Andaman7 – Connecting doctors and patients

(Version française de ce texte ici)

Those who know me personally remember that 2007 was a difficult year for our family. In March, I learned that I was suffering from leukaemia (blood cancer, CML — I was 43 years old) and just three months later, our son, Pierre, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma (bone cancer) at 10 years old. More information on his blog.

Today it is 2014, 7 years later, and we are both here and in good health. Pierre lost a leg (he was amputated below the knee) and every day I take a magic pill called Gleevec. We are, therefore, both survivors of cancer. This shows how modern medicine is truly of excellent quality, and is continuing to improve quickly.

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However, during Pierre’s treatment (it lasted one year, which involved many doctors and several hospitals) I witnessed first hand how difficult the medical information management was. Being myself a software engineer, I was particularly concerned with the lack of quality in the handling of information; I even felt a little responsible for it. In fact, I have participated in various large medical IT projects: secure medical messaging systems meXi and Medibridge in Belgium (15,000 physicians, hospitals, and laboratories) and a large medical / prevention records system for Idewe, managing more than 400,000 workers’ health. Despite all of this, information in the medical world seems significantly behind.

Therefore, I decided to turn my little stone into a building by starting a new project: Andaman7.

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During Pierre’s year of treatment, here are the main problems that we came across:

  • Many medical dossiers are still in the form of print, so:
    • It is almost impossible to transmit them, either between a hospital and a generalist, or simply to another hospital
    • There is a significant risk of loss—who is making backup copies of paper?
    • It is almost impossible to find information quickly—who has time to seek a sheet from a pile of 500 papers? Surely not a doctor, often overworked.
  • When I accompanied Pierre to another hospital, 100 km from our original hospital (because only this one had the x-ray therapy for children), the doctors in this hospital had almost no information about Pierre… In the same aspect, the information that I had received at this hospital could not be easily recorded or passed on to our original physicians (our oncologist, our general doctor). If I could have had one copy of Pierre’s medical file to transmit it, and the ability to add some notes… Of course I am no doctor, but I am capable of writing down what a doctor has told me to pass it on.
  • When I went to ask for a second opinion in Paris, our excellent oncologist (Dr. Claire Hoyoux) was very helpful and open, and even assembled an extract of the dossier for Paris. This really helped confirm the diagnosis, but at the price of extra work for her. If Pierre’s dossier (or a portion of it) had been able to be transmitted, everyone could have saved valuable time.
  • On the eve of Pierre’s amputation, a doctor had to prepare the operation. Not having access to the file, he asked Pierre if his last blood test had been good… On the eve of a “small” operation such as an amputation, it seems to me that asking this kind of question to a 10 year old child was a little light. With the chemotherapy and all, it was important to know whether his coagulation was normal (among other things)—but this doctor had no access to the information.

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The idea of the project is, therefore, to improve the storage of medical information and facilitate access and sharing, while preserving confidentiality. This last point is extremely important to me, obviously, but not enough to harm the quality of care, of course. 😉

The objectives of the project are as follows:

  • Benefit from the wave of mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) that allow much more user-friendly information: touchscreen interface, mobility, voice commands and dictation, excellent communication skills…
  • Allow patients to participate in their own healing: patient involvement is desired by modern doctors, and by a number of “informed” patients—it simply improves the quality of care, several scientific studies prove it.
  • Allow physicians to share data between themselves in a simple but secure and traceable manner: hospitals, exchanges between specialists and general doctors, exchanges between physicians and other people such as home nurses, physiotherapists,…
  • Allow the patient access to his file and the ability to complete it with supplementary information: medication side effects, documents and information provided by other doctors…
  • Allow the patient to keep a copy of the file: for trips abroad, to follow his/her vaccinations, to share children files between separated parents, to gather important documents…

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Andaman7 therefore consists of a combination of two mobile applications. One for the doctor or any other health professional, to manage all patients records. The other for the patient, allowing him to manage his own medical record (and possibly that of his children or elderly parents). No medical information resides on servers (nothing in the cloud)—all will be retained on mobile devices and in existing medical IT systems. This avoids the “big brother problem,” threats on medical confidentiality and greatly reduces the risks associated with data security. No data is shared by default. Everyone is free to share or not, a part or all, of the data it manages. No one will be forced to receive other people’s data (requires a prior acceptance). Everyone is responsible to comply with the rules of their country and to the requirements of their local order of physicians.

