Verily’s million points of BYO health data to take to your next doctor visit

Verily‘s visit to last week’s Health 2.0 conference had an odd-but-fun tack, comparing the data received from human bodies to the billions of data points generated by an average late-model automobile in normal operations. We generate a lot less (ten orders of magnitude difference, according to Verily Chief Technology Officer Brian Otis), but Verily wants to maximize the output by wiring us to multiple sensors and to use the data in a predictive health model. Some of the Verily devices this Editor predicts will be non-starters (the sensor contact lens developed with Alcon) but others like the Dexcom partnership to develop a smaller, cheaper continuous blood glucose monitor and Liftware, the tremor-canceling silverware company Google acquired in 2014, appear promising. Key to predictive health is the Study Watch, which is a wearable that collects a lot of data but is easy to wear for a long time. Mobihealthnews

But what to do with this All That Data? Where this differs from a car is that the operational data goes into feedback loops that tune the engine’s performance, perform long-term monitoring, electrical system, braking, and more. (When the sensors go south or the battery’s low, watch out!) It’s not clear from the talk where this overwhelming amount of healthcare data generated goes to and how it becomes useful to a person or a doctor. This has its own feedback loop this Editor dubbed a few years ago as the Five Big Questions (FBQs): who pays, how much, who’s looking at the data, who’s actioning it, how data is integrated into patient records. That’s not answered, but presumably these technologies will incorporate machine learning and AI to Crunch That Data into bite-sized parts.

Which leads us back to Verily’s parent, Alphabet a/k/a Google. All that data into Verily devices could be monitored by Google and fed into other Google programs like their search engines and Adwords. Another privacy problem? 

Perhaps health systems are arriving at the realization that they have to crunch the data, not avoid it. For the first time, this Editor has observed that a CMIO of a small health system in Illinois and Sanford Health‘s executive director of analytics are actually welcoming patient data and research. Startups in this area such as PreventScripts labor on that “last mile” of clinical decision support, preventative medicine. EHRs are also into the act. Epic launched Share Everywhere, where patients can grant access to their data and clinicians can send updates into the patient portal (MyChart). What’s needed, CMIO Goel admits, is software that combines natural language processing and algorithms to track by disease and specialty–once again, machine learning. Healthcare IT News 

StartUp Health’s Q3 is an even crazier $9bn YTD

And you thought Q2 was ‘crazy’? There’s no cooling in StartUp Health’s reported digital health funding activity in Q3, which at $9bn is already past 2016’s $8.1bn and is poised to cross the $10bn bar by end of year.

  • Q3 charted $2.5bn in funding, less than Q2 ($3.8bn) but above Q3 2016 ($2.2bn).
  • Series C and D deals led the funding charge at 15 percent of deals, with Series D on average $113 million. It’s an indicator of market maturity, though A rounds were still in the lead at 35 percent and 21 percent in Series B.
  • Deals are bigger than ever at an average $18 million versus $14 million in 2016
  • Half the deals they tracked were in personalized health and patient/consumer experience, a distinct difference from Rock Health’s shift to B2B. Population health held its own.
  • They tracked more mega-deals YTD due to broader category and ex-US. Rock Health’s lead this quarter of 23andMe was only #6 on the list, surpassed by Auris, Peloton, Guardant Health, Outcome Health, and Grail.
  • The Bay Area leads for deals substantially YTD, with NYC, Boston, and Chicago combined still trailing

Remember that StartUp Health takes a wider sample than Rock Health [TTA 3 Oct], tracking over 500 international company deals, including those below $2 million as well as both service and biotech/diagnostic companies. StartUp Health on Slideshare.

