Health Tech News This Week – December 31, 2022

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

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Digital Health Tools Need a New Benchmark

Saira Ghafur’s article in Wired kicks off the news coverage this week. In it, she states that the whole-scale adoption and impact of digital health technology in national health systems worldwide has not yet fully materialized. A critical reason is that they often lack the necessary scientific evidence to back the range of benefits—from improved health outcomes for patients to better cost-benefit outcomes for payers such as insurance companies and health care providers—that its manufacturers claim they can deliver. A recent study by health tech seed fund Rock Health and Johns Hopkins University demonstrated the extent of the problem. Only 20 percent achieved the threshold considered acceptable for rigorously tested solutions.

Why it’s important – In 2023, we will see heightened scrutiny for the evidence required of digital health technologies and how that evidence is generated. This will be led by regulators and payors, who will need increasing clarity on evidence for reimbursement. This is already happening in the UK, the US, and Germany. Regulators will also move toward accepting these novel methodologies as validation and favor a more pragmatic approach to evidence generation. Recently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has set up the Early Value Assessment Program for Digital Tools. This program will help select promising technologies and rapidly assess their clinical effectiveness and impact before embarking on more robust trials. In 2023, pilots will be conducted for digital apps for anxiety and depression in children, and it is hoped this will be rolled out as well for early cancer diagnostics, adult mental health, and cardiovascular disease. Soon, programs such as these will allow clinicians to properly evaluate any bold claims made by digital health companies regarding their products.

Infographics of the week – We know Digital health opens up new opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups, and larger MedTech companies to add value. However, as the chart from McKinsey & Company below suggests, these tools and solutions (be they apps or devices or wearables, or even virtual-care solutions like telehealth) should ideally fix a real problem or jobs to be done along the entire patient pathway, from primary prevention and screening through diagnosis and staging to treatment and the subsequent management of a disease, condition. Capturing such opportunities depends on understanding where these pain/friction points lie for patients, physicians, other clinicians, providers, and payers and how a given digital health or health-tech solution will address them. The clearer this is (to target customers or investors), the more likely it is that the e-health tool will experience growth.

Image Credit: McKinsey & Company

The second infographic this week is from Dr. Tazeen Rizvi. Ambient clinical intelligence utilizes technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), human-computer interaction (HCI), and others, to allow voice-enabled AI to automatically document patient encounters during a consultation between clinicians, healthcare teams, patients, and their families.

Google might use rings and bracelets as input methods for its upcoming AR glasses

This year at Google I/O, one of the things Google also teased was the launch of future AR glasses. They might work a little differently from what we saw from Google previously with Glass, though. Google’s already exploring two wildly different input methods for the upcoming device, according to sources. Arol Wright reports on the rumors in Android Police online. As per 9to5Google, and its sources familiar with development at Google, the company is looking at smart rings and bracelets as input methods for these upcoming glasses. The other solution Google is looking at, bracelets, might work with a similar principle, letting you swipe and tap on it with your finger. The bracelet would also have haptic feedback.

Why it’s important – It’s perhaps early days to know how these AR glasses will work, but one thing is clear from the reporting on both Google and Apple, 2023 will be a big year for new AR wearables coming to market. I’ve written on this topic and various use cases in this earlier post. These will be exciting developments to watch in the new year.

Mass General, Mayo Clinic, & More Share AI, Analytics Plans for Next Year

Shania Kennedy, Assistant Editor at xTelligent Media, reports that leaders from Mass General Brigham, Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai, and Cleveland Clinic discussed with HealthITAnalytics what their health systems’ plans are for next year to build on existing initiatives, deploy new projects, address challenges, and innovate in the AI and data analytics space. Some data indicate that health systems still face challenges caused or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations plan to use and invest in health IT tools, such as patient portals, telehealth, and artificial intelligence (AI), to overcome them.

“We’re going to put more algorithms in place because we have all the infrastructure to do it, [and] we’re going to develop more algorithms because we now have the capability to do that at scale much faster. All of that’s going to continue; all of that’s going to ramp up.”

Keith Dreyer, DO, PhD, Chief Data Science Officer and Chief Imaging Information Officer, Mass General Brigham

Why it’s important – For many, top priorities from last year, such as patient access to care and efficiency improvements, will carry over into 2023. But the question of what tools organizations will leverage and how they’ll deploy them remains. This article is excellent background information for companies looking to develop AI solutions for healthcare.

Yes, The Waverly Labs Ambassador Can Translate Languages Live

While not recent news, this device is hew to me, so I wanted to feature it in this post. Waverly Labs Ambassador makes instant translation possible. Designed to be worn over an ear, the Ambassador allows you to step into any conversation around you, regardless of their spoken language, and engage with them. It is not an audio recorder, nor is it a transcription device; it’s a bonafide instant translation tool. The Ambassador design is simplistic and comes in two colors: Black and Wine Red. To equip it, slide it over one of your ears, and you can start hopping into conversations.

Image Credit: Waverly Labs
YouTube Video Credit: Waverly Labs

Why it’s important – The Ambassador can translate 20 languages and 42 dialects. Specifically, these are the available options: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Polish, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Hebrew, Thai, Vietnamese and Dutch. If you consider that many countries share the same languages and more than one educational systems stress bilingual or trilingual education, you’ll be able to communicate with virtually anybody you’d like. The days of scrambling for a translation app on your phone are gone and out the window. All you need to do is choose which translation mode you’d like (Listen/Lecture/Converse), and you’re all set. Imagine not having to wait for a hospital translator to come down to converse with a patient about their condition and care plan. It could be a real time-saver.

Wearable skin patch monitors hemoglobin in deep tissues

A team of engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed an electronic patch that can monitor biomolecules in deep tissues, including hemoglobin. This gives medical professionals unprecedented access to crucial information that could help spot life-threatening conditions such as malignant tumors, organ dysfunction, cerebral or gut hemorrhages, and more. As reported in Nanotechnology World, The new, flexible, low-form-factor wearable patch comfortably attaches to the skin, allowing for long-term noninvasive monitoring. It can perform three-dimensional hemoglobin mapping with a submillimeter spatial resolution in deep tissues, down to centimeters below the skin, versus other wearable electrochemical devices that only sense the biomolecules on the skin surface. It can achieve high contrast to other tissues. Due to its optical selectivity, it can expand the range of detectable molecules, integrating different laser diodes with different wavelengths, along with its potential clinical applications.

Image Credit: @ Xiaoxiang Gao/Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego

Why it’s important – Low blood perfusion inside the body may cause severe organ dysfunctions and is associated with various ailments, including heart attacks and vascular diseases of the extremities. At the same time, abnormal blood accumulation in areas such as the brain, abdomen, or cysts can indicate cerebral or visceral hemorrhage or malignant tumors. Continuous monitoring can aid the diagnosis of these conditions and help facilitate timely and potentially life-saving interventions.

New AI Listens to Toilet Sounds to Detect Diarrhea

In what must be one of the unusual headlines of the year, this Medscape article by Denny Watkins reports that a design for a “Diarrhea Detector” that could alert health officials to disease outbreaks like cholera was recently presented by engineers from Georgia Tech Research Institute. The AI could be used with home smart devices to monitor one’s bowel health. A prototype accurately identified diarrhea 98% of the time in tests; the engineers told a conference of the Acoustical Society of America in Nashville. Even with background noise, it was correct 96% of the time.

Why it’s important – Cholera infects millions of people each year, killing up to 143,000 who become dehydrated from severe diarrhea, according to the World Health Organization. Many deaths could be avoided with an oral rehydration solution if the outbreak is spotted fast enough. Cholera can be lethal within 24 hours after symptoms start. The device could be installed in public toilets where inadequate plumbing raises the risk of a cholera outbreak.

How the Right Technology can Simplify a Healthcare Worker’s Life

In a guest post in Healthcare IT Today, Marcus Mossberger, Future of Work Strategist at Infor, contends that hospital and health system C-suite must adopt new, strategic approaches to technology—embracing a practical, objective, and sustainable workplace well-being technology platform. The right technology, which is the manifestation of contemporary thinking by hospitals and health systems, does three things on a single, cloud-based platform. It advises. It augments. And it automates.

Why it’s important – Today’s healthcare workers put up with poor user experiences on their current technologies. They’re frustrated by unconnected, disparate IT systems that force them to interrupt their workflows to log in and out of a system before they can continue their work. Technologies that simplify or eliminate repetitive tasks can empower clinical and non-clinical staff to practice at the top of their license or perform higher-level and more gratifying responsibilities. Technologies that help people do their jobs better can improve job performance and satisfaction.

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of another year already. My sincere thanks to all those who have read, commented upon, and shared my posts on this blog in 2022. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2023. It will be interesting to see how technology innovations will impact health care next year.

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Health Care Disruptors to Watch in 2023 – It’s Not About The Technology This Year

“Trust me, you can’t change anything without causing some degree of disruption. It’s impossible, that is exactly what change is. Some people are uncomfortable with the disruption that change causes, but the disruption is necessary if anything is going to change.”

