Richard Schwartz, M.D.
You don’t hear a psychiatrist asking how much light you get… It affects so much of our physiology, psychology, and mood. But we take it for granted.
Satchin Panda in The Economist
We are psychiatrists who ask about light. We have asked our patients about light ever since the mid-1980s, when researchers at the NIMH first identified seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and showed that bright light was an effective treatment of winter depression. (In those days, we had to send patients to a hardware store to buy the parts to build their own therapeutic light box.)
We continued to ask about light as it was shown to be effective in the treatment of non-seasonal depression, and to benefit a wide range of conditions including insomnia, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. And even to improve vitality, to lower distress, and to improve quality of life in people who are completely healthy but light-deprived.
Empowering people to ask themselves - am I getting the right amount of light?
We developed SunSprite to empower people to ask themselves about light – and to find out whether they are getting the right amount of light, at the right intensity, at the right time of day. And transform what they learn into actions that improve their mood, focus, energy and sleep.
Light sets your rhythm
Light sets the rhythms of our bodies and our minds. It is the primary timekeeper that keeps our biological processes synchronized with the 24-hour cycle of our day and with each other. Light as a biological timekeeper works through the eyes. (By contrast, the synthesis of vitamin D is a response to ultraviolet radiation reaching the skin.) When visible light enters the eyes, it stimulates specialized receptor cells in the retina that connect to our “master pacemaker” – the paired suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus. From there, the effects spread – much more widely than we once thought, controlling not only our sleep-wake cycle by regulating secretion and suppression of the hormone melatonin, but the ebbs and flows of biological processes throughout the body.
It takes bright light to have this process working right, particularly when it comes to treating or preventing depression. It’s the cycle of sunlight and darkness that our ancestors could not escape, but that modern life has replaced with low levels of artificial light during our days and during much of our nights. One solution is a therapeutic light box, specially designed to be bright enough to treat depression (since even the brightest of ordinary indoor lighting falls far short). But to use a lightbox, you have to not only sit still, but also sit very close to the box. Too many people told us it was just not possible.
Get the light you need, with the freedom to move
So we developed SunSprite to let people get the light they need with the freedom to move – to use a light box, to take a walk outside, to sit in a sunny window – while still tracking the proper “dose.”
We know that sunlight can be a very mixed blessing (for example in Australia, with high levels of UV and skin cancer); it’s important to know that the benefits of bright light to the brain come from light entering our eyes. Protective clothing and sunscreen are just fine and do not impede the therapeutic effects of bright light. It’s also important to know that, for most people, the best time to get bright light is in the early morning – when UV levels in sunlight are low (UV intensity is extremely sensitive to the angle of the sun). SunSprite can let you know when you’ve had the dose you want and put on your sunglasses or go inside.
So those are some of the reasons we wanted to create a light tracker. And we were lucky enough to know some brilliant engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to make our idea a reality.
We’re one step closer to a brighter, healthier world.
CEO, Fever Smart
Fever Smart is a smart patch thermometer that allows parents to monitor their children’s temperature using their iPhone.
The problem with 'traditional' thermometers - they're out dated
The Fever Smart team realized that conventional thermometers weren’t good fits for today’s tech-savvy young parents; with outdated hardware and one-time readings, basic thermometers can’t give parents information when they need it most.
That's why our team developed Fever Smart, a device that tracks kids’ temperature constantly and sends data to the cloud so that parents can access the information from anywhere in the world.
Helping parents with health information overload
With mHealth’s rise in popularity, our team knew that there was an information overflow when it came to health data. Says COO Becca Goldstein, “We first asked ourselves, ‘How do you really hone in on what’s most important?’ Our goal was to enable parents to track their children’s health in a simple way.
Temperature is one of the most basic indicators of health, so we thought it would be the best metric to provide parents.
There are a number of key use cases for Fever Smart’s technology. When parents think their children may be getting sick—say, during flu season—they can put a Fever Smart onto their kids when they tuck them into bed. If, in the middle of the night, a child’s temperature starts to rise, parents will receive alerts to their smart phone so that they can take immediate preventative action. The product is also perfect for children with chronic illnesses or who have just undergone surgery and need to constantly monitor their temperature.
Integrated with Apple's HealthKit
Fever Smart is the first children’s product to have full integration with Apple’s new Healthkit platform. The team believes that Healthkit is going to be the cornerstone of home healthcare in the future, and wanted to ensure that Fever Smart would have compatibility starting on day one.
Fever Smart launched their Indiegogo campaign and has already raised 134% of their $40,000 goal.
Click here for press kit (to get photos).
Meet 'Little Moe', the newest soldier on the front line of the battle against ebola:
Robots might be the future of pandemic control
There has been plenty of talk and debate about the role that robots (autonomous or controlled) could play in the future of healthcare; in fact, today there are robots performing surgery, robotic limbs assisting the paralysed to walk, robots dispensing medications, etc. So, why not robots at the frontline of disease outbreaks?
