What happened in health care technology this week, and why it’s important.
New digital pathology system in Brisbane can raise pathologists’ productivity by 10 times
Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, one of Australia’s largest diagnostic laboratories, is now using a new digital pathology system that generates faster and more accurate reports. Adam Ang in Healthcare IT News reports that the digital pathology scanner is from a decade-long research by SNP and the University of Queensland. The project seeks to automate a microscope scanning and analysis system to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnostic testing. The technology has been tested and accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities.
Why it’s important – By using the digital pathology scanner, SNP can now process thousands of tests a day. According to SNP CEO Dr. Michael Harrison, their scientists are using digitized images “instead of being tied to a microscope for many hours.” By combing image analysis and AI, the digital pathology scanner “greatly increases image quality and reduces file size.” The scanner has also enabled faster turnaround times. In some situations, Prof. Lovell mentioned, it was “possible to do pathology during an operation.”
Infographic of the week – The future healthcare ecosystems, like other ecosystems, will be centered on the consumer, in this case, the patient. These capabilities and services contribute to the underlying data backbone and advanced analytics technologies. These capabilities maintain data integrity and enable insights from the ecosystem. Ecosystems have proven to be a powerful force in reshaping and disrupting industries. Healthcare ecosystems have tremendous potential to do the same and could lead to improved health outcomes and affordability by delivering a personalized, intuitive, and integrated experience to patients. In addition, providers could enhance productivity and engage with a broad set of caregivers.
American College of Radiology opposes US House bill aimed at increasing imaging price transparency
The American College of Radiology on Wednesday said it opposes proposed legislation requiring hospitals and other providers to disclose the consumer’s upfront cost for X-ray, MRI, CT, and other exams. Marty Stempniak reports on the issue in his article in Radiology Business. U.S. Rep. Mike Carey, R-Ohio, introduced the Imaging Services Price Transparency Act on July 25, hoping to better inform patients about services provided by the specialty. If approved, the rule would take effect on Jan. 1, 2025, establishing a list of “at least 50” shoppable services for which providers must publicly disclose pricing on their websites.
Why it’s important – The proposal tasks the Health and Human Services Secretary with creating the list of specific imaging services targeted and other details. Providers would be required to disclose the discounted cash price for imaging (or the gross charge if one does not exist) and potentially the deidentified minimum and maximum negotiated rate in effect between them and health plans. ACR contended that, as proposed, the bill prioritizes pricing over quality as the primary factor in selecting imaging services. It believes patients also should be able to shop based on factors such as facility accreditation, whether the equipment is updated and well-maintained, and the skills of radiologists interpreting their exams.
YouTube video of the week – In this new digital age of healthcare, health information is no longer left to just the professionals, but now the individual can play a role in their health journey through digital health technology.
AdventHealth has formed an AI Advisory Board – here’s a look at its goals
With artificial intelligence making its way into many facets of healthcare, leaders must weigh the security, efficacy, ethics, and consequences of the fast-evolving technology. Hospitals and health systems stand to make significant leaps in quality, safety, efficacy, and innovation from advancements in AI and automation. But are providers properly equipped to integrate these tools responsibly? Bill Siwicki from Healthcare IT News interviews Rob Purinton, vice president of analytics and performance improvement at AdventHealth, who leads the health system’s AI Advisory Board. The board takes a rigorous and principled approach to AI adoption and development within the Florida-based health system. It gathers a cross-functional team of experts, including physicians, IT experts, data scientists, and the health system’s vendors, including Microsoft, Vizient, and Premier.
Why it’s important – By having deep conversations about artificial intelligence’s capabilities and limitations, the nine-state health system hopes to help its clinical and IT leaders enable a more responsible path forward for AI deployments.
Wearable ultrasound patch detects suspicious breast findings
A wearable ultrasound patch showed success in a pilot study for detecting potential breast cancer early, according to a study published July 28 in Science Advances. Amerigo Allegretto in Aunt Minnie reports on the research. A team led by Canan DaĞdeviren, Ph.D., from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, reported that the cell phone-sized patch successfully detected breast cysts in a 71-year-old woman with a history of breast cysts. The scanner is based on conventional ultrasound technology, but it also uses a novel piezoelectric material that allows it to be in a smaller size. The team also developed a flexible, 3D-printed patch with honeycomb-like openings to make the scanner wearable. By fitting into a small tracker and making contact with the skin, the cUSBr-Patch can be moved to six different positions and rotated to image the breast. The researchers said that no special expertise is needed to operate the scanner patch and that it can be used repeatedly.
Why it’s important – The earlier a breast tumor is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. That’s the golden rule as new breast imaging technologies make their way into the clinic. However, interval cancers persist as a problem, occurring in between 20% and 30% of breast cancer cases, according to the researchers. While the mini scanner would not replace screening mammography as the primary imaging modality, the team suggested that the device could be helpful for imaging in between yearly mammograms. The authors also suggested that the device could help women who do not have regular access to breast cancer screening.
