DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: ASCO's new partnerships aim to improve oncology care -- MedStar Health provides digital tools for prenatal care --  DarioHealth awarded new patent to improve its offerings

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THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY TO IMPROVE CARE WITH NEW PARTNERSHIPS: The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has come to a new licence agreement with two digital health start-ups, Tempus and Precision Health AI, to give the firms access to ASCO’s massive database of patient records, named CancerLinQ, for an undisclosed sum. Under the agreement, Tempus will use its genomic sequencing technology to transform unstructured data from CancerLinQ into actionable information to be used by physicians and clinics. Precision Health AI will focus on using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to define cancer datasets for precision treatments and to aid in the development of new cancer drugs.

This will be a significant deal for each stakeholder:

  • ASCO: The non-profit organisation has been extremely effective in securing data, boasting collaborations with over 100 oncology practices nationwide with access to millions of records. However, the firm has struggled to structure this data into effective datasets due to technical and budget constraints. Through this new deal, ASCO’s 40,000 members will get the technical tools to make better use of their data and the organisation will receive licensing loyalties to further support growth.
  • Tempus: This deal will propel the Chicago-based start-up towards its goal of becoming the world’s largest library of cancer care data. On the CancerLinQ database, there are treatment results for roughly 600,000 patients which Tempus will now have access to this will help the company touch 25% to 30% of cancer patients next year, according to Tempus co-founder Eric Lefkofsky who was cited by Hi-Tech Chronicle.
  • Precision Health AI: The firm relies heavily on its machine learning technology for real-time analysis to enable the practice of precision medicine for better cancer patient care. One way to make this technology more accurate is to keep adding data, which drives variance down. Precision Health AI could improve its offerings by leveraging data from the over one million cancer patient records on the CancerLinQ database.

HEALTH SYSTEM OFFERS DIGITAL TOOLS TO ENSURE HEALTHY PREGNANCY:MedStar Health, a not-for-profit health system in the Maryland and Washington D.C. area, will begin offering pregnant women a kit of digital devices to monitor their pregnancies, according toHealthcare IT News. The bundle will include a connected wireless scale, a wireless blood pressure cuff, and an iPhone app to collect and transmit the data as well as offer tips and guidance to the patients. Using these sorts of connected devices can help healthcare providers ensure that their patients are healthy and aren’t developing any conditions like preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder that affects 3%-10% of pregnancies worldwide and can be extremely dangerous to the mother and foetus. It’s characterised by the onset of extremely high blood pressure, which most people aren’t equipped to diagnose at home, but which MedStar’s kit could help detect. The kit could also help to reduce the number of routine visits women need to make to their doctor during a pregnancy by allowing some measurements to be taken remotely – women typically visit the doctor every two weeks starting in the third trimester and even more frequently in the final weeks. Other health systems will likely follow suit in order to help reduce costs and limit the number of office visits patients need to make.

DARIOHEALTH PATENTS GLUCOSE MONITOR BATTERY MANAGEMENT:Israeli digital health company DarioHealth announced that it has been awarded a new patent that will allow it to improve the way its connected blood glucose monitoring system minimizes power use and maintains reliable connections, according to theDaily Telescope. DarioHealth’s COO Dror Bacher said that the company is looking to use better battery management techniques to expand compatibility with additional devices. The device is primarily for monitoring blood glucose levels in diabetics. For context, Diabetes affects 29 million people in the US alone as of 2016. DarioHealth is one of many companies developing tech to treat diabetes. For example, Alphabet’sVerily life sciences unit is working with DexCom on creating smaller blood glucose implants,Appleis reportedly attempting to pioneer noninvasive blood sugar measurement, and startups likeGlookoare raising capital for diabetes management platforms.

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FLAWS IN PATIENT EXPERIENCE DATA COULD BE HAVING MAJOR IMPACT: George Washington University researchers have found significant flaws in the data being collected to measure the patient experience in emergency departments across the US, according to the Digital Journal. Researchers found that a concrete conclusion could not be made from the patient data being provided due to high variability. They concluded that this was likely a result of very low response rates – response rates came in between 3% and 16% – and the tendency for respondents to only score low or high when taking the survey. Unfortunately for providers, this data is an important indicator in the healthcare industry – for example, this data is used to construct value-based pricing models at hospitals, inform government spending, assess provider performance, and to rank hospitals. Given the potential impact this data can have, providers need to call for new methods to generate reliable data.

In other news…

  • The Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo experienced a phishing attack that potentially exposed the health records of 650 patients, according to Healthcare IT News. The breach was the result of employee error – the employee clicked on an email with fake credentials; the hospital is looking into technical safeguards and new training to ensure such a breach will not happen again.

  • Clew Medical, the Israeli start-up, is launching a predictive analytics platform that uses AI to give medical providers an early warning when a patient’s condition is at risk of deteriorating, according to VentureBeat.

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