Tech Tuesday – Good and Bad of Health Technology

Technological advances are a great boon to helping seniors stay healthy – except when they’re not. Today’s Tech Tuesday roundup features two articles about a couple of exciting sci-tech breakthroughs….and one cautionary bit of advice about being careful which health related apps we choose.

First up: a report on the use of PET scans in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Up to know definitive diagnosis was usually only done through posthumous testing.

PET scans aid in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Calif., March 3 (UPI) — Researchers have visualized the development of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain in living people using positron emission tomography, or PET scans, which they say will aid with its diagnosis and treatment.

Tau and beta-amyloid build-ups in the brain were seen in scans of healthy people and patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, showing the disease’s development and offering clues about how it progresses.

Alzheimer’s disease is typically diagnosed using several cognitive indicators, but there has been no way to verify the diagnosis until a patient dies, when Braak staging is used to determine tau deposition during an autopsy. read more at

If knowledge in the fight against disease is power, here’s a company that is working to empower doctors, scientists and patients in the fight against cancer by sharing anonymous, voluntary information from its database. 

Company releases free, anonymous trove of cancer data Ike Swetlitz @ikeswetlitz

March 8, 2016

Genetic information from 10,000 individuals with breast or ovarian cancer is now available online for free, courtesy of Ambry Genetics, a leading DNA testing company.

“This was a conservative first step to … break the mold and get moving toward the direction of the beginning of the end of human disease,” Ambry chief executive Charles Dunlop told STAT.

The initiative is designed to advance the field of precision medicine, in which treatments are tailored to the specific genetic makeup of each and every patient. Scientists still need to know more about the myriad genes that can cause cancer — something Ambry hopes to enable by publicly releasing its data on protein-coding genes linked to cancer. read more at

And finally a bit of cautionary advice about some of those handy health apps that everyone says we should be using. 

Apps may be good for health, bad for privacy Eric Boodman @ericboodman

March 8, 2016

Health apps, like prescription drugs, come with side effects, it turns out. A new study has found that an astoundingly large number of health apps may be sharing users’ medical information. Many can also switch on smartphone cameras and make changes to the software on your phone.

More than 80 percent of the 211 diabetes apps studied did not have privacy policies. And out of a randomly selected subset of 65 apps, 56 of them (86 percent) used tracking cookies, which could allow them to send information about the user to other companies, such as marketing firms, according to the analysis, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Health apps aren’t just collecting your info. They may be selling it, too – STAT

Have you experienced any of the great new tech advances in healthcare, or any of the pitfalls that can come with them? Why not share your story in the comments section or start a conversation in the forums!



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