Afeni Shakur, American Activist
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“Old habits die hard”


After nearly twenty years of debating which technologies will significantly impact the coming year, the exercise almost becomes a part of your professional DNA. So, in Q4 every year, I start looking at all of the Tech Trends for the next year and thinking about which will rise to the top of my list. But this year is different in so many ways. 2022 was a very strange year. The stock market plummeted, interest rates rose, and inflation skyrocketed, creating problems for companies across all stages of growth. Healthcare companies weren’t immune as VC funding plummeted, and purchases by health systems were deferred to preserve scarce capital.

Image Credit: CB Insights report State of Digital Health, Q3, 2022

To be clear, there was no shortage of technological innovation in healthcare in 2022. Just read any of my weekly Tech News posts, and you’ll find dozens of companies creating innovative digital health solutions to many pressing problems providers face in caring for patients and their families. What has changed is the market we’re operating in. There are several reasons for the change.

We’re coming out of year three of the pandemic, and health systems are still under pressure to care for patients. For over three years, daily, under exhausting and often dangerous conditions, healthcare workers across the country have continued to care for the nation’s sickest Americans who have fallen victim to coronavirus. The burden on the health care system is made worse by nationwide staffing shortages and hospital capacity at elevated levels as many other patients seek care for non-virus-related reasons. As we close out the year, the “triple-demic” of COVID, seasonal flu, and RSV infections (especially in children) is straining the health system to its limits again.

More than half of U.S. health systems will be operating in the red in 2022. According to reporting from Kaufman Hall, More than half of U.S. hospitals (53%) are projected to have negative margins for the rest of the year. Under more pessimistic scenarios, more than two-thirds of hospitals (68%) could have negative margins this year, their report stated. Hospitals have been confronting much higher expenses this year. Hospitals’ expenses are projected to rise $135 billion in 2022, compared to the previous year, according to the report. Labor accounts for the bulk of the increase, a projected $86 billion, with non-labor expenses rising $49 billion.

The top three issues for health system executives and boards are staffing, staffing, and staffing. Hospital leaders in multiple interviews all said they are struggling to find talent. The labor shortages are forcing hospitals to close beds and scale back some services. Hospitals are seeing longer waits in emergency departments, and surgeries and other procedures are being delayed.

“The crisis is real. The shortage of healthcare workers is nothing like we’ve seen before.”

Mike Slubowski, President and CEO of Trinity Health

So, the disruption in healthcare in 2023 comes from these three drivers and will challenge innovators to come up with solutions for several major issues:

Cybersecurity and Ransomware attacks remain top of mind for health systems in 2023. Hospitals, pharmacies, care centers, and other healthcare organizations are prime targets for malicious cyber-criminals. There are a few reasons for this: healthcare organizations deal with vast amounts of personal and private data, which can be hugely valuable for criminal groups. Healthcare organizations often cannot afford to invest in the latest and greatest security technologies, making them an easy target for every type of cybercrime, from gift-card scams to sophisticated ransomware. Exacerbating these issues, the healthcare industry has been under immense pressure over the past three years, dealing with unprecedented challenges during a worldwide pandemic.

“We have to realize that cybersecurity isn’t just about data security; it’s also a matter of life and death.”

Michael Archuleta, CIO, Mt. San Rafael Hospital and Clinics, Trinidad, Colo.

Cybercriminals have cynically exploited the COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare sector is on track to meet or exceed the more than 50.4 million patient records breached in 2021. Since cyber threats only seem to be getting worse, healthcare executives are planning on increasing their cybersecurity budgets for increased training and infrastructure in 2023 to fend off these kinds of attacks, according to a recent survey from software firm Ivanti. It has been estimated that over the next three years, healthcare-related data breaches will cost healthcare companies a total of $6 trillion. Healthcare organizations will spend $125 billion on cybersecurity from 2020 to 2025.

Addressing staffing and capacity constraints drives broader adoption of command centers in health systems. In the past half-decade, command centers have been gaining ground as permanent fixtures in healthcare organizations — a sort of air traffic control for patient care. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, health systems with command centers up and running were well-positioned to deal with the overwhelming demand for care, providing hospitals with real-time insight into bed availability, staffing levels, and patient journeys. Health systems with command centers have real-time visibility into staffing levels, which can improve coordination between care teams and break down silos. Staff will appreciate the efficiencies command centers can bring. For example, patients who can be discharged aren’t left lingering in beds, and rooms can be cleaned more quickly. This level of coordination requires well-designed communication channels across departments, ultimately improving processes systemwide.

With the incorporation of remote solutions, these command centers can offer an opportunity to combat clinician burnout. If integrated with a virtual nursing program, for example, overextended nurses might rotate off the floor and remotely support newer nurses at the bedside. In this way, newer nurses benefit from the older nurses’ years of experience, and older nurses get a better work-life balance. Imagine how that translates into improvements in employee satisfaction and clinical outcomes.

“Nice-to-have” solutions go on the back burner. “Mission-critical” solutions get attention. 2023 will not be a year where buyers take chances on unproven technology. Startups need to sell solutions that solve problems in the short term and figure out a way to prove they can do that as quickly as possible. Getting an executive team to act on sourcing a digital solution means making a solid case around how the solution either reduces costs, increases revenue, increases staff productivity, or improves clinical outcomes. I’ve found this equation developed by Alex Lindsay of Office Hours Global to be an effective way to discuss that concept with startups (who are often frustrated by the length of time it takes for a healthcare executive team to make a decision) looking to sell their solutions into healthcare.

Image Credit: Henry Soch, of an equation developed by Alex Lindsay

The gist of the equation is that action occurs when the vendor can demonstrate that the possibilities when implementing the solution exceed the current circumstances. What does that mean in today’s healthcare market?

Health systems that are bleeding cash are primarily looking for anything that supports payment, ideally upfront, or any tools that reduce burnout or help them solve the ongoing staffing crisis. On the other hand, employers are increasingly looking to whittle down their digital health vendors, particularly when utilization is low and outcomes are still to be determined.

So what technologies will get an audience with C-Suite Executives in 2023? Christina Farr from Omers Ventures expects the essential products that will sell well next year to include: Revenue cycle management tools, anything in labor/staffing, and solutions for burnout.

So, this year I’ve taken a different approach to characterize disruptors to health care in 2023. Such exercises are always interesting but also inherently risky – particularly in uncertain times like those we have recently experienced and continue to live through. So perhaps the most significant benefit of the annual round of tech soothsaying is not so much the fine-grained detail – often derailed by contact with unexpected events – as the chance to take stock of the industry’s general direction. These are my educated and informed predictions based on the current situation. I’ll revisit them at the end of 2023 to see if they came to pass. Happy New Year!

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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Health Tech News This Week – December 17, 2022

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

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Here’s How Skilled Nursing Facilities Can Use Virtual Reality Too

Avi Philipson writes in MedCity News that skilled nursing facilities are no strangers to innovative technology. Their equipment is more advanced than ever before, technology is an integral part of their services, and it’s helping to improve staff’s day-to-day lives. While some skilled nursing facilities and long-term care centers have already found a use for virtual reality in their facilities, many SNFs and LTC centers have yet to make VR a part of their offerings. He highlighted three areas where VR can use virtual reality at their organizations to benefit residents.

  • VR can improve rehabilitation services – It’s challenging to maintain a resident’s interest and motivation when it comes to working out, especially because routines can become monotonous so quickly. VR can make stretches and exercises more exciting, thus keeping more residents engaged.
  • VR can slow cognitive decline – Using VR exercise games, which is also known as ‘exergaming’ or ‘gamercising,’ can help to prevent and slow cognitive decline. Research backs this up, saying that VR exergaming has the potential to have a significant impact on dementia, Alzheimer’s, and even Parkinson’s disease.
  • VR promotes socialization – VR headsets can be handed out to a large group, and these individuals can play games or travel worldwide together. Engaging in a group activity like this is a great way to mix up the usual events and bring an entirely new visually entertaining aspect to your residents’ days, which will bridge connections on a whole different level.

Why it’s important – Virtual reality gives residents freedom that facilities can’t offer without technology. Early pilot projects have demonstrated benefits in all three areas described above and have been shown to improve the quality of life for residents in facilities that use the technology.

Infographics of the week – CB Insights has unveiled the fourth annual Digital Health 150 — a list of 150 of the top private companies transforming healthcare with digital technology. Winners are focusing on everything from reimagining clinical care to making healthcare more accessible for underserved populations to leveraging tech like AR/VR to improve surgical training.

Image Credit: CB Insights

The second infographic this week is from The Medical Futurist Institute. Nutrigenomics could be the biggest flop in digital health or one of the most exciting trends. It could help people better adjust their diet based on their genomic and metabolic background. They analyzed the global market to find those companies that provide such services. It contains the countries companies originate from, the year they were founded, and the price of their service now.

Image Credit: The Medical Futurist Institute


Abigail Klein Leichman on Israeli21c online reports that automated drug delivery is a critical star in the constellation of technologies enabling more people to get medical care outside hospitals. Devices that deliver medications can extend “hospital at home” services to many more patients.

YouTube video credit: Eitan Medical

Why it’s important – Devices that deliver infusions at home or close to home reduce stress on patients, reduce costs, and reduce the workload of chronically short-staffed hospitals.

