health tech


New funding will drive a pilot project to connect patients with rides to medical appointments and address transportation barriers to health.

Lack of transportation can mean people miss important medical appointments including prenatal visits or cancer screenings.

A $208,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow Indiana University Health to develop and implement a new ride software program for patients. 

Jami Marsh, executive director of system philanthropic strategy for the IU Health Foundation, says the tool aims to provide better care access.

Serginho Roosblad / KQED

The familiar phrase, “The doctor will see you now,” is not what it used to be.

That’s because during most exams, physicians are spending a good chunk of time not looking at the patient, but at the patient’s electronic health record on a computer screen.

Virtual Reality Aimed At The Elderly Finds New Fans

Jun 29, 2016

Virginia Anderlini is 103 years old, and she is about to take her sixth trip into virtual reality.

In real life, she is sitting on the sofa in the bay window of her San Francisco assisted-living facility. Next to her, Dr. Sonya Kim gently tugs the straps that anchor the headset over Anderlini's eyes.

Robotic Device Helps Wisconsin Man Walk Again

Jun 13, 2016
UnityPoint Health-Meriter physical therapist Tracy Bovre walks behind patient Rick Batty as he practices using a robotic walking device.
Shamane Mills / WPR

A lot of research is devoted to spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis, with scientists looking at stem cells and other ways to get people walking again. But rare breakthroughs in the lab haven’t led to widespread treatment.

So, some are using motorized exoskeletons to get around.

Rick Batty first learned how to walk as a toddler. Now, he’s doing it again at age 63 after a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed from the waist down.

"It’s a dream, I mean. It’s a dream I’ve had for eight and a half years," he said.

In Fort Worth, Doctors Want To Use Technology To Predict Child Abuse

Apr 18, 2016
One example of predictive analytics through Risk Terrain Modeling.
Joel Caplan / Rutgers University

Doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas are used to treating cases of abuse, but what they'd really like to do is prevent it. So they're experimenting with "big data" technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.


A college student in New Jersey, tired of his crooked teeth, decided to fix them — all by himself, using a 3-D printer and other digital fabrication tools.

Amos Dudley is about to graduate from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a degree in digital design. The 24-year-old is a self-described hard core geek with a passion for 3-D printing. So it was this technology he turned to when he decided he wanted to straighten his teeth.

Hospitals Could Be Doing More to Prevent Cyber Attacks

Apr 4, 2016
D Gorenstein

Hospitals are increasingly under attack.

Earlier this week, the Washington D.C.-based MedStar Health, which runs ten hospitals, was exposed to a computer virus.

Hackers have recently gone after health care facilities in Los Angeles and Kentucky.

The question for hospitals – that hold onto all kinds of sensitive information – is how they are responding to minimize the threat to themselves and protect patient safety.

Here’s what kept former FBI agent Andre McGregor up at night, back when he worked as a Cyber Special Agent in New York City.

When you really need help, Siri might not always be there for you. And if you told the Google App or S Voice from Samsung that you were just sexually assaulted or beaten by your partner, they don't have much to offer, a study finds.

Who Pays For Telehealth?

Jan 8, 2016

With just a few clicks of the mouse, Orlando mom Alyssa Grimes visits with a pediatrician from the comfort of her living room. She logs into a Skype-like application on her laptop, where she virtually meets her child's doctor based across town at Nemours Children's Hospital.

Dr. Malaz Boustani
Eskenazi Hospital

Dr. Malaz Boustani, an Alzheimer’s specialist at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, wants to radically change the way mental health care is delivered. He believes the current state of the field is untenable, because so many are not getting the treatment they need. Only 41 percent of adults with a mental illness and 63 percent of adults with a severe mental illness received mental health services in the past year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Here's How An iPhone Helps One Teen (And His Mom) Manage Diabetes

Nov 18, 2015

Blake Atkins gets a lot of texts from his mother when he's at school. But unlike most teenagers, this 16-year-old doesn't seem to mind.

That's because four years ago, Atkins was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And now, his mother, Lori, has a way to find out and let him know when his blood sugar levels are out of the normal range.

