PocketHealth: easy access to medical images
PocketHealth is a digital healthcare platform that was founded in 2016 to give patients more ownership and control of their own information, including medical images like scans and X-rays.
The cloud-based web platform that expedites image sharing between healthcare organisations, physicians and patients via mobile devices, tablets or desktop computers, instead of the typical hub-and-spoke network model.
Nayyar explains that it's been designed for non-tech savvy patients. "The simplicity of our platform is rooted in a responsive online experience as well as our uniquely designed Access Pages. Patients at participating healthcare sites can register for a PocketHealth account completely online in a few simple steps to begin accessing their diagnostic records and reports.
"For further sharing with other healthcare providers, an Access Page containing a security code can be automatically generated to initiate the release process to the receiving party. Keeping with the flexible ethos of the platform, this page can then be printed, securely e-faxed or emailed over to any medical end-user for viewing or import."
Making this information easily available can drive better patient outcomes. "When specialists, referring physicians or care providers need access to a patient’s medical records and diagnostic images, they need it quickly, and it needs to be easy, but many healthcare organisations and imaging providers don’t have a viable infrastructure to transfer images. They still use archaic CD burning methods, or image sharing ‘networks’ that are designed for doctors, not patients.
"With PocketHealth, patients have ownership of their information and imaging so they can direct their important diagnostic records into the hands of physicians much faster. When this happens, time to diagnosis and treatment is accelerated. There’s an additional payoff when patients have the ability to manage their own information — they become more willing and able to participate in their health and medical decisions. The result is more positive patient behaviour and a deeper understanding of the care pathway, which can be a major determinant in achieving better treatment outcomes."
The platform also has benefits for healthcare providers, which Nayyar says also come down to patient outcomes. "CD burning is time consuming for the patient. But it also comes at a cost to healthcare organisations in the form of physical CDs and equipment, as well as personnel who are employed just to manage the process.
"For care providers that have implemented larger system integration approaches or additional image sharing networks, there’s a resource cost associated with software downloads, VPN network administration and expensive point-to-point integrations.
"PocketHealth is profoundly simple" he adds. "It makes the patient the owner of their records, enabling them to direct their records and images where they need to go. Patients become the gatekeepers and stewards of their own records, instead of hospital IT departments and administrators."
Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies
It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain.
Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain.
What is long Covid exactly?
Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.
How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!
When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover.
If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus.
The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.
What symptoms does this cause?
These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.
In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.
This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.
How does long-haul Covid affect mental health?
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.
How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.”
We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain.
We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and running half marathons again.
At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response.
The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival.
What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid?
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy.
What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.