Do you ever consult “Dr. Google” when you feel sick? Just last week Google introduced a new algorithm that pulls a list of potential conditions for whatever symptoms you search. The results are analyzed and pulled from related searches and online discussions, according to a blog post by Google’s Chief Health Strategist Roni Zeiger.
On one hand, these digital tools provide users with instant, free access to health information regardless of location. On another, it fuels self-diagnostics, which may prevent users from seeking proper medical attention.
These are the kinds of discussions of issues being created by the spread of digital technologies that we want you to participate in as part of the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam in April and May.
Dr. Google is just one example of how digital technologies are impacting health care and medical research, the first of five topics to be addressed in the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam. These discussions will lead up to the World Tech Jam and the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) later this year. We’ve rounded up a few other ideas below to kick discussions off and get you thinking about the issues.
The Globe and Mail reported that a first person shooter game called Medal of Honor has been used by brain researchers to help improve vision in adults born with cataracts in both eyes. Now psychology and neuroscience researchers at McMaster University are creating their own game because they think Medal of Honor is too violent.
What do you think of video games being used to improve vision? Does the content of the games matter?
Two rehabilitation centres in Edmonton and Ottawa use virtual reality simulators to help treat military and civilian patients with physical and mental injuries. The technology is especially useful for amputees and brain injury patients because it allows them to do their rehab exercises safely in simulated real-life circumstances.
What else could virtual reality do for health care? How can we reduce the costs of these technologies to make them more accessible?
Mark Zuckerberg is famous for Facebook. He also created a new business model he calls The Hacker Way. It consists of fast-paced and inexpensive brainstorming and coding jam sessions between programmers and designers. Next weekend a group of Montreal hackers and medical professionals are testing what innovations might be possible for Canadian health care. They hope to create simple apps that could lead to bigger innovations like text-messaging programs for HIV patients or finding ways to treat seniors at home instead of at a hospital.
Do you think apps could positively impact global health care? What health care apps would you invent if you had the chance?
Out with X-rays, in with digital scans. Switching from film to digital databases is revolutionizing diagnostics in the medical field and imaging software is making it more affordable for clinics in less developed countries. Jonathan Resnick designs imaging software at Toronto’s ClearCanvas and has already made a global impact through trailblazing imaging software that is revolutionizing medical diagnostics around the world. These systems let doctors and other health professionals easily see x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans and other information - from one computer screen.
What other ways do you think software can improve healthcare?
Diagnostic isotopes are tiny chemical tracers that are used for medical imaging of organs and to diagnose breast, prostate and lung cancers - among other things. These isotopes predominately come from Ontario’s Chalk River nuclear reactors which supply half the medical isotopes used in the world. But Canadian researchers have discovered a way to adapt existing equipment in hospitals like particle accelerators to produce isotopes outside of a nuclear reactor. It’s considered a medical breakthrough and could be the solution to a global shortage of crucial medical isotopes.
What other roles do you think chemical tracers can play in diagnostics?
For more information on the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam and WCIT, check out the posts below.
Next week we’ll be talking about how digital technologies can impact education and digital skills. Is digital tech impacting how you learn? Start thinking of ideas now!