TTA’s Week: hybrid psychiatry shortens care, health tech gets NICE, CVS-Aetna and Theranos still in news, and lots of events!

 

Psychiatry goes ‘hybrid’, health tech gets NICE, events both coming up and future, and in long-running shows, CVS-Aetna and Theranos keep packing them in.

And if you are in digital health in the UK, it’s the Next-To-Final Countdown to the Digital Health and Care Congress.

22 May is two weeks away! Scroll below for news of The King’s Fund’s Digital Health and Care Congress in London. Joining the Day 1 plenary are Tara Donnelly and Terence Eden from NHSX, with Matt Hancock as keynote closing speaker on day 2. Plus 10% off registration for our Readers!

Telepsychiatry improves time to care plus frequency of care for behavioral health patients: study (Now it’s hybrid psychiatry)
CVS-Aetna hearing now June; 12 witnesses called, for and against (Another long-running DC show in its ninth month)
It’s NICE to HealthTech Connect with the NHS (A health tech matchmaking service)
The Theranos Story, ch. 60: becoming a Cautionary Tale of Silicon Valley Ethics (Will SV change its ways? Not likely.)
Events coming up soon–and in the autumn: Hunter College 13 May, Aging 2.0 London 21 May; NYeC’s November Gala, Connected Health Summit (16-18 Oct) poster call

International digital health news from India, Finland, Hong Kong, and even the US leads our roundup, from Verily, Oxford VR, Blackberry, Blue Cedar, and more. And if you are in digital health in the UK, it’s countdown to the Digital Health and Care Congress.

International news roundup: Verily ‘eyes’ India, Oxford VR trials in Hong Kong, Israel-Finland collaborate, Blue Cedar-Blackberry partner, NuvoAir inhales $3M
The King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress arrives soon on 22-23 May (It’s here before you know it)

It’s really Spring this week. Theranos lives again, courtesy of the Patent Office, while reliving its demise is postponed in court. Machine learning is starting to shine on radiology. New event at RSM and a major EU prize. But it feels like autumn for Athenahealth, Watson Health, and Waystar.

Comings and goings: Cuts hit Athenahealth, IBM Watson’s Drug Discovery unit; Bain may sell Waystar RCM (Mostly goings)
The Theranos Story, ch. 59: there’s life left in the corporate corpse–patents! And no trial date in sight. (A kind of resurrection, courtesy of the USPTO)
AI and machine learning ‘will transform clinical imaging practice over the next decade’ (Radiology catching up)
Digital Technologies for Disease Prevention and Promotion of Wellbeing – RSM, London, 10th June 2019 (A don’t miss event)
Win the Trillium II prize and get €1,000! (For publicizing and deploying the International Patient Summary)

Spring Fever continues as we hop like a bunny to Easter and Passover. This week has a distinctly international focus, with Babylon Health and Merck in Africa, a digital health funding competition in Helsinki, and Israel’s Tyto Care DTC-ing with Best Buy. We take a critical look at China’s massive data reaping through private healthcare companies for AI diagnostics, with little regard to patient consent or privacy. Closer to home, there’s ATA, Spry Health’s wearable for COPD, and NHSX’s establishment.

International news roundup: ATA dispatches, compete for funding in Helsinki, Spry FDA-cleared for COPD, Merck acquires ConnectMed Kenya 
Babylon Health’s expansion plans in Asia-Pacific, Africa spotlighted (We extract the highlights including the new NHSX for good measure)
Tyto Care inks deal with Best Buy for retail sales of remote diagnostic device (Tyto finally moves into DTC with a retailer apparently set on digital health)
China’s getting set to be the healthcare AI leader–on the backs of sick, rural citizens’ data privacy (Damn ethics and privacy rights, full speed ahead!)

With a touch of spring fever, we round up events from a two-week digital health festival in Leeds to ATA in New Orleans. CVS-Aetna’s merger continues to linger in a Federal court. And the NHS App report is overall positive for its rollout later this year–but Microsoft’s HealthVault is rolling into history.

NHS App’s pilot results: renewing prescriptions good, making appointments…not so much (Plus the demise of Microsoft HealthVault)
Leeds Digital Festival 2019: a two-week showcase of digital health and care (Quite an annual show across town!)
Spring is here, so are some events to enjoy–and broaden your horizons (From New York to New Orleans) 
Drawn-out decision on the CVS-Aetna merger held up again in Federal court (Examined up, down, and sideways in a Federal court–since October)

Fortune and Kaiser Health News take down EHRs and the havoc they wreak on doctors and patients. Our weekly news roundup looks at diabetic VR training in Wessex, telemental health in Australia, GreatCall’s health ambitions–and prescribing apps is baaack!

