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Practical Patient Care Issue 24 2019


Machine learning

There is a lot of discussion about machine learning, AI and automation within healthcare but implementation remains in an early stage. Nevertheless, these technologies provide huge opportunities to a number of different areas. Nikolay Oskolkov, research scientist from Lund University, speaks to Practical Patient Care about the potential of machine learning to transform diagnostics.

Molecular diagnostics

Current testing of patients who present with neurodevelopmental and congenital anomalies, leaves a number of cases undiagnosed or unexplained. A sophisticated new computational model – developed by scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute – is bringing an innovative diagnosis method for rare genetic conditions. Practical Patient Care speaks to Dr Bekim Sadikovic, associate scientist at Lawson, and head of the Molecular Genetics Division in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), about the implications of these findings.

Paper-based diagnostics

Paper-based diagnostic tests are cheap, convenient and biodegradable. However, their use is limited by conventional dyes. Researchers are now using quantum physics to overcome these issues. Dr Eden Morales-Narváez, researcher at the Centre for Optics Research in Mexico, speaks to us about the new generation of paper-based analytical devices.

Blood tests for neurological diseases

Very sensitive techniques have been developed in recent years to measure the presence of certain substances in blood that can indicate damage in the brain and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's. Neurofilament light protein is one such substance. Practical Patient Care speaks to Niklas Mattsson, a researcher from Lund University, about the potential of these tests for the diagnosis of neurological diseases.

Infection controlTop

Nudges for hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is paramount in the prevention of infections but boosting compliance remains challenging. Nudging, a gentle push to encourage a desirable behaviour, could provide an easily implemented, inexpensive measure to address the issue. We speak to Martine Caris, resident in Internal Medicine from the Department of Internal Medicine at OLVG, about the potential of this novel approach.

Preventing ‘superbugs’ in hospitals

Considerable effort has been put into boosting adherence to hand hygiene practices among healthcare staff. A new study suggests that this should also be extended to patients. Lona Mody, geriatrician, epidemiologist and patient safety researcher at the University of Michigan, talks about the importance of this strategy to prevent the spread of ‘superbugs’ in hospitals.

Wound careTop

Nanogenerators for wound healing

Researchers have long known that electricity can be beneficial for skin healing, but most electrotherapy units require bulky electrical equipment and complicated wiring to deliver powerful jolts of electricity. New dressings developed by scientists from the University of Wisconsin contain small electrodes linked to a band that hold energy-harvesting units called nanogenerators. ractical Patient Care speaks to Xudong Wang, a professor of materials science and engineering about the opportunity of these findings for wound care.

Dispersion method

Researchers have found a way to treat bacterial infections that could result in better wound care. This technique is able to effectively kill biofilm bacteria – meaning wounds can respond better to antibiotic therapy. Karin Sauer, professor of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University, talks to us about how the method works.

Mobile bedside bioprinter can heal wounds

Chronic, large or non-healing wounds such as diabetic pressure ulcers are especially costly because they often require multiple treatments, affecting millions of Americans. Scientists have created a new mobile skin bioprinting system that allows bi-layered skin to be printed directly into a wound. Sean Murphy, assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, speaks to Practical Patient Care about the implications for wound care.

Atypical wounds

Acute and chronic wounds are a growing healthcare concern, driven by ageing populations and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes. Despite significant advancements in treating these wounds, there are a number of challenges that remain. One particular issue is atypical wounds, which are usually unresponsive to traditional treatment. The European Wound Management Association explains its recent work in this area.


One of the objectives of World Union of Wound Healing Societies (WUWHS) 2020 is to promote a greater collaboration and cooperation between all Scientific Wound Care Societies around the world who passionately put caring wounds as their main mission. In addition, it serves as a guide in the development and implementation of projects that strengthen the central role of the WUWHS, and help it become a worldwide scientific point of reference and standard for innovation and translational research into the management of skin wounds. The elect president of WUWHS2020 summarises key themes that will be covered at its upcoming event.


Single-cell sequencing

The emergence of immunotherapy has marked a sea change in the research and care of lung cancer and many other cancer types. For those who respond to treatment, results can be dramatic. Despite significant advances however, only a minority of people benefit from the treatment and it is unclear why. Allon Klein, assistant professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, speaks to Practical Patient Care about the potential of single-cell sequencing to inform the likelihood of lung cancer treatment success.



Cardiovascular disease is prevalent in Appalachia, yet many individuals do not live near to cardiovascular specialists. Follow-up visits after surgery can thus be difficult to attend. A recent study by researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine, suggests telemedicine may improve patient satisfaction with postoperative care and quality of life. We speak to Professor Albeir Mousa about the importance of these findings for person-centred healthcare.

Operating room technologyTop

Information before surgery

Before undergoing surgery, patients must of course be fully informed about what the procedure entails. The complex nature of the content provided means that patients often feel overwhelmed. Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have shown that comic-style information can be helpful. Practical Patient Care speaks to Professor Verena Stangl of the Medical Department, Division of Cardiology and Angiology on Campus Charité Mitte about the implications of these findings.

Critical careTop

New type of respiratory support

A study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has found wide variation in the use of different hospital units, intensive care or general medical units, in delivering a type of advanced respiratory support called non-invasive ventilation. Laura C. Myers MD, MPH, of the MGH Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, talks to us about what the findings demonstrate for critical care. .


New imaging technique peers inside living cells

Researchers have developed a novel non-invasive imaging system that makes it possible to view the sub-cellular architecture of live cells at nanometre-scale resolution. The technique combines ultrasound waves with atomic force microscopy, interacting with live cells to determine the changes in their mechanical behaviour. Gajendra Shekhawat, research associate professor at Northwestern University, discusses the implications of their findings.

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