Tag Archives: health care

My Special Aflac Duck Helps Kids with Cancer

Aflac’s cute mascot, the talking duck, does more than just try to sell insurance. The company has been committed to caring and treating children with cancer for more than 22 years; donating $120 million over that period. In its latest effort, Aflac worked with digital design and story-telling firm Sproutel to create My Special Aflac Duck, giving a stuffed toy the robotic treatment to help the duck comfort children’s cancer patients and make a positive change in the lives of children with childhood cancer.

There are more than 11,000 cases of childhood cancer annually in the U.S., and on average, children go through 1,000 days of treatment. More than most patients, children need emotional support to go through treatments, to communicate their feelings to caregivers, and not feel helpless in the face of cancer.

My Special Aflac Duck integrates social robotics into the field of medicine. With four patents pending (and a design award from 2018 CES), My Special Aflac Duck gives kids with cancer the chance to find joy by playing with it; helps kids engage by playing soothing sounds and calming heartbeats; and helps kids connect by being able to treat Duck just like they are being treated with IV and medicine. A special backpack provided with Duck includes an IV and emoji badges that help communicate feelings.

Duck has five touch sensors that help it connect with children through its facial expressions, sounds, and movements. It also has a special app that lets kids design special places to go to virtually where they can find comfort and joy.

Quack in support of helping children with cancer!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss how companies can be socially responsible in their communities.
  2. Show The Verge’s video story about the Duck: https://youtu.be/LQy-qn_JMoM
  3. Show Aflac’s Web site for Duck: https://aflacchildhoodcancer.org/
  4. Sproutel’s Web site contains additional information on Jerry the Bear (diabetes care for children): https://www.sproutel.com/
  5. In teams, have students select an illness that affects youths. What could they develop to help these young patients cope with their illnesses?
  6. What companies could partner with them on the initiative. Why?
  7. Finally, as an option, there is a 10-minute TED Talk by the founder of Sproutel about how play can help children to deal with illness: https://www.ted.com/watch/ted-institute/ted-ibm/aaron-horowitz-can-a-teddybear-change-how-children-relate-to-their-own-disease

Source:  Hutchinson, M. (8 Jan. 2018) Robotic duck aims to help kids cope with cancer. Associated Press.

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Drones Can Help Save Lives

In the United States there are roughly 350,000 cardiac arrests each year, and in Europe nearly a million people each year suffer such cardiac arrests. And, each minute to health care and a defibrillator is critical to survival. Today, people outside of hospitals who have a heart attack have only an 8-10% survival rate due to the slow response time of emergency services. This calls for a new solution to this critical health issue: drones.

Drones can help save lives of heart attack victims by delivering defibrillators remotely, much faster than it takes an ambulance to arrive on the scene. In a recent study in Sweden, the Swedish Transportation Agency equipped drones with light-weight defibrillators (1.7 pounds) and deployed them from fire stations north of Stockholm.

In tests, drones can average 100 km/hour, making the average arrival time of the drones 5:21 minutes; this is compared to the average ambulance arrival time of 22:00 minutes, shaving more than 16 minutes off defibrillator arrival time. Time that is critical to a person’s survival. When not flying, the drone can be folded and become a tool box for emergency supplies.

Drones to the rescue!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of new technologies such as drones with students.
  2. Show video: https://youtu.be/y-rEI4bezWc
  3. Divide students into team: What other applications could drones have in the marketplace and health care industry?
  4. Have each team share its recommendations.
  5. Select the top recommendation. Have students develop a marketing program for this solution using drones.

Source:  Los Angeles Times, Tribune, other news source

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Smart Pills to Monitor Health

SmartPill

Technology surrounds us. Look around the room and list all the technology-enabled devices that can be seen. Now consider this: are there other technology devices that are in use, but cannot be seen? There soon might be if you are use medications that contain computer chips. The ingestible technology transmits signals that indicate when a person has successfully taken medication, even monitoring times and the medications’ effects on health, and then transmitting all the data to a family member or physician.

Dozens of companies and research institutions are currently developing ingestible and implantable microchips that can help patients track their bodies in real time, and with a significant level of detail never before possible. Applications include transponders injected under the skin that contain medical history, a camera pill that can scan a colon for tumors, and medications that make sure older people take their daily medications. And on the horizon are nanosensors that would live in the bloodstream and send data to smartphones when an infection or heart attack might be coming. Soon, when someone asks about our health, all we will need to do is swallow a pill and link to their smartphone.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the product at company Web site (includes video): http://www.proteus.com/
  2. Discuss ethical considerations for ingestible technology.
  3. Have students research similar health technologies.
  4. Divide students into teams and have them build a SWOT grid for the product.
  5. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  6. Debrief by building SWOT analysis grid on the white board.

Source:   Washington Post

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