Base editing: Revolutionary therapy clears girl’s incurable cancer

A teenage girl’s incurable cancer has been cleared from her body with the first use of a revolutionary new type of medicine. The BBC’s James Gallagher reports on Alyssa’s story in his online article. Alyssa, who is 13 and from Leicester, was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May last year. Her cancer was aggressive. Chemotherapy and then a bone-marrow transplant could not rid it from her body. The team at Great Ormond Street used a technology called base editing, which was invented only six years ago. The large group of doctors and scientists used this tool to engineer a new T-cell capable of hunting down and killing Alyssa’s cancerous T-cells. After a month, Alyssa was in remission and was given a second bone-marrow transplant to regrow her immune system.

“It is extremely exciting. Obviously, this is a new field in medicine and it’s fascinating that we can redirect the immune system to fight cancer.”

Robert Chiesa, MD, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Why it’s important – The technology used in Alyssa’s case, though, only scratches the surface of what base editing could achieve. In Alyssa’s therapy, each base edit involved breaking a section of genetic code, so it no longer worked. But there are more nuanced applications where instead of switching an instruction off you can fix a defective one. Sickle-cell anemia, for example, is caused by just one base change that could be corrected. There are already trials of base editing underway in sickle-cell disease, as well as high cholesterol that runs in families and the blood disorder beta-thalassemia.

England to sequence genomes of 100,000 newborns, to try to catch illness earlier

Stat’s Andrew Joseph reports that The Newborn Genomes Programme will scan DNA for mutations that can cause some 200 conditions. Such early sequencing is meant to identify genetic diseases quickly and to help families avoid the often yearslong “diagnostic odysseys” that can begin when children start to show vague symptoms — missing developmental milestones, for example — and only end when they eventually get a firm diagnosis. Early interventions, perhaps before symptoms appear, could also stave off the damage these diseases cause. The study’s results — which will also consider the economics and ethics of such an intervention — will inform whether and how the U.K.’s National Health Service would offer wider newborn sequencing.

“The conditions that we’re choosing are the ones that are well-established that this gene causes this condition, and that that condition needs to be treated before age 5.”

David Bick, Principal Clinician, Newborn Genomes Programme.

Why it’s important – Sequencing of newborns has proven its worth when there’s suspicion of a genetic disease; an early diagnosis can inform treatments before a condition gets particularly severe.

Amazon Alexa supports care providers with senior living product

Amazon has launched Alexa Smart Properties for Senior Living, enabling Alexa devices to be integrated into assisted living and care facilities. Cora Lydon outlines the details in her article in Digital Health online. Alexa Smart Properties will specifically support the needs of older residents and those providing care to them. It allows care providers to deploy, manage and service a fleet of Echo devices quickly, remotely, and at scale, working with solution providers to customize them. Care teams can communicate with residents using Amazon Alexa features such as making announcements and voice and video calls. Property managers will also be able to engage with residents by displaying activities, menus, and reminders on Echo Show devices.

Why it’s important – This isn’t the first time Amazon has announced this type of initiative. Two years ago, Amazon introduced The Care Hub, a set of care features for US customers to help support independent living for older people. And, while the platform can empower residents to control their environment with an Amazon Alexa device, giving them greater independence, recent reports that Amazon is cutting back on their commitment to Alexa devices raise concerns that the long-term support for platforms like this is questionable. We need to watch this closely.

ChatGPT Is a Tipping Point for AI

Ethan Mollick, in the Harvard Business Review, discusses the impact of ChatGPT on businesses across multiple industries. While versions of GPT have been around for a while, this model has crossed a threshold: It’s genuinely useful for a wide range of tasks, from creating software to generating business ideas to writing a wedding toast. While previous generations of the system could technically do these things, the quality of the outputs was much lower than that of an average human. The new model is much better, often startlingly so. His conclusion: This is a very big deal. The businesses that understand the significance of this change — and act on it first — will be at a considerable advantage. Especially as ChatGPT is just the first of many similar chatbots that will soon be available, and they are increasing in capacity exponentially every year.

Why it’s important – It has an incredible capacity to perform different kinds of writing with more significant implications than might be initially apparent. The use of AI in writing can significantly increase the productivity of businesses in a variety of industries. By utilizing AI’s ability to quickly and accurately generate written content, companies can save time and resources, allowing them to focus on other essential tasks. This is particularly beneficial for industries such as marketing and advertising, consulting, and finance, where high-quality written materials are vital for communicating with clients and stakeholders. What about healthcare, you ask? Some physicians have already started using ChatGPT to generate letters to insurance companies to challenge denials of critical procedures for patients. (See video below) And we’ve only scratched the surface of the platform’s full potential.

TikTok Video Credit: One Rheumatology, Palm Beach, FL

Big Tech Layoffs Could Benefit Healthcare

“As big tech companies continue laying off their skilled workforce in droves, those workers can find opportunity, purpose and incredible skills-alignment in healthcare.”

Seth Jospeh, Forbes contributor
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Last week two articles hit my news feeds on the same topic, the layoffs in the tech sector. One by Forbes contributor Seth Joseph focused on the opportunities in health care. And the second in Fast Company magazine by Josh Hendler focused on opportunities in the nonprofit sector.

Facing rising costs and widespread economic uncertainty, big tech companies continue laying off their skilled workforce in droves. From Meta to Twitter, Amazon to Stripe, and AirBnB to Zillow, network effects-driven platforms across industries are trying to right-size their forces, facing the consequences of over-hiring in recent years while navigating 40-year inflation highs. I’d been following the layoffs since the start of the year. But I had no idea how many people had been affected by the cuts. The graphic below shows the cumulative numbers since the beginning of the year.

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The number of layoffs is staggering. But as the two articles point out, within every crisis is a silver lining. For both big-tech workers debating their next career move and healthcare organizations needing big-tech chops and network effects experience, the landslide of layoffs means there is an abundance of tech talent available and plenty of companies – and an entire industry – that stand to benefit.

Using the three reasons healthcare is a prime landing spot for these out-of-work tech professionals in Joseph’s article, I’ll add some comments on why I think techies should seriously consider a move into the healthcare industry and healthcare nonprofits.

“There are massive problems that exist in healthcare, with an infinite number of ways to use technology and data to help solve them — and increasingly, this includes platforms and network effects. Taking a page from big-tech platform companies like Amazon and Apple, healthcare companies are finding new and novel ways to leverage platforms to help fix longstanding, systemic industry issues.”

Seth Joseph, Forbes Contributor

My Take: If you like to solve big problems, healthcare is a good fit for your skills. We still function in multiple data silos, and sharing patient records across platforms is a nightmare. Platform companies are uniquely suited to address challenges endemic to healthcare – where issues stem from a lack of consistent data and massive fragmentation, impacting everything from care coordination and quality to cost and patient/consumer experience. And healthcare data companies like Truveta are hiring

YouTube Video Credit: Truveta

“Big-tech talent outside of healthcare can also serve to improve and help redesign the consumer health experience.”

Seth Joseph, Forbes Contributor

My Take: If you are skilled in user interface design, we desperately need you in healthcare. Take a look at most consumer-facing healthcare apps, and you’ll see they are challenging to navigate, confusing for the end user, and do not integrate well with the information infrastructure of most organizations.

“Research from McKinsey in 2022 similarly found that 70 percent of employees say their personal sense of purpose is defined by their work — and when that work feels meaningful, they perform better, are much more committed and about half as likely to search for a new job. And earlier research from McKinsey in 2020 found that 82 percent of workers want their company to have a purpose and contribute positively to society.”

Seth Joseph, Forbes Contributor

My Take: If you want to do work that dramatically impacts people’s lives, healthcare needs you. There is personal merit in working in healthcare technology, a mission, and a purpose in the space absent in other industries. Finding this purpose can be a welcome shift for technologists looking for more meaning in their work while helping improve their mental health and well-being. The work that you can do in healthcare benefits not only patients and their families but also the workers who provide care to those patients. Your work in making the healthcare system easier to navigate for patients and their families is crucial to eliminating friction and frustration in dealing with the system. And anything you can do to eradicate frustrating, non-value-adding work for healthcare workers would go a long way in reducing the burnout they are currently experiencing. The best part of this work is it is immediately visible to you. You can see that you are making an impact.

“Many across the philanthropic and nonprofit world have caught on, from the federal government to conservation organizations, seeking out tech workers to improve outdated systems—and compensating them competitively.”

Josh Hendler, Fast Company

My Take: If you are passionate about making an impact for organizations and causes that have a real social impact, consider looking at the nonprofit sector for meaningful work. As Hendler points out in his article, exploring resources such as All Tech Is Human, U.S. of Tech, U.S. Digital Response, Fast Forward, Tech Jobs for Good, and Design Gigs for Good are helpful starting points to explore full-time, part-time, and volunteering opportunities in the impact sector. These organizations have put together job boards, talent pools, guides, and virtual and in-person communities to unite technologists who aim to make their mark for the good of society.

