Lava Mae

The United Nations states that access to sanitation is a basic human right.  Yet, in the United States the homeless are often forced to go without access to showers. San Francisco is a prime example of this deficit where there are only 16-20 showers to service an estimated 4,500 homeless person population. Today, DW interviews Donnice Sandoval, creator of Lava Mae, a sustainable mobile shower for the homeless in San Francisco. She shows us that sometimes it truly is the simple things that are the most disruptive. 

How were you inspired to create Lava Mae?

Homelessness is an issue I’ve cared about for a long time. I live in a neighborhood that was once predominately middle class African American families. The dramatic gentrification that has overtaken the city has changed that. We’ve watched too many of our neighbors move from their homes to their cars and then the street. I wracked my brain for what we could do but could never figure out how to end or stem the tide of rising homelessness. Then one day I passed a young woman on the street who was homeless and crying, feeling that she’d never be clean. (more…)

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Tech Will Transform the Doctor-Patient Relationship

The doctor-patient relationship lies at the heart of much Western thinking about health. But only a few centuries ago, most people in the UK never saw a doctor.

During the 19th century, the greatest strides in health and life expectancy came from improvements in nutrition, sewerage and water supply rather than the medics. But by the 20th century, doctors were much better informed about how to treat and prevent a number of illnesses. (more…)

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I’m Innovating My Brains Out Over Here

It's MeI was watching an episode of the sitcom Modern Family on TV the other day and one of the subplots was about one of the kids, Luke, trying to invent the next great kitchen innovation. Among his attempts are a toaster that butters and toasts simultaneously, the coffee-bot (never fully explained), and a self-flipping pancake whose mechanism of action is embedded popcorn. Phil lauds his son’s entrepreneurial spirit and zest for innovation.

And why wouldn’t he? Innovation is everywhere these days and if you haven’t got an innovation initiative at your corporation or an investment strategy that supports is, you are so five minutes ago. Unfortunately the term “innovation” has become synonymous with the term “entrepreneurship” and, while often related, they are not the same thing. Innovation means the creation of something new and different. (more…)

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Woman To Watch 2014: Kenda West

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Kenda West knows how to create change through innovation. As the Chief Operating Officer of Voalte, Kenda works to build true care coordination by creating products health care workers need and use. Check out our interview with Kenda, as we catch up with this Disruptive Woman to Watch.

What have you been up to since we last checked in?

In February, Voalte received a significant investment of $36 million from Bedford Funding. This begins a very important and exciting next chapter for us, as it solidifies our position as the market leader in mobile communication for health care, and allows us to continue to (more…)

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Eliminating Telehealth Policy Barriers

Robin Strongin

We’ve learned from television commercials that you can pick up your e-book reader, punch a button on the touch screen and instantly see a live person appear in front of you to walk you through any technical problems you have with your device.  TV advertising also reminds us that, if your newer model car breaks down, you’re just a click away from speaking with someone who can diagnose your automobile’s problems from hundreds of miles away and send immediate assistance to your location.

These wireless advancements that make our lives more convenient can’t help but beg the question, though – why aren’t we moving just as rapidly to use digital technologies to make ourselves healthier? (more…)

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It is Always About the Patient

Lisa-Nicole DanehyBeing a federal employee involves having an elegant combination of thick skin and a fierce dedication to the mission of your organization. Luckily for me, the mission of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is to “improve health and health care for all Americans through use of information and technology”. As far as mission statements, it doesn’t get much better than having a positive and constructive impact on people’s lives. This work isn’t easy, and frankly can sometimes feel like being Sisyphus, but the challenges only keep us more centered and focused in implementing policy, keeping patients at the center of care.

While the dry language of policy itself may feel impersonal, the application of it is certainly not. It is often up to the people in the field (doctors, nurses, administrators, etc) to interpret how (more…)

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A Key Ingredient to Digital Health Care Engagement: The Modify Factor

Steph Habif headshot (2)How to design for health care engagement has become the most talked about design challenge in the United States. Across all industries – technology, government, advertising, medicine, etc. – resources are being poured into ways to better engage health care consumers.  The use of technology to reach consumers – the field of digital health – is one of the biggest market trends. According to a Rock Health Report, in 2013 $1.97 billion was invested in digital health startups, $120 million of which was invested in consumer engagement. Furthermore, digital health funding more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 according to this report.

How is this funding relected at the consumer level? Well, it may be too soon to know, but if the digital wearables space is any indication of what’s really happening, consumers seem interested in the adoption of technology, but they have a hard time integrating it into their daily life.  In fact, studies show that  while 1  in 10 consumers own a digital wearable device, 50% of those consumers no longer use it and 1/3 stopped within the first six months (source: ‘Inside Wearables’ white paper, Endeavour Partners).  Even though market projections say digital wearables will continue to boom – “more than 17 million wearable devices, including smart watches and (more…)

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The Quantified Person Is Becoming the System CEO

Cyndy NayerThe race to the wearables, which can track steps, food, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep, glucose, even heart arrhythmias, is front and center at the intersection of health and data. For those of us who are data-driven, it gives us at-the-moment motivation to do better, go farther, eat healthier or sleep better (this last one is a bit harder, I admit). For us data junkies, it provides the opportunity to graph, share and compete against others (not me) or against our selves (oh yes!) to achieve better health on a daily basis.