"I do like that my mom can look at my numbers," says Blake, from San Carlos, Calif. "It keeps me sane. It helps keep her sane."

Using A Weight-Loss App? Study Says It Doesn’t Help Much

Nov 9, 2015
Screenshot from the fitness app Skimble
Maria Ly via Flickr

Young American adults own smartphones at a higher rate than any other age group. Researchers from Duke University wanted to see if capitalizing on that smartphone usage with a low-cost weight-loss app might help the 35 percent of young adults in the U.S. who are overweight or obese.

Tons of money has been poured into digital health technologies, from electronic health records to a smartphone case capable of taking an electrocardiogram. But not everyone may benefit, and e-health interventions may widen, not shrink, health disparities.

New App Helps Physicians Track Mental Illness

Sep 9, 2015
MoodTrek app lets patients track their health and send data to their doctors.

Mobile apps and wearable devices, like Fitbits and Jawbones, help us keep track of everything from our heart rates, physical exercise to sleep and nutrition. But, despite the bounty of health data, doctors don’t have a good way to monitor what their patients input.  

A few years ago, University of Missouri psychiatrist Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishna, M.D. decided to change that when he realized some of his patients were logging mental and physical symptoms, but he couldn’t access their information.

Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes

Sep 8, 2015

Millions of people with diabetes prick a finger more than five times a day to monitor their blood glucose levels. It's a painful and expensive process.

But now, Google's Life Sciences division is putting its immense resources behind new initiatives aimed at helping them better live with the disease.

"It's really hard for people to manage their blood sugar," said Jacquelyn Miller, a Google Life Sciences spokeswoman, in an interview with KQED. "We're hoping to take some of the guesswork out of it."

People whose diabetes requires insulin injections usually have to make a series of visits to the doctor's office to fine-tune their daily dosage. But many low-income patients can't afford to take those few hours off to see the doctor. As a result, they often live with chronically elevated blood sugars for weeks or months until they can find time to get to the clinic.

Doctor housecalls are back with the click of button

Aug 10, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Mukta Mohan

In this on-demand economy, there’s an app for pretty much anything. Do you want Thai food? Done. Need a ride to the airport? A car will be at your place in 10 minutes. Want a custom-tailored shirt? Yes, there’s an app for that too. So why wait for a doctor?

Dr. Renee Dua is trying to change the way we approach doctor visits. We visited her office in Santa Monica and asked her how she went from being a nephrologist to running a tech company called Heal.

Lima Pix via Flickr/

What We've Been Reading This Week:

America's Kids Are Healthier, But Racial Divides Persist

Fewer children are dying in infancy and before adulthood and abusing drugs, and more have health insurance, according to an annual report on children and teens, published Tuesday. But poverty may be holding back some minority kids. Side Effects' Andrea Muraskin takes a look

You can use an app to buy a new dress, rent a room or pay your bills. Now, you can use an app to discreetly find out if you have a sexually transmitted disease.

On a recent trip to Chicago, Patti Broyles felt like she was looking at the world from the bottom of a fish bowl.

"This weather was really cold and rainy and I had a lot of pressure in my sinus areas," Broyles says.

Since she was nowhere near her primary care doctor in Dallas, she called Teladoc, the largest telemedicine provider in the U.S., for advice. Patients whose employers or insurers have deals with the Dallas-based company can call any time and be connected with a physician on duty within minutes.

When Eric Blue goes to the gym, he sports a wafer-thin shirt that tracks his every move.

Blue's shirt contains tiny sensors woven into the fabric. They monitor his heart rate, the calories he burns and other metrics, like breathing rate. A companion app on his smartphone informs him about the intensity of his workouts.

Blue, a Los Angeles entrepreneur, says regular use of the shirt has pushed him to "up his game" during exercise.

Dr. Paul Abramson is no technophobe. He works at a hydraulic standing desk made in Denmark and his stethoscope boasts a data screen. "I'm an engineer and I'm in health care," he says. "I like gadgets." Still, the proliferation of gadgets that collect health data are giving him pause.