Bottom line – Healthcare needs you. There is a huge opportunity to do good via tech and digital strategy in healthcare. And the timing is right, as the market will only be growing and is (relatively) recession-proof. While this is a challenging time, technologists have the power to create meaningful change, improving the lives of others, as well as their own, at an unprecedented scale. Join us.

Podcasts I Enjoyed Listening To This Year – 2022

“The medium of podcasting and the personal nature of it, the relationship you build with your listeners and the relationship they have with you – they could be just sitting there, chuckling and listening… there’s nothing like that.”

Marc Maron, Podcaster
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Last week I shared a list of some of my favorite books this year. Since podcasting has become an important channel for information sharing and learning, I thought I’d update the list of my favorite podcasts in health care and technology (and other topics) for your consideration. But first, some current stats on the popularity of podcasts in general.

Insider Intelligence reports that there are currently over two million active podcasts worldwide. The average podcast consumer spends 7 hours weekly listening to podcasts. Projections show that by 2028, podcasting will be a $94.88 billion industry. Podcast listeners will account for 20.3% of all internet users in 2022. That’s 424.2 million people who listen to podcasts worldwide. The number of podcast listeners in the US is expected to reach 138.6 Million by 2024. Most podcasts get around 141 downloads in the first month. Podcast stats from Edison Research found that most people listen to podcasts for educational purposes, 71% do so for entertainment, 60% want to keep abreast with news, and 51% said they find them relaxing. On the flip side, it’s equally vital to know why people don’t tune in to podcasts. 75% of non-listeners said podcasts are just not for them, 51% say they provide content they can find elsewhere, while 49% said they consume a lot of phone data.

Image Credit: Edison Research

Research from The Infinite Dial shows that 90% of podcast listeners prefer listening to podcasts at home. 59% of people listen to podcasts while doing household tasks. 52% listen while driving, 50% while cooking, and around 37% of people consume podcasts when commuting. Podcasts are a medium for listeners to enjoy “passively” in the background.

Image Credit: The Infinite Dial

So, with so many options, how do you select ones to listen to regularly? My first criteria are the credentials of the host. I want respected professionals in the field, not someone doing this as a sideline. Second, I look at the quality of the guests on the podcast. Can the host attract excellent guests in every episode? Finally, I look at the topics being discussed. Are they interesting? Do they add credible information to the conversation, or are they simply a rehashing of what’s already out there? So, with those as my guideposts, here are my favorite podcasts for 2022 (Click on the titles for links to subscribe):

Becker’s Healthcare Digital Health + Health IT

Becker’s Healthcare offers a suite of niche podcasts from every area of the healthcare industry landscape. I especially like their series on digital health and IT. They cover the topic well with interviews with industry leaders, leading companies, and corporate investors to give listeners a broad perspective on new developments and growth opportunities.

On with Kara Swisher

Direct questions, real answers. On with Kara Swisher is where “Silicon Valley’s most feared and well-liked journalist” gets to the heart of what makes influential people tick. Kara makes sense of tech, business, and politics through tough conversations with the newsmakers who matter. So why do they show up? “Smart people,” says Kara, “like difficult questions.” I included two podcasts with Kara in last year’s list. She’s changed affiliations since then and is now a contributor to NY Magazine. With that change comes this new podcast series. Next to Walt Mossberg, Kara’s the best interviewer in the technology industry.

Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli

Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli, a nationally ranked healthcare and innovation podcast and a member of the Health Podcast Network, highlights the innovators, the game changers, and the pioneers who are deeply passionate and relentless in valiantly solving the problems our healthcare industry is facing.

A Second Opinion: Rethinking American Health with Senator Bill Frist, M.D.

Senator Bill Frist is no stranger to American health and healthcare. He is an accomplished heart and lung transplant surgeon, as well as a two-term United States Senator representing Tennessee. Now he is using his influence to connect with leaders and innovators to bring awareness and understanding to more than just healthcare but health in general. His mission is to substantially improve health and healthcare in communities across America through education and engagement at the nexus of policy, medicine, and innovation. The podcast addresses challenging healthcare issues of today from three distinct vantage points: policy, medicine, and innovation.

The Big Unlock: Healthcare Digital Transformation Podcast

Paddy Padmanabhan is an award-winning business leader and trusted C-suite Advisor with a proven history of success guiding digital transformation and growth strategies across the healthcare and technology sectors. He has worked in various leadership roles at globally recognized firms such as Accenture, GE, and Wipro, where he built sizeable global technology businesses and spearheaded strategic growth initiatives. Featuring C-suite executives from the healthcare and technology sectors, Paddy discusses how they are driving digital health innovation and leveraging emerging healthcare technologies to create improved patient experiences.

The Next Big Idea Podcast

The Next Big Idea is a weekly series of in-depth interviews with the world’s leading thinkers. Rufus Griscom — along with curators Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink, lead conversations that might change the way you see the world. This podcast forces you out of your comfort zone and stretches your thinking on any number of topics, from neurodiversity to humor to the art of persuasion.

Healthcare IT News from Mobihealth News

The world of technology and healthcare is changing in new and novel ways. John Lynn and Colin Hung discuss the latest healthcare and Health IT News meshed together in new ways which help generate ideas and new perspectives. Part of the HIMSScast series, this is a biweekly podcast that covers the latest news in healthcare IT in a fun way.

A Sherpa’s Guide To Innovation

Are you looking to understand better and apply innovation theories, methods, and tools? Do you need to think about your business or industry differently? Join the Sherpas as they conduct spirited conversations and tell compelling stories to guide you along your innovation expedition. Atrium Health’s Ben Tingey, Jay Gerhart, Ann Somers Hogg, and Will Behrmann lead the listeners through the resources, processes, and priorities these successful disruptors deploy.

All About Agatha

OK, this isn’t a technology or healthcare-related podcast. All About Agatha is a podcast all about, well, Agatha. Agatha Christie, of course. The Queen of Crime, a real-life Dame of the British Empire and author of sixty-six mystery novels that spanned the Twentieth Century, defining a genre. Thousands of Agatha Christie enthusiasts across the globe have downloaded the podcast for what one listener described as a “joyfully geeky” take on the Queen of Crime’s expansive canon. Today, the podcast averages just under 100,000 downloads a month, with most of its listeners in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Germany, and Scandinavia. If you are a Christie fan, as I am, you’ll find this podcast a delight. If you’d like to get the entire story behind the podcast, here’s a great article that the LA Times did on the series.

So, those are my top nine podcasts for the year. I hope you find one or more of them interesting and informative. If you have a favorite healthcare or tech podcast that I’ve missed, drop a comment below and let me know what you’re listening to these days. Thanks for reading!

Health Tech News This Week – December 10, 2022

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

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Short term memory problems can be improved with laser therapy, according to new study

UK and Chinese scientists demonstrated that a non-invasive laser light therapy lasting only a few minutes could improve short-term memory in people by up to 25%. The treatment, called transcranial photobiomodulation (tPBM), is applied to an area of the brain known as the right prefrontal cortex. This area is widely recognized as essential for working memory. They also tracked changes in brain activity using electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring during treatment and testing.

“People with conditions like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or other attention-related conditions could benefit from this type of treatment, which is safe, simple and non-invasive, with no side-effects.”

Dongwei Li, visiting Ph.D. student in the University of Birmingham’s Center for Human Brain Health

Why it’s important – They don’t yet understand why the treatment positively affects working memory or how long the results will last. Further research is planned to investigate these aspects. This is the first study, however, to confirm a link between tPBM and working memory in humans.

Infographics of the week – All five of the infographics this week come from the folks at CB Insights. I’ve highlighted their platform before and have been consistently impressed by the quality of their research. This compendium of strategy maps was released this week and is available for download here. Their 67-page coffee table book of strategy maps shines a light on the strategies behind some of the world’s most influential companies — from Amazon and PayPal to Tesla and CVS Health. I’ve included the big tech in healthcare maps below. You can find the maps for CVS and Walgreens in the document.

Image Credit: CB Insights
Image Credit: CB Insights
Image Credit: CB Insights
Image Credit: CB Insights
Image Credit: CB Insights

A Proactive Way to Detect Cancer at Its Earliest Stages

Wired’s Grace Browne reports that Medtech firm Earli is working on a way to make tumors announce themselves as they appear—and even provide directions to where they are in the body. German-American entrepreneur Cyriac Roeding read a profile of Sam Gambhir, a physician, and scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine, in a magazine. Roeding, the co-founder and former CEO of the mobile shopping app Shopkick, was struck by Gambhir’s story and immediately sent him an email asking to meet. Earli’s approach essentially forces the cancer to reveal itself. Bioengineered DNA is injected into the body; when it enters cancer cells, it causes them to produce a synthetic biomarker not generally found in humans—something like limonene, a chemical found in the peel of citrus fruits. If subsequent breath or blood tests find traces of that biomarker, it could be a sign of cancer. The next step is figuring out where the cancer is in the body. An injected compound forces the cancer cells to produce an enzyme that gobbles up a radioactive tracer, rendering it visible to the naked eye in a scan. Localizing cancer makes it treatable—clinicians can use precision radiation or targeted surgery to then take it out.

