Tech Giants Pledge | Molecular Neuroimaging | IBM Speaks Up

“As patient expectations for seamless experiences have increased, so has our commitment to eliminating the technological barriers that make it challenging for providers to deliver connected care.”

Google Cloud’s Healthcare VP, Gregory J. Moore MD, PhD, in a recent blog aligning with Google and other tech giants’ pledge to improve healthcare data interoperability.

 


The Imaging Wire


Tech Giants Make Health Data Pledge

A who’s who list of tech giants (including Amazon, Google, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, and Microsoft) took the stage at a US federal government event, pledging “to unlock the potential in health care data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs.” The companies plan to leverage their cloud and AI technology to improve online access to healthcare data, which they see as instrumental to jumpstarting a healthcare data revolution benefiting patients (care and costs), providers (outcomes and efficiency), and researchers (information access). It goes without saying that Amazon, Google, and the rest of this crew also have plenty to gain from a healthcare data revolution, as it would give them a foundational role in the healthcare system of the future. The trick is, outside of IBM, very few of these guys have a meaningful healthcare presence today, so despite this pledge and some big recent healthcare investments, it’s hard to expect much to come from this in the near term without the folks who control the healthcare ecosystem joining in.

 

Lawrence Berkeley’s Imaging Breakthrough
Lawrence Berkeley researchers discovered a new imaging method that could create a safer way to image deep within living tissue, paving the way for new high-precision radiation treatments. The new method, called Alloyed Upconverting Nanoparticles (UCNPs), uses an ultra low-power laser light at near-infrared wavelengths to excite nanoparticles, which then emit their own light that can be measured using medical imaging equipment. The power required to energize UNCPs is “millions of times lower” than the power needed for standard near-infrared imaging which could potentially solve the long-standing challenge of “imaging living systems at high sensitivity without damaging them.”

 

Yale Links Neuroimaging and Genetics to get to the Molecular-Level
Yale researchers may have achieved a neurology breakthrough, combining neuroimaging and genetics to view and analyze the brain’s molecular functions. The team of psychiatry, neuroscience, and physics researchers’ new GEMINI-DOT technique (Gene Expression Mapping Integrated with Neuro-Imaging for Discovery Of Therapeutics) links MRI neuroimaging biomarkers with gene expression profiles and pharmaceutical targets, which they view as a breakthrough for clinical neuroscience. The research was mainly financed by neurobehavioral drug company, Blackthorn Therapeutics, which just signed a licensing agreement with Yale to further develop the technology.

 

IBM Watson Health Sets the Record Straight
After months of critical coverage, culminating in a WSJ report suggesting that IBM’s Watson Health AI oncology products have fallen short of expectations, IBM finally took to its blog to “set the record straight.” IBM emphasized that it has “a lot to be proud of,” listing the cancer tools it has already developed and highlighted the results achieved through its healthcare partnerships, while reiterating its commitment to bringing healthcare to AI. This was a necessary move from IBM, which demonstrated restraint in recent months, keeping quiet as negative Watson Health stories piled up. Still, given that many in the industry appear to believe that Watson Health has done better at marketing than product development, and it could be argued that this statement would have been better embraced if it adopted a more honest and vulnerable tone – something along the lines of: “we’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re on the right track.”

 


The Wire

  • Famed seed accelerator, Y Combinator, invested $120,000 in Higia Technologies, makers of the thermal sensor-based EVA breast cancer screening bra. Higia Technologies has already garnered headlines over the last year due to its potential to help with early detection of breast cancer, its backstory (founded by 18-year old son of a breast cancer survivor), and strong adoption in Mexico (5k shipments). The guidance and exposure of Y Combinator (seed investor for Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit, etc.) should help the startup as it begins the US FDA clearance process.
  • Purdue University researchers developed yeast-based radiation detection badges that can immediately display radiation exposure levels by applying a drop of water to the badge and running it through an electronic reader. If the watered yeast ferments, radiation levels are pretty safe. This new method could bring significant cost, turnaround time, and safety improvements versus current procedures that require radiology workers to wear dosimeters for up to two months (vs. daily) before sending in the badges and waiting a week for a radiation report (vs. immediate).
  • Philips and the US Department of Homeland Security ICS-CERT issued a warning that vulnerabilities in Philips’ IntelliSpace Cardiovascular (ISCV) system and Xcelera cardiology image and information management software are vulnerable to hackers. The software can reportedly allow even “low skill” hackers to escalate privileges on the ISCV server and execute any command (specifically ISCV Version 2.x or prior and Xcelera Version 4.1 or prior). Although this warning was widely covered as new-news in the press, Philips has been working on shoring-up security on this system for months and the latest warning appears intended to show users how to mitigate this issue while Philips prepares an update.
  • A report from medical liability insurer, Coverys, revealed that radiology is often the source of errors in the diagnostic process, suggesting a need for reform steps. The group reviewed more than 10,600 malpractice claims, finding that nearly 600 claims named a specific radiologist, roughly 80% of which were related to misinterpretation of diagnostic reports.
  • Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center announced plans to build a $473M outpatient center focused on cancer treatment, neurological care, imaging, and radiation and infusion therapy. GE Healthcare appears to have a longstanding relationship with Rush University, suggesting that some of this investment will go GE’s way.
  • Richardson Healthcare announced that it gained ISO 13485:2016 certification, following an audit of its processes and operations, suggesting that the certification adds credibility for its CT and power grid tubes.
  • GE Healthcare joined the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), while GE imaging CEO, Tom McGuinness, took a seat on the trade group’s board of directors. Among other benefits, the announcement highlighted the partnership opportunities that GE will enjoy as a member of the group and GE’s ability to work with AdvaMed to advance policies “that support medical progress.”
  • University of Chicago researchers found that using a computer-aided detection system (CAD) to read automated breast ultrasounds (ABUS) can significantly reduce radiologist interpretation times. The study had 18 mammography-certified radiologists interpret a cancer enriched set of 185 ABUS studies (52 with cancer), interpreting each case with and without the CAD system. The readings performed using the CAD system were completed in an average of 33 seconds, 67% lower than the reading times without CAD systems (2 minutes, 24 seconds).
  • Scotland may run out of radiologists. The country’s Royal College of Radiology warned that more than 20% of Scottish radiologists are due to retire in the next five years and there are not enough radiology students to support the country’s growing demand for imaging services (increasingly 10% annually!). In reaction, Scotland launched a “radiology transformation program” that will develop 50 new radiologists in the next five years.

 

 


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