Dodgy Tummy Trend Spotter

FROM: Gordon

What NEED does this meet?
The number of notified cases of food poisoning in the UK in 2002 was 81,815. Everyone I have spoken to has had at least one dodgy tummy experience in the last year and these cases went unreported. This was because the sufferer didn't consider it serious enough to do anything about, and couldn't say for sure what really had caused it. However, if there was an easy way of entering an 'eating diary' of the day or so prior to being ill (and enough people used it) then it should be possible to correlate this data in such a way as to identify the likely source of the food poisoning. For example, a common denominator in several cases could be an egg sandwich from the same establishment, or common consumption of an in-flight meal. In these cases information can be passed onto the relevant authorities for further investigation. However, many cases will be caused by home preparation of food, and in these case advice can be given on storing, preparation and cooking.

What is the APPROACH?
The plan is to have a website that makes it easy to enter the relevant food and provenance data (what was eaten and where it was bought) and collate the data in such a way to allow a likely source of the food poisoning/illness to be identified. The important points in this process are:

1. Entry of data must be quick, friendly and easy in order to encourage re-use of the system (as good results rely on a large sample size).

2. Data must be stored in a way to make comparison and crosschecking between different users' information possible.

3. Where possible there should be some immediate feedback of the likely source to encourage usage of the site.

4. Contributors would be kept informed of developments of their incident by email.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
1. Individual contributors are told the most likely source of stomach upsets, along with practical advice on preventing it happening again wherever possible. 2. Promotes safer and more hygienic food preparation and cooking in the home. 3. Commercial sources of food poisoning will be identified faster, preventing further, and potentially more serious, cases from occurring.


What is the COMPETITION?
The Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) maintains a database of food-poisoning cases - but this only includes cases that were reported to GPs, and where the GP carried out further tests and submitted a report to the PHLS. Most cases are not reported. This proposed system will contain a much larger number of more minor stomach upsets, making trend spotting and data analysis possible.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The main expenses of the system will be: 1. Creating/hosting the website. 2. Specialist health knowledge will be needed to formulate rules and write advice. 3. Up-to-date database of UK businesses selling/serving food. e.g. live information from on-line yellow pages. This will be required to let contributors pick visited eating establishments from a list to ensure accuracy.

November 17, 2003 in Health, Increasing Awareness, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Depression - A Community Resource

FROM: Stuart Mains

What NEED does this meet?
It seems that depression in general is on the increase; I for one have a dear friend who suffers from this affliction. I have tried my best at helping him, as it seems there really is no one else. A web based resource is needed to amalgamate the knowledge of depression as most of it is scattered over the web.

What is the APPROACH?
The approach is not a unusual one, a simple web based resource just a domain name, some web space and a database. The approach would be distinctive, as the resource would be targeted at depression and the forgotten element of people close to people with depression. It would be a amalgamation of all the current knowledge on depression and the resources the local area has available.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
The resource would have factions which range from current knowledge on depression, current treatments (advantages & disadvantages), books, relaxation techniques, resources in the local area, and so forth. It could also serve another purpose, as although people with depression are suffering it seems that the people close to them are ignored when they are suffering as well. Another purpose could be to educate the public on what is depression as again it seems that most people think depression is simply sadness and that is not accurate at all. The people close to people with depression could use the resouce so that strength could be drawn from the wealth of knowledge and that simple fact that other people are going through exactly the same thing.

What is the COMPETITION?
Most depression resources are freebased and nearly always focus on an actual persons depression and never mention the people close to people with depression. My idea must win out, as it is the only way that this affliction can be dealt with properly. The public must understand, the people who are close to people with depression must be helped in order to better help people with depression. Above all the people with depression must be helped.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Low cost but requires a lot of manpower in regards to compiling all knowledge on depression. Though once it is compiled it has to be updated. A simple website, domain & database are all that is needed. Tag on some web design and CGI scripts and it is ready to go.

November 3, 2003 in Health, Static Information Site | Permalink | Comments (8)

Blood Network

FROM: Nishad

What NEED does this meet?
Some years ago, the government of India banned professional blood donors from selling blood (There are people in India who live by selling their blood. The Government banned this practice as as a vast majority of donors were found to have deseases that could be transmitted through blood). Ever since, there's been a shortage of blood needed for emergencies and for patients undergoing surgeries.

