Top Ten HealthHub Posts in 2015 – Share Your Favorite

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 31, 2015

We crunched the numbers and the results are in:  the most-viewed HealthHub posts published in 2015. This year’s list includes a wide range of topics, from a diet that may promote longevity to 3-D printing of blood vessels needed for organ regeneration. Share your favorite with family, friends, and followers. We wish you a healthy New Year!


#1 – New Evidence that Mediterranean Diet May Lead to Longer Life


BWH researchers have found that following a Mediterranean diet may lead to a longer life .  The findings are based on the study of telomeres, the repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes, which are a reliable biomarker of human aging. The researchers found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomeres.


#2 – Top 10 Health Care Innovations for 2015

2015-2Innovations that increase patient engagement, reduce costs, and advance digital health technology were voted among the most important innovations for 2015 by physicians, researchers, and other members of the health care community. Learn how big data, telehealth, wearables, apps, and other innovations will transform health care in the future.


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3-D Technology – Building a Better Blood Vessel

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 7, 2015

Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, MASc

While tissue engineers have made strides in making complex artificial tissues, such as those of the heart, liver and lungs, creating artificial blood vessels has remained a critical challenge in tissue engineering.  The tangled highway of blood vessels that twists and turns inside our bodies performs the crucial task of delivering essential nutrients and disposing hazardous waste to keep our organs working properly. To successfully regenerate organs, tissue engineers will need to make artificial blood vessels as well as organ tissues.

In this video, Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, MASc, a biomedical engineer and the Director of the BWH Biomaterials Innovation Research Center, talks about progress in fabricating blood vessels by using this 3-D bioprinting technique. The first transplantable structures will likely be parts of organs, such as a replacement for heart muscle damaged by myocardial infarction. Dr. Khademhosseini envisions that the same technology will lead to the replacement of bone tissue. He also notes that in the future, 3-D printing technology may be used to develop transplantable tissues customized to each patient’s needs or be used outside the body to develop drugs that are safe and effective.

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Patient Turned Researcher Helps Advance Understanding of Brain Tumors

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 13, 2015

Steven Keating (right) holds a 3-D printed model of his brain.

Interested in seeing images of his brain, Steven Keating, currently a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, volunteered for a research study while attending school in Canada in 2007. When researchers returned his brain scans, they delivered some startling news.

“The researchers told me I had an abnormality near the smell center in my brain, but that lots of people have abnormalities and I shouldn’t be alarmed,” says Steven. However, as a precaution, researchers advised Steven to get his brain re-scanned in a few years.

Steven’s next set of brain scans, performed in 2010, showed no changes. But in July 2014, he started smelling a strange vinegar scent for about 30 seconds each day. He immediately had his brain scanned and learned that the strange smell was associated with small seizures due to the presence of a brain tumor called a glioma. Steven’s glioma had grown to the size of a baseball.

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Top Ten Health Care Innovations for 2015

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 19, 2015

Brigham Innovation Hub is a resource center for new and experienced innovators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Subscribers to the Brigham Innovation Hub blog, which include BWH clinicians and members of the health care innovation community, were asked to vote on the health care innovations they believe will have the biggest impact on patient care. Innovations that increased patient engagement, reduced costs, and advanced digital health technology led the rankings among the 450 subscribers who voted.

1. Use of “Big Data” to reduce the costs for high-cost patients

Only five percent of patients account for about half of all U.S. health care spending. Analysis of large patient data sets can help providers better understand the health care needs of this small segment of patients, identify any gaps in their care, and adjust care accordingly. The result is improved quality of care at lower cost.

2. Financial incentivizing of healthy behavior by employers

Companies are spending more on health care than they did five years ago.  As a result employers are working to help their employees live healthier. Nearly half of employers now offer wellness programs. Financial incentives are also being used to encourage participation in these programs.


3. Innovations for managing outpatient behavioral health

Up to 30 percent of Americans have a mental health condition but less than a quarter of them seek help. Hospitals partnering with outpatient mental health agencies create a teamwork approach to patients in crisis. The link can seamlessly transition patients in and out of the appropriate facilities when an episode occurs. The use of telepsychiatry is also on the rise, providing counseling services to remote patients.


4. Expanded use of telehealth and digital health by clinicians

The expansion of coverage for telehealth services by Medicare coupled with expanded internet access is making telemedicine a viable option for delivering patient care. The addition of imaging and monitoring services offered through digital health services also adds value to telehealth visits.


5. Health care delivery goes retail to increase patient engagement

The move of retail giants like Walmart and CVS into health care delivery is grounded in the belief that improved health outcomes can be fostered in community settings. Learn what BWH is doing to increase patient engagement.


6. Increasing use of “wearables” in hospitals to continuously monitor biomarkers

The use of “wearables” allows for automated, continuous physiological monitoring. On busy inpatient units, sensors can be especially valuable in alerting clinicians of safety issues and sudden medical emergencies. Watch a video with Dr. David Bates, Chief Innovation Officer, to learn how BWH is using technology to improve patient safety.


7. Increased prescription of health apps

Mobile apps allow patients to take more responsibility and interest in their own health. Apps that can reduce costs through remote consultation will be especially valuable. Listen to Dr. David Bates describe how health apps can improve care of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.


8. Care delivery innovation for end-of-life care

The goal of end-of-life care is to reduce suffering and respect the wishes of the dying. The use of telemedicine and digital health could enhance the care delivery of this sensitive patient population. Understanding patient priorities can also preserve quality of life. Read more in “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” by BWH physician, Dr. Atul Gawande.


9. Increased use of 3-D printing

Medical researchers are exploring numerous uses for 3-D printing.  At BWH, 3-D printing is being used to accurately map out the techniques of face transplantation pre-operatively and to follow the progress of patients post-operatively.  This provides better visualization for surgeons and better satisfaction with appearances for patients.


10. Better care delivery and engagement for the newly insured and millenials

The number of Americans born in the eighties and nineties (millenials) now surpass the baby boomers (those born in the fifties and sixties). Earnings of millenials are expected to surpass their parents’ by 2018. To engage this important and growing segment of the population, health plans will need to adopt innovative new technologies by partnering with entrepreneurs.


Angelica R/Jamie R

Advance in 3D Printing May Make Organ Creation a Reality

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 19, 2014

The image above demonstrates how a micro-robot (black square) can be used to arrange cell blocks (colored shapes) into structures.

Tissue engineering and 3D printing have become vitally important to the future of medicine for many reasons. The shortage of available organs for transplantation, for example, leaves many patients on lengthy waiting lists for life-saving treatment. Being able to engineer organs using a patient’s own cells can not only alleviate this shortage, but also address issues related to rejection of donated organs.

Developing therapies and testing drugs is another challenge for many researchers, as current models have limitations in reliability and predictability. “Tissue engineering provides a more practical means for researchers to study cell behavior, like cancer cell resistance to therapy, and test new drugs or combinations of drugs to treat many diseases,” explains Dr. Savas Tasoglu, research fellow in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Division of Renal Medicine.

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