AI promises, promises! Babylon Health to spend $100m, hire 1,000 to develop leading AI platform

Babylon Health’s CEO Ali Parsa announced at their headquarters last week that the company would be spending $100 million to develop the ‘world’s leading AI healthcare platform’. In the company of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, an admitted GP at hand fan (nothing goes better after poring over your red boxes), Mr. Parsa confirmed that the 1,000 data scientists, programmers, and clinicians would be based in London after a global search of suitable cities. They will be helping to design the next generation of health AI for diagnosis and to support patients with long-term conditions. 

The report in Digital Health noted that the audience included key figures such as Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England; Dr Simon Eccles, NHS England CCIO; and Juliette Bauer, head of digital experience. This is despite Babylon challenging the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over an unfavorable report [TTA 11 Dec] and being put on hold by Birmingham as well as Hammersmith and Fulham CCGs [TTA 23 Aug].

Babylon is well able to afford this as Prudential Asia (Prudential plc) has licensed Babylon’s software for its own apps across 12 countries in Asia for an estimated $100 million over several years. Forbes  It also inked a deal in June to provide insurer Bupa’s Instant GP to corporate clients [TTA 21 June]. Will this include a foray into the US? No clues so far!

Cigna’s $69 million acquisition of Express Scripts clears US Department of Justice hurdle

As reported on 8 Sept, the DOJ announced on Monday that they have formally cleared the Cigna acquisition of pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts. This puts together a major payer with a PBM manager, the latter area considered to be challenged for profitability as the PBM drug rebate model may be substantially less profitable in the future. Federal policy pressure is ramping up from Health & Human Services (HHS), with Secretary Alex Azar only last week promising disruptive change and more transparency in drug pricing.

CVS (PBM-Caremark) with Aetna is in the works and Anthem is creating its own PBM called IngenioRx. UnitedHealthcare has its own OptumRx for some years. 

Another point of pressure on the entire PBM category is the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JP Morgan combine, sometime in the future when the hype and speculation on What Amazon Will Do turns into actual plans beyond their acquisition of tiny, specialized player PillPack for an exorbitant $1bn [TTA 4 July]. 

The DOJ investigation took six months, reviewed more than 2 million documents, and more than 100 industry people were interviewed.

Cigna and Express Scripts now must negotiate over 50 state departments of banking and insurance–over 50 because some states have two. Both companies already have shareholder approval, and the lack of overlap in their businesses limits the possibility of divestitures. Their advocacy website is here. But state DOBIs can be unpredictable, as Cigna found out with Anthem. (Their contentious breakup is still being contested in court–and Cigna could use the contractual breakup money to ease the Express Scripts debt estimated at $15 bn. Forbes.  Bloomberg, Healthcare Dive

Weekend reading: the deadly consequences of unpredictable code

The Guardian’s end of August post-bank holiday/pre-Labor Day essay on how algorithms are morphing beyond the familiar if/then/else model we learned in coding school or in the IT engineers’ bullpen as you strained to understand how the device you sought to market actually worked is scary stuff, especially read in conjunction with the previous article about Click Here to Kill Everybody. We may be concerned with badly protected IoT, cybersecurity, and the AI Monster, but this is actually much nearer to fruition as it drives areas as diverse and close to us such as medicine, social media, and weapons systems.

The article explains in depth how code piled on code has created a data universe that no one really understands, is allowed to run itself, and can have disastrous consequences socially and in our personal safety. “Recent years have seen a more portentous and ambiguous meaning emerge, with the word “algorithm” taken to mean any large, complex decision-making software system; any means of taking an array of input – of data – and assessing it quickly, according to a given set of criteria (or “rules”).” Once an algorithm actually starts learning from their environment successfully, “we no longer know to any degree of certainty what its rules and parameters are. At which point we can’t be certain of how it will interact with other algorithms, the physical world, or us.”

What’s happening? Acceleration. What’s missing? Any kind of ethical standards or brakes on this careening car. A Must Read. Franken-algorithms: the deadly consequences of unpredictable code

IoT=Cyberdisaster, if we don’t chill innovation and secure it. It’s hip to be scared!

It’s hip to be scared and chill out innovation till we can secure it. That is the plain thought behind the new book Click Here to Kill Everybody, Bruce Schneier’s take on how IoT is going to wreck our lives. Basically, if it can be hacked, it will be, and the more we make dumb things smart, the easier this mischief will be able to hurt us–not our data, but our lives, health, and property.

