Health Tech News This Week – September 10, 2022

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

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Tool to spot breast cancer at home wins UK Dyson award

A device to help detect breast cancer has won the prestigious UK James Dyson Award. Shiona McCallum reported on the story on the BBC News website. Users build a personalized map of their torso by inputting their breast size and shape and pressing the handheld device over their chest. Once a month, soundwaves are used to record tissue composition – and if there are any suspicious changes or abnormalities, users are advised to see a healthcare professional. Dotplot will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award, with the winner announced on 16 November.

Image Credit: James Dyson Award

“Obviously, it’s in the early stages of development, so it does need to go through medicine regulatory device checks to make sure that it is actually adequate at detecting breast cancers.”

Frankie Jackson-Spence, M.D., Oncologist

Why it’s important – Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, but many women do not perform regular self-examinations. The technology is similar to mammograms for over-50s or ultrasound scans offered to women worried about a lump. Medical professionals have welcomed the invention but warn it is no substitute for going to the doctor.

Infographic of the week – As health systems grapple with the challenges in staffing their organizations, Gist Healthcare created a great infographic showing what they believe are the critical components of a successful employee value proposition, which must have a clear vision and focus on the things most important to employee needs: compensation, work-life balance, and career support. Systems can use the guiding questions listed in each column to craft a value proposition that is differentiated in their local labor market, informed by their level of resources, and undergirded by their own culture and values.

Image Credit: Gist Healthcare

“World’s first” non-invasive continuous glucose monitor to launch

GlucoRx and Cardiff University are set to bring out the world’s first non-invasive continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in what they say will herald a new era of needle-free monitoring for people with diabetes. MedTech Innovation reports that the GlucoRx BioXensor uses radio frequency technology alongside a multiple-sensor approach to measuring blood glucose levels every minute. The small and discreet wearable multi-sensor device weighs 14g and is 42mm in diameter by 7mm.

“GlucoRx BioXensor has standout accuracy with a proven MARD of 10.4%, owing to its multi sensor approach capturing blood glucose as well as Sp02, ECG, respiration rate, heart rate, temperature, activity, sleep, and early fall detection. The wearable device has a longer shelf-life because it is not chemical in its action.”

Chris Chapman, GlucoRx chief operating officer

Why it’s important – According to the World Health Organization, approximately 422 million people around the globe have diabetes. Currently, people with diabetes must prick their fingers to extract and test their blood several times a day using glucometers or apply semi-invasive devices such as continuous blood glucose monitors (CGMs). When used as an early intervention to change lifestyle, the GlucoRx BioXensor will assist in preventing the onset of diabetes or its remission and improve quality of life with its smart alarms and remote monitoring technology.

This company is about to grow new organs in a person for the first time

Volunteers with severe liver disease will soon undergo a procedure that could lead them to grow a second liver. Jessica Hamzelou reports on the research in her article in MIT Technology Review. The company behind the treatment, LyGenesis, hopes to save people with devastating liver diseases who are not eligible for transplants. Their approach is to inject liver cells from a donor into the lymph nodes of sick recipients, which can give rise to entirely new miniature organs. These mini livers should help compensate for an existing diseased one. The approach appears to work in mice, pigs, and dogs. Now we’ll find out if it works in people.

Why it’s important – Donor organs are in short supply, and many of those donated can’t be used—for example, sometimes the tissue is too damaged. The team at LyGenesis is taking a less invasive approach. The healthy liver cells will be delivered via an endoscope—a tube fed down the throat. This tube will be guided by ultrasound, and when it reaches the target lymph node, a surgeon will be able to inject the cells directly through it. The new approach can use organs that would otherwise have been discarded, and the researchers reckon they can get treatments for around 75 people from a single donated organ.

It’s time to embrace the tech that could confront the crisis in aging

Ahmad Alghazi, CEO & founder at CAN, wrote this opinion piece in Venture Beat. A constellation of technologies can help aging populations thrive and live independently — and for longer. These include AI and self-driving autos, remote monitoring (with privacy protection), a complete and dynamic data profile, and cellular connectivity to selected intelligent sensors and mobility aids. By reducing the care individuals require, advanced technologies and data become force multipliers for caregivers and create a better future for the elderly.