This is a social project, so the application is free and will always remain so for both health professionals and patients. We will cover the operating costs by later offering advanced modules for those who want them.

So, no obligation, but modern and secure technologies for those who want to advance in medicine of the twentieth…um, of the twenty-first century. 🙂

If you want to participate in this (r)evolution, join us at www.andaman7.com. Install the application and tell me what you think (vincent.keunen@andaman7.com). We are open to any and all suggestions.

Thank you!

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A few press articles on Andaman7 : http://bit.ly/a7allPress

TEDx Liège video : http://bit.ly/tedxvk

Anti Cancer foods – Richard Beliveau

Get the book at: http://amzn.com/0771011350
En français: Les aliments contre le cancer
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Cancer prevention facts to add to your diet

  • Approximately one third of all cancers are directly related to diet.
Book: Foods that fight cancer

Book: Foods that fight cancer

  • A diet containing three or four weekly servings of broccoli, nothing too excessive, was shown to be sufficient to protect individuals from colon polyps.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale) should be lightly cooked and thoroughly chewed when eaten in order to fully benefit from their anti-cancer potential. Chewing releases the active molecules.
  • Freshly crushed garlic is by far the best source of anti-cancer compounds and should be preferred over supplements.
  • The key to benefiting from the anti-cancer effects of soy lies in consuming about 50 grams per day of the whole food, such as raw (edamame) or dry roasted soybeans. Supplements containing isoflavones are not an acceptable alternative to the whole food and should be avoided.
  • Colon cancer appears to be one of the cancers on which curcumin may have the greatest positive impact. The daily addition of a teaspoon of turmeric to soups, salad dressings, or pasta dishes is a simple way of providing curcumin intake sufficient to prevent the development if cancer.
  • Green Tea contains large amounts of catechins, compounds that boast many anti-cancer properties. To maximize the preventative effects afforded by tea, select Japanese green teas, allow for an eight-to-ten minute brewing period and always drink freshly brewed tea, and avoiding Thermoses.
  • Eating cranberries should be preferred over drinking cranberry juice.
  • The best way to increase omega-3 levels in diet is to eat fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel) once or twice a week or add one tablespoon of freshly-milled flax seeds to your breakfast cereal.
  • Eating two tomato sauce-based meals per week may lower your risk of developing prostate cancer by up to 25%.
  • Citrus fruits are essential foods in cancer prevention: for their capacity to act directly on cancerous cells as well as their potential for enhancing the anti-cancer effects of other phytochemical compounds present in diet.
Richard Beliveau

Richard Beliveau

  • The resveratrol present in red wine possesses powerful anti-cancer activity which may be responsible for the beneficial effects of wine on the prevention of certain cancers. Grape juice and cranberry juice contains resveratrol but at levels ten times less than red wine.
  • The daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate (chocolate containing 70% cocoa mass) may have definite health benefits and should replace or reduce that of sugar- and fat-filled candies with no phytochemical content.
  • Many herbs and spices used as seasonings, in particular ginger contain large quantities of molecules that act as anti-inflammatory compounds, which also reduce the risks of developing certain chronic diseases.
  • Instead of replacing butter with margarine, use olive oil as much as possible as a source of dietary fat; you will benefit from its healthful lipids knowing that it also possesses anti-cancer properties of its own.

This is just a summary.  It’s good to read the book to get a better understanding of why all these foods have an impact on cancer – when we understand better, we are more efficient at adapting our diet correctly.

PS: If you already have cancer, ask your doctor first – but make sure your doctor is open to “global therapy”, ie modern medicine + diet + alternative means.
PS2: These foods will not cure your cancer alone – modern medicine is very efficient in curing cancer (more than 50% of cancers can be cured and it’s improving); but these foods will significantly improve your chances of success.

Vincent

Can we eat to starve cancer?

There is a very interesting TED talk on how we can significantly improve cancer treatments and reduce cancer appearance “simply” by adapting our diet.  (There is a transcript in 36 languages).