EHRs: The Bridge to Nowhere–other than despair. An investigative Must Read on ‘an unholy mess’. (The reality settles in, and it’s worse than you thought, whether you’re a doctor or patient)
News roundup from all over: prescribing apps is back! Plus telemental health Down Under, GreatCall’s health tech strategy, Wessex’s diabetic sim, telehealth growth outpaces urgent care


The King’s Fund’s annual Digital Health and Care Congress is back on 22-23 May. Secretary Matt Hancock keynoting and closing Day 2. Meet leading NHS and social care professionals and learn how data and technology can improve the health and well-being of patients plus the quality and effectiveness of the services that they use. Our Readers are eligible for a 10% discount using the link in the advert or here, plus the code Telehealth_10.


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


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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

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

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

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AI and machine learning ‘will transform clinical imaging practice over the next decade’

The great challenges in radiology are accuracy of diagnosis and speed. Yet for radiology, machine learning and AI systems are still in early stages. Last August, a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-organized workshop with the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the American College of Radiology (ACR) and The Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research (The Academy) kickstarted work towards AI. Their goal was to collaborate in machine learning/AI applications for diagnostic medical imaging, identify knowledge gaps, and to roadmap research needs for academic research laboratories, funding agencies, professional societies, and industry.

The report of this roadmap was published in the past few days in Radiology, the RSNA journal. Research priorities in the report included:

  • new image reconstruction methods that efficiently produce images suitable for human interpretation from source data
  • automated image labeling and annotation methods, including information extraction from the imaging report, electronic phenotyping, and prospective structured image reporting
  • new machine learning methods for clinical imaging data, such as tailored, pre-trained model architectures, and distributed machine learning methods
  • machine learning methods that can explain the advice they provide to human users (so-called explainable artificial intelligence)
  • validated methods for image de-identification and data sharing to facilitate wide availability of clinical imaging data sets.

Another aim is to reduce clinically important errors, estimated at 3 to 6 percent of image interpretations by radiologists. Diagnostic errors play a role in up to 10 percent of patient deaths, according to this report.

It is interesting that machine learning, more than AI, is mentioned in the RSNA materials, for instance in stating that “Machine learning algorithms will transform clinical imaging practice over the next decade. Yet, machine learning research is still in its early stages.” Radiology actually pioneered store-and-forward technology, to where radiology interpretation has been farmed out nationally and globally for many years. This countered a decline in US radiologists as a percentage of the physician workforce that started in the late 1990s and continues to today with some positive trends (Radiology 2015). Perhaps this distribution model postponed development of machine learning technologies. Also Healthcare Dive, RSNA press release  

Connected Health Conference highlights (so far): FCC’s $100 million telehealth pilot, NIH’s ‘All of Us’, MIT’s social robots integrating AI

Expanding FCC connected health programs. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in his keynote reinforced the agency’s interest and support of connected health initiatives, from rural to opioids. Most of the programs have a rural focus to bring broadband and telehealth/RPM to the ‘end of the line’ in underserved communities, something close to Mr. Pai’s heart as his parents were both rural physicians in Kansas..

  • This summer, the Connected Care Pilot Program was proposed and approved unanimously in August [TTA 9 Aug]. Funding for this is proposed at $100 million.
  • The spending cap for the rural healthcare program, which has been around since 1997’s dial-up days and now includes telemedicine and remote monitoring, was increased for 2017-2018 from  $400 million to $571 million, a 43 percent increase. The FCC has pledged to fully fund 2018 programs.
  • New initiatives were announced covering new uses for telehealth and remote patient monitoring:
    • Connected care at home via RPM as part of the Connected Care Pilot Program
    • Cancer care in partnership with the National Cancer Institute. The Launch program for rural and underserved communities aims to bring high-quality cancer care to where patients work and live through bringing together government, academia and community health providers.
    • For opioids, there are two programs. One is expanding the mapping broadband health platform to include critical drug use data. This will allow users to rapidly visualize, overlay, and analyze broadband and opioid data together at the national, state, and county level. The second is to launch a chronic pain management and opioid use challenge as part of the pilot program.  Mobihealthnews