As our Readers know, TTA has been calling out the threat to humanity since The Gimlet Eye lampooned Internet Thingys doing things against their will back in 2015 and more seriously here. (And yes, parking meters can be paid on a smartphone app in the resort burg of Cape May, NJ.) We have explored, for instance, how easy it is for Black Hats to exploit medical devices and to get into networks via fax machines and all-in-one printers.

Mr. Schneier is not a Luddite. For starters, he is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is chief technology officer of IBM Resilient, which helps companies prepare to deal with potential cyberthreats. But he can’t buy an unconnected new car (think of that eight-year-old Black Hat waiting to sabotage your steering) and you can’t get an unconnected DVR. It’s getting near-impossible to buy a dumb TV that doesn’t spy on you and to live a lifestyle that is fully disconnected unless you go ‘Life Below Zero.’

So what he is proposing is to ‘chill innovation’ as we do with medical devices and pharmaceuticals for safety’s sake. (Editor’s emphasis)

There’s no industry that’s improved safety or security without governments forcing it to do so. Again and again, companies skimp on security until they are forced to take it seriously. We need government to step up here with a combination of things targeted at firms developing internet-connected devices. They include flexible standards, rigid rules, and tough liability laws whose penalties are big enough to seriously hurt a company’s earnings.

Yes, they will chill innovation—but that’s what’s needed right now! The point is that innovation in the Internet+ world can kill you. We chill innovation in things like drug development, aircraft design, and nuclear power plants because the cost of getting it wrong is too great.

Thoughtful writing and point of view. This Editor would also make the argument about public sanitation, public water supplies, and somewhat in housing, although I would argue that the automotive industry pushed for ease of use (the self-starter) and safety long before the government was engaged, and we are sure Readers can cite more examples.

Just because we can do it technologically does not mean it is the safe, beneficial, and moral thing to do. The more you know about technology, the more you realize it’s good to be more fearful and less trusting of technology, an odd sentence for an health tech Editor to write. But she does like living in one peaceful piece. Think about that when you hear the next Rhapsody about All-Electric Self-Driving Cars, Trucks, and Scooter and How Wonderful They Will Be. MIT Technology Review

Best Buy update: ‘Assured Living’ assuredly up and running. And was this Editor’s in-store experience not typical?

Reader and Opinionator Laurie Orlov wrote this Editor to advise her that Assured Living was most definitely alive and well in Best Buy-land. The Assured Living page presents a variety of services, starting with a personal monitoring service (video) for an older adult that starts with a fairly standard pendant PERS (two way) and also creates an in-home network of motion sensors for doors, windows, and furniture installed by Geek Squad. These sensors send activity to a control panel which tracks activity and wellness patterns (sic!–as we know it’s algorithms and rules in the software). Within about a month, the system will send real-time automated alerts if something is out of the ordinary. The video then promises the usual ‘deeper insights’ into wellness and potential issues with the older person.

What doesn’t sound like QuietCare circa 2006, down to the need for installation, are the Wi-Fi camera in the doorbell and the automated remote door locks, the tie ins with the Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealthcare. 

We both speculated on the motion sensor set as being Lively Home (from GreatCall) –Laurie added possibly Alarm.com’s BeClose, which has supplied Best Buy in the past.

Assured Living is available only in limited markets (not listed) but you can get 10 percent off with AARP! But product packages go up to nearly $189.97 for a one time fee plus $29.99/month, not inclusive of that nifty doorbell camera and remote door locks.

One wonders if the reluctance of older adults to admit they need monitoring and consent to the installation is less than in 2006, when QuietCare’s and ADT’s sales people had difficulty overcoming the reluctance of a person living home on their own to be monitored by their (usually) child. Sometimes a sale would be made, the installer would come, and the installer would be shooed out after second thoughts. The genius of GreatCall was in making technology palatable to this market by assigning it a positive use, such as communicating with friends and direct personal safety, not someone minding her. Right now, the template is 2006 with a tech twist.

Drop in and visit Laurie Orlov on her Website We Like, Aging in Place Technology Watch. (She’s alarmed about chipping people too and frames it as more of a security and a moral issue than this Editor did, who prefers her chips to be chocolate and her cars to be driven by her alone.)

As to this Editor’s ghostly experience buying a TV in store, perhaps I should have invited a Best Buy rep over! Reader, former Marine flyboy, eldercare expert, and full time grandfather John Boden did and got a simple solution to an annoying problem. Read about it in comments on our prior article here.

TTA’s Week: Apple’s ECG Watch, AliveCor’s FDA ‘breakthrough’, Tunstall’s Danish buy, the Best Buy that maybe isn’t, Aging 2.0, VistA’s international future, more!

