Last Week in Health Tech: November 27, 2017

Written by Drew Rushmer on Dec 4, 2017 10:20:24 AM

Machines versus humans, better imaging, the IoT, telemedicine and more, all right here. So, dig in for the last November installment of...

The Best of
Last Week in Health Tech

Bloomberg featured a fascinating piece in which the author takes a look at the machine that has evolved out of an amazing technological feat from a few years ago and questions the project’s new mission: healthcare (I fully encourage you to check out the full story on just how the computer was able to teach the equivalent of grandmasters a thing or two, and perhaps more amazingly, vice-versa). More precisely, the author questions whether or not we even want to try and apply that kind of technology (specifically, in this case, Google’s Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) posterchild, a supercomputer named DeepMind) to healthcare. While many are clamoring to accomplish this task, the author takes a necessary step back to try and get some perspective on the dangers—as well as the advances—such computing “entities” bring.

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Strongly on the “pro” side of the AI debate comes an article highlighting a company currently using AI-based software to directly help save lives: an Israeli startup called “MedyMatch Technology” whose AI-based software is designed to “help clinicians assess head trauma or stroke.” GE has now partnered with MedyMatch in an effort to greatly expand their potential impact by integrating their technology into GE imaging products across the board.

This was not even the only headline GE managed to make last week—we also learned of, among other things, new mammography technology being rolled out by the company that will give more control of the device to patients, which in turn leads to a much better patient experience as well as a reduction in anxiety related to the imaging (according to company executives). This would be truly important because it has the potential to further lower the number of those patients who forgo preventative treatment due to the factors above. Additionally, there was more than one article about GE’s acquisition of a healthcare technology company called “Drawbridge Health,” whose goal is to “revolutionize blood collection.”

In yet more news squarely in the “pro” column for AI and ML, Change Healthcare and Zebra Medical partnered last week in an effort to bring automated radiology analysis technology to United States hospitals. Zebra’s technology is currently “capable of the automatic detection of liver, lung, cardiovascular and bone diseases, with other areas currently under development.” This means that radiological imaging automation can help serve as a kind of digital second opinion, and, in some cases, possibly even help in detection of a disease that would otherwise have gone undiagnosed.

Normally, I try not to bring you purely business-centric articles, but there was one related to VR last week that stood out starkly, not because a company press release was compelling literature, but because of just how far-reaching the possible consequences are for what at first might seem like an iterative change more than it does an innovation. As a result of the current state of the art under discussion, it might even seem gimmicky (I mean, everyone looks kind of silly wearing a VR headset). But because of 3D Systems, a company of whom you’ve likely never heard, your radiologist may soon be viewing the results of your latest imaging through a Virtual Reality headset. Considering that 3D Systems has also reportedly inked a partnership with Philips, this could ultimately lead to a reimagining of imaging such that it is possible, through immersive experiences such as VR, to gather information while gaining another form of knowledge about the patient entirely in the form of empathy through tech, not unlike the “tremor sharing” technology we learned of a few weeks ago.

Whoever ends up redesigning the medical imaging experience, be it 3D Systems and Philips or one of their competitors, the capability of a clinician (or a student) to be able to explore and understand the human body in ways previously only imaginable will inevitably lead to new ideas about how we think about the bodies we inhabit. This becomes especially true when you consider the effect this could potentially have on patient education. Imagine your surgeon standing beside you in a VR theater of some variety, able to manipulate 3D models you can both see, able to show you without gore how your surgery will would be a very different experience than what even the best institutions are able to currently provide.

VR is not the only way that 3D technologies are changing the patient experience, according to a post on 3DPrint’s website. Though the article does include a section on VR imagery and anatomy, it makes the excellent point that there is much to learn about the use of VR in the medical field from those fields in which it has already grown and from video games especially.

The Rest of The Best

  • In still more AI-related news, Google Cloud extended or created new partnerships at the RSNA annual meeting in Chicago. There are many deals in a myriad of industries, all well enumerated by the article on HealthcareITNews’ site.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) made an appearance last week, in an article that argued that it can improve patient outcomes. Maybe your next check up will involve Alexa’s now familiar voice, if you happen to be into that kind of thing.
  • A piece from the India Economic Times’ website reported on how Intel is helping to push positive change in India’s school systems to better prepare the students to become productive parts of the future workforce. According to those same executives, it is to China and Turkey that the educational authorities should be looking for lessons on how “technology can do wonders in providing a great educational experience and create a pool of talent for... technologies.” The primary method of creating this change is the adoption of a very tech-friendly environment that includes hardware as well as a platform for development.
  • The Saber Health Group launched telemedicine technology at skilled nursing facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
  • Speaking of remote care, the “Illinois homepage” was host to a piece covering one of their state senators’ opinion that remote technology can be a great way to provide care to the many rural areas of the state.
  • According to an article in the Motley Fool, “UnitedHealth wants to be the Next Tech Innovator,” going into a little bit of detail about the fund.
  • According to one healthcare technology-focused podcast, the way to “make it in healthcare” is “to disrupt from the inside out.”

And the Award Goes to


That's it for this week. 'Til next time, happy reading!

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Drew Rushmer

Written by Drew Rushmer

Drew Rushmer is a writer reporting on IT and healthcare news. He is also a philosophy and literature nerd, which fuels his passion for writing on the web.

Topics: Health Tech

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