Biological Materials Enter the Solid-State Era
In a groundbreaking development, scientists have pioneered a new technique for preserving biological materials like RNA and proteins in a solid-state, akin to a pill or tablet. This innovation dissolves in water for immediate use, offering a solution to the current challenges in storing and handling products derived from living cells, which are often used in health care and scientific research. A team of researchers at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, CA, has developed this novel method for storing biological materials, which holds immense potential for the scientific and medical communities. Findings from the recent work were published in ACS Synthetic Biology.
Why it’s important – The solid-state storage of biologics represents a significant advancement, as tablets provide unique advantages to better preserve the material they encapsulate. For instance, the innovation allows researchers to package biological materials into tablets that can be stored on a shelf at room temperature and added to water to be dissolved for on-demand use. In addition to ensuring the stability and activity of the biological materials, solid-state storage has been developed to ensure that tablets quickly disintegrate and dissolve into water. As the biotechnology field grows rapidly, the potential impacts extend beyond healthcare and into biomanufacturing, education, and research. The innovation is also likely to impact how biologics are transported around the globe and into space for the on-demand production of life-saving therapies.
GoodRx launches digital ‘medicine cabinet’ that rewards people for taking their meds
Victoria Song in The Verge reports that there’s no shortage of apps to remind people to take their medications. But GoodRx, an online pharmacy and telehealth app, is trying to take it further by launching a digital “medicine cabinet.” The idea is to create a one-stop shop that allows people to check price comparisons, get reminders and refills, and even earn financial rewards for taking their meds. GoodRx’s Medicine Cabinet adds an Action Center highlighting what you must do to stay on top of your treatments on a given day. (You can also set daily reminders for when to take your meds or get refills.) That’s combined with recommendations for pharmacies that offer the best price for a specific medication. There’s also a prescriptions dashboard in which previous prescriptions filled with GoodRx automatically populate, meaning current GoodRx users don’t actually have to enter any information manually. The dashboard can also support prescriptions that are filled outside of GoodRx’s services. Lastly, GoodRx says that whenever you pick up a refill on time or use an eligible GoodRx coupon, you’ll get points toward further discounts.
Why it’s important – The name of the game is to improve medication adherence — or how well you follow your doctor’s orders regarding treatment. That includes things like regularly taking antidepressants, antibiotics, or statins to reduce cholesterol, etc. To get the best results, the pharmaceutical journal US Pharmacist says you need an adherence rate of around 80 percent. You might think that’s easy enough, but studies show that 50 percent of patients with chronic illnesses struggle to take medications as prescribed. In the US, that costs the healthcare system roughly $300 billion annually.
Truvian presents data for its desktop blood-testing device in a field still in Theranos’s shadow
Truvian Health, a San Diego blood diagnostics company, shared data on Tuesday showing that its benchtop instrument’s results are broadly consistent with those generated by large central laboratories. Jonathan Wosen in STAT (subscription required) covers the development. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, recently rebranded as the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine. It’s the first time Truvian has shared clinical data on its product, though they have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The company, which is planning additional validation studies, expects to submit for Food and Drug Administration approval of its device by the third quarter of 2024. The biotech also plans to seek a waiver allowing those without specialized training to operate the instrument, an essential step in realizing its goal of extending beyond traditional healthcare settings.
Why it’s important – While the results support the company’s vision of decentralized and widely available clinical testing, they resurface questions about the value of an approach widely associated with the now defunct and notorious Bay Area startup Theranos. While the Truvian device returns results for each patient within 20 to 45 minutes, it can run only one battery of tests at a time, limiting the number of patients served in a day.
First AI as CEO in Europe Revolutionizes Leadership using Human Supervision for Safety
Finally, this week, in a story that’s creepy even for me, PR Newswire posted this announcement from Hunna Technology (https://hunna.app), a UK-headquartered HealthTech startup, today who unveiled the first-ever AI in Europe to act as the CEO of a company. Using a combination of AI and human intelligence, the hybrid system goes beyond just a chatbot and is based on a new simple mathematical algorithm. IndigoVX, developed by Hunna Technology, facilitates an efficient collaboration between artificial intelligence and human expertise. Hunna has been testing the IndigoVX AI system for 12 months to ensure safety and legal compliance before announcing its promotion to CEO.
Why it’s important – Hunna’s mission is to harness the power of AI while ensuring safety and accountability through constant human supervision. While their AI CEO isn’t fully automated, they see that as a strength, not a weakness. For this reason, they feel it’s justified to give the system a CEO title, as ultimately, it’s the algorithm calling the shots, even though the algorithm has a human component. Calling IndigoVX a CEO isn’t just giving the system a title. It’s about partially automating the role of a Chief Executive Officer to guide the company’s overall operations. While I understand the points they’re trying to make, this is a bit out there – even for me.