Welcome to Digital Health Briefing, a new morning email providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by BI Intelligence.
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STANFORD RESEARCHERS LEVERAGE MACHINE LEARNING TO DIAGNOSE PNEUMONIA: Stanford researchers have developed a deep learning algorithm that is capable of diagnosing pneumonia by analysing chest x-rays – in tests it’s diagnoses were more accurate than those made by human radiologists. The group used 112,120 x-rays to develop the algorithm, which can already identify 14 types of medical conditions, including pneumonia, with a high degree of accuracy. This study shows the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry.
Machine learning could one day be leveraged to diagnose patients without human oversight. Pneumonia is a difficult condition to diagnose despite the fact that it hospitalizes more than a million Americans each year, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Using deep learning algorithms like the one developed by Stanford researchers, medical companies could one day fully automate the detection of these types of diseases, not only improving the rate of diagnosis, but also dramatically reducing healthcare costs – Big-data strategies in healthcare could lead to better decision making and add up to $US100 billion in value annually across the US healthcare system, according to McKinsey.
For now, AI will be used to support doctors in treating patients, rather than replacing them. The reason for this is that AI technologies are still limited by a range of factors, including data access constraints, legal limitations, regulatory hurdles, and ethical risks, according to PA Consulting. However, Stanford’s research demonstrates how the technology can support doctors by giving them a way to provide faster care and potentially to reduce costs.
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THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL PLANS TO AUDIT PAYMENTS FOR TELEHEALTH SERVICES: The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) plans to audit Medicaid payments for telemedicine and telehealth services to ensure compliance with reimbursement requirements. The review, which was added to the OIG’s work plan this week, will determine if selected states’ Medicaid payment for services delivered via telecommunication technology were in accord with Medicaid requirements. The latest audit follows an initial review of Medicare Part B telemedicine payments announced earlier this year in July. The Medicaid programs have seen a significant increase in claims for telehealth services and the trend is expected to continue, according to the OIG. And although these audits could put increased scrutiny on providers who bill state Medicaid programs for telemedicine or telehealth services, its unlikely to become a major deterrent for offering the service. However, telehealth reduces the friction of having to go to a physical location for medical treatment and that could increase the number of appointments made, putting a strain on government healthcare programs like Medicaid. The global telehealth market is poised to grow at an annualized rate of 27% between 2016 and 2021 to reach $US9.4 billion,according to Markets and Markets.
ROCHE ACQUIRES A LABORATORY ANALYTICS SOFTWARE FIRM: Roche, a pharmaceuticals and diagnostics company has agreed to acquire Viewics, the cloud-based laboratory analytics software firm, for an undisclosed amount. Roche will leverage Viewic’s HIPAA-compliant laboratory information management system (LIMS), which extracts data from a range of IT systems and provides insights in areas such as laboratory operations and finances, to improve its Integrated Core Lab offering. Viewics’ system is both infrastructure-agnostic and accessible from multiple devices, which will allow Roche to expand its new system’s capabilities not only to new customers, but also for existing customers, who may have infrastructure that’s incompatible with newer or differing systems coming to market. The acquisition will also strengthen Roche’s LIMS capabilities, which could help the firm capture a larger share of the growing market – the global LIMS market is expected to reach $US1.5 billion by 2021,representing annualized growth of almost 9% from 2017, according to a 2017 market research report by Technavio.
CHANGE HEALTHCARE ACQUIRES DOCUFILL FOR ITS CREDENTIALING TECHNOLOGY: Change Healthcare, the independent healthcare technology company, acquired cloud-based credentialing company Docufill for its dental provider credentialing technology. Medical providers must have their qualifications and practice history evaluated by each individual insurer that the medical practice partners with to become “credentialed”. These credentials are also subject to ongoing reviews. The technology aims to simplify this process for providers by allowing them to apply for credentialing by filling out a single form and electronically signing it. This reduces some of the frictions in what has become a major pain point for providers and insurers – medical practices often work with over 20 different insurance plans, which means that the credentialing application process incurs significant administrative costs.
IN OTHER NEWS…
- Cochlear Limited, the hearing implant maker, had its submission for a new remote programming feature approved by the FDA, according to MobiHealthNews.
- Nomad Health,the healthcare marketplace,has added job postings for telehealth positions alongside traditional medical roles on its online freelance marketplace for healthcare staffing.