FDA clears PhysIQ’s Afib analytics engine
CHICAGO – Biosensor provider PhysIQ has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its atrial fibrillation detection analytics engine. “Since day one, our mission has been to enable a world where real-time patient data continuously streams to the cloud and artificial intelligence performs the hard work of detecting when health problems are arising among monitored patients,” said Gary Conkright, chairman and CEO of PhysIQ, in a statement. “With this approach, clinicians can identify who within their monitored population may require additional care to avoid poor health outcomes. This clearance of our AFib detection algorithm, when paired with our groundbreaking and previously cleared personalized physiology analytics, is a huge step toward realizing that goal.” The AFib analytic will be available within PhysIQ’s pinpointIQ monitoring solution, which combines clinical-grade wearable biosensors, mobile cloud computing and FDA-cleared analytics to provide clinicians with continuous insight for at-risk patients. The solution is currently being used by payers and providers to better care for patients recently discharged from the hospital, recovering at a skilled nursing facility or enrolled in a home health program. The AFib analytic is also available to pharma and medical device companies that are integrating wearable biosensors into their clinical trials.
TELUS, Babylon partner to bring telehealth to Canada
VANCOUVER, British Columbia & LONDON – Remote monitoring provider TELUS Health is partnering with digital health technology provider Babylon to provide virtual health care technology and solutions to doctors and patients in Canada. The service will complement existing health care services across the country for people in rural areas or living with mobility issues; those who are unable to access non-emergency health care on evenings, weekends or holidays; and for the 5 million Canadians who do not have a family physician. “At TELUS Health, we leverage the power of technology to deliver better health outcomes, empowering Canadians with the right tools, information and support they need to live healthier and happier lives,” said Juggy Sihota, vice president of TELUS Health, in a statement. “Our partnership with Babylon, through a globally leading virtual care solution, will enable consumers to get access to health care anywhere and anytime they need it. Together, we are not only helping to improve the options Canadians have for accessing healthcare, but also providing them with a digital tool that makes communicating with healthcare professionals more efficient.” The companies will also establish an advisory council of medical professionals to provide guidance into the rollout of this innovative service, and ministries of health across the country will also be engaged for their input. Babylon’s virtual care technology will be made available to Canadians through an artificial intelligence-powered version of a mobile app developed specifically for Canada. The app will include a chat-style symptom checker that patients can use to better understand their symptoms or health care concerns or to engage their health care provider through a video consultation. “TELUS’ consumer-centric approach coupled with its success in creating a more connected health care ecosystem through the use of innovative digital health technology solutions makes them the perfect partner for Babylon as we begin to serve this great country,” said Dr. Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon, in a statement. The TELUS-Babylon service in Canada will be made available in English at launch with French to follow in 2019.
Home blood pressure monitoring improves hypertension, study finds
TEMPLE, Texas – Home blood pressure monitoring can improve hypertension control and save medical costs, according to results of a pilot initiative presented at the American Heart Association’s recent Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions. Home blood pressure monitoring isn’t a common part of most treatment plans, said Roy Champion, clinical quality R.N. at Scott and White Health Plan. “Meanwhile, in the charts that did use home blood pressure monitoring, approximately 86% of those patients had their hypertension under control,” Champion said in a statement. Home monitoring combined with doctor visits to measure a patient’s blood pressure helps to avoid numbers skewed by “white-coat hypertension,” when blood pressure is high in a medical setting but not in everyday life; and “masked hypertension,” when blood pressure is normal in a medical setting but high at home, he said. Champion studied the impact of an intervention that provided home blood pressure monitors, online and print resources for tracking readings, and monitoring reminders to 2,550 adult patients with persistent uncontrolled high blood pressure. They found that by their third office visit, nearly 67% of patients had their blood pressure controlled, and almost 60% of patients had their blood pressure control by their sixth visit.
