‘Showcase’ Shines a Light on Digital Health Using Digital Connection


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Hari Eswaran, Ph.D., left, Shuk-Mei Ho, Ph.D., center, and Nalin Payakachat, Pharm.D. ; Eswaran and Payakachat were the presenters on January 21 at the Showcase of Medical Discoveries. Ho is the UAMS Vice-Chancellor for Research.

Digital health uses interactive video, data and imaging devices as well as a patient’s computer, smartphone or tablet to provide specialized medical services and expertise.

The Clipbeat device will allow healthcare professionals to listen to a patient's heartbeat during a virtual visit.

The Clipbeat device will allow healthcare professionals to listen to a patient’s heartbeat during a virtual visit.

“The pandemic has removed barriers and enabled accelerated growth in digital healthcare. According to Research and Markets, it is expected to experience double-digit growth over the next decade, ”said Shuk-Mei Ho, Ph.D., UAMS Vice Chancellor for Research. “In this context, it is important for UAMS and UAMS Health to continue to invest in research and innovation in this area. Commercialization and translation of innovative technologies into new tools in clinics will benefit patients and fuel future economic growth in the region. “

The showcases promote communication and collaboration within the UAMS research community. Starting with the first showcase event in late 2012, the College of Medicine sponsored what began as informal gatherings around wine and cheese where College researchers casually display research posters and discuss their findings with each other, the donors and interested students and faculty. Storefronts have switched to using a live virtual video connection since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“It definitely helps the research community come together and learn what each other is doing,” said Hari Eswaran, Ph.D. “I was not aware of a few of the digital health projects that were on campus. I learned of their existence through the window. I miss the physical presence, but the virtual storefront still offers a lot of value and a new awareness. “

Eswaran is Research Director at the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Innovation (IDHI) and Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the College of Medicine.

The Clipbeat device viewed from the side and attached to a smartphone.  The device was developed by researchers at UAMS and a patent is pending.

The Clipbeat device viewed from the side and attached to a smartphone. The device was developed by researchers at UAMS and a patent is pending.

Institute Acting Director Joseph Sanford, MD, and Kevin Sexton, MD, collaborated with IDHI Mechanical Engineer Adria Abella Villafranca in an initiative called Clipbeat which Abella Villafranca showcased in the showcase.

They and other UAMS researchers have developed a “clip and bell” stethoscope, said Abella Villafranca. The inexpensive plastic piece can plug into any smart phone so that a doctor doing a remote virtual visit with a patient can listen to their heartbeat.

“We are trying to build an affordable option for rural areas,” said Abella Villafranca. “We see a need there. Stethoscopes can cost up to $ 200 or more. We wanted to create something quick and easy for these patients.

He said he also learned during the showcase of a nationally recognized research effort that he was not previously aware of and that he could see how the showcase could foster a new collaboration.

“I was really thrilled to hear Clipbeat’s presentation,” said Nalin Payakachat, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at UAMS College of Pharmacy. “In addition, another presentation on social media analysis using natural language processing was also very informative.

“I learned that other groups are doing very interesting things at UAMS. It was a great opportunity to learn what is going on in university-wide research. The collaboration within UAMS is fascinating, ”she said.

Payakachat’s presentation focused on a study she worked on that compared the effectiveness of breastfeeding consultations over the phone with breastfeeding consultations using a digital health virtual tour. She said that breastfeeding mothers often do not receive instructions and information about breastfeeding until soon after giving birth. The study gave some mothers the opportunity to participate in follow-up.

The study found that although the educational benefit for mothers of a phone-only conversation was the same as that of a virtual video tour, there was a “significant difference,” she said.

“We saw an advantage of the virtual tour over the phone call only: you connect with the real person because you can see them,” she said. “Face-to-face is better in terms of perceived social support.

Eswaran was on the same research team with Payakachat and also presented the results of a similar study in women with diabetes and high risk pregnancy. The study found that the health outcomes for these mothers were the same whether they had virtual visits or in-person consultations on diabetes and pregnancy management.

The showcase posters, using text and graphics, described the work of many different research project groups:

  • Auscultation device that connects to a smart device – Joseph Sanford, Kevin Sexton, Adria Abella Villafranca, Nikiya Simpson, Melody Greer, Samir Jenkins, Aaron Storey and William Kalkbrnner.
  • Virtual reality distraction during awake deep brain stimulation lead placement – BW Elberson, A. Merchant, A. Abdeldayem and Erika Petersen.
  • Feasibility of the telelactation service: Results of a mixed methods analysis – Nalin Payakachat, Hari Eswaran, Sarah Rhoads, Hannah McCoy, Song Ounpraseuth, and Curtis Lowery.
  • Mobile Opioid Treatment Application (OPTIMA): Feasibility, Use and Pilot Results – Andrew James, Ron Thompson Jr., Mary Bollinger, Michael Mancino and Clint Kilts.
  • Methods and systems for predicting the efficacy of inhaled and infused anesthetics – Ali Z. Al-Alawi, Kaylee Henry, Lauren Crimmins, Patrick Bonasso, Abul Hayat, Melvin Dassiner, Jeffrey Burford, Hanna Jensen, Joseph Sanford, Jingxian Wu, Kevin Sexton and Morten Jensen.
  • UtiIisation of telehealth in Arkansas during COVID-19 – Taiwo Adesoba, Arina Eyimina, Clare Brown, Mick Tilford and Ben Amick.
  • Natural language processing and visualization to digest complex topics covered in online caregiver support forums – Catherine Shoults, Michael Rutherford, Aliza Brown, Corey Hayes, Carolyn Greene, Merideth Addicott, Aaron Kemp, Jennifer Gan, Jonathan Bona and Linda Larson-Prior.
  • Using a Neuroinformatics Research Platform (ARIES) to develop quantitative tools for the clinical assessment and treatment of Parkinson’s disease patients in rural Arkansas – Tuhin Virmani, Lakshmi Pillai, Aliyah Glover, Aaron Kemp, Horace Spencer, Michael Rutherford, Phillip Farmer, Shorabuddin Syed, Hari Eswaran, Mitesh Lotia, Jonathan Bona, Linda Larson-Prior and Fred Prior.
  • A pilot study evaluating the use of mHealth technology in older people with heart failure: basis for a clinical trial – L. Leflar, Sarah Rhoads and M. Harris.
  • Potential Savings on Health Care Costs of UAMS Nursing Call Center for Midwifery Services – Nalin Payakachat, Yi-Shan Sung, Naleen Raj Bhandari, Wanda Whitehurst, Susan Fogelman, Hari Eswaran, Tina Benton and Curtis Lowery.
  • Implementation of an interprofessional training simulation at the 1-800-COVID-19 call center – Kevin Sexton, Kathryn Neill, Kristen Sterba, Jared Gowen, Layla Simmons, Megan Lane and Joseph Sanford.
  • Go virtual research in a childhood obesity trial – Jeannette Lee and Jessica Snowden.
  • Evaluation of a telemedicine program supporting high-risk pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes – Hari Eswaran, Yi-Shan Sung, Donglan Zhang and Curtis Lowery.
  • telestroke quality assessment surveys; Our system-wide evaluation plan -Aliza Brown.


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