Tech shorts for June 30, 2015: Healthcare set to reap big-data benefits, and the advantages of front-loading your daily activities
Big data tackles mental healthcare...
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (pdf), one in five people in the U.S. over the age of 12 has a serious substance-abuse or mental-health problem, yet nearly 70 percent of these people receive no treatment for the condition. In fact, more than 90 percent of the people who abuse or depend on alcohol remain untreated, according to the HHS survey.
A new company called Lyra Health hopes to improve the level of treatment for substance abuse and mental health by applying big data and predictive analytics to the problem. The company, which was founded by former Facebook and Genentech CFO David Ebersman, intends to help patients find appropriate treatment options, and to assist caregivers in identifying people in need of their help. Tech Crunch's Christine McGee describes Lyra Health's strategy in a June 26, 2015, article.
In the past week, two people very close to our family sought the help of mental-health professionals. I'm happy to report both are doing much better as they begin the long journey back to health.
...And does the same for cancer treatment
Perhaps the most important health battle of the age is the fight against cancer. Big data is playing a part in that war as well. As Forbes' Bernard Marr writes in a June 28, 2015, article, the American Society for Clinical Oncology has initiated the CancerLinQ project intended to aggregate data from all cancer patients in the U.S. and make it available for analysis by all researchers and healthcare providers.
In addition, IBM's Watson AI-based analytics engine has now been programmed to help match cancer patients with treatments tailored to their specific needs. Another cancer-treatment program applying big-data principles is Flatiron Health's OncologyCloud, which collects unstructured data from all cancer patients not participating in clinical trials and reformats it in a way that allows it to be analyzed as a single huge dataset.
Marr points out that there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to eliminate all cancer deaths, but with big data's help, cancer will become a chronic, treatable, non-terminal disease -- if not altogether curable.
It's enough to convert me into an early riser... almost
Most mornings I'm lucky to get one thing done before 8:00 a.m., let alone eight. (Does dreaming count? Snoring? Don't think so.) Benjamin Hardy claims in a June 23, 2015, article on the Observer site that a simple, eight-step morning routine will revitalize your life and shake you out of survival mode.
The first step I can usually handle okay: Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. A good night's sleep has been associated with longer life, better memory, reduced inflammation, lower stress, increased attention and creativity, and less likelihood of getting into an accident.
Hardy's other steps are to pray or meditate each morning, engage in a "hard" physical activity, consume at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast (representing at least 40 percent of your breakfast calories), take a cold shower, read or listen to something uplifting, review your life vision, and accomplish something that gets you closer to your long-term goals.
And you thought your mornings were busy already.
I'm all for sleep, physical activity, uplifting media, prayer/meditation, and even cold showers (this is the one step I've actually adopted -- to an extent, at least). But considering an egg has about six grams of protein, getting a total of 30 protein grams in one meal could require one heck of a breakfast. The good news: Reviewing my "life vision" won't take much time at all, and my long-term goal remains to live long enough to have anything resembling a long-term goal.
So I guess you could say I'm ahead of the game in at least some respects. Wake me when it's time for my five-egg omelet.