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I was particularly happy to hear about all the progress around that subject as well as the numerous scientific and experimental evidence that has been built in the last few years. David Servan-Schreiber was right quite a few years in advance, so his book “Anti-cancer” remains a very good read if you are concerned – or if you wish to reduce the risk of being concerned…

I mention that book and a few others on my previous blog post “Anti-cancer tips“.

I also wrote a blog post on good books on cancer, but it’s in French.

Here is a short summary of the video if you are in a hurry;

  • Angiogenesis = proliferation of blood vessels (ex: in a woman’s uterus each month, to repare damaged tissues and… to feed cancer tumors);
  • All cancers need angiogenesis to grow;
  • There are more and more medications targeted at limiting angiogenesis, so cancer treatment is improving;
  • The author mentions cancer treatment, but also prevention… and relapse avoidance;
  • The vast majority of cancer causes are related to “environment” – and diet is a significant one:

William_Li__Can_we_eat_to_starve_cancer____Talk_Video___TED_com 2

  • One can think about “what to remove from our diet”, but also about “what we can add to our diet” (which may be easier if you think about fruits, colored vegetables, cabbage, red wine…);
  • Some foods are very good for angiogenesis (green tea, red wine (one glass per day), strawberry,…) but combining foods helps boost their beneficial effects.

The video does not go deep into what foods are good.  For that, I refer you to Foods that fight cancer by Richard Beliveau.

Uber bravo !

First Uber experience: wow!

This is my first Über experience and I must say I’ve been *very* impressed!

I installed the app – it’s straightforward and the app is well designed and very easy to use. I entered my personal info, including PayPal and credit card payment details.

When I tried Uber, I was in Montreal – and I don’t know Montreal so finding a bus, subway or even a taxi was not obvious.  I fired up the app. It found my location (a great apartment rented via AirBNB – another great and disruptive tool which I recommend, by the way).  So I didn’t have to explain where I was… (1)

I entered my destination. Über displayed the cars in my area: there were a few. I confirmed my request. A few seconds later, it was accepted: I was informed that I would be picked up by a driver named Bolivar in 3 minutes!… (2)

On the map, I could see my driver approaching: good to stay inside while waiting (3) – Montreal is cold at this time of the year… 🙂

The car was there on time and when I opened the door, I was greeted by a warm “Good morning Vincent”!… (4) Yes, the driver knew my first name via Über… Cool! So I replied “Good morning Bolivar “… Felt almost like old friends…

I knew Bolivar was a serious driver: he was rated 4.5 stars out of a max of 5. (5)

We chatted:

  • Bolivar has been an Über driver for 3 months
  • He likes the system but there are more and more drivers so he has less business…  Market laws in effect…
  • He is also a bit frustrated because he does not know why he sometimes does not get a 5 star.  🙂
  • He also told me that, unlike taxi drivers that take “people on the street”, he only carries identified people (Uber identifies all passengers and all drivers thru email and credit card) – a much appreciated extra security for him, and for me.  (6)

It was also very clear from our discussion that Bolivar was extremely interested in my satisfaction…  (7) The number of stars I would give him was important to him.  Quite a difference with many taxi drivers that just don’t care about you because, “anyway, I won’t see that stranger anymore”.  The benefits of being evaluated and in a public and trustable system: extra motivation to do good.  And it was fair too: as a customer I would also be evaluated by my driver…  (8) So both parties do have an interest in behaving correctly, being polite, being honest.  This is the benefit of local communities where everyone knows everyone, but on a worldwide scale!  “Community of trust” has a real meaning here.

While driving, I could follow on my Uber GPS the roads that Bolivar was taking.  It felt good to know that he was taking the shortest / fastest road.  (9) With taxis, you never know what trick they will use to make the trip more expensive.  Besides my control, Uber also knows the number of kilometres and time of my ride.  So I’m pretty sure that they can make sure all drivers stay honest with a bit of statistics.

We arrived at destination.  I greeted my driver and hopped out of the car. No money involved! (10) My trip would be charged to my credit card.  No unexpected extras for you-never-what-your-taxi-driver-will-add (extra for late hour, extra for luggage, extra for blablabla…).  (11).  A few seconds later, I received all the details of the trip by email (12):

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Which makes it also easy to create a quick expense report if your company requires it – without the wait in the taxi for a driver that hates doing that.  (13) And by going to the web site, you can see all your previous trips… (14)

Update: Since that first trip with Uber, I travelled a few times more in Montreal, but also in Budapest. Always the same great experience.  And an extra benefit in Budapest: everything goes smooth even if you don’t know the local language and your driver is not too good in English! (15). Congratulations to Uber!  Keep up the good work!

