Intermountain Healthcare opens innovation center
MURRAY, Utah – Intermountain Healthcare has opened a 120,000-square-foot innovation center to focus on transforming the way health care is delivered. The Kem C. Gardner Transformation Center will advance health care innovation by creating tools to help caregivers and patients, including 3D technology. “We are stewards of Intermountain’s long tradition of innovation, and this Transformation Center will be a hotbed, locally, regionally, nationally and globally as we seek to advance that tradition,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, in a statement. Intermountain’s Clinical Program leadership teams of scientists and doctors will work at the new facility on more than 1,500 active research studies in more than 20 clinical areas. The Transformation Center is located on the campus of Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and is named after Kem C. Gardner, who served on various Intermountain boards for 36 years and was chairman of the Intermountain Board of Trustees from 2007-12. He currently chairs the Intermountain Foundation Board. Gardner donated $20 million toward the construction of the Transformation Center.
UCSD Health launches mobile app
SAN DIEGO – UC San Diego Health has launched a new mobile app to help patients manage their health information and communicate with the physicians. The MyUCSDHealth app also provides resources like facility visiting hours, directions and parking information. “We recognize patients are juggling many life obligations, including their health care needs,” said Dr. Thomas Savides, chief experience officer at UC San Diego Health, in a statement. “We want to meet patients where they are and provide the most convenient access to physicians and resources with the simple touch of a phone screen.” UC San Diego Health patients with a MyUCSDChart account can also use the MyUCSDHealth app to communicate securely with their care team, view test results, manage prescriptions, view and pay bills, and schedule different appointments and screenings, including annual mammograms. In addition, the app provides users with the ability to search a physician database and read bios of doctors from primary care to specialty care. “The launch of this app is part of our overall strategy to understand the needs of patients for an optimal experience and then align people, processes and technology to successfully make it happen,” said Kim Kennedy, chief marketing and communications officer at UC San Diego Health, in a statement.
IDx raises $33M for AI diagnostics
CORALVILLE, Iowa – IDx has raised $33 million to accelerate market adoption of its autonomous artificial intelligence diagnostic system. The system, cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, does not require a clinician to interpret the image or results. “We expect this investment to accelerate the adoption of IDx-DR, a unique and much-needed solution for the 30 million people with diabetes in the U.S. alone who need to be tested for diabetic retinopathy each year,” said Stefan Abrams, vice chairman at IDx, in a statement. The FDA-cleared IDx-DR system enables health care providers who are not normally involved in eye care to use the AI system to test for diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. In June, IDx-DR was initiated into clinical practice at University of Iowa Health Care, marking the first time patients have received a medical diagnosis from an autonomous AI system in the United States, Abrams said. The company is currently working on implementations at several additional health care systems that plan to go live with IDx-DR in 2018. IDx is also developing AI-based diagnostic systems for the detection of macular degeneration, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke risk.
In-home urinalysis cleared for market launch
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Digital health startup inui Health’s in-home urine analysis platform has received 510(k) clearance and a Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as a CE Mark certification. The disposable tests and accompanying smartphone app have been used in multiple clinical studies in the United States and Africa, and were also validated in Europe and the Middle East. “We see an unprecedented opportunity in bringing powerful diagnostic tests currently only available at labs or clinics to the hands of consumers,” said Jaime Tenedorio, CEO of inui Health, in a statement. “We are enabling individuals to perform these tests anywhere in the world, from Manhattan to Sub-Saharan Africa, empowering individuals to know more and worry less about their health. To immediately view the results of inui’s diagnostic test, users simply dip and use the phone guided app to conduct the test. The inui diagnostic system measures protein, glucose, leukocytes, nitrites and ketones in urine and it can be used to monitor general health, kidney function, metabolic disorders and screen for urinary tract infections. “We are entering a market that has a few competitors with limited offerings, but none of them have received the type of FDA approval to deliver such a wide range of diagnostic results to both patient and physician simultaneously with our convenience and low cost,” said Reza Kazemipour, chief revenue officer at inui, in a statement. “We are ensuring that our generation will be the last to know so little about our health.”
