HealthChat with Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock. Monday 28 Jan at the RSM (starts at 8 for 8.30am).
Roy Lilley of NHS Managers will be asking the questions, so they won’t be a parade of powderpuffs. What is the long term look at health policy when the Government is gripped by Brexit? Promoting digital health won’t have an argument here and fax machines may have had their day, but what’s the 10 year plan all about? What about that social media blitz targeting the obese, smokers, and those who like their drink? Intriguingly, who is the real Matt Hancock? Is he That Man In A Portfolio? Tickets are a moderate £19.95 – £39.95 and likely will sell out soon. Book via Eventbrite here. Hat tip to Roy Lilley via NHS Managers.
NOLA Health Innovators Challenge. Over here in the US, we have a very big event (no, not CES in Las Vegas or the JP Morgan invitational conference this week in SF). It’s down in one of the homes of Real Jazz, New Orleans (NOLA), in March (date to come). Back for its second year, MedStartr Ventures has been running the Health Innovators Challenge jointly with the New Orleans Business Alliance. It’s very late to apply for one of the four Challenges (it closes on Sunday 13 Jan) but if you work hard and fast, see the link to apply to a program that is raising its second round of funding and helping previous crowd challenge winners raise their next rounds–plus get a wealth of guidance on how to package your idea for presentation to key healthcare stakeholders to get to market much faster. They also sponsor the #HCLDR Tweetchat every Tuesday at 8:30 PM EST, 5:30 PST, Wednesday 1.30 AM GMT.
Speaking of the RSM, their Digital Health (Telemedicine & eHealth) section is sponsoring upcoming events on Recent Developments in AI and Digital Health on Tuesday 26 Feb and Medical Apps–Mainstreaming Innovation on Thursday 18 April featuring a return appearance by Matt Hancock.
Over at The King’s Fund, they will be hosting a full day session on Digital Health Explained: demystifying the tech revolution in health and care on Wednesday 27 March. The annual two-day Digital Health and Care Congress will be a little earlier this year, on 22-23 May; preliminary information and registration including sponsor packages are here. Follow developments at #KFdigital19.
News from an area not known for health tech. eHealth Africa is partnering with the Global Healthsites Mapping Project to create a dataset of health facility locations across West Africa. The goal of the global project is to improve outcomes in the medical and humanitarian sectors by establishing an accessible global baseline of health facility data.
The project was initiated during the Ebola epidemic in March 2016 with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Kartoza. eHealth Africa’s expertise is in health facility data collection and presentation. eHealth Africa will be working with Healthsites using two platforms they developed: Gather, a human-mediated data collection and curation application that crowdsources and quality checks facility information; and Aether to facilitate interoperability over several systems, allowing for a large-scale data exchange between numerous organizations. The mapping app that Healthsites uses to establish the baseline of facility data is OpenStreetMap.
Improving emergency care can lead to a 45% reduction in mortality rates and a 36% reduction in disability–The Lancet The primary use cases center around epidemic preparedness, support for disaster response, immunization programs, and maternity care. Most of this involves responding to outbreaks more effectively, preparing for sudden influxes of patients, allocating resources and availability of resources, but also the health of women giving birth in remote areas.
Project partners include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), the International Hospital Federation, and CartONG. The eHealth Africa blog is a great spot to track health tech used in the field in Africa.
There, it’s said. A recent investigative article by a Forbes staff writer, European-based Parmy Olson (as opposed to their innumerable guest writers), that dropped a week before Christmas Eve raised some uncomfortable questions about Babylon Health, certainly the star health tech company on the UK scene. These uncomfortable bits are not unknown to our Readers from these pages and for those in the UK independently following the company in their engagement with the NHS.
Most of the skepticism is around their chatbot symptom checker, which has been improved over time and tested, but even the testing has been doubted. The Royal College of Physicians, Stanford University and Yale New Haven Health subjected Babylon and seven primary care physicians to 100 independently-devised symptom sets in the MRCGP, with Babylon achieving a much-publicized 80 test score. A letter published in the Lancet (correspondence) questioned the study’s methodology and the results: the data was entered by doctors, not by the typical user of Babylon Health; there was no statistical significance testing and the letter claims that the poor performance of one doctor in the sample skewed results in Babylon’s favor. [TTA 8 Nov].
The real questions raised by the Lancet correspondence and the article are around establishing standards, testing the app around existing standards, and accurate follow up–in other words, if Babylon were a drug or a medical device, close to a clinical trial:
- Real-world evaluation is not being done, following a gradual escalation of steps testing usability, effectiveness, and safety.
- How does the checker balance the probability of a disease with the risk of missing a critical diagnosis?
- How do users interact with these symptom checkers? What do they do afterwards? What are the outcomes?
Former Babylon staffers, according to the Forbes article, claim there is no follow up. The article also states that “Babylon says its GP at Hand app sends a message to its users 24 hours after they engage with its chatbot. The notification asks about further symptoms, according to one user.” Where is the research on that followup?
Rectifying this is where Babylon gets sketchy and less than transparent. None of their testing or results have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Moreover, they are not helped by, in this Editor’s view, their chief medical officer stating that they will publish in journals when “when Babylon produces medical research.” This is a sad statement, given the crying need for triaging symptoms within the UK medical system to lessen wait times at GPs and hospitals. But even then, Babylon is referring patients to the ED 30 percent of the time, compared to NHS’ 111 line at 20 percent. Is no one there or at the NHS curious about the difference?
And the chatbot is evidently still missing things. (more…)
In late summer [TTA 19 Sep] we learned that one of the most innovative UK companies in sensor-based assistive technology, 3rings, was ceasing operations as of March 2019’s end. We noted it was a planned shutdown that gave subscribers nearly six months to switch over to other technologies. Steve Purdham and his team have recommended three companies that in their estimation are good alternatives to 3rings in both their original electrical Plug (electric usage as a proxy for being up and around) and cloud-based IoT service. Three companies are recommended in detail based on needs. 3rings presents all three in detail with special offers, including a handy ‘how to’ on transitioning services.
- Clever Contact from Alertacall–a daily contact and reminder service
- Canary Care--motion sensor/IoT service which is fairly close to the way that 3rings developed. Canary Care has reorganized since last summer with new ownership [TTA 8 Nov].
- PPP Taking Care–pendant alarm
When asked to comment on Canary Care’s recent release (PDF) related to their service as a close fit to 3rings, Steve remarked that “As we plan our graceful close the key for us was to give all our customers significant notice of our intentions (almost 6 months) and where possible provide guidance as to ways forward. We also wanted to help as many of our customers to transition to technologies that would help them continue looking after their loved ones after March 1st 2019. Looking after all our customers means a lot to us so providing this help made sense. The team at Canary wanted to do a press release regarding their deal and I was happy to support it.”
The 3rings closing is regrettable, but the transition of their services to protect their customers deserves a ‘Well Done’. (Undoubtedly we will be hearing from Steve and the 3rings team in future.) Hat tip to Steve, Nicola Hughes of Canary Care/Lifecycle Software, and James Batchelor of Alertacall.