But what wearables also do is teach the person the first steps to value in health. By putting data on our selves that can be accessed throughout the day, we receive ready enforcement for all the good that we can perform. The next step is to take what we learn and build competency in purchasing goods and services for our health. In other words, we become our own advocates for demanding better health care, including price, experience, outcomes and transparency. We need to purchase outcomes, whether they are self-motivated (wearable) or cash/insurance transactions. (more…)

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Talking About My (Innovation) Generation: Dr. Roberta Ness on How to Be an Innovator

Janice Lynch Schuster

Raymond Carver once titled a collection of short fiction, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Indeed, when it comes to that emotion, we talk as if we all meant the same thing, yet we seldom do.

The same is true when we talk about innovation, a buzzword in business, industry, medicine, and government. We toss it around, and are all eager to have innovation everywhere. But what do we really mean? And why does it matter?

Fostering innovation matters, says Roberta Ness, MD, MPH, if we are to solve (and survive) major public health threats of our time: climate change, obesity, infectious disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and health disparities. And defining the term is important to knowing what it is we mean. Ness says that one common definition, that innovation is creativity with a use, proves to be problematic. (more…)

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Alexa Café: iD Tech’s First All-Girls Summer Camp

As a Regional Manager at iD Tech, the world’s #1 summer tech program for kids and teens, I often find myself very proud of the work that our company does.  For example, we inspire thousands of kids every year to Do Something Big in the world of tech, with over 170,000 students enrolled during the past 16 years.  Oh, and then there’s the thousands of trees we plant each year through our One Camper, One Tree initiative. We’ve already sowed the seeds for 75,000 trees and expect to plant 35,000 more in 2014 alone! (more…)

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Man of the Month Revisited: Dr. William Cohn

Photo Courtesy of Houstonian Magazine

Last week, we honored medical heart technologist, surgeon, and  innovator Dr. William Cohn as our man of the month. This week, he sat down with us to chat a bit  more about what he has been up to and new advances in the field of medical innovation.

How did you become interested in the intersection of technology and health care?

I’ve always been attracted to the vibe of heart surgery. It seems like the ultimate gig: it combines my passion for innovation and working in health. Growing up in Houston, I had an older brother who was very brilliant and into science. In our garage, we had a lab set up, where we made explosives, lasers, (more…)

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What’s the Opp for WhatsApp?

Cyndy NayerThe headlines are promoting the Facebook buyout of #WhatsApp, the $19billion purchase by Mark Zuckerberg, who says he is “not sure” what Facebook will do with it. But several opportunities become quite clear if we step back from the deal and consider what texting can bring to the data marketplace.

First, let’s understand what WhatsApp is.  The press sums up the application like this:  ”The international messaging service [is] a cross-platform mobile messaging company boasting over 450 million users per month.”  Remember that text messaging is typically done on mobile phones and that service carrier (Verizon, Sprint, ATT)  fees apply.  Skype and VOIP users can avoid these fees, but, to date, “global” use of these technologies has not reached seismic proportions.  Further, it’s more challenging to post videos and high-density digital images through text, Skype or VOIP–usually there is a connection to shared internet platforms (Cisco, etc) that enable the real-time sharing, or there’s Google, iCloud, Dropbox and other sharing file-sharing platforms that can be used. (more…)

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A Disruptive Conversation with the Co-founders of Personal Medicine Plus

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We love stories about women that are truly changing the face of health care, particularly through innovation. Today is no exception. We recently sat down with Co-founders Natalie Hodge, MD and Brandi Harless, MPH of Personal Medicine Plus, an app that allows individuals to self-manage health through behavior tracking and health data metrics. Both Hodge and Harless shared their experience in developing their tool, being a woman innovation leader, and a few words of wisdom and inspiration to other women interested in following their goals. Check it out below.

What drew you to health innovation technology?

NH: My first passion was in medicine. I always had a deep interest in people and solving problems, so naturally that fits well with a career in medicine.  The interesting thing is that the problems of my early career have largely been solved by vaccines.  And in the 15 years we spent diagnosing disease, the obesity epidemic floated to the top. That’s when the opportunity for me to marry medicine and innovation arose.

BH: After studying global health at Boston University and working on health issues in Kenya, Haiti and Sierra Leone, I accidentally moved back to my hometown in rural Kentucky.  Not knowing if I would stay around, I started working with HIV patients and getting involved in the health of the local community.  After leading a local health clinic for a while, I realized the extreme need to help rural patients turn back their lifestyle illnesses.  When Natalie approached me to work on this startup that would do exactly that, I WAS IN!  (more…)

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Leukemia: How My Brother Became My Twin

Before leukemia

When you hear the word “cancer” what comes to mind? Before October 2012 I thought the only people who got cancer were those who didn’t exercise, ate poorly, smoked too much, drank in excess, and were either very young or very old. Now think about the word “leukemia.” What do you picture? I see Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Any logical person knows cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, culture, and lifestyle. But it wasn’t until my brother- former Israeli Defense Forces First Sergeant, marathon runner, vegetarian, sometimes-smoker but otherwise one of the healthiest people I know- was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in October 2012 that my extraordinary misconceptions were thrown harshly in my face. (more…)

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December 2013 Man of the Month: Ramin Bastani

Ramin BastaniSyphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and HIV: diseases transmitted predominately through the exchange of fluids during sexual contact. While statistics show that nearly half of all sexually active adults in the United States will acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD), there remains a stigma concerning conversations on sexual health.

‪Ramin Bastani is not afraid to talk about STDs. Branded “The Safest Man To Have Sex With In America” by Forbes recently, Bastani is the founder and CEO of Hula, a next-generation personal health record that makes decisions around STD testing and sexual health easier.  DW interviewed Bastani on the inspiration for the company, the success of his app, the importance of patient access to their health records, and most importantly on how he helps people get laid safely. (more…)

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