Why it’s important – I’ve written earlier on technologies that support aging in place. These technologies can’t be adopted fast enough. In 2015, the world had 900 million people aged 60 and over. In 2050, there will be 2 billion of them. Given the dimensions and urgency of the crisis of aging, the market for innovation in technology for elder health and well-being will continue to flourish.

Open-Source Automated Insulin Delivery in Type 1 Diabetes

Many patients with type 1 diabetes use open-source automated insulin delivery (AID) systems. Data are needed on the efficacy and safety of an open-source AID system. An article published in the NEJM reports on the findings of the CREATE trial (RCT studying the #OpenAPS algorithm in a modified version of AndroidAPS in persons with type 1 diabetes). The AID system was a modified version of AndroidAPS 2.8 (with a standard OpenAPS 0.7.0 algorithm) paired with a preproduction DANA-i insulin pump and Dexcom G6 CGM, which has an Android smartphone application as the user interface.

“In children and adults with type 1 diabetes, the use of an open-source AID system resulted in a significantly higher percentage of time in the target glucose range than the use of a sensor-augmented insulin pump at 24 weeks.”

NEJM article

Why it’s important – This outcome is great news for the diabetes and #wearenotwaiting communities. In children and adults with type 1 diabetes, the use of an open-source AID system resulted in a significantly higher percentage of time (3 hours 21 minutes more in the target range per day)than the use of a sensor-augmented insulin pump at 24 weeks.

Most Consumers Are Health and Wellness Consumers Even in Hard Financial Times, Accenture Finds

In her latest blog post, Jane SARASOHN-KAHN reviews the results of a survey where Accenture polled over 11,000 consumers in 17 countries, considering how people are faring amid “widespread uncertainty and personal financial strains,” in the firm’s words. While two in three consumers feel financially stressed, 4 in 5 intend to grow or hold their personal spending on health and fitness steady in the next year. Net-net for U.S. consumers, 76% of people would plan to spend more or maintain their spending on health and wellness over the next twelve months.

Image Credit: Accenture

Why it’s important – As always, Jane’s conclusions are spot on. The importance of this research is summarized in Jane’s Hot Takes at the conclusion of her post:

  • As patients grow muscles as health citizens, they have come to learn more about public health and how their behaviors impact and co-determine others’ (as we have learned through the work of Christakis and Fowler in their Connected research, among other studies into social networks’ impacts on health)
  • As patients continue to morph into health consumers and medical bill payers, they will seek value-based care based on their values, customers, preferences, and beliefs
  • Patients seek more personalized guidance for health care decisions and self-care, from assessing approaches to dealing with cancer diagnoses to recommendations for wearable tech based on individual goals, budgets, and features.

Driving Adoption of Nocturnal Scratch as a Digital Endpoint & Improving Patients’ Lives

I’ve long been impressed with the work being done by the Digital Medicine Society (DiME). This week they announced a watershed moment in the digital measurement space: the first pre-competitive development of a digital endpoint! DiMe and partners announced new patient-generated data and evidence supporting the use of a new digital clinical measure. They’ve developed and deployed digital measures for patients with #atopicdermatitis. By using digital tools and sensor-generated #data, they’ve collected essential information about patients’ nighttime scratching, measuring and quantifying their behavior in real-time. And they’ve created a new toolkit that shows you how to adopt nocturnal scratch as a digital endpoint for atopic dermatitis. It also serves as a blueprint for developing and deploying #digital endpoints in #clinicaltrials and #medical product development.

Image Credit: Digital Medicine Society
Image Credit: Digital Medicine Society

Why it’s important – Atopic dermatitis affects up to 2.4% of the world’s population, with nighttime scratching being a predominant and burdensome symptom for patients. These findings formed a Conceptual Model for Nocturnal Scratching, which will be published later in 2022. The results can help you anchor the narrative about nocturnal scratching in meaningful aspects of patients’ lives. If you are not following DiME, you should add them to your list of digital resources now. You’ll be glad you did.

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