Gebo joins NIH’s All of Us Research Program
BETHESDA, Md. – Dr. Kelly Gebo has joined the All of Us Research Program at the National Institutes of Health as the program’s new chief medical and scientific officer. The All of Us Research Program seeks to advance precision medicine by building a national research cohort of 1 million or more participants from diverse communities across the United States to contribute their physical, genomic and electronic health record data. In addition to providing blood and urine samples, participants will allow their information to be collected for the program through wearable devices, physical measurements and surveys. In her new role, Gebo will work with health care professionals and researchers, participants and national and community-based organizations to lead the program’s scientific agenda, with a special focus on populations that have been historically underrepresented in research. She will also work with key stakeholders, including participants, NIH leadership and partners, to guide protocol revisions and data collection processes, and with the institutional review board and the All of Us team to provide clinical oversight. “Kelly brings a wealth of expertise in cohort research, data quality and analysis, and clinical care, and with continued input from diverse stakeholders across the country, will help us further develop our scientific roadmap for this project,” said Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Research Program, in a statement. Gebo is a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and an expert in HIV health services research and clinical outcomes. “I look forward to working with participants, providers and researchers as we collaborate to collect high-quality data and enable groundbreaking research,” she said in a statement.
Project collects smart devices to link behavior to early Parkinson’s symptoms
THESSALONIKI, Greece – Researchers at the Artistotle University of Thessaloniki are developing a set of technology-based solutions for the early detection and care of Parkinson’s disease through the iPrognosis project. The project is based on the unobtrusive collection of behavioral data from users’ natural interaction with their smart devices that may be linked to early Parkinson’s symptoms. The team launched the iPrognosis mobile app, which collects a variety of data including voice characteristics while users are talking on the phone; hand steadiness while they’re holding the device; and keystrokes-related data when using the app’s keyboard, in 2017 in Germany, Greece, Portugal and the U.K. Other information is also gathered about distance covered each day, facial expressions from stored photos and emotional content from stored text messages. Data from smartwatch heart rate and skin temperature sensors are also being used to monitor sleep quality, since sleep disorders are an early symptom of Parkinson’s. So far, around 433,625 records—about 90 GB of data—have been collected to develop machine-learning algorithms that can detect Parkinson’s-related behavioral changes. The iPrognosis project is currently capturing additional data on food consumption rates, bowel sounds and heart rates from plate scales, smart belts and smart television remote controls. Ultimately, iPrognosis plans to design interventions to help Parkinson’s patients sustain their quality of life, in collaboration with their doctors.
CloudMine introduces updated cloud health care platform
PHILADELPHIA – CloudMine, a health care platform solution provider, has introduced the next generation of the company’s Connected Health Cloud platform for health care organizations. The latest version of the Connected Health Cloud incorporates additions to the platform’s interoperability engine and security suite, as well as introduces new data visibility and governance features. “The new CHC leverages the shared learning we’ve gained as health care technologists and as an organization,” stated Steve Wray, CEO of CloudMine, in a statement. “The design, development and deployment of the new CHC architecture has been a core strategic goal for our team in 2018.”
VisualDx introduces skin symptom checker app
SANTA CLARA, Calif. –VisualDx, providers of a diagnostic clinical decision support tool for physicians, has launched its first consumer mobile app. Aysa is an artificial intelligence-driven symptom checker app. It is trained through the VisualDx platform, which combines combines clinical search and medical knowledge from experts with a database of more than 120,000 medical images from around the world world. “Industry data suggests that nearly 80% of Internet users have searched for a health-related topic online, however 50% of the time these searches produce inaccurate information,” said Dr. Art Papier, CEO of VisualDx, in a statement. “Consumers in the U.S. deserve better and Aysa can provide peace of mind by serving as the foundation for a productive visit to the doctor’s office. We want people to use their smartphones to get the right answers when they need it most, and for the answers to be drawn from the professional knowledge of physicians.” Using machine learning, Aysa is able to provide real-time results for skin photos taken in the privacy of a consumer’s home. Users take a photo of their skin condition and answer a few questions, then Aysa generates a few possible answers in addition to next steps.
