Digital health news roundup: AI is having a moment

October 7, 2016

Author: Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst

  • Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, paired with voice-activated Internet of Things platforms like Amazon’s Echo, could be game-changers for management of chronic diseases, and developers are already working on applications that could boost adherence and help patients navigate complex treatment regimes.

 

 

  • Five big AI players – IBM, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft – are banding together to form a kind of quasi-trade group-slash-PR effort dubbed the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.  Sounds like it will be tasked with reassuring consumers and lawmakers alike that AI and cognitive computing are totally safe and not at all creepy.

 

 

 

  • Another Microsoft exec says it’s time for companies to start thinking about optimizing their digital assets for NLP – already, one in four Bing mobile searches (and 5% of Bing searches overall) are conducted by voice.

 

 

  • Medtronic got FDA clearance for its “artificial pancreas,” a closed-loop BG monitoring and insulin delivery system, and launched a beta test of its Sugar.IQ with Watson app, a “first of its kind cognitive app that helps detect important patterns and trends for people with diabetes.” Medtronic and IBM are piloting the app with 100 users of Medtronic’s MiniMed Connect mobile accessory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • To facilitate telemedicine, a crop of home diagnostic devices – “part Start Trek Tricorder, part Harry Potter Extendable Ear” – has hit the market in recent months, allowing doctors to look in a patient’s ear canal or listen to their lungs remotely.

 

 

  • The Wall Street Journal looks at increasing use of wellness coaches by health systems and employers to prompt behavior change around lifestyle factors like diet and exercise. You could see some high-end patient support programs incorporating coaching as a value-add.

 

  • They also have a fascinating interview with HHS CTO and crazy smart person Susannah Fox about “creating a culture of innovation in healthcare,” which is really all about patient centricity and letting patients lead. A taste: “Creating space for innovation often means welcoming people way down deep in a hierarchy who may not have power but know what problems need to be solved. In health care, that describes patients and caregivers. At HHS, those are the front-line employees.”

 

  • Having gotten their foot in the door with treatment of acute minor ailments like burns, wounds and fevers, retail pharmacy clinics staffed by NPs are now looking to broaden their menu of services into primary care and disease management.

 

  • The Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance marketplaces are in trouble. How they’re patched up – or not – depends bigly on which way the political winds blow Nov. 8. Hillary Clinton has rebooted the “public option” beloved by lefties, while Donald Trump has promised to tear them down and start anew. Adding insult to injury, Bill Clinton took a seeming swipe at the ACA while on the stump for his wife, calling the program – or the broader American healthcare system, depending on which spin doctor you talk to – “the craziest thing in the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sharecare is building a healthcare VR mini-empire – they just made their 11th acquisition. They’re focused on “building a comprehensive patient engagement engine,” and they want to be the only health app on your phone.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Heard of the burgeoning market for NASH treatments? You will soon. It stands for Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis, a metabolic disorder resulting from obesity which afflicts 10 to 15 million Americans, and there are more than 20 treatments in Phase II development.

 

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