Robots might be the future of pandemic control because:
- much like bomb disposal robots, they can not be injured, harmed, fall ill the way that humans do
- they can be controlled from hundreds or thousands of kilometres/ miles away meaning that the 'treating' doctor controlling the robot is not at risk of infection
- robots can move faster, be more dexterous and more precise than human health workers
- robot doctors (controlled by a doctor via the internet) could perform basic surgery/ medical procedures at the site of a disaster, stabilising survivors until human medical staff arrive
- robots could potentially access more difficult terrain, more isolated sites than humans
- robotic drones could deliver healthcare, medical supplies, diagnostics, treatments, food supplies, fresh water, etc faster, cheaper and more safely than humans
- robots could be used to collect samples, carry out diagnostic tests and deliver tailored care to those affected
- robot doctors could collate and transmit medical data in real time to agencies like the World Health Organisation or to local hospitals, national/ regional governments to aid in planning the response to a health crisis
- it will be cheaper and faster to send 100 drones to a disaster affected area than to send 100 doctors
What are the risks? What are the dangers?
In his book The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and the Human Touch (not an affiliate link) Bertalan Meskó MD, PhD argues that advances in healthcare technology must not detract from the human touch that doctors and medical professionals must display in delivering care to the vulnerable and the sick. Robots, drones and other future advances in technology may be more efficient and effective in treating the sick and wounded, an in managing and containing disease, but is it right for a dying patient to take their last breaths in the 'arms' of a robot?
What could possibly go wrong? The margin for error is significant, even if the robots are controlled by distant human operators. I'm certainly not arguing against the use of robotic drones in the delivery of healthcare, in many cases I would support this and can clearly see the benefits. However, as with many new technologies in healthcare I think there is a case for a strong human role in controlling and overseeing these new healthcare workers until we can be sure they are more like the 2-1B surgical droid from Star Wars and less like the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Terminator from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
Afterall, who wants their robotic doctor to quip "I'll be back..."?
As a community builder, I serve as an advisor, mentor, friend and liaison for early-stage startups to SoftLayer and the broader startup community. I manage the Community Development team at SoftLayer. In this role, I am honored to manage relationships with TechStars, 500 Startups, the Global Accelerator Network, several of the world's premiere co-working spaces, entrepreneurial organizations and many more.
CEO, Hello Doctor
4 years ago, my former boyfriend started having bad headaches. They usually started around the evening time, until one day he woke up with a headache — that’s when I knew that something was seriously wrong. I dragged him to the emergency room and 3 hours later, the sky fell on us. A scan revealed he had a brain tumor and he had to undergo immediate surgery. That morning marked the beginning of 2 excruciating years of fighting cancer that included surgeries, chemotherapy, lab tests, radiations, second opinions and countless visits to doctors who are part of disparate medical networks whose technology systems don’t talk with each other.
The worst part was trying to find the right medical document at the right time
Each doctor we saw gave us a net of about 10 minutes face time. Beyond the uncertainty and fear, the worst part of these meetings was trying to explain his medical condition by pulling out the relevant Medical Records that the doctor wanted to see out of my “medical binder”. I knew that if I could not find the right document at the right time it would affect his treatment and in this case — it can even cost us his life.
This story has a couple of happy endings. First, my former boyfriend went into permanent remission, he is doing great today and we are still good friends. The second is Hello Doctor. The frustrations of my experience with the healthcare system inspired me to quit my job and start Hello Doctor, which is intended to help millions of people who are dealing with the same frustration that I had to deal with. Today, Hello Doctor’s team has 6 members — all went through a similar experience with different medical conditions — bowel disease, breast cancer, ALS and pregnancy monitoring. We have all been there, and we decided to devote our career to helping people feel less confused and more in control when talking to their doctors.
Hello Doctor helps people manage and understand their medical records
Hello Doctor is a free mobile app that empowers people to control their health. We started with an iOS app that helps people to manage and understand their medical records.
It allows you to easily aggregate all of your medical records (paper or digital) on your tablet or mobile phone and get to any one of them in literally just 2 taps. It allows you to share your medical records with your doctor and add comments on the medical records themselves - so that you won’t forget what bothered you and resolve it in time. It’s that simple and it’s that useful, especially in real time - when you are facing your doctor.
Making a difference, helping people
A few weeks ago we found out that we are already helping people. Ilene, a 60 year old cancer survivor sent us an amazing thank you letter. “A simple flu shot meant that I have to take my 2 medical binders with me to the doctor as he doesn’t have access to all of my records. Your app is invaluable”. This is exactly what we dreamed of when we started this project and we need your help in spreading the word about Hello Doctor. You can start by downloading and trying it yourself — take control over your health now. Manage your medical records with Hello Doctor.