 

 

It’s a busy start to September, including Apple and M&A Action, AliveCor’s FDA breakthrough, plus Tunstall’s Danish snack. Some thoughts on Best Buy and how not to serve the older adult market. Aging2.0 invites you to pitch. VistA EHR’s international future. And more!

Rounding up September’s start: AliveCor’s hyperkalemia detector, Apple’s ECG Watch, Tunstall Nordic’s EWII, steps towards a bionic eye, Philips licenses BATDOK, VistA’s international future
Apply to pitch your older adult health solution at the SOMPO Digital Lab Pitch Event (At Aging2.0’s OPTIMIZE)
Can Best Buy have an effective older adult strategy when they can’t sell a TV? (One Editor’s predictive visit)
CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts reportedly on road to merger approval; Athenahealth in hostile takeover (M&A heats up, not always for the better)

Theranos runs out of cash and dissolves, but the litigation lingers on. Two more events for your fall calendar.

The Theranos Story, ch. 56: Bye, bye Theranos…but the litigation continues (Fortress collects the remains. Holmes and Balwani face the hard, cold DOJ with no company behind them)
Two more events for the calendar: ATA’s EDGE18 (Austin TX), SEHTA/Brunel MedTech Connects (London) (Is your calendar filled yet?)

Facing September–and facing that we need to protect personal genomic data. What’s the difference between being embarrassed and indicted? (Mortal risk to patients?) Blending direct and telehealth for mental care. The US Army’s telehealth innovations in medical triage. Social determinants of health applied right can save acute care money. Why telehealth needs compliance folks. And you’ll ‘fall’ for our extended listing of international events.

Soapbox: Big Genomics and DNA testing–why we need a Genomic Data Bill of Rights

The Theranos Story, ch. 55: ‘Bad Blood’s’ altered reality on ‘Mad Money’; it was all Bad Blitzscaling (Fascinating Fraudsters Meet Mortal Risk )
Rounding up August’s end: ‘blended’ mental healthcare, Army’s telehealth innovation, Montefiore’s 300% ROI on social determinants, telehealth needs compliance (More short takes on articles in the hopper)
More events for your autumnal calendar, from Israel to Ireland to Santa Clara to NYC! (updated) (And there’s a Mediterranean Ventures winner!)

As summer and holiday time wind down, our stories wind up. Funding’s up, but GE Ventures is down one leading woman VC. NHS loses records, has hackable faxes. Babylon Health’s GP at hand holding in Birmingham. France says ‘oui’ to telemedicine, and let’s ‘chip’ again like we did last summer.

Rounding up mid-August: PCROI funds 16 projects with $85 million, InTouch’s Rite Aid deal, Suennen leaves GE Ventures, NHS lost 10K patient records last year (As summer holidays wind up…)
Yet another NHS cyber-vulnerability: fax machines (Now your all-in-one is a problem. Is nothing safe?)
Despite recruiting, Babylon Health’s GP at hand still on hold in Birmingham (UK); CEO steps down at rival Push Doctor (Perhaps he was pushed?)
France officially enters the telemedicine world (Oui!)
Embedding microchips in workers–does this have potential in healthcare? (Mildly creepy, and we don’t know the long term effects)

Best Buy’s $800M Big Bet on older adult health. Wearables that count particles, McAfee’s hacking vital signs counts. Our fall event update. And a new ‘Who’s Available’ for your telehealth company. 

Smart wristband wearable that counts blood cells, bacteria, and air particles (Soon everything on the wrist?)
What Best Buy’s $800 million cash purchase of GreatCall connected health/PERS really means (Staying ahead of Ravenous Amazon by recognizing the needs of millions of older adults)
OpenEMR’s security flaws threaten millions of patient records; McAfee successfully alters vital signs reporting into monitoring systems (Not your garden variety hacking)
Late summer and early autumn event updates: Save 20% on Connected Health Summit, SEHTA Health + Space, Lilley’s talk with Ali Parsa, PATH Summit, Connected Health Conference, HealthIMPACT (More events, plus for Readers 20% off Connected Health Summit)
Who’s available? A young graduate in telemedicine/eHealth studies seeks opportunity (From Africa, studing eHealth and telemedicine in Italy, certainly a unique perspective)

Telehealth, RPM get another Federal boost in 2019 through a new FCC program for rural US. IBM Watson Health fizzles, data breaches sizzle. 