aktiia raises $4M for blood pressure monitoring wearable
NEUCHATEL, Switzerland – Health technology company aktiia, has raised $4 million in a seed round to commercialize its blood pressure monitoring algorithms.“There’s an urgent need to address the problem of hypertension, as it affects every third adult, and is the largest epidemic known to mankind,” said Mattia Bertschi, co-founder and CEO of aktiia, in a statement. “We will empower people with cutting-edge technology in this fight.” The company’s technology combines optical sensors and clinically validated software algorithms to measure an individual’s blood pressure at the wrist. The algorithms will be embedded in non-medical third-party wearables to track blood pressure trends, as well as in aktiia’s medical grade wearable to monitor precise blood pressure values that can be used for the diagnosis and management of hypertension.
Orbita hires Ebong to lead strategy
BOSTON – Kristi Ebong has been named senior vice president of strategy and general manager for healthcare services at voice technology provider Orbita. Ebong is the former head of emerging technology at Cedars-Sinai and launched the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator where she evaluated more than 3,000 startups. “Kristi’s experience in leading efforts to adopt and scale new technologies across a health system will be invaluable to Orbita,” said Bill Rogers, CEO of Orbita, in a statement. “Voice and artificial intelligence are well poised to overcome the challenges of existing technology infrastructure across the health care delivery systems and beyond. We’re confident she will help guide our customers in the provider sector to achieve success as they move forward with voice initiatives.”
Clarify Health plans to grow with $57M in new funding
SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK – Clarify Health Solutions has closed $57 million in a Series B financing round to fuel the company’s growth in the personalization and optimization of health care. Clarify’s solutions use predictive analytics and machine learning on a comprehensive data set of more than 20 terabytes—representing clinical, claims, social determinant, laboratory and prescription data—to provide actionable insights and automate care navigation. The company’s Care Journey Platform enables doctors to match patients to the most appropriate care, while patients receive real-time visibility and guidance. “We are entering a new era, where technology can help us to reimagine care delivery,” said Dr. Jean Drouin, CEO and co-founder of Clarify Health Solutions, in a statement. “We have accepted for far too long that an accessible, service-oriented and customer-centric experience is simply unattainable in health care.” Clarify plans to use the new funding to expand its clinical transformation, sales, engineering and data science teams, to acquire new data assets, and to accelerate the development of its digital care guidance platform, said Drouin.
Groups form $100M health care technology venture fund
MILWAUKEE – Advocate Aurora Health, Foxconn Technology Group, Johnson Controls and Northwestern Mutual are partnering to create the $100 million Wisconn Valley Venture Fund. The early-stage venture capital fund will invest both nationally and globally, targeting transformative and interdisciplinary innovations in health care, technology, manufacturing and financial services. Each organization will contribute $25 million to the fund. “As the global leader in technology and manufacturing services, we are uniquely positioned to promote the development of new and emerging technologies around the world,” said Terry Gou, founder and CEO of Foxconn Technology Group, in a statement. “We look forward to enabling entrepreneurs and startups to find success for transformative solutions through the fund.” Advocate Aurora Health operates 27 hospitals and more than 500 sites of care throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, serving more than 2 million patients each year. Johnson Controls creates intelligent buildings and efficient energy solutions. Northwestern Mutual is a life insurance company focused on technology in the region.
AADE receives $2.6M grant for DANA diabetes resource
CHICAGO – The American Association of Diabetes Educators has been awarded a $2.6 million grant over three years by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust for its new DANA resource for diabetes educators and other health care professionals. DANA provides up-to-date diabetes device information and training, technology news, education and mobile app reviews. “Diabetes educators play an increasingly vital role in patient care,” said Gina Agiostratidou, Helmsley Type 1 diabetes program director, in a statement. “DANA will empower these individuals to increase adoption and optimal use of diabetes technology. This technology has and will continue to transform the lives of patients by making management easier and supporting better outcomes.”
John Hancock offers free digital health platform to all members
BOSTON – John Hancock life insurance is offering a digital health platform to all policyholders that offers rewards for healthy behaviors.
