ATTENTION ECONOMY


William James, an American psychologist was a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century and one of the most influential U.S. philosophers. Labelled as the “Father of American psychology” he wrote back in 1890 —

“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will.”

Social skills are formed through face-to-face interactions with others from birth, such as infants with their parents and siblings, and children with their peers at nursery and school. But there is a growing concern that the use of social media is effectively displacing the way the new generation is developing their peer to peer social skill-set throughout adolescence. The question is whether these digital stimuli have the potential to influence the risk of behavioural addiction.

University College London psychiatrist Dr Michael Bloomfield states: “Adolescence is a critical period for a person’s development, particularly as our brains go through important changes during our teenage years.”

Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, which is a peer-reviewed medical journal covering research in psychiatry and neurology, released an in-depth article into the Maturation of the adolescent brain. It stated:

“It is well established that the brain undergoes a “rewiring” process that is not complete until approximately 25 years of age… The nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain’s reward system located within the limbic system, is the area that processes information related to motivation and reward. Brain imaging has shown that the nucleus accumbens is highly sensitive in adolescents, sending out impulses to act when faced with the opportunity to obtain something desirable.”

Part of the appeal for these attention-seeking businesses are the ‘rewards’ they offer; push notifications of the number of ‘likes’ on the user’s post for example. These are types of rapid reward cycles which reinforce the habit-forming actions of their users, guaranteeing they keep coming back time and time again.

An opposing opinion is that perhaps it is not the general use of digital media but more the content and context that is influential since some uses of digital technologies actually do improve multitasking skills, working memory, and fluid intelligence- which is one’s problem-solving ability.

Whether we use the technology to connect with loved ones throughout the day for that familial interaction and support, or if our usage is related entirely to our curiosity and inclination to compare our lives to the often highly filtered and sheltered lives of others, there is a stark contrast to the online environment we expose ourselves to. With the more astute and measured perspective of an adult, these potentially negative factors may not be such an ‘influence’ (as these ‘influencers’ are named). But for younger, less pragmatic users, these issues will have a much greater impact on their self-esteem and value.


A study into the issue was conducted by University at Albany psychologist, Julia Hormes. She led a team of three researchers in assessing the addictive nature of social media — specifically Facebook. She states that-

“New notifications or the latest content on your newsfeed acts as a reward. Not being able to predict when new content is posted encourages us to check back frequently,”

The big players profit from their user-base through targeted advertising which means this genuinely becomes an economy driven by control over our attention. The value of our attention is enhanced by its finite availability, thus the demand and need for those in this market to compete.

With the emergence of these critical communication technologies, there is bound to be some fraction of users who will show addictive behaviour. If someone is displaying unbalanced behavioural habits, whose responsibility is that?- It would certainly be in the platform provider’s interest to afford some safeguarding within their services since they know exactly how much you are using their product and the detrimental effect of reliance on them.

Alex Marshall CPsychol, Forensic Psychologist, provided an overview of the subject when he observed-

“There is a lot of research into adolescents being vulnerable to entrenchment in a particular lifestyle that otherwise would be adolescence-limited, but failure to integrate (amongst other factors) prolongs behaviour or steers them off onto a trajectory that they otherwise weren’t destined towards biologically or socially.”

Ultimately, nobody knows the consequences these digital media phenomena will have on modern life and to some level, we are all part of a long-term social experiment to find the answer.

By Medicalchain’s Tim Robinson

Inside Medicalchain Issue #7

(December 2018)


Welcome to the seventh issue of Inside Medicalchain, our monthly newsletter to keep our community up to date.

If you missed the sixth issue you can catch up by clicking here.

Announcement

Medicalchain Opens New Office in Switzerland


Since its foundation, Medicalchain has been growing rapidly and we are delighted to announce the official opening of our new office in Switzerland. We have a global vision and geographical expansion is necessary to achieve this.

Product Development

MyClinic.com continues to improve and we are working to our timeline for version 2 which is eagerly anticipated for the end of Q2 2019.

We are working extra hard to confirm contracts and are hopeful that our services will be available within the NHS as well as the private sector soon.