More good news for telehealth, RPM in FCC approval of $100M Connected Care Pilot Program (Moving forward at last for those who can use it most in rural America)
Coffee break reading: a ‘thumbs down’ on IBM Watson Health from IEEE Spectrum and ‘Der Spiegel’ (Is Watson actually The Great Oz? Look behind the curtain!)
More and more into the (data) breach: 3X more patient records in Q2, UnityPoint’s breach balloons to 1.3M (And the next hack or WannaCry may not be noticed for 200 days)

Kicking off a new month with a look back at late July’s news plus an encouraging look at Telemedicine Texas-Style. Plus Theranos’ Tainted Love Drama.

The Theranos Story, ch. 54: cue up ‘Tainted Love’ in the courtroom (The subtext of Holmes and Balwani’s twisted governance)
Telemedicine changing Texas rural health and emergency medicine (Accept the Yellow Roses!)
Rounding up July: Teladoc’s new name and earnings, Hitching a Lyft, GlobalMed with FCC, Proteus and HIV sensing, Parks Associates, Welbeing

 


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Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Subscribe here to receive this Alert as an email on Thursdays with occasional Weekend Updates. It’s free–and we don’t lend out or sell our list.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief, donna.cusano@telecareaware.com, @deetelecare

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Rounding up September’s start: AliveCor’s hyperkalemia detector, Apple’s ECG Watch, Tunstall Nordic’s EWII, steps towards a bionic eye, Philips licenses BATDOK, VistA’s international future

click to enlargeAliveCor gets a fast track for its bloodless hyperkalemia (high blood potassium) detector through the FDA Breakthrough Device program. Working with doctors at the Mayo Clinic, they developed a way to read patterns in electrocardiograms (ECG/EKG) that track increasing potassium levels without drawing blood. While attributed in the CNBC article to AI, it seems closer to machine learning. Hyperkalemia is a condition that is seen in type 1 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and other kidney related conditions. The device and software is at least one year away from approval including a clinical trial, even on this program which further speeds up the Expedited Access Pathways (EAP) program under the 21st Century Cures legislation. AliveCor currently markets the Kardia Band that reads ECGs.

Meanwhile, the Series 4 iteration of the Apple Watch moves further into the medical device area–and AliveCor’s ECG niche–with a built-in atrial fibrillation-detecting algorithm and an ECG, along with fall detection via the new accelerometer and gyroscope. The Apple Watch will start shipping September 21. Mobihealthnews.

Danish energy and broadband provider EWII has sold its subsidiary EWII Telecare A/S to Tunstall Nordic. EWII Telecare provides telemedicine and telehealth services on a tablet platform dubbed Netcare (video here). The EWII Telecare website is already down. Telecompaper, Tunstall Nordic release

Foundational technology for a bionic eye? The University of Minnesota has developed a method using 3D printing to create light receptors on a hemispherical surface. Printing a base of silver ink, the next layer was photodiodes of a semiconducting polymer which convert light into electricity. ZDNet

Philips Healthcare is licensing the Battlefield Airmen Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK) technology for remote monitoring of vital signs by combat paramedics. Terms were not disclosed. BATDOK was developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory, which sought commercialization. [TTA 6 Sept 17]  Mobihealthnews

What is generally not known about the VA’s eventually departing EHR is that it has for some years an open source version called OSEHRA VistA. Plan VI will expand VistA capability by making it compatible with different languages using Unicode and creating a reference implementation for global use. Working with non-profit OSEHRA are research groups in South Korea, China, and the Kingdom of Jordan. Release

Apply to pitch your older adult health solution at the SOMPO Digital Lab Pitch Event at Aging2.0

SOMPO Digital Lab Pitch Event, 14 November, Aging2.0 Optimize Conference, San Francisco

SOMPO Digital Lab, in partnership with California senior care communities Front Porch and Carlton Senior Living, will host a pitch event for high potential startups at the Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE Conference on 14 November in San Francisco. Startups focused on Brain Health, Caregiving and Daily Living and Lifestyle are invited to present. The grand prize is $5,000 and a pilot opportunity in the U.S. or Japan. Your startup must have raised a minimum of $100,000 up to a maximum of $5 million.

SOMPO Digital Lab is the innovation group of Sompo Holdings, one of the largest insurance and senior care conglomerates in Japan. Please view this document to see the eligibility requirements for this event: http://bit.ly/SOMPOapplication

Deadline is 28 September.

We should also mention Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE 14-15 November. For more information and to register, click here. For a list of their other local and international events (oddly, none in NYC for the foreseeable future), click here.

Can Best Buy have an effective older adult strategy when they can’t sell a TV?