“What if we stopped searching for cancer altogether; what if we didn’t look anymore? What if, instead, we forced the cancer to reveal itself?’”

Sam Gambhir, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine

Why it’s important – The plan is for Earli to be used at every stage of cancer prevention and treatment: for diagnostic monitoring in high-risk groups like smokers; for pretreatment, to find out if there is cancer anywhere else in the body; during treatment, to make tumors easier for surgeons to locate; and post-treatment, to detect earlier any recurring cancer. If the trials are successful, this could be a game changer in cancer care and a fitting legacy for Dr. Gambhir, who devoted his career to early cancer detection, only to lose his teenage son Milan to a highly aggressive brain tumor in 2015 and succumbed himself to the disease in 2020.

Digital Tech Holds Great Promise for Expanding Patient Access According To A New Report

Among all of the challenges healthcare providers will face in 2023, digital health tools could have the greatest potential to improve patient access, according to the issues most Top of Mind for Top Health Systems 2023 from UPMC. The Center for Connected Medicine, Nokia, and KLAS Research. The challenge of improving patient access is once again the primary focus of this report, given its importance in many health systems and its potential impact on so many other priorities. If you can’t get patients in the door, does it matter what you do with other technology? Patient access remains top of mind for leaders because the challenge is complex, and health systems continue to grapple with the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is economic uncertainty, patients who remain wary about returning for care, and greater demand from consumers for more convenient care options.

Image Credit: Top of Mind for Top Health Systems 2023, pg.60

From the patient-demand point of view, we can see a gap between what best serves the patient and what is currently the most effective tool. Patient portals appear to have the best match between serving patient needs and being effective. Telehealth appears to “over-perform” based on this small sample of perceptions among healthcare leaders, while scheduling may be under-delivering in terms of effectiveness.

Image Credit: Top of Mind for Top Health Systems 2023

Why it’s important – While a relatively small study sample, this study gives us important food for thought in terms of direction and information for planning digital health investments among health systems over the coming year. Looking ahead into 2023, it would seem that health systems are chipping away and making incremental progress. At least by prioritizing patient access and acknowledging the demands of consumers, health systems are heading in the right direction, however slowly it may seem.

UMass Memorial Health proves RPM virtual sitting is as effective as in-person care

Bill Siwicki of Healthcare IT News reports that remote patient monitoring has allowed the health system to maintain patient safety while reducing labor-pool costs. For years, UMass Memorial Health has leveraged technology to augment in-person care at the bedside. Launched in 2006, its tele-ICU program remotely monitors more than 150 adult critical care beds across Central Massachusetts. The system partnered with Caregility and its iObserver platform, which allows a remote care team to monitor up to 12 patients per screen, with two-way audio/video support, night vision, and rapid-response bedside alerts.

“Remote monitoring has proven to be an effective strategy for augmenting care at the bedside or in the home. Likewise, a virtual sitter program can enhance quality care while at the same time reduce staffing demands and labor costs. For years our challenge was in finding a solution that could meet the needs of the day – but scale for the future – at a price we could justify.”

David Smith, Associate Vice President, Virtual Medicine, UMass Memorial Health

Why it’s important – Staff initially started with a three-to-one patient ratio and gradually increased to six-to-one, ultimately with an additional six patients monitored as a backup for another virtual sitter. In the first year of operation, the remote team logged more than 100,000 interventions through the iObserver system. This included direct patient engagement through audio or two-way audio/video interaction and alerting the bedside team to potential adverse events such as getting out of bed, tugging at lines, and agitation. This let staff maintain patient safety while at the same time reducing labor-pool costs.

ChroniSense Medical receives FDA 510(k) for RPM wearable

In another story on remote patient monitoring, MobiHealthNews’ Jessica Hagen reported that Israeli company ChroniSense Medical received FDA 510(k) clearance for its Polso wearable that collects and shares vital signs with a mobile app for patients and a cloud-based platform for clinicians. The wrist-worn wearable enables clinicians to monitor patient’s vitals, including blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), pulse rate, and respiration rate. The company touts the watch as ideal for remote patient monitoring and use in decentralized clinical trials.

Why it’s important – With six out of 10 adults in the U.S. living with a chronic condition, and over $1.1 trillion in direct healthcare costs annually, there is a serious need for an easy-to-use, medical grade, remote patient monitoring solution. Adding Polso to the list of available solutions allows researchers to compare multiple options and measure which devices provide the most value to caregivers and patients.

The Era of One-Shot, Multimillion-Dollar Genetic Cures Is Here

Gene therapies promise long-term relief from intractable diseases—if insurers agree to pay. Emily Mullen in Wired Science online reports on Hemgenix, which gained US approval from the Food and Drug Administration on November 22 to treat patients with severe hemophilia B. The big issue is paying for the drug. Shortly after its approval, CSL Behring, the pharmaceutical company commercializing the drug, announced its price: $3.5 million for a one-time dose. It’s now the most expensive drug in the world. As part of a research study, Pipe’s trial participants didn’t have to pay for the therapy. But future patients and their insurers will. And Hemgenix isn’t the only gene therapy with a sky-high price. Luxturna, the first such treatment approved to fix an inherited trait—a rare form of vision loss—debuted in 2018 at $425,000 per eye. The therapy is meant to restore eyesight in people with a specific genetic mutation that causes the retina to degrade over time.

In 2019, pharma company Novartis won FDA approval for its gene therapy Zolgensma, which is meant to treat children under age 2 with spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a leading genetic cause of infant mortality. Novartis subsequently priced the therapy at $2.1 million, making it the most expensive drug on the market at the time. But earlier this year, newly approved gene therapy Zynteglo grabbed the title at $2.8 million. The drug is for patients with a blood disorder called beta thalassemia who require regular blood transfusions.

Why it’s important – The companies behind these therapies have justified their high prices, saying they provide immense benefits and are more cost-effective than current treatments since they are given just once. But Michael Gusmano, professor of health policy at Lehigh University and a research scholar at the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institute in Garrison, New York, says the price of Hemgenix and other gene therapies shouldn’t be considered a bargain.

“It assumes that the price of current treatments are appropriate. We have a system in which prices are completely out of line internationally.”

Michael Gusmano, Professor of Health Policy, Lehigh University

While most patients never pay the total cost of drugs out of pocket, uninsured people and those with high-deductive plans may have trouble accessing these therapies.

A new coalition aims to close AI’s credibility gap in medicine with testing and oversight

Most of the AI models described in journals — and lionized in press releases — never make it into clinical use. And the rare exceptions have fallen well short of their revolutionary expectations. Casey Ross from Stat reports that a group of academic hospitals, government agencies, and private companies unveiled a plan to change that. The group, billing itself as the Coalition for Health AI, called for the creation of independent testing bodies and a national registry of clinical algorithms to allow physicians and patients to assess their suitability and performance and root out bias that so often skews their results.

“We don’t have the tools today to understand whether machine learning algorithms and these new technologies being deployed are good or bad for patients.”

John Halamka, President, Mayo Clinic Platform

Why it’s important – As it stands today, there are few guideposts hospitals can use to help test algorithms or understand how well they will work on their patients. Health systems have been left on their own to sort through the complicated legal and ethical questions AI systems pose and determine how to implement and monitor them. The hardest part of the work remains to be done. The coalition must build consensus around ways to measure an AI tool’s usability, reliability, safety, and fairness. It will also need to establish the testing laboratories and registry, determine which parties will host and maintain them, and convince AI developers to cooperate with new oversight and added transparency that may conflict with their business interests.

FDA outlines benefits and risks of emerging augmented and virtual reality medical devices

In the document, the FDA outlines how AR/VR affects medical devices, explaining how the technology can deliver certain clinical services, including some typically confined to hospitals and clinics, to patients in their homes. The FDA’s non-exhaustive list of medical devices incorporating the technology features 39 products across therapeutic areas, including orthopedics, ophthalmics, radiology, neurology, and cardiovascular.

Why it’s important – The FDA has now set out its thinking on the emerging class of products. The document provides definitions of AR and VR and then digs into how the technology impacts medical devices. The FDA sees value in the ability of AR/VR to move care to patients’ homes and other non-clinical settings. This could enable patients, including the socioeconomically vulnerable and underserved communities, the elderly or disabled, to access needed health care services when accessing them in person would otherwise be difficult, and this could make it easier, and more likely, for patients to complete treatment and monitoring regimens.

Camera Measures Blood Pressure with Quick Look

Finally, MedGadget’s Conn Hastings reports that University of South Australia researchers have designed a system that allows them to measure a patient’s blood pressure with a camera. The camera visualizes the patient’s forehead and focuses on two regions in particular to optically determine photoplethysmographic signals that AI algorithms then convert to blood pressure data.

Image Credit: University of South Australia

Why it’s important – Blood pressure is an essential health indicator, but our method of measuring it can be a little cumbersome. The system could provide contact-free measurements in as little as ten seconds. It could be very useful for large health screens or in situations where minimal contact is preferred for safety, such as during a pandemic. This latest technology has been tested on 25 volunteers with different skin tones and in different ambient light conditions. The researchers compared the readings with those obtained using a commercial sphygmomanometer. They found that the contact-free camera-based technology was approximately 90% accurate, suggesting that it has significant promise as a diagnostic technology.