Tender Alerts: Wigan, Salford, NICE (Manchester), Kirklees

Susanne Woodman, our Eye on Tenders, has four for your consideration, three of which are high value:

  • Wigan Council: “Delivery of Support at Home and Mobile Response Service”. Wigan is seeking TECS to support Borough residents in home-based independent living and in Managed Accommodation developments. The objective is to reduce the local burden of unnecessary hospital admissions, on emergency services, and to reassure families and carers about the person’s wellbeing. The contract is for 60 months and is valued at £2,375,000. Closing is 27 October at 10:15am. More information on TED.
  • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust: “Provision of a Digital Control Centre”. Salford Royal will be the test bed for this Control Centre to potentially scale to the rest of the NHS. The Control Centre will use the latest advances in “data analytics and digital health to achieve a world-leading organisation which has operational excellence, the best quality healthcare and patient experience across the entire organization which also includes social care.” The five-year agreement starts August 2018 and is budgeted at £2.0m – £3.0m. More information on Gov.UK.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in Manchester: This is for the NICE External Assessment Centre Framework, to provide a range of health technology assessment services to support its technology evaluation programmes and related activities. It is in four lots: secondary data analysis, primary data analysis, technical and regulatory support, decision support. The contract is for 33 months from award and total value is in the range of £1-6m. Deadline is 20 November at 5pm. More information on TED
  • And a reminder that NHS Greater Huddersfield & North Kirklees’ tender deadline is 20 October.  This tender is open early engagement for the provision of a technology-assisted, rapid access service offering an alternative to hospital-based A&E services. Market test site is in Kirklees for residents of a care home. Requirements are:
    • A 24/7 clinical teleconsultation service delivered via secure video link into residential/ nursing homes, that is utilized instead of patients having to be taken to the local A&E department.
    • A service that provides clinical consultation not a logarithm based approach like 111.
    • A fully managed technical service utilizing bespoke laptops with HD cameras and with 4G SIM or broadband.
    • Deadline is 5pm on Friday 20 OctoberMore information on Gov.UK.

Rock Health’s Q3 report: funding and mega-deals cool down

Too hot not to cool down? This year’s digital health funding, as reported by Rock Health, may be ‘just one of those things’ depending on what happens next quarter. After a torrid Q2 which brought first half 2017 to an explosive $3.5 bn [TTA 11 July], Q3 added only $1.2 bn for a total $4.7 bn. Bear in mind that this is larger than the full years of 2014-2016, and that Rock Health tracks only US deals over $2 million in value from venture capital, excluding government and grant funding. Rock Health’s report concentrates on deal sizes, trends, and types of companies. Here’s what this Editor found to be interesting:

Here’s what this Editor found to be interesting:

  • Number of deals is at a record: 268 digital health funding deals across 261 companies. In 2016, 240 digital health venture deals had closed by the end of Q3 in 2016.
  • Few mega-deals this quarter: The only ones are 23andMe with a $250 million round in September followed by cancer data company Tempus’ $70M Series C round. Average deal size dropped to $14.6 million. The cooling is great enough for Rock Health to predict that there may not be any IPOs this year–23andMe was considered the leading candidate but instead went for another round.
  • 16 percent of companies funded in Q3 are led by women CEOs, up from 11 percent. Of course, this is influenced by 23andMe’s founder/CEO Anne Wojcicki. But almost more importantly, there’s been a breakthrough in that women’s and reproductive health companies continue to gain funding traction, and most are led by women.
  • The two top categories for funding through Q3 are consumer: health information and personal health and tracking tools.
  • Yet companies are shifting to a B2B business model from B2C, with 23andMe in the lead targeting drug discovery via the Genentech deal they have had for a long time. 61 percent of digital health startups that Rock Health tracks converted from B2C to B2B. No surprise to this Editor as consumer adoption is a slow and costly road.
  • Exits are also cooling down as long-cycle reality hits. The ‘nine-inning ball game’ stated by an investor is, given healthcare’s long cycles, regulation, and slow adoption, is more like 15. 
  • Some recovery in public companies making money in earnings per share (EPS). Teladoc‘s recovered, while NantHealth continues in the doldrums. (Perhaps it’s Cher suing Patrick Soon-Shiong?)

Awaiting StartUp Health‘s always numerically bigger report, but this Editor’s bet is that it won’t be ‘crazy’ like Q2 [TTA 15 July]. Rock Health Q3 report.