We noted last month that the acquisition of GreatCall by big box retailer Best Buy was the next step in a strategy targeting an older adult market niche, with goods and services promoting digital health and wellness, ‘solving technology problems and addressing key human needs across a range of areas.’ GreatCall will be managed as a separate division because, as their CEO admitted, ‘it is a different business’, presumably continuing to do what they do best–direct marketing. Longer term, what GreatCall was purchased for is to enable what they have touted to investors as “Best Buy 2020 that includes Assured Living, a program aimed at using the mobile web, sensors and other digital or smart-home healthcare technology to help adult children or caregivers remotely check in on the health and safety of aging residents at home.” The acquisition is expected to close this fall.  Digital Commerce 360/Internet Health Management  

But will this strategy, which requires a bit of personal service and problem solving, work in the field? The result of a simple search and transaction for a common electronic product wasn’t a promising predictor. This Editor went to a Best Buy in search of a new TV set to replace her aged and fritzing Panasonic (the kind with a cathode ray tube). It was a rainy Saturday night in Paramus NJ, the kind of night on which only Those Determined To Buy brave the traffic to shop. After a sweep of the aisles looking for that senior-oriented healthcare technology, finding none, she hit the TV displays, adjacent to the laundry dryers.

With space measurements and a tape measure in hand, she looked at smaller TVs. Having already determined that a 28″ would likely be best, but with no 28″ on display, she measured 32″ sets which maybe, maybe could fit the TV spot in the wall unit. Smart? Roku? What do these mean, and do I need them? 720 px? 1080 px?  This went on for about 30-40 minutes. In that time, not one blue-shirted salesperson stopped to assist a willing buyer who just needed a little help. So she went in search of one, finding exactly…none. Other shoppers looking at larger sets? Also non-assisted. After a few more sweeps of the aisles, stopping to marvel at an QLED’s resolution, feeling a bit ghostly and ghosted, she tapped out and left, vowing to buy a Samsung online–anywhere other than Best Buy.

If this can happen with a straight-forward electronic product with a relatively willing buyer…what will happen to a more complex sale with a lower level of understanding? Without a better level of customer service, all the corporate strategy talk will simply…flop.

Oh yes, that live link to Assured Living? It goes to a page that says “We’re sorry, something went wrong.” 

CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts reportedly on road to merger approval; Athenahealth in hostile takeover

CVS’ pickup of Aetna, and Cigna‘s acquisition of Express Scripts are reported to be clearing the Department of Justice anti-trust review within the next few weeks, just in time for pumpkin season. The DOJ may have concerns on some assets related to Medicare drug coverage and may require a sell-off to resolve them. One potential buyer is WellCare Health Plans, which this week completed its acquisition of Meridian Health Plans and entered the S&P 500 on Monday. The Cigna-Express Scripts combine may not require any asset selloff. Seeking Alpha (report is from the Wall Street Journal).

The once blazingly hot Athenahealth is up for sale but can’t seem to get arrested by another healthcare company. Both Cerner and UnitedHealthcare passed on an acquisition. One of the larger shareholders, Elliot Management, initiated moves toward a hostile takeover in May, and in the process managed to oust founder and CEO Jonathan Bush on still-murky charges of past domestic abuse and workplace sexual harassment. Elliot is partnering with Bain Capital which owns Waystar, a revenue cycle management (RCM) company from the merged ZirMed and Navicure. Waystar could benefit from Athenahealth’s systems and IP. Mr. Bush would receive a relatively small sum in a sale –$4.8 million– with new executive chair and former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt earning $150,000 a month in salary and $150,000 in restricted stock perhaps looking for a new job. Elliot’s reputation is that of a corporate raider–taking over businesses to strip assets and sell off the remains. New York Post, POLITICO Morning eHealth.

The Theranos Story, ch. 56: Bye, bye Theranos…but the litigation continues (updated)

click to enlargeNo more blood in this rock. Really. Theranos, according to a report by John Carreyrou in the Wall Street Journal (unfortunately paywalled) is dissolving. An email to shareholders by (short-lived) Chief Executive David Taylor informed them that the company will cease to exist soon, and that whatever remaining cash will be distributed to unsecured creditors in coming months. The email also added that Theranos made overtures to more than 80 potential buyers through Jefferies Group, but despite 17 NDA’s signed, none succeeded. 

The dissolution process will start on Monday, pending approval by the board and shareholders. 

The shareholders’ letter is available here (PDF) including the rationale on dissolution versus bankruptcy.

Over $60 million was owed to unsecured creditors but there was evidently only $5 million (net of expenses and fees) left in the kitty to distribute, which may be enough to buy lunch or copies of ‘Bad Blood’ for most. That is because Fortress Investment Group now has full control of the assets and intellectual property. Part of Japan’s SoftBank Group, Fortress invested $65 million in Theranos in December 2017 of a possible $100 million, collateralized by the patent portfolio. [TTA 28 Dec 17] At the time of the Holmes/Balwani indictments by the DOJ in June (nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy), reports indicated that Theranos would shutter by the end of July.