Health Tech News This Week – December 3, 2022

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

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From finding the right candidates to keeping them, how hospitals are using AI to address workforce needs

Anne Burky’s article in Fierce Healthcare reports that companies are using AI to ease hiring and retention while freeing up resources like manager time and company funds to create new opportunities for career development and offer higher wages. Healthcare organizations struggling under a mountain of unfilled job postings are turning to technology to address staffing shortages. Artificial intelligence and machine learning models are easing the application process, automizing workflow to decrease burnout, and offering leadership time to connect with employees, health tech executives say. The technology also provides ways to help healthcare professionals find the right job, stay in the right position, and interact with coworkers and patients on a more human level.

“What’s going to help increase retention? Flexibility and new opportunities. It’s a way to engage your existing workforce, to allow them to have the opportunities that historically are challenging to manage manually.”

Dani Bowie, Vice President, clinical strategy and transformation, Trusted Health

Why it’s important – Almost 334,000 clinicians, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, exited the workforce in 2021 due to retirement, burnout, and pandemic-related stressors, including increased workplace violence, according to a recent report from Definitive Healthcare. On average, hospitals are experiencing 27.1% nurse turnover, up from 18.7% in 2020. Hospital staff turnover is at 25.9%, up from 19.5%, according to the 2022 NSI National Health Care Retention and RN Staffing Report. And there are no signs that this will change at any time in the near future. The average age of nurses is already 57 years, according to Definitive Healthcare’s data, pointing to a quickly approaching cliff where the healthcare shortage will become an even greater crisis. Even with hefty sign-on bonuses, human resource departments cannot hire people fast enough as organizations can’t get hires to stay.

Infographics of the week – This graphic is from an excellent article by McKinsey, which suggests expanding from the legacy framing of three phases of life—childhood, adulthood, and old age to encompass healthy aging. The four dimensions of health are shaped by social and personal influencing factors that support a holistic view of health. This concept of health extending beyond physical attributes resonates with older adults. A recent MHI survey found that most older adults think all four dimensions of health are important. This is a great framework to follow when creating healthcare services for older adults.

Image Credit: McKinsey Health Institute

The second infographic this week comes from Dr. Tazeen Rizvi. Digital innovations can be leveraged to improve access to #healthservices, especially for those with limited access to quality care in hard-to-reach areas. However, digital health deployment is constrained by many challenges, including poor coordination, lack of stakeholder involvement, weak health systems, lack of awareness and knowledge about digital health, inadequate infrastructures, and lack of interoperability of the numerous digital health systems. He lists the steps mentioned below which can help in reducing barriers to adoption:

Image Credit: Dr. Tazeen Rizvi

Here’s a third infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, having the right picture is worth even more. When conveying a concept as nuanced as the difference between equality and equity, developing a visual that effectively engages diverse audiences and helps generate meaningful conversations can take time and a great deal of input, thought, and care. Their goal was to make it simple enough for a wide array of audiences to use and understand. I think they succeeded beautifully with this version.

Image Credit: Joan Barlow, RWJF

Podcast of the week – This week’s recommendation is the Health & Veritas podcast featuring Dr. Eric Topol: Pushing Medicine into the Future (Health & Veritas Ep. 58). Yale physician-professors Howard Forman and Harlan Krumholz talk about the latest news and ideas in healthcare and seek out the truth amid the noise. In this episode, they’re joined by Dr. Eric Topol, a physician and writer who is widely recognized both as a leading researcher and a public voice on medicine and health. They discuss his career turn toward genomics and digital health, and the fight against misinformation on Twitter. You can listen here.

To Prepare for Future Surges, U.S. Hospitals Must Start Planning — & Sharing Resources

Harvard Business School Professor Regina E. Herzlinger published this article in Medical Device News Magazine Online. And while not specifically a technology piece, I thought it was important to share it with readers of this blog. She asks the question: since many hospitals struggled (and in many cases, failed) to adapt to the strain of each COVID-19 surge, is the U.S. healthcare system now better prepared to weather the next inevitable public health emergency? So far, the answer is largely “no.” Her solution to the surge problem requires hospitals to create surge plans that form shared resource networks. She and her colleague Dr. Richard J. Boxer extensively discussed and wrote about alternative approaches to surge capacity management, including in a recent Health Affairs article. They recommend that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) require oversight of a new accounting standard for surge capacity management.

“Ultimately, I can see no reason for hospitals to not coordinate their efforts during future surges. The benefits to hospitals and to the public are manifold—and most importantly, lives will be saved when these changes are made. The sooner our nation can get started on this initiative, the better for all involved.”

Regina E. Herzlinger, Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Why it’s important – Although controversial, Herzlinger’s plan would have numerous benefits, which she outlines in the Health Affairs article. Since we’re not out of the woods yet with the current pandemic and are likely to experience similar surges in the future, I think this is an important topic to consider. This is well worth reading.

Apple earbuds show promise as hearing aids in clinical trial

A paper published in iScience takes the blurring of the line between earbuds and hearing aids a step further by asking if Apple AirPods can help people with mild to moderate hearing loss. As reported by Nick Paul Taylor in MedTech Dive online, researchers found the earbuds meet four of the five standards for personal sound amplification products and perform comparably to hearing aids in terms of speech perception in quiet environments. Apple’s earbuds have a “live listen” feature that transmits amplified environmental sounds into the ears of the wearer, much like a hearing aid does.

Image Credit: Apple, Inc.

Why it’s important – The study suggests that some consumer earbuds can function as hearing aids to potentially further lower the cost and address the stigma associated with the technology.

Testing Amazon Clinic, the tech giant’s latest foray into healthcare

Geek Wire’s Charlotte Schubert shares her experiences testing the company’s latest foray into healthcare in her article this week. Amazon Clinic is available to adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in 32 states, using third-party digital health companies like SteadyMD and HealthTap. People can order treatments from pharmacies, including another Amazon health endeavor, Amazon Pharmacy. She provides a step-by-step review of her entire experience, including a peek at the section on how Amazon Clinic handles the critical HIPAA issue. She also includes some great screenshots to give readers a sense of the user interface. She summarizes the encounter this way:

‘The interaction was professional, pleasant and clear — and it was easy. The fee also includes two weeks for follow-up messages after the initial consultation.”

Charlotte Schubert, Geek Wire online

Why it’s important – The model does away with time-consuming face-to-face interactions and offers the possibility of precise communication through text. Having an affordable online option like Amazon Clinic, connected to a well-known brand such as Amazon, might help people seek care for common conditions they would otherwise ignore and help them get prescription renewals. While reporters have criticized Amazon for the fits and starts to their healthcare initiatives. But it seems clear to me that Amazon appears to be set on continuing investments in healthcare despite recent layoffs and cuts to other parts of its business. In a memo to employees about the job cuts, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy called out healthcare as one of the company’s “newer initiatives that we’ve been working on for a number of years and have conviction in pursuing.” Given the size, complexity, and potential for technology to further transform the healthcare market, the sector has emerged as one of the most likely industries where Amazon could find a fourth pillar of its business alongside its existing three: Amazon Web Services, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Marketplace.

Bionaut Labs Develop Robots to Deliver Drugs Directly into the Brain

The team of researchers behind Apple’s Face ID, from Bionaut Labs, has developed robots that deliver drugs directly into the brain. Disha Chopra reports on the development in her article on Analytics Drift online. The trials aim to deliver drugs with the help of tiny robots to treat certain types of brain tumors at complex locations and a rare neurological disorder called Dandy-Walker Syndrome, which is a congenital (happening before birth) condition where the cerebellum does not develop normally. The cerebellum is an area at the back of the brain that controls movement and balance.

Why it’s important– These robots, a few millimeters long with a robust micro-magnet, could also perform biopsies. They use external control frameworks and, under predetermined magnetic fields, poke a hole in the targeted area and release the drug.

GE Healthcare teams up with augmented reality company MediView XR

GE Healthcare and MediView XR, a med-tech company that leverages augmented reality, announced their collaboration to co-develop the OmnifyXR Interventional Suite System. It will combine medical imaging and mixed-reality solutions to assist physicians and their care teams. Jessica Hagen covers the story in her article on MobiHealth News online. The collaboration will pair GE’s imaging technologies with MediView’s augmented reality and surgical navigation expertise to allow physicians to evaluate multiple holographic displays of live imaging in 3D using Microsoft’s HoloLens technology.

Why it’s important – The aim is to help physicians better assess a patient’s anatomy, make more informed clinical decisions and allow for remote collaboration by care teams in different locations. The companies’ stated goal is to create the interventional suite of the future –- one designed to improve ergonomics, with natural interactions for optimized workflow and facilitates care team collaboration.

CMR Surgical and J&J are partnering on surgical robotics

Chris Newmarker from reports on the recent announcement from CMR Surgical that Johnson & Johnson MedTech’s Ethicon business will work with CMR to sell its Versius surgical robotics systems in select markets. The collaboration involves commercial teams from the two companies working together. They’ll focus on selling to select hospitals in Italy, France, Germany, and Brazil. To meet the growing demand, CMR Surgical is working on building a roughly 75,000-square-foot global manufacturing hub in Cambridgeshire.