A status report on NIH’s All of Us. Back in January as part of setting the stage for 2018, this Editor briefly mentioned the National Institute of Health’s massive All of Us program, part of the Federal Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). All of Us needs almost all of us–their goal is to collect data on at least one million Americans for a major leap forward on data supporting population health. Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, All of Us’ chief engagement officer, confirmed that over 100,000 participants have registered since the launch in May, with over 65,000 completing the full protocol. She mentioned that 75 percent of signups are from groups often underrepresented in modern medical research, with 50 percent from racial and ethnic minorities. The Mobihealthnews article ends on a ‘Debbie Downer’ note of doubting whether the program will reach enrollment goals, the cost will be justified, and whether the data will be kept private as promised.

MIT’s social robots may be the future of emotional support for wellbeing. MIT associate professor Cynthia Breazeal heads up the Personal Robots Group and is working on how to integrate AI into emotional robots for pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. The robots serve as a go-between child life specialists and the patient. The initial results were positive, with higher verbal scores (as a measure of engagement) than with stuffed bears or digital avatars. Professor Breazeal wants to extend the technology to older adults for wellbeing and engagement. Running against the conventional wisdom, their research found that older adults were more open to technology than the children. Following MIT’s work are companies like Hasbro and Embodied. Mobihealthnews.

Hip-protective airbags get another entrant from France. And fall prediction steps forward.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Studio-CAP-PHOTO-HELITE-1002-logo.png” thumb_width=”150″ /][grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/thumbs_Studio-CAP-PHOTO-HELITE-1010-logo.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]CES served as the US debut (the first was at November’s Medica fair in Dusseldorf) for Fontaine-lès-Dijon, France-based Hip’Air. Hip’Air by Helite is a soft belt with hip-positioned airbags that triggers upon fall detection but before ground impact. It is designed to be worn outside the body (unlike conventional pads), is reusable, claims a 90 percent reduction in fall impact, with a battery charge that lasts for over one week. According to their website, it will debut in Europe this spring after testing in nursing homes for €650 (US$800, UK£570). Video on their website above and on CNet.

Our Readers are well acquainted with the toxic statistics around falls and hip fractures. The US CDC found that 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, usually sideways, they disproportionately affect women, and in the US they amount to about 300,000 per year. Hip’Air quotes their sources as 65,000 per year in France alone. NIH’s 2010 study found a 21 percent mortality rate after one year. Surgery/recuperation cost is around $30,000. Here is a largely avoidable cost.

In that context, it’s encouraging that Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based ActiveProtective, which we profiled a year ago and received numerous Reader and company founder comments [TTA 10 Jan 17], is testing its belt-worn approach with Eskaton Village, an assisted living residence, in Carmichael near Sacramento California, and nearing a commercial debut. It is also based on sensors (3D) that sense a fall and deploy before impact in what they call ‘fall disambiguation’ and claims a comparable 90 percent impact reduction. It gained $4.7 million in Series A funding in December [TTA 19 Dec 17]. CBS 13 video. While Hip’Air is direct competition, albeit in Europe, more than one provider serves to convince funders and customer markets that the concept is valid.

Fall prediction is also stepping off the sidelines. Our earlier article covered four tech approaches that help to estimate and proactively act against falls [TTA 10 Jan]. Here’s another one from Spain, the FallSkip, which allows a physician or therapist to measure fall risk in under two minutes and in walking under 10 feet. Developed at Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de València, it consists of an Android-based mobile device Velcro-mounted on the back of a soft waistband for the patient which is worn during the walking test. The custom app provides and interprets motion readings to the doctor. New Atlas  YouTube videoHat tip to Toni Bunting 

To this Editor, advances in estimating fall risk are long overdue. Fall cushioning is too, and the less clunky but effective the better. But strength training is a needed adjunct, per the Dutch program. This physical training helps older adults and the disabled prevent falling and fall better, if they must. So what organizations in the US, UK, and EU are advocating this? There’s plenty of room for tech too. Not sexy or cocktail-party-buzzy at Silicon Valley parties, but a direct way to decrease cost and increase older/disabled quality of life.

Advances in 2017 which may set the digital health stage for 2018

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Our second Roundup takes us to the Lone Prairie, where we spot some promising young Health Tech Advances that may grow up to be Something Big in 2018 and beyond. 

