Mobile Phones in Hospitals – the one metre rule

Science Daily report that cell phones should be kept at least 1 metre distant from hospital beds and equipment :

Dr Erik van Lieshout, lead researcher from the Academic Medical
Center, University of Amsterdam, said; "Our work has real implications
for present hospital restrictions of mobile phone use in patient
areas."

"It is unlikely that mobile phone induced EMI in
hospitals will be eradicated in the near future so the one meter rule
currently in place should continue, as it is relatively safe,"
commented Dr van Lieshout.

Cisco Health Robot shown off to Tony Blair

One normally sees BBC’s political correspondent Nick Robinson against a backdrop of the black door at 10 Downing Street. Last week, when I saw a quick glimpse of him doing a report from Silicon Valley, I was wondering why? It seems that Tony Blair has been rubbing shoulders with Cisco, Apple and Google; but especially with Cisco;

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Privacy for phone calls, privacy for medical consultations

Boing Boing recently wrote about Babble, a piece of hardware that can be used in open office situations where levels of privacy are useful. It plugs into your desk phone and can be configured in about 10 minutes. It takes samples of the users voice, and interweaves these with actual conversations that are taking place, to ensure that  "nonsense" is what any would-be eavesdroppers can hear.

It’s currently retailing in the US for $395 – and sounds like a real possibility for cubicle farms or for offices where colleageus are constantly on the phone. Many readers will be familiar with the difficulty in attempting to concentrate on any tasks while nearby colleagues or constantly on the phone or worse – having meetings.

For the cost though, this is definitely the type of product that you would actually like to sample or better still get first hand accounts of how effective it actually is. A few google searches for babble+audio+samples and variations of, didn’t find anything. Is anybody out there using this product and if so, how do you find it?

Most interesting from a health care perspective, are the developments of new versions that are currently in play. According to CNN, Sonare

..is already working on a newer incarnation of Babble exclusively
for the hospital and pharmacy environments, so that patients and
doctors exchanging sensitive information about a patient’s medical
condition cannot be overheard. The new device would not have to be
tethered to a telephone and would be able to mask more than one
person’s voice at a time….

When I initially heard about this product, this was the basis on which I understood it to actually work; This version would be ripe for usage in a wide variety of situations.

Paramedics call for use of ICE

The Guardian
have this report from July 12th which outlines how emergency staff can
utilise next of kin details from mobile phones more easily by using ICE
(in case of emergency). Add the number in your address book under ICE –
chances are that emergency staff will check their first.

Morning Ireland from RTE has an interview with the paramedic behind the system, Bob Brotchie – it’s in Real format.

High Tech Practice uses hand-held wireless devices.

The Medical Informatics weblog reports on an article in the Washington Post on the use of technology as an intrinsic element of the day to day workings of a medical practice. Hand held wireless devices holding patient records, internet access in patient waiting areas, and nicely printed prescriptions seem to form elements of the solution.

It is interesting that this view of the use of PDA type devices is still considered new and futuristic. I seem to remember a report many years ago from the NHS in the UK, where a survey of patients found that a doctor entering notes directly onto a PC from behind a desk was found more intimidating and less personal than if the doctor was taking the notes manually.

It seems to me that the idea of entering the information onto a smaller device like a PDA offers the possibility of a more personal engagement being established with the patient – certainly more than being half hidden behind a large CRT ever could….

Radiologists using iPods for managing medical images

According to eWeek, an open source package called Osirix is gaining momentum as a practical way for radiologists to store and transfer medical images. It supports multiple imaging formats including DICOM.

According to the co-developer of the software –

.. "the motivation for OsiriX came from problems storing images at work. "I never have enough space on my disk, no matter how big my disk is—I always need more space," he said. "One day I realized, I have an iPod that has 40GB of storage on it. It’s twice as big as my disk on my laptop, and I’m using only 10 percent of it for my music. So why don’t I use it as a hard disk for storing medical images?"..

– so the fact that you’re not going to use your full 40gb for music is beginning to come through…