Proposed rule issued for ‘VA Anywhere to Anywhere’ telehealth cross-state care

The Department of Veterans Affairs ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ program, which would enable VA doctors to treat VA patients across state lines via telehealth and telemedicine, yesterday (2 October) published in the Federal Register the required Federal proposed rule. There is a mandated 30-day comment period (to 1 Nov). In the Federal government, these rules move faster than any legislation. From the rule: “VA has developed a telehealth program as a modern, beneficiary- and family-centered health care delivery model that leverages information and telecommunication technologies to connect beneficiaries with health care providers, irrespective of the State or location within a State where the health care provider or the beneficiary is physically located at the time the health care is provided.” PDF of rule.

VA Home Telehealth has both doctor-to-patient telemedicine and vital signs remote monitoring components. While VA is fully able to waive state licensing requirements if both the physician and the patient are in a VA clinic, because of state telemedicine laws they have not been able to provide the same care for veterans at home. VA also has a care distribution problem, with many veterans living in rural areas, at great distances from VA facilities, or with limited mobility. What this will enable is VA hiring in metro areas primary care and specialist doctors to cover veterans in rural or underserved areas and the expansion of mental health care. It also will facilitate the rollout of the VA Video Connect app for smartphones and video-equipped computers now in use by over 300 VA providers [TTA 9 Aug].

The VETS Act (Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017, S. 925) would permanently legislate this, but in the US system this type of Federal rule, in this circumstance, moves faster.  Fierce Healthcare, Healthcare Finance, mHealth Intelligence 

NHS Kernow forced to postpone telehealth end by patient legal action (updated)

Your opinion counts. Use it! (Also see below for another cut to be made) NHS Kernow, which back in July snap announced an end to telehealth monitoring for budgetary and ‘outcome proof’ reasons, has been forced to back down on ending the program by a patient’s legal action. Ian Wyness, a 55-year-old patient with a severe heart condition, took up the fight with NHS Kernow CCG, first with letters, then in the local court. NHS Kernow is now maintaining the service to over 900 patients and on 19 Sept opened up for a six-week public consultation.

According to Cornwall Live, local people will be able to share their views about the service to 7am on Wednesday 1 November through a survey distributed online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KCCG-TelehealthSC or returning a printed copy. Cornwall Live also lists times and locations for four public hearings, inviting users and caregivers, on 24 and 26 October. The service will be continued until a final decision is reached by the CCG–according to them, in December.

International headlines were made in July when the plight of Bodmin resident Jill Diggett, who has five serious medical conditions that have hospitalized her multiple times, but has stayed out of hospital with telehealth, went viral via Cornwall Live, many publications like TTA, and an ITV interview where she begged the CCG to ‘Let me die at home’ [TTA 7 July]. Ending her service would not only affect her and her husband’s quality of life, but also made no sense financially with the daily cost of her long hospital stays. The promise of transitioning her care to a distant Cornwall location also hadn’t been kept.

Mr. Wyness is a former RAF service member from Davidstow who had his own dramatic medical experience leading to telehealth monitoring. In one day in 2012, he had been resuscitated 14 times in three locations due to his heart condition. Telehealth now monitors his blood pressure. When monitoring staff noted a drop, he was taken to hospital ‘just in time’. When the closing was announced, Mr. Wyness went to court with the assistance of the Leigh Day firm. They made and won a legal argument that closing telehealth services without consulting with members of the public was illegal. “I decided to fight for everyone because many patients who use the service who may have dementia or may be old are unable to take on that fight.” Bravo! Hat tip and thanks to Suzanne Woodman for the follow up.

Tender Alerts: Staffordshire’s £70m contract, Yorkshire and The Humber test

Susanne Woodman, our Eye on Tenders, alerts us to two tenders, the first which will definitely pique our UK Readers’ attention with its size and duration. The second is for a proposal using TECS and telemedicine as an alternative to emergency services.

