Health Tech News This Week – February 26, 2022

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

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Researchers Make Regenerative Medicine Breakthrough With Volumetric 3D Bioprinted Livers

A research team from Utrecht University has successfully fabricated working livers using a newly developed ultrafast volumetric 3D bioprinting method. Hayley Everett described the research in her article on 3D Printing Industry online. Utilizing visible light tomography, the volumetric bioprinting method enabled the successful printing of miniature stem cell units by making the cells “transparent,” which meant they retained their resolution and ability to perform biological processes.

Image Credit: Advanced Materials

Why it’s important – Printed in less than 20 seconds, the liver units could perform key toxin elimination processes mimicking those natural livers perform in our bodies and could open new opportunities for regenerative medicine and personalized drug testing. Although bioprinting has seen numerous advances in recent years, 3D printed viable, transplantable human organs remain a long way off. But progress is accelerating, and researchers hope to expand the number of viable options soon.

Infographic of the week – With all of the recent interest and articles on Special Purpose Acquisition Corporations (SPACS), CB Insights created this graphic to explain exactly what they are.

Image Credit: CB Insights

What Big Tech Should Actually Do In Healthcare

Sachin Jain wrote this article for Forbes, and in addition to highlighting that Big Tech has consistently failed to meet expectations when it comes to their investments in healthcare, he contends that instead of playing around the edges of healthcare, it’s time for the tech companies to get serious about changing American healthcare. They need to show us the art of the possible by changing healthcare from within, not as customers, but as owners. And the way they can do that is by acquiring a large health system and integrating advanced, tech-driven health solutions with solid risk management operations. Under this model, they could demonstrate how operations could get leaner, how whole-patient care could supplant fee-for-service care, how payers and providers can be integrated, and how administrative burdens can be lowered.

Why it’s important – With their commitment to quality, affordability, customer satisfaction, and ease of use, large tech companies could do wonders for the healthcare industry. I’ve written before on why Big Tech can’t seem to crack the healthcare code. The approach suggested in the Forbes article makes sense, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the tech firms moves in that direction.

Breaking The Rules Of Healthcare: Selecting The Best Technology

In another Forbes article, Dr. Robert Pearl discusses why form and function aren’t the only barriers to widespread tech adoption in healthcare. Also standing in the way is an unwritten rule that governs the relationship between doctors and technology—a practice that has held firm for centuries. “Rule 3: The best technology preserves the status of the doctor.” He does an excellent job in contrasting technology that elevates the doctor’s status, i.e., surgical robots (where research from 39 clinical studies has determined that robot-assisted surgeries have only modest clinical advantages over other approaches. They have failed to extend life expectancy or significantly reduce surgical complications) with modern technologies that could positively and powerfully transform patient care. Yet, most generate lukewarm to negative reactions from physicians (telemedicine and A.I/Analytics).

Why it’s important – Dr. Pearl is one of my favorite authors and podcasters (see my previous post) because he calls it like it is. To improve healthcare in the areas of cost, access, and quality, we must measure technologies by their impact on patients’ health, not their impact on the status of medical professionals.

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