In the century before Oculus Rift and Pokemon Go there were dozens of visually-immersive products, several of which focused on clinical applications. What can the history of VR teach us about the technology’s future?

Virtual reality is experiencing a resurgence in interest, including renewed attention toward medical applications. New VR research shows promise for applications like physical therapy, pain control and distraction, cognitive-behavioral therapy for phobias and PTSD, and new frontiers in medical training. While VR technology is already in use for laparoscopic surgery and colonoscopy training, enthusiasts hope VR will eventually help students and residents manage resuscitations, and improve skills in performing invasive procedures.

Today’s apps and devices for VR mostly focus on entertainment — but it wasn’t always this way. An early underpinning of VR, the stereoscope, was developed for research purposes…


A host of new startups aim to bring medication to patients in smarter, more convenient ways.

What part of telemedicine is often forgotten? The medicine.

We’ve come to expect virtual visits with specialists far away, and are nearly living in a world where our apps and wearables aggregate and transmit health data, to inform medical decisions. But when it comes time to obtaining medications? We’re still dependent on a doctor’s prescription, a trip to the pharmacy, and a plain old bottle of pills. …


The anachronistic pager still lives on in healthcare. Here’s why, and what it will take to leave them behind.

A patient has taken a turn for the worse, and the doctor needs to be notified. What to do? For decades, the way we reach out to doctors has remained the same: paging them. Even through the rise of the internet, the smartphone revolution, and the mass adoption of electronic health records, the pager has endured.

One of the pioneers of paging systems, Sherman Amsden, began researching pagers because he was dissatisfied with the frequency that doctors checked in on his popular call forwarding service. His Doctor’s Telephone Service, later called Telanswerphone, was a big hit when it was introduced…


Wearable trackers of vital sign and activity levels. Data streams. Doctors on demand to deliver remote diagnoses. The future of digital medicine may look a lot like the space program’s past.

Remote biometric monitoring was a part of the first missions beyond Earth’s atmosphere — back when it was an open question whether humans could survive the stresses of a launch and re-entry, or if we could properly function in microgravity. Starting in 1961, the Mercury astronauts had hundreds of readings of blood pressure, pulse, respiration and EKGtracings collected during their brief missions. …


Mobile devices introduce dizzying possibilities for telemedicine. But the humble telephone is still the communication mode of choice for the majority of telemedicine transactions in the world today.

It’s been said that the very first phone call, in Boston on March 10, 1876, (“Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you”) was actually a request for medical assistance. In his autobiography, Thomas Watson recounted Alexander Graham Bell had spilled battery acid on himself on that fateful day, and was simply calling for help (Bell never told stories of the first phone call, and Watson’s autobiography was published years after Bell’s death).

While details of that day will probably never be certain, it’s clear Alexander Graham Bell often had medicine on his mind. Bell taught elocution to the…


Before smartphones and apps, before the World Wide Web or graphic user interfaces, scientists and engineers tried to build computers that could out-diagnose doctors. These “Expert Systems” were an early approach to artificial intelligence, and their successes and failures have particular relevance today.

For MYCIN, the premise was simple: teach a machine the necessary “rules” about infectious disease so that, if a user answered enough questions about a sick patient, the machine would ultimately arrive at the correct diagnosis and recommend appropriate antibiotics.

MYCIN was developed in the 1970s by one of the founders of clinical informatics, Ted Shortliffe, while…


Since I didn’t get to fully express myself on ABC News, here are some additional thoughts about the Apple Watch, and the emerging utility of wrist computers:

I think smartphones are going to remain the principal personal computer for much of the world, for many years to come. Smartphone supply chains will continue to drive the entire computer industry, but watches are well-positioned to reap some of these benefits and ultimately pick up the baton.

With the Apple Watch, a couple of recent Apple decisions make more sense:

1. The continued lack of widgets on the iOS home screens —…


Question: What neighborhood will this building go up in?

Curbed classifies E 37th, between Fifth and Madison, as “Midtown East,” but others say Midtown East doesn’t really begin until 40th street. Traditionally this area was lumped in with Murray Hill, even though the neighborhood west of Park Ave is dominated by offices and has a very different feel than the Murray Hill most people are familiar with.

It’s definitely north of NoMad, the distinct, relatively new neighborhood above Madison Square Park. NoMad ends at 29th street, giving way to K-Town, which is centered around 32nd and doesn’t extend beyond 34th…


One of the more ubiquitous medical apps on my colleagues’ phones and tablets is a Snellen eye chart. I confess I used to use one, too — back when Apple made one size of mobile screen. And I trusted the app developer’s instructions when it read, “hold phone four feet away from patient’s eye.”

When I got my iPhone 6 I expected app makers to update instructions for the larger screen —hold device five feet back? Six? Would it check to see if I was using a 5s, 6 or 6 Plus?

But that update never happened. Then I realized…


It’s always nice to see the media spotlight shine on relatively esoteric topics of interest to me — which is what’s happening now as coverage of Apple’s ResearchKit brings attention to research subject recruitment.

Bloomberg reports:

Other researchers are also looking for ways to use the iPhone to more accurately track behavior. A team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, working with digital health company LifeMap Solutions, a subsidiary of BioTime Inc., is studying whether having an iPhone app that educates asthma patients and reminds them to use their inhaler can improve symptoms and reduce doctor visits.

Nick Genes

a NYC doctor writes about emergency medicine, health information technology, and other fun things

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