Health Tech News This Week – July 3, 2021

What happened in health care technology this week – and why it is important.

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It’s about platforms, not pipelines.

John Halamka, M.D., president, Mayo Clinic Platform, and Paul Cerrato, senior research analyst and communications specialist, Mayo Clinic Platform, wrote a blog post titled: “A Paradigm Shift in Digital Health,” describing how innovation is best scaled by replacing pipelines with platforms. They also announced the formation of Lucem Health, a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and Commure, a General Catalyst portfolio health care technology company, to connect data from remote medical devices with AI-enabled algorithms.

External collaborators who have partners with MCP include nference, Medically Home, Kaiser Permanente, and K Health. The strategic approach allows the Mayo Clinic Platform to offer products and services that fall into 4 broad categories of functionality: Gather, Discover, Validate, and Deliver.

Image credit: John Halamka, M.D., Mayo Clinic Platform

Why it’s important – Health care providers have been struggling with achieving scale in their innovation efforts. As the HBR article points out, the chief assets of a platform are information and interactions, which are also the source of the value they create and their competitive advantage. Developing a robust digital platform will pay dividends over the next decade in accelerating innovation efforts and creating ecosystem value for organizations.

Will A.I. Increase Radiologist Workload?

An article this week on Aunt Minnie highlighted some recent research published on June 29th in Insights Into Imaging that seems to show that the addition of A.I. algorithms into radiologists’ workflows will increase their workload.

After reviewing a random sample of 440 medical imaging research studies published in 2019, Dr. Thomas Kwee of University Medical Center Groningen and Dr. Robert Kwee of Zuyderland Medical Center in the Netherlands found that over 86% of AI-focused studies were associated with a higher workload for radiologists.

This was mainly due to the need for longer postprocessing and interpretation times, according to their analysis.

Why it’s important – These findings should be used to counter arguments from policymakers that there is no need to expand the radiology workforce or that they can use A.I. as an excuse to reduce reimbursement for imaging studies.

World Health Organization lays out ethical principles for the use of A.I. in medicine.

As first reported by Bryan Walsh in Axios, after nearly two years of consultations by international experts, the WHO report makes the case that the use of AI in medicine offers great promise for both rich and poorer countries, but “only if ethics and human rights are put at the heart of its design, deployment and use,” the authors write.

Health care is one of the most promising areas for A.I., and the pandemic has accelerated the use of machine learning tools. But, can the addition of A.I. into the clinical mix follow the most important rule of medicine: “first do no harm”? As with all new technologies, A.I. holds great promise but also has the potential to cause harm. Algorithms need to demonstrate that they work in real-world clinical settings and not just in clinical trials.

Why it’s important – By formulating a “Hippocratic Oath” for A.I. (which actually closely mirrors two of Isaac Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics), the WHO creates a framework to ensure that humans remain at the center of decision making, and that any recommendations made by A.I. remain transparent and explainable. While developments in A.I. are impressive, few professional relationships require more trust than that between the patient and their physician, and medical A.I. has not yet earned that trust.

Google launches COVID card API for Android

Photo courtesy of Google

Google rolled out support for a digital COVID-19 vaccine certificate card for the Pay app on Android devices, which can now store and display COVID-19 test and vaccination information. When a user wants to access their COVID Card, they will be asked for the password, pin or biometric method set up for their Android device. The device will require the lock screen in order to store the card. While the COVID-19 information is stored locally on the user’s device and vaccination or test information is not shared with other Google services or third parties, Google said it does use information about how the COVID Card is used – for example, how often the digital card is used daily.

The function will first be made available in the United States and then expanded to other countries. Google’s announcement comes as governments across the globe are developing and rolling out digital COVID certifications to ease travel for those who have been tested and vaccinated. The “EU Digital COVID certificate (EUDCC)” as it is officially known, came into force July 1st, and should be valid in 27 E.U. member states, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.

Why it’s important – Both major device operating systems now have the capability to store and display COVID vaccination and testing information in their digital wallets. If we can move past the politicization of the topic, government officials, providers, and first responders have a convenient way to implement verification where required.

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