Health Tech News This Week – December 24, 2022

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

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It’s been a pretty quiet week on the tech news front as folks prepare for the holidays. So this will be an abbreviated post.

Google Takes on Doctors’ Terrible Handwriting

Lauren Leffer in Gizmodo reports that Google has proposed a remedy for the doctor’s note. The tech giant is working on an AI technology tool to decipher hard-to-read handwritten medical prescriptions, as announced at its yearly Google for India conference on Monday and described in a company blog post. The feature will be part of Google Lens’ library of applications. Lens can already assess, copy, and paste handwriting from real life into your phone or computer and automatically offer supporting context and information based on that text through its Search capabilities. And the in-development prescription decoding tool will work similarly. Users can take or upload a photo of a doctor’s note, and then the Lens app will process the image, detect listed medications, and automatically offer information about those drugs.

Why it’s important – It might seem like a small step for Google Lens, which technically should’ve been able to read doctor’s scripts like any other texts this whole time. However, a doctor’s handwriting is worse than most peoples’ after hours and hours of daily wear on their hands, and physicians often operate in a unique shorthand. Plus, the stakes are much higher for digitizing a prescription than they are for transferring a handwritten grocery list into a text note on your phone. Google framed the in-progress product as most useful for pharmacists and indicated that pharmacist expertise was also crucial in training and developing the new tech. The technology isn’t quite ready for doctor deployment yet, though.

Infographic of the week – During last week’s Drug Channels Outlook 2023 video webinar, they shared the latest version of their chart mapping the insurer/PBM/specialty pharmacy/provider organizations that now dominate U.S. drug channels.

Image Credit: Drug Channels Institute

The IPO market disappeared in 2022. Will it return in 2023?

Digital Health and Business Technology’s Gabriel Perna highlights that 20 digital health companies went public in 2021. In 2022, there were two, only one of which was listed on an American-based stock exchange. Industry watchers blamed a challenging macroeconomic environment and investor uncertainty on digital health business models and said late-stage private companies should use the pause to strengthen their business.

Why it’s important – Investors are not expecting a comeback for public market financing in digital health in the coming year. The lack of outside funding means companies will have to conserve cash. 2023 may be worse than 2022, and in that case, you want to make sure you have money for a long time, so you don’t need to raise it any time soon.

Our Homes as HealthQuarters – Finding Health and Well-Being at CES 2023

This is Jane Sarasohn-Kahn’s annual preview of what she’ll be looking for at CES 2023. As her advisory work with companies across the health/care ecosystem has increasingly shifted to omnichannel, home-based, and retail sites, CES has emerged as a critical touch point for her every year to receive updates and check in with key innovators that increasingly serve up tools underpinned with clinical evidence and enchanting design.

Why it’s important – As Jane points out in the post, we can think about the home’s “HealthQuarters” by “room,” such as the bedroom (for sleep and healthy sex lives), the bathroom (for weight and mood observed in the mirror, or the toilet as a collector of health data), the kitchen (for healthy food and cooking), and the overall home environment itself for air and water quality. For wonkier healthcare folks, you can consider these the “home determinants of health,” a subset of the big umbrella of social determinants or drivers of health. I’ve written on the topic before and am a big proponent of moving care to the home setting as much as possible. And Jane is one of the best at writing about digital health. I’m looking forward to following her CES reporting to see what she finds.

Well, that’s about it for this week—my sincere best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy, healthy holiday season. Thanks for your support of the blog throughout the year.

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