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PS: I don’t want to make too big a deal of that, but in practice, Uber has completely changed the local transportation by car, and made it a much better experience.  Somehow, the world is a bit better without all those taxi problems…  Technology can indeed improve our ways of living.

(1) the numbers in parentheses in my text count the advantages of Uber over conventional taxis…  I’m aware that some mention also disadvantages but most of them are related to taxi companies loosing their privileges.  They will need to evolve.  The world is changing.  The world is improving.

My TEDx Liège talk – Open source in the medical sector

You know I love open source software. You also know I have had cancer as well as my son Pierre:

Why can’t open source help with the discovery of new miracle drugs, like the one I’m taking for my leukemia: Gleevec ?

That’s the subject of my talk at TEDx Liège (in French – subtitles in other languages are coming – help translate):

Vincent Keunen - TEDx Liège - Open Source Rebirth

Vincent Keunen – TEDx Liège – Open Source Rebirth

Let me know what you think by commenting on this post or sending me an email at vincent@keunen.net.

How I manage email, SMS, phone calls – how to contact me

(latest version of this text)

Hello,

I receive many emails and other forms of communication. I enjoy quality contacts, but at the same time, I’d like to preserve my sanity (what’s left) and my efficiency… 🙂

So in order to avoid unmet expectations, I’d like to clarify below how I manage the numerous communication channels that technology gives us today.

Emails

I try to read my emails once and only once per day. I voluntarily limit email reading in order to focus on important vs urgent matters, to be more proactive vs passive and to reduce the number of interruptions. I usually don’t read my emails during the weekends and holidays. I don’t set a vacation message because I consider that a breach of my private life (this means that, on occasions, I might not reply for the duration of my holidays).

I consider email as asynchronous and for non urgent communication (please do not send me an email to cancel a meeting at the last minute, for example – I find this rude, actually).  See SMS section for urgent messages. You can expect a reply from me in 3 working days under normal circumstances (longer if I’m on holidays). I reply to most emails that expect a reply from me – unless they are rude, flame wars or “commercial cold calls”.

All commercial solicitations must be done by email. Please don’t send “commercial cold calls” emails several times – if I did not reply, I’m not interested.  I consider repeated emails rude and they significantly reduce my willingness to work with the author of such emails.

Please note that I’m on the Robinson list. If you don’t know what that is, read about it on Wikipedia. If you don’t know what Wikipedia is, well, then don’t contact me at all. 😉

Don’t put me on mailing lists without my prior consent. I’m in favor of opt-in. If you put me on a mailing list, this reduces my willingness to consider your product / service.

Don’t send me messages via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc… I have no commitment to reply to messages coming via social networks.

If you use whitelisting software to reduce your spam, don’t expect me to click to validate that I’m a legitimate sender.  I don’t want to bear the burden.  Imagine if everybody was doing that…  There are other ways to fight spam.

Phone – voice calls

Please only call me if we know each other and only for urgent matters (urgent means to be solved in a few hours time) – and try SMS first if possible. In other cases, send me an email first. I hate being called for commercial purposes. I don’t answer calls without a caller ID.  If you’re not sure if you should call, then send an email first.  This does not apply to my close friends, of course (you know who you are, dear).

Phone – voice mail

Please don’t leave me a message asking to call you back. Just leave a message with your questions or information you want to transmit to me.  Let’s be efficient.

I am on the “Don’t call me” list (ex-Robinson). See “emails section”.

SMS

Use SMS only for urgent communications and if we know each other. Please make sure it’s really urgent. Also make sure you receive a confirmation from me that I received your message.  I hate commercial solicitations by SMS. Now you know. 😉

Summary

To sum up, use the following channels to contact me, by order of preference:

  1. Email
  2. SMS
  3. Phone call

Besides that, I’ll be happy to be in touch with you. 🙂

It’s just a question of mutual respect.

Thanks

Vincent