How tiny bioelectronic implants may someday replace pharmaceutical drugs

Scientists are using bioelectronic medicine to treat inflammatory diseases, an approach that capitalizes on the ancient "hardwiring" of the nervous system.

Left: The vagus nerve, the body's longest cranial nerve. Right: Vagus nerve stimulation implant by SetPoint Medical.

Credit: Adobe Stock / SetPoint Medical
  • Bioelectronic medicine is an emerging field that focuses on manipulating the nervous system to treat diseases.
  • Clinical studies show that using electronic devices to stimulate the vagus nerve is effective at treating inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Although it's not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, vagus nerve stimulation may also prove effective at treating other diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression.
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How leaders influence people to believe

Being a leader is about more than the job title. You have to earn respect.

  • What does it take to be a leader? For Northwell Health president and CEO Michael Dowling, having an Ivy League degree and a large office is not what makes a leader. Leadership requires something much less tangible: influence.
  • True leaders inspire people to follow and believe in them and the organization's mission by being passionate, having humility, and being a real part of the team. This is especially important in a field like health care, where guidance and teamwork save lives.
  • Authenticity is also key. "Don't pretend, be real," says Dowling. "Accept your vulnerabilities, accept your weaknesses, know where your strengths are, and get people to belong."
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How one NY hospital system treated 128,000+ COVID cases

From making their own swabs to staying in constant communication across the board, Northwell Health dove headfirst into uncharted waters to take on the virus and save lives.

  • Preparing for a pandemic like COVID-19 was virtually impossible. Northwell Health president and CEO Michael Dowling explains how, as the largest healthcare provider in New York, his team had to continuously organize, innovate, and readjust to dangerous and unpredictable conditions in a way that guaranteed safety for the staff and the best treatment for over 128,000 coronavirus patients.
  • From making their own supplies when they ran out, to coordinating with government at every level and making sense of new statistics and protocols, Northwell focused on strengthening internal and external communication to keep the ship from sinking.
  • "There was no such thing as putting up the white flag," Dowling says of meeting the pandemic head on and reassuring his front line staff that they would be safe and have all the resources they needed to beat the virus. "It's amazing how innovative you can be in a crisis."
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How your social media data can become a ‘mental health X-ray’

In the future, you might voluntarily share your social media data with your psychiatrist to inform a more accurate diagnosis.

Social media data may be a useful tool in psychiatry, leading to more accurate diagnoses and better outcomes.

Credit: I-Wei Huang / Adobe Stock
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • About one in five people suffer from a psychiatric disorder, and many go years without treatment, if they receive it at all.
  • In a new study, researchers developed machine-learning algorithms that analyzed the relationship between psychiatric disorders and Facebook messages.
  • The algorithms were able to correctly predict the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders with statistical accuracy, suggesting digital tools may someday help clinicians identify mental illnesses in early stages.
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Can scientists find the ‘holy grail’ of Alzheimer’s research?

Clinical trials at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research focus on stabilizing cognitive loss and alleviating the psychotic symptoms that change our loved ones.

Credit: Adobe Stock
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that is estimated to affect twice as many Americans by 2050, making it a troubling eventuality for many young adults.
  • There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's, but clinical trials of immunotherapy approaches show promise.
  • Immunotherapies may also alleviate the psychotic symptoms of Alzheimer's, like agitation, aggression, and paranoia.
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Can better data defeat the next pandemic?

Northwell Health has built an elaborate data system to track and fight COVID-19. If this system goes global, it could prevent a future pandemic.

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  • This coronavirus pandemic is very much still ongoing, but now is the time to discern its lessons so that we are more prepared for the next one. Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, shares how their health system is collecting and utilizing vast amounts of health data to best care for patients and to quickly identify and manage COVID-19 surges.
  • "I would say that we probably had the most elaborate dashboard of any health system dealing with this crisis," says Dowling. Northwell Health has also developed a "local surveillance tracking system" which has allowed them to react to COVID spikes early. Dowling hopes that these systems will be adopted by and improved upon by other networks.
  • In addition to improvements to New York State's illness surveillance system, Dowling hopes to see a more global approach to fighting the pandemic where infection data is tracked shared between nations and warning signs can be acted on early enough to avoid another crisis.
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