Rx for Cybermedicine: Collaborate

Letter from the Director

Dear Friends of CITRIS:

As another calendar year comes to a close, I am pleased to report that CITRIS continues to advance our mission of turning advanced IT-related research into tools that make life healthier, more equitable, more efficient, and more prosperous for Californians.

The two projects described in this issue of the CITRIS Signal illustrate how collaborations between doctors and engineers can lead to leaps forward in healthcare. Both projects employ complex mathematics and innovative sensor technology to address nuanced healthcare challenges.  Medical practitioners do not usually do this on their own. Nor do engineers. So CITRIS brings them together.

The first article, PT Phone Home, looks at a project that will make a huge difference for many people who need physical therapy (PT) but who are beyond easy reach of a clinic.  Dr. Jay Han at the UC Davis Medical Center is collaborating with Marcelo Kallmann at UC Merced to bring live physical therapy sessions into the homes of such patients. They aim to make excellent PT available to low-income and elderly patients as well as to those in remote parts of California. But honestly, I expect even younger urban patients to employ it. It makes economic sense, saves travel time, simplifies scheduling for both doctors and patients, and could even make PT exercises more interesting and fun.

>> Read PT Phone Home

The second story examines an effort at UC Davis to address the vexing problem of sepsis in hospitals. Even the most punctilious hospitals host bacteria, fungi, and viruses; they come with the territory. And those pathogens find their way into patients whose immune systems may already be compromised. All hospital patients need to be closely monitored, but the symptoms of sepsis onset can be so subtle that even the most attentive human observer can easily miss them in the early stages.  Once a systemic infection takes hold, it can very quickly become lethal.

A tool under development at UC Davis employs cutting-edge machine-learning algorithms to track and continuously analyze many sources of real-time patient data and then alert doctors and nurses as soon as sepsis becomes a significant risk. This tool could save your life, or the life of someone you know. Sepsis cases are not only tragic, they are also expensive; for hospitals, taxpayers, and patients. This is just one more example of how the smart use of good data can save both lives and money at the same time.

>> Read Online Tool Taps EMR to Improve Prognosis and Care of Sepsis Patients

Best warm wishes for a healthful holiday season and a happy New Year. See you in 2013; it promises to be a very exciting year. 

Keep up the good work!

Best wishes,
Paul K. Wright
Director, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute@CITRIS Berkeley

Print PDF version of The CITRIS Signal, Dec 2012/Jan 2013 Issue