Digital health news update: AI plays from Babylon, Samsung and AARP
Publish date: 26 Jun, 2018
The UK’s Babylon AI medical triage startup got some bruising press after its NHS partnership exposed shortcomings. But the startup is moving forward, striking deals with China’s Tencent (WeChat), Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health and now Samsung. Users will pay yearly or one-time fees for virtual consults with physicians, and can access Babylon’s AI-powered symptom checker functionality.
The NHS might be a little shy of digital health after its Babylon blowup, but a Manchester hospital is piloting a smartphone urine test for kidney patients that was developed by Healthy.io, which participated in an NHS Innovation Accelerator program.
A wearable designed to detect seizures has promise beyond treating epilepsy, says its maker, Empatica, which is exploring its use to detect and intervene in stress. And Apple is adding tremor-detecting functionality to the Apple Watch, which will soon be able to track tremors in Parkinson’s patients.
The AARP is partnering with two voice tech startups – Pillo Health and Orbita – to trial diabetes care solutions for members in the Boston area. Pillo’s countertop device incorporates AI-powered voice tech and facial recognition to provide remote monitoring, ease social isolation and boost adherence, while Orbita’s voice tech aids patient-caregiver engagement as well as adherence.
Oscar, the online insurer-to-Millennial-professionals company, is working on a “retailesque” real-time claims system it says will boost price transparency and lower administrative costs for doctors. Which, as CNBC points out, isn’t very sexy – but it is another Amazonification of healthcare.
Speaking of Amazon: Amazon’s Grand Challenge team -- AKA 1492 or Amazon X, AKA Amazon’s answer to Alphabet’s X -- is stuffed to the gills with Google alums and is working on – surprise – last-mile delivery, along with using machine learning to comb EHR data to flag misdiagnoses and incorrect coding.
And that Amazon/Chase/Berkshire Hathaway effort to fix U.S. healthcare has a new CEO – Atul Gawande, the surgeon best known for his sparkling New Yorker features on the ills of American healthcare.
Pharma industry reputation took another dive last year, according to a Reputation Institute poll which found a 14% drop in consumer perception that pharmas will do the right thing and 13% fewer giving pharmas the benefit of the doubt. Those results were ecohoed in Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer, which found a 13-point drop – from 51% to 38% -- the biggest one-year decline yet.
A startup is taking its meditation app into clinical trials with the objective of being able to market it as “The world’s first prescription medication app for chronic diseases.” Which would mean potential reimbursement, of course.
Eight years ago, the U.S. enacted the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, requiring transparency around most payments to physicians by pharmas. Now AstraZeneca says it will disclose payments not just in the U.S. but worldwide.
Demand for NPs and PAs is reportedly surging as these HCPs absorb some of the workload of swamped physicians and care shifts from offices and hospitals to retail clinics and other settings.
CRISPR holds enormous promise for treating all manner of genetic diseases, but it also might cause cancer.