MyClinic.com will also be available on Android very soon.

Timeline:

Considering how difficult it can be to keep up with our progress, especially product development — we have created an interactive timeline on our website to update you clearly on our road to achieving our goals.



Want to help? Give us feedback!

Please continue to download our iOS version of the MyClinic.com app and let us know your feedback on version 1.0 by sending us your comments to — [email protected]

Media

Our Communications Manager, Tim Robinson has been working on a new blog about the problems in healthcare and how to address these. Check out some of his articles below:

  • Faxploit: Read about the security dangers healthcare systems have by using fax machines— read here
  • Lifestyle Intervention: Read about how the NHS plans to help patients at risk of developing diabetes with “lifestyle interventions” to curb the demand the health service is under — read here
  • Curiosity killed the…Trust?: Trust is especially valuable when it comes to our intimate health data, read about how that ‘trust’ is being handled today — read here
  • E-Prescribing for NHS Trusts: Read about the benefits of “E-Prescribing for NHS Trusts” — read here
  • Youth Turning to Apps for Mental Health Needs: Read why our youth are turning to health tech and apps to care for their mental health needs instead of existing conventional options — read here
  • Snail Mail in the digital age: Read how using ‘Snail Mail in the digital age’ to inform patients about their vital NHS healthcare services has caused serious delays in tests and screenings for thousands of patients — read here

Events

COO Mo Tayeb presenting at the Healthcare Expo in Taiwan

Our COO, Mo Tayeb has been busy this month in Switzerland, Italy and Taiwan, speaking at various events and forums that showcase the latest in technology in healthcare. In Switzerland, he attended the Life Sciences Leader Forum. In Italy, he spoke at the Futureland event, which highlighted the companies and technologies that are going to make an impact in 2019. Finally, in Taiwan, he presented Medicalchain at the Healthcare Expo at the end of November. This event marks the principal display of solutions and connections for medicine and healthcare in Asia.

COO Mo Tayeb presenting at Futureland

Back home, Mo has been just as busy speaking in London at the Healthcare Unblocked event, the UK’s first conference dedicated to advancing blockchain in healthcare.

Medicalchain’s stand at Giant Health event

More in London this month as our Head of Business Development, Dr Amina Albeyatti attended the Giant Health Event 2018 at Stamford Bridge, home to the Chelsea Football Club. We received a warm reception and presented Medicalchain and MyClinic.com and its application in our health, to a very excited audience.

Dr Amina Albeyatti speaking at the Giant Health event

Dr Amina Albeyatti was interviewed by Disruptive Live. Check out the interview below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq7-DIRqqRo

We were also interviewed by Jessica DaMassa, health blogger for WTF Health.

As one of the UK’s technology startups and the first UK-based company to bring blockchain technology to healthcare, we were delighted to be invited to the 11th Annual GovNet Parliamentary Awards, hosted by Rt Hon. Baroness Golding. It was an enjoyable and relaxed evening to set off the Christmas season.

Communication Manager Tim Robinson at the House of Lords, Westminster

Upcoming Events

Our founders will be holding an AMA on December 24th at 7:30 am GMT, a link to the event on YouTube will be shared via our social media closer to the date. Please start posting your questions from now to Communications Manager, Tim Robinson. [email protected]

London January 9th 2018

Designing a Central Bank Digital Currency and Building Healthcare on Blockchain

Medicalchain’s COO, Mo Tayeb, will be speaking at this event. Find out more and how to join us

Social Media

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to ask us questions and engage with our communications team. If you have not had the chance to say hello yet, please click on one of the links!

Join a Medicalchain Community Today!

Don’t Forget To Sign Up For Your Free Health Passport

The Medicalchain Health Passport signup is live! Prospective patients and medical practitioners can register their interest now, by clicking here.

Next Issue

  • Partnerships within the NHS and private sector
  • New website reveal — coming soon

Special thanks

This month marks the end of an eventful year for Medicalchain. With the conceptualisation and delivery of the first rendition of the MyClinic.com application, to the plethora of events all around the world that members of the team have presented at.

