Health Tech News This Week – February 12, 2022

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

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Virtua Health offers lessons in creating a Digital Transformation Office

Bill Siwicki in Healthcare IT News provides this two-part article on Virtua Health’s journey in creating a Digital Transformation Office for their organization. C-suite executives and health IT leaders have much to learn from the East Coast health system’s massive digital health overhaul. In the summer of 2020, the Virtua Board of Trustees presented a strategic challenge to organize the rapid transformative learnings over the prior months into a structure that was sustainable and scalable. The organization decided to establish the Digital Transformation Office to consolidate their digital initiatives into a central office and build upon their existing enterprise digital infrastructure.

Why it’s important – Many organizations define the meaning of digital transformation differently. While the hot tech buzzword is open to interpretation across the healthcare industry, the term represents an entirely different meaning to the patient. A significant feature at Virtua Health is that the virtual care tools are built upon a purely browser-based platform and not within an app-based platform, which usually has multiple and sometimes complex touchpoints. This web-based platform has been transformational in expanding the health system’s patient engagement capabilities, including ease of use and accessibility. Virtua Health’s successful “get human fast” online engagement platform propelled patients to interact with staff and clinicians expanded to virtual consultations, chatbots and RPM. The enterprise health system created six distinct service lines supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infographic of the week – The chronic disease burden in the U.S. as reported by Wunderman Thompson Health in their Big Picture: Healthcare 2022 report.

Image Credit: Wunderman Thompson Health, 2022

Toilet-Based Device Uses AI to Monitor Biomarkers for Kidney Stones, UTIs, & Heart Failure

An article in Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry online, reported that Olive Diagnostics has created a hands-free, noninvasive, AI-based optical device that can be mounted to any toilet. According to the company, it can be used at any home or clinic in the world to accurately detect biomarkers for medical conditions and diseases including certain types of cancers related to the prostate, ovaries, or kidneys; heart failure; dehydration; kidney stones; and inflammation in the urinary bladder. The device can identify 3,100 molecules in urine, such as red blood cells, protein, ketone, and creatinine, as well as other urine characteristics such as volume, pressure, color, and frequency.

Image Credit: Olive Diagnostics

Why it’s important – KG’s recently completed clinical trial conducted at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem validated accuracy of the continuous monitoring technology over traditional urine sticks. The clinical trial, conducted by TechnoSTAT, was designed to check the system’s ability to detect protein in urine in more than 900 samples. On a single test made to mimic the traditional urine stick method, KG showed a sensitivity rating of 92.8%, and its specificity rating was 95.5%. According to the United States National Institutes of Health, urine sticks have a sensitivity rating of 80% and specificity of 95%. The company claims that because of its continuous monitoring, KG can alert users to presymptomatic issues, sometimes weeks before symptoms occur, which makes the device an ideal tool for the elderly, where early detection can improve the quality of life and of care.

Chart of the week – Personnel shortages ranked No. 1 on the list of hospital CEOs’ top concerns in 2021, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual survey of top issues confronting hospitals.

Table Credit: American College of Healthcare Executives, 2/4/2022

Mayo Clinic develops automated system to accelerate diagnoses for patients with rare diseases

Susan Murphy reports on this effort on The Mayo Clinic Individualized Medicine Blog. The team of genomics experts has developed an automated system called RENEW for tracking new scientific knowledge from around the world of pathogenic genetic variants and applying it to Mayo Clinic patients with rare and undiagnosed diseases. RENEW stands for reanalysis of negative whole-exome/genome data. With RENEW, the latest worldwide gene-disease findings are automatically downloaded every three months from a hub of published discoveries, including from the Human Gene Mutation Database, ClinVar and Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. New findings are then compared to Mayo’s database of patient sequencing results to identify potentially important developments.

“We don’t start with a case from scratch. We’re building up from the last time that we analyzed the case, and we just focus on what is new.”

Alejandro Ferrer, Ph.D., translational omics researcher in Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine and Division of Hematology

Why it’s important – A key feature of RENEW is a special set of filters that whittle down the new genetic information available since the last analysis and zero in on what could cause the disease. The filter allows only the relevant information to pop up, so new genes and variants that have been added to the database are flagged, as well as important changes to information on known disease-causing genes and variants,

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