Wednesday February 20, 2019
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Like Uber, get a VIRTUAL doctor on your smartphone

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Los Angeles, USA: As the number of cellphone users around the world continues to grow, more people are able to get services with mobile apps. One of the latest innovations is on-demand medical care. The University of Southern California Center for Body Computing says it uses virtual reality technology and artificial intelligence to provide care for patients anywhere in the world. Elizabeth Lee of Voice of America explains how it works.

From ordering food to getting a ride, mobile apps allow users to get what they want by just pressing a button.

Soon you may also be able to get a doctor – on demand. Well, a VIRTUAL doctor, actually!

Dr Leslie Saxon, Center for Body Computing says: “We’re trying to do the same thing for medical diagnosis and care.”

Now, This doctor is a virtual human, in this case, an avatar…of Leslie Saxon, a heart doctor.

Dr Saxon further adds:“There are only so many experts in the world and we’re never going to be able to bring the world’s medical experts or have enough to supply the need of the entire world.  So we can clone — if you will — many of the experts to provide care anywhere anytime, without borders so that I can treat patients in Iran or Indonesia or India as easily as I can treat them in Los Angeles.”

Researchers here at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. have been able to create virtual humans that not only interact with real people but respond with empathy.

Randall Hill, Institute for Creative Technologies says: “We can pick up signals there that tell us whether the patient is depressed or happy or whatever.  And so we’re able to use that and create an experience.”

Saxon says in many ways, VIRTUAL doctors can be better doctors than their HUMAN originals. She adds: “We’re human doctors. We’re not always in the same mood. We’re not always delivering information in the same way. We’re not always as current as we need to be depending on the type of visit that we’re having. So these virtual humans hopefully are smarter. Potentially, they even read the patients better.”

The VIRTUAL doctor will have the knowledge of its human counterpart to diagnose problems and provide tailored information about a certain diagnosis based on patients’ characteristics and where they live. Sensors on a phone or worn by the user can provide more information for the virtual doctor. Creators say an avatar like this does not replace real doctors, it enhances them.

And in some places, it helps equalize medical care.

Dr Saxon elaborates: “We can bring everything that’s built in developed countries sophisticated medical systems and knowledge across the world where they are not built.”

The mobile application for the Virtual Care Clinic will be available later this year. The aim is to have virtual doctors speak in multiple languages.

((Elizabeth Lee For VOA News Los Angeles))

The video brought to you by NewsGram in collaboration with VOICE of America.

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Low Cure Rate For Childhood Cancer in India: Experts

On International Childhood Cancer Day, the hospital organised a ‘Sit and Draw competition’ with pediatric patients and rewarded the winner

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Health insurance covers only for hospitalization and doesn’t necessarily cover the medical expenses incurred for the treatment of major illnesses. flickr

Childhood cancer comprises almost 3-5 per cent of the total cancer cases in India, experts said here on Friday, expressing concern over the low cure rate due to lack of available data.

“The disturbing reality is that the cure rate of pediatric cancer is almost 80 per cent in the developed countries. When we see the data from major cancer centres, it actually can match up to the Western standard but this data is not enough,” Haemato-Oncologist Vivek Agarwala said at an awareness programme conducted by Narayana Superspecialty Hospital, Howrah.

According to the Indian Council for Medical Research, cancer in children constitutes approximately 3-5 per cent of the total cancer cases in India.

Agarwala said a large portion of the incidence of childhood cancer in society is still not addressed.

Cancer survivor. Flickr

Also, a large section who don’t have access to premier institutes are often diagnosed late due to financial crunch and that is why the overall treatment rate in India is low.

“Probably, the government and society at large are not considering it a big problem as it is just around 5 per cent. We are always campaigning for breast and cervical cancers,” Agarwala said.

“We must remember this 5 per cent of cancer is majorly curable if given proper treatment,” he said.

Leukaemia and retinoblastoma (a form of cancer where children have a white eye) are the two common forms of cancer in children.

Also Read- Push-ups Can Lower The Risk of Heart Diseases

Talking about awareness and symptoms that parents need to watch out for, he said: “Symptoms are different for different cancers, but children who have cancer have poor growth, poor weight gain and decreased appetite. One must get their children evaluated on seeing these symptoms”.

On International Childhood Cancer Day, the hospital organised a ‘Sit and Draw competition’ with pediatric patients and rewarded the winner. (IANS)