Why it’s important – This partnership should allow CMR to expand its footprint in the surgical robotics market by leveraging the reach of J&J Ethicon, helping it compete against industry giant Intuitive Surgical. The news comes only weeks after the Cambridge, U.K.–based surgical robotics upstart announced that it had installed more than 100 Versius robotic surgery systems worldwide. There are now Versius robots in operation across Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Health Tech News This Week – November 26, 2022

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

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A micro-thin smart bandage can quickly heal and monitor wounds

First up this week is this story by Andrew Paul in Popular Science online. Researchers at Stanford University have designed a smart bandage capable of monitoring wounds’ healing in real-time, accelerating tissue growth and blood flow around them while reducing scar severity. First described through findings published in Nature Biotechnology, the team’s new material is only 100 microns thick (equivalent to a single layer of latex paint) yet contains a radio antenna, electrical stimulator, biosensors, and other components resting atop a skin-like polymer known as a hydrogel. Once adhered atop a patient’s injury, the smart bandage monitors temperature and other biometric readings and then transmits that data to a smartphone program. If the wound is healing too slowly or if an infection is detected, the device emits small electrical stimulations across the site to boost tissue growth and reduce inflammation.

Why it’s important – Millions of people dealing with diseases and suppressed immune systems are often forced to deal with chronic wounds—usually minor injuries that take much longer to heal because of compromised health. In addition to vastly varying degrees of recovery, issues like diabetic ulcers are also costly, with treatment for a single incident costing as much as $50,000. Overall, chronic injuries cost Americans $25 billion a year.

Infographic of the week – This infographic from Dr. Tazeen Rizvi’s LinkedIn timeline shows that digital transformation must begin with understanding the patient’s need and health journey in its entirety, starting with the ailments that brought them to the hospital, along with their lifestyle, habits, social, environmental, and financial factors affecting their wellbeing. Healthcare organizations and leaders must focus on building patient-centric systems to facilitate preventive care.

Image Credit: Dr. Tazeen Rizvi

Podcast of the week – My favorite listen this week was “The Doctor Can’t See You Now” from In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt. Americans are having a hard time getting in to see a doctor, and burnout among healthcare workers is a leading reason why. The stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated a burnout crisis among physicians and nurses. But even before the pandemic, burnout was already a rampant problem for physicians and other health workers. Dr. Bob Wachter sits in for Andy and talks with AMA vice president and burnout expert Christine Sinsky about the root causes of burnout and what it will mean for all of us.

Continuous glucose monitor startups still have to prove their worth

Nicole Wetsman in the Verge reports that over the past few years, companies like Levels, January, and Nutrisense started selling programs that promise to help people start managing their blood sugar levels. They sell devices called continuous glucose monitors: small sensors that embed a tiny needle in someone’s body to track how their blood sugar (glucose) levels rise and fall. These companies say that people without diabetes should also track their blood sugar levels. These applications are new, and there still isn’t clear evidence that wearing a CGM can help people lose weight or fix metabolic problems. Many experts on obesity and metabolic disorders (like diabetes) aren’t convinced we know enough yet to recommend them.

“In terms of overall health, if you’re keeping your blood sugar at 110, I’m not sure you’re going to be affecting long-term outcomes or healthcare costs or quality of health.”

Nicole Ehrhardt, Endocrinologist, University of Washington

Why it’s important – There’s still a lot researchers don’t know about what blood sugar levels, ranges, and responses look like, particularly after eating. People without diabetes can have a wide range of blood sugar responses to the same foods. Some people have large swings in glucose levels, while others stay more steady. Tech companies like Apple and Fitbit are interested in blood sugar, and groups are looking to develop noninvasive ways to measure glucose — which could allow them to be part of smartwatches or other wearable devices. It’s crucial, then, to scrutinize groups marketing glucose monitors to everyone to figure out what that type of information can do for people. If studies show benefits, making changes to keep glucose levels steady using a continuous glucose monitor is problematic. People at risk for diabetes or who have Type 2 diabetes and who use continuous glucose monitors tend only to see minor improvements in their glucose levels. It’s still early days which even people promoting the devices recognize.

Smartwatch ECG Transforms Into a Heart Failure Diagnostic Tool

A study published in Nature Medicine reports the ability of a smartwatch ECG to detect heart failure in nonclinical environments accurately. Researchers at Mayo Clinic applied artificial intelligence (AI) to Apple Watch ECG recordings to identify patients with a weak heart pump. Participants in the study recorded their smartwatch ECGs remotely whenever they wanted, from wherever they were. Periodically, they uploaded the ECGs to their electronic health records automatically and securely via a smartphone app developed by Mayo Clinic’s Center for Digital Health. Mayo researchers interpreted Apple Watch single-lead ECGs by modifying an earlier algorithm developed for 12-lead ECGs that are proven to detect a weak heart pump. The 12-lead algorithm for low ventricular ejection fraction is licensed to Anumana Inc., an AI-driven health technology company, co-created by nference and Mayo Clinic.

Image Credit: Apple, Inc.

Why it’s important – The ability to diagnose a weak heart pump remotely, from an ECG that a person records using a consumer device, such as a smartwatch, allows timely identification of this potentially life-threatening disease at a massive scale. While the data are early, the modified AI algorithm using single-lead ECG data had an area under the curve of 0.88 to detect a weak heart pump. By comparison, this measure of accuracy is as good as or slightly better than a medical treadmill diagnostic test.

‘Virtual wards’ run via smartphone app could see more patients treated at home – and more free hospital beds

From Ashish Joshi at Sky News in the UK comes this story reporting that the NHS has created virtual wards, run via a smartphone app, as part of its plan to tackle winter pressures and hopes it will make 25,000 beds available by the end of next year. Doccla’s ‘virtual ward’ system allows patients at home to monitor and report basic issues. The virtual wards are monitored in control centers that look just like ordinary offices. Clusters of desks with staff on telephones, all are staring at their computer screens. The one in Stevenage monitors up to 90 patients at home at any time.

Image Credit: Doccla

Why it’s important – As many as one in three UK patients in some hospitals are medically fit to be discharged, but cannot be because of a lack of adequate social care. The delayed discharge puts enormous pressure on emergency departments and ambulances. Hospitals using this technology are seeing benefits.

“We work with over 20 hospitals, and we’ve found you can reduce the chances of an emergency admission by around a third, which is really important for hospitals who are under a huge amount of pressure right now, particularly going into winter.”

Greg Edwards, MD., Chief Medical Officer, Doccla

The virtual wards pose their own workforce challenges, and on their own, they will not solve all the problems facing the health service. For the patients they serve, however, the ward might be virtual – but its impact is real.

Activity Tracker Data Can Shed Light On Heart Health

Maura Kinney posted this article on Futurity online, highlighting new research that shows that data gathered from wearable activity trackers can be used to obtain several metrics associated with the user’s general physical health and cardiovascular health status. The Cleveland Clinic provided the research team with activity tracker-obtained data for 22 individuals with PAH who wore activity trackers between two clinic visits. At both clinic visits, Cleveland Clinic medical professionals recorded 26 health measurements of each participant, including health-related quality of life, heart rate measurements, and results from the commonly used aerobic capacity and endurance test known as the six-minute walk distance (6MWD) test.

“Finding so many statistically significant differences in a relatively small cohort suggests to us that activity-tracker data may make it possible to identify surrogate markers of disease severity that can be monitored remotely. We also believe that activity tracker-measured health parameters could serve as proxies for clinically measured health parameters of patients with chronic disease.”

Peter Searson, Professor, Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering

Why it’s important – While these sensors are generally marketed as daily step counters, the researchers believe they could potentially serve a greater purpose: supporting clinical care for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and other chronic diseases.

The biggest security risks of using fitness trackers and apps to monitor your health

Another fitness tracker article focuses on the security issues in using the devices. Cheryl Munk posted this article on CNBC’s site. While these devices are growing in popularity — and have legitimate uses — consumers don’t always understand how their information could be available to or intercepted by third parties. This is especially important because people can’t simply change their DNA sequencing or heart rhythms as they could a credit card or bank account number.

Why it’s important – The information that fitness trackers collect isn’t considered “health information” under the federal HIPAA standard or state laws like California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. This means personally revealing data can potentially be used in ways a consumer might never expect. For instance, personal information could be shared with or sold to third parties such as data brokers or law enforcement. Here are the recommendations from the article to protect yourself:

  • Stick to a name brand, even though they can be hacked too.
  • A fitness tracker’s default settings may not offer the most stringent security controls. To boost protection, look at what settings can be adjusted, such as those related to social networking, location, and other shareable information.
  • Be sure to secure your account by using a strong password that you don’t use with another account and enabling two-factor authentication for the associated app. And don’t share credentials.
  • Be sure to keep the device and the app up-to-date with security fixes.