We appreciate all the support we have received for what we are trying to achieve, from our loyal community members to representatives we meet at our events — including the wider public at large.

Overall this year we have represented at over 52 events in over 25 cities around the world!

We look forward to the new year and all that we have in line to achieve in keeping with our roadmap. Notably, the updated versions of the MyClinic.com application and the release of the Health Passport, which will truly enable patients to hold their own data. With more good news on the way with exciting partnerships close to being announced.

Again, we thank you for your support and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from all at the Medicalchain team.


Thanks for reading the seventh newsletter of Inside Medicalchain. For more information on where to purchase our tokens (MTN), click here.

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Faxploit


Although patented back in 1843 — about 30 years before the telephone — the Fax machine did not become widely used until around the 80s.

This is around the same time as the Nintendo NES, Boomboxes, Sony Walkmans, pocket TVs and the Casio C-80 Calculator Watch. Yet the fax machine seems to have outlived all of these.

But the reality is that this technology was in use back in the days of the French Emperor Napoleon III when the ‘pantelegraph’ was used over state-owned telegraph lines for sending signatures.

So the joke goes something like this-

Michael Scott.

In the modern day, the risk associated with using these devices is that all computer systems are prone to infiltration. A fax machine is no different, but not only are they connected to your network; they are also connected to the outside world via a phone line, so essentially there is no firewall!

A research team has proven that the only information required to infiltrate a system, is the organization’s fax number, which could be part of an all-in-one fax, copier and printer- something which is often publicly available on any employee’s business card or company website.

How is this done? —

It is even more alarming when it is historically the industries that hold the most protected data which are still using these technological relics the most. But who really does use these the most? DeepMind Health Independent Review Panel Annual Report states- “The digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS, which, in 2017, still retains the dubious title of being the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines.”

The other main users are the legal, banking and real estate sectors. Imagine an attacker using an exploit to forward copies of each of your bank statements to themselves, now that is a sobering thought.

It comes as good news then that the NHS has announced plans to abolish the use of these devices. NHS hospital trusts in England own a whopping 8,209 fax machines. Just one of these, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust relies on an astonishing 603 fax machines!

A statement by Mr Richard Kerr, RCS Council member and chair of the Commission on the Future of Surgery sums up the situation — “The advances we are beginning to see in the use of artificial intelligence and imaging for healthcare, as well as robot-assisted surgery, promise exciting benefits for NHS patients… NHS hospital trusts remain stubbornly attached to using archaic fax machines for a significant proportion of their communications. This is ludicrous… As digital technologies begin to play a much bigger role in how we deliver healthcare, it’s absolutely imperative that we invest in better ways of sharing and communicating all of the patient information that is going to be generated. The NHS cannot continue to rely on a technology most other organisations scrapped in the early 2000s.”

The NHS will be banned from buying fax machines from next month and has been told by the government to phase out the machines entirely by 31 March 2020.

By Medicalchain’s Tim Robinson

Lifestyle Intervention


Whenever you hear the word “intervention” you may automatically think of an ‘addiction intervention’’, or a ‘surgical intervention’, as these terms have almost become synonymous with the word. But how about a lifestyle intervention?

Currently, the NHS England spends around 10% of its budget on treating diabetes, with recent projections showing that the growing number of people with the condition could result in nearly 39,000 people suffering a heart attack and over 50,000 people suffering a stroke by 2035.

There is progress within the sector to redress the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in particular, through a prescription of- lifestyle changes.

There are plans proposed by the NHS to roll out a national Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) in the form of ‘lifestyle interventions’ to curb the demand the health service is under. The evidence shows that diabetes prevention programmes significantly reduce progression to T2DM compared to traditional care by ~26%.

The approach will involve GPs prescribing a liquid diet of just over 800 kilocalories a day for three months, then a period of follow-up support to ultimately help achieve remission of their Type 2 diabetes. NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, announced the program on 30th November. It will first be offered to 5000 patients before being rolled out nationally.

The announcement followed a series of recent studies that have overturned the widely held view that type 2 diabetes is incurable and must be managed with medication.