Accenture adds bots to patient platform
NEW YORK – Accenture has added virtual assistant bots to its Intelligent Patient Platform. Ella, designed to assist patients, provides medication reminders, vitals tracking and appointment scheduling, and allows patients to manage their health and engage with their care team members. Ethan is designed to enable life sciences companies to help health care providers more easily engage with patients, better monitor their activity and coordinate with other care team members. “The platform’s newest AI capabilities allow life sciences companies to make recommendations to best support the patient’s specific condition and lifestyle by gaining deeper insights into patient behavior in real time,” said Tony Romito, managing director at Accenture Life Sciences, in a statement. “With the inclusion of these new AI capabilities, the Accenture Intelligent Patient Platform continues to expand the value of using analytics and collaborative technologies to support the healthcare industry’s goal to deliver better outcomes.” The bots are part of Accenture’s Salesforce Fullforce Solutions powered by Salesforce Health Cloud and Einstein AI, as well as Amazon’s Alexa. In addition to Ella and Ethan, AI and process capabilities have been embedded throughout the company’s patient engagement solution to improve the user experience, including an onboarding contact center; an adherence and care management contact center; and a provider portal and mobile app.
Vital Scout patch available for continuous stress monitoring
CAMPBELL, Calif. – VivaLNK has launched the Vital Scoutpatch for the continuous monitoring of stress and recovery levels. The patch is designed to be worn 24 hours a day over a period of two to three days at a time, and offers a comprehensive picture of stress and recovery levels by analyzing the user’s heart rhythm throughout waking and sleeping hours. “To get a comprehensive view of stress and recovery levels, contributing factors need to be accounted for throughout the entire day, under varying conditions,” said Jiang Li, CEO of VivaLNK, in a statement. “Taking occasional snapshots or select timeframes to measure stress levels can be misleading, but having a way to continuously track levels can finally help people better understand their body’s reaction to stress.” Vital Scout uses medical grade electrocardiography sensors and established heart rate variability algorithms to accurately measure the body’s response to the physiological impacts of daily activities.
Researchers develop dementia detection system with avatars
SUITA, Japan – Researchers from Osaka University and Nara Institute of Science and Technology have developed a dementia detection system that uses interactive computer avatars and machine learning. Their research showed that it was possible to detect dementia from conversations in human/avatar interaction, where a machine learns the characteristics of sounds of elderly people who answered questions from avatars on a computer. “If this technology is further developed, it will become possible to know whether or not an elderly individual is in the early stages of dementia through conversation with computer avatars at home on a daily basis,” said Takashi Kudo, one of the researchers, in a statement. “It will encourage them to seek medical help, leading to early diagnosis.” The researchers created a model for machine learning based on features of speech, language and faces from recorded dialogues with elderly participants. Through machine learning, a computer was able to distinguish individuals with dementia from healthy controls at a rate of 90% in six questions. It was found that dementia could be distinguished with high accuracy by combining features of dementia, such as delay in response to questions from avatars depending on the content of questions, intonation, articulation rate of the voice and the percentage of nouns and verbs uttered.
Researchers develop sensor that runs on glucose
PULLMAN, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University have developed an implantable, biofuel-powered sensor that harvests glucose from body fluid and runs on sugar to monitor a body’s biological signals to detect, prevent and diagnose diseases. “The human body carries a lot of fuel in its bodily fluids through blood glucose or lactate around the skin and mouth,” said Subhansu Gupta, lead researcher, in a statement. “Using a biofuel cell opens the door to using the body as potential fuel.” Since it relies on body glucose, the sensor’s electronics can be powered indefinitely and it is also completely non-toxic, making it more promising as an implant for people, said Gupta.
BCBS of Michigan to roll out digital wellness program
DETROIT – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will offer a Virtual Well-Being program to employers and members next year.
“The health of our members is a top priority at Blue Cross, so we’re excited about offering this innovative program that will focus on how they can improve their overall well-being,” said Cindy Bjorkquist, well-being programs director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, in a statement. “Not only is the Virtual Well-Being program easily accessible for members looking to enhance their mental and physical health, but it’s also a convenient solution for employers to learn best practices for building, complementing or enhancing their onsite well-being program.”
Starting Jan. 1, 2019, employers and members will have access to live, weekly 10- to 15-minute well-being webinars and downloadable health resources through the Virtual Well-Being program. Topics covered will include nutrition, exercise, finances, emotional health, meditation and more.
The program will also provide employers with strategic direction, tips, exercises and tactics to improve employee performance, engagement and morale, as well as attract and retain talent.