The few remaining employees were reportedly given notice last Friday. The website is offline. No one from Theranos is speaking to media. This Editor wonders what the shareholders from the $600 million funding round [TTA 18 May 17] will do with their doubled shares–presumably, use the paper as firestarter in their fireplaces this winter along with their printed selfies with Ms. Holmes. (Fear not, they will be receiving a copy of the certificate of dissolution to give to their accountant and IRS.) 

At the time of the Fortress investment, this Editor wrote:

Our takeaway is that the IP is worth far more than the company and that is what has been bought. SoftBank would dearly like another entree into Silicon Valley for their tech portfolio and can use that IP, if not at Theranos, elsewhere. For Fortress, which has $36.1 billion in assets under management and now backed by SoftBank, $100 million is pocket change with a smidge of lint.

One wonders what SoftBank and Fortress will be doing with that IP.

Theranos will not be leaving the headlines soon, as the June indictment of Holmes and Balwani (who was pushed out by Holmes in 2016) and the sidelights produced by their ‘Tainted Love’ will provide schadenfreude for many months.

Reports: Reuters, CNBC (video-Squawk Box), USA Today, TechCrunch  Our 55 chapters chronicling the slow-motion crash of Theranos can be accessed here.

More events for your autumnal calendar, from Israel to Ireland to Santa Clara to NYC! (updated)

Startup of the Year, Mediterranean Towers, Ganei Tikva, Israel, Sunday 3 September, 6-8pm (Past–but there’s a winner!)

Mediterranean Towers Ventures, the investment subsidiary of the largest retirement living community in Israel, is sponsoring this competition featuring five finalists:

1. Facense – Facense Ltd. develops smartglasses with tiny thermal and CMOS sensors to measure vital signs unobtrusively and continuously, with one application being to detect a person having a stroke.
2. MyTView – My-TView’s proprietary technology enables dynamic modification and enhancement of real-time broadcasts, whilst numbing the “noise”.
3. Invisi.care – transforming existing non-medical data into an effective large-scale clinical prevention tool; a remote seamless population monitoring technology encourages independent and active lifestyle.
4. GaitBetter – A universal, VR based, expert system add-on transforming any treadmill to an operator independent motor cognitive training solution
5. TuneFork–a software audio personalization technology that gives you the optimal hearing experience anywhere you go. 

And there’s a winner–TuneFork. Their award includes free participation at the Aging2.0 Optimize Conference in San Francisco (14-15 Nov), professional mentoring by Mediterranean Towers Ventures, and the opportunity to be evaluated for investment. 

Hat tip to Dov Sugarman, co-CEO of MTV.

Health 2.0’s 12th Annual Fall Conference, Santa Clara, California, 16-18 September

This year’s conference, despite the corporate hand of HIMSS, may be as breezy as ever with a continued concentration on early stage companies and speakers like Lisa Suennen, late of GE Ventures, Sarah Krug of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and Sean Lane of Olive talking about AI. Register here, and dig deep for the ticket.

UK Health Show, ExCel, London, 25-26 September

A major and mostly free event for providers, NHS, local authorities, independent sector, and primary care that addresses system transformation and integration through digital technology, commissioning, procurement and cybersecurity. More information on their website here. Registration here (free full passes for providers and public sector, floor passes for vendors and commercial organizations)

Brain Health, Aging 2.0 Los Angeles, Thursday 27 September, 6-8pm

Not many details on this other than it will be in West LA and the topic will be Brain Health and Artificial Intelligence. The keynote speaker will be Adam C. Lichtl, Ph.D., CEO of Delta Brain, Inc. More information to come and RSVP for now on Eventbrite.

Inspiring Innovation in Digital Health: The UK Telehealthcare Marketplace Northern Ireland. La Mon Hotel and Country Club, Castlereagh, Belfast, Wednesday 3 October 10am – 3pm

UK Telehealthcare is traveling to Northern Ireland for their first event in the beautiful Lisburn & Castlereagh area, one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing regions. It will be a showcase for digital technology to help people to stay safely and independently in their own homes for longer. A ‘don’t miss’. See the attached PDF for details including masterclass speakers and exhibitors. Free registration here. Hat tip to Gerry Allmark, UK Telehealthcare’s managing director.

Additional UK Telehealthcare events into December are listed on their main page which is linked through their advert on right or here. They are partnering with the UK Health Show (above) and exhibiting in the UK TECS Hub in the assistive technology area (blocks F98, F100, F92, F94).