  • Staffordshire: This is a huge seven-year contract to create the Support For Independent Living In Staffordshire (SILIS) Service to enable older and disabled adults to age in place in their current homes. “A key aim of the Service is to help Individuals to make changes to their home environment that will prevent the need for more costly interventions, such as admission to hospital or residential care, following life crises.” The Service will improve upon existing services in Assistive Technology (AT) including referral to telecare providers.

There are six borough and district councils involved, with the potential for use by nine more. The contract is valued at £70 million to start April 2018 with renewal points, ending in March 2025. Deadline is Wednesday 1 November at noon. Much more information (you’ll need it) on TED EU-Tenders Electronic Daily

  • NHS Greater Huddersfield & North Kirklees CCG: This tender is for the provision of a technology-assisted, rapid access service offering an alternative to hospital-based A&E services. Market test site is in Kirklees for residents of a care home. Requirements are:
    • A 24/7 clinical teleconsultation service delivered via secure video link into residential/ nursing homes, that is utilized instead of patients having to be taken to the local A&E department.
    • A service that provides clinical consultation not a logarithm based approach like 111.
    • A fully managed technical service utilizing bespoke laptops with HD cameras and with 4G SIM or broadband.

The CCG may also commission an accountable care organization (ACO) for this care in future, to which this contract would transfer. Deadline is 5pm on Friday 20 October to brenda.powell@greaterhuddersfieldccg.nhs.uk. More information on Gov.UK.

Detecting cancer faster with a pen and smartphone camera diagnostics

Two newly developed devices promise to radically improve cancer detection–the first during surgery, and the second for the earliest signs of the jaundice symptoms of pancreatic cancer with applicability to both telehealth and telemedicine.

  • The MasSpec Pen is a mass spectrometry device (not the pen in the picture) which is intended to be used during surgery to better determine the boundary between cancerous and normal tissue. Current technology uses frozen section analysis, which takes about 30 minutes (in which the surgeons and sedated patient wait for the pathologist’s results) and isn’t always accurate in answering the question ‘is it all out?’ Using mass spectrometry analysis of a drop of water after three seconds of tissue contact, MasSpec Pen returns results in about 10 seconds with 96 percent accuracy in a test of 253 cancer patients, as well as detecting cancer in marginal regions between normal and cancer tissues that presented mixed cellular composition. It was tested on breast, lung, thyroid, and ovary cancerous and normal tissue. The team expects to start testing the new technology during oncologic surgeries in 2018. Futurity, Science Translational Medicine.
  • Over at the University of Washington’s Ubiquitous Computing Lab, researchers there expanded their jaundice detection system for babies, BiliCam, to BiliScreen, which examines the eyes for the earliest sign of jaundice. Jaundice is an early sign of pancreatic cancer as well as hepatitis and related diseases, and is conventionally screened through a professionally-administered blood test and analysis. The BiliScreen app is used with a smartphone camera and a 3D printed box that controls the eye’s exposure to light. It correctly identified cases of concern 89.7 percent of the time, compared to the blood test currently used. As a non-invasive test, it can be used repeatedly for high-risk individuals and remotely. Futurity, paper (PDF, 26 pages) presented September 13 at Ubicomp 2017, the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing.

Hat tip on both to former Ireland Editor Toni Bunting.

Twist up the power: carbon nanotube yarn as future power generator

click to enlargeTwist and Shout! The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas and Hanyan University in South Korea, have developed carbon nanotube-based “twistron” yarns that when coiled and paired with ionic material, become supercapacitors. These twisted bundles of individual nanotubes, each of which is 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, when pulled and stretched generate electrical power. Ionic material can be an electrolyte, ocean water or even human sweat.

This development opens up opportunities in healthcare technology areas such as polymer-graphene thin skin adhering sensors for continuous monitoring that stretch or look like temporary tattoos [TTA 3 Feb] which need more power longer than available now.