What is the APPROACH?
If we could set up a database of blood donors who are willing to donate at short notice. (Donor's Name, Blood Group. Location, Contact Number, Date Last donated) If someone needs blood, the family can just log on to the network and find donors easily.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Currently people have to search a great deal to find donors in the right blood group. This adds to the trauma that a family is going through at a time of a medical emergency.

What is the COMPETITION?
There are people out here, in India, volunteers who have phone books full of numbers of donors. If these numbers could be collated on to an easily searchable database, things would become very simple.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
With pro bono help, I don't think it will be very difficult or expensive.

We will have to reach the network down to small towns and villages, where the shortages are even more of a problem. Here, we may need to provide computers and networking at hospital level so that people can access the database easily.

We will also need to set up a system where we can contact people and urge them to donate blood and get listed on the blood network. This is a "Brick and Motar" (If I can call it) operation, which could become phase three of project.

November 3, 2003 in Giving stuff away, Health, International, Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit?, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (2)

docinbox

FROM: Dr Mark O'Connor

What NEED does this meet?
The need for navigational aid by a trusted professional through the huge amount of information that the internet provides - specifically for medicine but could extend to other professional groups

What is the APPROACH?
Concept is that A) All doctors ( or any professional type) have a general knowledge base but also A UNIQUE one based upon their particular interests and perhaps particular unique doctor-patient interaction B) each professional could be a node of information C) the internet provides a unique way of connecting these nodes with the benefit of individuals woith meidcal needs gaining from this nodal connection of knowledge. D)Most professionals could offer a few minutes at some point over a long time frame

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Good high quality advice based upon not just academic analyses of evidence but real sense of community and personal involvement with on line professional

What is the COMPETITION?
fee for service sites offering a doctor's advice - however this is a narrow, walled garden approach

My idea is essentially altruistic but hopefully would be not onerous as it beocmes a community sharing advice over a wide variety of topic areas - takers in one domain could become givers in another

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
see http://www.docinbox.com/ Non profit making, non advertising site based purely on altruism ( well I enjoy coding and wanted a project to be honest ) and would gladly give the site away for a project which made it more robust and professional

November 2, 2003 in Health | Permalink | Comments (0)

AI Consultant, Free Natural Language Electronic Advice

FROM: Stein von Reusch

What NEED does this meet?
Many people are regularly in need of a good friend's advice, perhaps on economy, perhaps on stress at work, perhaps on depression issues, or, in cases of crises and abuse, of much more serious advice -- in which a friend might be one who could provide local phone numbers, even. Often, the best friends are those who can ask good questions. In principle, a machine equipped with natural language (artificial intelligence) can do so, and be humble in doing so. In this way, a person who may have lost almost everything except the capacity to enter internet for a few minutes can get perhaps the kind of wise calm tranquil influence that people around him or her may, for various reason, not be capable of. This can be a child, or a person in a such a state in which only very simple language would be felt as relevant. This is a tough need, yet internet could address it. This is something far more than the old program "Eliza", yet it serves to show the point: people felt they could confide. It must be driven idealistically so that no element of exploitation can enter.

What is the APPROACH?
The approach to fulfil this need would be to use a simple programming language (y4d at yoga4d.com) to make a socalled "neural network simulation", a learning type of program that could evolve responses based on initial training. This is something that many programmers have experimented with, and many machine-generated "chatbox" exists. However, the approach here would be to relate a tranquil kind of compassionate open attitude, through questions, to any person who are in need of such, and who would prefer to talk and type text and read a few lines rather than read a book of the same content-type. Numerous programming techniques exist for this, and they could be evolved, year by year; and I have reserved a free website for this (yoga5d.com), that could provide this service in a couple of ways. One way, for maximum privatisation, would involve a Java/Yoga4d client applet, which could even be run offline. The source will be available at SourceForge in good open source style (sourceforge.net/projects/wintuition-net is my place there, in which the yoga4d language is hosted). The other main operation modus, for greater speed of computation of responses, would be running it on the server as a Perl/Yoga4d server program. I am ready to do this programming now, since the language is there, in its basic form. It is all noncommercial and with an intent that is somewhat similar to buddhism etc (though I do not call myself such an -ist).