MedStartr Momentum 2018, PwC Madison Avenue, NYC, Thursday-Friday 29-30 November

Put this on your calendars for after Thanksgiving. 20 startups, 9 Momentum Talks, 4 stakeholder panels, and Mainstream 2019. More here on Eventbrite and as in previous years, watch this website. TTA is a media partner and supporter of Momentum,  MedStartr and Health 2.0 NYC.

Two more events for the calendar: ATA’s EDGE18 (Austin TX), SEHTA/Brunel MedTech Connects (London)

EDGE18, American Telemedicine Association, 26-28 September, Fairmont Austin, Austin TX

The revamped fall meeting of the ATA is being held in Austin, Texas this year as EDGE18.  The conference will highlight emerging best practices in telemedicine and virtual care, which are accelerating delivery model innovation, program design, and technology implementation. Speakers will include industry thought-leaders from WalMart, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ascension Healthcare, Babylon Health, AHIP, and NY Presbyterian Hospital. There will also be interactive workshops and immersion tours (space limited) offering “hands-on” previews of new technologies and programs at the Austin offices of Fjord Austin, Dell Medical School, and others. For more information and registration, see their website 

MedTech Connects: SMEs to Universities – Brunel University Showcase, 10 October, Darwin Room, Hamilton Centre, Brunel University, London UB8 3PH, 09:30 – 15:00

Brunel University, SEHTA and the GLA are hosting a free conference to highlight research, teaching and commercial collaborations through the Co-Innovate programme, a Brunel initiative supported by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This major event is designed to start partnerships leading to collaborations with Brunel’s Design, Computer Science and Business schools, and collaborative research bids including current opportunities from InnovateUK, UKRI, SBRI and the Industry Challenge Fund. More information and registration is here.

Soapbox: Big Genomics and DNA testing–why we need a Genomic Data Bill of Rights

click to enlargeThis week, consumer genomics testing company 23andMe announced that outside app developers would no longer have access to raw genomic data, as they have had since 2012. They will continue to have access to data through reports generated by the company. 23andMe cited privacy concerns–wisely, in this Editor’s opinion, to safeguard this burgeoning area of digital health. Seeking Alpha

TimiHealth is an affected firm that seeks to move customer data, with consent, to an allegedly more secure blockchain platform, TimiDNA, citing 23andMe’s monetization of their data and CMS’ Blue Button initiative, a recent meeting in which 23andMe participated as a developer. Blasting away, TimiHealth stated that “It flies in the face of the mission of CMS, and the MyHealthEData initiative and the goal of putting patients first.” Release

However, the consumer marketing of DNA testers such as 23andMe, Ancestry.com, and smaller competitor Helix, has already led to multiple privacy questions on how the data of millions are being used and sold. 

This Editor would feel safe in assuming that most customers do not know nor particularly care that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as of July owns 50 percent of 23andMe via a $300 million investment. Both have announced a four-year partnership to use the 23andMe genetic database for drug research. For instance, the LRRK2 gene has been linked to some forms of Parkinson’s disease. GSK needs about 100 for a trial sample of one, but 23andMe has already provided 250 Parkinson’s patients who have agreed to be re-contacted for GlaxoSmithKline’s clinical trials. Scientific American

While most data is de-identified, you can agree to be contacted for further use in clinical trials, which is fine–but most users do not know how to opt out. It’s a surprisingly tricky process, as outlined in this useful Business Insider article, and you may not be able to withdraw all your data or have your saliva sample destroyed.

Data can be hacked and reprocessed. Three years ago, TTA explored reports on exactly how de-identified genomic data could be made identifiable through the ‘nefarious use’ of genomic data sets available through research networks [TTA 31 Oct 15].

Despite the trite, simplistic, and condescending commercials by Ancestry.com on how someone found they had ethnic or national roots they never dreamed of, or were related to royalty, both giving meaning to their presumably mundane life, genetic info has value beyond the feel-good. It’s long past time for a plain language Genomic Data Bill of Rights.

  • Individuals should know how their personal genomic data is being used and how it is being protected
  • They should be able to opt out of use, identified and de-identified, easily–and not have to jump through hoops
  • Reporting/interpretation should also have integrity, consideration, and respect that it may upset a person or that it may not be interpreted correctly, which is a fundamental problem 
  • A more radical view is that the same individuals should be compensated when their data is used

This Editor will settle for the first two bullets, for now. 

