were taken at baseline and follow-up (immediately after participants viewed the intervention) and included measures of health literacy, engagement (website satisfaction and willingness to recommend the intervention to others), and health literacy outcomes (diabetes knowledge, enablement, attitude, perceived behavioral control, and intention to undertake physical activity).In total, 1041 people took part in this study. Of the 1005 who completed health literacy information, 268 (26.67%) had intermediate or low levels of health literacy. The interactive intervention overall did not produce better outcomes than did the plain-text version. Participants in the plain-text intervention group looked at significantly more sections of the intervention (mean difference -0.47, 95% CI -0.64 to -0.30, P<.001), but this did not lead to better outcomes. Health literacy outcomes, including attitudes and intentions to engage in physical activity, significantly improved following the intervention for participants in both intervention groups. These improvements were similar across higher and lower health literacy levels and in all countries. Participants in the interactive intervention group had acquired more diabetes knowledge (mean difference 0.80, 95% CI 0.65-0.94, P<.001). Participants from both groups reported high levels of website satisfaction and would recommend the website to others.Following established practice for simple, clear design and presentation and using a person-based approach to intervention development, with in-depth iterative feedback from users, may be more important than interactivity and audiovisual presentations when developing accessible digital health interventions to improve health literacy outcomes.International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 43587048; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN43587048. (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6nGhaP9bv).

Pub.: 25 Jan '17, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Efficacy and safety of a medication dose reminder feature in a digital health offering with the use of sensor-enabled medicines.

Abstract: Over one-half of patients with chronic diseases, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes (DM), do not take medicines as prescribed. This study assessed the efficacy and safety of "seeing" versus "not seeing" medication dose reminders regarding medication adherence and risk for overdose.Post hoc analysis.Outpatient setting. Adult subjects (18 years of age or older) with uncontrolled hypertension and DM.Subjects enrolled in this institutional review board-approved study were assigned to either use digital health (DH) with the use of sensor-enabled medicines (coencapsulated medicines with an ingestible sensor) for 4 or 12 weeks or receive usual care based on a cluster-randomized design. All subjects were followed for 12 weeks. Subjects using DH were included in the post hoc study consisting of an efficacy analysis and a safety analysis. A main efficacy outcome of comparison of subjects taking medicine with or without "seeing" DH medication dose reminders was assessed. Safety analysis assessed risk of overdosing after DH medication dose reminders.In 57 subjects included in the efficacy analysis, DH device reminder messages were associated with a 16 ± 16% increase (75 ± 18% when seeing vs. 59 ± 24% when not seeing mobile dose reminders) in medication taking if not taken before dose reminder. The mean overall adherence for all subjects was 86 ± 12%; the mean on-time adherence was 69.7 ± 19.7%. Subjects with lower adherence benefited more from seeing DH reminder messages. In the safety study (n = 74 subjects and 24,426 medication ingestions), no events of overdoses related to DH medication dose reminders occurred.This study demonstrates benefits of DH medication dose reminders to improve medication adherence, especially in patients with lower adherence; DH medication dose reminders also appear to be safe.

Pub.: 06 Feb '17, Pinned: 08 Feb '17

Analytical Protein Microarrays: Advancements Towards Clinical Applications.

Abstract: Protein microarrays represent a powerful technology with the potential to serve as tools for the detection of a broad range of analytes in numerous applications such as diagnostics, drug development, food safety, and environmental monitoring. Key features of analytical protein microarrays include high throughput and relatively low costs due to minimal reagent consumption, multiplexing, fast kinetics and hence measurements, and the possibility of functional integration. So far, especially fundamental studies in molecular and cell biology have been conducted using protein microarrays, while the potential for clinical, notably point-of-care applications is not yet fully utilized. The question arises what features have to be implemented and what improvements have to be made in order to fully exploit the technology. In the past we have identified various obstacles that have to be overcome in order to promote protein microarray technology in the diagnostic field. Issues that need significant improvement to make the technology more attractive for the diagnostic market are for instance: too low sensitivity and deficiency in reproducibility, inadequate analysis time, lack of high-quality antibodies and validated reagents, lack of automation and portable instruments, and cost of instruments necessary for chip production and read-out. The scope of the paper at hand is to review approaches to solve these problems.