Mark Cuban in talks with hospitals to solve drug shortages

Molly Gamble in Becker’s Hospital Review reports that Mark Cuban is in talks with hospitals to identify generic drugs that often run in short supply, which he aims to make in a robotics-driven manufacturing plant currently in development in Dallas. Mr. Cuban appeared on the Motley Fool podcast on Nov. 23 with host Chris Hill to talk about disrupting healthcare, which Cost Plus Drugs has managed to do since its establishment in May 2020. The company’s portfolio now has nearly 1,000 generics, which are sold with a 15 percent markup for the price, a $3 pharmacy fee to pay the pharmacists it works with, and a $5 fee for shipping. Generic Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering med, costs $151 a month at the local CVS, a steep discount from the brand-name pill, which runs $329. Cuban sells it for $4.80. Ditto Glucophage, a diabetes drug. The generic sells for $20 at CVS, versus $3.90 at Cost Plus. Or there’s the generic version of antidepressant Zoloft, which is $50 at CVS but $4.20 at Cost Plus. Walmart and Costco are experimenting with similar models.

“I don’t think they’re paying attention to us yet. They know we exist. We’ve heard them say things to politicians and heard them say things to others. But it’s going to be very difficult — as these huge public companies — to adapt as quickly as we can.”

Mark Cuban

Why it’s important – Don’t underestimate what Cuban is doing here. His Cost Plus Drugs has received little to no reaction from pharmacy’s legacy players. Robotics in the plant will allow Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs to be agile in manufacturing simple drugs “that are supposed to be regularly available” and turn around numerous injectables in a day to boost hospitals’ supply. But, for all its benefits, Cost Plus has some major limitations. The company doesn’t accept insurance. Nor does it currently sell drugs that are still protected by patents, which include blockbusters like Humira (arthritis) and Trulicity (diabetes).

Health Tech News This Week – November 19, 2022

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

Image Credit:

LG, Amwell Launch New Healthcare TV Kit to Fight Burnout and Workforce Shortages

LG Electronics announced the first solution to come from its collaboration with Amwell. The product, called the Carepoint TV Kit 200L, is in beta testing but will soon be sold to hospitals to help clinicians virtually connect to patients’ rooms. Katie Adams brings us the story in MedCity News online. Powered by Amwell’s Converge platform, the product is aimed at helping clinicians more easily engage with patients amid healthcare’s workforce shortage crisis, according to Atul Singh, LG’s general manager for digital health.

“This allows not only clinicians and providers to monitor patients, but it also allows a pathway for them to engage with their family and with their nonclinical care providers.”

Atul Singh, LG’s general manager for digital health

Why it’s important – LG’s new product provides new software and hardware that can be added to LG’s existing healthcare TVs. NYC Health + Hospitals is an example of a health system that already uses LG’s healthcare TVs for better patient engagement. This new software and hardware allow hospitals to admit, monitor, and discharge patients remotely.

Infographic of the week – Another great infographic from Gist Healthcare this week. This is their “World Cup of Healthcare” update to assess which of the 32 nations best protected its population from COVID. They based their analysis on three key metrics that they selected as the most reliable and meaningful representations of a nation’s response to the pandemic: 1) the quality of each nation’s underlying healthcare system (measured by the Consumer Value Index score that we created last time; 2) its per-capita vaccination rate (counting all doses administered, including boosters); and 3) its per-capita COVID mortality rate (adjusted by the percentage of population 65+). (Check out the U.S. position 👇)

Image Credit: Gist Healthcare

Yale uses ML based PRECISION model for personalized treatment for Hypertension

Preetipadma K brings us this story in Analytics Drift this week. Yale University researchers have created a machine learning-based clinical decision support tool to tailor recommendations for blood pressure control treatment goals. Their tool, PREssure Control In Hypertension (PRECISION), is an ML model aimed to discover features of individuals who benefited the most from actively reducing blood pressure. Through a data-driven methodology, the innovative clinical decision support tool encourages collaborative decision-making between patients and healthcare professionals.

Why it’s important – When compared to conventional treatment, researchers discovered that the tool could identify diabetic patients who benefited from intensive blood pressure management. These results suggest that PRECISION can offer trustworthy, helpful information to guide decisions about intensive vs. conventional systolic blood pressure treatment among patients with diabetes. Until the team prospectively proves its clinical relevance, the proposed machine learning algorithm, PRECISION, is only authorized to be applied for research.

Exoskeletons qualify for direct disability compensation in Germany

ReWalk Robotics made progress in German courts this week. BARMER announced it would accept a ruling from state courts that made exoskeletons considered eligible for direct disability compensation and withdrew its pending case at the federal level. BARMER is one of Germany’s largest statutory health insurance providers. Brianna Wessling reports that the ruling gives eligible, insured patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) a legal basis to use an exoskeleton as an orthopedic aid for direct disability compensation in Germany.

“The German healthcare system has led the way in its adoption of exoskeletons for spinal cord injured individuals. We expect that this acceptance of the prior ruling will enable medically eligible members of the SCI community to access exoskeleton technology in a more efficient manner.”

Larry Jasinski, CEO of ReWalk

Why it’s important – ReWalk Robotics’ Personal 6.0 System is an exoskeleton designed for all-day use at home and in the community. The system is personalized for each user, ensuring a precise fit and optimal safety, function, and joint alignment. It can help users stand upright, walk, turn and climb and descend stairs.

How AcuPebble is changing the face of sleep apnea diagnosis

Acurable’s first product AcuPebble is the first medical device to be authorized by regulators for the automated diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea at home. Ian Bolland has the interview with Emilio Sanz-Pereiras, co-CEO, and COO from Acurable, in Med-Tech Innovation News. To summarise what the product offers, it is a multi-use rechargeable sensor stuck to the base of the neck against the windpipe to collect cardio-respiratory signals. It extracts respiratory and cardiac data and transmits it wirelessly to a mobile device. Algorithms then interpret this data, and reports are sent to clinicians who can make a diagnostic decision without the patient needing to visit a sleep clinic, which has long waiting lists and require extensive training.

“We are really working on multiple fronts within the NHS to rethink pathways, to rethink the way the whole system works for a sleep test. We are continuing to build further medical credibility with more research, with the ultimate aim being that we will get to a point where consumers can request a test themselves and their HCP will trust this data without having to repeat the whole pathway.”

Emilio Sanz-Pereiras, co-CEO and COO from Acurable

Why it’s important – AcuPebble provides a real solution for health services in which resources are increasingly stretched and waiting times continue to rise. The product is already live in several NHS Trusts, with the company keen to develop the credibility of the device within medical circles before contemplating making it more consumer-focused.

Alphabet’s Verily, ResMed launch sleep platform Primasun

In another article focused on sleep disorders, Jessica Hagen reports on this development at the HLTH 2022 conference in MobiHealthNews. San Diego-based connected sleep device maker ResMed and Alphabet’s life science offshoot Verily announced the formation of Primasun, an end-to-end solution to help employers and healthcare providers identify populations at risk for complex sleep disorders. Formed as a joint venture, Primasun will initially evaluate patients with insomnia, provide guidance to improve sleep hygiene, and connect patients with certified sleep physicians who diagnose and treat sleep apnea.

Why it’s important – A third of U.S. adults report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep, and lack of rest has been linked with chronic conditions such as heart disease, depression, diabetes, and heart disease, according to the CDC. Diagnosing and treating sleep disorders can help people live healthier and longer, be safer and more present in their work and personal lives, and lower healthcare costs.

How safe is 7T MRI for patients with neurosurgical implants?

Hannah Murphy reports on this important topic in her article in Health Imaging. Although the clinical use of new 7T MRI technology is not yet widespread, it is growing. As such, patients and clinicians must understand the safety and risks involved in 7T exams. Thanks to a team of students and faculty members from Carle Illinois College of Medicine and the Carle Foundation Hospital—one of a few institutions in the country with a 7T machine—experts now have a bit more insight into the machine’s safety in the presence of neurosurgical implants.

Image Credit: Carle Foundation Hospital

Why it’s important – Based on their findings, the team concluded that cranial fixation devices, deep brain stimulation devices, spinal rods, and pedicle screws are likely compatible with 7T MRI. Mixed outcomes were found with aneurysm clips and EEG devices, and VP shunts were reported to lose functionality after 7T exposure. The study’s findings could encourage device manufacturers to conduct more thorough testing to ensure that their products are safe to use with the emerging imaging technology.

Skin-like electronics could monitor your health continuously

Finally, this week, Science Daily reports on research conducted at DOE/Argonne National Laboratory, where researchers are developing skin-like electronics paired with artificial intelligence for health monitoring and diagnosis. The team’s skin-like neuromorphic “chip” consists of a thin film of a plastic semiconductor combined with stretchable gold nanowire electrodes. Even when stretched to twice its normal size, their device functioned as planned without the formation of any cracks.

“While still requiring further development on several fronts, our device could one day be a game changer in which everyone can get their health status in a much more effective and frequent way.”

Sihong Wang, assistant professor in UChicago PME

Why it’s important – Worn routinely, future wearable electronics could potentially detect possible emerging health problems — such as heart disease, cancer, or multiple sclerosis — even before obvious symptoms appear. The device could also personally analyze the tracked health data while minimizing the need for its wireless transmission.