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Such a service could do what today's psychotherapists and others often have not time for: namely to talk in depth, to think slowly through things. The benefit would be greatest, I feel, if the program makes it clear that it is the user that must do the thinking, although the program can act as an "enzyme molecule" so as to trigger this thinking. If even only one person can be helped to sway away from, say, violent paths of action, towards compassionate and dialogical forms of action, it would have proven its validity. Yet there is no reason why it cannot, if it gets popular, help hundreds of thousands; and if so, and given open source validity of the program, it may inspire lots of more such help centers.

What is the COMPETITION?
If there are any similar services, I have yet to discover them: Though most who have capacity for AI programming has used it (confer the program Elbot.com) to just show off how clever it can answer, rather than actually provide generous wise assistance to think through things dialogically. In short, no competition at present.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Just programming time. If it gets popular, more servers are needed; but at that time, it would have proven itself so much that it would be a rather easy match to explain why it must be supported by cash from idealistic foundations worldwide.

November 1, 2003 in Health | Permalink | Comments (193)

Solitaire

FROM: Freddy Gazan

What NEED does this meet?
Widower of about 80 years, I live alone with my little Yorkshire. If something happens to me, my litle dog will remain unattended.

What is the APPROACH?
My proposal is to create a service, to which I could send an e-mail every morning (f.i.: O.K.) in the absence of same they would alarm my children.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
no worry

What is the COMPETITION?
dont'know any

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
create a call center

November 1, 2003 in Connecting People, Health | Permalink | Comments (9)

Preventable Diseases Lifestyle Database

FROM: Robert Johns

What NEED does this meet?
When I was 7, a family friend sadly died of a heart attack. I remember asking my Mum why people had heart attacks and she said that in most cases it was because they didn't eat the right foods, didn't get enough exercise and didn't look after themselves very well. So I asked her what I should eat so that I didn't get a heart attack, and she just shrugged her shoulders and said, I don't really know, just healthy stuff. And so I asked her, was that why Nan was so old, because she looked after herself, at which point she got a bit impatient and said it was time for school.

But that got me thinking, there obviously are quite straightforward reasons why a lot of people get heart attacks and, as I realised when it became clear it wasn't just a star sign, cancer. In fact over the years reading various reports of whole streets of people living near mobile phone masts getting ill, or hotdog sausages being the top of the cancer hitlist of foods to avoid, or simply a chemical in the inside of tin cans causing cancer in young people, I thought hang on, it's all a bit random, why doesn't someone just record all the details of everyone who has these diseases and then see what the most common factors are.

Obviously being only 7 years old, the scale and logistics of such a project didn't occur to me (despite my no doubt precociousness!), but my thought was that if Joe Bloggs, who was a lorry driver and died from a heart attack at 41 was put together with all the other people who died early, and it was found that maybe a significant majority did no exercise whatsoever, whereas maybe James Bloggs who was a lorry driver and did a mere 30 minutes exercise a day lived to 100, there might be a lesson for countless numbers of people.

What is the APPROACH?
What I'm proposing is a database that is filled in by the public, but is only accessed by medical professionals and specially designated people, the people who really have the power to make a difference. It will record as many lifestyle details as is possible, whether it be through specific questions, check boxes etc, or by free text areas. They can then use the information in ways that best serve the community, whether it be through awareness campaigns or legislative changes (eg banning certain ingredients from certain foods, or dangerous chemicals from, say, swimming pools.), or just as a catalyst to further research.

