Oral health: more than a public health challenge, an opportunity for telehealth?

Untreated caries in permanent teeth was the most prevalent health condition in 2010, affecting 35% of the global population, or 2·4 billion people worldwide. In 2010, severe periodontitis was the sixth-most prevalent health condition, affecting 10·8% of people, or 743 million, worldwide.

Worldwide in 2015, dental diseases accounted for US$356·80 billion in direct costs and US$187·61 billion in indirect costs.

Is oral health the next big SDH (Social Determinant of Health)? A focus in this month’s Lancet is the neglect of global oral health. Most of our Readers know that oral self-care can be a challenge with older adults due to physical limitations, finances, and access, but oral  and periodontal disease affects nutrition, is a source of pain, tooth loss, consequent low self-regard, low quality of life, and can lead to other diseases such as sepsis and undiagnosed cancers.

The Lancet’s two articles, Oral diseases: a global public health challenge and Ending the neglect of global oral health: time for radical action (open access, registration required on these links) point out the current allopathic model does not fit the wider societal need,  and come down hard on the social and economic origins (very hard on Western dental practice, the sugar industry, and food providers). However, the articles are light on solutions other than universal health care and community based dental practice. Even in less-developed countries like India and Brazil, practitioners don’t migrate to poor, rural areas. It is true, however, that much of dentistry, at least in the US, has an increasing focus on cosmetic restoration.

Here is a wide-open area for telehealth development. Some areas to explore:

  • Creating wider access to dentistry that treats immediate problems
  • Greater access to proactive dental care, whether dental checkups and to encourage better self-care
  • Connecting rural fixed or mobile clinics staffed by technicians or locally trained staff with dentists for remote screening and scheduling care. 

Hat tip to Leah at The TeleDentists for these articles. The articles are also attached as PDFs here and here.

ELabNYC Pitch Day 2015

Thursday 3 April, Microsoft’s NY Technology Center, Times Square NYC

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Elab.png” thumb_width=”100″ /]The third annual Pitch Day for the now 20 startup/early-stage life science, biotech and healthcare technology companies in the ELabNYC (Entrepreneurship Lab Bio and Health Tech NYC) is a culmination of their year-long program participation in this NY Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)-supported program. The entrepreneurs in the ELabNYC program primarily come from from the doctoral and post-doc programs from New York’s many universities, from CUNY to Columbia, from many parts of the world, and most have experience within the city’s multitude of major health research institutions from The Bronx to Brooklyn. New York is also a center of funding for life science and health tech ventures; it’s #2 with NIH awards totaling $1.4 billion. For the past few years, NYEDC has also supported these companies with finding access to capital, specialized space (e.g. wet labs such as the million square feet at Alexandria Center alone, plus Harlem Biospace and SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn) and partnerships with major companies such as Celgene, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and GE Ventures.

This Editor will concentrate on health tech companies–eight, up from five last year [TTA 17 Apr 14]. Each company pitched for five minutes on its concept, its current state of advancement (including pilots/customers), its team and a funding timeline. It was a very different mix from last year’s class, which focused on compliance, diagnosis, dementia and concussion. These companies focused on niches which are either not being served well or to substantially reduce costs. Nearly half the entrepreneurs were women, a substantially greater number than one usually sees in the biotech/health tech area. Short impressions on our eight, with links to their Executive Summaries on the 2014-15 ‘class page’: (more…)