From Lancaster University, just published in Brain Research (academic/professional access) is their study of an experimental ‘triple agonist’ drug developed for type 2 diabetes that shows promise in reversing the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment in APP/PS1 mice with human mutated genes used a combination of GLP-1, GIP, and Glucagon that “enhanced levels of a brain growth factor which protects nerve cell functioning, reduced the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, reduced both chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, and slowed down the rate of nerve cell loss.” This treatment explores a known link between type 2 diabetes as a risk factor and the implications of both impaired insulin, linked to cerebral degenerative processes in type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and insulin desensitization. Other type 2 diabetes drugs such as liraglutide have shown promising results versus the long trail of failed ‘amyloid busters‘. For an estimated 5.5 million in the US and 850,000 in the UK with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and for those whose lives have been touched by it, this research is the first sign of hope in a long time. AAAS EurekAlertLancaster University release, video

At University College London (UCL), a drug treatment for Huntington’s Disease in its first human trial has for the first time safely lowered levels of toxic huntingtin protein in the brain. The group of 46 patients drawn from the UK, Canada, and Germany were given IONIS (the pharmaceutical company)-HTTRx or placebo, injected into spinal fluid in ascending doses to enable it to reach the brain starting in 2015 after over a decade in pre-development. The research comes from a partnership between UCL and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. UCL News releaseUCL Huntington’s Research page, BBC News

Meanwhile, The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s All of Us programpart of the Federal Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), seeks to track a million+ Americans through their medical history, behavior, exercise, blood, and urine samples. It’s all voluntary, of course, the recruitment’s barely begun for a medical research resource that may dwarf anything else in the world. This is the NIH program that lured Eric Dishman from Intel. And of course, it’s controversial–that gigantic quantities of biometric data, genomic and otherwise, on non-genetic related diseases, will simply have diminishing returns and divert money/attention from diseases with clear genomic causes–such as Huntington’s. Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Let’s not forget Google DeepMind Health’s Streams app in test at the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust Hospital in north London, where alerts on patients at risk of developing acute kidney infection (AKI) are pushed to clinicians’ mobile phones, (more…)

CTE found in 99% of former, deceased NFL players’ brains: JAMA study (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/h_research_Figure-4.-Annotated-Normal.-Mild-CTE.-Severe-CTE.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Updated for additional information and analysis at conclusion. In the largest-ever case study published of CTE–chronic traumatic encephalopathyVA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS) and the Boston University School of Medicine’s CTE Center found mild to severe CTE pathology in nearly all of the brains of former football players studied. Jesse Mez, MD, BU Medical assistant professor of neurology and lead author on the JAMA study, said that “The data suggest that there is very likely a relationship between exposure to football and risk of developing [CTE].” The CTE is marked by defective tau (stained red in the brain sample pictures, click to expand), which is also evident in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Of the 202 brains donated to the VA-BU-CLF (Concussion Legacy Foundation) Brain Bank:

  • The most dramatic finding is the detection of CTE in 110 of 111 donated former NFL players’ brains (defined as having played one play in a regular NFL season game).
  • In addition, the brains of other football players were studied. CTE was detected in seven of eight Canadian Football League former players (88 percent), nine of 14 semi-professional players (64 percent), 48 of 53 college players (91 percent), and three of 14 high school players (21 percent).
  • The severity increased with length of play, with the majority of former college, semi-professional and professional players having severe pathology. The deceased high school players diagnosed with CTE had mild pathology findings. Age at death ranged from 23 to 89.
  • Player position mattered. Linemen, running backs, defensive backs, and linebackers, who take most of the punishment in football, were the bulk of the donated brains with CTE.

Separately, and with no knowledge of the pathology, backgrounds on each donor were compiled to gather medical history and symptoms. What was striking were the personality changes evident with even mild CTE. Dr. Mez: “We found cognitive, mood and behavioral symptoms were very common, even among players with mild CTE tau pathology. This suggests that tau pathology is only the tip of the iceberg and that other pathologies, such as neuroinflammation and axonal damage, contribute to the clinical symptoms.” 