“For centuries, the insurance model has primarily provided financial protection for families after death, without enhancing the very quality it hinges on—life,” said Marianne Harrison, president and CEO of John Hancock, in a statement. “We fundamentally believe life insurers should care about how long and well their customers live. With this decision, we are proud to become the only U.S. life insurance company to fully embrace behavioral-based wellness and leave the old way of doing business behind.”
John Hancock Vitality Life Insurance now offers new and existing customers two options to support and incentivize healthier life choices: Vitality GO, which isoffered on all life insurance policies at no additional cost, and provides access to expert fitness and nutritional resources and personalized health goals through a mobile app and website; and Vitality PLUSfor $2 a month that adds a 15% savings on annual premiums rewards for the everyday things they do to stay healthy, like exercising, eating well and getting regular checkups.
John Hancock began offering Vitality as part of its overall set of offerings in 2015 and, as a result, has seen policyholders living 13 to 21 years longer than the rest of the insured population; and 30% lower hospitalization costs than the rest of the insured population.
“The remarkable results of our Vitality offering convinced us this is the only path forward for the industry,” said Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance, in a statement. “We have smart phones, smart cars and smart homes. It’s time for smart life insurance that meets the changing needs of consumers. We believe offering Vitality on all life insurance policies, at no additional cost, is the right thing to do for our customers, our business and society. We believe this is the future of our industry.”
Driver connects cancer patients to treatment options
SAN FRANCISCO & SHANGHAI – Driver, a digital platform that connects cancer patients to treatments, has launched in the United States and China to enable patients to access treatment options across a global network of cancer centers without leaving home.
“In a world of Amazon, Airbnb and other technology platforms that have revolutionized our ability to access products and services, consumers deserve the same transformative power of these next-generation marketplaces when they are facing cancer and require treatment,” said Dr. William R. Polkinghorn, co-founder and CEO of Driver, in a statement.
Founded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Chinese National Cancer Center, Driver’s network is comprised of more than 30 cancer centers, including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of California San Francisco and others.
“While great advances have been made in personalizing cancer treatments in recent years, many patients are unaware of all of their options,” said Dr. Keith Flaherty, director of the Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at Massachusetts General Hospital, a member of the Driver network, in a statement. “Driver’s approach could revolutionize the way that treatment options are presented to patients at essential junctions in their care.”
Through Driver, patients have the opportunity to review their treatment options over video with an expert oncologist and then can select a hospital within the network for further evaluation. Driver arranges the appointment at each patient’s hospital of choice and delivers their records and other information required for the evaluation.
Partners HealthCare, Teladoc launch urgent care telehealth service
BOSTON – Partners HealthCare has collaborated with Teladoc to launch the new Partners HealthCare On Demand telehealth program for urgent care visits.
“This will be a big part of our care delivery strategy and we expect usage to increase in the future,” said Dr. Joseph Kvedar, president of connected health at Partners HealthCare, in a statement. “This is an important step toward fully integrated care delivery, and we’re pleased to be working with Teladoc Health as we continue to improve the experience for our patients and providers alike, making health care more accessible, personal and efficient.”
Partners HealthCare On Demand will first be exclusively offered to commercial members of the system’s health plan, Neighborhood Health Plan, which will become AllWays Health Partners on Jan. 1, 2019. Patients will be connected to providers through a secure video visit accessed through the web or a mobile device.
The Partners telehealth initiative is being managed by Partners Connected Health, in collaboration with Partners Community Physicians Organization and Neighborhood Health Plan. Partners Connected Health is leveraging digital health technologies to deliver quality patient care outside of traditional medical settings, including programs for medication adherence, care coordination, chronic disease management, prevention and wellness, said Dr. Tony Dodek, chief medical officer of Neighborhood Health Plan, in a statement.
“This is the kind of integrated payer-provider approach to health care envisioned in the affiliation between Partners and Neighborhood Health Plan, and it’s part of our broader collaboration to improve health outcomes and avoid more costly care down the road by providing the right care, at the right time, and in the right place,” he said.