The energy-generating capacities of the yarn were tested in a variety of interesting ways.  Researchers attached it to an artificial muscle that contracted and expanded, converting the change in temperature into electrical energy. When they were sewn into a shirt, they were used to monitor and sense changes in respiration. They were even immersed in South Korea’s Gyeonpo Sea to demonstrate how they can harvest the energy of ocean waves. The team is still working to better understand how the twistron yarns work by examining their carbon nanotube structure at the nanoscale, the three-dimensional structure of the yarns and how their structure changes when they are deformed. (The photo above left, captured by x-ray tomography, is a 3-D rendering of the coiled nanotube fibers and provides information on the structures, defects and interfaces internal to the fibers at the nanoscale.)

MedStartr Momentum 2017 – coming up 30 Nov!

click to enlargeMomentum 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers headquarters, 300 Madison Avenue (42nd Street), NYC, 30 Nov (8.45am-5pm)-1 Dec (9am-3pm)

MedStartr/Health 2.0 NYC Momentum is back for a third year, returning to PwC’s NYC headquarters. The format is unusual because it blends nine speakers in Momentum Talks with five pitch contests and seven panels totaling over 70 participants on stage. The subject is all about driving innovation in healthcare from the wide variety of perspectives seen by patients, doctors, partners, institutions, and investors.  Speakers, sponsors and agenda are all on the main page here.

The culmination is the award of the 2017 Grand National Challenge. Up to 25 teams will be invited to New York or the Healthcare Financial Summit 6-7 October in Las Vegas. Each winning team that enters the MedStartr Acceleration Program (MAP) will receive up to $250,000 in funding and services–and, as in all MedStartr Crowd Challenges, companies keep control of their pilots, partnerships, funds raised, investors engaged, and traction.

Registration is open–and early bird tickets are only $99. (You can’t get a better value!) More to come as we get closer to the event! TTA is a MedStartr and Health 2.0 NYC supporter/media sponsor since 2010; Editor Donna will be a host for this event and a MedStartr Mentor. Check the MedStartr page to find and fund some of the most interesting startup ideas in healthcare.

BioSensics’ Huntington’s Disease remote monitor gains NIH grant

click to enlargeWatertown, Massachusetts-based BioSensics announced that the company has received a $2.5 million, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a continuous remote monitor for Huntington’s disease motor symptoms. The HDWear monitor uses BioSensics’ PAMSys sensor technology tested during pilot work performed with the University of Rochester Medical Center and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The study, published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease (2016, Vol. 5, pp. 199-206), demonstrated a wearable sensor solution for remotely monitoring the severity of upper extremity chorea in Huntington’s disease.

The study will also use the HDWear monitor for a clinical study on patient response to anti-chorea medication or subtle motor abnormalities in the premanifest stage of Huntington’s disease.

It is interesting that the press release uses ‘telecare’ for HDWear, which is not much used in the US for behavioral monitoring though perfectly correct. HDWear’s use here builds on the company’s earlier sensors-based systems for telehealth, physical activity monitoring, fall risk assessment and detection. This Editor notes that BioSensics is one of the older telehealth companies still operating (2007), and now is primarily using its devices in research studies. Drug Discovery & Development,  Release.  Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury via LinkedIn (again)

Hacking, insider actions 81 percent of healthcare data breaches: Protenus

Healthcare data security company Protenus’ monthly Breach Barometer always contains interesting–and somewhat discouraging–surprises. August’s report topped July’s for the number of patients affected, with 674,000 patients involved in 33 incidents. Over 54 percent of breaches (N=18) were due to hacking (five incidents were attributed to ransomware), with over 27 percent (N=9) were from insider error (the main cause) or wrongdoing–over 81 percent in total. The remainder were due to loss, theft, or ‘unknown’. Another interesting finding was that discoveries of hacking are relatively quick at an average of 26 days from start to finish, due to the disruption they create, while insider attacks can go on for months (209.8 days)–or years. Protenus’ July report highlighted a breach at Tewksbury Hospital in Massachusetts that went unreported for a record-setting 14 years–an insider action that affected 1,100 records. Reporting to HHS is improving with reporting to HHS, the media or state attorneys general on average of 53 days. Protenus crunches its data from databreaches.net. (If you look at their reporting on TheDarkOverlord (@tdo_hackers), including their recent threats on a small Montana school system, you’ll be scared indeed.) MedCityNews 25 Sept, 23 August   Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury via LinkedIn