Preliminary to the current study was UNITE (more…)

Congressional investigation confirms NFL attempted to influence concussion, CTE research

Not shocking to our Readers. In December, sports network ESPN reported that the National Football League (NFL) refused to fund research on detecting in vivo chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from a long-term $30 million unrestricted grant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [TTA 23 Dec 15]. A 91-page report by Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which started after the December reports, confirmed that the NFL improperly attempted to shape the research after the grant, violating NIH peer-review process policies that stipulated no grantor interference. The NFL specifically objected to the objectivity of Boston University’s Robert Stern, MD heading up the $16 million project before the award in 2015, then tried to redirect the money, so to speak, in-house–to a group including Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, a member of the league’s panel on brain injuries and their bid for the project. Ultimately, the NFL withdrew the funding from the NIH, which went ahead with it. The project was awarded to BU, the Cleveland Clinic, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (Arizona) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The Congressional report’s six major conclusions were highly critical of the NFL in several ways and also scored the Foundation for the NIH for not acting as a ‘buffer’:

  1. The NFL improperly attempted to influence the grant selection process at NIH.
  2. The NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee members played an inappropriate role in attempting to influence the outcome of the grant selection process.
  3. The NFL’s rationalization that the Boston University study did not match their request for a longitudinal study is unfounded.
  4. FNIH (Foundation for the NIH) did not adequately fulfill its role of serving as an intermediary betweenNIH and the NFL.
  5. NIH leadership maintained the integrity of the science and the grant review process.
  6. The NFL did not carry out its commitment to respect the science and prioritize health and safety.

When the grants were announced in September 2012 [TTA 7 Sept 12], there was great cheer that finally the NFL had decided that denial was, to use the old joke, a river in Egypt, and to do something about it. This also followed Army research on TBI being supported by the NFL. The first indicator that the funds were going elsewhere, as we noted a year later, was that a year later the Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP) funds were going to other medical problems like joint diseases and sickle cell anemia. While worthy, it had not been the prime publicized objective of the funds. The Congressional committee report also details how the NFL tried to steer the research away from Dr Stern, one of the leading researchers in the field, citing his support of players who refused to accept the CTE settlement in 2014. Beyond the NFL, research on CTE and concussion will impact any contact sports as well as the military and other head traumas. This Editor has previously reported on Dr Stern’s CTE research presentations in NYC and from other researchers in the field; search on NFL and Dr Stern both in current index and the back file. Congressional report, ESPN.com, New York Times.

Eric Dishman departs Intel for NIH’s Precision Medicine Initiative Program

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/20160411-eric-dishman-pmi-1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Late breaking news….Reported in Aging in Place Technology Watch from the Oregonian is that Eric Dishman, one of Oregon’s more famous sons (and certainly a star in health tech), is leaving Intel after 17 years. Currently an Intel Fellow and general manager of the Health and Life Sciences for the Data Center Group (profile), he is joining the National Institutes for Health (NIH) in their Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort program as a director. According to the Oregonian, Mr Dishman “will lead an effort to study more than 1 million volunteers to study the impact of “precision medicine” – the practice of studying an individual’s specific genetic makeup and lifestyle to produce targeted treatments. It had been a key focus of Dishman’s work at Intel, and he had helped design the study he will now oversee.” Mr Dishman had his own extreme experience with precision medicine to treat his recurrent cancer in 2012, which made him eligible for a life-saving kidney transplant later that year [TTA 27 Feb 14 and 12 Apr 2013]. He had recently been a key part of the PMI Network working group in this ‘audacious’ study as NIH, in announcing his appointment, termed it. His last day at Intel will be 29 April, according to Intel’s data center chief. Replacing him (at least in the organization) on an interim basis will be Steve Agritelley. NIH release, USNews interview

Laurie Orlov (hat tip re this article–Ed.) commented to this Editor that Mr Dishman could be considered the ‘father of Care Innovations‘; certainly he was crucial to the development of the original Intel Health Guide out of Intel’s Digital Health Group, and was prominently in the leadership of the early Louis Burns days of the company. His work during Intel spanned over LeadingAge’s CAST, Ireland’s Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) Centre, Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer’s Care (ETAC) and the Oregon Center for Aging & Technology (ORCATECH). Mr Dishman’s work is marked by a singular focus on delivering health into the home, changing aging and hospitals as we know them. Now he will be more focused on genomic medicine and changing disease treatments as we know them.

Your Editors wish him good fortune and hope that his experiences with NIH and in Washington will be fruitful and all that he intends it to be.

Ebola and health tech: where it can help, where it failed (Updated)

 [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/keep-calm-and-enter-at-own-risk-3.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Ignore the sign…come on in, we can be quarantined together! Everyone is on Ebola-overload, so we will keep it short and sweet. The Gimlet Eye (recovering after an argument with a box, see below) advises a calm, adult-beveraged, low-media weekend with Mantovani, Bert Kaempfert or Percy Faith on the stereo.