Also, there would be the option for people to put in why they think they or family members became ill, or for old people to say why they think they have lived so long. Two examples to illustrate this: maybe if just two or three of Harold Shipman's patients' relatives had had somewhere to raise their concerns, many more deaths could have been prevented. And if say a significant number of 100 year olds are found to have begun drinking alcohol after the age of 40, that could tell us something else.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
The aims of this would be to make people's lives longer, more pain-free and help to lower the amount of preventable disease that causes so many premature and needless deaths every year. The information from the database could be used in so many positive ways (I'm sure you're thinking of others right now!), and it is feedback that people will believe, a lot more than say a glossy magazine article that says "drink more green tea" then next week says "green tea gives you cancer". If you have cold hard facts that say that, for example, of all the 90+ year olds who drink green tea, 87.5% drink it without food, and of green tea drinkers who develop cancer, 81% drank it to excess (these examples are all totally made up by the way, but I hope they illustrate the point), this is solid evidence that people will respect and heed.

Basically, if an alien came to Earth (or a 7 year old!) and asked why people died of so many preventable things, and we said well, it's just that we never really recorded what it is that people actually do with their lives to make them healthy or not, then I see a bit of a gap in human development that could be filled well here.

What is the COMPETITION?
There are a great number of detailed lifestyle databases out there, mainly created by large companies to know their customers better, tailor products towards them and be more proactive in selling their product or service. Having a database in the way that I am proposing would not necessarily make a company any money or assist them in getting new business, which is where the work of Mysociety fills a gap; getting a project such as this off the ground with the needs of society rather than corporate profit as a focus.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
I actually think that it will be extremely difficult to implement, although not necessarily as expensive as other ideas. In fact, there is a high chance that after a few years it will turn out not to be feasible and be closed. But what this will have achieved is to get the idea out there, lessons learnt from the first attempt, so that in the long run something akin to what I'm suggesting can be made that really does have some long term benefit. I don't propose an overnight cure for all preventable disease, just the beginnings of what could be one of the biggest life saving tools of the current age.

November 1, 2003 in Health, Use of Statistics, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (1)

GP = Great Practitioner

FROM: Derek C Barton

What NEED does this meet?
A one click approach towards putting local communities in the driving seat when confirming an appointment with there local GP. A database of all appointments reserved and available will be accessible online and with standalone computer devices situated around the city or local towns.


What is the APPROACH?
Allow the public to pick there appointments with there local GP. With the help of a home based PC or a standalone monitor located in various populated areas with a database of all GP's within a certain mileage. Here is a scenario:-

Mary gets up on a typical Saturday morning and expects to have a busy day. Her children want to go shopping with there mother and Mary’s husband is expected at the weekly golf tournament.

Unfortunately Mary's mother is feeling a little under the weather and agrees she should see a doctor on Monday. With Mary's schedule of the day it is unlikely she will have time to call a surgery as it may be closed over the weekend, and it is less likely she will remember on Monday because Mary will be in work.

While Mary is shopping with her children she can stop at her local BookAGP module, and select the GP her family is registered to. While doing this Mary can see a list of appointments available and times and which doctor she will likely see on the day. Mary can have the choice of inputting how serious her mother’s condition is and select a priority call is things are a little more serious then a check up.

This could also be done from the comfort of her home with the use of the internet or interactively on digital television services like OPEN, SKY, BBCi


What are the BENEFITS to people?
The BookAGP modules and real time databases will kill allot of the time needed to book a general appointment with any medical professional. BookAGP can fit both private and NHS patients alike all at the touch of a few very simple buttons. If a medical case is looking to get nasty, an emergency button can be accessed to locate the emergency on call doctor or in some cases ambulance. This of course seems open to be abused however the full proof way around it is to only allow the system to be finalised with those patients who are issued with a security password like those issued in banks.


What is the COMPETITION?
I have not yet seen any system that can offer the various services above. However I have seen emergency modules situated around various cities, however it is very simple and a large red button that must be abused dozens of times a night.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The database and online connectivity is very cheap, a dedicated server to power the system would be required and depending on how successful the idea is those servers could later be upgraded with no loss of information. The highest cost would be the computer modules, however to gain that cost back BookAGP could be linked in with local telephone booths. Administration charges for issuing the security numbers and registration should be very low. The cost to the user will be the biggest benefit. All users will be charged £1 for the service however NHS patients will be entitled to a full refund of there money when arriving at the GP's surgery.

