Chemist giant offers $14 flu shots

One of Australia’s leading pharmacy chains is offering in-store flu vaccinations administered by nurse practitioners for $13.99.
Chemist Warehouse is advertising the services under the tag line Arm Up Against the Flu and says the shots are at the “lowest prices guaranteed”.
The vaccinations are administered by nurse practitioners, who also write the scripts.
The work is subsidised under the Medicare nurse practitioner attendance items. Customers are told to bring their Medicare card.
Two years ago pharmacy chain Terry White was blasted by the AMA when it started employing nurses to administer in-store vaccinations.
But the move by Chemist Warehouse has now become part of a wider turf war among doctors, pharmacists and nurses over who should and who should not administer flu…



Novel smartphone case measures key vital signs

It is no surprise that more than 91.4 million Americans use a smartphone. The devices are so much more than a phone – they are a world of knowledge right in the palms of our hands. And now, they can even monitor our health. Technology company Azoi has launched a smartphone case that can measure key vital signs.

The health tracker is called Wello. It consists of a number of sensors that are embedded into a case that fits onto a smartphone.

When held up with both hands, the sensors can measure a series of vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and blood oxygen. It also comes with an add-on device that can measure lung function.

The data is then sent to a Wello app that can be downloaded onto the smartphone. This allows users to have quick access to their health information and even track trends that may indicate they are becoming ill.

Wello can also connect with other health and fitness devices, such as pedometers and sleep monitors. Furthermore, it has remote access, meaning it can monitor and track the vital signs of family members.

You can watch an introductory video here…


Researchers create smartphone device that performs blood tests

Smartphone blood test

Researchers have created a smartphone device that can perform blood tests – a creation they say could “improve the quality of life” for people undergoing treatment for the prevention of blood clots.

The formation of blood clots in the arteries and veins can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Individuals at high risk of blood clots are often treated with anticoagulants – drugs that thin the blood and prevent the clotting process.

However, anticoagulant therapy requires patients to undergo frequent monitoring of blood flow in the hospital. Furthermore, if a person takes the wrong dosage of anticoagulants, this can cause cardiovascular problems rather than help reduce them.

With this in mind, researchers from Qloudlab have created a device that could allow patients undergoing anticoagulant therapy to self-monitor.  The gadget consists of a small single-use film that is attached to the screen of a smartphone. The film is made of a microstructured plastic layer that is a few micrometers thick.

When blood enters the film through capillary action, it can detect a molecule present in blood that initiates coagulation – the process by which blood forms clots.

The phone is then able to interpret the results by analyzing interferences in the electric field on the surface of the smartphone’s screen. This is a process similar to what happens when your finger comes into contact with the screen of a smartphone.

The results are then sent to a specific smartphone app, and then this data can then be sent directly to a doctor, who can assess whether a patients’ treatment needs to be modified.


A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami

Bio engineer Manu Prakash and his colleagues have created a microscope out of paper costing less than a dollar.  In spite of low cost and ease of assembly, the microscope offers up to 2000X magnification. Prakash and his colleagues demonstrated the imaging of disease causing microbes using this “orgami” microscope.

The entire microscope can be printed on a two-dimensional card and be punched out to be assembled into a working device as shown in this video.

Not only can you use your eye for examination of microscopic samples, the inbuilt LED which runs for 50 hours on a single battery can be used to project a larger image on the screen.

All the movement of the microscope including the focusing are controlled by movement of paper tabs. The XY direction movement can be controlled by pulling out tabs in the particular direction while the focusing is using a paper flexure mount.

More details of the working of the microscope have been outlined in the paper on arxiv.

Prakash’s claim is that due to the principle of “origami” (Japanese art of paper folding or a child’s past time of making paper ducks), all the optics will line up perfectly to give an usable image.  Schematic below illustrates how it will work when projecting either an image onto a screen or our eye.

Principles of Operation Image: Cybulski et al.,

Principles of Operation
Image: Cybulski et al.,

Apart from the simplicity of the device engineering, the major advantage of this microscope is that it can be used on the field in poor countries, rapidly accelerating diagnosis of diseases and saving lives.