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GENOME MEDICAL LAUNCHES GENETIC SERVICES FOR EMPLOYERS: Genome Medical, a San Francisco-based genomics firm, introduced several programs designed to enable employer groups to offer genetic services and testing to their employees. By leveraging its national network of clinical genetic experts – the firm offers genetic counseling in all 50 states – Genome Medical will give employers the resources to help improve the health and well-being of their employees, and potentially a more efficient way to manage any costs related to healthcare. Here are the new programs they are offering:
- Genetic Medical Services: Genome Medical offers genetic counseling, genetic test ordering, and case management services to help identify and evaluate individuals at risk for inherited diseases or conditions.
- Proactive Health Programs: By using family history assessments and proactive genetic screening services, individuals with specific genetic markers are provided with early knowledge of risk, leading to preventive care and more informed treatment decisions. For example, an individual’s response to anesthesia and other medications could be predicted by analysing their genes, reducing the likelihood of a complication.
- Genome Medical Second Opinion: Employees can get a second opinion on any genetic-related diagnosis or treatment plan from physicians in Genome Medical’s network. These physicians can provide expert knowledge on genetic testing, advise on a patient’s best course of action, and make referrals.
- Genetics Resource Center: Via interactive tools, which include messaging services and a telehealth platform, users can ask questions and seek out options across a larger number of genetic topics and conditions.
Genetic testing is poised to take off as physicians are finding new and more accurate ways to provide care. Just from analysing a patient’s genetics, healthcare providers are starting to be able to provide patients with preemptive care for potential conditions. As advancements in technology enable the healthcare industry to get a clearer picture of the role genetics plays in health and disease, the genetic testing market will take off – the global genetic testing market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9%, from $US4.6 billion in 2016 to $US9.8 billion by 2025, according to Inkwood Research.
MICROSOFT’S AI-DRIVEN PROJECT TO CREATE A UNIVERSAL BLOOD TEST: Microsoft has partnered with biotech company Adaptive Biotechnologies to build a universal blood test that is capable of screening for dozens of diseases at once. The project aims to sequence the immune system, which would enable providers to identify infections, cancers, and autoimmune disorders at their earliest stages, from a simple blood test. A project as vast as this will require massive cloud computing power, expertise in AI technologies, and strong machine learning capabilities, which Microsoft will provide as part of this deal. Microsoft’s investment has not been disclosed, but the project is the “cornerstone” of its Healthcare NExT initiative, which was launched last year to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry by using advancements in artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
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FITBIT INVESTMENT COULD POINT TO GLUCOSE MONITORING:Fitness tracker company Fitbit has invested $US6 million in Sano, a company that’s developing blood sugar-monitoring patches, in a move that could point toward the addition of glucose monitoring to the company’s wearables and smartwatches, according toCNBC. The possible addition of glucose monitoring – which people with diabetes need to track regularly – could open up a new market for the wearable manufacturer as it looks to boost flagging device sales. While the company has sought to appeal to the general consumer with its Ionic smartwatch, it’s alsopartneredwith health systems and insurers as a way to buoy demand, with insurers offering discounts or rewards for using the fitness trackers. Further, the company allows users to integrate data from third-partydiabetes managementsolutions into a wellness tracking app. But moving to directly integrate diabetes management into its devices could give Fitbit a major opportunity for growth; there are over 29 million adults in the US alone with Type 2 diabetes who could potentially use such a device to monitor their disease. Apple – Fitbit’s main competitor in the wearables space – hasreportedlybeen looking pioneer noninvasive glucose monitoring.
INTOUCH HEALTH ACQUIRES TRUCLINIC FOR ITS DIRECT TO CONSUMER SOFTWARE: InTouch Health, a provider of an enterprise telehealth platform, has entered into an agreement to acquire TruClinic, a direct-to-consumer web-based health provider. This acquisition will allow InTouch to integrate TruClinic’s software into its own offerings, enabling patients to initiate and receive consultations with their physicians from home. This combined solution will also let hospitals choose if they want to use their own doctors or InTouch’s network of contracted physicians to offer virtual care. Direct-to-consumer telehealth solutions appear to be gaining in popularity. For example, New York-Presbyterian (NYP) and Walgreens recently announced they were working to virtually connect Walgreens customers with NYP physicians at self-service kiosks, and CVS is testing a virtual care service in Ohio with the Cleveland Clinic. As more patients are exposed to these convenient solutions, the market could see rapid growth – the global telehealth market is expected to grow as an annualized rate of 27% between 2016 and 2021 to reach $US9.4 billion, according to Markets and Markets.
In other news…
- Matternet, a drone startup, and the Stanford Blood Center have applied to take part in a Federal Aviation Administration trial using drones to transport blood from the center to a hospital, according to the Mercury News. The proposed project, which mirrors similar programs implemented by Matternet as well as Zipline in other parts of the world, could cut down the time needed to transport blood for a transfusion or testing.
- The Mayo Clinic and Corindus Vascular Robotics are exploring whether robotic-assisted coronary procedures can be conducted safely and effectively off-site, according to MobiHealthNews.
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