Connected Health Conference 25-27 October, Boston–save $100! (updated)

Connected Health Conference, 25-27 October, Seaport World Trade Center, Boston Massachusetts

The eighth annual Connected Health Conference, is now presented by the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHAlliance) in partnership with Partners Connected Health, with a combined and rebooted annual meeting in Boston. The largest global conference in connected health has surfed many changes from the time it was started as the mHealth Summit (and Telecare Aware was one of the first media sponsors) in Washington, DC. This year’s theme, The Connected Life Journey: Shaping Health and Wellness for Every Generation, is centered around the future of technology-enabled health, wellness and what innovation means for over 2,000 providers, researchers, healthcare executives, and developers. CHC17’s location is now in Boston’s Innovation District versus a fairly remote part of Foggy Bottom–and early fall! (For more on CHC’s evolution, see here.)

Wednesday the 25th has a full day of pre-conference specialized sessions here, such as the Society for Participatory Medicine and Parks Associates‘ workshop, with the full conference and open exhibit hall on Thursday and Friday. Continua has a running Plugfest for those involved with Continua standards on Thursday and Friday. Also on those days is CHC’s own Health Tech StandOut! Competition featuring a group of ten finalists, free for conference registrants and the Connected Health Innovation Challenge (CHIC) (information here).

For the main website and for registration, click on the ad in the sidebar. TTA Readers save $100 on registration–use code CHC17TELE100. TTA is a media sponsor of CHC17. For updates, see on Twitter #Connect2Health and @PCHAlliance

Update: The PCHAlliance published today a research paper, Personal Connected Health: The State of the Evidence and a Call to Action. This is a meta-study of 53 studies and trials for setting an initial baseline for evidence in personal connected health. The key findings on the current state will come as no surprise–that better studies are needed that show evidence in clinical trials and real-world use. Release, study (download links)

Youth football playing may contribute to long-term cognitive, behavioral issues: BU study

An extension of Boston University’s pioneering CTE brain research [TTA 26 July] is this newly published study in Translational Psychiatry on cognitive and behavioral changes in former football players. This sampled 214 living former American football players who played high school, college or professional football and did not participate in any other organized contact sports. These players were recruited through BU’s LEGEND longitudinal research registry of living active and former contact and non-contact sports athletes to examine the short/long-term outcomes of repetitive head impacts (RHI). Participants in the program performed over time a battery of cognitive and functional tests. It also screened out those who self-reported concussion within one year of the study inception.

The findings point a very long finger at early tackle football playing in youth football programs, typically from age 5 to 14 when the brain is undergoing massive development. Below quotes are direct from the study:

  • Those who began playing football before age 12 had >2 × increased odds for clinically meaningful impairments in reported behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function, and >3 × increased odds for clinically elevated depression scores, compared with those who began playing at 12 or older.
  • Effects were independent of age, education and duration of football play.
  • Younger AFE (age of first exposure-Ed.) to football, in general, corresponded with worse behavioral regulation, depression, apathy and executive function, as well as increased odds for clinical depression and apathy.

To our knowledge, this study is the first to show a relationship between younger AFE to football and reported clinical dysfunction in a cohort that included both former amateur and professional football players. There was no difference in the effect of AFE by highest level of play. These findings validate and expand upon our previous work in a small, entirely distinct sample of former NFL players, and extend the influence of AFE to football on clinical function to former football players who only played through high school or college. Overall, this study provides further evidence that playing youth American football may have long-term clinical implications, including behavioral and mood impairments.

The study has an extensive discussion of brain development in the young and how ages 9-12 are critical. Two studies using helmet accelerometry on current youth American football players estimate 240 to 252 median head impacts per season.

There are a considerable number of caveats throughout the study, including the kind of protection available in past youth football for the average age respondent (51) and the self-reporting methodology. It is not a risk study for CTE, nor is it intended to advocate the reduction or elimination of youth football. It does advocate for more longitudinal studies. This Editor has attended at least two talks by the CTE Center’s Robert Stern, MD, and he has been never been content with limiting his study to either football or to purely concussive damage. 