  • Yes, digital health is addressing the needs that Ebola screening and care are generating. MedCityNews spotlights Medizone International’s AsepticSure peroxide/ozone aerial mist sterilizer which was originally developed to kill MERS and MRSA in field hospitals, to be tested by Doctors Without Borders in a 40-bed unit. Startup AgileMD launched a free mobile app for clinicians containing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Ebola prevention treatment guidelines (for what anything from CDC is worth….) Text message alerts used first in Sierra Leone are being expanded to seven West African nations for use by the Red Cross and Red Crescent (also BBC News). Sanomedics International has the TouchFree InfraRed Thermometer which is being used at US airports which are screening for passengers originating in West Africa, and Noninvasive Medical Technologies is promoting their ZOE fluid status monitor because it applies electrical currents externally to determine hydration levels.
  • Even crowdfunding’s getting into the act. Researcher Erica Ollmann Saphire and her colleagues at Scripps Research Institute  (more…)

Funding, granting and executive moves

Summer hasn’t been beach holiday time for some of the companies we’ve been following….Genetic testing for the masses 23andMe, only last fall in much hot water with FDA (but recently making nice–TTA 2 July), received a two-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes for Health (NIH). iHealthBeat….’Smart pill’ developer Proteus Digital Health received a Series G round of $52 million, adding to a June round of $120 million. Investors not disclosed, but Proteus currently has a blue-chip list including Novartis, Medtronic and Kaiser. BusinessWire….Pre/post-procedure education and recovery monitoring service VOX Telehealth received another $1.1 million round of angel financing primarily from original investors, preliminary to an institutional round of financing in 1st Quarter 2015. Release….HealthSpot Station is reinforcing its retail reach (more…)

FCC sharply elbows up to the mHealth regulatory table

That other three-letter agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has shown a distinctly competitive face versus the FDA on Federal healthcare tech policy over the past three years and more, has formed–drum roll–a task force to examine adoption of wireless technologies by health care organizations. Connect2HealthFCC will “identify regulatory barriers and incentives to expand the use of wireless health technologies; and strengthen partnerships with stakeholders in the telehealth and mobile health industries.” If this an accurate statement of the task force’s purpose, the parade not only has gone by, but it’s also three counties away. Yet going back in our files, this Editor notes that the FCC has vigorously fenced not only with the FDA, but also with HHSNIH, NIST and Congress for its place in the Federal HIT regulatory firmament. With issues such as ‘net neutrality’, wireless bandwidth and rural broadband, the FCC has a heaping healthcare helping on its plate just in assuring national access and removing conflicts in frequency demands by devices. However, the task force is headed by Michele Ellison, lately the FCC’s top regulatory enforcer with, as The Hill notes, 6,000 actions under her belt. In Foggy Bottom, things are never what they seem. iHealthBeat

Big data in heart failure detection gets $2 million grant

One part of the US government that hasn’t gone silent is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which announced yesterday a $2 million research grant to IBM, Sutter Health and Geisinger Health System to jointly develop data analytics tools to help primary care physicians detect heart failure sooner. This will analyze EHR data to determine the patterns that may be indicative of a person at high risk–and investigate more effective early intervention. Big data sets sights on heart disease (HealthcareITNews)

TBI drug in potential trial with former NFL players’ association

Breaking news in the US today on a topic we’ve been following. Maryland-based Neuralstem, a developer of neurogenic drugs, announced this morning that it is working with the National Football League Alumni Association (NFLAA) to develop a trial of their NSI-189 for treating NFL alumni members suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). According to their release, NSI-189 (or NS1-189, both are used) is currently in a Phase Ib clinical trial to treat major depressive disorder. Because it appears to work by stimulating neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that atrophies in depression, this could also apply to brain injury. While this announcement is perhaps more than it seems–a Phase I clinical trial is ‘early days’, to make it through all four phases (I-IV) may take a decade, and now the developer is switching around the treatment condition–the drug itself has received support from DARPA and NIH which are both closely concerned with TBI. In addition, working with the NFLAA will help Neuralstem find subjects for the trials. PR Newswire via Baltimore Business Journal 

Previously in TTA on TBI and the NFL: Further sad confirmation of CTE, Brain injury research study, NFL donates $30 million to NIH, Combating TBI on the battle and football fields.