Pub.: 02 Feb '17, Pinned: 06 Feb '17

A low-cost smartphone-based platform for highly sensitive point-of-care testing with persistent luminescent phosphors

Abstract: Through their computational power and connectivity, smartphones are poised to rapidly expand telemedicine and transform healthcare by enabling better personal health monitoring and rapid diagnostics. Recently, a variety of platforms have been developed to enable smartphone-based point-of-care testing using imaging-based readout with the smartphone camera as the detector. Fluorescent reporters have been shown to improve the sensitivity of assays over colorimetric labels, but fluorescence readout necessitates incorporating optical hardware into the detection system, adding to the cost and complexity of the device. Here we present a simple, low-cost smartphone-based detection platform for highly sensitive luminescence imaging readout of point-of-care tests run with persistent luminescent phosphors as reporters. The extremely bright and long-lived emission of persistent phosphors allows sensitive analyte detection with a smartphone by a facile time-gated imaging strategy. Phosphors are first briefly excited with the phone's camera flash, followed by switching off the flash, and subsequent imaging of phosphor luminescence with the camera. Using this approach, we demonstrate detection of human chorionic gonadotropin using a lateral flow assay and the smartphone platform with strontium aluminate nanoparticles as reporters, giving a detection limit of ≈45 pg mL−1 (1.2 pM) in buffer. Time-gated imaging on a smartphone can be readily adapted for sensitive and potentially quantitative testing using other point-of-care formats, and is workable with a variety of persistent luminescent materials.

Pub.: 03 Feb '17, Pinned: 06 Feb '17

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT): a review of the evidence for use as a screening tool.

Abstract: Breast screening with full-field digital mammography (FFDM) fails to detect 15-30% of cancers. This figure is higher for women with dense breasts. A new tomographic technique in mammography has been developed--digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT)--which allows images to be viewed in sections through the breast and has the potential to improve cancer detection rates. Results from retrospective reading studies comparing DBT with FFDM have been largely favourable with improvement in sensitivity and specificity. Increases in diagnostic accuracy have been reported as being independent of breast density; however there are mixed reports regarding the detection of microcalcification. Prospective screening studies using DBT with FFDM have demonstrated increased rates in cancer detection compared with FFDM alone. A reduction in false-positive recall rates has also been shown. Screening with the addition of DBT would approximately double radiation dose; however a simulated FFDM image can be generated from a DBT scan. The combination of simulated FFDM images and DBT is being evaluated within several studies and some positive results have been published. Interval cancer rates for the UK National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) demonstrate the limited sensitivity of FFDM in cancer detection. DBT has the potential to increase sensitivity and decrease false-positive recall rates. It has approval for screening and diagnostics in several countries; however, there are issues with DBT as a screening tool including additional reading time, IT storage and connectivity, over-diagnosis, and cost effectiveness. Feasibility and cost-effectiveness trials are needed before the implementation of DBT in NHSBSP can be considered.

Pub.: 29 Dec '15, Pinned: 04 Feb '17

Diagnostics in a digital age: an opportunity to strengthen health systems and improve health outcomes.

Abstract: Diagnostics play a critical role in clinical decision making, and in disease control and prevention. Rapid point-of-care (POC) tests for infectious diseases can improve access to diagnosis and patient management, but the quality of these tests vary, quality of testing is often not assured and there are few mechanisms to capture test results for surveillance when the testing is so decentralised. A new generation of POC molecular tests that are highly sensitive and specific, robust and easy to use are now available for deployment in low resource settings. Decentralisation of testing outside of the laboratory can put tremendous stress on the healthcare system and presents challenges for training and quality assurance. A feature of many of these POC molecular devices is that they are equipped with data transmission capacities. In a digital age, it is possible to link data from diagnostic laboratories and POC test readers and devices to provide data on testing coverage, disease trends and timely information for early warning of infectious disease outbreaks to inform design or optimisation of disease control and elimination programmes. Data connectivity also allows control programmes to monitor the quality of tests and testing, and optimise supply chain management; thus, increasing the efficiency of healthcare systems and improving patient outcomes.

Pub.: 11 Nov '15, Pinned: 04 Feb '17

Cost evaluation of providing evidence-based dietetic services for weight management in adults: In-person versus eHealth delivery

Abstract: To compare the theoretical costs of best-practice weight management delivered by dietitians in a traditional, in-person setting compared to remote consultations delivered using eHealth technologies.Using national guidelines, a framework was developed outlining dietitian-delivered weight management for in-person and eHealth delivery modes. This framework mapped one-on-one patient–dietitian consultations for an adult requiring active management (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) over a one-year period using both delivery modes. Resources required for both the dietitian and patient to implement each treatment mode were identified, with costs attributed for material, fixed, travel and personnel components. The resource costs were categorised as either establishment or recurring costs associated with the treatment of one patient.Establishment costs were higher for eHealth compared to in-person costs ($1394.21 vs $90.05). Excluding establishment costs, the total (combined dietitian and patient) cost for one patient receiving best-practice weight management for 12 months was $560.59 for in-person delivery, compared to $389.78 for eHealth delivery. Compared to the eHealth mode, a higher proportion of the overall recurring delivery costs was attributed to the patient for the in-person mode (46.4% and 33.9%, respectively).Although it is initially more expensive to establish an eHealth service mode, the overall reoccurring costs per patient for delivery of best-practice weight management were lower compared to the in-person mode. This theoretical cost evaluation establishes preliminary evidence to support alternative obesity management service models using eHealth technologies. Further research is required to determine the feasibility, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of these models within dietetic practice.

Pub.: 24 Jan '17, Pinned: 04 Feb '17