Why is this research important to healthcare and to technology? (I’ll expand upon a previous closing.)

  • First, because repetitive brain trauma–concussive and sub-concussive–now has an even better-documented relationship to significant medical and behavioral conditions. This study is now another part of fundamental research to deepen our knowledge about the effects and long term brain outcomes of head trauma, whether from football, other contact sports, combat service (e.g. IED explosions), car accidents, and even repetitive actions by a person who is developmentally disabled.
  • Second, avoiding or minimizing head trauma in sports and warfare, plus correctly diagnosing and treating concussion and sub-concussion, are huge areas for technology about which this Editor has advocated for several years.
  • The message here is not that football is bad, but in the present state and starting age is played dangerously for long term brain development and the subsequent mental health of players. This does not exclude other high contact sports such as flag football, hockey and rugby–the orthopedist’s gift–and heading the ball in soccer. We need to know more, minimize it now, and both playing the game, with the aid of health tech, should be part of this.

Translational Psychiatry (Nature.com), STATNews has further analysis

Related reading: Our extensive backfile of CTE research coverage is here, including this Editor’s reports on Dr. Stern’s presentations at NYC MedTech and GCRI. 

Can Big Pharmas hiring of digital execs actually ‘reimagine medicine’?

Reimagination or hallucination? In recent weeks, both Glaxo Smith Kline and now Novartis have hired digital analytics and marketing executives out of non-healthcare businesses to lead their digital transformation. For GSK, Karenann Terrell joined in the new position of chief digital and technology officer from six years as chief information officer for Walmart and CIO for pharma Baxter International. From Sainsbury’s Argos, Bertrand Bodson will be assuming the chief digital officer title at Novartis without any previous healthcare experience.

Both are expected to be transformative, disruptive, and ‘reimagine medicine’. Ms. Terrell’s experience and accomplishments appear to be the closest fit to her GSK’s job expectations of integrating digital, data, and analytics strategy with enhancing clinical trials and drug discovery, as well as improving professional and consumer interactions. Novartis’ mission for Mr. Bodson aims even higher. In addition to these, he will be ‘transforming our business model using digital technologies’, ‘reimagine (sic) medicine by leveraging digital on behalf of millions of patients and practitioners’, and ‘leading cultural change’.

Both companies have good starts in advanced technologies–GSK in AI, sensor technologies for managing COPD, and a medical device mobile app; Novartis with ‘smart pill’ Proteus, a pilot with heart medication Entresto tied to monitoring and coaching, and through its Alcon subsidiary with Google, a wired-up contact lens that detects blood glucose [TTA 17 July 14]. However, this last appears to be stalled in trials and Alcon on the block. According to the FT, Novartis is feeling the pressure to develop more digital partnerships, such as Novo Nordisk’s teaming with Glooko and Sanofi with Verily Life, all in diabetic management. Acquisitions may also be the way forward.

A significant impediment to all this integration is consumer and professional trust. If too closely tied to a pharmaceutical company or appearing to be too self-serving, remote monitoring and counseling may not be trusted to be in the patient’s (or doctor’s) best interest or objective as to better approaches. The overuse of analytics, for instance in counseling or patient direction, may be perceived as violating patient privacy–creeping out the patient isn’t helpful. The bottom line: will these digital technologies serve the patient and maintain medical best practices–or best serve the pharmaceutical company’s interests?

