Author: Sofia

Exploring the Future of Healthcare: Insights from MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023

The Medical Informatics Europe 2023 (MIE’2023) conference, held under the theme “Caring is Sharing – Exploiting Value in Data for Health and Innovation,” alongside the renowned VITALIS 2023, Scandinavia’s largest eHealth conference, created a stage where experts gathered to delve into the latest advancements and challenges in healthcare. The buzz around AI in healthcare was undeniable, emphasizing the need for regulation while recognizing its immense potential. Striking the delicate balance between innovation and patient safety became a key focal point, highlighting the importance of establishing robust frameworks and guidelines for AI deployment in healthcare settings.

Sweden, with its world-class healthcare and research institutions, thriving industry, and vibrant startup scene, served as the perfect backdrop for MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023. Drawing decision makers, IT managers, researchers, and care administrators from various sectors, VITALIS provided a fertile ground for networking and collaboration among the different stakeholders in the field. This convergence of industry professionals from healthcare organizations, municipalities, county councils, and authorities facilitated invaluable connections and knowledge exchange.

The opening keynote at VITALIS was a highlight of the event, featuring influential speakers who offered compelling insights into the future of healthcare. Jakob Forssmed, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, stressed the significance of leveraging data and digital solutions to transform healthcare. David Novillo Ortiz from the World Health Organization shared noteworthy initiatives utilizing data and digital technologies. Tom Lawry, an AI expert, captivated the audience with his exploration of AI’s transformative potential in healthcare. The discussions revolved around the need for responsible implementation and regulation, keeping patient welfare at the forefront.

Innovative research on patients’ use of medical records online took center stage during the conferences, shedding light on the impact of patient-accessible electronic health records (PAEHR). A notable session led by Prof. Åsa Cajander focused on the effects of PAEHR on diverse patient groups, particularly in psychiatric and somatic care. The session underscored the necessity for further research on user experiences and perceptions, highlighting the complexities and considerations surrounding the implementation and impact of PAEHR in different healthcare contexts.

MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023 emphasized the pivotal role of data, AI, and patient access in reshaping the healthcare landscape. These conferences provided an engaging platform for decision-makers, IT managers, researchers, and care administrators to collaborate, fostering innovation and knowledge-sharing. The seminars on AI adoption in healthcare emphasized the importance of responsible implementation, while presentations on patient access to medical records illuminated the benefits and challenges associated with PAEHR. The collective efforts of the healthcare community, as highlighted during these events, hold the potential to revolutionize patient outcomes and shape a future where innovation and compassion go hand in hand.

Empowering People with Anxiety: Biofeedback-based Connected Health Interventions

In today’s fast-paced world, anxiety has become a prevalent and concerning issue affecting individuals of all ages. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this problem, with feelings of fear, worry, and uncertainty becoming more common. As we strive to find effective interventions for anxiety, the emerging field of connected health, combined with biofeedback techniques, holds great promise.

Understanding Anxiety
Anxiety, a complex interplay of psychological and physiological factors, manifests as a state of fear, uneasiness, and nervousness. It is a natural response to stress, serving as a signal of potential danger. However, when anxiety becomes persistent and overwhelming, it may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. These disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, can significantly impact a person’s well-being and quality of life.

A person suffering from anxiety

The Rise of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders have been on the rise globally, and Sweden is no exception. Self-reported anxiety and nervousness have witnessed an 11% increase in the country between 2011 and 2021. Women tend to be more affected than men across all age groups. The contributing factors to anxiety disorders are multifaceted, including difficult life experiences, environmental influences, health behaviors, and various physical factors such as genetics and brain chemistry.

Connected Health Interventions for Anxiety
Connected health, the integration of information communication technology into healthcare, offers innovative solutions for managing anxiety. Among the various digital interventions, biofeedback stands out as a non-pharmacological and non-invasive approach. Biofeedback leverages the measurement of physiological changes associated with psychological states, enabling individuals to monitor and control their bodily functions influenced by anxiety.

Advantages of Biofeedback
Technological advancements have made biofeedback more accessible, affordable, and user-friendly. It allows individuals to gain awareness and insight into their physiological changes, empowering them to better regulate their mental states. Biofeedback can help individuals recognize internal states linked to arousal and relaxation, fostering a sense of self-efficacy and control. By addressing both psychological and physiological symptoms, biofeedback holds immense potential in anxiety detection and treatment.

Types of Biofeedback and Their Applications
Biofeedback utilizes various sources of biodata, including respiration, brain activity (neurofeedback), muscle tension, skin conductance, temperature, and heart rate variability. Our systematic literature review has revealed that biofeedback interventions for anxiety primarily leverage two types of feedback: modifications to user interface and experience or visual presentations of physiological changes. Virtual Reality (VR) has emerged as a powerful tool, enhancing the efficacy of biofeedback interventions by providing immersive exposure therapy experiences. Serious games coupled with biofeedback have also shown promising results, influencing behavior and facilitating learning.

Biofeedback is often combined with relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, and meditation. These practices have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing anxiety and stress. In biofeedback-based interventions, individuals receive real-time feedback on their physiological measurements, fostering a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection. Music therapy, coupled with biofeedback, has also yielded positive outcomes, regulating both physical and mental health.

The Road Ahead
As we delve deeper into the realm of biofeedback-based connected health interventions for anxiety, ongoing research and development are crucial. Further exploration of different sensors, treatment techniques, and physiological data collection methods will enhance the efficacy and accessibility of these interventions. Collaborations between researchers, clinicians, and technology experts hold the potential to transform anxiety management and empower individuals to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Reference: Alneyadi, M., Drissi, N., Almeqbaali, M., and Ouhbi, S. (2021). Biofeedback-based Connected Mental Health Interventions for Anxiety: Systematic Literature Review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 9(4): e26038, doi: 10.2196/26038