Large population-based studies in China, Finland and the USA have recently demonstrated the feasibility of preventing, or delaying, the onset of diabetes in overweight subjects with mild glucose intolerance (IGT). With these studies leading to the conclusion that even moderate reduction in weight and only half an hour of brisk walking each day reduces the incidence of diabetes by more than fifty percent.

The objectives for the DPP are:

  • To support more people at high risk of developing diabetes to receive lifestyle 
    interventions to help them lower that risk.
  • To slow down the increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes compared with current predictions.
  • To reduce the incidence of heart disease, strokes, kidney, eye and foot problems (and associated 
    mortality) related to diabetes compared with current predictions.

The benefits include not only saving the NHS money by alleviating the demand diabetes puts on numerous services within the sector, but the money and resources will then be reallocated and reinvested into providing more essential frontline care.

Chris Askew, the Chief Executive of Diabetes UK states:
“Plans to double the size of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is excellent news. The programme is already the largest of its kind globally and shows England to be a world leader in this area. The ambition being shown by the NHS needs to be matched across all government policy — we need stronger action on marketing to children, and clearer nutritional labelling to support people to make healthy choices.”

There are even plans for online versions of the DPP, involving wearable technologies and apps to help those at risk of Type 2 Diabetes better self-manage. These will also be provided to those who find it difficult to attend regular sessions due to work or family commitments.

The aim is to better integrate the available solutions and help patients feel more in control of their treatment. This will hopefully stop the chance of patients withdrawing from their therapy and in feeling more accomplished with short-term goals- by achieving a certain number of steps for instance. This move by the NHS brings us one step closer to achieving a patient-centric health service, a more integrated solution.

By Medicalchain’s Tim Robinson

Curiosity killed the…Trust?

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

Trust is a valuable commodity and in the words of American business magnate, Warren Buffett — “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” The greatest issue is not so much the fact that you have been lied to, but that it then becomes so much more difficult to trust.

Trust is especially valuable when it comes to our privacy, and what is more private than our most intimate data — our personal medical records. In May, Sir Alex Ferguson, Britain’s most successful football manager was admitted to Salford Royal hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage. After emergency treatment and less than a month in the hospital, Sir Alex made a good recovery.

After an audit of the Trust’s computer systems however, it became evident that a number of staff members- Two doctors, a senior consultant, and two nurses allegedly gained unauthorised access to Sir Alex’s private data.

Doctor Chris Brookes, chief medical officer for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which runs Salford Royal, said of the incident- “We can confirm that a number of staff who work at Salford Royal are currently subject to investigation in relation to an information governance breach… All of our patients have the right to expect that their information will be looked after securely and accessed appropriately. We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously.”

Human error is not the issue here, curiosity shouldn’t be a variable in the privacy of our data since ideally, this shouldn’t even be a possibility. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s regulatory body charged with enforcing data protection legislation and bringing regulatory action against those found to have breached data laws. It regularly deals with health-related cases and states that within its figures for Q2 of 2018/19 alone, there were a total of 4,056 data security incident reports within the sector.

What can Hospital Trusts do to earn our trust? Doctor Chris Brookes, chief medical officer at the site responsible for Sir Alex’s breach also stated — “We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously and will take the appropriate action to ensure staff understand the seriousness of unauthorised access.” Does that mean staff were not previously aware of the seriousness of unauthorised access? Does that statement guarantee this won’t happen again?

If hospital sites and CMOs wish to redress the issue they should reconsider their solutions, since trust is built through actions, not words. Successful relationships, including doctor-patient relationships, are built on the foundation of trust. This isn’t automatically awarded to someone due to a title, but earned, and as each Doctor and healthcare professional represents the sector as a whole, their reputation affects the NHS’s reputation.

Advising someone not to be curious is not enough, we should have firm and robust measures to protect patient data. Around the world, companies are considering using blockchain technology to help with privacy and data safety as they have done for the financial sector. it is time to block unwarranted access so that we can rebuild some trust.

By Medicalchain’s Tim Robinson