November 1, 2003 in Health, Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (2)

UK Food and Medicines Database

FROM: David Harrison

What NEED does this meet?
Full-disclosure information upon the ingredients and nutritional value of every branded food and medicine product in the UK, according to the needs of the consumer, permitting personal day-to-day nutiritional diaries to be kept, and specific ingredients avoided (ie. peanuts, GM).

What is the APPROACH?
A single, free to access database listing every food and medical product on sale in the UK. Each product has a full list of its ingredients, not according to UK/EU labelling laws, but according to the interests of consumers, so explicitly whether the product may contain any nuts, animal products, GM product. Note, for example, that there would be no category for 'sodium', only one for 'salt' (Sodium x 2½ = Salt content, a common industry trick to hide a negative aspect of a product). Labelling laws allow the food industry to 'lobby' government to get away with not telling consumers what they want to know about ingredients. Their lobbying wouldn't work on this database. Full disclosure would be required for inclusion, and if they aren't on it, then customers may fairly assume that the company has something to hide, and neither it, nor its products should be trusted.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
All products can be checked easily, without squinting at labels in supermarkets and trying to work out whether the food manufacturer has managed to hide something that you want to know about a food product, using a loophole in the labelling laws. Is it suitable for vegetarians or vegans? Does it contain any GM product? The 'My Nutrition' feature would allow you to click on a specific product as you ate it, and add it to your nutritional diary, to test the quality of your diet, so if you eat three shredded wheat, the exact nutritional contents of that particular brand of product goes on to your diet sheet for the week. If you eat too much salt, sugar, fat, and processed food, and too few vegetables, the system can automatically tell you. It will also cover the ingredients of medicines, a particular problem as corporates offload GM product, and manufacture tablets that contain animal products without advertising that fact, merely because the production costs are a little cheaper.

What is the COMPETITION?
Currently you have to get printed lists of own-brand products from each supermarket, hoping they don't go out of date too quickly as product formulations change, and try to decipher food labels, most of which are designed to avoid telling you the things you want to know. The site would allow nutritionists to tag products as being particularly high in saturated fats or salt, and even give league tables of the current 'ten branded yogurts with the highest salt and sugar contents' etc.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The technology to run the site, once up, would be easy to maintain. Data should be uploaded and maintained by food producers. Small producers are usually happy to tell you what their foods contain, and links on the site would ensure that a listing would be beneficial, allowing a wider audience to be aware of, and to buy their products. The larger supermarkets and brand owners are multi-million pound corporates and can afford to spare a person to maintain the registration of their own brand products. If they don't take part-don't trust their products. With a grant from the DoH (given the site's benefits to the national health), it should be free to use.

November 1, 2003 in Corporate Social Responsibility, Empowering Consumers, Health, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (1)

Aftercare notes for GPs.

FROM: David Harrison

What NEED does this meet?
Once a GP has diagnosed a complaint, they will advise patients of various things they should and shouldn't do, but the patient may forget before they have even got home.

What is the APPROACH?
An online/CD-ROM-distrubuted database of aftercare notes for most conditions and illnesses, each written in simple language without medical jargon, with diagrams/photos where needed (for moles, exercises etc). Once a diagnosis is made, the GP prints off the prescription as they do now, and then prints off the aftercare notes. At the base of each are automatically added contact numbers and details for support groups local to the area in which the patient lives, relating to their condition. For the elderly, the font can be larger, and the notes can be printed in foreign languages as easily as in English.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
GPs can be sure that every patient gets detailed aftercare advice that they don't forget, and is informed of all relevant local support groups.

What is the COMPETITION?
It is much better than relying on an out of date home medical manual and self-diagnosis, or upon a telephone service like NHS Direct. The service supplies accurate information, chosen by your GP, for you and your condition. It can be printed out in any language, and local support groups can insert their own details on to the system, that will then automatically appear on local GPs aftercare notes. The information on the notes can easily be updated to conform with best practice.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
A doddle. The service can be run privately, and operate globally, taking a small subscription to allow access, or run by the NHS free-to-use for all NHS GPs, and for a small subscription to private/non-UK GPs. Free access should be offered to those working for medical charities/in developing countries.

November 1, 2003 in Health, Perhaps Government Remit?, Static Information Site | Permalink | Comments (4)