This Editor doesn’t question these individuals’ ability, but the organizations’ capability for change. But count this Editor as a skeptic on whether one or two digital execs can marshal the bandwidth and the internal credibility to transform these lumbering, complex, regulated, and long cycle businesses. Big Retail is fast moving by comparison. PMLive 31 July (GSK), 13 Sept (Novartis)  Hat tip to TTA alumna Toni Bunting

The REAL acute care: hurricanes, health tech, and what happens when electricity goes out

This afternoon, as this New York-based Editor is observing the light touch of the far bands of Hurricane José’s pass through the area (wind, spotty rain, some coastal flooding and erosion), yet another Category 5 hurricane (Maria) is on track to attack the already-wrecked-from-Irma Puerto Rico and northern Caribbean, thoughts turn to where healthcare technology can help those who need it most–and where the response could be a lot better. (Add one more–the 7.1 magnitude earthquake south of Mexico City)

Laurie Orlov, a Florida resident, has a typically acerbic take on Florida’s evacuation for Irma and those left behind to deal with no electricity, no assistance. Florida has the highest percentage of over-65 residents. Those who could relocated, but this Editor from a poll of her friends there found that they didn’t quite know where to go safely if not out of state, for this storm was predicted first to devastate the east coast, then it changed course late and barreled up the west (Gulf) coast. Its storm surges unexpected produced record flooding in northeastern Florida, well outside the main track. Older people who stayed in shelters or stayed put in homes, senior apartments, 55+ communities, or long-term care were blacked out for days, in sweltering heat. If their facilities didn’t have backup generators and electrical systems that worked, they were unable to charge their phones, use the elevator, recharge electric wheelchairs, or power up oxygen units. Families couldn’t reach them either. Solutions: restore inexpensive phone landlines (which hardwired, mostly work), backup phone batteries, external power sources like old laptops, and backup generators in senior communities (which would not have prevented prevent bad fuses/wiring from frying the AC, as in the nursing home in Hollywood where eight died).  Aging In Place Tech 

It’s another reason why senior communities and housing are supposed to have disaster preparedness/evacuation plans in place. (If you are a family member, it should be included in your community selection checklist and local records should be checked. This Editor recently wrote an article on this subject (PDF) that mentions disaster and incident planning twice. (Disclaimer: the sponsoring company is a marketing client of this Editor.) In nursing homes, they are mandatory–and often not executable or enforced, as this article from Kaiser Health News points out. 

Another solution good for all: purchase 200-400 watt battery packs that recharge with solar panels, AC, and car batteries (AARP anyone?). Campers and tailgaters use these and they range below $500 with the panels. Concerned with high-power lithium-ion batteries and their tendency to go boom? You’ll have to wait, but the US Army Research Laboratory and University of Maryland have developed a flexible, aqueous lithium-ion battery that reaches the 4.0 volt mark desired for household electronics without the explosive risks associated with standard lithium-ion power–a future and safer alternative. Armed With Science

Telemedicine and telehealth are not being fully utilized to their potential in disaster response and recovery, but the efforts are starting. Medical teams are starting to use telehealth and telemedicine as adjunct care. It has already been deployed successfully in Texas during Harvey. Many evacuees were sent to drier Dallas and the Hutchinson arena, where Dallas-based Children’s Health used telemedicine for emergency off-hour coverage. Doctor on Demand and MDLive gave free direct support to those affected in Texas and Louisiana through 8 September, as well as Teladoc, American Well, and HealthTap for a longer period to members and non-members. Where there are large numbers of evacuees concentrated in an area, telemedicine is now deployed on a limited basis. Doctor on Demand releaseSTAT News, MedCityNews 

But what about using affordable mobile health for the thousands who long term will be in rented homes, far away from their local practitioners–and the doctors themselves who’ve been displaced? What will Doctor on Demand and their sister telemedicine companies have available for these displaced people? What about Puerto Rico, USVI, and the Caribbean islands, where first you have to rebuild the cellular network so medical units can be more effective, then for the longer term? (Can Microsoft’s ‘white space’ be part of the solution?)  

One telehealth company, DictumHealth, has a special interest and track record in both pediatric telehealth and global remote deployments where the weather is hot, the situation is acute, and medical help is limited. Dictum sent their ruggedized IDM100 tablet units and peripherals to Aster Volunteers who aid the permanently displaced in three Jordanian refugee camps in collaboration with the UNHCR and also for pediatric care at the San Josecito School in Costa Rica. In speaking with both Amber Bogard and Elizabeth Keate of Dictum, they are actively engaging with medical relief agencies in both the US and the Caribbean. More to come on this.