Latest flu-related tech is largely about the greater good, not you

We're in the height of the flu season and, as happens every year, lots of people are going to hospitals and some are not coming out alive. Some of the cases are high profile and news of them spreads like the flu itself -- the 23-year-old Bay Area man who chronicled his illness on Facebook before succumbing; the 29-year-old pregnant woman in Arkansas who lost her baby and is fighting for her life; the 10-month-old in Kentucky who went to sleep barely symptomatic and never woke up.

The stories underscore the reality that the flu can be lethal and … Read more

For $49, a doctor will see you now -- online

When Dr. Teresa Myers took a call from a woman who thought she'd gotten strep throat right smack in the middle of an important business trip, the Akron, Ohio-based family medicine physician who loves telemedicine so much she actually does it in her spare time didn't mean to scream.

But when the patient -- hoping a doc could diagnose her problem via her iPhone camera so that she could get a prescription without going to an ER -- pointed her phone's flashlight toward the back of her throat, Myers couldn't restrain herself.… Read more

Concussion bot to debut at Northern Arizona football game

Just a day after the NFL and more than 4,500 former football players reached a $765 million settlement over concussion-related lawsuits, a telemedicine robot will make its debut on the sidelines of tonight's Northern Arizona University football match against the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Concussions have been a hot topic in high-contact sports in recent years as evidence mounts that they are a chronic problem with long-lasting effects. And with more than 1 million athletes in the US suffering from concussions every year, researchers at the Mayo Clinic hope their sidelined robot on wheels will help assess athletes with suspected concussions quickly so that those deemed unfit to continue to play do not.… Read more

New telemedicine tech maintains patient privacy

Here's the scenario: a mom has a baby recovering from an ear infection. He's doing fine, but the doctor wants to do a follow-up visit to make sure he took the antibiotics well and is on the mend. The problem is that it's a hassle for the mother to load the baby and her toddler into the car to drive an hour each way for a quick 15-minute visit. Here's a solution: telemedicine, or a video chat on a computer or tablet with a physician from the comfort of the family's home.

Such chats are … Read more

House calls go mobile via Online Care 6.0

Once upon a time, people saw primary care physicians -- and often in the comfort of their own homes. These "house calls" are rare enough today to conjure Rockwellian images of doctors with stethoscopes leaning over little Junior's sweaty brow.

While these intimate visits are largely a relic, the ability to reach a caregiver quickly is getting easier and more sophisticated thanks to video chat technology. And now, online care provider American Well is joining a burgeoning number of providers (TelaDoc, Hello Health, and 3G Doctor, to name a few) that are bringing their online services to mobile devices.… Read more

BEAR robot roars to the rescue

While unmanned air vehicles are putting pilots out of business, a new U.S. Army-funded robot could do the same for rescuers and stevedores.

The humanoid BEAR (Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot) can locate victims in a mine shaft, battlefield, toxic spill, or earthquake-damaged structure. And then it can lift them up and then carry them over long distances to safety, according to the manufacturer Vecna Robotics. And it does this without risking any more lives (PDF).

The challenge was to enhance search and rescue while reducing the time military, police, and emergency response personnel have to risk their lives each day. … Read more

Are the stars aligning for telemedicine's succcess?

The current health care crisis has some experts saying that telemedicine's time has finally come.

While technology companies have been touting the use of virtual technology to allow doctors to remotely examine and monitor patients for decades, up until recently the business case for deploying these expensive systems was hard to justify. But now as lawmakers in Washington, D.C. look for ways to fix the broken health care system, technologies, such as high-definition video conferencing and telepresence, are getting a second look.

Last week, technology giant Cisco Systems and a major U.S. insurer UnitedHealth Group announced a … Read more

Kaiser's high-tech doctor's office on wheels

Hawaii's qualified uninsured women and Kaiser Permanente members are about to get free health care from some of the most state-of-the-art technology available in the U.S.

Kaiser Permanente is sending over its first mobile health vehicle that's wired to the hilt with a digital mammography machine and computers set up to access electronic health records and use remote video capabilities.

"We have an entire network on wheels," says Lisa Victor, the IT service delivery manager for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. This almost 500-square-foot futuristic semi-trailer sets sail from San Francisco to Hawaii's Big Island on … Read more