“Being mindful and practicing a greater state of well-being will help our members face day-to-day challenges both at home and at work, but many people aren’t sure how to start down a path of improving their well-being,” said Bjorkquist. “That’s where Blue Cross’ Virtual Well-Being benefit comes in. The virtual coordinator will guide members through engaging topics on how to improve their well-being, which will include mindfulness training and changing their brain’s default setting to increase happiness, gratitude and creativity, as well as other positive benefits.”
The payer’s health and wellness website, powered by WebMD, also provides access to an interactive health assessment, digital health assistant programs and fitness trackers.
Pediatric tech consortium gets $6.6M boost from FDA
LOS ANGELES – The West Coast Consortium for Technology and Innovation in Pediatrics has been awarded $6.6 million over five years by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to continue its work in developing pediatric medical devices.
CTIP, based at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, is one of five centers across the country awarded the FDA Pediatric Device Consortium grant offered by the Office of Orphan Products Development.
Established in 2011 and first funded by the FDA in 2013, CTIP promotes the commercialization and clinical use of pediatric medical device technology. The group fosters networking opportunities, direct and indirect financial support, and guidance on issues related to intellectual property, prototyping, engineering, testing, grant writing and clinical trial design—all on the road to getting the devices to market.
“Our mission is to improve health outcomes for our vulnerable pediatric population,” said Dr. Juan Espinoza, general pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and co-director of CTIP, in a statement. “To be recognized by the FDA as a center of excellence for pediatric innovation and to serve as a national resource for pediatric device development is both a great honor and great responsibility. We feel fortunate to be working with some of the finest institutions on the West Coast to support and foster collaboration in medical technology development.”
Over the past year, CTIP has focused on developing partnerships along the West Coast, bringing together a network of children’s hospitals, academic institutions, accelerators and incubators across California, Oregon and Washington. CTIP network members include the University of California, Los Angeles; Oregon Health & Science University; University of Southern California; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Berkeley; Seattle Children’s Hospital; Cedars-Sinai Accelerator; LA BioMed; and Project Zygote.
“We recognize that there are still many unmet needs facing pediatric patients, which motivates us to capitalize on our large network of multi-disciplinary stakeholders to identify and cultivate promising new technologies tailored to the needs of children,” said Dr. Yaniv Bar-Cohen, pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and co-director of CTIP, in a statement.
Since becoming an FDA-funded PDC, CTIP has supported 120 projects from 15 different states. As part of its second annual Catalyzing Pediatric Innovation Grant competition, CTIP recently awarded $235,000 in seed grants to six innovators developing new devices and technologies for young patients. The 2018 grant winners included a low-cost infant microbiome monitoring device for home or clinic use, a novel short arm exoskeleton to help treat orthopaedic fractures, an improved sound-delivery vest for treating respiratory conditions and a virtual reality system for treating pediatric chronic pain.
CHLA recently appointed its first-ever chief innovation officer, Omkar Kulkarni, with the goal of fostering innovation across CHLA’s clinical and research enterprises.
“Innovation in health care covers so much ground—from finding successful new methods of patient care to developing novel medical devices and digital health technologies—and the industry has yet to scratch the surface,” said Kulkarni in a statement. “Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has the expertise, experience and resources needed to lead the charge, and we are committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation to enhance the quality of care and health outcomes for the children we serve.”
Veta Health announces multiple digital health partnerships
NEW YORK – Veta Health, a provider of a digital health management platform, has announced partnerships with several industry innovation catalysts to advance its platform capabilities at both the population health and individual patient level, and to increase the clinical efficacy of its platform across the industry.
The company has been selected to participate in the Healthbox Studio program this month in Chicago as part of the 2018 Studio Cohort. The event will enable Veta Health to collaborate and build relationships with participating companies, the Healthbox team and their network of healthcare leaders from across the industry.
As a recipient of the grand prize at last month’s Novartis HealthX World Series Challenge, Veta Health has the opportunity to collaborate with Novartis on further develop, Veta Health also kicked off a collaboration with Startup Creasphere powered by Plug and Play last month. Plug and Play is a health tech accelerator in Munich. Veta Health’s collaboration with Startup Creasphere will enable the company to collaborate with stakeholders across the health care industry to develop and deploy best-in-class clinical care pathways across diverse patient populations to improve health outcomes.