The Theranos Story, ch. 55: ‘Bad Blood’s’ altered reality on ‘Mad Money’; it was all Bad Blitzscaling

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She lied and the lies got bigger and bigger and eventually the lies got so big relative to reality that it became a pretty massive fraud. 

The hyperbolic Jim Cramer of CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’ settled down for a chat with John Carreyrou, the author of ‘Bad Blood’, to dissect what Mr. Cramer touted as ‘the best business book since Phil Knight’s book about starting Nike, ‘Shoe Dog”. Mr. Carreyrou outlines Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani went ‘live’ with fingerstick tests far too prematurely, burned through money, lied to the board, and (schadenfreude alert!) lied to attack dog David Boies, her attorney. There was also a real lack of ‘due diligence’–real diligence–on the part of companies like Safeway and Walgreens. A reveal coming out of this interview is that Walgreens hired a lab consultant, Kevin Hunter, as early as 2010, who ‘smelled a rat’ even then–and Walgreens executives ignored him, frightened that Ms. Holmes would go to CVS. Wrapping Ms. Inexplicable Me up, Mr. Carreyrou attributes her mindset to ‘noble cause corruption’; she really did believe that her blood testing machine would do good because the outcome would be good for society. Thus every corner cut was justified….which explains a lot, but really excuses nothing. The ten-minute video is over at ValueWalk (the transcript is only partial).

LinkedIn’s hyperbolic co-founder Reid Hoffman, like him or not, does have a way with words, and this article in Fast Company is a decent discussion of a new term that he actually coined, ‘blitzscaling’ which is pursuing rapid growth by prioritizing speed over efficiency in the face of uncertainty. It’s quite a lure he sets out to his classes at Stanford, that the only way to have a successful business in winner-take-all (or most) markets is to do this, and if you do it right you’ll have the next Google, completely ignoring the fact that 99.99 percent of businesses don’t need to change the world, just to get to breakeven, get to profitability, and endure (or get bought out). He springboards off this to where Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani Went All Wrong. The answer? Product failure=Mortal Risk–to the patient. They needed to meet a Walgreens deadline thus went out prematurely with their nanotainer testing knowing it did not work. The best quote in the article?

There’s a big difference between being embarrassed and being indicted.

Rounding up August’s end: ‘blended’ mental healthcare, Army’s telehealth innovation, Montefiore’s 300% ROI on social determinants, telehealth needs compliance

click to enlargeOur UK readers have the summer bank holiday in the rearview mirror, and our US readers are looking forward to a break over next Monday’s Labor Day holiday in the US. It’s sadly the end of the traditional summer season, though Summer, The Season lingers on for a few precious more weeks.

Here are some short takes on items of interest over the past month:

Blended care–eHealth and direct clinician care–for mental health. The NHS has been promoting online webcam and instant messaging appointments as an alternative to ease pressure and waiting times for mental health patients, but the evidence that they are effective on their own is scant. Blending digital health with F2F clinical care may be the way to go. This Digital Health News explores how the two could work together and still save time and money.

Army testing telemedicine and remote monitoring for triage. The US Army’s MEDHUB is designed to streamline communication flow between patients, medics and receiving field hospitals.  MEDHUB–Medical Hands-free Unified Broadcast–uses wearable sensors, accelerometers, and other FDA-cleared technology to collect, store, and transmit de-identified patient data from a device to a medical facility, allowing clinicians to better prepare for inbound patients and more promptly deliver appropriate treatment. The 44th Medical Brigade and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina have already volunteered to test the system. MEDHUB was developed by two subordinate organizations within the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Army release, Mobihealthnews 

Soldier, don’t take your health tracker to the front. Or even the rear. Deployed US Army soldiers have been told to leave at home their wearable trackers or smartphone apps, government issued or otherwise, that have geolocation capability. Turns out they are trackable and heat mappable–in other words, these trackers and apps can tell you where you are. (And don’t use Google either). Mobihealthnews

Social determinants of health part of Montefiore Health System’s approach to reducing emergency room visits and unnecessary hospitalizations.  Montefiore, based in the Bronx and lower Westchester, invested in housing for the homeless through their Housing at Risk Alert System. The system noticed through their analytics that the issue was housing. Many of their ‘frequent flyers’ cycled between shelters and the ER (ED). Oncology patients were at risk for eviction. Montefiore acquired respite housing (160 days) and housing units for up to a year through organizations such as Comunilife. They claim a 300 percent return on investment. Healthcare Finance

Telehealth needs compliance health. A study from Manatt Health, a division of law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, presents what readers already know–the inconsistent statutes, regulations and guidance various states are implementing around the provision of telehealth services points out the growing need for compliance assistance. Manatt Health Update (blog)